Keep the wall between church, state

Published 10:23 pm Thursday, September 15, 2016

By Keith Hoggard

We must put the U.S. Constitution over the Bible when governing the country.

To preserve our right to freely practice (or not practice) the religion of our choice and safeguard our democracy, there must be a wall (a YUUGE wall already paid for by the blood of our Founding Fathers) separating church from state.

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This nation was founded by devoutly religious people, but they were fleeing from theocratic oppression that denied them the right to worship as they saw fit.

The Founding Fathers wanted the Constitution to ensure the religious freedom of every individual, so they made it explicit that the government of the United States would take no action to restrict religious freedom and take no action to promote one religion over another.

Once the state takes sides in religious matters, it’s only a matter of time before that religion becomes sanctioned as the one true religion of the state. From there, it’s only a matter of time before the president and Congress must all belong to that religion. From there, how long until a single individual is declared both the chief religious leader and absolute dictator of the nation, because he has been appointed by God?

Many conservatives today put God’s law above man’s law. Most people would agree that God’s law is more important than man’s law, but even Jesus acknowledged that one should render under Caesar that which is Caesar’s.

In other words, if you’re a part of the state, you must adhere to the rules of the state.

It’s not O.K. to interpret the Bible and act accordingly if you expect to also be a part of the state. If you claim to be a citizen of the United States, you must obey the laws of the United States.

Sometimes, this might conflict with how you interpret God’s law, but the New Testament, which I thought superseded the Old Testament for Christians, states that you should obey the laws of the state.

Carrying that just a little further, you either obey the law or seek to change the law. Thomas Jefferson felt that if the law was too out of step with popular belief, revolution was the logical step.

I thought the reason Martin Luther and the Protestants broke with the church was because they believed icons were wrong. I thought Protestantism was in part a protest against Catholic iconography based, ironically, upon the second of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” (Exodus 20:4)

I thought God’s word was supposed to reside in the heart and soul of an individual, not on the courthouse lawn like a golden bull in the desert.

I do not want these people dictating to me how to live, how to think and how to pray. I’m perfectly capable of making these decisions for myself.

Religious freedom in America is contingent upon maintaining that wall between church and state. When it crumbles, so, too, does our democratic nation and our freedoms.

Keith Hoggard is a staff writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7206.