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6/28/2005

Separation of Church and State

Two stories in the past two days have me very confused. Do Conservatives think the constitution provides for separation of church and state or not?

First, the US Supreme Court ruled that displaying the Ten Commandments on government property is only permissible in some cases and not ever prescience's if they are there for only religious reasons. From the
Argus,

"The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that displaying the Ten Commandments on government property is constitutionally permissible in some cases but not in others.

The court said the key to whether a display is constitutional hinges on the purpose behind it. If it is arguably posted because of historical ties, it is constitutional. But if the display primarily serves a religious purpose, it should be removed."

Of course this got all the Right wing "constitutional scholars" up in arms.

Robert Regier, director of the South Dakota Family Policy Council, said he sees no problem in displaying the Ten Commandments in a courthouse.

'It shouldn't matter if it's in a historical context or religious context,' he said. 'Religion, in particular the Judeo-Christian ethic, is the foundation of our judicial system.'"

Sure, so if you where say a Christian on trial in say Saudi Arabia and they took you to court and at the entrance was a huge display of a Koran, do you think it may give you pause? Of course Regier sees no problem with it, he's a Christian! Here is the good part though.

"Regier said the rulings on the Ten Commandments resulted from disagreements about what the separation of church and state means.

'They are twisting that phrase,' he said. 'That is not what the fathers intended. ... Separation of church and state never meant that God should be kicked out of the public square.'"

They are twisting the phrase? What do you suppose Mr. Regier thinks the phrase means? If the ten commandments can be placed on courthouse steps, then where would Mr. Regier draw the line? Of course this is exactly what the fathers intended. Nobody is keeping Christians from celebrating their religion anywhere they wish, except on government property. Sorry.

Now, today we find out that the state is trying to collect taxes from churches for certain items they have purchased from out of state. Now the Right wing "constitutional scholars" are at it again only this time they are actually saying this violates the separation of church and state which they don't even acknowledge exists in the first place.

Again form the Argus

"Armed with a 66-year-old law, the state revenue department is pushing churches to pay taxes on candles, Bibles, song books and other liturgical items purchased outside South Dakota."

Wait for it...

"It's corroding the separation between the church and the state, frankly," said Gary Nesdahl, executive director of the Association of Christian Churches of South Dakota, which represents about 1,000 churches in the state."

Corroding the separation between church and state which Mr. Reiger just told us doesn't even exist. Wow! My head is spinning.

Wait, there is more.

"When people put money in the offering plate, they're hoping it's going for the working of the church," says Kermit Staggers, a former state legislator who contends the Department of Revenue's action is a 'gross violation' of the principle of the separation of church and state."

A gross violation of the principle that doesn't really exist.

Can you take more?

"I think it's opening up a whole can of worms," Nesdahl said. "If you identify a church as a business and they have to fall under all regulations, we're looking at a different church. We're sort of flying in the face of tradition."

Sort of like that quaint old tradition of churches not asking who you voted for before deciding if you are allowed to take communion I guess.

Of course the answer to the question of whether Conservatives believe in separation of church and state depends very much on if it fits their current needs.

The GOP, party of opportunism.

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