Monday, June 28, 2004

Separation Anxiety Facts and Trends magazine, a publication of the Southern Baptist Convention, is reporting the results of a survey of Protestant pastors on the subject of church/state separation. It seems that pastors, by large majorities, believe that separation has gone too far. Surprise!


Most Protestant clergy in the U.S. believe the separation of church and state has gone too far, or in ways it was never intended to go. These are the results of a nationwide research study conducted among a representative sample of 700 senior pastors. The study was done exclusively for Facts & Trends by Ellison Research of Phoenix. Seventy-eight percent of all ministers felt the separation of church and state has gone too far, while 14 percent felt it
is right about where it should be, and 8 percent felt it has not gone far enough. Ministers in the South were particularly likely to feel it has gone too far (84 percent).
Among Southern Baptist pastors, 92 percent felt it has gone too far.


The article goes on to discuss certain specific issues, such as 'Under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance and displays of the Ten Commandments on public land. Happily, teaching creationism was not one of the issues mentioned.

But the most disturbing part of the article is this:


One of the on-going church-state controversies is the display of religious materials, such as nativity scenes, on public property. Ministers in the study were split over this issue. The most common perspective was that Christian displays should be allowed on government property, but not those of any other religion (36 percent). Almost as common was the feeling that religious displays from any major world religion (e.g. Christianity, Judaism or Islam) should be allowed. Twenty-two percent felt no religious displays should be allowed at all, while 11 percent felt displays should be allowed from any religion, including Wicca, Hare Krishna and anything else. Southern Baptist ministers generally felt displays should be allowed only from Christianity (40 percent) or from major world religions (36 percent).


The most common view is that only Christian symbols should be displayed. Great. These are the same people who complain about the lack of balance in science classrooms.

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