Another battleground issue on the separation of church and state is abortion. Christian conservatives have been calling for an amendment to the Constitution banning all abortions, which are currently legal based on the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. Thirty years after the Roe v. Wade decision, President Bush signed the first significant anti-abortion law with Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act in November of 2003. Congress twice adopted partial-birth abortion bans in the 1990s only to have President Clinton veto them.
In 2005, the South Dakota legislature passed five laws restricting abortion, after a bill to ban abortion outright had failed by one vote in 2004. A task force of Christian abortion opponents released a report stating that science defines life as beginning at conception and recommends a law that gives fetuses the same protection that children get after birth, thus banning abortion (Nieves A1). In the national elections of 2006, South Dakota voters rejected Referred Law 6, in effect repealing the law banning abortion.
One reason the law was repealed in traditionally pro-life South Dakota was the concern that it was too severe, lacking adequate exceptions for the health of the mother. Abortion rights activists were also able to defeat laws in California and Oregon that would have required notification of parents before a minor received an abortion (“Ballotwatch”). These results are proving that despite the overwhelming efforts of Christian conservatives to ban abortion, the secular ideals of the country are winning out.
There are many moral arguments that can be made about the benefits of separating church and state, and many good lessons to be learned from both the religious and secular worlds. However, with the ideals of equality and freedom being so crucial to the American tapestry, an argument that cannot be ignored is that many unique faiths exist in the country and one cannot be said to have more significance or power over the other.
Religious freedom can be construed as a difficult thing to achieve, as the main religion in western hemisphere has been Christianity since before the founding of the United States and it continues to be the choice of about 75% of the U. S. and Canadian adult populations (Robinson). Most of the successful efforts to impose religious doctrine on public policy have been orchestrated by Christians, and the United States has yet to elect a non-Christian leader.
But, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, humanists, communists, Wiccan, and the scores of other faiths in the country each have the right to practice their beliefs freely and without being forced to adhere to governmentally legislated rules of another religion, even if that religion is practiced by the majority of the population. The framework for religious freedom is firmly established in the foundational laws of the country, and so far no religion has been successful in imposing its will on others. The secular ideals of the Constitution reflect a faith in the wisdom of the people to decide their direction and that of the country.
So far, this direction has continued to foster the separation between church and state. Though Christians are the overwhelming religious majority, they have no legal right to impose their will on the rest of the country, and would be best suited to following the word of Jesus Christ through respect and tolerance. Works Cited: “Ballotwatch. ” Initiative & Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California. 10 Nov 2006. 21 Jul 2008. <http://www. iandrinstitute. org/ballotwatch. htm>. “The Constitution of the United States. ” Bill of Rights, First Amendment.
“Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow. ” Wikipedia. 17 Jul 2008. 22 Jul 2008 <http://en. wikipedia. org/w/index. php? title=Elk_Grove_Unified_School_District_v. _Newdow&oldid=226308906>. The Holy Bible. Ed. Gideons. Nashville: National Publishing Company, 1978. “‘In God We Trust’ — Stamping Out Religion On National Currency. ” American Atheists. 15 Jan 1999. 21 Jul 2008. <http://www. atheists. org/flash. line/igwt1. htm>. Mount, Steve. “Jefferson’s Wall of Separation. ” USConstitution. net. 30 Jan. 2007. 21 Jul 2008. <http://www. usconstitution. net/jeffwall.
html>. Nieves, Evelyn. “S. D. Makes Abortion Rare Through Laws And Stigma. ” Washington Post. 27 Dec 2005: A01. Richey, Warren. “Supreme Court Splits on Ten Commandments. ” The Christian Science Monitor. 28 Jun 2005. 21 Jul 2008. <http://www. csmonitor. com/2005/0628/p01s03-usju. html>. Robinson, B. A. “Introduction To The Principle Of Separation Of Church And State. ” Religious Tolerance. Org. 21 Nov. 2006. 21 Jul 2008. <http://www. religioustolerance. org/ scs_intr. htm>. U. S. Department of Education. “Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public
Elementary and Secondary Schools. ” 7 Feb. 2003. 21 Jul 2008. <http://www. ed. gov/policy/gen/guid/religionandschools/prayer_guidance. html>. United States Department of State. “Backgrounder On The Virginia Statute For Religious Freedom. ” Basic Readings in U. S. Democracy. 2007. 21 Jul 2008. <http://usinfo. state. gov/usa/infousa/facts/democrac/42. htm>. United States Department of The Treasury. “Fact Sheets: Currency and Coins, The History of ‘In God We Trust. ’” Treasury’s Learning Vault. 2007. 21 Jul 2008. <http://www. ustreas. gov/education/fact-sheets/currency/in-god-we-trust. shtml>.