Pope Ratzinger meets with President Bush

Political and religious leaders are perhaps in the greatest position to bring about meaningful change.  For that reason, when they abuse that position by misrepresenting the truth, I become livid.  This is a reaction I will probably never be able to master (though I’ve managed to stop being surprised.)

Case in point: President Bush and Pope Benedict traded remarks during the Catholic leader’s first visit to the United States as pope. Both men’s comments were unsurprising. Then Pope Benedict let this doozy fly:

From the dawn of the republic, America’s quest for freedom has been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator.

This, of course, is untrue.  The freedoms guaranteed by the US Constitution have nothing to do with the dominion of any God.  The very notion is ludicrous.  The Bill of Rights specifically guarantees freedom of religion, for one thing.  This must also include the right to follow no religion at all.

Consider, also, the following:

  • The word “god” does not appear in the Constitution
  • The Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary of 1797, a legally binding document, proclaims explicitly that “the Government of the united States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” (see Article 11)
  • Many of the Founding Fathers were deists (including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine)

The attack on church/state separation has to stop.  Believe whatever you want, and practice whatever faith you want, but leave it out of the public sphere.  The alternative is to sanction some beliefs and exclude others, which is exactly what the framers of our Constitution set out to avoid.

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