Christianity and the Separation of Church and State

This document addresses a popular but irrational interpretation of “the separation of church and state.” It’s a fairly common belief today that the separation of church means that the government is required to operate in a completely neutral way when it comes to religion. I would like to explain why this view is both irrational and dangerous to liberty. As I’ve said before, philosophical neutrality is fallacious and when an interpretation of the constitution is irrational, it could easily lead to tyranny.

The Founders’ Thoughts

It is possible that some of the founders believed they were neutral to all religions, but it is clear that they didn’t design a system of government that would actually work that way. The constitution merely disallowed the federal government to govern what they considered to be the exercise of religion. It is well known that the founders didn’t want the federal government specifying certain matters for the states or for the individual. The problem is that they also made claims based on the existence of God, that did apply to everyone. Unfortunately for us, the range of practices considered to be personal choices and the ones considered to be moral and virtuous for all, are not really self-evident to everyone today. As Christians, we must realize that no matter what the constitution’s problems are, our God is real, what He demands of government is not optional for anyone.

We do know that many of the founders favored Christian principles and those principles were reflected in the things they said and wrote. Here’s what some of the prominent founders of the United States said:

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim tribute to patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness — these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. . . . reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.” – George Washington, First President of the United States, Farewell Address

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams, Second President of the United States

“Providence has given to our people the choice of their ruler, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” – John Jay, First Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, Second Governor of New York

The Absurd Results of Religious Neutrality

No matter what a person believes about it, complete religious neutrality isn’t possible. It isn’t achievable because religions frequently define opposing sets of requirements. At best, a government can only pretend to be religiously neutral. Consider the religious practices of human sacrifice and cannibalism. If the United States government were really neutral, it would be required to allow these things to take place. It’s obvious to most of us that the government should not allow this, but by not allowing it, the government isn’t really being neutral.

This pretended neutrality also makes it easier for a government to destroy itself. We have seen this appear in the United States as some have suggested that the system of government itself is not neutral and must be dismantled. This is a crafty method of revolution because even if the government is torn down, a new non-neutral government will fill the void.

Over 100 years ago, a well respected pastor in England named J. C. Ryle, gave us this warning:

“To tell us that a Government must leave religion alone, because it cannot promote it without favouring one Church more than another, is simply absurd. It is equivalent to saying that, as we cannot do good to everybody, we are to sit still and do no good at all.”

J. C. Ryle (J.C. Ryle on the Government’s Role)

Opening a Door to Tyranny

When a government pretends to be religiously neutral, it damages the rule of law. It enables a tyranny to be empowered by a well known philosophical error. In logic, it’s well established that if you allow a single inconsistency in your worldview, it can be used to prove anything you want it to. This is sometimes called The Principle of Explosion. If a person can convince you to believe in a contradiction, it paves the way for them to manipulate you. If an inconsistency is used as a means of government, it can be used as a manipulation technique to make all of its behavior seem reasonable when it really isn’t.

If a government doesn’t admit its bias, it actually opens the door to tyranny. By choosing when it will pretend to be neutral and when it will not, it can make its subjective philosophy dominant over the objective philosophy of others. Since the founders intended our country to be governed by law not people, the only workable interpretation of the separation of church and state must be one that allows the government to continue to operate by law. The only way for a society to be governed by the rule of law instead of man is for that law to ultimately be in subordination to God’s law. This is a Christian principle and it was a common belief in the west at the time our government was being formed.

What Christians Believe about Government

Christians firmly believe that each person’s decision to become a Christian is personal and autonomous. If a person were to be forced to become a Christian, they would not really be a Christian. Christians also believe that whether or not you choose to be a Christian, all mankind must obey certain civil laws. These civil laws are clear and obvious in the Bible. They include things like fornication, theft, murder and lying in court. The Bible teaches that Christian morality is to be upheld, even among non-Christians. Because Christian principles are based on God’s law in the Bible, no man or government can avoid or change them. This standard exposes human tyranny and promotes liberty because every individual knows that they are free to think and speak as long as they live within the clear and simple civil laws of God provided in the Bible.

Conscience

Some might wonder how Christians would expect non-Christians to abide by their Bible’s civil laws? The answer is that God has placed a conscience into each person, whether they choose to become a Christian or not. For instance, even in places where the Bible isn’t known, people know that murder is wrong. They also know that cheating, theft and taking someone else’s wife is wrong. The problem is that mankind tends to purposefully corrupt his conscience in order do things that give him pleasure. A person’s inner compass can be suppressed. God’s written civil laws go along with a person’s conscience and a good government merely enforces that conscience so that people can live together in freedom and harmony. This may be distasteful to those who are accustomed to living for their own passions in spite of their conscience, but it is the best thing for them and for their community. More importantly, it is what God, or Creator requires.

Further Reading

J.C. Ryle on the Government’s Role
Read more about what a honorable pastor and follower of the Bible said about the the Church and state.

Rebuilding America’s Foundation
This is something I wrote as I lamented the moral deterioration of the United States. It contains some more quotes that you may want to see by American leaders regarding the Christian worldview that forms the foundation of the American republic.

The Fallacy of Neutrality
I develop the Pretended Neutrality Fallacy a little bit more in this article demonstrating that it is immediately self-refuting.

Exploring the Limits of Civil Government
This document does a better job of explaining the true role of government. The reason that there is a separation of church and state is because God is the only one who gives authority to men and He made the distinction between the two. This is an exploration of the doctrine of governmental authority.

The Christian foundations of the rule of law in the West: a legacy of liberty and resistance against tyranny
This is a very detailed document that discusses issues regarding the history and application of the rule of law in western governments.

220 Days in Luke – Day 103: The Separation of Church and State
I also commented on this subject in my devotional commentary in the book of Luke. You can find that here.

Clear Evidence that Universal Masking Isn’t Necessary

After carefully considering COVID-19 recommendations, I came to a very strong conclusion that mask mandates have nothing to do with the danger of being infected with COVID-19.

The CDC has this recommendation regarding masks:

“CDC recommends that you wear masks in public settings around people who don’t live in your household and when you can’t stay 6 feet away from others. Masks help stop the spread of COVID-19 to others.”

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html

First, it’s important to note that this is a “recommendation.” There are no “mask mandates” on the CDC website to the best of my knowledge. Americans should know that these mandates are both illegal and immoral as I detail in a previous article.

The main reason that I assert that mask mandates are wrong, is that they spread a lie that COVID-19 is a dangerous disease. Evidence recently came into focus that has clearly exposed the inconsistency of the experts regarding when the disease is infectious which calls universal mask wearing into question.

One thing that God teaches us is that we are to judge people by what they do, not by their words alone. What a person does, exposes the truth about what they really believe. Here’s what James said:

“Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. 18 Yes, a man will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

James 2:17-18

God tells us that when a person says he believes something, but does something else, we are not to believe what that person says. What a person does, demonstrates what he really believes. This fact turns out to be very important when it comes to the CDC’s recommendations and the truth about mask wearing.

What exposes the CDC’s deception is their recommendations regarding testing. Here’s what they say about that:

“Considerations for who should get tested : People who have symptoms of COVID-19, People who have had close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes) with someone with confirmed COVID-19, People who have been asked or referred to get testing by their healthcare provider, local or state ​health department”

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html

When it comes to actually deciding who has COVID-19, the CDC says that they only want to test those who have symptoms, or those who have spent 15 minutes with another person who was confirmed to have the disease. This exposes who the CDC really believes are dangerous.

The experts apparently don’t believe that people without symptoms are sick enough to even test for the disease. This doesn’t match with what the CDC says in another place:

“COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.”

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html

These experts are only testing those who are sick even though they say that it “may be” spread by people without symptoms. They want us to live by what they say while they live by a different rule.

What does this have to do with universal mask mandates? It has to do with what the CDC said in the first quotation in this article. They claim in that quotation that “masks help stop the spread… to others.” What it actually means when you put all of these things together is that masks help stop the spread of the disease from a harmfully infected person to others who are not infected. Since the actions of the experts demonstrate that only people who show symptoms are worthy of testing, it exposes the fact that only those who have symptoms should be wearing a mask.

A person might argue that the only reason that the CDC doesn’t want to test people without symptoms is because they don’t have the resources to test everyone, but that’s not a good argument anymore. A recent article in the New York Times exposed the fact that the tests themselves are measuring people who have the virus but are not sick enough to test positive. The unrevealed fact was that it is possible to have the virus without being contagious enough to be a concern to the experts.

“The standard tests are diagnosing huge numbers of people who may be carrying relatively insignificant amounts of the virus. Most of these people are not likely to be contagious, and identifying them may contribute to bottlenecks that prevent those who are contagious from being found in time.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/29/health/coronavirus-testing.html

The article goes on to remind people that they should only seek out testing if they are truly sick. If the argument for testing is that people who don’t have symptoms are not even “COVID-19 positive,” why should those who have no symptoms be required to wear masks? What the experts are doing doesn’t match what they are mandating that we do.

This doesn’t change what Christians should do about mask mandates. As I mentioned before, God’s requirement has always been that only those with symptoms of certain diseases should be required to wear masks and be isolated from others. God’s law has no requirement for universal mask wearing. What has been revealed here is merely a confirmation of what we should already know from God’s word. When an individual knows that he has a contagious disease, he should isolate himself and may even need to wear a mask. This allows the rest of us to support the community while those who are sick, get better.

This brings up the question: If experts don’t really think that masks reduce the spread of COVID-19, why do they insist that we wear them? We may never really know the specifics of what they are thinking, but God has made it clear what we should do.

“You were bought with a price. Don’t become bondservants of men.”

1 Corinthians 7:23

For More Information

Worse than the Disease
When we see misleading information like this that comes from a government agency, it should cause us to ask some questions about what we need to change. This article explains what I think we should do.