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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pope on the Separation Between Church and State: Thumbs Up!

posted by on April 15 at 13:53 PM

Having recently read this long book review in the New Yorker, I was interested to learn Pope Benedict XVI (the head of a small theocracy) is apparently all about secular government, at least when it midwifes a fervently religious population:

Asked if the United States could serve as a religious model Europe and other areas of the world, the pope replied, ”Certainly Europe can’t simply copy the United States. We have our own history. We all have to learn from each other.”

But he said the United States was interesting because it “started with positive idea of secularism.”

“This new people was made of communities that had escaped official state purges and wanted a lay state, a secular state that opened the possibility for all confessions and all form of religious exercise,” he added. “Therefore it was a state that was intentionally secular. It was the exact opposite of state religion, but it was secular out of love for religion and for an authenticity that can only be lived freely.”

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In other words "the separation of the colonies from the Church of England created an opening for a large Catholic population to settle, thus expanding the political influence of the largest and most notorious state religion in history, of which I am the Prada-slipper-wearing head. All hail my pointy hat of righteousness!"

Posted by flamingbanjo | April 15, 2008 2:07 PM

@1, are you a Stephanie Miller fan? That sounds VERY familiar....

Posted by Andrew | April 15, 2008 2:24 PM

@2: Never heard of her. Which part?

Posted by flamingbanjo | April 15, 2008 2:39 PM

Good insight, Pope!

Even the blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut.

Posted by Joe M | April 15, 2008 2:44 PM

And he is totally right. Except for that one, tiny, almost microscopic detail about state religion in the US: every president since Washington has been pretty strongly in favor of (non-denominational) Christianity, and Christians have been getting a pretty good deal from the American government for the entirety of this country's existence. Plus there are the federal holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. But other than that, yeah, the USA's totally secular.

Posted by Greg | April 15, 2008 2:52 PM

@5 - Yeah, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are only barely "Christian" holidays in our culture.

Posted by Hernandez | April 15, 2008 3:13 PM

Way to prove the Broken Clock Theorem, Ratzinger!

Posted by Geni | April 15, 2008 3:32 PM

When did Thanksgiving become a Christian holiday?

Posted by Abby | April 15, 2008 3:43 PM

@8: I'm a little hazy on my dates, but I'm thinking maybe 1621?

Posted by Greg | April 15, 2008 3:55 PM

With comments like that he could get the Democratic nomination for President ;)

Posted by Haeschew | April 15, 2008 6:38 PM

@9 - but that makes it a Native American holiday. Kind of like All Saints Day was used to obscure the original holiday the day prior.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 16, 2008 12:51 AM

For a pretty good interview that reviews how the secular nature of our government was meant for the good of religion, go here:

Normally I can't stand Speaking of Faith, but I happened to catch this show on the radio and I thought it was decent enough to merit a listen all the way through.

Posted by Mike | April 16, 2008 5:41 AM

So I guess it's the secular love of religion that is forcing American bishops to withhold communion from, and to threaten excommunication for, Catholic American legislators who don't vote according to Catholic teaching?

Posted by Johnny | April 16, 2008 9:28 AM

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