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I had to write a discussion board post for school regarding legal issues in a public school setting and I really just had to share because I believe that we need to be reminded what the real intentions of Separation of Church and State were. Here’s my post:
“A coach participates as a club advisor in Fellowship of Christian Athletes-led activities held on school properties.”
In a case in which a church organization is ministering in a public setting, the original intent of the phrase “separation of church and state” needs to be examined. According to Owens in “Separation of Church and State,” “The doctrine of the separation of church and state was conceived primarily to keep the state out of the church, not the church out of the state” (Owens, 2001). By this, Owens describes the original intent of the concept of separation of church and state, which was to protect the church from persecution and from being limited by the government to practice the religion of the state or hide the practicing of religion. This came from a people who had just been persecuted for their Christian faith in England. It was fresh in their minds and therefore, they would not allow the same thing to occur in the new country that they were working to develop: the United States. Thomas Jefferson, in his letter to the Banbury Baptist Association of Connecticut, wrote “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State” (El-Mallakh, 2007). Jefferson was addressing a church body on the fact that their right to exercise their religious beliefs would remain intact.” Biblically, people of faith were in political positions often, so the idea that the church should not have influence over the state is new and definitely not a Biblical idea. Throughout the Bible, prophets, judges, and kings all exerted strong influence over their nation even when the nation had strayed from following the Lord. When the judges of the nation of Israel were chosen, they were reminded, “‘Always think carefully before pronouncing judgment. Remember that you do not judge to please people but to please the LORD. He will be with you when you render the verdict in each case. Fear the LORD and judge with integrity, for the LORD our God does not tolerate perverted justice, partiality, or the taking of bribes” (2 Chronicles 19:6-7 NLT). Although the Biblical example is strong for church political influence, Owens continues: “Yet that has been, and will continue to be, the primary effect of this policy–the “church” will remove itself more and more from developing a strong, prophetic public witness in relation to the ‘state’ The shortage of religious leaders who will take the risk of speaking truth to power is critical enough, but it is truly tragic when the development of such a voice is rendered impossible by cozy financial relationships with the powers themselves” (Owens, 2001).
Although in the case of a coach participating as an advisor in Fellowship of Christian Athletes activities on school campus, they should be permitted to do so through the original intent of the wording of “separation of Church and State,” they would most likely not be allowed or they would be afraid of getting in some sort of trouble for doing so.
El-Mallakh, O. (2007). Separation of Church and State: the myth. Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table. Retrieved from http://p2048-ezproxy.liberty.edu.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=vic_liberty&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA192639837&sid=summon&asid=b4be56524cfaab4a87503bb2a940c8c5
Owens, R. F. (2001). Separation of Church and State. (Issues). Social Policy, 32(1), 45+. Retrieved from http://p2048-ezproxy.liberty.edu.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do?p=GRGM&sw=w&u=vic_liberty&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA81005828&sid=summon&asid=d0dff31fe69a509886c8faeecc8efded
But is that the way it feels? That this concept was meant to help the church not to hurt it?Absolutely not! The church needs to be aware that Separation of Church and State not meant to harm us. It’s supposed to protect us from government interference in the church; the exact opposite of what it’s currently doing. This does not mean that Christians should not serve in public offices: they should! There are plenty of biblical examples of this, and our nation and world needs Godly people in office.