Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lt. Gov. Lawton to speak to FFRF

Current Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton has accepted an invitation to speak at the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s annual convention this year, a historic gesture as she would become the highest-ranking person in government ever to speak to the organization (while holding office).

Though the group works to keep the “separation of church and state” intact -- the true desires of our founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson who coined the phrase himself -- few sitting politicians, if any, tend to associate themselves directly with the association.

Lawton, who cannot attend in person due to conflicting family plans, will deliver her speech via video recorded message. The current Lt. Governor had previously considered a run for governor earlier this year, but dropped out due to undefined family circumstances.

Lawton saw no problem with giving the speech, and felt that she would have given it regardless of if she had run for office this year or not.

“This is a clear statement of my patriotism and my understanding of a democracy,” she said, “where we have people of faith able to answer their calling to the fullest, and where there’s a protection of integrity of our Constitution and the line between church and state.”

One doesn’t have to be anti-religious to support the idea of the separation between church and state. In fact, if anyone is to benefit from that separation, it is the various religious beliefs that currently exist in our country.

The wall between church and state (in theory) prohibits religious organizations from having any direct influence in government work and from receiving special treatment from the state. But it also prevents government from having a hand in dictating what religious practices should be permissible. Without a separation of church and state, and from the perspective of a religious institution, the meaning of and enforcement of God’s Word would be defined by representatives elected by the people, essentially subjecting the law of God to a democratic vote -- an idea that most religious leaders and organizations would reject, for God’s Word is infallible, not determined by what the people at-large have to say.

Some argue against a separation of church and state because it may allow certain religious to have a place in our society that others might not recognize as valid. That’s the problem of those individuals, however, and shouldn’t be a concern of the state. The only time that government should get involved in matters of religion is when a church (or any other place of worship), or an individual practicing their belief, infringes upon any of the protected rights of any other person without their permission. If a specific religious organization or individual tries to enforce their beliefs over an individual, without that individual’s consent, it is the right of the government to step in and halt such practices.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation adheres to these tenets. They are not a group that is concerned with eradicating religion completely, but rather promoting that the government remains neutral (or acts more neutral) when it comes to religious beliefs in our society. Though I disagree with them on several matters of religion, as I’m sure Barbara Lawton does as well, when it comes to the separation of church and state, they should be looked upon as being an authority on the matter.

Every patriotic American, especially those who wish to preserve their own religious beliefs, should fight to preserve the “wall of separation” that Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers fought to create when they formed our country.

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