The First Amendment was intended to protect the church from the state, not to insulate the state from moral and religious values.
The question of application of Judeo-Christian ethics to public policy has generated serious discussion as well as some shrill and sadly misinformed rhetoric over recent months. Moral Majority has been the most readily available target. For some, it has been shocking to be confronted with large, organized groups of Christians who lobby for or against particular political positions.
There is, in a sense, good reason for this reaction: for nearly a century, large groups within the evangelical church have been virtually trapped in a type of pietism that often excluded public involvement. Why, then, in a society that has traditionally reveled in democratic action, are we not rejoicing that these people have finally come out of their cultural cloister? I personally believe the debate is healthy for our nation. I see the resurgence of a viewpoint that calls for strong foundations in ethics as a sign of hope in a culture that seems to have forgotten its roots.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution wanted to keep the federal government out of the business of the church. At the same time, they expected the church and its members to have influence in the development of this nation’s policies. They did not write the concept of absolute separation of the church from the state into the Constitution. And while not all members of the Continental Congress or the men who wrote the Constitution were practicing Christians, they lived within a framework of Christian principles, and they revered Christianity as a necessary undergirding for social structure. It was thus that Benjamin Franklin, a reknowned religious skeptic ...1
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