The notion that our political views shouldn’t be informed by our religious beliefs is simply absurd. Those who hyperventilate about “theocracies” and “separation of church and state” (a phrase that many people now realize wasn’t in the Constitution) are just trying to silence Bible-believing Christians. If you take their views to their logical conclusion it would mean we should always do the opposite of what our religious beliefs would dictate.
We are self-governed, in the sense that we elect our representatives. Therefore, we are obliged to let our morality influence our political views.
Also consider that one of the complaints about Christianity is that parts of the church were “silent” during the Holocaust, slavery or civil rights movements, which in some people’s eyes implied approval.
The “wall of separation” argument has been misunderstood and misapplied. It is not in any founding government documents. Even when Jefferson wrote about the “wall” in a private letter, it was not in the context of the government limiting religious activities in public. It was to limit the power of the government to prohibit or interfere with religious expressions.
If you want to bring Jefferson’s letter into the debate, then fairness requires bringing in the background letters of the founders which reflect how they really felt about God and government.
Here is the First Amendment in its entirety:
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.
Now focus on the complete portion of the first amendment relating to religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . ” That’s it!
Was the intent of the 1st Amendment to restrict religious liberties or protect them? You need to answer that before addressing any related issues. The Bill of Rights was written to give rights to citizens, not government.
The first freedom in the First Amendment is religious freedom. The Amendment was made to give religious freedom to religious people so Congress could not pass laws limiting their freedoms. It was not written to protect atheists from religious expression in the public square. If you look at successive drafts of the First Amendment, this becomes more and more clear.
According to the Constitution, any state could have their own religion (provided that their own constitution permitted it). Not that I think that would be a good idea. Also, there is nothing to suggest that churches can’t partner with the government (though I am leery of churches that come to rely on government aid).
But do I want, for example, religion taught in public schools? Definitely not. There are countless theologically bankrupt churches I wouldn’t send my kids to on a bet. So why would I trust that any government sponsored religious teachings would be doctrinally sound?
The U.S. does not become a de facto theocracy if our religious beliefs inform our politics. We still need go in the public square to persuade the countless non-Christians that our views make sense. For example, when I train people in pro-life reasoning at the pregnancy center where I volunteer, I always break the reasoning into secular and religious arguments. It is actually quite simple to argue the pro-life position without using the Bible.
If atheists or people of other faiths disagree with us, that is fine. It is part of the process. But anytime someone acts as if your religious beliefs shouldn’t inform your political views, they are wrong.