When Politics and Religion Meet

Jun 2, 2014

State money is helping to build a new Christian park in Sioux City. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, a Satanic statue will be erected outside a courthouse, next to the Ten Commandments.

Today on River to River, we explore controversies involving the separation of church and state in Iowa and national news. Joining the conversation are political scientists, Dennis Goldford of Drake University, author of The Constitution of Religious Freedom: God, Politics, and the First Amendment, and Scott Peters, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Northern Iowa.

"The constitution does not protect religion, it protects religious freedom." - Dennis Goldford

And, commentators Robert Cargill, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Classics at the University of Iowa, and Chuck Hurley, President of the Family Policy Center, former President of The Family Leader, voice their opinion on what is and is not appropriate when it comes to religion and government.

How do you understand the separation of church and state? Here are some responses we received from listeners during the show:

Tony - "I do not feel that public funds should be used for any project that promotes any religion."

Arianne - "If a Pagan, Buddhist, or Muslim group tried to get public funds to build a green space with their religion as a theme, would it be granted? If not, a Christian group shouldn't get funds either."

Peter - "There is no way that government can serve all the people if it is in any way entangled with religion, because religion is intrinsically divisive.  The very first tenet of any religion is "We are the elect, we are the only ones with the right answers." The most obvious example is that policies favoring any religion, or even (somehow) all religions, automatically disadvantage atheists."

Benjamin - "Religion will get ensnared in the thicket of politics. Eventually someone will be in office that does not share their belief system and them they will be on the oppressive end of the deal. So if you value religious freedom, you should be a radical supporter of separation even when the politicians in office share your religion."