Absolutism vs. Relativism

Originally written January 26, 1999 - Ethics Class with Dr. Dirk Dunbar

(Encaustic Painting, "The Word", torn and woven Bible pages, artificial sinew, encaustic, 9"x8", 2007, by Sher Fick)

For a majority of issues in our modern day lives, relativism would be the most fair and just form of consideration.  However, when applying the concepts of relativism to our supposed practice of "Separation of Church and State" we see that it has not been fairly rendered.  How can we say we enforce a separation of Church and State when our currencies, court proceedings and even our Pledge of Allegiance refers to "In God We Trust", and so on.

This situation calls for absolute policy of Separation of Church and State.  Our country was birthed with the concept that all men/[women] should have the right to worship their god[s], how and when they wanted.  Through the years this message of equality has only been accepted if the individuals recognize the Judeo-Christian of "god."

In all fairness to the Jewish traditions, we must say that even that acceptance has limited their rights.  Do they not have to swear "So Help Me God" on the King James Version of the Holy Bible when they testify in court?  Thereby, swearing their honesty and forthrightness on (in their mind) a blasphemous book which declares Jesus Christ as the Messiah?

In a country which prides itself on being the "melting pot" or "tossed salad" of international culture, how has this shortsightedness been perpetuated for so many years?  We hear concerns from the politicians regarding race relations, yet no one has been able to answer the concerns of prayer in public schools and other religious related issues.  Courts have upheld a student's right to worship in their chosen manner; however, we continue to have prayers to the Christian God spoken at graduations and other public gatherings.

What right do teachers have to force their religious and political beliefs upon their students in the public education sector?  These issues have been volatile, even in our local area, but the issues remain long after the court battles cease.

An absolute policy of Separation would take care of all of these issues.  Moments of silence in which all individuals might pray to their god or gods, or individuals might choose to meditate, and atheists can talk to themselves!  Dogma should be left in an individual's mind, in their church or private home or vehicle when they appear in a public, state-sponsored event.

An additional concern is the mixed messages our children receive upon learning of the "Separation of Church and State" in social studies and then they stand to recite the Pledge of Allegiance (which did NOT originally have the wording "under God")!  What message are we sending our children by these contradictory practices?  Are we breeding judgmental, close-minded individuals or persons who will dare to "walk a mile in another's moccasins"?

At issue in recent years has been the unfortunate fact that certain religions might cause physical harm to those within the religion (i.e., Christian Scientists, Satanic Followers).  This concern is valid and should be treated in the same way as other child welfare issues are dealt with: if it is reported that a child is suffering physically or mentally, the state would investigate and upon proof, remove the child from the home.  The standards of endangerment and human life and welfare should apply, absolutely, in ALL situations.

Human beings do not have the right by virtue of their religious dogma to perpetuate pain and suffering on other human beings.  We must strive to breed tolerant, caring individuals.  One manner in which to accomplish this would be to enforce "Absolute Separation of Church and State"; thereby, giving respect to any individual's choice of worship.