Minnesota Secretary of State candidate Dan Severson says United States could not exist without a “Christian base of liberty.” Also questions if there is a separation of church and state as we are a Christian nation. Local Hellenic Pagan responds.
Debate over how government and religion interact is not new. The main two stances articulated come from groups who believe there is a wall of separation between church and state and those who believe that the Establishment clause only prevents the Federal government from favoring one form of religion over another. Minnesota Secretary of State candidate Dan Severson‘s comments seem to go further than that. In an interview with Brad Brandon on the Word of Truth Radio show, Severson has this to say:
Quite often you hear people say, ‘What about separation of church and state?’ There is no such thing. I mean it just does not exist, and it does not exist in America for a purpose, because we are a Christian nation. We are a nation based on Christian principles and ideals, and those are the things that guarantee our liberties. It is one of those things that is so fundamental to the freedoms that we have that when you begin to restrict our belief and our attestation to our Christian values you begin to restrict our liberties. You simply cannot continue a nation as America without that Christian base of liberty.
PNC-Minnesota talked with Twin Cities Hellenic Pagan Nightcloud k’Leshya about Severson’s statements that United States is a Christian nation, our values and liberty are inseparable from our Christian identity, and there is no ‘wall’ between church and state. “The statement that Mr. Severson makes regarding Christian values and freedoms and liberties makes no sense. Is he talking about the right to vote? The Ancient Greeks, Athenians to be specific, thought that one up. The right to free speech? I think that was the Greeks too. The right to practice your religion? The Romans at one time had temples to over a hundred Gods in Ancient Rome, they recognized that a person could be a Roman citizen even one of high standing and worship Isis for example.”
Ms. k’Leshya, speaking about if the USA is a Christian nation or not, said she partially agreed with Severson, “I said partially. The people who originally came to what would become the United States of America were Christians, and their ideals, morals, values etc were based on a form of Christianity. These people were of a Puritan sect and their ideas about what Christianity was supposed to be differed from those who were members of the English state religion. In fact the reason they came here is that they felt persecuted by the English church.”
She cautioned that this did not mean that the government of what is now the USA was created to be Christian or to favor Christianity. She said that while the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ is not in the Constitution, looking into the history of how the Establishment Clause was created shows how firmly that concept was nested in the First Amendment. ” ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…’ This statement was championed by Roger Williams, a Christian minister and founder of the Providence, RI. Williams was a radical in his day, he taught that church and state should be separate and he also taught that all religions were valid, not just Christianity; Jews, Quakers and others were welcome to practice their religions in Rhode Island, Williams even stopped preaching to the Native Americans there as he saw that as being intolerant of their religion. The colony of Rhode Island was the first to embrace the idea of the separation of Church and State.”
k’Leshya added that statements like the one from Severson concern her as they seem to be blind to religion and politics not blending well. That what makes the USA different from some other countries, including some we are at war with, is our religious freedom guaranteed through our wall of separation of church and state. ” I agree with Roger Williams that every religion has value, and every person should be free to worship in the manner that bring them the most spiritual, moral and ethical good. A religion should guide our personal political choices but never should a nation make any religion the foundation of their politics and social structure. This is a behavior that has long bred fanaticism and all the problems it brings with it.”
In that same interview with Pastor Brad Bandon, Dan Severson said that voters need to know where he stands on issues so they can make an informed choice when they vote, “Look, this is what I stand for. If you don’t like that, don’t vote for me, and then the majority of the people will have their voice heard,” he said. “It’s wrong for politicians to do one thing on the campaign trail to get the vote and do exactly the opposite once they get to office. To me that is an impeachable offense.”
When Ms. k’Leshya was asked how his stance on religion and government affected her voting decion she said, “Mr. Severson will not be getting my vote.”
Editors note: Severson’s campaign did not return a request for comment by PNC-Minnesota.