Church-State Separation is Good for Religious Activism

Church-State Separation is Good for Religious Activism

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Written by Don Byrd
The Harvard Gazette provides a nice overview of the symposium earlier this month featuring Baptist Joint Committee executive director Brent Walker discussing religious freedom with an interfaith panel moderated by Dr.Henry Louis Gates. Read the whole thing, but here’s one of my favorite snippets.

Gates began the inaugural symposium on May 1 by asking the panelists how they viewed faith-based political activism in a climate of separation of church and state.

Walker answered first: “Separation doesn’t mean we need to go and hide and not try to make the world better. We Baptists roll up our sleeves and get involved, motivated by our religious convictions. Martin Luther King and many others lived according to this tradition, and the country is far better off for it.”

Church-state separation is not a scheme to scrub religious motivation from the public square. Just the opposite, it creates room that makes possible honest debates regarding government policy from a religious perspective, without compromising beliefs to retain favor, and without fear of government bias. The wall of separation is a means to religious-based activism, not its end.