Church and State

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In recent months, two high-profile Trump Administration officials have suggested that Trump’s presidency was ordained by God. In interviews with the Christian Broadcasting Network, both White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested that God wanted Donald Trump to be president to further the faith-based causes in which Christians believe.

These kinds of statements are a disturbing intrusion of religion upon government in the U.S. While Sanders and Pompeo are entitled to their religious beliefs, the fact that they are at high levels of the U.S. government makes their comments inappropriate and indicates a willingness on the part of the Trump Administration to defy the Constitutional separation between church and state.

At the very beginning of his presidency, Donald Trump moved to ban people from Muslim countries from entering the United States. It was a transparent bone tossed to his base of white, anti-immigrant Americans. It was also a nod to the religious right that helped elect him despite his less than savory moral character.

Over the past few years he has named an unapologetically religious Secretary of Education who is determined to see private (read, “parochial”) schools get the benefit of U.S. tax dollars. He has praised statewide efforts to have the Bible be used in public schools.

The rhetoric of the Trump Administration has been heavy on condemnation for the persecution of Christians by ISIS in the Middle East. I agree that such persecution should be called out and even acted against wherever possible. But there has been no such outcry in this administration about the mass killings of Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar. I think it’s obvious why Trump has chosen to champion the rights of the former over the latter.

Members of the Christian right keep crying about their religious freedoms being trampled upon. If anything, the Trump Administration is working overtime to assure the ascendancy of Christianity over any other religion in the United States. This is the antithesis of what the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

Many countries in the world are theocracies. There is one established religion, and if one practices any others, he or she risks prosecution, imprisonment, or even death. One of the reasons that religion thrives in America is that our right to practice our religion free from government interference has been enshrined in our Constitution. The separation between church and state is a fundamental principle that is being flagrantly ignored by this administration.

It’s time people of all faiths – or no faith at all – stand up and demand that our leaders adhere to this basic freedom that makes our country great.

 

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