Why the church and state should not be separate

Published 20 May 2017

From the Lords infinite wisdom and mercy, he has given us men the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. He has given us a world filled with his creation to sustain and enrich our lives. He has in the words if the Bible, given us all that we need to live and prosper in the world.

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Of course this can be taken in the quite literal sense and in the less so. It can be said that God has given us a world perfect for our survival. The world he has given us provides us sufficient food, breathable air, and clean water among others that we need to live. However he has also given us a world that can be a bit wild at times, and it is here, that the more figurative sense of the earlier statement becomes manifest. He has given man the faculty of thought and free will. He has enabled us to survive and prosper as species by giving us superior intelligence. It is this ability, one that can be seen as man’s greatest boon, which can also mean man’s fall, in that it has made us into beings that covet and compete for the resources of this world, that has led man through the ages to continuously strive to bring order to his society through collectivisms more popularly known as the state.
The State

“A state is an organized political community, occupying a territory, and possessing internal and external sovereignty, that enforces a monopoly on the use of force.” It may or may not have an organized government to exist. However, for the purposes of this paper we will assume that the state is represented at least to some extent, by the government. It will also be assumed that the state in discussion is at peace and is internationally recognized as a legitimate government.

The state serves many purposes. Many would argue that the state is necessary to avoid chaos in society. Common sense would tell us that this is true. Allowing people to do as each would please would result to utter chaos.

The Church

For this paper, the church as in Christian doctrine is the religious community as a whole, or an organized body of believers adhering to one sect’s teachings. The word church translates the Greek ekklesia, used in the New Testament for the body of faithful and the local congregation. Christians established congregations modeled on the synagogue and a system of governance centered on the bishop. The Nicene Creed characterized the church as one (unified), holy (created by the Holy Spirit), catholic (universal), and apostolic (historically continuous with the Apostles). The schism of Eastern and Western churches (1054) and the Reformation (16th century) ended institutional unity and universality. St. Augustine stated that the real church is known only to God, and Martin Luther held that the true church had members in many Christian bodies and was independent of any organization.

Reasons for separation
For many countries the state should be separate from the church. In countries such as the Philippines, four hundred years of colonial rule under the Spaniards have led many to believe that the state should indeed be isolated from the undue influence of the clergy. In many cases the church’s intervention in the affairs of the state and the ensuing infractions are the main reasons for separation.

However, the church per se in not wholly to blame for this after all the clergy is just men subject to the dictates of their nature and is therefore prone to commit mistakes. The church in itself represents morality and goodness. It is this that we will be discussing in this paper.

Why not?

Steve Bonta in his paper, The State and Church should not be separate1, outlined the many reasons why. In this paper he mainly says that for the political structure of a nation to last and prosper, it is dependent on the morality and religion of its citizens.

The power of the government, the reason for its establishment, comes from the individuals consent to coalesce in order to protect their God given rights. God, who is the cause and final destination of all things pertaining to man and his existence, has given us the rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. This is a government’s primary concern.

This means that the government is there to make sure that all men get their god-given dues while avoiding the infraction to the rights of others.

Another consequence of the fact that God is the Source and reason for the State is that it exists to protect these rights and thus the government is under the individual’s welfare. For a government to sustain its existence, its citizens must continually adhere to the morals of the Church. After all imagine what would restrain a person if he knows that only the rules of men and not those of God govern him; if he knows that he is not accountable to a higher power than that of convention or sheer force? Our intemperate natures dictates that we be subject to rules otherwise we pave pour own ways to destruction.

Republican governments under God, then, are the truest champions of Liberty. God, has created us with varied and unequal endowments of talents and abilities. Under conditions of liberty, people with equal rights use their unequal God-given skills to create a society where every individual benefits from the talents of others.

Furthermore according to Bonta, the French revolution started distortions in these views; it is during that time that French declared that all sovereignty according to the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, the counterfeit of the American Declaration of Independence, resides “essentially in the nation. No group, no individual may exercise authority not emanating expressly there from.’ This has inverted the roles that government and people play towards each other. From heron the state must reign supreme as God has been taken out of the picture.

This is the primary cause of all the suffering of people from the state. Government that is subject to the whims of individuals who run it can give and retrieve the rights it has given to its people; rights that are in fact from the people. Morality is then translated into the obedience to laws that can change at any time depending on those who make it.

In this country we are free to choose our religion and to practice it without fear of State persecution. This right is protected by the constitution.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.2

The establishment clause, according to Bonta was only meant to protect religion from the state. This clause clearly puts a wall of separation between the Church and the Sate. By doing this the Founders are making sure that the state shall never overleap its bounds and infringe on religion and the church. By maintaining the autonomy of religion the people of this nation is assured that their God-given rights remain intact and that they will always be upheld in the Land of the Free.

Works Cited:

  • Bonta, Steve.(2006) “Why the church and state should not be separate.” Opposing Views Resource Center.
  • Thomson Gale (2003). The First Amendment. Accessed August 2, 2006.
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