“The State and Religion” American Sentinel 14, 31, pp. 483, 484.

A GREAT many people who are much opposed to any union of church and state, as they declare, still think it would be a dreadful thing for the state to be separated from religion. They seem to think that if the state had no religion, it would be opposed to all religions, and would wickedly disregard every religious right of the people.

But let us see about this. From whence comes the most violent opposition to religion? Does it not come from religion itself? In other words, is there not more bitter hostility between two opposing religions, than between any religion and mere worldliness? Yes, the history of religious persecution shows this beyond any question. Every state that ever persecuted, was joined with religion. Religious hostility, and that alone, has always been the actuating motive in persecution.

Separated from religion, the state would never persecute; joined with religion, the state will always persecute, because it will then be a party in a strife between opposing religions.

And besides, if the state is to be religious, why should it not join the church? For all professors of religion, church membership is a logical necessity; the church exists for the very purpose of joining professors of religion into one company. If the state can properly profess religion, it can properly be joined with a church; and if it cannot properly be joined with a church, it cannot properly profess religion.

Whatever religion the state may profess, will in itself identify the state with some church. For the state’s religion must be something definite, and there is no definite religion that does not belong to a definite church or religious body.

Separation of religion from the state, therefore, is the only proper attitude of the one for the other. No one person has power to force his religious views upon another, and if civil force cannot properly be joined [484] with the religious views of one person, it cannot be properly joined with the views of two or more persons. A non-religious state does not mean an anti-religious state; for as we have seen, it is always a religious state that employs its force against religion.

The non-religious or purely secular state simply interferes with no religion, but leaves all religions free to stand on their own merits, to survive or perish as the case may be. All false religions ought to perish, and the true religion, being imbued with the life and the power of God, cannot fail. Religion and the state, therefore, must be kept wholly separated in order that both may fulfill their proper mission in the world.

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