Archive for the ‘Separation of Church and State’ Category

The Escondido Principle of Separation of Christianity and State – Reviewed

March 21, 2012

I was recently directed to this interesting review of Darryl Hart’s book (The book is titled: “A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State”):

Hart thinks the root error of Christians who try to bring their faith into the arena of politics is the failure to understand that it just doesn’t fit. Christianity is “essentially a spiritual and eternal faith.” It is “useless” for resolving “America’s political disputes” and, because of its intolerance of other faiths, “impractical if not damaging to public life.” Christian evangelicals of both left and right come in for criticism in Hart’s book, but the left—he includes Jimmy Carter and Jim Wallis in this category—gets blamed mainly for “lighting the fire of the culture wars,” thus legitimizing the right’s crusade to bring its version of Christian values into the political arena.

We get the drift of Hart’s own political orientation early on when he remarks that Sen. John Kerry, “an observant Roman Catholic,” was rejected by many voters because he “looked to be insufficiently devout.” That is a peculiar way of putting it. If looking to be devout were what Americans most wanted from politicians, Bill Clinton would have gotten 100 percent support in the 1992 election instead of the modest 43 percent he actually received. As for John Kerry, a number of polls have shown that the reason many people, not just Catholics, turned against him was not that he didn’t look sufficiently devout but that he opposed all attempts to outlaw the physical act of [graphic depiction of the murder of an infant omitted by T-Fan].

But that gets us into religion, Hart might say, and religion should be kept out of politics. Religion belongs in church, and the purpose of churches is mercy; politics has to do with the state, and the state’s purpose is justice. “To confuse the two is to misconstrue the bad cop (the state) and the good cop (the church).” Hart’s church is one that would be hard to locate in Western history. It has an abstract quality, reflecting very little of the actual traditions of Christian people. In this country, as ­Tocqueville was not the first or last to observe, Americans have kept Christian denominations separate from the state, but not Christian morality or culture.

There is more at the link above.  I have yet to see Hart’s response to this review. Doesn’t the description in this review resemble items 10 and 23 of Frame’s list

N.B. The credit line for the review was interesting: “George McKenna is professor emeritus of political science at City College of New York. His latest book is The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism (Yale).”  This should prevent (or at least alter) some of the ad hominem used by Hart against Frame for Frame’s review.


Separation of Religion and Politics

October 28, 2008

Zenit news reports (and Global Catholic News repeats) that Benedict XVI has asserted, “the distinction between religion and politics is a specific achievement of Christianity and one of its fundamental historical and cultural contributions.”

In context, Benedict stated:

The [Roman] Catholic Church is eager to share the richness of the Gospel’s social message, for it enlivens hearts with a hope for the fulfillment of justice and a love that makes all men and women truly brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. She carries out this mission fully aware of the respective autonomy and competence of Church and State. Indeed, we may say that the distinction between religion and politics is a specific achievement of Christianity and one of its fundamental historical and cultural contributions.

(insertion of “Roman” and emphasis are my own) This is an interesting claim coming from a man who is both the head of a church and the head of state of small nation. In fact, as the Vatican’s own web site announces:

Even though Vatican City has no direct access to the sea, by virtue of the Barcelona Declaration of 1921, it is allowed to sail its own vessels flying the papal flag. However, the Vatican does not avail itself of this right at this time.

(sourcecache of source)

That was not always the case, as many ships – even warships – have flown under the papal flag. As described by the Rosary Magazine:

The Flag of the Vatican
The papal flag is comparatively unfamiliar outside of the Eternal City. The war flag of the defunct temporal power of the Pope was white and in its center stood figures of St. Peter and St. Paul, with the cross keys and tiara above them. The flag of the merchant ships owned by the subjects of the States of the Church is a curious combination, half yellow and half white. In the banner used by the Crusader King of Jerusalem, Godfrey, the only tinctures introduced were the two metals, gold and silver, five golden crosses being placed upon a silver field. This was done with the intention of making the device unique, as in all other cases it is deemed false heraldry to place metal on metal.


For more information on how the Church of Rome began to accept as an inescapable fact the general separation of Church and State, see this interesting book on the “The Last Days of Papal Rome” (link).

Benedict’s comments are generally in accord with the spirit of Vatican II, but they are as out of touch with history as can be. The movement for separation of church and state is not properly attributed to Catholicism but to “Protestantism” (broadly used) and more especially to the Separatists and Baptists. To be deep in history is to cease to be a Post-Vatican-II Romanist.


H.T. to SDA pastor Bill Cork at Oak Leaves (link), for bringing the Pope’s comments to my attention and to the philosophical blog Siris (link) for bringing the Papal admiralty fact to my attention.

The Real Turretin on: The Duty of the King Toward Religion

August 16, 2008

JetBrane at Iron Ink has provide a quotation from the real Francis Turretin on the subject of the duty of the Christian magistrate. (link) JetBrane goes on to make an application to the so-called R2KT (Radical Two-Kingdom Theology) viewpoint. Without getting embroiled (for now) with that topic, I can of course commend Turretin’s comments as an interest read.


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