TERRE HAUTE —
I first wrote the following words in November 2004. Unfortunately, things don’t appear to have changed all that much. So, here goes — prepare yourselves for a “rerun.”
Charles J. Chaput, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Denver, said, “Democracy depends on people of conviction expressing their views, confidently and without embarrassment. This give-and-take is an American tradition, and religious believers play a vital role in it. We don’t serve our country — in fact we weaken it intellectually — if we downplay our principles or fail to speak forcefully out of some misguided sense of good manners.” (You can read the whole essay on www.orthdoxy
The role of faith and religion has become a hot topic politically. Those with conservative religious views are told they are trying to “impose their beliefs on society.” Let’s say you and a friend disagree about abortion. Your friend says that a fetus is a fetus till birth, when it becomes a baby with its first breath. You counter with Scripture, including 1st Corinthians 6:9-10 that says our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, received from God and bought with a price and that we are to honor God with our body, then you will more than likely be told you are trying to impose your religious beliefs on someone and that is a wrong thing to do. If you say you are merely wanting a healthy debate (as explained by Archbishop Chaput), you might be told that religion has no place in politics and it would be best if you kept your religious views to yourself.
I overheard a conversation in the grocery store — I didn’t eavesdrop; it was one of those overly loud conversations between two people who didn’t care if the whole store listened in on what they were saying! One said to the other, “I’m sick of all this religious nonsense we are hearing about with this election. Don’t people know about the separation of church and state?”
Those two phrases — “imposing beliefs” and “separation of church and state” are used for one purpose only: to stop Christians from debating moral issues. We have laws in place that were written and are carried out by those who impose their beliefs on the rest of us. It’s what keeps us from living in chaotic anarchy.
For the most part, separation of church and state, is a good thing. None of us want our churches controlled and manipulated by the government. The separation of church and state promotes the protection of religious freedom, not the absence of religious freedom. When someone invokes the separation of church and state, what they really want to invoke is the silence of the church.
God forbid! It’s time we realize, as Chaput says, that “exiling religion from civic debates separates government from morality … That road leads to politics without character.” It’s time we realize that it’s time to speak up. The future of our country depends on our doing just that.
Verna Davis, speaker and writer, maybe reached at