THOMAS OSWALD: Maintain separation of church and state
In reading recent letters to the editor many writers have suggested that we in the United States and our government adopt the concepts of the Bible and everything will be fine. I have no problem with American Christians adopting principles of the Bible for themselves. However, having the government impose biblical values and principles on the American people would be a mistake. America is a very diverse society and becoming more so every day.
Our Founding Fathers were shrewd in adopting the First Amendment of our Constitution, which leads to the separation of church and state. Church and state have different objectives. The church’s objective is the perfection of the individual whereas the state’s objective is the welfare of society. When the state is used to enforce the church’s laws, we make religion an instrument of fanaticism and oppression.
Religion has a powerful influence in society. It can bring about good or evil. We must all remember that in the world and in our country there are several major religions (also nonbelievers). Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.
A significant amount of the violence in the world is religion-related. This usually occurs when extremists obtain influence within a major religion and are intolerant of other religions. These religious conflicts are rarely reported in the U.S. news media.
Today, in Nigeria, Indonesia and the Philippines, the Christians and Islamists are in conflict. In India, Hindus and Islamists are. In India, Christians and Hindus are. In Thailand, Buddhists and Islamists are.
Here in America much religious discord has been avoided by our First Amendment and separation of church and state. It is important that we keep it that way.