Separation of church and state is intended to keep each from interfering in the workings of the other.
Separation of church and state isn’t just ensuring that government leaves religious groups alone – but that the religious groups also do not interfere with government. No lobbying from the pulpit, no interference with voting.
In fact, any charity that receives monies or tax consideration is generally not permitted to lobby the government. It’s a conflict of interest.
In the current Republican candidate race, Mitt Romney, Mormon, raises all the specters that John F. Kennedy did when he rans for and became the first Catholic president.
It’s something that I didn’t really understand as a teen in the 1980’s and not seeing that Christians view Catholic as a separate religion.
It’s curious, since all Christian sects have basically sheared off of the Catholic Church, being the oldest and longest continuous sect. After all, isn’t one of the commandments about respecting your parents?
In any event, while the concerns and objections to JFK was that the Pope would be the de facto President; the concerns about Mitt Romney and Mormonism are entirely different.
The Catholic Church is generally characterized as an out of touch, non-relevant, corrupt and systemically abusive, it is viewed by Christians as a religion whereas the Mormon Church is usually deemed to be a cult.
As an outsider, I honestly can’t see any meaningful difference between the Catholic Church, Christians (Evangelical, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Baptist, Methodist, Anglican, etc) and Mormons.
They include the same stories, with Mormons going an extra testament, the same cast of characters and pretty much the same gender roles and behavioral norms and a lot of the same beleifs, social attitudes and bigotry.
Truly, is there really a difference if a person believes that Armageddon will happen someday vs a given particular day?
Separation of church and state isn’t just a guide for how government and religious groups interact and relate to each other – but also a guide for how citizens are meant to interact with each.
Which means, you are supposed to vote for the person or party you beleive best qualified for office – not who you’d be happiest to share your pew with.
Politicians used to shake hands and kiss babies, now they have to trot out their religious beliefs as if these are qualifications for office – which is precisely what the Founding Fathers of America sought to avoid. No religious test for office.
That doesn’t mean that a politician can’t be religious, but rather that what they do in office must arise from the law of the land – not handed down from on high.
The idea of a president who believes that they have a direct line to God and the ability to destroy the earth multiple times by launching nuclear weapons, should be terrifying to any thinking person – no matter what their religious or not beleifs are.
I worry far less about disorganized terrorist groups with nukes, bio or other mass destruction weapons – than about a government led by a religious zealot who is no different than the disenfranchised terrorist.
Nations need to be lead by facts on the ground, reality, science.
We cannot have governments who do nothing post disaster because extreme bad weather is punishment for immoral behaviour.
There is a place for religion in people’s lives and communities; humans haven’t evolved beyond religion yet, but it’s not in the highest office of the land or in the policy room. Religion, being so widely varied, is not a solid or rational basis for policy or good governance.