Bishop Tobin asks if Rhode Island has lost her soul

Gov. Lincoln Chafee

Bishop Thomas Tobin continues to be one of the best writers in the Church today. His recent article on the inauguration of Governor Lincoln Chafee is no exception. Chafee was once a pro-abortion Republican, but he left the GOP in 2007. This past November, he was elected Governor of Rhode Island as an Independent.

For his inaugural festivities, Chafee broke with tradition and decided not to include any public prayer service. To this, Bishop Tobin said: “I’m neither surprised by nor disappointed by the Governor’s decision.” The bishop said the Governor’s decision was “completely his prerogative.”

But Bishop Tobin did take issue with something else.

I’m more concerned by the reason for the no-prayer decision given by his spokesman who said that the Governor’s “point of view is that his inaugural day needs to respect the separation of church and state. Separation of church and state is an important constitutional principle.”

The explanation is disappointing and confusing; it raises some rather significant questions.

First, if it’s imperative to maintain the alleged “separation of church and state” on inauguration day, why were prayers offered at the inauguration ceremony itself? And why did the Governor invite religious leaders to have a prominent presence at the event?

Read the rest of Bishop Tobin’s article to see him describe why the so-called Separation of Church and State is used to “silence the faith community.”




  • aillyn

    Yes, I come from a family where my parents were of mixed religious beliefs. My mom’s is Roman Catholic and my dad’s was presbytarian, I believe, his mom (my grandmother) was from Nova Scotia, and that is what she was raised as. I attended a catholic school from k-8. So, we were Christian as a family, but my mom’s side (Roman Catholic) was mostly what I was taught, as an adult I decided to become a United Methodist, and I feel very happy with it.

  • The Merry Catholic

    Regrettably, the current secular interpretation of “separation of chruch and state” was not developed by secularists or atheists. It was the idea of Protestants who were afraid of the growing Catholic parochial school movement. It was their way of blocking any community assistance to the Catholic schools.

    I have many dear Evangelical friends who deeply regret today what their ancestors did a few generations ago. People of faith have been “shot in the foot” by other people of faith. (Oops, I used a gun metaphor. Is Chris Matthews gonna get mad at me?)

    • Phil

      Yes, and the Christians who fight so hard today to make sure that the government endorses religion in public, in currency, and by funding religious schools and charities will likely be deeply regretting these actions in the future when the government endorses Muslim, Scientologist, and other non-Christian religions, based on the unfortunate meme that “there is no need for separation of church and state.”

      • Joe in Canada

        Why should Christians regret that? In Manitoba in Canada, the Catholic Church, which has a constitutional right in that province to publicly funded Catholic education, worked with Jews and others to convince the government to fulfill its constitutional obligations. As a result the Manitoba Federation of Independent Schools, which represents independent schools funded by the government, includes Catholic Schools, Jewish schools, a Muslim school, Mennonite schools, etc.

  • Susan West

    Someone does not know their constitution very well, there is no amendment in our constitution stating ANYTHING about separation of church and state. It is found in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association. Our ‘congress’ has seen fit to interpret the first amendment to suit their own desires, primarily to silence the church. It was intended to silence government from interfering in the church! I wish people would learn about their government!

    • Greg Smith

      The only reference in the Constitution is in the first amandment “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion nor prohibiting…..” A lot of things the anti religious people have complained about have nothing to do with “making law” including invocations, religious symbols in public employees offices etc.



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