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Royal wedding holds lessons about church-state separation, experts say
Associated Baptist Press ^ | April 27, 2011 | Bob Allen

Posted on 04/28/2011 7:15:02 AM PDT by Alex Murphy

WASHINGTON (ABP) – Two American church-state experts say Friday’s British royal wedding holds lessons about why the marriage of church and state is a bad one.

Anticipating nuptials for Prince William and Kate Middleton at London's Westminster Abbey, the Washington Post’s On Faith blog posed a question April 26 about why, even in secular societies like the United Kingdom, people still turn to places of worship for rituals like coronations, weddings and funerals.

Brent Walker

Panelist Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, said for him a more interesting question is how a country like England with deep Christian roots can become so secular in the first place.

Walker surmised that one reason is privilege afforded to an established religion – in this case the Church of England – “sows the seeds of its own attenuation.”

“State support for religion tends to rob religion of its vitality and, for some, turns it into a mere ceremonial exercise,” said Walker, an ordained Baptist minister. “This is one reason why I object so strongly to efforts in the United States to use tax dollars to support religious education and church ministries, allow officially sanctioned prayer in the public schools, and tolerate government-sponsored religious symbols.”

Another panelist, Barry Lynn of American United for Separation of Church and State, noted the irony that in a country with an official church only one in 10 people attend religious services weekly.

The Church of England formed early in the Protestant Reformation after Pope Clement VII refused over a number of years to annul the marriage of King Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon. The church in England recognized Henry as supreme head of the Anglican Church in 1531. If Prince William ever ascends to the throne, he will play the same role in the church.

Lynn, also an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, said that relationship between church and state causes several things to happen.

“First, official ceremonies, including weddings, are held at the place where church and state commingle: the church building itself,” Lynn wrote. “Second, the public ends up finding no need to send resources or put in any time to buttress the fortunes of something that the government is already supporting. Finally, the very idea that a government would select an official religion and, by implication, that God blesses a particular denomination, is itself anathema even to many theists.”

Walker said that even in highly secular societies, non-religious people often continue to turn to religion to “solemnize” important life events because of tradition and “a deep-seated sense of longing for the divine.”

“Religion does a lot better when government gets out of the religion business and leaves it to its own devices,” Walker concluded.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Evangelical Christian; Mainline Protestant; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS:
“State support for religion tends to rob religion of its vitality and, for some, turns it into a mere ceremonial exercise,” said Walker, an ordained Baptist minister. “This is one reason why I object so strongly to efforts in the United States to use tax dollars to support religious education and church ministries, allow officially sanctioned prayer in the public schools, and tolerate government-sponsored religious symbols”....

....The Church of England formed early in the Protestant Reformation after Pope Clement VII refused over a number of years to annul the marriage of King Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon. The church in England recognized Henry as supreme head of the Anglican Church in 1531. If Prince William ever ascends to the throne, he will play the same role in the church.

1 posted on 04/28/2011 7:15:08 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy
CVII couldn't really annul the marriage even if he wanted to, because Henry had been granted a dispensation in the first place to marry Catherine. An annulment declares that a sacramental marriage never existed -- if you married on a dispensation it's real chutzpah to seek one.
2 posted on 04/28/2011 7:29:16 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: Alex Murphy; John Leland 1789; wmfights; marron; daniel1212
Actual separation of church and state is vitally necessary. Catholicism and Protestantism were both killers - literally - when they were established. Freedom of religion, not mere toleration, is a vital necessity in a free society.

On the other hand, ACLU/PAW type "separation of church and state," where we completely eliminate the ability of religious people to have a say or influence in society, is a grave and terrible danger to any free society. History is replete with example after example of societies which became radically secularised, and were killing people en masse in short order. You want a killer? ATHEISM is a killer.

3 posted on 04/28/2011 7:31:09 AM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus ("Here's a special shout out to my pal Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus!" (Sarah Palin, Sept. 31, 2010))
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To: Alex Murphy

AMEN! Excellent!


4 posted on 04/28/2011 7:32:49 AM PDT by buffyt (Abortion is the ultimate CHILD ABUSE!)
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To: Alex Murphy

Good article. Makes me appriciate America all the more.


5 posted on 04/28/2011 7:42:48 AM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

That is why you need a balance. This is why Christians MUST unite against another religion that makes no bones about ITS desire to unite both state and faith, or rather mosque and state, Islam.


6 posted on 04/28/2011 7:45:15 AM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
Freedom of religion, not mere toleration, is a vital necessity in a free society.

I think it was more of an issue of not letting one particular Christian sect dominate.

But I never thought the intention was to abandon our Judeo-Christian values.

7 posted on 04/28/2011 7:48:51 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: dfwgator

Your interpretation matches the written works of the Founding Fathers - in spite of what the ACLU would like to believe.


8 posted on 04/28/2011 8:07:14 AM PDT by Pecos (Liberty and Honor will not die on my watch.)
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To: AnAmericanMother
CVII couldn't really annul the marriage even if he wanted to, because Henry had been granted a dispensation in the first place to marry Catherine

Yes he could. Louis VII and Eleanor of Aquitaine: dispensation, marriage, annulment. Precedent.

9 posted on 04/28/2011 8:07:26 AM PDT by Oztrich Boy (The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.- H. L. Mencken)
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To: dfwgator

Yes, that is what the Founders were angling for.

I do need to define the term “toleration” however. In the context, it refers to having a state church that “tolerates” the existence of other groups, but still more or less acts as a “first among equals” due to its favoured position of sponsorship by the state.

The colonial Baptists like John Leland knew that “toleration” can quickly disappear, given the wrong ruler, wrong set of circumstances, etc. That is why they petitioned people like Jefferson and Madison to include freedom of religion into our Bill of Rights - so that no group could ever (legally) do that to the rest. Each group gets to compete on even terms for the religious affections of the people.


10 posted on 04/28/2011 8:28:13 AM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus ("I'm a member of the Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus fan club!" (Sarah Palin, Sept. 31, 2010))
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
Each group gets to compete on even terms for the religious affections of the people.

Did they even consider Islam as one of those groups?

11 posted on 04/28/2011 8:30:13 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: dfwgator; Pecos; Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
I think it was more of an issue of not letting one particular Christian sect dominate. But I never thought the intention was to abandon our Judeo-Christian values.

There's nothing in the Constitution that prevents the Federal government from endorsing a religion. Nothing whatsoever. It's not in there. What is there is this:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
Note the phrase "an establishment of". "Establishment" isn't a verb, it's a noun referring to something that has been established. It refers to an established group, i.e. a denomination or entity. In other words, the Federal government is prohibited from creating legislation that sponsors, endorses, funds, or legally constrains one religious denomination over another. Rather, it is supposed to step back and allow all to exist within the Commonwealth, provided they act within the laws of the land.

More importantly, however, I believe there is nothing within the Constitution that prohibits our Federal government from officially recognizing, acknowledging, and declaring fealty to a deity or Lord worshiped by the Republic's citizens. In fact, I believe the Federal government (with the caveat that the vast majority of the states, and people that it represents, agree to such) ought to formally acknowledge the risen Jesus Christ, Second Person of the Triune Godhead, as it's Sovereign Lord and King of the United States of America via an amendment to the Constitution. If the citizens of the United States of America are (by overwhelming majority) of the Christian faith, then IMO that's what I believe our constitutional, representative Republic ought to do.

12 posted on 04/28/2011 8:34:35 AM PDT by Alex Murphy (Dear God, whose name I do not know - thank you for my life. I forgot how BIG...thank you. Thank you.)
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To: Oztrich Boy

I thought the French bishops granted the annulment against the express wishes of the pope?


13 posted on 04/28/2011 10:04:36 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: Alex Murphy
I can only imagine the smoke that would pour from Barry Lynn's ears at that.

But first, let's have an amendment protecting human life from conception until natural death, or the first thing is just a blasphemous hypocrisy.

From its founding until my early childhood, the U.S. had a de facto established religion. It was a sort of highly watered-down Protestantism -- Protestant enough to cause problems for serious Catholics, not Protestant enough to impress serious Protestants, but definitely theistic and usually noticeably Christian. (Anyone else remember the "attend the church of your choice" TV ads?)

Post Madalyn Murray O'Hair, we're attempting to have a constitutional republic with guarantees of individual liberty built on a de facto philosophical basis of indifferentism (all religions are equally good), shading into atheism, with strong overtones of hedonism.

It's not going to work. I'm not convinced it will even outlast me (I'm 50).

14 posted on 04/28/2011 10:34:20 AM PDT by Campion ("Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies when they become fashions." -- GKC)
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To: Campion
I can only imagine the smoke that would pour from Barry Lynn's ears at that. But first, let's have an amendment protecting human life from conception until natural death, or the first thing is just a blasphemous hypocrisy.

I see the one following the other (mine first, FWIW), but yours has my vote regardless.

From its founding until my early childhood, the U.S. had a de facto established religion. It was a sort of highly watered-down Protestantism -- Protestant enough to cause problems for serious Catholics, not Protestant enough to impress serious Protestants, but definitely theistic and usually noticeably Christian. (Anyone else remember the "attend the church of your choice" TV ads?)

Post Madalyn Murray O'Hair, we're attempting to have a constitutional republic with guarantees of individual liberty built on a de facto philosophical basis of indifferentism (all religions are equally good), shading into atheism, with strong overtones of hedonism.

It's not going to work. I'm not convinced it will even outlast me (I'm 50).

FWIW, good analysis, and not just because it happens to line up with mine.

15 posted on 04/28/2011 10:47:04 AM PDT by Alex Murphy (Dear God, whose name I do not know - thank you for my life. I forgot how BIG...thank you. Thank you.)
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To: Alex Murphy

The future head of the Anglican church is currently shacked up with his honey. Yeah, that does wonders for the church. /s


16 posted on 04/28/2011 11:29:16 AM PDT by TexasRepublic (Socialism is the gospel of envy and the religion of thieves)
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To: Alex Murphy

The Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America (PRCNA), heirs of the Scottish Covenanters, have argued for that kind of formal national declaration since 1848.


17 posted on 04/28/2011 1:55:19 PM PDT by it_rr (kervan yürür)
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To: it_ürür
The Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America (PRCNA), heirs of the Scottish Covenanters, have argued for that kind of formal national declaration since 1848.

Amen for that!

18 posted on 04/28/2011 1:59:26 PM PDT by Alex Murphy (Dear God, whose name I do not know - thank you for my life. I forgot how BIG...thank you. Thank you.)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

http://www.scholarscorner.com/apologia/deathtoll:

Hitler’s 11 million dead:
http://www.nationalreview.com/shiflett/shiflett012102.shtml
http://www.papillonsartpalace.com/endC.htm

Mao’s 70 million dead:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mao:_The_Unknown_Story

Stalin’s purges kill 61 million
http://democraticpeace.wordpress.com/2008/11/30/what-only-35000000-killed-in-20th-century-war/

From 1900-1987 over 250 million dead through Atheism’s grasp for domination:
http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/COM.TAB1.GIF
http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/COM.ART.HTM


19 posted on 04/28/2011 8:26:56 PM PDT by daniel1212 ( "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out," Acts 3:19)
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