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SuperMouse's avatar

How do you feel about Rick Warren's "Civil Forum for the Presidency"?

Asked by SuperMouse (30788points) August 15th, 2008

Here is a bit of background on the “Civil Forum for the Presidency” scheduled for 8:00 Saturday evening. It is to be moderated by Pastor Rick Warren. Does a forum such as this blur the line that separates church and state?

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30 Answers

winblowzxp's avatar

First off, there is no line that separates church and state. The clause in the 1st amendment is an establishment clause, not a separation clause.

aidje's avatar

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

I don’t see how it would be a violation (not to say that I’m any fan of Rick Warren).

lefteh's avatar

@winblowzxp: You must look beyond the wording of the First Amendment. You must combine the Establishment Clause with the Free Exercise Clause.

In the words of Thomas Jefferson:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their “legislature” should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

lefteh's avatar

That being said, as much as I would enjoy to spit in Rick Warren’s face, this is just another niche forum. The candidates often do forums that appeal to a specific audience, such as this one, the NAACP forum, and the renewable energy forum.

winblowzxp's avatar

Those two clauses protect you from Congress saying that Scientology is our Nation’s religion, and that you have to practice it. Much like England had done for centuries before.

lefteh's avatar

Oh yeah. You’re right. Thomas Jefferson, one of the guys that helped write it, is totally wrong.

winblowzxp's avatar

These too are his words:
“No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”

Doesn’t this sound a lot like the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses?

lefteh's avatar

Yes….
But since when are religious freedom and a secular government mutually exclusive?

winblowzxp's avatar

Those two clauses make them mutually exclusive. But at what point does Congress effectively establish a religion by legislating what religious artifacts can or cannot be where?

lefteh's avatar

Wait, I’m sorry, can we back up?
Did you just say that religious freedom and a secular government are mutually exclusive?
And if so, can you elaborate a bit on that?

winblowzxp's avatar

Are the two clauses not separated by a comma? As stated above, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, the or which separates them makes them mutually exclusive.

Imagine if you will that there were no Free Exercise clause. Even though Congress couldn’t establish a religion, it could tell you what faith you were allowed to practice. Conversely, if there were no Establishment clause, Congress could say that we’re all Muslims, but you can practice whatever you want.

Saddam Hussein was a Sunni Muslim, even though he wasn’t very religious. The official religion of Iraq was Islam as interpreted by Sunni doctrine. The people there, however, were ‘free’ to practice their own religion. What those two clauses do is make it so that Congress can’t create a sort of theocracy.

Where Congress is starting to go awry is that it’s starting to favor one religion over the others, Atheism.

lefteh's avatar

I think you’re confused.

Religious freedom means I can practice whatever religion I choose, or choose to not practice a religion.
A secular government means a state that is separate from any church.
Mutually exclusive means if one is true, the other cannot be true.

Thus, the statement “religious freedom and a secular government are mutually exclusive” means that if we have religious freedom, we cannot have a secular government, and vice-versa.

Do you stand by your statement that religious freedom and a secular government are mutually exclusive?

winblowzxp's avatar

Mistaken, maybe. Not confused…too tired to get confused.

lefteh's avatar

Do you stand by your statement?

winblowzxp's avatar

See above…

lefteh's avatar

You were mistaken in thinking that they were mutually exclusive?

allengreen's avatar

Warren makes me want to puke… He would sell out his mother to get McCain elected.

allengreen's avatar

lefteh—you are too smart to play semantics and avoid the jist of the discussion.

lefteh's avatar

I’m not playing semantics. I am simply blown away by the belief that a secular government and freedom of religion cannot coexist, and winblowz hasn’t made it clear to me whether or not that is his or her actual position.

winblowzxp's avatar

In theory you’re correct…in practice I’m right.

lefteh's avatar

Care to back that up? Just for kicks?
Can you show me a sliver of proof that a state cannot have both a secular government and freedom of religion?

winblowzxp's avatar

Try leading your class in prayer.

lefteh's avatar

With freedom of religion comes freedom from religion. Religion cannot be pushed on others in a public setting, such as school. Leading your class in prayer would violate freedom of religion. If you would like to personally pray in school, however, you are more than welcome to do so.

winblowzxp's avatar

Only if others didn’t have a choice to participate would it be in violation.

allengreen's avatar

What about freedom from religion? Do I have a seat at the table?

lefteh's avatar

That’s absolutely false, winblowz.

As I said before, with freedom of religion comes freedom from religion. I have the right to not be surrounded by religion in a publicly-funded environment. Thus, the government, including public schools, is secular.

winblowzxp's avatar

So your religion trumps my religion?

lefteh's avatar

Sorry, what?

aidje's avatar

@lefteh
He’s arguing that secularism is a religion, and that, as such, it should not be favored above other religions. I’m not saying that I agree or disagree, but that’s what winblowz is saying.

lefteh's avatar

Oh. Thanks for clarifying, aidje – makes sense now.

We had this debate in another thread, and the those arguing that atheism is a religion failed to provide any evidence or convincing arguments. I don’t feel like arguing against that again.

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