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The living will of democracy, an argument against the separation of Church and State

In the current 21st century, the fallacy of the separation of Church and State remains as one of the last strongholds for those who attempt to remain in socio-political power and, therefore, place their own ideological standards upon the United States.  The separation of Church and State points to an argument against the values, culture and political sovereignty of a democratic society.  The founding fathers made it clear, through the authorship of the First Amendment (Heritage Foundation, August 2023, Section 7), that, the irrevocable rights of the citizens in these United States of American (US) have the freedom itself of religion, and no US citizen shall be deprived of this right (Heritage Foundation, August 2023, Section 7).  Being aware of this right, not only in rhetoric but, more importantly, in practice, therefore yields the staying power for the Church to be a part of those citizens who participate within the democratic activities within the US.  To attribute the need to keep these inalienable rights (Heritage Foundation, August 2023, Section 7) apart from each other, I argue, is a central and core to the spirit, philosophy, and historic rhetorical voice of sovereignty placed within the US Constitution.  The practice of religion within the US is central to rights and realities of a US citizen (Ryman and Alcorn, August 2023).  It, therefore, becomes not only an academic exercise, but a valued foundation to keep the unspoken, yet reality of the link between the Church and State within the United States (Whele, August 2022). The manner of socio-political action and practice of maintaining the binding attributes of the Church and State is the breath of the living will, provided to all US citizens through the original authorship of the US constitution, and should not be a question, a political cleavage, or an absent-minded understanding to those who find freedom within the American democratic society.

Data gathered by the Pew Research Center (October 2021, paras 1-2) points to the fact that there are more US citizens, who support the integration, or, at least, recognize that there is a value to the integration of the Church and State.  The Pew research report was, “weighed to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education, religious affiliation and other categories” (October 2021, paras 1).  This speaks to the unspoken reality that there is an undercurrent of support for the integration of Church and State in the US.  Though, early American politicians, such as Rodger Williams (Rhode Island), and the inevitable Thomas Jefferson, founded their belief upon the need to keep “’[s]epartation of church and state’” as a “metaphor rooted in early American fears of government involvement” (Ryman and Alcorn, August 2023, Section 2-3).  This leads to the fear being the reverse of what most American citizens believe.  If early American politicians “feared,” the “combined governance with religious expressions” (Ryman and Alcorn, August 2023, Section 2-3), this fear has been read as the methodological practice of how to define the Establishment Clause and the First Amendment (Ryman and Alcorn, August 2023, Section 3).  The historic thread of reading of these two important documents has led to a canon of legal cases which demonstrate that there is, through the separation of Church and State, a bias against “religious expressions,” which have historically favored state law.  Yet, the US Supreme Court opens each session with the phrase, “God save the United States and this honorable court” (Ryman and Alcorn, August 2023, Section 3).  If the highest court in America opens each of its sessions with these proverbial words, then, the argument remains that there is, in fact, an opaque reality of the separation of Church and State.

In two recent cases heard by the Supreme Court in the 2022 session, the high Court recognized that, through the majority opinion, the U.S. finds itself in a position to note the governing laws of the country have arrived at a juncture necessary to re-evaluate the time-honored assumptions of keeping religious ideologies and practices outside of state political contexts.  The Supreme Court notes in Carson v. Makin (October 2021), and Kennedy v. Bremerton School District (October 2021), that America is now at “…a place where the separation of church and state becomes a constitutional violation” (Weaver and Mach, July 2022, Section 2).  These cases, the high Court’s majority opinion, a critical review of the Establishment Clause, the First Amendment to the US Constitution, all in concert with the Exercise Clause (Weaver and Mach, July 2022, Section 2), speaks to the movement toward, if not a silent and resilient tone toward, “an approach that would see the lines between church and state hopelessly blurred, if not eliminated altogether” (Weaver and Mach, July 2022, Section 2).  Time will tell, through forthcoming Supreme Court decisions, and opinions, along with the other two branches of the US government, if the blind eyes of the American political machine will realize that there is a strong undercurrent for the movement toward reconciling generations of socio-political bias and religious neglect.  Justice Sotomayor coined these, and similar legal cases, as, “pesky…case(s),” which continue to, slowly, shed light upon the assumed political hegemony of state law over religious expressions.  “[The] Court continues to dismantle the wall of separation between church and state that the framers fought to build,” stated Justice Sotomayor (Whele, August 2022, Section 2).  No matter how insignificant these court decisions may appear, they each begin to open an important socio-political dialogue for how an American democratic system of values will understand and provide a balance for religious freedoms alongside and in concert with state and federal laws, without sacrificing one for the other.  Based on a critical, unbiased reading of the Constitution, and the inclusive Amendments, the Supreme Court opinions and social surveyed analysis, the U.S. is quickly moving toward a season where the otherwise in-fighting to keep Church and State separate is no longer a held value for the dynamic future of American democracy.

 

References

 

Heritage Foundation, US Constitution , Article 1. (August, 2023),

https://www.heritage.org/constitution/#!/amendments/1/religion-speech-press-assembly-and-petition

Pew Research Center. (October, 2021), In U.S., Far More Support Than Oppose Separation of Church and State,

https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2021/10/28/in-u-s-far-more-support-than-oppose-separation-of-church-and-state/

Ryman, H. and Alcorn, J.(August, 2023), Establishment Clause (Separation of Church and State),

https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/885/establishment-clause-separation-of-church-and-state

United States Supreme Court. (October, 2021), Carson v. Makin,

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-1088_dbfi.pdf

United States Supreme Court. (October, 2012), Kennedy v. Bremerton School District,

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/21-418_i425.pdf

Weaver, H. and Mach, D. ACLU, (July, 2022), The Supreme Court Breaches the Separation of Church and State,

https://www.aclu.org/news/religious-liberty/the-supreme-court-benches-the-separation-of-church-and-state

Whele, Kimberly. Politico (August, 2022), The Supreme Court Wants to End the Separation of Church and State

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/08/10/supreme-court-separation-of-church-and-state-00050571

 

The living will of democracy, an argument against the separation of Church and State

Alan Lechusza Aquallo

Palomar College

San Marcos, CA

Professor, American Indian Studies/American Studies , Retired

 

 

Author Note

Alan Lechusza Aquallo has no conflict of interest to disclose.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to

Alan Lechusza Aquallo at alanlechusza@outlook.com

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