Are We Separating Church and State?
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America was founded as a secular country but, since the 1950's, God has become an official presence in governmental affairs. How did that happen? Is it a threat to the Founders' promise to separate church and state? Also, the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, and President Obama speaks out on legalized marijuana.
Banner image: Kevin Dooley/flickr
Shooting at Connecticut Elementary School ()
There's been another school shooting, this time in wooded suburbs near Danbury, Connecticut. Just moments ago, Lt. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police announced that there were several fatalities, including both students and staff. He added that the gunman is dead and that there's no danger to the public. Elsewhere have been reports that 18 children were killed. Two handguns are said to have been recovered.
Church and State in 21st Century America ()
America's founders wrote a Constitution to intentionally exclude God, and their first amendment forbids the government to establish any religion. Thomas Jefferson even called for a "wall of separation between church and state." But, during the Red Scare of the 1950's, "In God We Trust" not only appeared on American money, but replaced E Pluribus Unum —"Out of Many, One" — as the national motto. Even though there was no substantive challenge in sight, Congress reaffirmed that last year—by a vote of 396 to 9. Americans have the right to practice any religion they want to, but are these official references threatening the commitment to a secular government? Do they imply that this is a Christian nation or recognize that one God is as good as another in a country of many different faiths?
- Rob Boston: Americans United for Separation of Church and State, @RobBoston1
- Richard Land: Southern Baptist Convention, @erlcsbc
- Becky Hale: American Humanist Association
- Salam Al-Marayati: Muslim Public Affairs Council, @salampacker
Is Obama 'Evolving' on Recreational Marijuana Use? ()
Federal law prohibits the use of marijuana, even as medicine. In his first term, President Obama suggested that states might legalize it without federal interference but, then, the Justice Department cracked down in California and elsewhere. Last month, voters in Colorado and Washington State legalized all uses of marijuana. The President's made no secret that he, himself, used marijuana as a young man. Last night in an interview for ABC's 20/20, Barbara Walters asked if he thinks marijuana should be legalized. Ethan Nadelmann is Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a New York group advocating reform.
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