[8]        Politics (2): Church & State

STORY: In St. Louis, grade 4 student Raymond Raines bowed his head in prayer before lunch. The teacher stormed to his table, ordered him to stop immediately and sent him to the principal’s office. The principal told the young Christian that praying was not allowed in school. When the student was again caught praying before meals on three separate occasions, he was segregated from other students, ridiculed in front of his classmates, and finally sentenced to a week’s suspension.

In Saratoga Springs, New York, kindergarten student Kayla Broadus held her hands with two classmates before eating their snack. She recited this prayer: “God is good, God is great, thank you, God, for my food.” The teacher severely reprimanded Kayla, and reported her to the principal who sent a sternly worded letter to Kayla’s parents advising them that Kayla was not allowed to pray in school, aloud or with others.

Secular humanists say that these are totally justified in order to ensure the separation of church and state. What do you feel?

Background:

In 2002, a divorced atheist father in California said his daughter objected the inclusion of the word “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance (“one nation under God”) which students recite everyday. The ACLU supported his claim. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the word should be deleted. A public outcry followed. The daughter and her mother (who has custody of the girl) publicly denounced the lawsuit and said they are Christians. The Congress immediately passed a law to affirm the use of the word “God”. In December 2003, the lawsuit was heard by the US Supreme Court.

In Canada, a homosexual Member of Parliament proposed to delete the word “God” from the Constitution of Canada. In many places, the term “Christmas tree” is now banned, to be replaced by “holiday tree”; “merry Christmas” becomes “season’s greetings”.

38.  What is the meaning of separation of church and state?

a.   Origin of the phrase “separation of church and state”:

·         Many people thought that the phrase is originated in the US Constitution but there is actually no such phrase in the US Constitution.

·         It was created by the US Supreme Court in a 1947 ruling which wrongly interpreted the Constitution.

b.   Meaning:

·         The Constitution simply prohibits the establishment of religion by the government, meaning that there should not be a state religion, but at the same time, there should be no interference from government on the free exercise of religion. The Constitutional amendment explicitly speaks about free exercise of religion by the citizens. Therefore the restrictions are imposed on the government only. It does not restrict the influence of religion on government.

·         But this landmark ruling, which describes “a wall of separation” between church and state, laid the legal foundations for the systematic removal of religion from American public life. The “wall” metaphor, in particular, provided the rationale for judicial decisions censoring religious expression in schools, stripping public spaces of the Ten Commandments, and excluding religious communities from full participation in civic life.

·         This US-based principle has been used widely by humanist to marginalize Christianity.

39.  Why do secular humanists insist on the “separation of church and state”?

a.   Secular humanists routinely use some popular slogans to brainwash every citizen to support their cause. These slogans were intended to limit the influence of religion and thus monopolizing their religion (as secular humanism is itself a religion) and totally controlling how the government is run.

Doctrines of secular humanism

1.     One’s first obligation is to oneself. The quality of personal experience holds priority over everyone else.

2.     Morality is developed from within one’s own mind and experiences. Old morality is chained to the past and is no longer relevant to the present life.

3.     Moral ties and loyalties are linked only to one’s immediate group.

4.     Sex is only a physical experience and has no moral or ethical relevance beyond emotional and physical self-fulfilment, which may or may not be linked with affection for another. Expressions of sexuality, whether heterosexual or homosexual, are contingent upon style and preference.

5.     Honesty is virtuous only within the intimate group. It is all right to rip off outsiders, especially institutions with a different philosophy.

6.     There is no purpose or meaning beyond this life.

Motto: Do it. Experiment. Be free. Live, live, live.

b.   The common slogans include:

(1)  “Separation of church and state”: The slogan is used to exclude God from all public institutions and ultimately from human society. Secular humanists consistently censor any viewpoint that they do not subscribe to. Anyone they oppose is immediately painted as a “terrifying and unacceptable breach of the wall of separation between church and state.”

·         The reality is: when any mention of God or religion is prohibited in the classroom, humanism (which teaches man is God) and secularism (which encourages antagonism toward religion) are taught to our children by default and become the society’s new religion. If we do not help them to establish a firm foundation in our faith, they will become secular humanists themselves.

(2)  “We (or the government) cannot legislate morality”: The slogan is used to exclude Christian moral values from laws.

·         The reality is: laws are never morally neutral. The government is legislating morality all the time. The drafting of the Criminal Code was intended to teach values. When the law prohibits certain acts, it is a lesson telling the citizens that those acts are morally wrong. Conversely, when the law decriminalizes certain acts, it is telling the citizens that those acts are normal and morally acceptable. For example, the inclusion of the “sexual orientation” clause in Canadian laws indirectly encourage more people to practise homosexuality.

(3)  “Moral standard is culture-relative, changes with time and is not absolute”: The slogan is used to exclude absolute standards from the realm of morality. Moral standard will then be decided and arbitrarily changed according to current secular thinking in the society.

·         The reality is: customs do change with time and vary with culture. But things that are inherently immoral will forever be immoral because man was created in the image of a moral God. There is an absolute moral standard, the standard of God. That is why murder is always wrong and telling a lie always pricks our conscience.

c.   All these are the rallying cry of secular humanists. Yet the saddest fact is that those mottos are sometimes adopted and even promoted as truths by many undiscerning Christians.

d.   Both Canada and the US were established on the foundation of Christian values (such as justice and equality). Without these values, our societies will be totally different. In the last few decades, there has been a deliberate and persistent effort by secular humanists to exclude Christian values and adopt secular values in the government. The result can be clearly seen from legislations and court rulings which are based on the culture of death. These include the legalization of abortion, the celebration of homosexual lifestyle, the coming legalization of same-sex marriage, and the likely future legalization of euthanasia.

State religion of secularism

A professor of constitutional law in the University of Western Ontario said in 2003 that “Canada now is a totalitarian theocracy” with a state religion of secularism, and “anything that is regarded as heresy or blasphemy (against secularism) is not tolerated.”

40.  How do secular humanists use “separation of church and state” to restrict Christianity?

a.   The restriction and exclusion of Christianity from the public and from public institutions are based on the excuse of “separation of church and state” (which has been shown to be bogus claim above), and the excuse of stopping Christians from forcing religion onto people from other cultures.

b.   Their strategies:

(1)  Ban the public display of Christian symbols (like crosses and Christmas trees) from public grounds (cemeteries, parks), public institutions (schools), and public view (street intersections).

o        The ACLU threatens lawsuits against schools that display Christmas trees.

o        Christian symbols (such as nativity scene) are banned from New York schools, while those associated with Islam and Judaism are expressedly allowed.

o        In Yonkers, a NY suburb, decorations in the schools were ordered to be limited to ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Season’s Greetings.’

o        In response, many people start referring to “Christmas” as Holiday. In 2003, the US Congress called the Capitol Hill Christmas Tree “Holiday tree”.

(2)  Ban any reference to God in public institutions (such as schools).

o        Atheists tried to eliminate the phrase “under God” from Pledge of Allegiance and a high court agreed. However, the US Congress immediately passed a law to reaffirm the use of the phrase. The case was heard before the US Supreme Court in December 2003.

o        In Tennessee, a firefighter erected a replica of the WTC in memory of his fellow firefighters who died on Sept. 11, 2001 but was forced to remove it because it contains the words “God Bless America”

o        In Pennsylvania, a teacher’s aide received a one-year suspension for wearing a small cross necklace at school.

o        The ACLU tried to dismantle many displays of the Ten Commandments from public buildings such as courts. In Alabama, the chief justice of the State Supreme Court insisted that a stone monument with the Ten Commandments should stay before the court building. He was overruled by a higher court and was removed from office and the monument was also removed. Nevertheless, there are still thousands of such displays in public buildings including the US Supreme Court Building. They remain the targets of ACLU litigation campaigns.

o        In Canada, an atheist homosexual MP tried unsuccessfully to remove the word “God” from the Constitution.

(3)  Stop all children from knowing or learning about God in education by:

(a)  stop all celebration of Christmas and any singing of Christmas carols in schools, while the observance of non-Christian festivities are allowed, such as the “Day of the Dead” at Halloween to commemorate dead relatives and pets in a California public elementary school.
(b)  prohibit any mention of Christianity in schools, including prohibiting telling stories from the Bible or using Biblical characters in assignments, while Islamic studies are promoted, sometimes even compulsory.
(c)  prohibite public prayers in schools

o        In Ohio, a 7th grade had an assignment to write a letter to someone who dramatically changed his life. When the boy put Jesus as the receiver, the teacher did not accept the assignment and insisted that Jesus was not a real person.

o        A first-grade teacher in Sacramento County, California, reported that her principal has prohibited instructors from uttering the word “Christmas” in class or in written materials.

o        In 1996, a student in New Jersey drew a picture of Jesus on a poster and wrote “Thankful for Jesus” for a kindergarten class Thanksgiving assignment. His school took it down from a hallway display. A year later, he chose his favorite Bible story from his beginner’s Bible to read out loud in class, but school officials would not let him read it. The boy’s family fought the restriction. As a result, President Bush introduced in 2003 an administration policy that allows students to express their religious beliefs in homework, artwork and other written and oral assignments, and calls on teachers to judge and grade on academic standards and without discrimination. The policy is being challenged in courts.

(4)  Prohibit any religious activities in public institutions by:

(a)  disallow religious organizations to receive government grants in providing social services, including women’s shelter, soup kitchen.
(b)  prohibit religious groups (such as Bible clubs or prayer groups) from using space in public institutions. Christian organizations are being discriminated against because of their religion while atheist groups, pro-homosexual groups can use the space. By prohibiting religious activities in schools, students are forced to accept secure humanism as the official religion. Fortunately, the US Supreme Court ruled that Bible clubs should be allowed in schools.

(5)  Future: Prohibit any reference to God in public. The following are potential targets for secular humanists in the US:

o        Good Friday or Christmas as holidays

o        “In God we trust” on US currencies

o        words in the Declaration of Independence of the words: “Nature’s God,” “Creator,” “Supreme Judge,” and “Divine Providence”

o        last stanza of the “The Star Spangled Banner”

o        any form of public use of the Bible

c.   Secular humanists claim that any Christian references in public should be banned so that people from other cultures would not feel uncomfortable or even distressed. However, new immigrants should expect to see Christian symbols (like crosses) and celebrations (like Christmas and Easter) when they move to North America, just like Christians would expect to see crescent moons and Ramadan in Muslim countries. They have no valid reason to impose their culture onto the majority of the population who are Christian. Otherwise, it becomes the tyranny of the minority. In any case, those claims were actually fabricated. Even some Jewish and Muslim leaders said on record that they do not feel offended by Christian references and displays.

41.  In what way can the government restrict religious freedom?

a.   Christians are being persecuted (imprisoned and murdered) in many countries (particularly Muslim countries) for their faith. However, in Canada and the US, more than three quarters of the population identify themselves and Christians (though many are only nominal Christians). As a result, atheists and secular humanists will never openly admit of restricting religious freedom.

b.   There are many covert ways that the government can use to restrict religious freedom:

(1)  controls mass communications, disallows a TV channel for evangelical Christians (the excuse was that some contents were hate speech)

(2)  passes laws to impose secular (im)moral standards on Christians

(3)  marginalizes and silences Christians by labelling them as “hate promoters” and their opposition to immoral acts as “hate speech”

o        Bill C-250 (which prohibit hate speech based on sexual orientation) will lead to declaring the Bible as hate literature because the Bible describes homosexuality as immoral. It will then lead to restrictions on the distribution of the Bible such as to high schools and in hotels.

(4)  threatens as well as actual termination (de-certification) of charitable tax-exempt status of churches and pro-life organizations

(5)  makes rulings and sanctions against Christians by undemocratic liberal judges which were appointed by the government

c.   Future: In the past 30 years, secular humanists and atheists have routinely use the courts to silence Christians through litigation against anything that they don’t like. Because of frequent successes of secular humanists in getting the help of the government and the courts, they are likely to continue their past strategies. The worse for Bible-believing Christians is yet to come.

d.   Conclusion: The government has the power to put Christians into extreme difficulties. Once an anti-Christian government took power, we are at the mercy of it. In order to continue our work of extending the kingdom of God, we must take steps (such as social action) to prevent (or at least make it more difficult for) anti-Christian politicians to get political power.