A great many Americans no longer believe in the separation of Church and State, and indeed deny it is a principle found in the Constitution. Yet the wording of the First Amendment is quite clear, and its importance to the founders is underlined by its being first. Certainly it was clear to Thomas Jefferson, who wrote, "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."
That's why it's alarming to see so many politicians proposing to tear down that wall. It's most evident in the eagerness of states to permit the teaching of Creationism (in the guise of Intelligent Design) in public schools, despite the ruling of a Pennsylvania U. S. District Court that "the overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory."
The other high-profile test of separation of Church and State comes in the attempt to legislate birth control, abortion and other matters pertaining to birth. We now have a likely Republican ticket which would ban all funds for Planned Parenthood, outlaw abortion even in cases of rape and incest, and allow employers to deny women access to cancer screenings and birth control. The likely vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, would go even farther. He is co-sponsor of a bill before the house that would criminalize in-vitro fertilization.
These positions reflect the religious teachings of the churches of the candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
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