Separation of Church and State – The Sports Analogy

It’s really hard for some religious believers to understand why the separation of church and state is really important. In an effort to advance the cause in support of strong separation I have come up with a good analogy to explain it. I call it “The Sports Analogy”.

Recent court decisions involving church and state have not been ruled in the non-believer’s favor. The reasoning used by the judges follow the thinking shown in the recent decision concerning the National Day of Prayer law:

Standing has 3 components: injury, causation, and redressability… We conclude that neither the statute nor the President’s implementing proclamations injures plaintiffs, who therefore lack standing.

FFRF Inc., et. al., V. BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States, and ROBERT GIBBS, White House Press Secretary

It is true that the National Day of Prayer proclamations don’t force non-believers to pray. There isn’t any beatings or jailing of those who don’t pray as result of the proclamation, but the court ignored, and this is something starting to become a problem for other cases, sectarian privilege – in the case of the US it is Christian Privilege. It is an injury to those of us who don’t subscribe to the majority religion being singled out for special attention.

One of the tenants of the 1st Amendment is to not favor religion. Praying is about as religious as one can get.

Basically this court and others don’t understand or dismiss the feelings of others who don’t subscribe to that religion or any religion.

That kind of ignorance misses the fact that feeling like a second class citizen IS an injury just as if the President ordered all of us to pray – which he in fact did in his 2011 proclamation:

Let us pray for the men and women of our Armed Forces and the many selfless sacrifices they and their families make on behalf of our Nation. Let us pray for the police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect their fellow citizens. And let us ask God for the sustenance and guidance for all of us to meet the great challenges we face as a Nation.

Let us remember in our thoughts and prayers those who have been affected by natural disasters at home and abroad in recent months, as well as those working tirelessly to render assistance. And, at a time when many around the world face uncertainty and unrest, but also hold resurgent hope for freedom and justice, let our prayers be with men and women everywhere who seek peace, human dignity, and the same rights we treasure here in America.

From the President of the United States: 2011 National Day Of Prayer Proclamation

“Let us pray..” is a command as I understand the phrase.

So in order to explain to those, like the 7th District Court, who don’t get it I offer my Sports Analogy.

For the sake of this argument I am going to set it in a small town in Ohio.

Jake Smith lives in Buckeye Town with his family. He is a huge Ohio State University fan. He bleeds scarlet and gray.

In the past few years more people from Michigan have moved to Buckeye Town to the point that a majority of the town council is made up of University of Michigan fans.

One day a council member introduces a resolution requiring the Mayor to issue a University of Michigan Day proclamation. It passes by a wide a margin and the mayor issues the proclamation.

How do you think Jake Smith feels about his government now? Alienation? Second class status?

Now you know how non-Christians and non-believers feel when the government supports Christian privilege.

It is NOT the government’s job to be a religious cheerleader just as it is not the job of the Buckeye Town council to be Michigan cheerleaders.

Besides doing things like favoring Christian privilege violates the Golden Rule.


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    • May 26, 2011

      Thanks for the visit an comment

  1. David
    May 26, 2011

    The decision referenced above is proof that the supremes are as biased in their own way as any other group of mortals. I have always thought the need for the separation of church and state was obvious and that even believers would support it. After all when the state sanctions one religion above all others what do you do when it isn't yours? Be afraid, very afraid.

  2. sbj1964
    May 26, 2011

    Great post Doug, Nice to see you writing again. Can't wait to see what else you got !

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