separation of church and state Essay

Submitted By splashy6
Words: 2754
Pages: 12

Separation of Church and State

Separation of church and state is a term recognizing the distant relationship between organized religion and the government. This term came about after the reformation, a time when the Catholic Church in England was under turmoil and serious criticism by leaders such as Martin Luther. Through his expression of “two kingdoms” he provided a new type of government where the church would have no say in the laws of the nation and implementation of them. This theory was adopted by the United States in several aspects. One of the main manifestations of this theory is imprinted in the Bill of Rights as the first amendment to the United States constitution. The United States has then since referred to this amendment in several court cases of the supreme level. The United States walks on a fine line between the establishments of church and state, the two clashed in several cases and the results have varied. Is separation of church and state a feasible idea or just an ideal? The thought of it being an ideal becomes more relevant as cases throughout history prove. The United States cannot establish this idea but it can most definitely try to follow its guidelines as much as possible. Separation between church and state has influenced our justice system and has become more defined through several court cases.
Our laws reflect the fundamental views of Christianity. A historical view shows Martin Luther initializing the protestant reformation, he did brought into light the corrupt practices of the catholic church and he started the idea of church versus state and America adopted this in its constitution but, what about the ideas that already came from the church. Surely, the ban on polygamy enforced by the Morill- Anti Bigamy Act (6) and then reinforced by the Edmunds Act, stems from the religious views of the Catholic Church in where a man can only marry one woman. America, however being the land of the free and home of the brave, decided to amend their constitution so that all people of all religious backgrounds can safely practice their religion free of persecution from the Catholic Church. This the benefits received from the idea of separation of church and state. However, it isn’t until a religion that bluntly disrespects and goes against the previous law of monogamy that it’s clear this idea isn’t so easy to manage in the land of the free. Mormonism, which embodies characteristics and practices that distinctively contrast from Protestantism, thrived in the United States in the middle 1800’s. Underlying the affairs of this religion was polygamy, in which a man may have several wives endorsed and even promoted by the religion. A conflict arose in 1878 when a man named George Reynolds decided to challenge the Morill Anti Bigamy act. In the Reynolds vs. United Stated case (1) George Reynolds was obviously confused with the ideas of freedom of belief America said to offer. He was a man living in a country that supposedly supported freedom of religious practice, so why was he being persecuted. After all this wasn’t old Great Britain that upheld monogamy because of its Catholic Church involvement, this was a new place, a new religious sanctuary. The case questioned whether or not the act violated George Reynolds and the rest of the Mormons right to religious practice. Although it was against the law it was part of his religion so he believed that he had a special right that no one else had to practice polygamy. The court denied his right to fully practice his religion because it violated the law, simply and plainly. However, a closer look at that law reveals favor towards the Christian practice of monogamy. The relationship between Adam and Eve in the beginning of the Bible is often viewed as the first monogamous relationship and the first marriage. That brings the question of whether the federal anti-bigamy act favors one religion over the other, which is the complete opposite of what America wants…