Thursday, August 2, 2007

Separation of Church and State? It is Almost Completely Dead!

Did you know that our government has a Spiritual Ministry Department? This department supposedly (1) Provides spiritual ministry to Clinical Center patients and their families; (2) holds religious services in the Clinical Center; (3) acts as liaison with religious groups not represented by the staff chaplains; and (4) conducts research and training programs in hospital ministry.

It is part of the National Institute of Health whose mission is described on its web site as follows:
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the steward of biomedical and behavioral research for the Nation. Its mission is science in pursuit of fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.

Why is this "department" part of the NIH? What does anything "spiritual" have to do with science or the fundamental behavior of living systems? And why is it staffed and funded by our government? Doesn't the first amendment to the US Constitution still read as follows? 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. And doesn't this still mean, as Thomas Jefferson explained way back in 1802, that there should be a wall of separation between church and state?

Guess not... and that sucks.


Ceroill said...

Unfortunately there is a sizable portion of the population, including our prez, who don't understand it that way. I suspect what they really have in mind as the supposed religious origins of our country is the Puritan colonies, even though the Puritan movement was long gone by the time Jefferson and company wrote things up. This fondness for the old Puritan mindset is, I think, the ultimate origins of why our culture is still stuck with the idea that sex is bad and violence is acceptable.

lou said...

I can only deduce that CSM is also has concerns with military chaplains? For the point of my observations I will make not make reference to Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists since his annotations are not a component of the Constitution and his motives can be questioned based on who he was addressing.

This is a fascinating post since during the existence of the NIH I have yet to observe a grievance related to the treatment of the spiritual side of an individual. If the process does not establish a national religion or avert the free exercise of religion does it in fact violate the constitution? This would not appear to be the case.

My second point would be is the spiritual inevitably religion? It is unquestionably not church and would not most of us consent that a life force does undeniably subsist and habitually is cited as the spiritual since it is not readily discernible? On the contrary, failing to treat someone who feels they need treatment for the spiritual could be construed as violating the freedom to exercise their religion.

My last thought here would be since this assistance is totally voluntary; the general public is not under any obligation to take part in this care any more than military personnel are obligated to convene with a chaplain.

csm said...

Perhaps you have never heard of any "grievances related to the treatment of the spiritual side of an individual" because there is no way to treat something that doesn't exist.

And yes, military chaplains are a waste if the only thing the chaplain does is conduct services and preach. If he can shoot a rifle, make a meal, or program a computer, too, then no problem.

Your second point is ludicrous. Spirituality is a nonsense word coined to describe something that does not exist. There is no evidence of anything spiritual existing anywhere at any time. It is mumbo jumbo that is being used as a substitute for god/religion/etc because it sounds less threatening. And who is "failing to treat someone who feels they need treatment for the spiritual"? Go to your fucking church for that treatment, not the government. I'm not saying you can't try to be treated spiritually if you want, just that the government shouldn't be doing it because (1) it is absurd, and (2) it is unconsitutional.


Personally, I feel the whole NIH is unConstitutional, let alone the "spiritual wing".