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    Separate for a Reason: Re-Examining Separation of Church and State in America
    Janet Ruth
    A former federal prosecutor, Janet Ruth adds her perspective to an increasingly volatile debate over the separation of church and state. Combining her extensive law background with her Christian faith, Ruth challenges Christians to consider a third side to the Church/State debate, one which places an emphasis on giving our allegiance to God.

    Price:  $3.69

    book excerpt

    From Chapter 2:

    The United States was founded on a principle that there is a God and that God gives rights to men which may not be infringed by the government. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This theory of government is different from that of divine rule, where the king, emperor, or pharaoh represents God on Earth and has full authority over his subjects. It is also different from an agnostic or atheist theory of government where the government answers to no greater authority than the strongest of its members and rules by might rather than right.

    Of all the rights supposedly given by God, the right to religious freedom was perhaps the dearest to our first citizens. Many of the early settlers fled from the religious persecutions of Europe, seeking the freedom to belong to a religious affiliation of their own choosing. Religious liberty—the ability to decide for oneself what to believe instead of having religious beliefs imposed and enforced by the government—was a top priority for the founders of our new government. The government they created was based on a belief that all men (and women) are answerable first and foremost to God for their moral choices in life.

    But there is a paradox in this theory. The paradox is that our liberty, which is based on faith in God, includes the freedom to ignore God’s moral law or even to deny his existence. Madison recognized this in his essay objecting to taxation for the churches: “It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage, and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to him.” He further argued: “Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and to observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us.” Not even the Christian ideals so important to the maintenance of the government could be imposed by that government, for “Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?”

    This, unfortunately, leads to an even greater paradox; that is, that the founders built their theory of a republic upon a belief in God while intentionally refusing to define any particular belief about God to be correct. Citizens of the United States were encouraged to live by religious principles, but they were left free to identify and interpret those principles as suited their own conscience. They could choose between the strict moral code of the Puritans, the more permissive attitude of the Anglicans, or even the theories of the Deists who sought to understand God through reason and nature and denied the divinity of Jesus and the authority of the Bible. The writers of the Constitution sought to create “a more perfect Union,” but on matters of religion the very liberty they fought for demanded that they be allowed to differ.

    From Chapter 5:

    When we truly look at America and our public acknowledgements of God, we find there is little more to it than ceremonial trappings. It is a compromise that, for the most part, we are comfortable with. We can claim God’s guidance for our nation, ask for his blessing, and call ourselves “godly” because we live in a nation that “believes” in God. This is the third option, the compromise between a single, true religion and no religion at all. We keep our public references to God and the trappings of our Christian heritage but remove from them any real meaning. We give honor to God in a form of religious observance with no substance. We practice a one-size-fits-all religion which calls on a “God” who is tolerant of all beliefs, there when you need him, and always forgiving. But does such a God even exist?

    From Chapter 7:

    “All people on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3). This promise from God to Abraham is his promise to us as well, and to all who become children of the promise through faith in Jesus Christ. We who hold the keys of God’s kingdom in our hands should be more concerned with the Great Commission than with the Ten Commandments. We should be actively shining the light of God’s love in the world through service to others instead of demanding that others change their lives for our comfort. We should be inviting the lost to put their lives under God’s control instead of reinforcing a false belief that we are a privileged nation “under God.” We need to throw away the crutches of moral laws and religious ceremonies that do not justify us in God’s sight and stand on faith alone. We need to show the world that true religion needs neither the support nor the approval of the governments of men in order to survive and thrive. We need to build a firm wall of separation between our flawed, human government and our divine calling of worship to God.
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