The Framers and the Faithful

Fr. Jim Tucker links to an intriguing article in the Washington Monthly about the relationship between Evangelicals and the separation of church and state. Having once been a Baptist, I can assure you that they take separation very seriously. In fact, my former pastor once gave a sermon which extolled that concept as the greatest gift that Baptists have ever given to the world. But I, along with Steven Waldman, sense a little bit of irony in the move afoot in conservative Evangelical circles to influence politics in Washington. Is the “moral majority” betraying its forefathers? It seems like many Evangelicals are now espousing a more nuanced look at separating church and state: that the state should keep out of the business of the churches, but the churches should take every opportunity to influence the policy, particularly in social matters, of the state.

I’m perfectly happy with such a view, of course, since it meshes quite well with Catholicism. Since we are not dualists, we can’t separate politics from religion. I cannot leave my moral convictions at home when I go to the polls, or if I were in public office, I would be unable to vote for bills that go against my faith. So, naturally, the Church, through me and through others, would influence the government. However, since the government has no authority on matters spiritual, the opposite should never be the case.

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