Different Views: What role should faith play in government?

Religion and government must remain separate

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof: Isn’t that clear enough to the right wing evangelical Republican Party? No individual should be denied belief in whatever form of worship or lack of believing in organized religion that suits their individual needs, even if it is completely out of the mainstream religious menu.

One’s moral compass can be as straight as an arrow and have absolutely no ties to any religion. Or it can be completely supported by ones belief in a deity and be warped beyond comprehension.

However to plow the furrows of governing, with a Bible/Koran/Book of Mormon/Torah/worship of Brahma/enlightenment of Buddha or whatever as the guidepost to what should or should not be done for the country is to violate the most precious right guaranteed by our Constitution. There is nothing wrong with accepting religious teachings. But it cannot be the absolute. Religion can serve as one way of providing the moral compass needle. Religion cannot be used to advance one’s beliefs at the expense of the rest of us as the extremists seem to want to do.

To govern our “one nation under…” without using the “God” of the elected official is the key. Faith is personal, to force one interpretation on all is wrong. Atheists and Agnostics have the same protection under our Constitution as the “cross placing Baptists” across from Perdue Stadium. To have it otherwise will destroy our democracy. Tolerance is the guidepost. Anything resembling the hatred and bigotry we have seen from the fanatics is to ignore that threat our Deist founders found necessary to incorporate into our Constitution.

Geoff Smoot


Why should all Americans conform to one faith?

“”All religions must be tolerated … for … every man must get to heaven his own way.” — Frederick the Great

Thomas Jefferson, a Deist, had the same right to spiritual belief as did George Washington in his Anglican Church or to Benjamin Franklin, who had no faith at all. History teaches us that when government becomes entangled in religion, the result is catastrophic: war, rapine, torture and violence. All in God’s name.

Our country is a secular nation of many faiths, which must be allowed to breathe freely. It is only when a particular faith begins to proscribe mores and practices for all to follow that government begins to weaken.

This country now teeters on the precipice of misunderstanding the tenets of religious freedom. Why should we not understand that each person’s journey is individual and different from his or her fellow’s journey? Why should it be considered right for a group to assume all who come together pray alike — or pray at all? Why should a group assume all have the same beliefs in teachings about sexuality, family matters or observance of a creed? Why must all conform to the faith of the majority?

This country is still maturing in considerations of faith. Jews were despised, black men lynched, Catholics burned out, witches burned and Muslims defamed — much of this in the name of religion. We have grown greatly, but must continue to affirm the validity of the faiths of all in this country.

“Every country has the government it deserves.” — De Maistre

Barbara Doyle Schmid

Ocean Pines

Religious tolerance, not religion, should reign

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