Wall between church and state must be built

The Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

Thomas Jefferson himself wrote in a letter that there should be a "wall of separation between church and state." Why then June 13, 2017, was there a chaplain opening a county board meeting in DuPage County?

After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag, Reverend Ellen Ribe of the DuPage Care Center stood to lead the audience in an opening invocation. I was stunned. How could there be such blatant religious inclusion in a supposedly secular government meeting? Some people argue that religious leaders of other faiths have sometimes given the opening convocation, but this doesn't answer the question of why there was religious inclusion at all.

There have been countless examples of religious influence on government events, such as the prayer at presidential inaugurations and the ever present, "may God bless America," that rounds off every presidential address. Many politicians have openly spoken about their belief system, including our own vice-president, Mike Pence, who has stated multiple times that he is a "Christian before all else."

The Founding Fathers set certain rules regarding religious freedom to guard against government infringement. But it also works the other way around, and we must be ever vigilant to guard our legislative process, judicial decisions, and executive actions against religious influence. The permeation of the state by the church is evident in national politics, but it wasn't until I witnessed it at a local level that I realized it had seeped too far. We must end these religious practices in government affairs to keep that separation. The most important wall we must work to build is not one along our southern border, but the one between church and state.

Hadiya Afzal

Glen Ellyn

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