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Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

Separation of Church & State

Posted Saturday, March 3, 2012, at 3:47 PM

When the United States was established as a new nation the Constitution of that nation expressly provided for a separation of church and state. The United States is often called a Christian nation. And yet after two hundred and thirty-six years of this new nation's history the Christian Church has continued to fail to live up to her responsibility inherited in the teachings of the founder in which she takes her name. Because of this failure the Federal Government has stepped in and taken over some of the responsibilities that the Church has failed to perform. Is there then truly a separation of church and state?

At the Council of Nicaea the church leaders accepted the history and teachings of the Hebrew texts as part of her official canon. There was much discussion and debate but finally the texts for the New Testament were chosen and finalized and the Church now had her Bible. If you listen to the prophetic voice of the Hebrew texts and the New Testament you can't help but notice the proclamation for a Social Gospel. There are three Trinities proclaimed in the Bible. The third Trinity is proclaimed in the New Testament consisting of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The first two are the prophetic voices of the Old and the New Testament Prophets instructing all those who fear God and want to live in his blessings to care and provide for the widow, the orphan and the stranger in the land. If one scrutinizes the teaching and actions of Jesus you will find that Jesus disregarded many of the Old Testament laws but always acted and taught within the boundaries of a Social Gospel. And yet almost two thousand years after the last prophets decried our failure to fulfill our responsibility to the human Trinity the Church has still not fulfilled her calling. I repeat my first question "is there then truly a separation of church and state?

Why is it that personal piety is the main of Christianity and not a Social Gospel? Why can't there be both? In our religion we accept and proclaim that man is created in God's image. And yet millions are living is a state of starvation, poverty and oppression. We see it every day on the evening news. We read about it in the newspapers and on the internet. And yet there is not a concerted voice of the Church speaking out and fulfilling (what I call) her responsibility. All that the Church really has is her moral currency. She either speaks out on the basis or morality and grows stronger or stands back and conforms to the current situation and becomes irrelevant.

In this country there are literally millions of people who require help or assistance or they will fall through the cracks of our society. Due to downturns in the economic growth of the nation and the loss of available jobs that will support people more and more Americans are falling out of the middle class into poverty. Most people in the middle class are only a few paychecks from desperation. As they say, "It's a recession when your neighbor loses their job; it's a depression if you lose yours." Is it too late for the Church to begin to act; to make things easier for those she is charged to care for or will the Federal Government always be required to cross the line in the separation of Church and State and support them? To paraphrase NANA DOT, Until we realize that we are social beings, that only when we act and work and share together do we EVER achieve how great we truly are.

I'm John Q.


Comments
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Good column. It is "separation" as you wrote in your first sentence. Perhaps, you and your column were separated from the headline writer?

-- Posted by upsedaisy on Sat, Mar 3, 2012, at 9:52 PM

Thx.

-- Posted by John Q. on Sat, Mar 3, 2012, at 11:20 PM

What "Church" are you talking about that doesn't act? The United Methodist Committee on Relief has been helping people all over the country and all over the world.

My personal church has a mission committee that helps the food pantry, that helps adopted families, that sponsors mission trips all over the U.S. to help tornado ravaged areas, to help flood ravaged areas. When the Joplin tornado happened, MY church didn't hesitate to give both money and goods to help. I could go on ALL DAY about what the "Church" as I know it does to fulfill the mission you say we are not working towards.

Just because they're not loud about it, the "Church" isn't doing anything? I think not.

-- Posted by koeller77 on Sun, Mar 4, 2012, at 8:51 AM

Nothing like feeding someone once or twice a year say on Thanksgiving and maybe Christmas to make us feel good about ourselves. If all of the people in Marshall who need assistance had to rely on the churches here in Marshall they'd be running out of room at the cemetery. The people of the faith were charged with the responsibility of caring for those who couldn't survive without assistance not just help out here or there. Those costs today run in the trillions of dollars. That's because the poor, the disadvantaged and the week have been oppressed and forgotten by others unless it directly effected them or someone in the family. What about, maybe, if we had been trying to help all along things wouldn't have gotten so bad because it was costing us directly and not through a third party agency. The truth is that the problem exists because the majority of the people just don't care. And so we have delegated this responsibility to the governments of the world and they each react differently. The actions of Saloth Sar is probably to worst or most inaccurate example to give but it allows us to see the extreme responses that have happened.

-- Posted by John Q. on Sun, Mar 4, 2012, at 10:33 AM

Hey kid, yea I'm still alive. I've been out of town working on a project in St. Francois Co. Boy has this been fun? Yes that was a question. I haven't been back to Marshall since January 1st. This blog is just something that I work with a lot because of my faith and as you know I get more that the usual number of responses. I thought that if I put this out there it just might just strike a cord and hopefully people would look at this problem in a new light. What do you think?

-- Posted by John Q. on Sun, Mar 4, 2012, at 10:58 AM

John Q,

I think you make an excellent point.

It brings to mind all the good that could be done for those living at the bottom rungs of our society by the cost of just one of those "Mega Churches" that I have seen where services appear to be more about entertainment than enlightenment.

Or the amount of good achieved with all the money that goes into politicians pockets, the goal being to win elections and control the judiciary, therefore buying favor in the courts, attempting to force modern versions of morality on the "un-saved." That, right there, must take a lot of effort. Mountains could no doubt be moved, or entire nations fed, with less work.

I always liked the quote from Ian Wrisley, "Politicians need religion far more than religion needs politicians."

-- Posted by Smart Dog on Sun, Mar 4, 2012, at 1:31 PM

Smart Dog, I hadn't heard that quote before but it is right on the money. There are also people who do not believe in a God and all that applies to him in the Bible, Koran etc...

We have a whole lot of people who begrudge the monies spent by the goverment to prop up that segment of our society. By the way, the government is not spending any money it has earned it is spending tax payers money for programs that should be unnecessary.

As it is right now the Church barely supports itself. I think it would be impossible for them to act in a concerted and meaningful way to relieve the suffering that is all around us. Like I said the Church can either speak up and address this issue that effects so many or keep silent and accept things as they are. Even if the Church woke up today and started today to be a force addressing this issue millions would die before the committee meetings were planned and an effective machinery put into place to address the issue. The biggest question would be where are we supposed to get the money to handle this responsibility .Believing in the impossibility of the situation just condems million to a slow agonizing death.

I heard it in a gospel song, "only believe, only believe, all things are possible if you only believe." Now how about doing something about it. As long as the government handles the situation it will never be the primary agenda of the Church, but it should be.

-- Posted by John Q. on Sun, Mar 4, 2012, at 3:42 PM

Just like Job. You must have done something or this wouldn't be happening. To many people start life off all wrong by choosing the wrong parents.

-- Posted by John Q. on Mon, Mar 5, 2012, at 10:20 AM

John Q. - In respect to the churches and only feeding the families once or twice a year - our area churches run two food pantries. One, a full-time, year-round food pantry, run entirely by the churches; the other, a mobile food pantry that comes once a month that is affiliate with one of our Catholic churches.

My point is this - I don't think you can paint "the Church" with a broad brush. My church provides services to people EVERY day, regardless of color, creed, age, or sex. Just because we don't shout it from the rooftops, doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

-- Posted by koeller77 on Tue, Mar 6, 2012, at 3:13 PM

Federal social entitlements that redistribute income to the poor in the form of a hand-up, IE food stamps, welfare, and other programs having nothing to do with religion and do not violate any Constitutional protections.

The church has have never, ever even come close to meeting the basic, secular, physical needs of the World's poor.

Such an effort is way to important to leave to religion -- religion that has a particularly bad track-record in that regard.

See Haiti, the Philippines, or Mexico's millions and millions of poor for more on this.

-- Posted by news across on Tue, Mar 6, 2012, at 3:32 PM

Sell the Vatican!

-- Posted by What the f...... on Tue, Mar 6, 2012, at 5:28 PM

No body ever speaks of the tax money spent to Kill others in the world! Seems like that's ok for the Government to do! But to give help to the People of this Country, it's not.It's because their lazy! Take my Tax money and give it to the Poor! I'm not a Religious Person, but i do think we should take care of the unfortunate.That's my Religion!Personally i think it's up to our Government too take care of the unfortunate,not the Church.Its good for them too help but, they can't make a dent in the need!

-- Posted by Jo on Wed, Mar 7, 2012, at 12:45 AM

Jo, you may not believe it but I agree with you. Before we had a government, before this country existed we had the Church. According to the Bible scriptures the church is mandated to care for the unfortunates. It is because of the failure to address this problem that the governments of the world had to step in and take up the slack.

The Church is in a privileged class. She doesn't pay taxes on property or income. I don't know if the figures still fit but at one time the Church was the largest land owners on the European continent.

Even when the Church was all powerful the effort put forth was miserable. More effort were put into vying for favor with the royalty and aristocracy than supporting the human trinity. Those who could least help themselves suffered. Can you imagine your family starving and your father goes hunting, kills a deer for food and ends up in a dungeon for killing one of the Kings or Bishops deers. What I asked in the article not only when with the Church acknowledge her responsibility and role in this situation but when will that happen.

-- Posted by John Q. on Wed, Mar 7, 2012, at 12:20 PM

NanaDot, that would be the logical decision that some believers and most non-believers would come to. I don't think that anything should be off the table in addressing this situation. If a man or a woman refuses to provide for their children they are not held in high esteem is this society. In reality it's just not people who do this.

-- Posted by John Q. on Wed, Mar 7, 2012, at 12:34 PM

News Across, At one time, when welfare and social security were about to be initiated as a national police the Church was offered the role of administering the programs and it refused. That supports your position that the programs have nothing to do with religion.

You said, "the church has never, ever even come close to meeting the basic, secular, physical needs of the world's poor." That also has been my statement. The reason being is the Church has never really tried. In personal piety it has always been accepted that there were those who would perish for want.

Due to the social stratification of our society, both within and without the church, I honestly believe that the Church couldn't perform an equal and unbiased effort to assist the poor to this day even if the effort was made. Yes we all have "Civil Rights." Even if I didn't want too I still have to work with you; eat, ride, fly and even fight with you (military service) but I still don't have to worship with you. The churches are still segregated institutions. Sure there are exceptions to cite but on the whole we still have our white churches, our black churches and as some would call them our fringe churches. To this day certain people in our society are still prohibited from participating in worship services because of personal addictions or sexual orientation etc... The Church is not inflexible, when it became politically incorrect some mainline churches started to make exceptions. I Corinthians 5:12b & 13b went out their window.

Some mainline churches still haven't felt obliged to do so.

-- Posted by John Q. on Wed, Mar 7, 2012, at 1:54 PM

Koeller77, If all of the federal subsidies dried up tomorrow, next week or next year do you think that the churches are ready willing and able to step in and do the job? I'm not just talking about the churches in this country.

Look at the bigger picture too. Let's say today a coup d'etat takes place anywhere in the world. Communications, transportation and all civil services halt somewhere on the planet. What would happen?

-- Posted by John Q. on Wed, Mar 7, 2012, at 4:43 PM

Pesky detail....what do you mean by "the Church?" Are you speaking of all churches, worldwide? Or do you have just one church in mind?

-- Posted by Miss Marple on Wed, Mar 7, 2012, at 6:36 PM

As I said in the blog the prophetic voices of both the Old Testament and the New Testament exhorted the people to care for the human trinity. It's interesting to note that the same prophetic rules are also found in the Koran and other East Asian religious traditions. Before the rise of nationality consciousness we were all travelers and strangers in the land.

-- Posted by John Q. on Wed, Mar 7, 2012, at 8:22 PM

The master of not answering questions directly is with us again....

-- Posted by Miss Marple on Wed, Mar 7, 2012, at 8:34 PM

Miss Marple, if you reread the blog and the comments made back and forth I think you'll find that the answer to your question is obvious.

-- Posted by John Q. on Wed, Mar 7, 2012, at 8:56 PM

By the way Miss Marple my interest is in seeing the Cristian Church as concerted body wake up and hear the prophetic voices and act. As Christians, as well as in the military or at work we are not supposed to ignore the orders of our leaders.

-- Posted by John Q. on Wed, Mar 7, 2012, at 9:03 PM

Reading your blog made me dizzy trying to figure out what you're saying...which is why I asked. Finally, now you clarify it's the Christian churches you're talking about. Religious organizations of all stripes and types the world over help the poor. The problem is not that the government has "taken over" that responsibility. The problem is that there are just too many people EVERYWHERE living in unbelievable conditions. It's too much for churches, governments or even private entities to take care of them all. It may be that your own church isn't doing enough, by your lights, but that does not mean that no church is doing anything.

-- Posted by Miss Marple on Wed, Mar 7, 2012, at 10:14 PM

Do you agree or not with my statement that from the beginning the church was obligated to do this? Either way the church didn't. If the resources assisting those who can't help themselves dried up tomorrow from the federal government millions would die before the church, including yours, all churches could mount a unified plan to help those she was supposed to help in the first place. My position is that had the churches been doing what I said they should be doing maybe the need would not be so great. One of the examples that I referred to was Saloth Sar. He dealt with a whole class of people in his country that were not useful to his new government.

-- Posted by John Q. on Wed, Mar 7, 2012, at 10:33 PM

With all due respect, John Q., every church I know of is doing everything they can to help those that they can reach. But as Miss Marple pointed out, there are too many people living in horrific conditions for all the churches put together to reach. Churches, like the government, have finite monetary and people resources.

You can posit that had the churches been doing what "they should have been doing" that there wouldn't be that much need. But perhaps had the churches not been hamstrung throughout the ages by various governments banning churches, and denouncing churches to their citizens, they wouldn't have become so much weaker over the last centuries.

-- Posted by koeller77 on Thu, Mar 8, 2012, at 11:00 AM

koeller77, there's no doubt that all of the factors that you mentioned have contributed to the situation we now have. If you check into it I think you will find that of the total monies churches take in and the percentage of that money that goes to humanitarian efforts is disappointing.

How much of the income of a family goes into supporting the families requirements for food, shelter, clothing and medical? From the beginning the Christian Church has been mandated to care for the members of her family. All I am saying is that the Church has failed miserably just in hearing and following that mandate. Following the teaching of Jesus is her calling. Jesus required his followers to "love your neighbor as yourself" and to provide for others. With the conditions of the poor in this country alone I say that she hasn't done a very good job.

-- Posted by John Q. on Thu, Mar 8, 2012, at 11:43 AM

How much of the total money the government takes goes directly to humanitarian efforts?

You can't give money and people to humanitarian efforts if you can't keep the lights on and the money coming in at the church.

Specifically, however, UMCOR keeps its operating costs at less than 10% of their total budget.

---

But let's ask a separate question, John Q. Do you go to church? Do you tithe - that is, TRULY tithe...giving 10% of your income to your church? How many people in this country can afford to do that, do you think? Because before you criticize this "Church" for not doing their job, let's look at where their funding comes from...their flock. And if their flock can't give 10%...do we blame that church for first ministering to the family closest to them?

-- Posted by koeller77 on Thu, Mar 8, 2012, at 12:23 PM

Once again...I do not see the point of your column at all. It's headed "Separation of Church & State," which is an entirely different subject from the one you are attempting to discuss here.

If the question is "Does anyone do enough to help the world's poor?" the answer is no. It's not always because the need isn't there or the will isn't there. It's because all the available money in the world cannot alleviate the suffering of every person. It just isn't possible. And it is NOT the responsibility of the "church" as a whole to do it, in any case. Every person, every individual person, is called upon to aid those in need. Isn't that the real call from the Bible?

-- Posted by Miss Marple on Thu, Mar 8, 2012, at 7:48 PM

koeller77, Yes I do tithe to the church that I am serving now.

Miss Marple, the point of the whole blog: Had the church started doing what it is mandated to do by direct commandment 2000 years ago we may not have the situation as bad as it is in this country.

The church didn't! Now the government is required to perform the service that the church has turned it back on for so long. It's that simple. Also when you say that something is impossible you deny God's ability to bring about change.

-- Posted by John Q. on Tue, Mar 13, 2012, at 7:50 PM

Let me see if I understand this. It's your position that "the church" failed to perform its responsibilities 2000 years ago so we can lay the blame for all the nation's poor people on the "the church?" Or on the government? Or is it both? And what about the time BEFORE 2000 years ago? Religious worship was going on long before the Christian Era. But, of course, the good ol' USA didn't exist then, so......I think I'm done here...you're talking in circles. Nothing new.

-- Posted by Miss Marple on Wed, Mar 14, 2012, at 3:18 PM

I'm sorry Miss Marple that you can't seem to understand. Throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament, God's message to us is that we are to care for the less fortunate. Read 1John 3:17

-- Posted by John Q. on Thu, Mar 15, 2012, at 9:45 PM

Just couldn't help myself...did you not notice that I said that myself several postings ago? Yes, we are ALL called, as INDIVIDUALS, to help the less fortunate. Nothing in the Bible or anywhere else says it has to be the church or government. NOW who doesn't understand? Oh, wait...it's YOU.

-- Posted by Miss Marple on Fri, Mar 16, 2012, at 8:56 PM

Did you notice what I have said throughout the blog and in response to other comments back and forth? Judaism has had over five thousand years to respond to the calls of all of her prophets. Christianity has had almost two thousand years to heed Christ's directions; neither has done so!

The church established in the name of Jesus Christ should follow his example. You can't love your neighbor as your self and allow others the suffer. It's really that simple. If the church had made a priority to heed Christ's for everyone rather than Christian turning to personal piety the situation might be so bad today.

-- Posted by John Q. on Sat, Mar 17, 2012, at 11:43 AM

So, John Q - you say the church established in the name of Jesus should follow his example. That includes you, I believe? SO, you'll be selling your house, you'll be selling the clothes off your back, and that car, and contributing it all to those in need, right?

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need." Acts 2:42-44

"32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God's grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. 36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means "son of encouragement"), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet. " Acts 4:32-37

Yeah. I didn't think so. Don't be slapping our hands, and saying that MY church isn't doing enough that we aren't following the teachings of Christ, until you are willing and ready to do just that.

-- Posted by koeller77 on Mon, Mar 19, 2012, at 9:50 AM

koeller77, you ask a question and then answer it for me based on what you think.

The Roman Emperor Hardian ask Aristides to tell him about the Christians that he has heard about. Aristides replied, "they love one another. They never fail to help widows; they save orphans from those who would hurt them. If they have something they give freely to the man who has nothing; if they see a stranger, they take him home, and are happy, as though he were a real brother. The don't consider themselves brothers in the usual sense, but brothers instead through the Spirit, in God.

If a pagan ruler would ask someone, an advisor, to tell him about Christians today would he say the same things. If yes great then we are doing what we a commanded to do. If not, then why not?

It's commendable that you defend your Church, but as I said previously, "if all of the people in Marshall who need assistance had to rely on the churches here in Marshall they'd be running out of room at the cemetery".

-- Posted by John Q. on Tue, Mar 20, 2012, at 11:53 AM

Well, John Q. - prove me wrong!

Do you have a car? Do you own a home? Do you own property? If so, you aren't doing what Christ said to do either.

Have you literally give then the shirt of your back to that person on the road with the sign "Will Work for Food"? Do you invite the homeless into your home and share your meal with them? Do you give them a place to stay? If not, you aren't doing what Christ said to do either.

I'm just tired of the hypocrisy of slamming "the church", and saying that "it's not doing what Christ taught" when YOU AREN'T EITHER. First of all, there have always been fewer Christians than there are people in the world, and so there's ONLY so much "the Church" can do. Second, there are OTHER RELIGIONS out there that espouse 'taking care of your neighbor' - NOT just Christianity. It's not just MY church I'm defending...it's Christianity, as you have lumped every single Christian together in one group and decided that no one but you is doing enough.

-- Posted by koeller77 on Wed, Mar 21, 2012, at 10:39 AM

koeller77, based on your Christian faith are you saying that it is impossible? Can you say that the primary concern of your church is helping those who can't help themselves. Are you trying to justifing the churchs lack of action as the norm because of the numbers. Why not ask your priest or pastor what the primary duty of a Christian is. It starts with,"hear oh Israel", and ask why the church isn't doing it. The question I asked refers to seven thousand years of failing to follow commandments.

As I said in the blog, at one time the government offered the responsibility of administering the programs to one church and it turned them down. At that time the only church that was actively (their main focus)reaching out to the unfortunate was the Salvation Army.

And in response to your question, yes I have walked the streets in KCMO and KCKS passing out coats and gloves and trying to get an accurate count of the street people there. I have spent nights in the winter time checking on the street people and taking those who require medical attention to the free medical clinic. All of the clothing and vehicles were furnished by the Salvation Army. All I had to put in was my time.

What have you done?

-- Posted by John Q. on Mon, Mar 26, 2012, at 7:30 PM

Once again, John Q, you miss my point: The church IS doing it. The problem is, there are far more needy than there are churches and church members to help them.

As for me, I HAVE given of my own clothes, of my own money, of my own property, stopped in the street to buy groceries for those in need, organized collections, and taken in those who needed shelter into my own home, as the Bible has commanded. You? You've given time. Big whoop.

Once again, you still haven't answered my question - why is this SOLELY the problem of the Christian/Jewish religion? Why aren't you calling out Islam or Hinduism? They both teach the same things - taking care of other people, taking care of your elders. Stop blaming the Christians - there are just as many Hindu & Islam combined as there are Christians in this world.

This blog entry was a vendetta against the Church that you claim to embrace - what does Christ teach us about that?

-- Posted by koeller77 on Tue, Mar 27, 2012, at 8:45 AM

koeller77, The problem is not soley that of the Christian Church. The problem really is with the members of the church, any church. If you think that the problem is to big or that it is impossible then your evidently believe that there are some things that God can't do.

Without a concerted effort from the churches you are right. If you really think that the Christian Church is doing all that it can then are walking around with blinders on. Listen to what I have said repeatedly in this blog and tell me you don't believe it,"If all of the people in Marshall who need assistance had to rely on the churches here in Marshall (alone)they'd be running out of room at the cemetery!"

This blog is not a "vendetta against the Church. The repeated cheap shots are unnecesary. In this blog all I have stated is facts that you can either agree with or disagree with it.

-- Posted by John Q. on Tue, Mar 27, 2012, at 3:25 PM

Oh yeah, big woop. That was kind of childish don't you think. This is not a blog to cut people done or try to martyr yourself. If you have been doing all that you can I applaud your efforts. My statement has and always will be that the Church has failed to do all that is possible to lessen the suffering that is all around us.

-- Posted by John Q. on Tue, Mar 27, 2012, at 3:38 PM


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Larry Maxwell is a retired businessman who often writes about topics related to faith and religion.
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