The Blessing of Separating Church and State: Is It at Risk?

– Alan Garfield

Why would we want to separate church and state? Isn’t religion a positive force in society? Doesn’t it foster ethical behavior and encourage charity? Just think of all the church-run soup kitchens or the moral leadership provided by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

So why would the framers build a wall separating church and state? Why not unite the two and combine their power for good?

Prof. Alan Garfield.

Prof. Alan Garfield.

Of course, the Constitution never explicitly says that there must be a wall separating church and state. But the First Amendment does say that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” In a landmark 1947 decision, the Supreme Court explained that this clause was “intended to erect ‛a wall of separation between church and State’” and that this wall “must be kept high and impregnable.”

What were the framers thinking? Were they opposed to religion? Were they at war with Christmas?

Certainly not. Most were religious themselves.

The framers merely knew their history. And history taught them that combining church and state produces a volatile brew that is good for neither church nor state. [Read more…]

Open Letter of Concern About Betsy DeVos

School Chalk Board

School Chalk Board

An Open Letter to Senator Toomey, (R-PA)
Dear Senator Toomey:

I grew up in a working class family and neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. I was the first in my family to get a college degree, made possible by the then free City University of New York system, an institution that enabled many working and lower middle class kids to achieve the American Dream. I have been an educator for 32 years, 25 of those at a public institution in Philadelphia (Temple University). During that time, I have enabled other kids, like the one I was, to reach, dream, and land higher than the place from where they came. But, now, that dream is in jeopardy. [Read more…]