Patience: Separation of Church and State is Not Responsible for Tragedy

By Alisa Patience

These words are found all over our social media feeds: “Dear God, why do you allow so much violence in schools? Sincerely, a concerned student. … Dear concerned student, I’m not allowed in schools. Sincerely, God.”

Despite what many people think, violence has not been increasing. According to the Pew Research Center, violent crimes have gone down over the past 25 years. It only seems like it is increasing because of how fast news can spread over the internet, so people can readily see violence happening all over the world. Christianity is also at an all-time high, a third of earth’s population currently belongs to some form of Christian religion.

It is ludicrous and ignorant to think the world is more violent and godless than ever, considering the Crusades, the slaughters, oppression of Native Americans and the burning of hundreds of innocent people alive were all due to religious, specifically Christian, motives.

Contrary to popular belief, separation of church and state brings people closer together and allows for more diversity and peace at the same time. Despite God being actively mentioned in government speeches and the United States being considered “one Nation under God,” one of the main reasons America was founded was religious freedom. Our forefathers didn’t want to follow the Church of England and instead wanted their citizens to have the freedom of belief.

Imagine how uncomfortable it would be for a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to be forced to sit in during a Catholic service or for someone who is Jewish to have to attend an LDS seminary class. Religion is a personal belief that can’t and shouldn’t be forced onto another person. It is important for American citizens to feel like their religious beliefs are accepted.

Church and state aren’t as separated as many would think, especially in Utah. We say the Pledge of Allegiance every day which contains the words “one Nation under God.” The president traditionally says “So help me God” when being inaugurated. I don’t remember a single dance recital or play when we didn’t all gather in a circle holding hands and pray to our Heavenly Father in high school.

There are seminary buildings and classes at every Utah school that embrace the beliefs of Mormonism, but there is an exclusion of other religious learning. Moments of silence and prayer are encouraged in schools in times of remembrance or tragedy. God is not banned from schools.

Banning religion from schools means teachers and other educational staff aren’t allowed to preach their religions to students or require prayer. Schools are not allowed to do this because not everyone practices the same religion. Although, no one will be kicked out of class or punished for mentioning God or praying — that violates freedom of religion.

According to the cheap guilt-inducing phrase at the top of this article, God says he won’t protect students because his religion isn’t taught in schools. I know that phrase is only a metaphor meant to make people think about their morals, but it is a gross way of shifting the blame of tragedy where it doesn’t belong.

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