Separation of church and state (idea)
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|I think it is safe to say that an education, be it formal or not, is necessary for active and cognizant participation in government. In a word, participation in the State is necessarily dependent on thinking.
In most cases, religions require a minimal amount of education. In fact, education can be detrimental to religious aims. It seems to be the general trend that as more people are aquiring a university education, more people are becoming atheist.
I'd argue that essentially, government and religion have the same aim: to provide a moral structure that protects the individual from the actions of other people. In the case of government, law and criminal justice provide this system of protection. In religion, either faith in God and living in a moral fashion or fear of God and the afterlife provide the system of protection. After all, in reference to the United States' predecessors, religion used to be the government.
So we have two systems with the same aim, and yet we treat them as two very different entities and deem their separation as necessary. But if religion and government have the same aim, why is separation necessary at all? Is it that religion provides a moral background for the citizens under a particular government? Is it that people should be able to worship God in whichever way they choose?
Because they have the same aim, it means that 1) one is unfitting and the other is correct, or 2) that they are both fruitless and another single, perhaps unifying, perhaps completely different system is ultimately appropriate.
I'm not saying that separation of church and state is wrong or right. I'm saying that it would be unnecessary if we had the true and best government and/or religion.
Post Scriptum (May 25, 2003): Firstly, before I rebut on althorrat's points raised below, I would like to expand a bit on my ideas above. Capitalists the world over would assert that progress of a community is attainable (?) and efficient through competition between indiviuals and between individual corporations. Needless to say, the United States, for better or for worse, is a capitalist country. Intense capitalist competition effects the need for protection of individual rights; and the state exists, as John Stuart Mill et al would rightly argue, to protect the individual from the actions of other individuals. The church (any religion), more or less, is a communal entity, based on shared ideas, shared values, and shared goals. Most religions mandate the leading of a humble lifestyle, including donations to the poor and the idea of not storing up treasure on earth. Already, we can see the dissonance between church and state: a community of people with shared religious ideas has no place (at least no direct place) in a state that emphasizes and proliferates individuality and competition. Thus with the dawn imperialism and expanding markets (and later the industrial revolution), a necessary separation of church from state has ensued. Sure, our Founding Fathers wanted to ensure complete separation from the Anglican church to ensure freedom, but I'd argue that it has its basis in the ideas of an evolving society leading to the twilight of the church. In fact, religion would have died by any Darwinian definition had it not evolved to the ever-changing and advancing science and technological realms (which essentially sprung from the competitive market forces). Consider the bibical creation story. Certainly 500 years ago, Christain leaders would have said that the creation story was literal, while today, the seven "days" mentioned in the creation story are interpreted as illiteral and as lasting a different period of time than an Earth "day." Why the change? Because in order to survive, the church needed to evolve. Before literacy, it could simply excommunicate the "heretics," but now that people can read, it has evolved. Conclusively, separation of church and state is existent because church and state have similiar aims(see my original WU) yet different ideals. Now to respond to althorrat:
1) I have no figures to back my atheism claim, but I do have first-hand observation and historical knowledge to go off of. Certainly it can't be argued against that the number of atheists has risen since the dawn of modern academia AKA literacy and education for all. 2) Perhaps my use of the word "moral" has been misinterpreted. I simply meant that a legal system has been established to ensure the protection of the individual from other individuals and from the government. Whether or not you want to take this legal system as a "moral" code the way the Ten Commandments are taken as a moral code is in the eye of the beholder. No matter if it's the fear of the wrath of the law and criminal justice system or the fear of hell, both provide motivation to individuals to uphold a moral system, whether or not they believe in it. This is certainly not to say that the legal system the U.S. government has implemented is one hundred percent correct by any means. And dude, theocracy is not the preferred nomenclature (to the what I proposed above). What are states like Iran and Afganhistan but modern replicas of the Western world's middle ages Catholic Church dominance? They're practically identical. What I was arguing, more concisely, is that theocracies, in your sense of the word, are incorrect and that states where church and state are separate are also incorrect. Theocracy is simply not religous freedom while separation of church and state is simply the illusion of religious freedom. For example, if your religion conflicts with your government, you must choose which to obey. If you choose to abide by your religious convictions, then you may face reprimand from the government. If you choose to obey your government, you may face negative repercussions from your God(s). They are oppositional yet both must be followed. Our nation being founded by Christains, our nation works best for those adhering to the Christian Dogma. This country does not have religious freedom. If there were religious freedom in this country, there would be no religion at all (though this is definitly not to say that our system without any religion at all would be ideal). It is to say, simply, that something is amiss with our ideas of religious freedom and the role of state.