Being Independence Day, there was a full-page ad in my local paper by the "Freedom From Religion Foundation."  It featured portraits of various Founding Fathers along with quotes more or less disparaging the effects that religion have had on history.

I've long held that strict separation of government and religion is essential to maintaining personal freedoms, but I couldn't help feel that "the Nation's largest association of Agnostics and Atheists" were taking a little bit of a finger-in-the-eye approach.

I think it's far more instructive and constructive to recall what those founders of our nation were rebelling against-- a king. 

While the founders, almost without exception, started out feeling a strong allegiance to the mother country, they found it harder and harder to reconcile those feelings with the increasingly arbitrary and capricious rule of their monarch. They started to chafe under the notion that a single person could have that much power. And where does a king's authority come from?

From God, of course! That's why the framers of our constitution felt it so important that religion have no place in government. Once you open the door to governing according to religious beliefs, anyone can decide what those beliefs are, and they are unassailable. 

Taken to extreme, you end up with nasty things like Islamic republics (Iran), absolute monarchs (Saudi Arabia), "chosen" people (Israel). I could also list many of the great states of this country, as well.

So on this Independence Day, raise your beer to the idea that freedom of religion also means freedom from religion.