Many people who came to this new world of America 246 years ago were escaping persecution from leaders of the state religion in the old world. Each nation had an official and approved religion sanctioned by the king. So those that did not support the government religion were subject to persecution. Each person could not decide “how” or “if” to worship as they chose.
There is much confusion today about the church and state. The historical documents and records of our country indicated the concern was to prevent the government from deciding for individuals about matters of worship. This phrase of separation of church and state is not even in the Constitution!
The statement “separation of church and state” came from what are called “The Jefferson Papers” in which is voiced the hope that our government would not be permitted to have a state-sponsored religion. In a way similar to the old Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (Russia) sponsored the belief in atheism, our early leaders did not want our government to sponsor a dictated set of beliefs or style of worship.
Our military is more historically accurate and ahead of the general public in their understanding about this matter. There can be a “fine line”, yet freedom includes both sides of the question. We have freedom “of” religion in the military in which we all can decide for ourselves how to worship. It is then historically not accurate to promote freedom “from” religion. It is not a matter freedom from religion, but freedom of religion.
As we celebrate our Independence Day, let us recognize the quote from the Declaration of Independence. “For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
And so, may the same words be to us…. Relying on God, we mutually pledge to each other. May the God of creation, the God of care and healing, the God of forgiveness and redemption bless our nation and each of us as we reflect on the freedoms we have as citizens of a great nation on this earth!