July 5, 2004

Independence Day Thought

Driving home from an Independence Day party and a subsequent outing to view the fireworks sponsored by Mt. Lebanon Township, I reflected on the day, which had included a sermon on political freedom versus Christian freedom and a class that focused on Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, who wrote the first Book of Common Prayer. In our class, I expressed the view that separation of church and state was among the greatest and most beneficial innovations of the Founding Fathers. At the time, I was thinking of the many people, including Archbishop Cranmer, who were burned or beheaded in a sixteenth-century England in which church and state were inextricably entwined. On the drive home, however, my thoughts were more abstract and more analytical: separation of church and state denies to the state the imprimatur of the church and denies to the church the power of the state. The effect, in a society generous in its grant of rights to a free people, is to encourage the honesty and integrity of both church and state.

I hope your Independence Day was a good one.