Baptists and Atheists in Agreement: Separation of Church and State

Baptists and Atheists in Agreement: Separation of Church and State May 10, 2010

I spent quite a bit of time today recording a phone interview with Luke Muehlhauser for a podcast that will appear on Common Sense Atheism. It touched on my “Golden Rule approach” to historical study and interaction with other traditions, as well as evolution, the Clergy Letter Project, and much else. While we certainly have differences, Luke’s “Golden Rule Atheism” and my own “Scooby Doo Christianity” are not as far apart as one might initially assume they must be.

Afterwards I came across this video (via Why Evolution Is True) in which Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation articulates what is also the classic Baptist view of the separation of church and state. Anyone who understands the nature of American democracy and its safeguards for the freedom of religion would be unlikely to disagree which anything in the video.

I’ll also share one more of their banners, even though it is worth noting that, while the Treaty of Tripoli was signed into law by John Adams, the language itself was penned by Joel Barlow, US Consul.

There are many things that Baptists and atheists might disagree about, but hopefully we can stand together for the separation of church and state, and resist the attempts of some in our time to rewrite the history of the United States in ways that puts religious freedom at risk!

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  • I thought it was interesting the day of prayer started in the 50's. Didn't in God we trust also pop in at that time? I think it was a Cold war reaction to communism, which seems like a good idea at the time. I wouldn't mind stamping our coins with "KILL A COMMIE FOR MOMMY". It may have out lived it's usefulness, now that atheism is not the defining feature of our top enemies. I don't think that Christians should try to hard to define America as a Christian organization our its people as Christian. Christianity is a transnational phenomenon and its members owe there first allegiance not to their state, their nation, or their family. The loyalty of a Christian should always be suspect because there first loyalty should be to the way, the truth, and life. Thus I'm a little suspicious of churches that wrap themselves in the flag and patriotism.

  • James,Historically Baptists have stood for separation of church and state. Roger Williams founded the colony of Rhode Island as a safe haven free from religious persecution. He also started the first Baptist church in the new world. Unfortunately, Baptists have not always followed this principle. In the 1950's due to the "red scare" of atheistic communism,the national day of prayer was instituted as well as the insertion of "under God" into the pledge of allegiance and "in God we Trust" on paper money. As Barker points out, the Billy Graham (a Baptist) was very instrumental in this.In the 1970's, Jerry Falwell (a Baptist) began his Moral Majority and the Christian right was born. Baptists need to go back and read their history!

  • Amen to that, Ken! 🙂