The reason why the separation of Church and State remains so vital

Anyone who didn’t sleep through 8th-grade Civics remembers that America wasn’t intended by the Founding Fathers to be a Christian nation. They had a relatively recent example of what can happen when God and government are intermingled: England was a place where religious freedom was nonexistent and religious tyranny was the order of the day. The intent was to create a country in which politics and religion each had their own separate space. Neither would hold sway over the other; nor would any citizen be persecuted for whatever religious beliefs they ascribe to…or not.

In the ensuing two-plus centuries, demagogues have often tried to erase the line separating Church from State. Fortunately, our system of governance has worked as intended: Each attempt has been beaten back. Donald Trump represents perhaps the worst attempt yet to conflate God and government as cover for authoritarianism. Trump is no more a Christian than I am a Packers fan.

Of course we don’t worship government in America. That’s a statement as obvious as it is absurd. Still, there are those who view not being allowed to do what they want whenever they want as ipso facto proof they’re being denied their inalienable right to freely exercise their religious faith. Included in that belief is the conviction that they should have the right to force others to live according to their narrow moral framework.

The American Taliban believes they and ONLY they are the Chosen Ones and thus imbued with the right to install their belief system as the law of the land. This sort of authoritarian theology dovetails with Trump’s disdain for democracy, which explains the overwhelming support Evangelicals provide him.

It’s not a choice between worshipping government and worshipping God. It’s not a dichotomy, and it’s not even a real choice. Recognizing that God and government have their place but shouldn’t be conflated isn’t denying the role and importance of faith in this country. It’s recognizing the intermingling of theology and governance can only result in tyranny and corruption…which is exactly what Donald Trump is after.

Nice work, America.

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