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By Jessica Tyler, guest columnist
Nothing has established and reinforced political ideology quite like the age-old argument of separation of church and state.
Whether you believe that religion belongs in the public or private sphere, religious viewpoints are inherently embedded into the political system. However, America was the first nation in history to place a clear distinction between established religion and government. One of the many attacks on our country from the Religious Right is the claim that our country is a Christian nation — a country founded by Christians, for Christians.
However, one does not have to delve deep into American history to find that this statement is not true.
Even if the founding fathers had been Christians, it would make no sense for them to establish a nation oriented around religion when many of the first colonists left England specifically to escape a tyrannical government that advocated for religious persecution.
That being said, I think the argument presented by the Religious Right is wrong, but the idea is right.
Even if you are a fervent atheist you cannot deny that the 10 Commandments, arguably one of the most fundamental laws of Christianity, instill good moral values. Most of our government and justice system is structured around these principles, although it may not be explicitly referred to as religious ideology.
Following the recent presidential election, many deemed the Republican Party insufficient and obsolete — attributing their loss to their inability to appeal to an electorate whose social values have evolved over time. So the question remains: Should the “Old Party” compromise their moral underpinnings in the name of political victories?
It is clear that the Religious Right is not wrong in observing that the U.S. has morally regressed from the days of Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues to the ‘if it feels good, do it’ ideology that took precedence throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s.
However, what is unclear is whether or not this moral decline can be attributed to the diminishing influence of religion in the political arena.
I do not believe that it is necessary to advocate for a government that promotes specific religious values.
There are far too many religious epistemologies around which to both structure a government and satisfy the masses.
However, I do believe that the institution of government must coexist with the influence of religion — rather than exalting one at the expense of the other. Most of the laws established today are grounded in religious teachings, without which we would be a much different society.
While it can be debated as to whether or not it would be for better or worse, it would certainly be different. While government is necessary in maintaining order and protecting liberty, religion is essential in providing the moral foundation upon which society is built.
Jessica Tyler is a political science and history junior. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.