Religion and American Society

Posted by Joe Rutten, Director of Faith Formation - Cathedral of St. Joseph

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If you are not aware, the fight for the future of American society has begun.  The fight has been being waged for some years now, actually since our founding, but it has started to heat up again this past year with the imposition of the insurance mandate by the Federal department of Health and Human Service.  In order to win a war, you must first know that you are in one.  Take heed, the battle has begun.

I want to address a great misunderstanding that exists in many American’s minds about the foundation and establishment of the United States as a society that separates Church and State.  Popular understanding believes that America was founded solely on Thomas Jefferson’s famous principle which seeks to divide religion from politics and its influence in the formation of public society.  This certainly has been one of the primary visions for the United States but by no means is it the only vision.

In the modern understanding of separation of church and state, religion is not to be a source for guidance and formation in the public life of society.  In this case, what then should be the source of formation and guidance and what happens to a society that removes God as the source of its morality and virtue?

Science & technology are two of the leading contenders that have replaced God.  In and of themselves they are not evil, but look at what type of a society they formed when divorced from the principle of religion in Hitler’s Germany.  Hitler used the science of Eugenics coupled with Darwinian evolutionary theory to try and produce the Superior race and the superman.  Hitler had a great aversion to religion and persecuted Christians as well as Jews.  (FYI: Hitler received his eugenics policy from the State of California!) We will leave Joseph Stalin for another day.

Science and technology, without moral guidance rooted in God, can have devastating effects on the dignity of the human person and this is where the fight is being waged most today.  We find the fight being waged most in the area of medicine.  If science and technology are the determining factors of morality and not God, then what science can do is said to be moral and what technology permits is made legal.  By separating the Creator from the formation of society, we lose the boundaries and limitations that safeguard us from destroying ourselves and de-valuing persons.  Because human dignity comes from the fact that we are created in the image and likeness of God, not simply from the fact that we exist as material beings, we must not take the principle of separation of church and state to mean that principles of faith can have no influence in society.

Why is it that we kill our babies in the womb? Why is it that 92% of babies that are tested and found to have Down syndrome in the womb are aborted?  Science/technology alone will not make the world a better place; I think the evidence shows that without limitation, they will actually destroy the human societies.

George Washington said the following in his farewell address in 1796:

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports…reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

I think we should consider the wisdom of Washington in the formation of today’s society!

God’s Faithful Servant First,
Joe Rutten


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