I just finished watching the Dennis Miller Show and his panel discussion was on the current hearings on the 'separation of church and state' in the US Supreme Court.
I'm certainly not an expert on American law, I'm not even an expert on Canadian law, but I have a few beefs with the debate and the positions being taken. Now I've got no beefs with people who think the United States is essentially a secular country and that it should not have any references to God on government property. That is a straight forward position and one that can be argued based on it's merits.
My beef is with the people who claim that the entire 'separation of church and state' clause forbids any and all such references. These people have to get a grip. There is no such clause. The constitution clearly forbids the federal government from instituting a national religion but that is it. Now once again, you can argue the semantics of the actual wording but that can only get a person so far.
The simple fact is that the people who wrote the constitution did not have the same idea of 'separation of church and state' that is presently promoted. The people who wrote the constitution were members of the American government for 30 or 40 years. These are the same men who commissioned and built the majority of the legal precedents, monuments, buildings, and institutions, in America.
Simply put, how did all of the references to God become a part of American law if it violated what the writers of the constitution intended? Or put another way, why is the interpretation of a legal scholar today more authoritative than that of the actual individuals who wrote the legal principles in dispute?
If the dispute is about what kind of country American is going to be in the future then that is fine and should be debated. But to frame the debate in a manner that assumes the American founders intended that the government never refer to God, is not only denying history but is also debating in very bad faith. No pun intended.