Separation of Church and State: A Bridge Too Far

The first amendment to the US Constitution is perhaps the most important doctrinal assertion codified by the founders of the country.  Here is the full text in all its sublime brevity:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Keeping the state out of the religious business of its citizens is one of the crowning achievements of mankind.  As an acutely anti-clerical person I place a great deal of importance on it.

However, the level and purity of the enforcement of this prohibition is costing our people dearly.  This has come clear to me powerfully in the last couple of years as a parent of school age children.  When I was young, I sang in all of the singing groups I could.  I attended the Blake School, a private college preparatory institution in Minnesota.  I was in the Glee Club, the Choir and in the two a capella groups that come with those, the Blaker’s Dozen and Mixed Company.  I greatly enjoyed the music we sang.  It had beauty and grace and was uplifting and spiritually remunerative.

Now I have kids singing in their school choirs.  I went to one of their concerts just last night.  And here is the problem.  I do not have the $30,000 each per year needed to send my kids to the private school I attended.  Because of the doctrine of separation of church and state, the songs available to these kids to sing are limited to the most insipid and useless twaddle imaginable.  It is not worth singing nor listening to.  It is garbage.  No carols and no religious music.   These kids have no possibility of encountering truly beautiful music unless they join a church or other choir.  One of my kids is in a choir outside the school system we pay for her to join.  Being anti-religious, we do not go to church.   But though I am anti-religious, I can recognize the surreal beauty of the music inspired by religious feeling by so many composers through the years.

The First Amendment sets up this impossible tension between protecting thought from the intrusion of the State, but at the same time is used to prevent people from participating in the most beautiful music there is, which happens to be religious.  This impoverishes the nation and the character of the people in it.  This cannot be the right answer.  Contemplate the awesome beauty of the following (to me the most beautiful piece of music I have ever heard):

Kids have no chance of performing or hearing this.  Even the music without the words was held by the Ninth Circuit to be unacceptable and the Supreme (useless) Court refused to hear the case.  It is a tragedy.

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