Recently, the French government put a new law into place that says Muslim women can no longer wear the burqa (or full body veil) in certain public places. The fear, in the absolute worse case scenario, is that hiding underneath the black cloth would not be an innocent citizen attempting to keep her peace, but rather someone with explosives or anything else that would do harm to others in the name of Allah. One cannot go very long without hearing about the dreaded suicide bombers in all regions of the world, bombers that come in all shapes, sizes, costumes, and genders. And so on a certain level there is a legitimate fear. On the other hand, I believe that people who are not used to such mystique characters walking their streets fear these unknown faces for the simple fact that they are unknown…the same reason why many people fear clowns. The burqa ban presents an interesting case of the separation of church and state. On one hand, the state believes this ban is protecting itself from the church; on the other, the church (or mosque) is being violated by the state.
Now before American Christians begin to support the French government for their actions, remember your own debate. Many American Christians, particularly of the evangelical variety, feel as though the state has violated their religious freedom to practice faith in certain public places. Things such as removing prayer from schools and taking down the ten commandments in court houses have caused a stir for those who believed in the “America of Christian Roots.” Yet it was those founding statesmen who claimed to be Christian but advocated for the separation of church and state. Why? Because a large number of those people or their relatives fled England, a place where one was forced to adopt the state’s official religion for their own. Whoever was the monarch of the time got to choose how the country believed; and if you did not switch back over to the new monarch’s faith, sometimes grave consequences ensued (e.g. Bloody Mary isn’t just a drink).
The original idea of the separation of church and state was to protect the church and religious freedom from the state. Somewhere along the line (I don’t know when really) the interpretation switch to protect the state from church or religious influence. Now I don’t really know what’s so threatening about a couple kids praying in school, but when it happens the (objective?) atheist groups cry victim (I question the objectivity of atheism because they make their own determinations about the divine, which by definition can be called a religion itself…but that’s another post). But even though the tables have been turned, I still believe the separation of church and state is an important construct based on its original intent. I only wish it would be used to protect religious freedom rather than suppress it.
Yet Christians also need to change their ways as well. Although we want the freedom to express our faith, we need to stop the false and unbiblical expectation of “Christianizing” the United States. Just like England and Rome, making Christianity the nation’s religion doesn’t bode well for the faith and those who believe. Preach the Gospel, share the love of Jesus, and invite others on the journey with you. The U.S. is a nation that now (and always has?) lives according to the standards of secularism…not Chrsitianity. So we shouldn’t expect anything more or less. We are not the norm. And the more Christians push for Christianization of the land, the more their own rights and privileges will be scaled back.