Church vs. State in Washington State

The FOX News website is featuring a story about a little church/state brouhaha. Here is an excerpt from the story:

An Olympia church is considering its legal options after the state of Washington denied its request to hold a baptism ceremony at a park on the grounds of the Capitol.

The state’s Department of General Administration claims that permitting a baptismal ceremony on state property would be a violation of the state constitution.

One does not have to be a constitutional scholar to know that a state constitution cannot override the U.S. Constitution.

Besides, conducting a religious ceremony on public property does not necessarily mean that public funds are being used to pay for the ceremony.

However – in order to be fair and balanced – one might wonder why the church wanted to perform a baptismal rite on public property in the first place, when the church had the ability to perform it on private property.

Regardless what you believe about the rite of baptism, it isn’t something that must be performed on public property. The purpose of the rite does not require a public audience. So, why did this particular church want to perform the rite at a public park?

One could conclude that the church’s leaders wanted to use the baptismal rite to attract the attention to the church. Perhaps that wasn’t the case. However, if that was the case, then those leaders were trying to use the rite for something other than its intended purpose.

The church could be correct about its constitutional right, but it wasn’t necessary for the church to do what it wanted to do.  The New Testament doesn’t require the rite of baptism to be a part of a public show.

Apparently, the leaders of this particular church have plenty of zeal, but they need to learn that zeal is a poor substitute for wisdom.


Heritage Park in Olympia, Washington


[Disclosure: This blogger has undergone the rite of baptism.]

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