We closed our church's doors for good, six years ago. A fine old
church that had seen countless births and weddings and funerals, in a building that had stood as a beacon for a century, and
now we closed the doors for good.
There were numerous reasons, as there always are. But when our membership and finances
took their biggest dive was when the bishop appointed our new pastor. A likeable guy with a sense of humor, though with
faults. Brought us excellent sermons. Worked very hard for our church and congregation. But he was pretty liberal, politically,
in a church that was politically pretty conservative. And he occassionally mentioned his political leanings, even from the
"Separation of church and state!" were the words grumbled in the church parking
lot. I was about as conservative as anyone in the church but I wanted to stand up for a guy having his
life ruined by a crummy slogan. "I never cared much for that Separation of church and state thing," I once said.
"It's the law!" was the shocked reply.
It isn't the law, of course. It's only a slogan, a slogan that rips the First Amendment
to shreds and says that political speech in church is a violation of the law.
It got to the point where one man stood up right in the middle of a sermon and began
shouting at the preacher. "I just wanted everyone to hear what I had to say!" he told me afterward.
"But maybe," I answered, "there's someone here who just wanted to come to church
to worship God."
A committee went to the Bishop. I know he prayed a lot about it; then took statements
from several members and offered the minister a chance to submit names of his supporters so he named me. He probably
didn't know or care that I consider myself a conservative. I did my best for him but it wasn't enough.
We received a very fine young man as a minister. But it seemed to be too late
to repair the damage. Several years later we closed our doors for good.
I never cared much for that crummy slogan "Separation of church and state." I like
it even less today.