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.”