<center><h1>Break down barriers between church and state...?</h1></center> <center><h1>Be careful what you wish for.</h1></center> The consequences of embracing Tom DeLay's and Bill Frist's crusade against an independent jusidciary and their appeals to a particularly xenophobic form of Christianity are simple. The breaking down of the barriers between church and state. While not explicitly laid out in the Constitution, it is implicit, as stated in Jefferson's 1802 letter to <a href=http://www.usconstitution.net/jeffwall.html>the Danbury Baptist Association</a>. <blockquote>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 and state. - <i>Thomas Jefferson</i>, Jan. 1, 1802</blockquote> Further reading of the letter makes it clear that religious freedom is a matter of individual conviction, and not to be brought into the realm of politics. This ideal has enjoyed legal status throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and rather than stifling religion, has given rise to enourmous diversity in religious expression and practice in this nation, one not seen elsewhere in the world. Also, the framers of the Constitution had a perspective on the merging of church and state that we do not have today. They needed only to look to recent history of Puritan Massachussetts to see the threat that a union of religion and politics posed. In Massachussetts, religious dissenters were hanged and "witches" were burned at the stake. The Founding Fathers looked to this and knew that it was not what they wanted for this nation. Recent history gives us the examples of Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iran, Afghanistan under the Taliban, Saudia Arabia, Indonesia, and others to show the flaws and instability inherent in the mingling religion and politics. The separation of church and state has also benefitted religion in the form of property-tax exemptions for church owned property. And I don't see anyone supporting the union of church and state supporting the imposition of these taxes on their churches. If there is to be more church in the state, there should also be more state in the church. The democratic principles this nation was built upon are messy, and rely on compromise and concensus building amongst a variety of views. Religion, on the other hand, is built upon absolutes, undebatable dogmas and authority. There is no room for "...We the People..." to exercise any authority. Thus the only way for the two to co-exist is to do so separately. Religion remains in the personal realm and secularism prevails in the political realm.