Tuesday, November 22, 2005

True, True, True #3

Usually, when one finds a good quote in an author's work, it resides somewhere in its depths and must be pried out by a patient mind. Today, however, I found a glaring exception to this rule.

David Warren's recent column opens with what would be, if it were in audio, a superb sound byte: "The idea that Church and State should never mix has always been popular among those who think churches should not exist."

This is indeed a remarkable truth; I am reminded of what British political historian Edward Jenks wrote in The State and the Nation. He noted that the concept of separation of Church and State "was by no means always urged from the side of the State; it must never be forgotten that the first movement towards separation between Church and State in Western Europe came from the vigorous and successful efforts of Pope Hildebrand and his successors down to Innocent III in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries." These efforts were made to stop politicians from trying to appoint bishops and popes. The Church had had enough of political interference, and was trying to make it stop.

Nowadays, individuals who cite the necessity of the separation between these two ancient institutions always do so with the notion that the state is supreme and must not be interfered with by any biased party. Yet history leaves no doubt as to which side has more often imposed its will on the other: the state is the chronic oppressor of the church. One could say that government, history's consistent butcher, has become the sacred cow.

This is not to deny that many people have used religion for political purposes, but it has been centuries since (Christian) people have used politics for religious purposes. The enemies of orthodox religion consciously ignore this fact and stage petty witch hunts to purge the cultural impact of widespread religion from political institutions, in violation of the principle of representative government.

Yay! They hate us! (Matt 5:10-12)

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