Church vs. State

It is commonly known that, in theory, the United States practices the separation of church and state. But is this really true? We are a country that is based on a large respect for one’s individual preferences. The first amendment of our constitution gives citizens the freedom of religion, press, and expression, stating “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Our government is supposed to base it’s decisions solely on what is right or wrong, not on religious doctrine.

However, there are many instances in the American government where this proverbial “line” has been crossed, and religion has made it’s way to the forefront of our country and, in turn, affected many laws and policies in the United States. The words “In God We Trust” is the official motto of the United States and the state of Florida, and it is required to be printed on all currency produced by the United States treasury as of 1955. The term “Under God” is also written in the pledge of allegiance; which is practically force fed to all public school students throughout their academic careers.

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Federal endorsement of a deity or religion violates the United States constitution. Yet here we are as Americans, reciting this pledge at nearly every social gathering; from sporting events to high school assemblies. And we are using this money for anything and everything. Day after day these words pass through our hands and through our minds and most Americans think nothing of it. But what about the people who do not believe in God? They have every right to; because this is America, where it is stated in our constitution that all citizens have the freedom of religion or lack there of.

Yet, 76% of Americans identify themselves as Christians (which includes Catholics, Protestants, and Mormons), which has become standard in the U. S. ; While only about 15% of Americans have no religion. Time and time again, it has been seen throughout U. S. history that Americans have a problem with different religions. In 1960, when John F. Kennedy won the Democratic presidential nomination, he faced accusations that as a Roman Catholic president he would abide by the Pope’s wishes, a charge that Kennedy refuted vehemently.

And recently there has been much debate over plans to build a mosque just blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center. Most opponents of the project have stated that building the mosque so close to ground zero would be offensive because the hijackers from the September 11th attacks were Islamic terrorists. These claims go directly against the first amendment. As American citizens, we have the right to practice religion whenever and wherever we want.

The fact that people are considering denying these people a place of worship just because certain individuals within their religion did something detrimental to American society is constitutionally wrong. It is wrong for anyone to judge a group of people just because a single member of their society did something criminal. Adolf Hitler, the man who single-handedly started World War II, was a Christian. This man was responsible for nearly 11 million deaths, about half of which were killed because of their Jewish beliefs.

Yet I have never once heard someone condemn the entire Christian religion because of one person, Adolf Hitler, who caused significantly more damage world wide than the several people who were involved in the September 11th plane hijackings. Hitler did not do what he did because he was Christian, and the hijackers did not do what they did because they were Islamic. Though we may deny it, Americans fear the unknown; we do not know Islam so we shy away from it, we make it seem like “the bad guy”, when really, we just don’t know enough about it to even judge it accurately.

Many current issues in America wouldn’t even be a concern if religion didn’t play a part in the decision making. Gay marriage is, for the most part, illegal in the United States, with the exception of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont. Only five states in our entire country. That means that in the other 45 states, gay marriage is just as illegal as murder or armed robbery. Religion plays a huge part in the legality of gay marriage. Many religions say that homosexuality is “wrong” because it involves sex that doesn’t create life.

But if non-procreative sex is the issue, than shouldn’t the production of birth control be illegal, too? The production of condoms should be put to an end immediately and all subscriptions for “the pill” should be ended right away. That is, if we’re basing our laws off the same reasons why religions like Catholicism are against gay marriage. But we all know that’d do more harm than good. Sure we’d have more babies walking around, which is exactly what we wanted, sex that creates babies to carry on the human kind. But we’d also have a significantly higher amount of people with STDs, such as diseases as life threatening as AIDS.

The other argument put out by the many faiths of the world states the homosexuality is “unnatural”. God created man and woman with certain parts and to not use them is an insult to the creator. Numerous people who practice several religions say that God “hates” gay people. This statement does not make sense in correlation to anything else in the bible. Why would God hate his own creation? Isn’t God supposed to love everyone regardless of their “flaws”? Many congressmen and senators use their religious views as bias when making decisions about issues such as gay marriage, when they should really be considering human rights.

Gay people are still people. And they are born in this country with every single right as the next person and there is no real reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to get married. Let’s consider this: what if we said that straight people couldn’t get married, or black people, or Mexicans, or Jews, or blonde people, or people with too many freckles on their face? Most people would say that’s ridiculous because there’s no real reason why those people couldn’t get married. Just because some people don’t like certain things about other people doesn’t mean they have the power to take their rights away.

The ban on gay marriage is ridiculous. If you don’t like gay people, don’t be gay. It’s that simple. Let other people live their lives how they want to, not how they’re allowed to. Religion interferes with many governments around the world, not just America. But isn’t America supposed to be the revolutionary country that everyone else looks up to and aspires to be like? That’s what we make ourselves out to be, at least. So why don’t we live up to the bar that we’ve set so high for ourselves and make a change. In a perfect government, religion is a whole other world; two circles that never touch.

We should strive for perfection. We should strive for euphoria. We should strive for happiness. Because we’re not there yet; we may pretend to be, but we’re not. How can we be a happy, productive society when there is so much hate and negativity toward our own people? Everyone has the right to practice religion, and there is nothing wrong with that, but when the boundary between personal religious belief and nation policy get crossed, that is when the problem occurs. God is not in charge of our country. We as people are.