Over the last month there has been an uproar about birth control with respect to what the government wants versus what Catholic institutions want. Some would like us to believe that this is an issue about “women’s health” or even about access to contraceptives. I believe this issue goes much deeper and that our personal sovereignty, right to practice religion, and self-government are at risk.
In the years before the constitution was written, there was an argument among the Founders about morality:
The big question of independence hung precariously on the single, slender thread of whether or not the people were sufficiently virtuous and moral to govern themselves….It was universally acknowledged that a corrupt and selfish people could never make the principles of republicanism operate successfully. (The 5000 Year Leap, page 49)
Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” The principles of freedom, or self-government, must be based on morality, personal responsibility, and self-reliance. The founders did not set out to create a nanny state or dictatorship. They knew if people had moral principals they would be able to govern themselves with limited government interference. The base for moral principals is most often found within religion. Thus, there became the need for the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights:
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.
Because religion was such a necessity for our republic to succeed, it had to be protected. Congress (or the government) was expressly prohibited in interfering with religion and the free exercise of it. That meant the government could not make laws that would prohibit a person from practicing his religion. (This was within reason of course…your “religion” could not infringe on the rights of others.)
So, with this in mind, we enter the debate that started in February of 2012. ObamaCare had a provision stating that companies must provide birth control coverage for free as part of their health plan or else pay steep fines. Churches were waived from this stipulation, but church institutions were not. (The Catholic Church runs a number of institutions such as universities and hospitals.) The Catholic religion does not believe in birth control and has a moral opposition to it. This is not just an “it’s against my religion” excuse. Catholics’ aversion to birth control is well known and well documented. Thus, they do not offer birth control as part of their health coverage. When they found out that their institutions would not be waived from the birth control mandate, they were obviously outraged. How could the government force a religious institution to do something they were morally against? It was a direct hit to the First Amendment. No question.
In response to the outrage of the Catholic Church, President Obama said he would make a compromise so that the health insurance companies that provided health plans to the Catholic institutions would have to cover the cost of birth control instead of the institutions themselves. What many didn’t realize is that the Catholic institutions, like many other companies, have their own health insurance companies from which they buy health insurance. (For example, I work for a company under the umbrella of the United Health Group, and guess who provides our health insurance? That’s right – United Health. It’s a common practice among large companies.) So this “solution” was actually not a solution at all.
Seeing that they were in an obvious losing battle, the Democrats paraded out a woman named Sandra Fluke who testified in a hearing on the subject of birth control. Sandra’s complaint was that because she attends Georgetown Law School (a Catholic-funded university) her birth control expenses are not covered in her health plan forcing her and her colleagues to pay $1,000 per year to cover their own birth control costs. What an outrage, right? The argument suddenly changed from a violation of the First Amendment to “women’s health” rights and access to birth control. I believe this was a diversion to get people away from the truth of the story and to give the illusion that Republicans want to take away birth control. But there are more than a few holes in the Democrats’ argument…
- Sandra Fluke chose to attend a Catholic law school. She could have gone to another school if she was so concerned about whether or not her insurance would cover her birth control expenses.
- Needing birth control is a choice. It may be a surprise to some, but I actually got through college without being on birth control and without getting pregnant. A miracle? No, I just CHOSE not to have sex! Taking birth control is an individual choice, and as such, should be financially covered by the individual or sexual partner, not the taxpayers of America.
- To all the women of the United States: NO ONE IS TRYING TO TAKE AWAY YOUR ACCESS TO BIRTH CONTROL!!!! You can find birth control literally in any store (condoms) and can easily get prescriptions for contraceptive pills from any doctor. The basic contraceptive pill doesn’t cost more than $5-10 a month (which is about $120 a year as opposed to Sandra Fluke’s testimony of $1000 a year). And if you can’t afford that, there is always Planned Parenthood. Anyone can walk through their doors and come out with loads of birth control. For free.
- Since when can the government dictate that a company or institution must purchase or fund a product for someone else? Nothing is ever really free. If someone claims that a product or service should be free, we must always remember the immortal words of Ayn Rand, “At whose expense?” If it is free for you, then someone else is paying for it.
- This really isn’t about “women’s health.” Pregnancy is not a disease and women aren’t dying in droves because they got pregnant. The truth is that oral contraceptives actually carry some risk of blood clots. Women who use estrogen-containing birth control have a three-fold to six-fold increase of getting a blood clot and that rate goes up for smokers and women over 35 years of age (emedicinehealth.com). Additionally, the use of oral contraceptives for more than five years doubles the risk of cervical cancer (cancer.org). And if “women’s health” is the ultimate goal of this government, then where are the free passes to the gym? Where is my free personal trainer? Where is my free nutritionist? Where is the person who is going to follow me around every day to make sure I don’t eat junk food? (This too is probably part of ObamaCare and we just haven’t gotten there yet!)
So, why did I start this post with talk of the constitution and religion? It’s because the fundamental right to freedom of religion is at stake here. Over the last 50+ years, the courts have pushed every ounce of religion out of the state, and now they are trying to push morality out of religion. Sure, have your religion, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the government agenda. They have it all backwards. Freedom of religion, the teachings of God, family, personal responsibility, fidelity, charity, and morality are what have made this country the greatest and most successful country in the history of the world. Without the steady moral guide of religion, we are at the ever-changing mercy of what the government dictates, like it or not. That is communism – the state is their God and their religion; rights come from the state and can easily be taken from the state. The success of the United States depends on the free exercise of religion in order to create a moral people. Do we really want to give all that up for some free pills?
Jennifer Maruri lives in Provo, Utah, and is a wife and mother of three young children. She works full time as an RN and is an active member of her church. She considers herself an aficionado of news and talk radio and enjoys fitness and outdoor activities.
Well said, Jenny. I couldn’t agree with you more. I know Sandra Fluke probably thinks she’s helping with “women’s rights” issues but she’s just being used as a pawn by the government to push their health plan, which I believe is socialized health care. I’m sure they chose Sandra because she’s articulate, well educated and attends a highly-rated university. But, these qualities don’t make me feel sorry for her. I don’t care that she has to pay out-of-pocket for her birth control. If she can afford to attend Georgetown University, I’m sure she can afford to pay for her own birth control.
Well spoken. In my opinion this was a highly calculated move by the government. In order for someone to appear in front of a congressional hearing there is a process that they go through to put exactly the people that are going to portray the message that they want. They knew the exact message that she would be giving. It has been well documented that Sandra has been and is a very visible, liberal activist on her campus and has been for a long time. she did, though, exactly what the government wanted her to do…divert the conversation from freedom of religion to a conversation on women’s rights…which of course it is not. I guess someone forgot to tell her that abstinence is an option, or perhaps a condom, or perhaps a diaphragm, or perhaps any other number of birth control methods that are proven to be quite effective.
I find it interesting that Sandra Fluke has also changed her story once the firestorm started. She initially was saying that she wanted her University (and as a result the Catholic Church) to cover her birth control. Now she is saying she was misrepresented and she merely wants coverage for those in this country that can’t afford it themselves.
I have a really hard time believing that someone cannot afford a $10 a month payment. And please don’t anybody give me a sob story that I don’t understand how financially difficult it is to be poor because I have been amongst the poorest of the poor as a college student and when I was in dental school. I saw people who were on government assistance who eat better than me, wore nicer clothes, went on lavish vacations, had the cell phones, satelite tv, etc all while living off the government cheese.
To me the two biggest issues at play here are the freedom of religion for these religious institutions to practice their religion free of government intrusion and the dependence of Americans upon the government. At what point are people going to be responsible for their own lives and their own finances instead of demanding that the government pay for everything? And, if someone is living in poverty, their is enough of a safety net already in place that a $10 a month payment for an ELECTIVE medication shouldn’t be a problem.
while we are at it, lets get rid of coverage for any other condition that is preventable through other means, like diet and exercise. sounds great, until you are the one needing the prescription, many of which cost a lot more than 10$ a month (not everyone can take the dirt cheap generic). If everyone were equally subject to the physical strain that pregnancy causes many women, I doubt this would be an issue.
First of all, people that have conditions that are preventable through diet and exercise tend to pay more for their health coverage. Their rates go up with higher risk factors like obesity, smoking, etc. So, the insurance company covers it, but they have increased rates so the individual pays more than their neighbors who are healthy. It’s not free coverage. Should we have insurance companies ask questions about sexual activity and adjust an individuals rates accordingly?
Second, of course everyone with a condition wants all their medications and health care covered once they get that condition. I would love it if my wife’s cancer meds ($300 a pill) were fully covered, and all of her radiation and surgeries were free. But they aren’t. And guess what, I don’t think the insurance companies should be on the hook for all of it either. There is a thing called accountability and responsibility. Crap happens in life. We come down with some debilitating health conditions that are out of our control, but that doesn’t mean the government should foot the bill for all of life’s misfortunes. Aside from rape, pregnancy is not out of our control. There are other options besides birth control. As was stated before, there is abstinence and there are condoms, diaphragms, etc. I believe in accountability and self-reliance. If you can afford it, you should pay for it, if not there are social programs in place to cover it like planned parenthood. I have yet to hear of anyone that hasn’t been able to get birth control that needed it.
Your statement, “If everyone were equally subject to the physical strain that pregnancy causes many women, I doubt this would be an issue” is wrong because many women do in fact oppose govt mandated coverage of birth control for all.
If you want to have your birth control covered, then go work somewhere that will cover it. If it becomes a high enough demand, companies that refuse to cover it will struggle to find employees and will have to cover it to be competitive. Let the free market do the talking. It’s kind of like 401K packages. They are not a “right” of every employee, but they sure are a cool perk. Some people go to work for companies that offer it. For others it’s not as big of a deal so they will accept a job at a different company that doesn’t offer it but may offer other perks like higher pay, more paid time off, etc. As an American society we are unfortunately becoming way, way, way too entitled. The list of things that we are “owed” by our boss, the government, or society grows larger and larger each year.
The only things in the constitution we are guaranteed are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It doesn’t say we are guaranteed happiness, but rather the pursuit of happiness. We shouldn’t be impeded from pursuing it. No one is impeding anyone from acquiring birth control in this country.
Glad to know there are no other medical uses for birth control other than preventing birth.
And quoting extremists like Cleon Skousen??? Really?
I am not a Catholic, so I cannot speak for them or be an expert in their religion, but from what I understand, they have no moral objection to medicinal birth control.
Also, whether or not one may think that Cleon Skousen was an extremist, it does not discount the fact that religion, God, self government, morality and personal responsibility were founding principals in the creation of the constitution and the continuity of a successful republic.
Freedom from state religion, forced worship of God and other Enlightenment principles are the foundation of the Constitution. God is not mentioned in the document, most of the framers were the atheists (Deists) of their time and signed the Treaty of Tripoli declaring that in no way was this country founded on the Christian religion.
And if Catholics are not opposed to using birth control for medical reasons then why do they care if health insurance companies are required to provide it for medical reasons?
This whole debate is beyond stupid.
First, if the Catholic church has no moral problem with medicinal use of birth control, then yes, they may look into providing birth control for those reasons. The problem they are having is being forced to do something that they are morally against. This is what I am defending.
Secondly, a Deist is not an athiest…they believe in God, they just do not subscribe to any religion. Benjamin Franklin saw the need of a virtuous people to maintain freedom. Lets just think about this rationally. As a parent of a child you trust, you will give more freedom, because you know he will not misuse it. As a parent of a child who continually makes bad decisions, you must apply more and more rules, as he is unable to govern himself. Joseph Smith said: “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves” (quoted by John Taylor, Millennial Star, 15 Nov. 1851, p. 339)
I never said that this country was founded on a christian religion, that is part of the point of the bill of rights…congress did not establish a religion. The Treaty of Tripoli was just assure that the treaty was between 2 different nations, not between 2 different religions.
According to Frank Lambert, Professor of History at Purdue University, the assurances in Article 11 were “intended to allay the fears of the Muslim state by insisting that religion would not govern how the treaty was interpreted and enforced. John Adams and the Senate made clear that the pact was between two sovereign states, not between two religious powers.” Lambert writes,
“By their actions, the Founding Fathers made clear that their primary concern was religious freedom, not the advancement of a state religion. Individuals, not the government, would define religious faith and practice in the United States. Thus the Founders ensured that in no official sense would America be a Christian Republic. Ten years after the Constitutional Convention ended its work, the country assured the world that the United States was a secular state, and that its negotiations would adhere to the rule of law, not the dictates of the Christian faith. The assurances were contained in the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797 and were intended to allay the fears of the Muslim state by insisting that religion would not govern how the treaty was interpreted and enforced. John Adams and the Senate made clear that the pact was between two sovereign states, not between two religious powers. (Frank Lambert (February 3, 2005). “Introduction”. The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-12602-9)
“the United States was a secular state, and that its negotiations would adhere to the rule of law, not the dictates of the Christian faith”
Wouldn’t that mean that the mandate adheres to the rule of law and should not adhere to the dictates of the christian church? Religion should not govern the laws of the state. The mandate does not inhibit religious freedom. One may worship and follow one’s religious belief’s, but by exempting that religiously affiliated institution from providing coverage to those who want it, that religious group is infringing upon the rights of those who are not members of that religious group. As an employer, they should be required to provide the same level of health care, as any other employer regardless of religious affiliation.
What this all comes down to is what is an established protected right of the constitution? The freedom of religion or free health care? Health care, though a wonderful thing is not a protected right that employers must offer. Employers can offer whatever health care they can afford to offer, or choose to offer their employees as part of their compensation package. The range of what is offered in health care for any given job ranges widely. This religion is not trying to write new laws about what they want, they are trying to protect their freedom to practice their religion, and freedom to not have a government law force them to do something against their moral code.
People who adhear to a religion that forbids them from fighting in a war are not forced to fight in the war just because the government wants them to, or because most of the rest of the people are fighting in that war. Though it may be unpopular, their religious freedom is protected, how is this any different?
Jenny, I very much disagree with the basis of your argument. (Your first sentence) Employers shoud be required to provide the same coverage regardlesss of religious affiliation. Those who feel that it is morally wrong to use it are not being forced to use it. So they should not discriminate against those who wish to. They may each practice their beliefs according to their own religion and moral compass. What it amount to is those religious institutions inhibiting the right of others and forcing their beleifs upon others on of their faith. The State cannot exempt every religion from laws based upon their beliefs.
Jenny I agree. I like your blog. And I hope you post more 🙂
“The success of the United States depends on the free exercise of religion in order to create a moral people. Do we really want to give all that up for some free pills?”
Seriously? Could you get more hyperbolic? I want to respond to this post because I heartily disagree with your assessment, but you’ve made an engaging conversation impossible with your rhetoric. You’ve set up any one who disagrees with you as a communist. Melodramatic, much?
Not to mention the fact that you’ve taken Franklin’s quote entirely out of context and twisted it to your own purpose. As though the founding fathers wouldn’t be horrified at the idea of the government pandering to the Catholic church instead of the will of its people (67% percent of Americans support the government in providing birth control. 98% of CATHOLIC women use birth control, for crying out loud). Listen, the good point you made that was that a religion can’t infringe on anyone else’s rights. What the constitution frees us from is the establishment of religion. That means that the catholic church–or any church–is not allowed to tell the government what to do. Period.
Leahmarie, you have made the claim that the constitution frees us from the establishment of religion without providing any evidence as to here you have formulated that thought. The fact of the matter is that the founding fathers understood the importance of religion….you might want to read the bill of rights…pretty impossible to interpret the first amendment of the bill of rights in the way you are interpreting it. The very first item mentioned is freedom of religion….the founding fathers understood the importance of religion. I would like to see your evidence to such a misguided statement
Um, Garrett? The first amendment is my evidence. Its quoted in this post, you should check it out. “establishment of religion” is kind of the phrasing they used.
And I’d like to know where you got YOUR evidence that the founding fathers knew the importance of religion. Most of them weren’t religious. Benjamin Franklin actually considered himself a “deist”. He acknowledged the idea of a God – but the man himself never went to church or practiced any religion. He also whored around a lot. I wonder if all those women had birth control?
Leah Marie, you said, “That means that the catholic church–or any church–is not allowed to tell the government what to do. Period.” Is this a case of a church telling the govt what to do or simply a church telling the govt to stop telling churches what to do? Personally I see the point that the Catholic Church is making. The government is telling churches they have to do ______ or else. The churches are merely asking why this is even in the governments jurisdiction to dictate what they will and will not pay for their employees?
At no point in this argument on the national level is there an attempt to establish a state religion.
I don’t think anyone is trying to establish state religion. The amendment says “respecting an establishment of religion”. Congress is simply not allowed to make laws or allowances for any religion – in favor of or against. But that’s not what they did. They just addressed a need that most American women have.
The government isn’t forcing birth control pills down the throat of Catholics. But, the fact is that most Catholic women are, in fact, using birth control. Most American women use it, in general. Most Americans are in favor of the government providing birth control. What the government is allowed to do is address the needs of most American people. Which the healthcare bill did. Catholics are the ones that turned it into a religious debate in the first place. The Constitution was meant to have protected us against the church and the government engaging in any kind of discourse.
“The Constitution was meant to have protected us against the church and the government engaging in any kind of discourse.” I have to disagree with this statement. It is the right of religions to engage in discourse with the government. We live in a democracy, which means we can all speak. Business, both for profit and non-profit, citizens, and churches can all engage in discourse. That is very healthy and productive. Are you suggesting that all religions should remain silent and let the government trample upon their rights? Churches have rights too, and should be allowed to voice their concerns.
And, you are partially right about the statistics of Americans in favor of the government providing birth control. Americans are barely in favor (53%) for the govt mandating that employers provide birth control but are opposed to the govt mandating religious organizations to provide birth control (only 38% favored that).
Last I checked it was 67% for the govt mandating that employers provide birth control. I guess it depends on where you look.
But, of course, the numbers of women using birth control are much higher.
And no, I don’t think churches should engage in discourse with government. I think people should. Granted, churches are made of people – and those within any given religion have the right to make their voices heard. But the government cannot and should not cater to one group and the cost of all the others.
Your misinterpretation of “establishment of religion” is incredible. It doesn’t say that it frees us from the establishment of religion….and if they didn’t believe religion was important to our society they wouldn’t have put in there that congress can’t prohibit the free exercise of it. You still have provided no backing to your claim other than a grossly misinterpreted version of what it means when it says that congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion. How does that statement come to mean in your head that the constitution is freeing us from the establishment of religion….they are explicitly stating that they can’t infringe on our right to practice religion freely
I’m super amused that you keep accusing me of grossly interpreting the constitution, when I’m the one just reading what it says. The constitution protects us from having religion imposed on us by the government.
Let’s break this down:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”
congress shall make no law = means that congress is not allowed to make laws about what ever the rest of the sentence is about
respecting = 1. “to hold in esteem or high honor”
2. “to show regard or consideration for”
3. “to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with”
(that last one was especially for you, since it is true that they can’t infringe on the free exercise of it either.)
establishment = constituted order of system
of religion = … I think you get my point.
Or if you don’t its because you’re trying not to.
The government is not allowed to make law that would hold in esteem or show regard or consideration for a constituted order of religion. Its what the amendment says. All the evidence I need is right there.
The free exercise of religion is there, without question. And I’m grateful for it. But the founders didn’t include it because they were all fired up about how important religion was. They included it knew it would be important to keep the government OUT OF IT. And the separate of church and state is not complete if it does not go both ways.
Dang typos: *they included it because they knew…
* separation of church….
Once again your point is flawed. Your point is that the constitution frees us from religion. You are wrong. You are missing the boat. They are restricting the government from imposing religion on us….the idea was to keep government with limited power. Keep in mind these were people that had left their country to get away from government….to be free. To put the first amendment in simple terms for you….congress cannot impose upon you religion, and they can’t stop you from practicing the religion of your choice. The whole purpose of the first amendment is to give power to the people. At the end of your comment you finally got something right….they included it to keep the government out of it. It doesn’t free us from religion….it frees us from government imposed religion.
Dude, I just don’t get you. You’ve accused me repeatedly of misinterpreting things and not having evidence… but nothing you say is historically accurate. AND I never said that the constitution frees us from religion. That’s not even my point at all!! You are so the one that is missing the boat. You have no basis for saying my point is flawed. Especially when you then say, “They are restricting the government from imposing religion on us” and “congress cannot impose upon you religion, and they can’t stop you from practicing the religion of your choice”. That’s my whole point. You know that right? Since its what I JUST SAID in my last post? Man alive, did you even read it?
I didn’t actually need your “simple terms” since I’m pretty capable of deciphering the constitution for myself. (I have a BA in Political Science and Master is Public Administration. I’m actually quite capable. YOU are kind of a condescending jerk.)
They didn’t leave their country to get away from government. Puritans (a small fraction of the people who initially came across the pond) did leave their country to escape religious persecution, that’s true. But the rest of them mostly came as explorers and imperialist. And it wasn’t until many a decade went by that the idea even came up of separating themselves from England. And not everybody even wanted to! Pull out a history book and look up the term “loyalist”. Also, I think you should look up “Articles of Confederation” and “Shay’s Rebillion”. When the Constitution was written it was actually done with the idea that when you limit government too much, it causes real problems. The constitution was just not written to keep the government with limited power. It was written to keep anyone group people from having too much power. While you’re pulling out history books, I encourage you the read The Federalist Papers.
I’m done with the conversation. It was fun at first, but you seem like the kind of person who is more interested in being right than dealing with facts. And your arrogance is wicked annoying.
When I first heard about this issue, my thoughts were similar to the author’s. But then I thought about it a little. There is a difference between actual churches and churches functioning in the public, and not as churches. Churches are exempt from all sorts of things like taxes, discrimination laws, etc, while their secular businesses are not. So it makes sense that the standards would be different.
The other issue, is that of getting “free” birth control. What? Students pay for their health insurance through their student fees. Employees either pay for their own health care or earn it as a benefit of their employment. Employers have no right to tell you what to do with your pay, they should have no right to tell you how to use your health benefits to take care of your body either.
And I, for one, needed BC pills as a young teen for health reasons, not contraception. And now, I DO need my IUD, the last two pregnancies were progressively worse, and the last one involved months of limited activity, kidney problems, awful leg pain (risk of clots), serious depression, the kind where reality starts to blur. (and pills are no longer compatible with my body, nor barrier methods…) I can understand debating BC as preventative medicine covered 100% without copay, but with the exception of actual churches and their clergy, BC needs to be a part of modern health care like any other prescription medicine. I mean, we wouldn’t want an employer that happened to be Jehovah’s witness being able to exclude anything having to do with blood transfusions, would we?
Now, I don’t like most aspects of top down government, but setting standards like all health plans need to cover contraception, like any other prescription, sound reasonable to me. And comparing BC to a chiropractor? like comparing bread to wedding cake, in my opinion. Sure, it would be nice if everyone could get wedding cake at the dinner table every day, but it isn’t necessary. I do agree that a free market would solve a lot of these issues, so lets set up a free market, separate health care from employment, and avoid all these issues of judging and telling each other what to do.
And additionally, Marxism and communism are not the same, and saying that these policies are Godless or Communism is silly. And, I’m sorry, while I don’t quite agree with the policies of the Obama administration, I’m pretty sure they aren’t saying you can have your religion as long as it doesn’t interfere with the government, I’m pretty sure their goal is for you to have your religion, and not have it interfere with your neighbor, or in this instance, the women that you work with… they have their own religion, too, you know…
I tend to think that you are correct that faith-based organizations should be allowed to make economic decisions based on their faith *within their organizations.* However, I am disturbed by the implication later in your post that the separation of Church and State is harmful to religion “Over the last 50+ years, the courts have pushed every ounce of religion out of the state, and now they are trying to push morality out of religion.” It is absolutely right that religion has been pushed out of the state, for the protection of both religion and government. Freedom of religion absolutely requires that government be, as Madison put it “incognizant” of religion. I began a series of posts on the subject, of the importance of that separation, and its historical origins, on my own (currently inactive) blog.
For the sake of arguement, my understanding of the first amendment is that the government will not favor or sancition one church above another. Just imagine, if we all lived in Norway, we would have money taken out of our checks every pay check to help support the Lutheran church, whether we were members of that church or not. If we wanted to make a donation to a church of our own choice, it would be over and above what was already COMPULSARILAY taken from our checks.
Or we could all go live in the time of Henry VIII and allow him to be our spiritual leader.
The first amendment was created so that circumstances like that wouldn’t happen here in America.
According to the understanding of the writer of the 1st Amendment, it was also to prevent the federal government (and if he’d had his way, any state government) from favoring faith at all. Faith can and should only truly be undertaken by individuals, not institutions.
What is sadly missing from all the comments hereto is the words of the Founders themselves about the questions and issues that are raised here. Let me share a couple facts about religion, the Constitution and the founders. Christian church services were held regularly in the Capital building during Thomas Jefferson's term of office. The Constitution actually reverences the Sabbath day when it excepts Sundays from the days counted to allow a pocked veto. There are a lot more. I guess the guys who wrote the Constitution didn't get the memo about the separation of church and state.