The Connection of Church and State

The Connection of Church and State October 10, 2012

I am a big fan of the separation of church and state. I do not believe that it is appropriate for the government to privilege any religion, or impose any set of religious beliefs on its citizens. I don’t think that anyone’s religious views should be allowed to determine who may or may not get married. I don’t think that anyone’s religious views should be allowed to determine laws around abortion or access to contraception. I don’t think that we need to set aside time in schools to pray, and I don’t think that “under God” should ever have been inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance. There is no reason at all to teach “creation science” in biology class, as if any science were involved in the religious stance that all the overwhelming evidence for evolution should be set aside because the Bible says something different. It is not the place of a free, democratic government to impose the religion of some set of people on other people who may not share those views.

On the other hand, I’m absolutely in favor of people making political choices based on their religious views. How would you not? If your religion matters to your life at all, surely it has to inform your decisions about what laws and which individuals will work for the things that matter to you. If you follow the one who said “ For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me….Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” then surely you will vote for the candidate who seems the most likely to provide for the poor, care for the ill and have compassion for the immigrant and those in prison.

If you call yourself religious, it is your job not only to hold a core set of values that you understand to be at the heart of your religion, but also to go out and practice and advocate for those values in the world.

As a Unitarian Universalist, I would say that freedom is a central value among my religious peeps. But it’s not at the very center. At the core, the value we hold most dear is ever and always love. That’s why you see UUs in bright yellow t-shirts that read “Standing on the Side of Love” at rallies in favor of marriage equality and compassion for immigrant families. Love is where it’s at for us. When I vote, it’s on the basis of the practical application of the principle of love. Love for our neighbors, love for citizens of the wider world, love for the planet which we share with so many non-human beings. I am Voting on the Side of Love.

What values are at the very heart of your religious life? Where do you see those values taking shape in the political sphere? How will you vote for the heart of your religion?

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