Religion has consistently played a significant role in shaping and underpinning the United States, as demonstrated in the Pledge of Alliance to the Flag, specifically by the phrase “…one nation under God…” However, the appropriate relationship between the institutions of Church and State, especially in matters regarding the formation of laws, public policy, and political activity, has been a longstanding subject of debate. This post emphasizes that there should exist a clear separation of the Church and the State to ensure protection of individual freedoms.
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The founding fathers desired for the separation of Church and State. This is well encapsulated in Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802, whereby he called this distinction “a wall of separation between Church and State” (Fraser, 2016). The First Amendment of the US Constitution also asserts that State shall not make any law regarding establishing religion or prohibiting the free exercise of the same (Batalla & Baring, 2019). Notably, this means that the State should not interfere with the Church or limit people’s freedom to practice their religion of choice either in implementing laws, public policies, or political activities.
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In recent decades, there have been arguments that the wall separating Church and State is eroding. This regards to the claims that the current regime is extending special privileges to religious organizations. The Payment Protection Program of 2020 is an example of events cited, whereby the State has infringed the separation of Church and State (Soucek, 2020). This alludes to the need for the State to re-evaluate its adherence to the separation of the two. Separation of Church and State not only ensures freedom of religion but also seeks to make certain that religion does not unfairly influence laws, public policies, and political activities and vice versa.
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