God and Government

What role does God play in government? A lot of people these days would say “none.” I don’t agree. There is supposed to be a separation of church and state. That’s fine. I agree with that. I don’t think there should be anything like an official national religion. At one point in time, I believe state religions (in the U.S.A.) were allowed, but I find that notion odd and undesirable for pretty much the same reasons. History has shown that linking government with religion is usually a bad idea.

Nevertheless, religion and morality are inextricably linked. I believe it would be a mistake to expunge morality in its entirety from a government, unless you want an immoral government that cares not a whit for its people or the justice it is supposed to uphold. What, then, do you do about religion? How should the government deal with religion? I think that we (the U.S.A.) have already answered this question in a brilliant and succinct manner. For lack of a better expression, the U.S. incorporates what I would call a “hat tip” to God. The reliance on God as the supreme authority over government is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and assumed in the U.S. Constitution.

Yet the founders were careful to leave the understanding of God somewhat nebulous. It does not specify the God of any particular religion; it specifies only God or “nature’s God.” This amorphous notion is echoed on our money (“In God We Trust”) and in our “Pledge of Allegiance.” As I said, something of a hat tip, an acknowledgement that our government is not the ultimate authority. The God recognized by the U.S. government need not be the Judeo-christian God alone. It can be the Islamic Allah, or the Native American Great Spirit. It is quite flexible. There might be a few oddball religions that don’t quite fit (I’m thinking it might not be completely harmonious with Buddhist beliefs, but I’m not sure) but it is still a pretty impressive compromise.

Why is it necessary?

A government without God can give rights and take them away with none having the authority to chastise it. But a government that recognizes a Supreme Being or a Higher Power cannot do so. A God-given right cannot be taken away by anyone—government, citizen, or what-have-you—save God himself.

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