"...Our Constitution separates church and state not to confine religious belief or silence religious expression, but to curb the ambitions and reach of governments. The point of the First Amendment is not to 'put religion in its place,' but instead to protect religion by keeping the government "in its place." The Amendment's Establishment Clause is not a sword, driving private religious expression from the marketplace of ideas; rather, it is a shield that constrains government precisely to protect religiously motivated speech and action...."
I ordinarily avoid getting into the political realm, having seen how it plays out in the blogs, but I recommend this opinion column in USATODAY. This is not so much for its conclusions (with which I happen to concur), but for its analysis of how the debate has distorted a fundamental constitutional principle in furtherance of a particular political ideology. Richard Garnett, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, has clearly defined the issues of Church and State and how they apply to the current confirmation hearings for Judge Alito.
Read the excerpt and then read the full article. Comments, as always, are welcome.