Recently, you have published letters raising the recurring concerns of the Christian faithful when local government discusses the intercourse between church and state. Upon Warren City Council voting to adopt Music In The Park because of liability concerns, Councilman Sam Harvey inquired about the impact the adoption might have on religious performances at a government sponsored event on government property. Some discussion by Council followed without further action.
Mr. Berry’s articulate letter (WTO: 11/8/13) would lead your readers to believe that City Council was motivated by fear – fear of protest by some religious or non-religious minority. Parenthetically, it is interesting to me the the same Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing religious freedom also guarantees the freedom to protest.
However, I believe that writer’s concern misses the larger point behind the issue motivating Mr. Harvey’s most appropriate inquiry. That point is the First Amendment’s protection of religion. Regardless of the Founding Father’s religious beliefs, many were immediate descendants of those who emigrated to the New World to escape persecution of minority religions by a state sponsored and state enforced religion. The language of our Constitution separating church from state is based in this historical experience. The combination of church with state is to be feared.
The Christian majority, which has no rational fear of persecution in the United States, should be cautious about embracing closer connection with the government. Government represents a concentration of power and power often seeks control.
Mr. Harvey and City Council rightly expressed reservations about the intermingling of local government with any religious entity. There should be reservations; not because of fear of protest but because the fewer connections there are between state and religion, the safer it is for religion – all religions. City Council and Mr. Harvey should be applauded.