Despite what some may say, this is actually a very simple issue. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states quite clearly that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”. This means, quite simply, that no issue of religion is to be determined by the United States Government, nor any State government (14th Amendment).
So, if we accept that, then that means that no body of government at any level has the right to say where you can and cannot pray, where a cross can and cannot be placed, where “God” can and cannot be written, or anything else in regards to religion.
However, separation of church and state was NEVER meant to mean separation of religion in all forms from government, and everyone involved in government, in every way. This country was founded by deeply religious men and women…that was, after all, the main reason so many left Europe, to obtain religious freedom.
It was understood then, as it should be now, that your religion absolutely influences who you are and the way you make decisions, and that is simply unavoidable. In fact, it it may well be desirable, for morality and religion often go hand in hand (with obvious exceptions), and we WANT and NEED moral leaders. A beneficial democracy cannot exist without morals.
The fact of the matter is that the United States of America is a democracy, where the majority sets the rules. As of 2008, 76% of US Citizens identified themselves as Christian. This means, like it or not, that the majority, the ones setting the laws, are Christian. Since any religion should, if lived, define one’s character, it will of course influence one’s decisions and morals.
And, so long as the Christian majority aren’t forcing anyone to believe in or actively participate in Christianity, the minority gets to live with it. Nobody, be it a vocal minority or the US Government, has the right to say where, when or how anyone can or cannot worship.
Prayer in schools? A OK, and there isn’t a damn thing the US Government can legally say about it. Granted, nobody can be forced to participate, but any student who would like to pray at school is, according to the Constitution, free to do so. Crosses on government or public land? Once again, fair game, and the Gov has no say. God on our money, public buildings, etc? It is an important part of the history of our country, and should never be forgotten or pushed aside. If the majority wants it there, then there it stays.
The Constitution guarantees that nobody will ever be forced to join a religion or accept religious (or non-religious) beliefs, and that works both ways. We should respect different religious beliefs (or lack thereof), worship when and where we see fit (or not at all), and be tolerant of those whose religious beliefs or non-beliefs differ from our own.
We need to stop looking at insignificant differences and try finding some common ground. If the majority would stand up and act like mature adults, perhaps our country would be a much better place, and this wouldn’t even be an issue. To fear and fight against that which is different, for no other reason than that it is different, is for fools and fools alone.