In a letter written to the Danbury (Connecticut) Baptist Association in January 1802, Thomas Jefferson said:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

With the publication of these words, the notion of a “Wall of Separation” between the church and the state became part of the public record, and has been used numerous times by the Supreme Court itself in defending and cementing this “wall.”
My undergraduate degree is in Polical Science. While most college students take 3-6 hours of US History and Government, I took 40+ hours in this area. One of the misconceptions in the US surrounds our status as a “Christian” nation. Certainly one of the reasons people initially settled the new colonies was for religious freedom. But most of the new colonies established a system exactly like the ones they fled, but this time they were in charge, so it was ok. If you study the history of the early colonies, almost every one had an established religion, which means the church and state were essentially one. And if you were of a different religious group, you were often persecuted. Eventually the new colonies became the 13 original colonies who declared, fought for, and won independence. Because of the reality of “established” religions in the early colonies, and a desire to see that NOT happen again, the constitutional writers penned the first amendment to (in part) prevented the government from making laws which “respect an establishment of religion” or “prohibit the free exercise of religion.” This is a direct result of the early colonies doing both these things.
In part because of my education, I have always been an ardent supporter of the seperation of church and state. I have studied how those who fled religious persecution became persecutors themselves once they were in charge, and I strongly support the government’s desire to keep it from happening again, which includes protections for the religious minority. I also feel strongly about Jefferson’s “Wall of Seperation” because there could come a time when I am in the religious minority, and I would want my freedoms protected against the majority.
With that background out of the way, let’s move on to the purpose for this blog post. The image I’ve attached to this post is taken outside the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C. The building, which houses the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, along with several other faith groups, is the only non-governmental building on Capitol Hill. It sits just to the north of the Supreme Court building, and to the east of the US Capitol Complex. As you can see from the picture, the UM Board of Church and Society is making quite a political statement, hoping (I assume) to sway the United States Senate to bring the gun control bill passed by the House to the floor of the Senate for debate/vote.
When I first saw this picture floating around social media, my initial thought was, “no surprise there…it is the board of church and society after all.” But as I processed it more, I’m still not surprised, but I am disappointed. I understand the church and church people will always be involved in supporting ideas, policies and candidates. But when the support comes from the “BIG C” church, I cringe because of my support of the seperation of church and state. In this case it is my denomination making the statement, but I am equally disappointed when any organized religious group crosses the line. And just so no one reads my words and misconstrues them, NO I am not a member of the National Rifle Association, nor do I personally own any guns. And if you want to take it a step further, I have no problem with stricter gun registration laws, but I don’t want the Church involved in the process. I want the church to focus on making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World, period.
There, I’ve said my peace. And to my handful of family members who were with me the day I tried to visit the United Methodist Building and couldn’t because the door was locked (open hearts, open minds, better call ahead), that has nothing to do with my thoughts!