There has been a great deal of discussion in the GOP presidential primary battles relating to the separation of church and state. Most all that has been said on the subject by three of the candidates appears to have been for their own political gain. If the truth were known I’m not sure any of those candidates wants to defend their real position on this subject. Regardless of an individual’s personal convictions, there clearly is a need for separation of church and state. A good example of why it’s so important can be found in the words of James Madison, who has been called the “Father of the Constitution.” Madison, who served as the fourth President of the United States, writing on the subject in 1822, had this to say:
Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together.
I firmly believe that the religious and spiritual beliefs of a person mold that person’s thought process as well as their conduct. That includes the conduct of persons who are elected to public office. But I also believe there has to be a clear division between spiritual beliefs and the convictions that accompany those beliefs and the imposition by elected officials of their religious beliefs and convictions on their fellow citizens. That certainly applies to the person elected as President of the United States. Most all Presidents, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and even Ronald Reagan, saw the need to have a wall of separation between church and state.
Let’s suppose that the American people were to elect Mitt Romney as President this fall. In that unlikely event, I suspect there are some who wouldn’t want him to force his Mormon religion on the American people. But you could also say the same for the religions of the other candidates. President Madison’s observation is still sound advice and I believe we should listen to the real meaning of what he said almost 200 years ago.
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