The Mennonites came to get away from the horror and carnage of all the religious wars that had ravaged Europe. They came, having been victims of persecution because their religious beliefs differed from those sanctioned by government. It used to be that two books could reliably be found in a Mennonite home: the Bible and Martyr's Mirror. The latter is a somewhat gruesome book describing the torture and killing of Mennonites and others for their outlandish heresies, such as reading the Bible and baptizing adults. I am not making this up. You were not supposed to read the Bible, you were supposed to accept what the clergy told you to believe about it. You were not supposed to baptize adults, the dangerous implication being that people could decide for themselves, actually choose, their religion. The death penalty was applied to re-baptizers. They were burned at the stake. They were forcibly drowned, this being called the "third baptism", which King Ferdinand declared was "the best antidote" to this heresy.
That is what the merging of Church and State looks like. That is what happens when the government establishes an official state religion. Can we all please get this?
The Mennonites and many other religious refugees contributed to the cultural climate that resulted in one of the bedrock founding principles of America - there would be no official religion of this country. Everyone was free here to worship, or not, according to the dictates of their conscience.
You see, separation of Church and State is religious freedom.
Now, I get that some Christian conservatives in this country are unhappy about the recent marriage equality ruling from the Supreme Court. A typical response can be found in a post yesterday regarding Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore and his top staffer, Administrative Office of Courts Director Win Johnson:
Roy Moore's top lawyer: Alabama officials who follow court marriage rulings serve 'Satan'
The question I burn to ask these people is this. Is it okay with you for there to be people in this country with religious beliefs that are different than yours? Is there room in America for people of different religions?
I understand that your religious faith leads you to your understanding of sexual morality, and I respect your right to live your life according to your conscience. But there are millions of people in this country whose religious beliefs do not lead them to the same understanding. Millions of Christians do not share your view. Churches from coast to coast happily hold weddings to sanctify same gender marriages. I have personally attended a number of such religious weddings held in Christian churches. In fact, your view is the minority view of religious people in this country, not that it should matter whose religion is more popular.
The reason courts have upheld marriage equality is that they asked what compelling reason the government had to proscribe it, and the government said, "ummm..." Time and again the lawyers for the government side struggled, and failed, to come up with any legitimate reason why all people should not be allowed to marry. The fact is that the only reason to oppose it is because of some people's religious beliefs. I surmise that is why the Alabama staffer could only quote scripture and doctrine in his letter, providing no legal reasoning whatever.
I get that you believe you are following the One True Religion, that billions of people throughout history have practiced myriad faiths, but only one of them has ever been actually true, and coincidentally it just happens to be yours!
However, saying "my religious beliefs must be followed, even by those who don't share them" is Un-American. Saying that our laws must enshrine the religious views of a minority (or majority for that matter) is Un-Patriotic. Saying that America is a Christian Nation is profoundly Un-American, and goes against a bedrock founding principle of America. It's not just that we have a 1st Amendment; the people of this great nation have always had a fundamental value of religious tolerance and respect for the beliefs of others. We know that there are many faiths here, and we are all neighbors. Is that okay with you? Is it?