MACON, Ga. (ABP) — The model of religious freedom in the United States might not be best for other countries, but it sure works well here, Rabbi David Saperstein said during a lecture series at Mercer University.
The April 4-5 “Shurden Lectures on Religious Liberty” allowed speakers to discuss freedom of religion in the United States.
“We don't need to have a government impose religion on us, our children or our grandchildren,” said Saperstein, a Washington-based advocate for religious freedom.
Saperstein warned that many people are “politicizing religion” and trying to tear down the wall of separation between church and state.
Referring to Catholic writer Richard John Neuhaus, author of The Naked Public Square, Saperstein asked: “What country does he live in?”
“It's a naked government square,” Saperstein said. He noted that the public square is filled with religious expression like Christian radio and open discussions of faith.
Widespread arguments that the Constitution grants freedom of religion, not freedom from religion are false, he said. “You do have freedom from religion — government-supported religion.”
Saperstein said strategies of the Religious Right that often call for government advancement of sectarian religion changed in 2000 from an earlier approach of trying to put someone like Pat Robertson in the White House. Saperstein said proponents hoped to ally Robertson with certain candidates for a greater chance of winning concessions to his political agenda.
Addressing one of many current church-state issues, Saperstein said the Ten Commandments should be inscribed on the hearts and minds of Americans through families, churches and synagogues rather than by the government. Posting copies of the Decalogue in government buildings, he said, would do no more for American morality than the placing of Bibles in hotel rooms has done.
— Bruce Gourley, online editor for Baptists Today, contributed to this story.