Tennessee’s Governor-elect Bill Lee, a Republican who’ll be sworn into office next Saturday, is already making a horrible first impression by telling the Tennessee Legislative Prayer Caucus that the separation of church and state only works in one direction.
“The separation of church and state is never intended to keep people of faith out of government, but to keep government out of the church,” Lee told members of the Tennessee Legislative Prayer Caucus.
No church/state separation advocate ever said people of faith were forbidden from government. That’s a lie. No one is asking for the government to get involved with churches, either.
The problem occurs when religious politicians foist their faith on people through legislation and when churches, which are supposed to play by the same rules as all other non-profits, demand special treatment. That’s what people rightly complain about, and that’s what Lee doesn’t seem to understand.
Or maybe he gets it, but chooses to ignore it because he used to be the chair of the Tennessee prayer breakfast and ignorance of how the law works is part of the job requirement.
Tennessee, after all, is on the verge of forcing God upon every public school:
[TLPC state director Marlene] Tidwell announced that one of the caucus’s initiatives this year will be to distribute to schools “In God We Trust” plaques that include images of Tennessee and American flags.The Tennessee General Assembly last year passed a law requiring every public school to display such a plaque or marker in a visible location, though there is flexibility on what type of plaque or marker schools display.
The Secular Coalition for America had the right idea with this response to Lee’s thoughtless remarks:
It would be more accurate to say: "The separation of church and state was intended to safeguard the freedom of, and from, religion."
Aside from being correct, this clarifies that you don't think lawmakers should use their power to impose their beliefs on others
— Secular Coalition for America (@seculardotorg) January 10, 2019
We don’t need more state leaders who treat the Capitol like a battleground for Christian supremacy. They have one of those in Kentucky, already. But if you care about church and state, pay attention to Lee. He seems eager to tear down that wall between them.
(Screenshot via YouTube)