The Exclusion of Inclusion
Before the Revolutionary War, when America was made up of 13 colonies, many of these colonies had a state religion that was required by its citizens. Only Rhode Island had a true separation of church and state and thus provided a home where Baptists were free to worship. As the Constitution was written and the United States was established, there was a lot of debate on how to align these differences. It was assumed early on that each state should have the right to chose for themselves what the state church would be. However, many of the Founding Fathers, including James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, fought for all the states to allow their citizens the freedom to choose. Baptist leaders like Roger Williams, John Clarke, Isaac Backus and John Leland influenced these powerful men to fight for religious liberty.
Separation of Church and state has become a weapon in the fight to push Christian influence out of the public sphere. As we become a post-Christian society it becomes more and more obvious that what was meant to keep the state from interfering with the church is being used to remove Christian influence in all areas of society. Baptists fought for all religions and denominations to have the freedom to worship. The same language used to give this freedom is now being used to limit that freedom and remove religious symbols and words out of all public owned areas.
One example of this playing out around us is found in an article I read today about how Gideon Bibles are being removed from many hotel rooms in order to show more inclusion. Christians are excluded so hotel chains can be perceived as more inclusive. This logic continues to lead our nation down a path where freedom of religion will be replaced with a state religion of secularism. Our Founding Fathers never intended to have a nation without the influence of God. They wanted religion to be without the influence of government.