George Graham

Separate Church and State? Easier Said than Done!


The United States Constitution includes a provision against combining religion and government. But how do you keep them apart?

Religion is part of most people’s makeup. Few politicians could avoid taking their religion with them to the legislative chamber.

In Oklahoma, for example, legislators were OK with having the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state capitol but they aren’t about to allow a statue of the goat-headed god Baphomet (above) to be erected there.

How about you? Would you let Satanists put up a pagan god’s statue on government property?

I have to admit the thought gives me chills.

I don’t believe in Baphomet, of course. Nobody does. Nobody ever did. He was concocted by the Spanish Inquisition. Medieval  inquisitors needed some false idol to accuse their victims of worshipping so they made up the goat-headed deity.

The Satanists who are seeking to erect that statue of Baphomet are doing it as a joke – a joke to make a serious point.

If I were an Oklahoma legislator, I would never vote to allow Baphomet on government property.

Would I allow a monument to the Ten Commandments? Probably.

I grew up with the Ten Commandments. They’re part of my psyche. When I break any of them (and of course I do), I feel guilty.

I grew up praying, and when prayer is banned in American schools, I am shocked. When crèches are removed from public property, I am saddened.

I am aware of the ravages of religion throughout history.  And I can undersand why early Americans, who were persecuted for their religious beliefs, would want to keep the church out of their government. The last thing I would want in America is a theocracy. The dangers of religion-based government are all too evident in those Muslim countries.

But if I were an elected representative, my religion would play a part in my decisions. I couldn’t help it.

I can understand why the American Civil Liberties Union would argue that “when the government literally puts one faith on a pedestal, it sends a strong message to Oklahomans of other faiths that they are less than equal.” I can see why they would protest that those of us who worship God should not be given preferential treatment over those who worship Baphomet – or even Satan.

But I get it only in my head. In my heart, I feel it would be sacrilegious to put Satan up there with God.

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About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for