Examining the Separation of Church and State
The separation of church and state has been a crucial component of American government since the founding of the United States of America over 200 years ago. This complex and sometimes divisive issue was the subject of a presentation entitled “Separation of Church and State” held in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre in March.
Joe Heim, a professor of political science and public administration at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse joined Msgr. Bernard McGarty, the Visiting Scholar of Ecumenical Studies at Viterbo, in giving the lecture. Heim is a familiar face in the area and a frequent political media commentator. Similarly, Msgr. McGarty has gained a reputation for his talks on religious topics that are pertinent to both historical and modern times.
The lecture explored answers to questions such as, “What did our founders really intend? How have we as a nation agreed and disagreed? What are some major historical and modern-day interpretations of this principle?”
“The separation of church and state uniquely defines our American form of democracy and is guaranteed by our constitution,” Msgr. McGarty said. “That’s why it’s so important to approach the issue historically—clarifying what our founders originally intended, while understanding the tensions and influences resulting from modern interpretations.”