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Wall of Separation Between State Identity and Non-Political Identities

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

By Mark Shubert

The natural interest of all life is to survive. Survival requires adaptation to or manipulation of the environment in order to be safe, live long, and expand. People pursue this interest through identities. If you identify as a Christian then you have the interest of keeping Christianity alive which requires adaptation or manipulation of the world to keep Christianity safe, to live a long Christian life, and to expand your religion both in personal understanding and piety along with expanding the population of Christians. All life and all identities have this same drive.

Proper statecraft includes clarifying the identity of the state and to remove or prevent identities that do not belong in the state identity from attaching themselves to it. Identities are a lot like viruses since they cannot be considered as life on their own and yet they have the same drive as life. They enter into the minds of people as a virus does a host. An identity only survives if there are hosts to believe in it.

Some identities try to attach themselves to other identities to form a new identity with the intent of securing its interests. Similarly, organisms attach themselves onto other organisms in order to survive and these can form new organisms entirely with a new identity and a new interest. This we see in America as Christianity is dying, or at least under the perceived threat of dying, it is trying to attach itself to the national identity.

There are formal and informal ways Christianity is adapting or manipulating America.

The formal ways include official documents and policies, i.e. changing the national motto from “E Pluribus Unum” to “In God We Trust,” changing the pledge of allegiance to include the words “under God,” allowing state courts to recognize religious iconography such as the 10 Commandments which have little to nothing to do with American politics, and economic policies around religious institutions such as church, non profit companies, and private schools with tax exemptions, deductions, and subsidies. Yes, the non profit companies and private schools do not have to be religious but many are and I would argue that no business should receive tax exemptions, deductions, or subsidies.

The informal ways include culture and marketing. Culturally, parents have the ability to force their children to go to church with or without their consent and could use punitive measures such as grounding or insulting against impious children. This is on the decline but is still common in rural parts of the country where small religious communities do not shun these parental actions and some actively encourage parents to behave this way. Marketing includes promotion of awareness and accessibility to religious communities. These informal means are trickery to tackle since the state as a formal institution should not proscribe this behavior, instead a rational populous ought to encourage good parenting and discourage bad parental control without government management.

These formal and informal means have been about manipulating the world in order to be more suitable to Christianity but there have also been lots of changes to Christian thought and practice which is Christianity adapting to the world in order to fit in better. Examples include changing views on marriage, divorce, abortion, nationalism, family, apostasy, sex, entertainment, and multi-religious relationships, along with other things.

There is a lot of overlap between the formal and informal means of pursuing the interest of Christianity and there are sure to be many more ways that have not been addressed.

The state, as a secular entity, needs to maintain that secular characteristic in order to keep its mandate of civility. The reason being is that the enfranchisement of one religion over others is a threat to all religions. If this avoidable threat becomes a reality then the state has failed and lost its claim to civility and enters into a state of war, at least the threat of war, until equal treatment under the law has been restored. This is true for any and all religions not just Christianity but in the context of America which has a strong Christian base of supporters it applies more so to Christianity than other religions.

The identity of the state should only be representing two things: the individual and the whole body of individuals. The smallest minority is the individual and the largest majority is everybody. Any other group cannot claim to be the true majority or minority and should not be the interest of the state. White people are not the largest majority in America and so the interest of “whiteness” should not be the interest of the state; likewise, Black people are not the smallest minority and so “blackness” should not be the interest of the state. Instead the whole body of individuals which include both whites and blacks and all other races should be the interest of the state; likewise the individual, which also could be any race, should be the interest of the state.

A common phrase uttered by misguided people is that America is a “white” nation. Here we see the identity of “whiteness” trying to attach itself to the identity of the state since these people feel that “whiteness” is under threat and that it should be maintained through formal enforcement. First of all, whiteness is not under threat as there are more white people in the world today than ever before and also whiteness is not a characteristic of America. America is a nation for every individual, not just for white people. The most notorious use of the concept of America being a white nation was the Dred Scott case where the supreme court decided that Blacks cannot even be citizens since America is a white nation. This is referenced at the beginning of the Majority opinion made by Chief Justice Taney who said that when the constitution was made they (Africans) were not included in the community that constituted the state.

More sensible minds have overturned this decision and the identity of whiteness as an attribute of the identity of America is gladly dying but still needs to be shot in the head once and for all. The modern argument in favor of this irrational identity is the fact that America is a majority white nation and so the interest of whiteness should be embedded in the interest of the nation. First of all, white people are not the largest majority since the largest majority is everybody including non-whites, and secondly I doubt that if the demographics of the nation were to change that they would want to continue the idea that the “majority” race should be the hegemonic interest of the state. If Asians became the largest racial majority I doubt these whites would argue that America is an Asian nation simply because Asians are now the largest racial majority. This inconsistency causes insecurity among whiteness identifiers which only exacerbates their efforts to make sure that white people will always be the racial majority in the country since they do not want to face their inconsistency and since they fear that their racist policies and rhetoric might be used by Asians against them if Asians became the racial majority. White people, and any race for that matter, do not have to fear such racial policies if race is not a consideration of state interest in the first place. We need to de-essentialize race from the state.

We should also consider the history of white identity. Racial identity is a rather new concept and in fact most parts of the world still have ethnic identity as the main interest and not a broad racial one especially in Africa but somewhat in Central and South America, Asia, Oceania, and some parts of Europe. In America at least, the rhetoric we see with racial identity is more prevalent than ethnic identity. The reason for this is that the Anglo whites were the ethnic majority of the founders of the nation but are no longer the largest ethnic group. The largest ethnic group in America today are Germans and the second largest are Irish. Due to this the interest of the state has shifted properly to a more inclusive identity which has ended war (and the threat of war) between the ethnic groups. There was violence between Irish and Anglo peoples which is silly. In fact all violence due to ethnicity and race is irrational and only shows the insecurity of the aggressors. And the German population in America is only around 15%, far from any reasonable use of the term “majority”. Also, what is the German identity? German itself is made up of many old ethnic groups, the Prussians, Pomeranians, Bavarians, Hanoverians, Westphilians, Hessians, Saxons, etc. Identity could continue to be more granular all the way until you reach the individual.

How we can ensure the perpetual death of this identity is to teach our citizens, both young and old, that America’s identity does not belong to any group other than the individual and the whole. Formally, whiteness has been abolished by the government, but informally the identity continues in the minds of those who perpetuate this identity by passing it to others like a virus. We hear lots of rhetoric about immigrants and “white genocide” which is proof that this identity still exists informally in the minds of some people. Proper statecraft includes making sure the formal institution of the state does not have a racial or ethnic attribute attached to its identity.

Similarly, Christians have made claims of America being a “Christian” nation. My argument against racial and ethnic identity of America is the same in regards to religion. Simply having Christianity as the majority religious group does not mean that the identity of the state ought to include Christianity. And like my previous argument, the Christian identity itself can be and has been divided into many denominations which if you continue dividing you end up at the religious conscience of an individual. This is why James Madison in his speech against religious identity of the state through formal means of taxation and enforcement called a “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessment,” argued in the perspective of the individual conscience not the conscience or identity of a particular group of Christians. James Madison was undeniably against the formal institutions of religion and certainly against the identity of the state including a religious attribute. Where many get confused about Madison is from his many pro Christian quips but those are all informal suggestions not formal enforcements. A stronger defense against Christian identity in the American identity includes our Constitution and the 10 Commandments.

The 10 Commandments is a large idol of Christians and an icon used to spread the Christian identity. However, enforcing seven of the ten commandments would violate our Constitution and American civil rights in general. The first four commandments; no worshiping of false gods, no idols, no using the Lord’s name in vain, and keeping the Sabbath day Holy, all violate the First Amendment. You can worship any God you like, you can make idols if you want, you can use the Lord’s name in vain, and you don't have to keep the Sabbath Holy. The fifth, seventh, and tenth commandments are not restricted by the Constitution or even any law in America; you don’t have to honor your parents under threat of legal punishment; you can commit adultery and not be punished for it; you can covet or be jealous of other people’s lives without being arrested. There are only three commandments that are included in American politics and those include not murdering, not stealing, and not lying in the court of law. These three are common sense, and Christianity has no monopoly ownership over these concepts since these concepts have existed before Christianity or even Judaism. The seven previous commandments that the Abrahamic religions could claim originality of are ironically the commandments that are not formalized in American politics and increasingly losing support informally as well. The ten commandments have no place in American politics and Christianity, or any religion, has no place in the American identity.

Some say that America’s political values enumerated into the Constitution come from religion or the Bible. I would ask, where in the Bible does God say that everyone has the right to worship whichever God they wish to worship and no punishment on Earth or after death would be inflicted depending on the religious choice of an individual? The concept of religious toleration, especially as a right directly endowed to people from God, is found nowhere in the Bible. Where then does the idea of religious toleration come from? In modern times, from the enlightenment, specifically after the bloody Thirty Years War, which shed light on universal values including liberty which extends to religious toleration. Liberty requires that the state and society be tolerant of certain actions like worshiping a religion that is different from others. The source of American values is not the Bible, but universal values understood through reason.

To my fellow secularists, learn about this as much as you are interested in this topic and ponder new arguments to end the spread of religious identity in politics. For the tactics that they use we can use, but their weaknesses are also our weakness for secularism is itself an identity like any other. This means that our identity ought not to be the identity of the state, instead, it, along with religion, should be a non issue to the government and politics in general. That is the goal; to separate the issue of religiosity from government not to replace religious hegemony with atheistic hegemony. Only then could this specific identity conflict die and remain dead. France has done a terrible job at this with their laicite which enforces atheism which again should not be the identity of the state but instead liberty, something that is a universal concept that can be applied to everyone. There is a lot more religious unrest in France than in America because religious communities feel and are threatened by the state, while in America we handle religion through liberty which does not threaten religions in general. How America handles religion, although not perfect, is better than France and most of the world. Where we can make progress is abolishing the formal religious policies mentioned earlier along with decreasing informal support among the American population mainly through increasing education of science and cosmopolitanism.

Race and Religion seem to be the main identities trying to leech off of the American state identity but there are many different identities that we should be perpetually concerned of. Cultural identity, sexual identity, gender identity, sports identity, music identity, corporate identity, the cult of an individual person, etc. these smaller identities for the most part are not significantly affecting American identity except for corporate identity which includes the automobile culture where the government subsidies infrastructure that benefits automobiles more than other types of transportation which gives an unfair advantage to one industry over the other which could be more costly to the nation since other forms of transportation may be faster and safer than cars and trucks. This could be solved with Non Negotium, the idea that there should be a separation of business and state; where the government does not identify with any one particular industry so that state power is not used to perpetuate that industry over others.

Another identity that we need to address and one that used to have actual political authority is the identity of land ownership along with educational meritocracy. The government needs consent of the governed; a civil way in which the people give their consent is through the institution of suffrage. Suffrage ensures the interest the people have in the state since they give their consent. Restricting suffrage to just those who have land or “high education” will only decrease the amount of interest the people have in the state since not everyone owns land nor has everyone received a “high education.” This decrease in interest of the people will make the state lose credibility since it decreases the amount of consent it has from the people. Having a well educated electorate is important, the way to have this is not by restricting suffrage but by expanding education. Spending needs to increase both on the state and federal level, but the education institution needs reform. The identity of the state should not be contingent on anything but the individual and the whole, dividing the people into subgroups to be treated differently is not proper governance. Land owners should not be the identity of the state, nor should “high education” whatever that actually means. Enfranchisement based on educational merit can and has been tyrannical depending on who decides what is a proper education. Throughout history educational requirements had very little to do with an actual decent education and had more to do with party loyalty.

Another identity that had an effect on many countries around the world includes cults of personalities or the state identity attached to a single individual. This includes dictators and monarchs, especially absolute monarchies, but even constitutional monarchies still have that unreasonable identity of a single person attached to the state identity. In the US there is a soft cult of personality with the president and a proper republic would decrease the authority and gravitas of the executive in order to secure the power and probity of the legislature. We have holidays around the president, not congress. Most people know who the president is but not their congressor (I use the term congressor instead of having to say congressmen and congresswomen). We have lots of statues of past presidents and very few of congressores. The solution is not more statues of congressores but instead less statues of presidents and individuals in general. Statues of the personification of universal values like the Statue of Liberty are perfectly fine but statues of individual people lead to cults of personality which should not be encouraged and especially enforced or paid for by the state.

The executive branch has assumed many delegated powers from the legislature since the legislature is becoming distracted by irrational politics. Look at the bills introduced in congress during any given month and there will be bills that are not necessary nor proper for Congress to be interested in; some bills are about honoring an athlete, or renaming a post office, or commissioning a statue. None of these bills are necessary nor proper and so should not fill the schedule of congress. A well regulated and properly functioning congress would filter out this nonsense and focus on actual policies; policies that, due to congress being distracted, have been delegated to the executive branch. What I am referring to is who decides how laws are enforced. The legislative branch creates laws, the executive branch enforces laws, but who decides how laws are enforced. This was an issue that Washington mentioned in his first inaugural address and he decided that congress should decide how a law is enforced. This decision has not been enumerated into the constitution properly and so over time congress has delegated that power to the executive; this is why there are many agencies and departments in the executive branch with little to no oversight or much interest by congress. Congress technically does have power over deciding how laws are enforced but this requires a proactive Congress and we see that they are not using this power responsibly which allows the executive branch to get away with creating policies that circumvent the legislative branch. Changing the understanding of the state identity would change how congress uses its power for that identity’s interest. If Congressores view sports as important to federal legislation then they will waste their time introducing and passing legislation about sports, but if they understand that sports should have no place in politics, especially federal politics, then they will not waste their time.

Another identity that has gripped the Southern United States is the Confederacy. People are identifying with an institution that no longer exists, that was immoral at the time and especially today, and anti-American as it went against the Constitution and the Rights of people. They perpetuate this identity simply because they lack education on the matter and it was given to them by their parents or friends like a virus. We need to remove this identity from the hearts and minds of those people. Formally, with good education, and informally, with more open discussion with these people to make them feel more attached to the true American identity than with the identity of the Confederacy. Adopting universal values is the best way to achieve this. If those who are against the Confederacy identity, as all Americans should be, switched the racial identity of America from White, as it was during the time of the Confederacy, to Black, then many who still identify with the Confederacy and therefore the White identity of the nation will view anti-Confederacy as anti-White and would not feel attached to America today and would continue to fight against anti-Confederacy rhetoric and actions. Switching America’s race from White to Black is not the answer, but instead to universal concepts that everyone can get behind regardless of race. This is the proper progressive movement. However, there is an idea that universal values threaten a race, they do not. It does threaten the identity of a race which, as mentioned many times before, is a virus that only survives when it has hosts who believe in it and if everyone adopted universal values the identity of race would die.

This is a concern of all conservatives who are not actually conservatives since they do not want to conserve anything and certainly not the current state of America. They are more like restorationists who want to restore a previous state of America. Some want to restore the state that America had in the 1980’s, some the state of the 1950’s, some the state of the 1860s. There are inconsistencies with all of these restorationist since they want to keep modern amenities like technology but they want to restore identities that they identify with the most; very few people actually identify with technology such as the Amish. Race is a major identity to Confederate sympathizers since it was an identity to the Confederacy and so both identities need to parish.

The identity of the state should only be interested in that which is consistent with the individual and the whole body of individuals. Religion differs from person to person and so any one religion ought not to be the identity of the state, same goes for race, ethnicity, culture, language, gender, etc. Those should be non issues to the government. That which is universal should be the attributes of our state identity: equality, justice, representation, liberty. Cheesy I know, but universal concepts like these are the only ones with a right to be attached to the American identity and nothing else. This, of course, has only addressed the formal identity of the nation. What is equally important, especially for a democratic-republic, is that the people should also hold this probity. In a democracy, if the majority believe that Christianity ought to be the interest of the state then there will be religious enforcement which begets violence or the threat of war. Therefore, the people need to hold and maintain this idea of proper state identity and of their own identity as well. It is not enough for the government to be anti-racist, the people need to be anti-racist as well. Same goes with all of these concepts and identities. The people, individually, should hold and act upon these values, just as the state, which is the whole body of individuals, should also do so.

Non-political identities should not be political, obviously, but the issue is determining what is and is not a political identity. Any identity that can apply to everybody, universal concepts for example, are political identities and have more of a right to be attached to the state identity than identities that only apply to a subgroup of the total population. This is the theory of proper state identity. However, reality shows people do not pursue proper statecraft but instead the interest of certain non-political identities, and so the difficulty is to promote this understanding of universal identity and decrease support for less than universal identity politics.

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