An insightful new audio commentary by Dr. Paul Kengor:
For too long, this country has suffered from a severely misguided understanding of church-state separation, fostered by secular liberals/progressives. And now, those same forces—or at least those devoted to President Obama and so-called “abortion rights” above all else—are employing that very misunderstanding in an assault upon the religious freedom and consciences of Catholics. They are doing so, of course, via the Obama mandate on contraception and abortion drugs.
The problem begins with the very notion of “separation of church and state.” Huge numbers of Americans mistakenly believe those words are chiseled into the Constitution, ascribing to them a tremendous weight and power that plainly do not exist. In fact, those words are not found in the Constitution at all.
To the contrary, the First Amendment ensures “the free exercise” of religion.
Well, if the words “separation of church and state” appear nowhere in the Constitution, then where are they?
Jefferson, the newly elected president, assured his Connecticut friends that they had no fear from the federal government, which would not intrude upon them and the practice of their faith—nor, as Jefferson put it, their “rights of conscience”—given that their relationship with God was between them and God. The purpose in this historic Jefferson-Baptist exchange was to protect not government from religion but religion (that is, religious people) from the intrusion of government.
And now, 200-plus years after Jefferson’s letter and the signing of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, we are left with too many liberals/progressives too often incorrectly telling us that at the crux of religion in America is a sacred “Constitutional” anchor called “separation of church and state,” which means that your individual faith should not disrupt or disorder society and the state. You must take your faith out of the public square and confine it to yourself, your home, your church.
That’s wrong. And that wrong is now breeding yet more wrongs.
For Catholic Exchange and Ave Maria Radio, I’m Paul Kengor.