The “Without God, Evil Persists” letter encouraged me to research some earlier views of the separation of church and state.
In 1981 Barry Goldwater said, “By maintaining the separation of church and state, the United States has avoided the intolerance which has so divided the rest of the world with religious wars … Can any of us refute the wisdom of Madison and the other framers? Can anyone look at the carnage in Iran, Northern Ireland or Lebanon and yet question the dangers of injecting religious issues into the affairs of state? The religious factions will go on imposing their will on others unless the decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy.
“They must learn to make their views known without trying to make their views the only alternatives … We have succeeded for 205 years in keeping the affairs of state separate from the uncompromising idealism of religious groups and we mustn’t stop now. To retreat from that separation would violate the principles of conservatism and the values upon which the framers built this democratic republic.”