The Christian and World Affairs Part III: The Clergy, The Church, and the State -- By: Clyde W. Taylor
BSac 122:488 (Oct 65) p. 302
The Christian and World Affairs
The Clergy, The Church, and the State
There are only certain aspects of the separations of church and state that should directly concern us in this study of the Christian and world affairs. However, the environment and conditions under which a Christian citizen will live will be greatly influenced by the relationship of church and state.
The general concept, as we are accustomed to it in America, is that church and state shall operate as separate organizations. They are not, however, to be in opposition to each other, in competition with each other, or opposed to each other, or directly supporting each other. The government is to do nothing to establish either one religion as the state religion or to endeavor to establish all religions on an equal basis. The church is to be self-governing and the government is to be governed by its citizens.
In the present day, however, where the government has entered into so many welfare projects, it has approached the ministry of the church at many points. This is both in the field of relief as well as in the many ministries to the needy. The government has ample funds, the church has limited resources. On the other hand, the church is apt to have dedicated citizens who are anxious to do this type of work and do it reasonably, whereas the government has to hire or search out such people. The tendency, therefore, is for the government to pay the bill and the church to do the work. And thus there begins this breakdown of the separation of church and state, which eventually could fully involve both in a
BSac 122:488 (Oct 65) p. 303
state-church problem. As we examine most cases, the main factor, or at least one of the main factors, is money. The state has it, the church would like to get it, or at least use it or administrate it.
At the other extreme, we find those who insist that there must be a complete divorcing of all religion from the state, so that the end result will be the state becoming a secularized institution with not even the acknowledgment of God in it.
Dr. James DeForest Murch writes as follows on “Religion in Early American Life”: “From its earliest days to comparatively recent times, Americans have considered theirs to be a Christian nation. In this context the Declaration of Independence recognized that God and His holy will stand over and above the nation—that, in the words of Peter Marshall, ‘the highest role a nation can play is to reflect God’s righteousness in national policy at all times.’ The U.S. Supreme Court declared in the Trinity Church case in 1892 that the United States is a Christian nation.
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