For there are no examples so frequent in history, both sacred and profane, as those of men withdrawing themselves and their obedience from the jurisdiction they were born under, and the family or community they were bred up in, and setting up new governments in other places, from whence sprang all that number of petty commonwealths in the beginning of ages, and which always multiplied as long as there was room enough, till the stronger or more fortunate swallowed the weaker; and those great ones, again breaking to pieces, dissolved into lesser dominions; all which are so many testimonies against paternal sovereignty, and plainly prove that it was not the natural right of the father descending to his heirs that made governments in the beginning; since it was impossible, upon that ground, there should have been so many little kingdoms but only one universal monarchy if men had not been at liberty to separate themselves from their families and their government, be it what it will that was set up in it, and go and make distinct commonwealths and other governments as they thought fit.116.
The success of the Trump campaign demonstrated the potential influence of the alt-right in the coming years. At first blush, Trump’s victory in the Electoral College seems substantial, but his margin of victory in several key states was quite small. For that reason, support from every quarter he received—including the alt-right—was vitally important. Unlike other segments of the conservative movement, the alt-right never wavered in its support of Trump. And anecdotal evidence suggests that they were among his most avid foot soldiers in getting out the vote in both the primaries and general election. Moreover, the Trump campaign provided the opportunity for members of this movement to meet in a real world setting beyond their computer monitors and keyboards. His victory is sure to have instilled a great sense confidence in a movement that for so long has been maligned and marginalized. Shortly after the election Richard Spencer said that Trump’s victory was “the first step, the first stage towards identity politics for white people.” But if Trump does not deliver on his most emphatic campaign promises, such as building the wall and deporting undocumented aliens, the alt-right is likely to become disillusioned with him, not unlike some progressives who chastised Barack Obama for continuing to prosecute wars in the Middle East. In fact, before he even entered office, Spencer scaled back his enthusiasm for Trump because he was not focused enough on immigration and several of his appointments had connections to Goldman Sachs.
The first is to do whatsoever he thinks fit for the preservation of himself and others within the permission of the law of Nature; by which law, common to them all, he and all the rest of mankind are one community, make up one society distinct from all other creatures, and were it not for the corruption and viciousness of degenerate men, there would be no need of any other, no necessity that men should separate from this great and natural community, and associate into lesser combinations.
Those who oppose a separation between church and state claim that because this country was founded on religious principles, our government should continue to base its laws on a Judeo-Christian God.
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Although some may argue that the first amendment does not state that church and state affairs should be separate, it does guarantee the religious freedom of all citizens without government intervention.
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The principle of state neutrality has its own difficulties. First, because of the conceptual vagueness of the term, it is difficult to decide which associations should have the status of a religion and which ones should not. Scientology is officially recognized as a religion, but many critics claim that it should rather be treated as a sect. Second, some argue that by supporting all religions and exempting them from taxation, the state is implicitly discriminating against atheists—unless, of course, it decides to treat atheism as a religion too. Third, sometimes the laws of the state may contradict the demands of some people’s religions. In this case, religious groups often claim some kind of special treatment, in the name of their religious rights. In India, following a 1985 trial for alimony, divorce cases were removed from Indian civil law; they are judged according to the principles of religious law, which is different for each religion. Many object that such differential treatments undermine the very principle of equality before the law.
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More often than not, some accommodation is found between the state and religion(s), on the basis of state neutrality rather than “secularity.” The United States is an example of such accommodations. The state is supposed to be religiously neutral, but religions are allowed in the public sphere. Sometimes religions participate in the public debates through political parties. This is the case in Germany, where the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has been a central component in the country’s political life since World War II. In such systems, religious practice is often recognized as a right. In the United States, religions also benefit from tax exemptions.
If modernity has not seen a disappearance of religion, it has seen a differentiation between the functions of the state and religious institutions. The paradigmatic case in this regard is France. The French Revolution was established on the ideas of popular sovereignty, as opposed to the Divine Right of kings. The law of 1905 separated the French state from the churches. In practice, this meant that religious symbols would be banned from schools, universities, and political assemblies; it also meant that religious discourse would be absent from political debates. The radicalism of this separation in France can be explained by the fact that the Roman Catholic Church had for a long time refused to accept the legitimacy of the French Republic and systematically supported the Old Regime. This conflict was also, in a sense, a continuation of century-old tensions between the Roman Catholic Church and the French state.The French model, which is often referred to as “secularism,” had many imitators. In Turkey, even though the state was not officially separated from the religious establishment, political parties appealing to religion were banned in the 1920s. Some communist states, such as the Soviet Union or Albania, have even established state atheism.Christianity is no exception to that rule. Despite Jesus’ instruction to “render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” which implies a sharp distinction between the political and the religious realms, the Christian church had a constant involvement in political affairs throughout the Middle Ages. In some cases, it is difficult to distinguish conflicts over dogma from political conflicts. Such was the case of the Holy Crusades of the 11th century. The religious reason given by the Holy See was the necessity to capture the Holy Lands that had fallen to the Muslims, but its political purpose was to send the most violent and troublesome groups out of Europe and thus to establish peace and security inside Western Christendom.Traditionally, religion and politics could hardly be distinguished. The French historian Fustel de Coulanges has shown that even in ancient Greece, which we tend to think of as the model of our modern, secular democracies, there was a religious dimension that permeated political life. In Judaism, the Ten Commandments regulate both people’s relation with God and their political life. And Muhammad, the religious prophet of Islam, was both a religious and a political leader.