October 11, 2013
I’m writing in response to a very narrow minded and misinformed opinion under the heading of “Reader says USA is divided by morals and ideals.”
The author begins by worrying that soon “we will no longer be a United States of America with liberty and justice for all.” Sounds okay, many of us share that concern since daily we witness situations where liberties and equality are denied. Where the author loses me is with the hypocritical nature of the rest of the piece. She asserts prayer was taken out of schools.
No such thing has happened or, in my opinion, ever will. Students are allowed to pray, but the prayer cannot be led by a school official. While ‘separation of church and state’ isn’t in the constitution there can be no doubt that our founding fathers wanted that division. If government can’t require its officials to support a church; may not support a church itself; and may not interfere with the worship or belief of any church, is there a serious argument that church and state are not separate? Over the years, numerous scholars, historians, lawyers, and judges have debunked the “Christian nation” myth. Yet it persists without any basis in American history. She speaks of majority rule, but a majority should ONLY rule if it doesn’t deny civil rights and liberties to another citizen.
And how do I reply to her apparent wish to continue to call the disabled ‘handicapped and/or special’ other than shaking my head? Language is power and using that type of language seeks to remove power and dignity from those already at a disadvantage in our communities. We should be trying to level the playing field, not dig a ditch of further division.
Our President is correct in saying this is not a Christian nation. He is, in part, basing his statement on quotes by our founding fathers. The text of the constitution does not say we are a Christian nation. If a Christian nation had been the intent of the founders, they would have put that in the Constitution, front and center. Yet the text of the Constitution contains no references to God, Jesus Christ, or Christianity. That document does not state that our country is an officially Christian nation. The Founders’ political beliefs would not have led them to support a Christian-nation idea. Key founders such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson opposed mixing church and state. They would never have supported an officially Christian nation.
Jefferson and Madison came to this opposition in two ways. First, they were well-versed in history and understood how the officially Christian governments of Europe had crushed human freedom. Moreover, they knew about the constant religious wars among rival factions of Christianity. Second, they had witnessed religious oppression in the colonies firsthand. Jefferson once famously observed to Adams: “And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”
The author then speaks of homosexual rights with great disdain. What happened to the “liberty and justice for all’’ she’s worried about losing? If they aren’t extended to every citizen, they are not just. She states that Chaplains can be forced out of the military “if they pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ at religious services.” This is more misinformation or downright deceit. They may not pray that way publically. A statement from the Navy Chief of Chaplains, Rear Adm. Louis V. Iasiello reported by the Washington Post read that “Chaplains can pray however they like in sectarian worship services, but that in public ceremonies where attendance is mandatory for sailors and officers of many faiths, they are encouraged to use inclusive wording. If a chaplain is uncomfortable with that, he should decline to give the benediction.”
Of many faiths goes back to the liberty and justice she wants to preserve. Or are those reserved, in her mind, only for church going, God fearing, heterosexual Christians? As for one language in the United States the majority speak English. However, the U.S. does not have an official language. Our earlier settlers spoke German, French, Italian, Chinese and Yiddish. I can agree with the author on one thing. We are a divided nation and we have far too many career politicians in office. But the division is one of our own creation. Rather than seeking to further divide Jew from gentile, republican from democrat, homosexual from heterosexual we should instead be focusing on our similarities. We’re all human, we’re all citizens and we all wish to see the United States be a great as she can be.