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Rime Buddhist Center

Monastery & Tibetan Institute of Studies
"Achieving Peace Through Compassion"
700 West Pennway
Kansas City, Missouri 64108
(816) 471-7073
Lama Chuck Stanford

The following is Lama Chuck's monthly column that appeared in the Kansas City Star
newspaper in April 2004.

QUESTION: "Should religion play a part in our democratic system of government?"

ANSWER: We can see today, as well as historically, the monumental problems created when a government is based upon the religion of those in power. This is known as a theocracy and almost always results in internal conflict, violence, and war motivated by religious hatred. The founders of our country recognized this and wanted to avoid the wars and violence that had plagued Europe for centuries. Wanting to avoid this kind of conflict, they decided a separation of church and state would be the best guarantee. In 1789 the first of ten amendments was written known as the Bill of Rights. The first of these are:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;...."
As a result, today we are a pluralistic nation practicing a wide variety of religions. The strength of our country is it's diversity. Our national great seal's motto is, "E Pluribus Unum" which means "Out of many, one."

Buddhism does not consider itself to hold the only true answer, but recognizes that all religions have the potential to help practitioners develop compassion, wisdom and to be of service to others. No matter how worthy spiritual leaders may be, they serve their communities best not as government leaders but by helping their own members to grow spiritually. In this way they offer the guidance and wisdom to help cultivate citizens to become government leaders who will lead our nation with kindness, compassion and wisdom instead of only with their own self-interest.

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