Friday, November 25, 2005

The Godless Constitution Chapter 3 - Roger Williams and the Religious Argument for Church-State Separation

I think I can do the next two chapters relatively quickly. This chapter covers Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island (your probably guessed that already). In specific it covers his argument against an established church, which was made on specifically religious grounds. It's easy enough to understand why people who aren't religious or people who are of a different religion than the dominant one would be in favor of a godless constitution. But there are valid reasons why you might not favor it even if you are of the dominant religion.

Incidentally, the authors words of praise for the tight intertwining of church and state in several New England states puts further lie to the suggestion that they want a Godless America.

Williams reasoned that the ability to govern, like the ability to farm, was not particularly tied to religion. It implicitly implied that an atheist might be as good at governing as a devout Christian. Of course, we have not had an atheist president and the current political climate makes having one unlikely.

He also noted that politics had a tendency to corrupt religion; the religious feelings and ideals, when appropriated for political purposes, lose their holy trappings and become just another ploy. Given the nature of politics (and I mean politics in all of our history), I can see his point. You can't take a silk scarf into a pig sty and expect it to stay clean.

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