The men who established our Constitution were not opportunists looking out only for themselves. They also had what was in the best interests of the new United States at heart. This is why, in 1791, the Constitution was Ammended to say that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Back in England, this was not the case. The church and the government were, in essence, one. This had actually been the case for a very long time. A study of politics and religion will show that the two were seemingly inseparable for centuries. From Rome to the Church of England, theocracy was the order of the day. But America was to be something different. The men who ratified this Amendment knew the dangers of theocracy, and saw to it that they would not happen on American soil.
Theocracy carries with it one very dangerous element: the government cannot be questioned because their decisions and actions are “commanded” by the gods themselves. By making it clear that the United States Congress cannot declare a state religion, they were acknowledging the humanity, and even imperfection, of the American way. They were saying, in essence, that this thing had not come from God and was simply people doing the best that they could. And it could change at any time. The Constitution could be amended. The document was a living document, not a set-in-stone, God-granted, unquestionable way. America was not established as a “Christian nation.”
Politically, this was a very smart move. In keeping with the idea that the people have some say in the decisions made by their leaders, the framers of the Amendment were assuring that it would, at least in theory, remain this way. No political leader in the United States could claim that his ideas came from God. The President could not stand before the people and act in direct opposition to their will and say that they were doing what God told them for the government was not free to make those claims. Doing so would mean that the government was endorsing a religion, and things would revert to the way they were in England, with a tyrant leader.
Sadly, this is not how many Christians want to view things. They want the government to be a Christian government. They endorse a political candidate and say that he (it’s always a he) is the Christian choice. Not only that, but, in keeping with the idea that only the wealthy can lead this country, if the man be a wealthy Christian man, the Christian church can seek to control the direction of the government in more ways. If the right wealthy Christian candidate can be elected, the logic holds, then Roe v. Wade can be overturned, prayer can be put back in schools, evolution can be removed from Science text books, to be replaced by Creationism or Intelligent Design, and homosexuals can continue to be marginalized and maybe even the lifestyle made illegal.
Thankfully, this can never happen. Our freedoms to think and live are secured as long as the First Amendment remains in effect. But not only our own freedoms, but also those of the rest of the world.