A Point of View (c) 1996
Separating Church from State
By Paul V. Montesino, PhD.
After showing up with my points for more than twenty years, I am sure I don’t have to repeat or prove my belief in the separation between Church and State, a conflict I thought had been resolved a long time ago with our constitution, but obviously not.
Throughout those years, I’ve seen many versions of the controversy. We can start with the non-starting arguments in favor of prayer in the schools. The struggle has nothing to do with praying. It really means Christian praying, the other religious versions be damned, sorry for the theological adjective. Besides, the law is the law.
We can continue with the ever-going battles between pro-lives and pro-choices when it comes to abortion. I am opposed to abortion and have behaved my entire life in my relationships with the opposite sex based on that belief. But I also know that I don’t have a woman’s mind or body inside my man’s mind and body and would never be able to understand why I would or wouldn’t abort my own child if I were a pregnant woman, particularly if that pregnancy were the result of rape. Besides, the law is the law.
Of course, we can argue till kingdom come, no religious intention here please, about the legitimacy of same-sex marriage. The fact that humans have been practicing same-sex relations from our earliest history doesn’t seem to carry into legitimating legally that relationship. That love, and not necessarily sex, drives the same-sex part of the definition of that marriage does not seem to make a difference to its opponents. Most married same-sex couples I have met in my life, and I am not gay, so I don't have a bias, display love and respect for each other and are trying to live under the same rules that my wife and I do in our relationship. If some churches want to stay away from same-sex marriage ceremonies, and some don’t, that is fine with me. That would be the best way to separate Church from State. Besides, the law is the law.
I don’t intend to exhaust the list of cases. I only want to quote a few as an introduction to these new points. What I want to talk about today is the latest controversy surrounding the kneeling of athletes while the national anthem is played. Here we don’t have a case of one religious belief being tested. We are talking about expressing our differing political opinions during the sound of what should be the unifying melodies of our national song.
It’s clear to me that human rights are not checked at the gates of the stadiums or coliseums. When we sit to watch the games, we do it in the bleaches or the boxes because we pay a different ticket price and we favor a team of our choice. But kneeling to express our disappointment with the policies outside the stadiums before or after the games is mixing a player’s idea of fairness, no matter how fair it is. It opens the doors for additional kneeling to support our pleasure or displeasure for the use of religious garbs, for instance, and that’s not separation of Church or State in my book. When I buy a ticket, it’s not meant as a political contribution. Stand up fellows, and leave the kneeling for your church. Besides, it is the law. . . or ought to be.
And that is my Point of View today.