“The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church, I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk.” This is what incumbent Congresswoman Lauren Boebert of Colorado said only days before she won her primary on Tuesday, June 28. She’s up for reelection in November of this year.
In TheWashington Post’s coverage of Boebert’s comments, multiple experts weighed in on her take about the separation of church and state. (Spoiler alert: none of the experts had her back.)
Gwen Calais-Haase, a political scientist at Harvard University, told The Washington Post that Boebert’s interpretation of the Constitution was “false, misleading and dangerous.” Calais-Haase said she was “extremely worried about the environment of misinformation that extremist politicians take advantage of for their own gains.”
Steven K. Green, a professor of law and affiliated professor of history and religious studies at Willamette University, agreed, saying, “Rep. Boebert is wrong on both matters. While the phrase separation of church and state does not appear verbatim in the Constitution, neither do many accepted constitutional principles such as separation of powers, judicial review, executive privilege, or the right to marry and parental rights, no doubt rights that Rep. Boebert cherishes,” wrote Green, the author of “Separating Church and State: A History.”
Michael Steele, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, tweeted in reaction to Boebert’s comment a line from the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of Religion.” “I can’t. Not today,” Steele wrote.
Writing about this because this issue is in our wheelhouse. And, this issue seems to be the focus of a growing number of elected officials and appointees who welcome religion and prayer in government and federally-funded settings. CNN just published a feature with the headline, “How the Supreme Court is dismantling the separation of church and state,” noting that “The broadly worded decision is certain to invite more challenges by religious adherents and will likely increase displays of religion in schools and other public places.” https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/27/politics/supreme-court-church-state-kennedy-maine-analysis/index.html
The first Position Statement of the Atheist Community of Austin is Religion-Government Separation. All of our Position Statements can be found here, https://www.atheist-community.org/positions, but sharing this one here:
The ACA understands:
Article VI of the United States Constitution prohibits any religious test for public office
The First Amendment necessarily requires that our government remain neutral with regard to religion.
The Fourteenth Amendment extends amendments to the US Constitution to the state governments
We believe that this neutral position ensures that no religion receives preferential treatment over another religion, or the lack of religion. We support the right of each individual to believe or disbelieve as they choose. We support the right of individuals to practice their religious beliefs to the extent that such practice does not inhibit or infringe upon the rights and freedoms of others.
The Atheist Community of Austin will be working harder to share these news stories, and the context that surrounds them, to our readers, viewers, and friends. When we see opportunities for action and involvement, we will share that as well. We will continue our work to educate and engage the community as we promote positive atheist culture and the separation of religion and government.
*These statements represent the official positions of this organization and are not intended to represent the position of all atheists or ACA members.