While the president of the United States renews his boast about how he has brought “Merry Christmas” back into fashion during the holy holiday, I am reminded yet again of a phony argument that many on the far right continue to use about what the U.S. Constitution says about religion.
A former colleague of mine at the Amarillo Globe-News was fond of saying how the Constitution does not contain the words “separation of church and state.” His argument, preposterous as it sounds, was that if the Constitution doesn’t state it declaratively then such “separation” does not exist.
I sought on more than one occasion to counsel him that the Constitution does not need to make an overt statement to stand on a principle.
The First Amendment says that Congress “shall make no law” that establishes a state religion. Right there, in plain English, is the separation of church and state argument.
I mention it because Donald Trump continues to extol the virtues of Christian belief in a nation comprising people of many religious faiths. It’s laughable that this president, given his sickening personal history, would even venture into that briar patch . . . but he does.
He told the nation just the other day that since he became president, people are saying “God” in public again, as if they ever stopped saying the word. Then he talked yet again about how business owners are instructing employees to wish customers “Merry Christmas” during the holiday season. That, by golly, is the way it should be, according to the president.
I need to remind those who read this blog who might be disposed to side with Trump on this matter that the Constitution is as clear as it can possibly be on the matter of religion.
The government does not require people to worship any deity. None. It declares that the absence of a state religion means that citizens are free to worship as they wish — or not worship at all, if that is their choice.
Church/state separation is a reality in our nation’s governing document. On that score — and, yes, they missed the mark on a few matters in the creation of this great nation — the founders got it exactly right.