Article on the Wall of Separation
On his website, booktalk member George Ricker wrote an article that I thought would be relevant to this discussion. In "Finding the line...Rebuilding the Wall of Separation,"
Ricker is careful to focus on issues he feels are "required to protect the fundamental rights" of U.S. citizens, answering three questions pertinent to such a discussion:
1. What is the fundamental nature of the relationship between our government and its citizens? 2. What protections are necessary to preserve our basic rights as citizens in a free society? 3. Why is separation between government and religions a necessary ingredient of those protections?
After a brief history, Ricker outlines the threat of allowing, as he terms it, "state-sanctioned orthodoxy":
When we allow, with a wink and a nod, the state to advance the cause of a particular orthodoxy or to express a preference for one set of opinions over another, we have substantially removed that protection. And when we allow that protection to be removed for any individual, we endanger the liberty of all.
Later, after illustrating the "traditional" uses of God on buildings, currency and in sayings, and noting that Americans do not worship the same god and some do not worship any god at all, Ricker asks a pointed question:
How then can a government agency, which has an obligation to treat all American citizens as equals before the law, express a preference for the "God" worshipped by some Americans? What business does a government agency have making any religious declarations at all?
Ricker also makes a comically salient point when he notes that many of the "traditional" uses of god, which apologists defend, only found their way into government settings in the latter half of the 20th century. "Indeed a decent respect for the tradition of our Constitution ought to lead to their elimination, not their continuance."
This is just one article on a website replete with useful and engaging writing. I often wonder why Ricker does not link more of his stuff to booktalk, as it is sometimes very topical to the conversation. I think perhaps he is wary of overstepping by flooding the forum with his articles, but I think his work can be very constructive.
I'm curious, George, if you had already been working on this article, or if our discussion on the forum prompted you to write it. I think that over the next few decades the courts, obviously, will be instrumental in securing or endangering the separation the founding fathers desired. I think it essential that we draw attention to these decisions and their results; an article like this could go a long way in awareness efforts.