The Public Interest

Is “strict separation” too strict?

Morris B. Abram

Winter 1986

THE delicate balance between the separate allegiances demanded of the individual by the state on the one hand and by religion on the other has troubled mankind for centuries.  Jesus Christ was obliged to face the issue when He was taunted by the Pharisees and Herodians to decide, “Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not?” Christ elegantly responded, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” It was an enigmatic response that his enemies could fault neither as treason nor as faithlessness to his principles. The Gospel of St. Mark relates that Jesus’ enemies were so struck by this remark that they “marvelled at Him.”

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