Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer that the state of Missouri must give taxpayer funding to a house of worship – a blow to our country’s fundamental principle of church-state separation.
People sometimes ask me why I got so interested in defending separation of church and state. The answer is simple: As a kid, I was sent to a Catholic school for eight years.
Don’t get me wrong. I had a lot of good teachers there and learned many things. But I found the school’s tendency to micro-manage prayer troubling. Three times a day, like clockwork, a nun, priest or lay teacher would order everyone to stand up and pray. In unison, we would chant one of two prayers – the “Our Father” or the “Hail Mary” – before sitting down for the lesson.
Back in the 1980s, sociologist Robert Bellah noted a trend among religious believers. Many were observing some of the tenets of their chosen faiths but rejecting doctrines and practices they didn’t agree with or didn’t find useful.
In his book, Habits of the Heart, he showcases a woman named Sheila.