Faith and Politics: How the Separation of Church and State Allows for us to be Faithful Citizens
September 29, 2020
When most people hear the phrase, “separation of Church and State,” they think it means leaving faith out of politics. However, it really means that the State cannot control the Church. We can freely practice faith because the government cannot impose religion on the people.
The use of this concept was first used by Thomas Jefferson. He was addressing Danbury Baptist Church in Connecticut who were afraid the first amendment would not fully protect their religious freedom. Jefferson assured them that the state could not control the church, which is where this concept that is not in the Constitution came from.
The phrase has been manipulated to encourage intolerance and discourage people of faith from participating in the public square. In reality, people of faith should be encouraged and welcomed to participation in the public square. Religious beliefs give people strength to create a better society.
As a people of faith, we are also called to stand up for our faith and our God. “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father,” (Mt. 10:32-33).
As Catholics, we are to support candidates who have a political agenda that matches our beliefs, not just someone Catholic in name only. These beliefs include:
- Abortion: The Catholic Church is pro-life, which includes being very anti-abortion. Catholics are called to support candidates who respect life from conception to death. The USCCB says it very well in “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship:” “[We need to] keep our nation from turning to violence to address fundamental problems—a million abortions each year to deal with unwanted pregnancies, euthanasia and assisted suicide to deal with the burdens of illness and disability, the destruction of human embryos in the name of research, the use of the death penalty to combat crime, and imprudent resort to war to address international disputes.”
- “[We need to] protect the fundamental understanding of marriage as the life-long and faithful union of one man and one woman and as the central institution of society; promote the complementarity of the sexes and reject false “gender” ideologies; and provide better support for family life morally, socially, and economically, so that our nation helps parents raise their children with respect for life, sound moral values, and an ethic of stewardship and responsibility.”
- Helping families in need through immigration the right way: “Achieve comprehensive immigration reform that offers a path to citizenship, treats immigrant workers fairly, prevents the separation of families, maintains the integrity of our borders, respects the rule of law, and addresses the factors that compel people to leave their own countries.”
- “Encourage families, community groups, economic structures, and government to work together to overcome poverty, pursue the common good, and care for creation, with full respect for individuals and groups and their right to address social needs in accord with their basic moral and religious convictions.”