It is said that 86% of Americans believe in God. Therefore I have a very hard time understanding why there is such a mess about having the 10 commandments on display or “In God We Trust” on our money and having God in the Pledge of Allegiance. Why don’t we just tell the 14% to Sit Down and SHUT UP!!!
The problem here is in taking 18th Century America and trying to force 21st Century American into that mold.
Yes, these guys were all good, god-fearing men, that created our current system of government. Let us remember what was happening in the world that led to our current constitution. Let us also not forget that this nation was founded several years before its current constitution was written.
When we fought the revolution, we were a nation of only 13 states, with one basic religion — Non-Catholic and Non-Anglican Christianity. The variations in that Protestant religions were far fewer in number in 18th century America than it is today, so there was far more commonality between the various “factions” that made up the United States and very few (and not well tolerated) non-Christian religions.
While the forefathers of this nation wanted Christian values to exist in our society and culture, they were also all-to familiar with the atrocities committed in the name of the Church under their former rule. Indeed those that settled this land, and fought to form this country, all came here to escape religious persecution because they found themselves in the very place that today’s religious minorities find themselves in. They didn’t believe what the State-Church mandated they believe and so they came here to be free from such tyranny and to follow their own faith.
That is all well and good and no reasonable person can argue that Christianity has not shaped American culture. It has in many ways.
Here we are now, in the 21st century. Christianity is more fractured now than ever before. Christianity is also no longer the one major religion of America. Remember that Mormon Church? It is to Christianity what Christianity is to Judaism. And the Mormon Church celebrates something no other religion can… it is based right here in the good old USA.
As the great melting pot of our nation has filled up more and more with peoples from very diverse and different cultures, Religion in America has become much more colorful and varied. Christianity still reigns supreme, but it does so in the midst of hundreds of other religions, big and small. The landscape of religion in America is very colorful.
So today, those of us in the religious minority have read our Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land. So Supreme, in fact, that it takes precedence over the laws of Religion. And the religious minority in this country is growing in number. Its a lot bigger than it was in the late 1700s and that alone is why we see “traditions” being challenged in the courts.
But then you get these people–on both sides of the arguments–that have abandoned reason completely. They are so consumed by their narrow view-point that they are no longer capable of seeing that roughly 1/3 of this nation’s population is in no way Christian (at least according to the 2000 census information). Yet there are people out there insisting that we are a Christian State and the Christian morals must be legislated into our government.
They have failed to grasp the very nature of our system of self-governance… that the Minority in this country will never have their rights subject to popular whim. It is why we are a representative democracy, not a true democracy. It is why we have a two-house congress where one house is aligned with the population and the other stands shoulder-to-shoulder so that the small states are equally as powerful as the big ones.
Yes, you hear more and more going to court to challenge what many consider American tradition. But it is American-Christian tradition. And there are plenty of Americans who don’t share in those traditions. All they really want (if we can look past the unreasonable in these arguments) is to be free from having Christian values forced upon them through legislation. All they really want is for our government to honor the wisdom of those god-fearing men that created it… keep the Church separate from the State. Keep personal beliefs and religious bias out of our laws, and out of our Constitution.
It comes down to belief vs. fact. The difference between the two is that a fact works 100% of the time for 100% of the people. Belief or faith works for those who hold it true, and does not work for those who are non-believers. Our laws need to work for all our people, not just those who happen to belong to the majority.
The United States, both in its government and its people, have crossed lines drawn out by the Constitution. It has done so because the voice of the religious minority in this country was too small to be heard. But that voice is growing louder and rightfully demands a truly equal playing field for religion.
Ultimately, religion–and Christianity–has a place in our society. It does not have a place in our Government. If we can not learn from our own mistakes of mixing religion and politics in the United States, let us turn our attention to such mixing in the world today. We are fighting a war on terror against those who would seek to impose their religious views upon their fellow citizens. Religious fundamentalism is what brought down the World Trade Center and I fear that America has started down a path where our government will become as dangerous as the Taliban was. Is it not interesting that our society would rally against tyrants of another religion but not lift a finger against the tyrants of our own? Do we delivery liberty on a plate in foreign countries while diminishing the liberty that our own people paid for with their own blood?
We need to be very very careful that we don’t turn the United States into the same type of tyrant we are fighting. We don’t have to look very far into history to see how dangerous and destructive a Christian State can be. It wasn’t all that long ago that we had many such states on this world. The atrocities committed under them are still very fresh in the collective-memory of the Earth. But all these Christian States–they all collapsed under the pressures of people seeking true freedom. There is no power on this Earth greater than the drive for freedom. No government, no dictator, no army, no priest, not even God himself can stand against such power.
We stand at a cross-roads in the US and far too many of us are distracted over silly things like whether or not to have a monument in our courtroom. The Ten-Commandments themselves are fairly universal-values shared by many religions, Christian and not. Many of us who oppose the blending of Church and State can strip away the religious context of such things and see how they are aligned with true and non-Christian American values. It is a shame that there are those in this country who can not see past the religious overtones of these so-called monuments. But again, debating such people is like giving medicine to the dead. Few of us can see past the dogma jockeying at the real fundamental issues under debate here.
Some lines have been crossed and should be made right so that the balance between our personal religious values and our national values can be preserved. While it probably seemed like good and harmless at the time, certain things have become construed as forcing religion upon people. We all must be wary of our elected officials and stand against those who would indoctrinate their beliefs (even those we share) into legislation that will (or can) be used to persecute and deny liberty to those who are non-believers. They are constitutionally mandated against state-sponsored religion and must be careful not to give even the appearance of doing the contrary. One must never take away an American’s right to choose his or her own destiny, even in the name of God. To do so is grossly UnAmerican.
A balance must be found between our religious ideals and those ideals that are the true basis of American freedom. Those of us in the minority will not stand by quietly and have our liberty diminished to advance the values of a subset of our society.
One must remember too that having true freedom and liberty means that there are those around us who will do and say things that go against everything we personally believe and hold-true.
It is why I call for separating the religious institutions of marriage from the civil ones, for advancing a culture of life that does not undermine a person’s right to choose, for allowing a public time and place to celebrate our religion without forcing it upon our fellow citizens.
Those who want to perpetuate this notion that the religious minority are killing God in this country must be fought as strongly as those who would perpetuate that our nation must function under the laws of a God not shared by all its people. Such people are the true minority. As American’s we must tolerate their presence and commentary, but we must take care not to feed into it, or to lose perspective on what this is really about.
“Loyalty to God” and “Loyalty to Country” ARE NOT synonyms. The values between the two are not always mutually exclusive, nor are they always in harmony. If you really think upholding your faith is what makes you a good American, you are becoming part of the problem and not the solution. No one said that it would be easy to hold two separate sets of principles together. It really boils down to that. Two separate sets of values. Great care was made in instituting the grand experiment that is our democracy to keep those two sets of values separate. Such is the price of your freedom.