Ven. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once said that not 100 people hate the Catholic Church, but millions hate what they mistakenly think the Catholic Church is. There are a lot of misunderstandings regarding Catholic Teachings. Perhaps few of the Church’s positions are as misunderstood as our view on the separation of church and state.
The United States of America was founded on the principal of separation of church and state. Our forefathers took this to mean that the Federal Government should neither choose an official State religion, nor persecute or oppress any religious group or its adherents. The is, essentially, what freedom of religion is. It wasn’t long, however, before many Americans began taking this principal even further.
Eventually, the separation of church and state went from granting freedom of religion, to guaranteeing that religious beliefs of individuals-in particular, Christian beliefs-would have absolutely no influence on government. Many Christians were guilty of succumbing to this idea. For example, John F. Kennedy once told an audience of concerned Protestants in Texas that he would “vote his conscience, not his religion”.
This was a ridiculous statement by Kennedy. Christianity can never be totally separated from the State. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once said that Christianity can never be removed from society-of which government is a part-because Christianity is not merely a set of beliefs. Indeed, Christianity is much more. Christianity is a way of life. It must be lived, not just believed.
I suggest, that our forefathers never actually intended Christianity to be totally separated from the State. It is well known that Thomas Jefferson was a Deist. What is not as well known is that Jefferson supported using Congressional funds to have a chaplain in the Capitol. Jefferson supported holding prayers before Congressional sessions. He even supported allowing services to be held at the Capitol.
Benjamin Franklin was also a Deist, but he attended church services every Sunday. He said that doing so set a good example for others. Franklin also believed that encouraging people to live by Christianity’s moral code was beneficial for society.
George Washington was a member of the Episcopalian Church, but his membership was only nominal. Washington was a known Free Mason, and he really held no solid belief in God by his own admission. Yet, although he refused to bow his head and pray, George Washington attended church every Sunday. He did this because he felt it provided a good example for others. Washington also supported living according to Christian morality.
It is clear from even a cursory view of America’s past that our Founding Fathers never intended for Christianity to be completely left out of government. There are many who would argue that making laws according to Christian morality would force non-Christians living in this country to essentially live by a moral code they don’t believe in. I don’t accept this argument. The fact is that all laws impose on someone. Are we to have a lawless society just because some people might get offended by our laws?
As crazy as it sounds, there are those who believe we should legalize pedophilia. These pedophiles claim that they aren’t ill, they’re just attracted to children. Besides, didn’t many girls get married, in the past, even as young as 10 or 11 years old? If girls that young had sex with grown men before, why not now?
Or what about the ancient Athenians? When the parents of a young Athenian boy wanted him to become a philosopher they would send the boy to live with a philosopher to study with him. The boy could sometimes be as young as 6 years old. As payment, the philosopher would be allowed to have intercourse with the boy for the duration of his stay in the philosopher’s home. If such a practice was allowed in such a highly “civilized” society as Athens, then why can’t it be permitted here?
These are just some of the defenses for legalizing pedophilia. Apparently, the rest of us are supposed to have sympathy for these poor, oppressed sickos. Laws against pedophilia force pedophiliacs to abide by a moral code they don’t agree with. Should we just legalize pedophilia then? Absolutely not!
Every law imposes on someone. We can’t just negate a law because a group or groups don’t like it. We must examine the law to see if it truly benefits society, or not. How is that decided? Well, even our non-Christian Founding Fathers accepted the Christian moral code for our country. Maybe we should do as they intended us to. It worked!
Peace in Christ,
David J. Pollard
American Catholic Solidarity