Joseph Smith on the Hill at Cumorah
The Little Rock Christian Academy has gotten into hot water of late because they've refused admission to a Mormon child. The academy's reasoning is that Mormons are not Christians and consequently have no place in a strictly Christian institution.
I don't know anything about Mormons, but the Little Rock Christian Academy is well within its rights, and not with respect to whether or not Mormons are Christians, but because the Constitution of the United States gives them the liberty to practice their religion without government interference. They have the right to decide who is in, and who is out.
Similarly, Westboro Baptists are protected by our Constitution, which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Yes, the Westboro folks are going to hell, but they get to: it's the law.
Our Founding Fathers, guided by Thomas Jefferson, based the separation clause on the Enlightenment philosopher John Locke's ideas about social contracting. The central theme of the idea is that government has no authority over individual conscience because a rational person would not give government the right to control how she or he thinks. For Locke, and the Founders, this "human quality" created a natural right to the liberty of conscience --and why they believed that our right to think must be protected from any government authority. These views on religious tolerance, and the importance of individual conscience, form the backbone of the United States Constitution.
Why this matters now is because entire packs, droves, hoards of politicians are running for public office solely on the basis that they are "the right kind of Christian" and will "restore Christian values" to government, as soon as we The People get with the program and vote them into office. Implicit in their argument is that the person they're running against is the "wrong kind of Christian" and has the wrong kind of "Christian values."
Needless to say, none of these people has the slightest practical idea about fixing the economy, or about how to introduce badly needed equity, and fairness, into our tax and other systems. I guess that's not surprising in light of their fundamentally Un-American and unconstitutional posturing; these are scary, ignorant, and lawless people and they don't really have anything else to talk about.
What these unfit candidates ought to do is join, run, or start a church, and stay out of public life. Within the environs of some churches it is okay to be scary and ignorant, and because the Constitution protects scary and ignorant as well as friendly and bright, they would at least not be lawless. Hooray for the Constitution.
The next time a candidate tells you that he is "the right kind of Christian," or that he wants to restore "Christian values to government," ask him why he wants churches to control government, or conversely, government to control churches? It amounts to the same thing, however you slice it, and if either comes to pass, well then, thank God for the 2nd Amendment because we'll need it.