(Photographer Unknown To Me)
People either love getting involved in a debate/discussion about the need to separate the business of the church from the business of the state or they try to stay clear of the topic altogether. When I listen in on discussions that others are having I am struck by the passion that many bring to the table. Usually the conversations swing around to represent each others’ personal philosophy. It gets personal. Questions get asked: ‘Do you really consider yourself a ‘Christian’? What is a Christian anyway? What right does the church have to tell me what to do?’ Do you really believe that the church provides the best moral compass for us and our children? What about all the sexual abuse stuff that is happening in the church? Then someone responds by asking–‘Do you really think that our elected officials and government folks aren’t and haven’t been caught in scandals abusing sex trade workers, child porn rings, fraud, theft, stealing right out of the public purse? Whose better than who? Of course what does any of this have to do with anything connected to separation of church and state–absolutely nothing but this is how easily the topic gets diverted–it brings a great deal of passion and heat.
I have some thoughts and information that I can share:
–One very striking coincidence I have noticed since we have continued to limit the presence of ‘God, church and church teachings’ in our daily lives has been our general move toward becoming a more hedonistic society. The increases in the incidence of violence and the denial of others rights have become more than a cause for concern. I’m just sayin’ . . .
–Vatican City is likely one reason why the separation of church and state is a fallacy. VC (Vatican City) has never been separate and will never be separate from the political scene that is the world stage. There are 1.2 billion adherents connected to the Catholic Faith most of which would follow the direction of the church council regardless of what was being asked of them. These folks are spread world wide meaning that they are ingrained in the politics of small villages to huge cities around the globe. They hold political offices and are expected to adhere to political doctrines regardless of their religious convictions or affiliations.
–The Pope is, according to several dictionary explanations, a dictator. A dictatorship is often considered to be a ‘political’ description. BEFORE people come to burn my house down let me say that I am not anti-pope. One has to admire the man for all that he has done and for withstanding the stress of the office he holds. I’m certainly not suggesting, in any way, that he is other than the guy who runs the show for the ‘Church’. But by the true sense of the word he is the absolute ruler of the Faith and certainly of the Vatican itself. His word goes. He decides and creates policy–a very political thing to do.
–Remember–the Vatican–Vatican City (estimated population 900-1000 people)–is, for all intents and purposes, a walled state with it’s own security, intelligence and police force, it’s own political structure, and it’s own work force where, by the way, only Catholics are allowed to work. That smacks a bit of discrimination to me although I understand why this is but none-the-less it is a political issue that has not been discussed or questioned. It is political by it’s very nature. The Vatican exists inside another city which is located in another country. VC has declared itself neutral when it comes to armed aggression as it did during the war. The Vatican explained that it declared itself as neutral, not to pick or defend a particular side or issue but rather to not offend any of its membership around the world–rather political as well.
–The Vatican has a seat at the United Nations, a pretty political group if I’m not mistaken, with all the privileges of a member state but it does not have a vote. It can’ however’ weigh in on political matters as can anyone else. By doing so they are still able to exert pressure or sway opinion.
–Regarding world politics the majority of world governing bodies have accepted and recognize the Vatican as an Independent State–a political designation.
–I can’t attest 100% to this next point, of course, but I wonder how many Vatican intermediaries have participated in sorting out world treaties or have been arbitrators in behind the scenes negotiations and even peace settlements??
–The UN has described the Vatican as an “Absolute Elective Monarchy” and the Pope as an “Absolute Monarch” the only such designation in Europe. He does possess TOTAL POWER considering Church and State issues.
There are other examples of when world issues blurred the lines between religious interests and political interests but I think that the Vatican and it’s ‘arrangement’ satisfies the assumption that there is no separation of Church and State that exists. Not really. Governments and churches have agreed that they will not ‘publicly’ spit in each others’ eye. Speaking of eyes the picture that I attached to this article represents the wary eye of churches and governments alike when paying attention to what and how each goes about doing their business. Let’s stop pretending that there is a line that defines where one stops and the other starts. According to history churches have been political beyond the 1300’s and they will continue to be involved in the politics of the world. I’m just sayin’ . . .
That’s how I see it, Anyways
All the best, Jim
As always please feel free to comment. You can send your comments to me at either: firstname.lastname@example.org OR jamescloughley.com
Please pass this along to others to read as well-with thanks