Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Separation of Church and State

In this article Stephen L. Carter expresses the great deal on the separation of church and state. Carter does a very good job at utilizing his rhetorical devices to really make sure we have the information embedded in our heads by the time we have finished the article. He does this job with the help of exemplification to give you multiple examples and leading proof of the separation of the church and state; the application of pathos because religion can sometimes be a touchy subject to some, so it brings out more of an emotional appeal; and, lastly, he utilizes repetition in a very different manner to keep the reader interested but to make it very clear the point he is getting across. Putting aside everyone’s personal opinions on religion being discussed and involved in the government, there are actual laws for this. The Constitution has the biggest say so overall. It is what keeps the church and state separated.

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Politics, media, school, etc. all try to include the church in something they might do, but it just simply is going against the Constitution. There have many cases where the law has “bent” the rules and allowed certain activities and had so- called reasoning. The government should not force anyone into a religious sector, this means avoiding prayer in classrooms, or favoring specific religions over others, and by not providing government funding. Is it okay to allow certain cases, but not others? Just as Carter states, “that understanding the distinction is the key to preserving the necessary separation of church and state without resorting to a philosophical rhetoric that treats religion as an inferior way for citizens to come to public judgment.”

Carter has a great number of examples throughout his article of the separation of church and state. The very first one he utilizes in his article is his attendance of a dinner party in New York City. Carter says he met a Christian minister who was discussing a drug-rehabilitation program that this man ran in the inner city. The Christian minister’s claim was that his program had a much high success rate than other programs. His reasoning for this higher success rate was simply prayer. Not only were the staff praying for their patients, but they were teaching the patients to pray as well. This changed their program, to, if not teach Christianity, then at least to teach religiosity. Just like the Carter states about the laws, this drug rehabilitation program could not receive any state funding because of its religious nature. Another great example found in this article demonstrating the First Amendment is school district in Colorado.

The teacher there was forbidden to add books on Christianity in a classroom library that already had included works on other religions. This ruling was defended by once again, “the separation of church and state.” Just like any other argument, there’s always going to be a twist and some things slip through the cracks. Reinhold Niebuhr and others had a case back in the 1920s for the “Christianization” of American industry. They however changed it up and said their use of the word “Christianization” didn’t have to do with religious faith; it meant, the transformation of industry into a new form that would accord with a principle of respect for the human spirit that Niebuhr and the others found lacking in industrial organizations that day. Knowing religious faith was plain at heart, the critics called it socialism. This call really got to a lot of left-leaning Protestants and socialists, many being Jews. All of these examples are given to show us leading proof on the way this Amendment is intended to be used and the actual ways the government is using this Amendment.

Secondly, Carter applies pathos to bring out the emotional appeal of the reader. Religion can be often be a very touchy subject to many people. Just like anything else this subject has two very opposing sides. The people who happen to believe in religion very deeply and are huge on that want their children to be exposed of it, and also believe that the fact that religious programs can’t have public funding isn’t right. They don’t see the problem with promoting the religious life. Carter states, “It is doubtless frustrating to believe deeply that one has a call from God to do what one does, and then to discover that the secular society often will not support that work, no matter how important it is to the individual.” This statement states that it is beyond frustrating for people who believe in God so much, but cannot have the secular society support their work. Anyone can understand how frustrating this could be to one who has really strong beliefs. But, before crossing any judgment is important that the people know the main task of the separation of church and state is to secure religious liberty.

Lastly, Carter does a great job at including repetition in his writing. He utilizes this rhetorical device so much to make sure the reader really has the best understanding of the meaning of the separation of church and state as possible. Carter mentions the Establishment Clause and the First Amendment many times throughout his writing. He really has a high focus on these two topics so we truly understand what the Constitution states about religion. The big argument on the separation of church and state and the First Amendment is that it doesn’t specifically state the separation of the two. Instead the First Amendment states; “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.” Carter also mentions the Supreme Court multiple times as well. He does this along with many examples that have the same outcome to show the pattern in ways the Supreme Court dealt with the cases dealing with the church and state. He has example after example to show the persistence. One example isn’t enough evidence or research to be held accountable for anything. It is very important that writers interpret repetition to really get their purpose embedded in our heads. You shouldn’t be left wondering what point the writer was trying to make at the end of the piece. Carter uses the repetition very smoothly, he makes sure he doesn’t say the literal same thing time after time. He uses different techniques so that the reader doesn’t even realize that they are reading the same thing over and over.

The separation of church and state isn’t to protect the state from religion, it is more specifically to protect religion from the state. As some people don’t fully agree with this because they feel so strongly about their religion, stop and think if the government could control your religion then you might not even be able to believe in what you wanted to. That’s the beauty of the separation of church and state. It doesn’t control what you believe in, doesn’t put people into certain secular groups, nor does it force any religion on anybody. But with that freedom there is a downfall; no public funding is available for a religious program or anything else for that matter. That is a small price to pay for the freedom of your religious beliefs. Overall, Carter did a tremendous job at thoroughly explaining the separation of church and state, the meaning, and how it was interpreted then and now with the use of many examples, utilization of pathos and bringing out the emotional appeal to the readers, and much repetition that you don’t even realize.