In the Church-State debate sidebars that have broken out on the fringes of the 2012 culture wars, a common liberal argument recurs:
"You can’t have it both ways. You can’t demand government stay out of religion, and then attempt to insert your religion into debates about government. The Wall of Separation between Church and State applies to church as well as state."
That is wrong for a couple of reasons. First, there is no such thing as “a wall of separation” in the constitution. Here is what the First Amendment says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.So, contrary to progressive arguments, it is legitimate and constitutional to bring one’s religious values to the public square. You can even bring them to the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Presidency, secure in the knowledge that you are a good American acting in accord with the US Constitution.
The second error in this statement is related to the first. The Constitution prohibits the federal government from establishing or prohibiting religion. It places no such strictures on citizens, so it doesn’t go both ways.
Consequently, We the People can have it both ways, freely exercising our religious rights in all public arenas while demanding government stay out of our business.
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