Separation of Church & State

For the record…..I was raised Catholic. I was sent to a Catholic school for 8 years. Not so much for religious reasons, but because my parents felt they offered a more advanced education. And once I became an adult, I understood that it was to also build on the moral compass that I received at home. And it did. The nuns made sure of this! Yes, they were strict. Bad behavior was not tolerated. We attended mass five days a week before school started. We studied Catechism and it was a major subject that we got graded in. We collected pennies at home and had a little box the school provided. This was for the Missions. So we learned to give back and help those who had less. Overall, I’m glad I had those formative years. I think they served me well in many ways. However, my parents were not overly religious. So at home, I always felt comfortable questioning a lot of the religion I was studying. Like the immaculate conception. Turning water into wine. Walking on water. In all honesty, even as a child, much of seemed more like a fairy tale to me. 

When it came time for high school, I begged to attend the public one. And after much thought, my parents did allow me to attend Salem High. However, when I married and had children, I chose to also send them to the local Catholic school for 8 years. For the reasons above. But once my kids graduated, organized religion became a matter of choice for them. I felt I had given all three a good education and good guidelines, which hopefully, would serve them well. And it did.

And by the time I reached age 30, I had completely drifted away from organized religion. Again, for many reasons. But the groundwork had already been formed and I found myself questioning religion even more as the years went by. And by the time I reached age 40, I had swapped organized religion for spirituality.  But in the early 80’s, during the Reagan years, something happened politically that had me thinking back to grade school. To a time when we studied separation of church and state. I still recall how emphatic the nuns were to make sure that we understood this! That this separation was in our Constitution and it was vitally important. As an adult, I marveled that at a Catholic school our teachers were adamant about this subject. I had grown up with neighborhood kids who were Protestant or Jewish……they might designate they were Lutheran, or Episcopalian or Baptist, but most of the time they just said they were Protestant. But in the early 80’s, all of a sudden I was hearing the term “born again Christian.” I’ll never forget my mother calling me to ask what this was. I had no idea. The term Christian had never really been used in regard to religion. But as the 80’s went along, more and more this term was being used. And within 10 or 15 years, strangers were telling me to “Have a blessed day” and many small businesses made sure the public knew they were “Christian.” All of a sudden, everywhere I turned I was being bombarded with Christian radio stations with Christian music, Christian book stores, hair salons, even restaurants. 

I’ll never forget when I first began to see people in restaurants join hands, and pray out loud before they began eating their food. I did not see this in a religious way at all. I was taught you pray at home, you pray in church and if you prayed in public, you did so silently, to yourself.  So I have always felt that these people, praying out loud in a restaurant were really saying, “Look at me. I’m a Christian. And I’m really a much better person than you are.” I will never understand why they must publicly make sure the rest of us understand this.

And with all of this said…….religion is a free choice, or at least it should BE. So my irritation is when these Christians go out of their way to force their beliefs on ME. Their beliefs on birth control, abortion, gays, women’s rights, etc. The rest of us are not telling them to feel the same way about these issues as we do. Not at all. Nobody is forcing them to accept birth control, gays, etc. They have a choice to accept it or not, but they do NOT have the right to tell the rest of us we cannot have this choice. And when it involves the law? THIS is precisely what separation of church and state is. It’s in the Constitution. 

But unfortunately, slowly, over the past almost 40 years, that part of the Constitution is being slowly eroded. Separation of church and state has lost the true definition. And with the current Administration, this part of the Constitution becomes more and more concerning to me every single day.

See you here next time……………….

10 thoughts on “Separation of Church & State

  1. The more I read your blog, the more I feel we are soul sisters. You are, however, more eloquent than I in expressing our mutual feelings. I will miss your stories but am enjoying your blog immensely.

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  2. I’ve said the same thing all along. If you don’t believe in abortion, for example, don’t have one, but don’t interfere if I choose to do so. My own sister is a converted Mormon and I had to tell her early on to keep that away from me. She usually does but when she slips, I let her know. To me “freedom of religion” means “freedom from religion” also but these “born-again” people seem to think it means they’re free to insist the rest of us do things their way. I admit I shocked a Mormon missionary when she complimented the dress I was wearing and then started asking me about my religious beliefs. She was so young that I wonder if she’d ever heard anyone say “I don’t have any and I don’t need any and I don’t need to be saved.” She asked if I really meant it and when I said I did, she seemed to be unable to come up with a response. Since it was a crowded restaurant and I was trying to eat my dinner, I simply asked her to leave then (and she did so her manners weren’t totally lacking).
    I was reared in a non-religious household although my parents did send us to Sunday School every week (since my dad was military and we moved a lot, I attended quite a few of the Protestant denominations as well as Catholic church services). I don’t remember any of them being as intolerant of other beliefs as the current crop seems to be, though I remember some religious pushback when the Catholic Kennedy ran for President. The current climate scares me a lot since I’m not ever going to agree with them about how to live my life.

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    • Exactly! Freedom FROM religion is just as important as freedom OF religion! The Jehova Witnesses at my door years ago were bad enough! I just couldn’t get over that they’d actually come to my HOUSE to try to convert me! Boy, was I in for a surprise when those Christians began making themselves known!
      Religion should be a very personal choice! And I sure do not want them in MY face helping with MY choice !

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      • I’m sorry, I missed the part where they asked you to join in. Well, I agree with you; that’s presumptuous on their part and a total invasion of your privacy. Not sure I believe in the concept of proslytezing in whatever form. Spirituality is such a personal thing that I think that if we don’t have a designated path, we should come upon it (or not) in a more natural way than a “sales pitch.”

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  3. I’ll never forget when I was a child and saw people walking around on Ash Wednesday with marks of black ashes on their foreheads. When I asked my father about this, he said: “They are Catholics. It’s none of your business.” To this day, if I see anyone practicing a religious ritual in a public place, I don’t assume they are being pious or trying to send a message that they are better than me. Instead, I just think it’s none of my business. Specifically regarding saying grace in a restaurant, I think it sends a message to the children of the family involved that their beliefs are something they carry everywhere with them, not just to do at home.

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    • Sure, praying out loud in a restaurant IS there business…..UNTIL I’m with the people in question and they expect ME to join hands and pray with them. That I have a huge problem with! There were no children involved. It was some adult females out for a meal.

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  4. Sorry, I missed reading the part about them asking you to join in their prayer. Agreed. That is presumptuous and an invasion of privacy. Expression of a religion or spiritual path is so personal.

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