Thursday, February 02, 2006

Separation

"That phrase isn't in the constitution!" His reponse statement surprised me. I'd heard it before but I didn't expect it from him. I agreed with him. The phrase "separaton of church and state" isn't in the constitution but it is a descriptor that can be useful when discussing the relationship between religion and government.

I did a quick web search on "world religions" and found the following:

  • Christianity: 2.1 billion
  • Islam: 1.3 billion
  • Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion
  • Hinduism: 900 million
  • Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
  • Buddhism: 376 million
  • primal-indigenous: 300 million
  • African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million
  • Sikhism: 23 million
  • Juche: 19 million
  • Spiritism: 15 million
  • Judaism: 14 million
  • Baha'i: 7 million
  • Jainism: 4.2 million
  • Shinto: 4 million
  • Cao Dai: 4 million
  • Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million
  • Tenrikyo: 2 million
  • Neo-Paganism: 1 million
  • Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand
  • Rastafarianism: 600 thousand
  • Scientology: 500 thousand


This list is neither complete nor detailed enough to give me a correct understanding of the fragmentation of religious beliefs. Now many native American belief systems exist? Navajo (Dine) and Hopi aren't listed separately. What about Christians? Beyond the major divisions (Catholic, Protestant, etc) there are subdivisions. Protestants can be further divided. Some Baptists don't consider themselves to be protestants but, regargless, Baptists can be further divided into smaller divisions such as Two Seed in the Spirit Predestinarian Baptists.

The question I'm asking myself is "how can these diverse and sometimes opposing groups co-exist harmoniously?"

The list above is intended to be all-inclusive. I fit in somewhere. Probably most people would put me in Christian or Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist. Where others classify me -- or where I classify myself -- doesn't matter to me. What matters is "how can we live together harmoniously with respect within one country and under one government?"

My religious beliefs or faith will affect my entire life. I can't avoid that. However, I can make a conscious effort to understand the limits of my faith. I try to avoid schizophrenia and approach life as a unified whole. By reading psychology, sociology, history, philosphy, the sciences, economics, etc, and opposing views within each, I try to find a common basis for all religions under one government.

For example, I may have a faith-based beleif about abortion -- for or against, doesn't matter in this example. Should I try to get legislation passed that makes my belief law? Perhaps, but the issue for me at the moment is how do I justify my actions? For myself, I try to find non-religious support for my position. Is my position supported by history, psychology, sociology, etc. If it is then I may choose to work for legislation using these justifications. My faith points the direction but my intellect and education lead the way.

What if I can't find support in history, physchology, etc? I stop and question my faith. I'm not perfect. I'll never have all the answers. Maybe this is one of those times that my faith is just plain wrong.

The phrase "separation of church and state" isn't in the constituion but I belive in it. That's one part of my faith that I don't question. I don't fear the "outside". Terrorism, other countries, other religious beliefs, other systems of government and science aren't sources of fear for me. I think we destroy ourselves from within. Without a viable form of separation of church and state, we may be headed for challenging times.

5 Comments:

Blogger Dan Trabue said...

You know, with the numbers of Muslims and other religions gaining on Christian religions, I wonder how differently people might feel about the separation of Church and state when they become the minority religion?

Straight democracy is great when you're in the 51%.

2/02/2006 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger graceonline said...

Thank you for bringing this issue to the fore, Paul.

Most of the religions you list have tenets of love, compassion, understanding, forebearance. Most decry violence.

If only each individual practicing his or her faith could find it in her heart to heal rather than condemn and injure when differences arise, our collective faiths might bring us all closer to heaven on earth.

2/02/2006 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger The Michael said...

Each and every one of us shapes our faith, or lack of it, on our own personal experiences, which include input from family, community, media, government, etc......as these things contribute to what you believe in. It's only natural that those emmersed in the culture of Islam think it's perfectly logical for the government to based upon and enforce the tenants of Islam. In the same manner, it has never occured to them to treat women in any other manner than they have. Just as we here in the West use our own twisted interpretations of our own bible to further our beliefs, so have the fundamentalists of the middle east used their own interpretations of Islam to justify their use of terrorism. If you make no effort whatsoever to understand what upsets muslims to such a degree that they want to kill you, you are left with killing them first, which is NOT the way I understand Jesus suggested we solve our problems. America will soon submerge itself into this intolerant morass that religeon helps to promote if we do not insure that worship is kept in church where it belongs, and what belongs to Ceasar is left to Ceasar.

2/03/2006 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger Davo said...

Oops, am not listed. Am just a 'me', though do think that
"What matters is "how can we live together harmoniously with respect .."
should apply. Dunno about the "one country" and "one government" though.
That's the trouble with 'americans', thinking that there IS only "one country" and "one" system of government.

2/03/2006 02:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry. We shall overcome. We are human beings. Not dog-mass.

2/06/2006 12:13:00 PM  

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