It occurs to me, that we here in Norway, where we in theory do not have a separation between church and state, in practice have a more separated church and state than the US, where this separation is supposedly guaranteed by the constitution...
Just a thought.
In the context of the American Experiment, secular and atheistic do not mean the same thing. We are a secular nation, but not an atheistic nation. Secular refers to an authority that exists outside of or apart from the authority of the church. We certainly have that in America. The church official cannot of his own authority set binding public policy on people who do not recognize his authority. The people elect the leaders they want to set the binding public policy. Likewise, the political leader cannot dictate the belief or practice of any church. The church as an institution and the state as an institution are autonomous.
An atheistic state would, by definition, be hostile to religion. The very word atheist denotes one who is (a theos) against God. This is itself a religious stance. An atheistic nation is one that strives to eliminate all trace of God worshippers from the public square. We have seen some of this in Communist countries. Brutality and repression result.
It is possible to be a Christian secularist. In the context of the gospel, the word secular carries a negative connotation (and rightly so) – being a synonym for materialistic worldliness and all its evils. However, in the political arena, Christians need to recognize secular as a term denoting the American belief (Constituted in the 1st Amendment) that your church cannot tell my church what to do as a church. This is the protection for which Isaac Backus fought. (Backus was the first prominent Baptist in America and the father of the US concept of religious liberty, though not the phrase "separation of church and state"). This is a protection freedom-loving American Christians have died to protect over the history of our nation.
But it is not the Christians who are most in need of this recognition. It is the anti-Christians (NOW, ACLU, Robert Reich). The 1st Amendment does not exalt atheism over other religious beliefs in the United States of America. As much as it protects atheists from over-reaching religionists, it protects people of faith from the atheists who would like to see them removed.
The atheistic state must be fought at all costs. Christians have the right to participate as citizens in public life with all the rights and privileges atheists do. Christians have the right to debate and set public policy through their elected representatives just like non-Christians do. Christians have the right to set limits on aberrant and harmful behavior just like Green party candidates do.
They do not have the right to force all Americans to worship Jesus Christ. In the same way, atheists do not have the right to ban religious speech, concepts, and politics – merely because they are made, held, or practiced by Christians.
It is time the increasingly vocal atheistic voice started practicing some tolerance and rejoin the community of patriotic Americans who agree to work together in a secular state for the benefit of all.
I think that about does it.
I'll sell your memories for fifty pounds per year.