Without the separation of church and state, there can be no religious freedom

This morning, a post appeared on Renew America maligning President Obama for declining an invitation by Cardinal Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York, to attend the annual Alfred E. Smith dinner on October 18. The article says “Catholics should be offended” and quotes extensively from a press release that is more of a rant by Judie Brown, president of the pro-life organization, American Life League. Brown wants Cardinal Dolan to uninvite the President:

“This invitation gives the appearance of camaraderie with a president whose actions and policies are no less hostile than the Roman emperor Decius http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decius who tried to root out the Christian religion by issuing an edict ordering all citizens to worship the state gods or face dire consequences,” and then posted a powerful article tersely titled “No dinner for Obama.”

“It makes no sense at all for Catholics to fight for religious freedom on the one hand while dining with a religious freedom bully on the other. Such a situation is not prudent, nor is it Christlike — even if some view it as politically correct.”

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peal...

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale in 1800. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something Ms. Brown and everyone should recognize and embrace is that Christianity (including Catholicism) is one among many religions practiced by citizens of the United States; hence the sound judgment of our founding fathers to include the separation of church and state in our Constitution. A perfect example is what Thomas Jefferson said in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists.

Without the separation of church and state there can be no religious freedom.

Our elected leaders are responsible to everyone, regardless of each one’s religion. It becomes intolerable to allow any religious entity to misuse that freedom by bullying the American people with their doctrine. That being said, religious groups who engage in politics and lobby politicians to impose their doctrine upon all citizens is abusing our collective freedom to worship as each of us sees fit.

Hopefully, each person will use their personal religious beliefs and practices to elevate their lives to a higher level; one that allows each of us to embrace the other with respect and love, regardless of religion.

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