Robert M. Forker
05 Mar 2012
Separate Church and State
Organized religion has undoubtedly played a key role in educating and civilizing local populations. It cannot be underestimated the role organized religion played in acting as the glue that binds a people together. Without attempting to place judgment on which religion holds the most merit or even the validity of religion itself, I will explain why the founding fathers of this nation saw fit to keep it separate from government they created. Although there are many forms of religion, the majority usually have four simple characteristics; 1. The existence of good and evil.
2. A set of laws and regulations that are generally based on morality. 3. Unlimited reward or punishment for adhering or failing to adhere to the tenants of the religion and 4. Living representatives who are by divine right given the authority to administer the operations on earth. The representative could be either a single person or up to an established group.
In short, Organized Religions were the first forms of government. Although it would seem logical that since they all are derived from the same sort of mold, they would interact with each other with ease. Unfortunately, that is not the case. History has shown us that rather than agreeing to peacefully coexist, the representatives on earth wage violent wars with emphasis on converting or total elimination of religions different than their own. However, there were times when the conquered peoples customs and portions of their religion would merge with their conquerors. Simply losing a war was not always sufficient to convince people to abandon their religion. The immediate belief was that they were being punished and after strict adherence and repentant period, they would rise again victorious. To nullify that effect and ease the conquered people into their new station, some religious merging was usually allowed. Though it is never admitted as a large contributing factor, monetary gains are systematically forwarded to the representatives in the form of offerings, a form of taxation. Even failure to demonstrate a suitable offering could often be punishable on earth as well as after your death. Although great strides in civilization were made through religion, it held a substantial effect on suppressing science and technology, because often, celestial miracles that could be explained through knowledge usually challenged the teachings of the religion. This was referred to as the Great Awakening in the times of our founding fathers. Though the Great Awakening was very influential France, where our founding fathers sent Benjamin Franklin as America’s first Ambassador. It is true that the Pilgrims came to America to escape religious persecution. It is also true the first states depended heavily on the Church for functions like education and care for the poor that the early states were financially unable to perform. The problem was that there was no uniformity and too much power and influence could be levied on the state due to the whims of the clergy. It was not lost on the founding fathers the horrors committed in the name of religion including that of the Crusades and the under the tyranny of the Supreme leader of the Church of England, both Christian in nature. The founders were afraid that organized religion would cause the same damage that they perceived was affecting the government in England. The King was not only the political head of the country, but also the leader of the church. Therefore, his power and influence was absolute on earth and then in heaven. If he could not influence your actions through political measures, he could do so by way of your faith. Throughout history we know that organized religion was the first form of government. The thought of eternal damnation for disobeying the tenants of a religion was enough to control the masses....