Barack Obama recently chatted with TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and had some advice for the religious right.
For my friends on the right, I think it would be helpful to remember the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy but also our religious practice. Folks tend to forget that during our founding, it wasn’t the atheists or the civil libertarians who were the most effective champions of the First Amendment…. It was the forbearers of Evangelicals who were the most adamant about not mingling government with religious, because they didn’t want state-sponsored religion hindering their ability to practice their faith as they understood it.
Whatever we once were, we’re no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of non-believers. We should acknowledge this and realize that when we’re formulating policies from the state house to the Senate floor to the White House, we’ve got to work to translate our reasoning into values that are accessible to every one of our citizens, not just members of our own faith community.
Good stuff. I’ve long believed Democratic leaders have done too little to emphasize their First Amendment, and Obama’s comments to CBN helped frame the issue in a helpful way — everyone should support the separation of church and state, especially the devout.
Of course, TV preacher Pat Robertson, who still controls CBN, didn’t see it that way.