Separation of Church and State

The separation of church and state, peace and harmony being the strength of all well regulated institutions - has become a cornerstone of our democracy. The Freedom of the press, is almost equally important. And yet that freedom has been under attack for nearly twelve years - in a most insidious form.

The goal of an entertainer - is not to inform. I liken the modern entertainer - to a priest, in the days of colonial America.

American, during colonial times - harbored two main paths to citizenship. True, technically you were born a citizen - but in most communities your citizenship was earned. One could either work, at a trade, or on the farm (and by and large, most men worked on the farm). You could then raise a family, join the community - as an artisan, or a farmer - and in this largely agrarian country - you , and your sons and daughters - would, as small businessmen, forge a new village in the wilderness. And if you somehow didn't have the strength, or the aptitude to be able to learn a craft - or work hard - there was always the priesthood.

In a village without an auditorium, electronics, or entertainment industry - the priest's main focus was to weave stories of the townfolk into his sermons, with colorful stories of the gospel. He held them in rapt attention, Sunday. But he also visited their home , when he they were sick. Held social functions - saw to the care of children, and generally acted as a sort of caretaker of the community.

Now consider carefully the role of the entertainment industry - in your lives. Your children spend time in front of the Television. They listen to stories that psychologists and madison avenue, weave together with stories of their own folk - in a colorful way. The entertainment industry sees billions of dollars profit - propagating morals, ethics and values. They understand, more than anyone - that people don't go to a film to see a tragedy or drama unfold - they attend films to connect with some aspect of the film, character, or story. The wildly successful entertainment industry of today - was built on the shoulders the colonial priesthood. As Bono said.. "The stained glass windows of the Duomo, were the first picture shows". And in fact, that was their design : stained glass windows were there, largely to teach the illiterate - basic stories from the bible - just as the priesthood was there to teach, edify, and if we are honest - entertain.

The goal of the church, however, was always separate from the goal of a well governed state. Just as the goal of an entertainment industry diverges rapidly from the goals of a nation. Our founding fathers saw to it that church and state would be sharply separated. As a result, there were very few priests, in colonial America - that would have dared to think themselves elected to administer the wealth, resources, and work focus of their community. They ministered to the soul, theirs was the domain of the spiritual.

However, in America - a select, and very corrupt few - have convinced themselves that their rise as entertainer has somehow qualified them to separate the wall between church and state - that should properly exist between entertainment and information. The conduct of governance isn't really that exciting. Did a law pass yesterday, that allowed a street or road to be paved? Did legislation get approved and signed, that replaced the lightbulb in your streetlight , with a low emissions LED lamp? These are the real decisions that those elected, and in power - must make.

Baseball, as a form of entertainment - shifted a few years back - and the salaries became part of the statistics that were shared amongst fans. A discovery was made, by an overweight entertainer in California - who had fallen so low, he was charging food from convenience stores on his credit card, because he had no cash left anymore. He discovered that he could blend the entertainment value of statistics, and strongly polarized, ideological messages - into news media entertainment. The design of the program was to create something that its audience could tune into, for hours on end - and so he quickly did the math: create a show that "defends your freedoms" and stands for "less and less" . He himself, was a morbidly obese example of a person who could never in a thousand years do with "less and less". However, the message of "less" and the concept that someone was "defending freedom" by being in your head twenty four hours a day - was intoxicating to those poor souls stuck in rush hour traffic and increasingly isolated from colonial community in their suburban homes. The design of a new form of entertainment - very similiar to sermonizing, quickly took hold: news media entertainment was born.

His show became very popular - sadly displacing more practical shows - it was done in a 'talk' format that telegraphed to its audience the message that they could call in, at any time, and become their own version of an entertainment industry personality. Sort of like an 'open altar' sermon. Except that they radically limited the number, and type of people - who were allowed to call in. Screeners were hidden carefully behind the scenes -their sole purpose was to drop the caller away that focussed on the idea that governance was in fact, boring. They sold the concept that government was a non stop battle between good and evil - an epic struggle in which you must choose a side: you can call at any time, and express your beliefs - as long as your beliefs lined up with their entertainment values.

Obscure advertisers signed on to flak their products during his show, and they found quickly - that their products were selling. He began to charge more for his time, and soon became very wealthy. And so, a series of imitators began to copy him. An entire news channel sprang up around the concept. And then they got very lucky indeed. In a fluke election - a man was set into power who transferred unprecedent amounts of control of our institutions, to corporate control. And then, shortly thereafter - terrorists hit our country. People began to experience anxiety. And so began the never ending news media entertainment cycle. A non stop entertainment experience - pitting good against evil. With the exception being that this new form of entertainment - also blended in news.

Like a colonial villager, we were asked to trust the source - just as we knew our community priest - we knew that these news media entertainment channels were news. Are they?

Their goal is to sell things. Their goal is to keep you tuned in, and to keep you on edge. You can play their game by being a mini-expert on all sorts of things that they break down into easily digestable bits for you. The perfect design of a fat man.

And in the past 16 years, America became polarized. Our spirit of community - and our efficient, and largely congenial sense of governance - became a virulent force in the world that embarked upon wars of convenience, and regularly and spectacularly gridlocked - the epic battle of good versus evil.

Our founding fathers saw to it, that there was a wall of separation between Church and state. The could never have foreseen that news media entertainment would blur the line between the operation of a free press, and the tyranny of ideologues on a march to sell products. The concept that one man could speak to an entire nation, at the same instant - was foreign to them. They could only envision their local minister, at the altar - addressing the congregation. Not a nation.

When I tune into news, I am expecting to see the objective and honest relay of information to me. I am using that information to make a decision.

But there are now people in our country, that tune into news to make them feel better. Instead of talking to each other at the water cooler - they take on the role of talk show host. Each person has their own microphone and goes on a rant about how this should be changed, or that.

And there are so many of these people, that a news media entertainment industry exists. It does not bother itself with freedom, or governance. It bothers itself with advertising. Anything that keeps them tuned in, is fair game. And they repeat, over and over - that they stand for "Freedom". And other spiritual liberties that were once the domain of the colonial priest.

Blurring a wall of separation between church and state. To its ultimate toxic effect.

"...I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" -

Thomas Jefferson

From Wikipedia :
"The concept of separating church and state is often credited to.. the principle of the social contract,... the government lacked authority in the realm of individual conscience, as this was something rational people could not cede to the government for it or others to control."

And so, too, should we, as citizens of a now deeply divided country - decide if that wall of separation should be applied to the separation of news, and news media entertainment.

Josef Goebbels, the minister of propaganda for the third reich - once said " the best form of propaganda is all truth, with just one poison peanut in the mix". His favorite saying was "the exactness of lies".