Separation of Church & State

church_stateIf someone wants to run for governmental office, there are two distinctions about which they should have a deep understanding. One is the difference between church and state, and the other is the difference between religion and God.

In order to understand the distinction between church and state a governmental official has to be aware of the First Amendment’s constitutional prohibitions that prevent government from promoting a single religion over others through government programs, laws, or regulations. The role of government is to ensure equality under the law, which means allowing others to practice their faith as they see fit, or not, as long as it does not interfere with the rights of others. Churches, on the other hand, seek to elevate their own religious views as superior and above all other religions, and sometimes, resort to extreme measures to do so. This kind of mission is simply incompatible with the founding principles on which this country is based.

The second distinction, the difference between religion and God, requires an understanding that religious leaders and religious institutions are not God, they are, and are run by, men. And because man is not perfect, religious leaders and institutions are vulnerable to the same kind of corruption that inevitably results in politicians and governmental bodies when they possess unchecked power. God, on the other hand, is perfect, loving and forgiving.

As someone who is seeking a governmental office, as well as someone who believes in God, when it comes to the issue of reproductive health, I am pro-choice because I believe in the protections that only our government, through its checks and balances, can provide. As a governmental official, I would be duty-bound to abide by a Constitution that provides for the separation of church and state, as well as the United States Supreme Court precedent that sets out the careful balancing of the rights of the mother and the unborn. In other words, governmental officials must exercise their official duties using objective criteria set forth in law created by governmental institutions that have checks and balances in place, and not in accordance with religious institutions that do not. If you cannot take that oath, then you should not be running for office.

As a person who believes in God, I find religious leaders who call pro-choice governmental officials evil and Godless, extreme and abusive. To the contrary, I believe I have more faith in God than those who force women to make choices they don’t want to make. Free will was a pillar of God’s teachings. God does not force anyone to follow Him. He persuades through love, acceptance, and forgiveness. A woman who finds herself in the unfortunate situation of having to decide whether to end a pregnancy, will have to live with the consequences of her choice. Consequently, the choice should be hers and hers alone. Only God gets to judge, not you, not me, not a priest, just God. When religious leaders espouse otherwise, they are not espousing God’s principles, they are espousing their own.