Separation of church and state: Fact and fallacyWritten by David Washington | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucas County Commissioner and mayoral candidate Ben Konop’s July 19 political appearance at Mt. Pilgrim Church has inspired no small amount of criticism. One thing I kept hearing invoked repeatedly was “separation of church and state.” Not only has that statement been maligned and misused for far too long, but it doesn’t even apply in this case.
Short history lesson: The phrase was coined in a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote in response to the Danbury Baptist Association in reference to its concern over its religious liberty being regulated and abused by the state legislature in Connecticut. The letter from them to Jefferson states: “Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty — that religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals — that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions — that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbors … ”
They saw the wording in the Connecticut state constitution as going against the religious freedom they held so dear and certain actions promoting one denomination over another. Jefferson’s response assured them that the Constitution of the United States made it clear that there would be a “wall of separation between church and state” and that the federal government had no right to legislate on religious matters.
My, how things have changed.
Nowadays, people get in a tizzy if you say something that can be construed as being political in a church setting. That “inalienable right” of religious freedom has been stepped on, chewed up and spit out, and the Christian church in America is one of the most denigrated and hated groups around, which has many Christians running scared because of it. But I digress.
With that context in mind, Konop’s speaking at Mt. Pilgrim has nothing to do with separation between church and state. Let’s be honest … some people jumped on that bandwagon because they don’t like Konop. Whether the argument was valid didn’t matter. As long as it criticized Konop, opponents jumped on that like white on rice.
Now before you get the wrong idea and think that I’m a fan of Konop, let me assure you that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m as appalled as everyone else at his actions but for a completely and more legitimate reason.
Sunday is a time for worship and focus on the Most High God of the universe. We come together for encouragement and refreshing in the Lord. The focus should be on God, His word, His truth. It’s not a time for self-promotion and aggrandizement but of humility and meekness that we grab hold of those attitudes and make them a part of who we are. Quite frankly, it shouldn’t be a Sunday or Christmas thing but should be an outworking of the change that’s going on in our lives as our faith grows and changes us into what God wants us to be.
Konop’s faux pas can be summed up in one word: pride.
It is shameful to use time that’s supposed to be dedicated to God in such a selfish and egotistic manner. There are six other days in the week to work on your political campaign. To take God’s glory and attempt to replace it with your own in any degree on any day is an affront and dishonor to God. What’s even more shameful is the fact that those who are supposed to be representing God and leading others spiritually are allowing such an ignoble act to occur in their midst. They’re more to blame than Konop.
This all speaks to the biggest downfall of men throughout the ages: their hearts.
In the movie “Jesus Of Nazareth,” John the Baptist declares from the depths of a prison dungeon, “Before kingdoms can change, men must change.”
The actions of a man in little things reflect the heart of a man in all things. Remember that when you go to the polls this September.
David Washington is a candidate for Toledo City Council. His Web site is www.prezforcouncil.org.