By Robert Meyer
Typically any discussion about breaches in the so-called impregnable wall of church and state separation are associated with right-wing fundamentalist Christians. This is a gross misconception, due largely to a deconstruction of the true meaning concerning the church and state separation concept.
The "strict separatist" view of this doctrine has come into vogue, its contemporary roots were ushered in primarily by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education. The 1971 Lemon v. Kurtzman ruling gave us the "Lemon Test," further refining and codifying the requirements of the establishment clause to the satisfaction of the then current Supreme Court.
The modern application of this approach yields something almost tantamount to affirmative action for secularists.
This is accomplished by viewing the concept of separation as an ideological separation of the secular and sacred realms, rather than a functional and jurisdictional separation of the two institutions, church and state. A sociopathic conceptual divide between God and government results, rather than a healthy recognition and respect of sphere sovereignty.
We have seen the clever, but irreverent bumper sticker slogan: "The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake."
Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn would not be impressed. He might reply that the last time a country forgot about God, millions were murdered–and that event happened more recently–in the "enlightened" 20th century. After the liberal makes his political or philosophical dissertation about getting right-wing fundamentalist thinking out of the halls of government, he is ironically ready demonstrate that he doesn’t really believe in church and state separation after all.
We find him asking rhetorical questions, such as, who would Jesus bomb, or how does Bush’s foreign policy square with the Sermon on the Mount? Viola! Suddenly there is no more talk about rendering unto Caesar differently then unto God. There is no consideration on the part of the liberal pundit, that the state is charged with wielding the power of the sword, thus must be distinguished from the church as it exercises its mandate.
The tendencies to blur of the lines of distinction get more convoluted when applied to economic policy.
A traditional understanding of church and state separation recognizes that the church has the ministry of grace, whereas the state must administer justice.
In recent decades, the state has acted like the church by implementing scores of programs granting benefits rights of specific welfare to certain citizens. That constructively puts charity under the aegis of the state, where it becomes a right that is funded by coercive taxation, rather than being the receipt of benevolence given voluntarily by the hand of the faithful believer. Of course the church must be held responsible for allowing this to happen, as a result of forgetting its benevolent obligations.
This is the initial point of departure at which the liberal most grievously offends the separation of church and state. He does not care that the state is used to remedy a problem that the church is charged with attending to. Use the government to do the "work of the Lord," for an area which it was never constitutionally commissioned, and that will be just fine.
The liberal is quick to sound the alarm in detecting the slightest whiff of theocracy, but equally as swift to foist on citizens the scourge of statism. Few see the need to limit the government when it usurps the jurisdiction and function of the church, probably because so many self-interested people are unjustly enriched when it happens.
The quasi Fabian Socialist is a far greater threat to skewing the traditional understanding of church and state separation, than any threat from a so-called Dominionist.
Robert E. Meyer is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. (www.thenma.org). The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.