The absolute separation of church and state is simply not observed in America today. For example, last month, a cheerleading team from a Texas high school carried banners with Christian messages at a school-sanctioned event. Across the country, several school boards, including those in Delaware and Pennsylvania, hold prayers to begin meetings. Both our money and our pledge contain phrases relating to the Abrahamic God. The Democratic Party received backlash from the Republican Party for removing God from their platform. These are only a few instances of where Christianity has been involved in government.
There are a variety of justifications for the intermingling between church and state, the most prominent being that America is a Christian nation that was founded on Christian principles. But this simply isn’t the case. On its own, the separation of church and state inherently suggests that America was meant to be an unbiased and secular nation. Founding father Thomas Jefferson insisted on the absolute separation of church and state. In Reynolds v. United States (1879), the Court held that Jefferson’s directive “may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the First Amendment.” It is quite true that for most of its history, America’s culture has been dominated by Christianity. However, this does not — and should not — translate to the government. This implication can also be seen even further in the early writings of the founding fathers. The Treaty of Tripoli, an official document signed by John Adams and ratified by the Senate, states, “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”
Contrary to popular belief, both the pledge and money have only contained Christian phrases for about 60 years. Our original motto “E Pluribus Unum,” was adopted in 1782, and our original pledge, vacant of any reference to religion, was written in 1892 and adopted officially in 1942. It was not until 1956 and 1954 (respectively) that these phrases were edited. The context in which they were edited had little to do with religious fervor, but resulted from the rise of Communism. These changes were made during the “Red Scare” in order to combat the ideals of Communism, which included atheism.
Despite the clear evidence to the fact that America was founded upon the principles of equality and secular government, anger emerges from parts of the Christian community whenever the suggestion of removing these phrases or the ban of religion in schools occurs. This reaction is quite baffling. If these aspects of the government were to be removed and disallowed, it would not be an attack upon Christianity. It would merely bring true equality to all religions in the United States. If Islamic, Hindu, or Judaic principles were being practiced in government, the issue would be exactly the same.
If policy remains the way it is, Christianity will still hold its privileged position above other religions. This directly contradicts the values upon which our country was founded. All religions, whether they are Islam, Judaism, Christianity or any other, must be kept out of government, not only to protect the rights of our citizens, but to protect the foundation of government itself.