As you will no doubt recall, Ronald Reagan was on record as saying:
We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate.Owing to the date of that speech (October 24, 1984) and to the fact that he takes a political swipe or two:
And there's something else. The ideals of our country leave no room whatsoever for intolerance, for anti-Semitism, or for bigotry of any kind—none. In Dallas, we acted on this conviction. We passed a resolution concerning anti-Semitism and disassociating the Republic[an] Party from all people and groups who practice bigotry in any form. But in San Francisco this year, the Democratic Party couldn't find the moral courage or leadership to pass a similar resolution. And, forgive me, but I think they owe you an explanation. [Applause] Thank you.We can assume this is speech is more of a campaign speech than a policy speech. It was only a few weeks before the '84 elections. For example, what did he mean by "In Dallas"?
What has happened to them? Why, after the issue became so prominent during the primaries, did the Democratic leadership walk away from their convention without a resolution condemning this insidious cancer? Why didn't they turn their backs on special interests and stand shoulder to shoulder with us in support of tolerance and in unequivocal opposition to prejudice and bigotry?
We must never remain silent in the face of bigotry. We must condemn those who seek to divide us. In all quarters and at all times, we must teach tolerance and denounce racism, anti-Semitism, and all ethnic or religious bigotry wherever they exist as unacceptable evils. We have no place for haters in America—none, whatsoever.
That would be the GOP party platform from the Party Convention in Dallas:
The Republican Party reaffirms its support of the pluralism and freedom that have been part and parcel of this great country. In so doing, it repudiates and completely disassociates itself from people, organizations, publications, and entities which promulgate the practice of any form of bigotry, racism, anti-semitism, or religious intolerance.It's interesting to ponder that, faced with an upcoming election, Reagan decided to campaign on the idea that the church and state are separate and that in matters of faith the government must remain neutral.
How does that stand up to the current GOP in the current election season?
Let's start with tepid front-runner Mitt Romney:
We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They are wrong.So he's looking for a separation that's not so separate and a neutrality that's not so neutral. He's also being slammed by his political rivals for not being conservative enough.
The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust.
So what do the conservatives have to say about the Reagan endorsed idea of a wall separating church and state? For that we have to go to Rick Santorum. As reported by the Boston Globe last March, the former Senator said went full radical:
In remarks to about 50 members of the group Catholic Citizenship -- which encourages parishioners to speak out on issues of public policy --- Santorum decried what he called the growing secularization of American public life.Then there's Newt Gingrich. From The Hill:
He traced the problem to Kennedy's 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, in which Kennedy – then a candidate for president - sought to allay concerns about his Catholicism by declaring, "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute."
Santorum, who is Catholic, said he was "frankly appalled" by Kennedy's remark.
"That was a radical statement," Santorum said, and it did "great damage."
Newt Gingrich is giving fair warning to judges and courts across the country: If he becomes president, the judiciary won’t reign supreme.And what brought this on:
The former House Speaker and current Republican presidential front-runner convened a conference call with reporters on Saturday to expand on his call for Congress to subpoena judges or even abolish courts altogether if they make wrong-headed decisions. Those arguments from Gingrich at Thursday's debate in Iowa drew scrutiny and criticism from his rivals.
He said he developed his proposals after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2002 ruled that reciting phrase “one nation, under God” in the Pledge of Alliance in public schools infringed on the separation of church and state.Imposing secularism - that is what maintaining the separation of church and state really means to Newt Gingrich. And, by gum, he'll abolish any court that even tries.
“I was frankly just fed up with elitist judges imposing secularism on the country and basically fundamentally changing the American Constitution,” Gingrich said. “The more it was clear to me that you have a judicial psychology run amok, and there has to be some method of bringing balance back to the three branches.”
How far they've come. How utterly different from the ideological source they revere.