August 2, 2016 at 4:58 pm #17708
Make America Great Again By Whose Standard?
Brother Lawrence Damien CoS
I normally don‚Äôt comment publically on politics as I believe all are entitled to believe as they want and vote for the candidate that best represents their views. However this time we have been presented with two vastly different views of America i.e. one which says that as we unite together we are stronger and can rise to become even greater than we are now. However the GOP candidate Donald J Trump offers a different view of America. His vision is of an America whose glory days are past. His vision is for bigotry and racism to rule the day by building walls to keep immigrants out, to ban Muslims from entering this country and to monitor the mosques of those already here. It is to round up millions of people and deport them back to where they came from breaking up families and causing much hardship for many. This is done in the name of Christianity and what are forefathers intended for this nation to be as they see it. They want freedom of religion but only for themselves and the right to discriminate against everyone else. This is based on two ideas.
1.¬†¬†¬† Our Founding Fathers were devout Christians
2.¬†¬†¬† They founded our government based on their belief in the Bible and its teachings.
I was recently told by a Trump supporter I know that if I didn‚Äôt support Trump I couldn‚Äôt be a Christian and that because I am Gay, liberal and a supporter of Hillary that I was responsible for the condition in which this country finds itself as I have allegedly turned away from the ‚Äútrue teachings‚ÄĚ of the Bible on homosexuality and the Biblical principles our founding fathers used to establish out nation and government.
So then for me that brings up the question are they right? Were our founding fathers devout Christians and did they intend to found a Christian nation? Was our government founded upon the Bible or was something else the inspiration for the nation and government we have today? Let‚Äôs take a look and see.
A.¬†¬†¬† What Did Our Founding Fathers Actually Believe?
To answer that question I would like to look at several quotes from our founding fathers that have survived to our present time. They provide a unique insight into their beliefs and thinking.
I would like to start with John Adams, one of the drafters and signers of the Declaration of Independence and 2nd President of the United States. He writes
‚ÄúHave you considered that system of holy lies and pious frauds that has raged and triumphed for 1500 years?‚ÄĚ¬† (John Adams in a letter to John Taylor in 1814)
‚ÄúThe question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by His own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles.‚ÄĚ¬† (John Adams in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, June 20, 1815)
Next I would like to look at Thomas Jefferson Author of the Declaration of Independence and 3rd President of the United States. He offers us the following.
‚ÄúI do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature. Religions are all alike ‚Äď founded upon fables and mythologies.¬† Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch to uniformity. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites.‚ÄĚ (Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia 1781-1782)
‚ÄúThe 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. (Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823)
The next statement taken from Jefferson I think has a lot of bearing on today‚Äôs presidential race on especially on Trumps views on Muslims and Christianity as the basis on which this nation and government were founded.
‚ÄúAn amendment was proposed by inserting the words, ‚ÄėJesus Christ the holy author of our religion‚Äô which was rejected. By a great majority in proof that they meant to comprehend, within¬† the mantle of its protection, the Jews and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mohammedan (Muslim author), Hindoo (Hindu) and infidel of every denomination‚ÄĚ (Thomas Jefferson, The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson 1743-1790, 1821)
A couple of things here if Trump and the Christian right were right and our founding fathers intended to found a Christian nation this would have been the perfect time to do so by making Jesus as the holy author or head of our religion which would have had the effect of making Christianity the official religion of America but they didn‚Äôt. Instead they chose to allow all religions to worship as they chose without interference which leads to my second point.
We hear today from Trump and those on the right how they want to ban Muslims from entering this country and control and do surveillance on them especially in their mosques to see what they are allegedly up to. However Jefferson says that our laws were to make sure all including Muslims were free to worship as they saw fit. So far from being anti Muslim our founding fathers sought to protect their rights along with everyone else‚Äôs.
Also it should be noted that Jefferson rejected the orthodox Bible and during his second term in the White House wrote his own version of the Bible called the Jefferson Bible. In it he rejected the Old Testament, and any ¬†reference to miracles including the Virgin Birth, deity of Christ, His working of any miracles, as well as his resurrection. Instead he concentrated on the moral and ethical teachings of Christ as he saw them.
Next I would like to look at James Madison the Father of the Constitution and 4th President of the United States. His insights are as following.
‚ÄúDuring almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruit? More or less , in all places, pride, insolence, in the clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution. In no instance have the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people. Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.‚ÄĚ (James Madison, A Memorial and a Remonstrance. 1785)
Finally I would to end with a couple of quotes from Benjamin Franklin
‚ÄúThe way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason. Lighthouses are more helpful than churches. (Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richards Almanac 1758)
Franklin also wrote in his autobiography that although the Rev. Mr. Whitefield had prayed for his conversion, he never had the satisfaction of believing those prayers were ever heard.
These views and others reflect the truth of what our founding fathers believed. They are plainly not anywhere close to what is usually defined as Orthodox Christianity. That is because the majority of our founding fathers were not Christian but Deist in their beliefs. So what is Deism?
Deism believes in a God of nature who created the world like a clockmaker creates a clock and lets it unwind over the course of time. Their God is one who no longer intervenes in human affairs except on very rare occasions. They also believe that only that which can be understood with the mind‚Äôs logic and reason is true. Everything else is false. Therefore they reject the deity of Christ, His virgin birth, His performance of miracles, and his bodily resurrection and ascension into heaven. To Deists these ideas would be illogical and unreasonable and therefore not truth.
Does that make our founding fathers bad people? No way and I believe God may have used them to write the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution whether they realized it or not. However this does show that our founding fathers weren‚Äôt devout Christians and therefore did not seek to found a Christian nation or establish a government based on the Bible. Instead they went to the examples of ancient Greece and Rome for ideas on what kind of government they wanted here. They were heavily influenced also by John Locke, Adam Smith and others like them. In summation then I would have to say to Trump and those who follow him you may be Christian and I accept your claim at face value. However as to your understanding of history, who our founding fathers were and stood for, you are I believe 100% wrong.
As to what the Bible teaches we have heard Trump say he wants to build a wall to keep out immigrants and Muslims from entering our country. The Old Testament teaches we are to welcome the stranger and provide for them. The writer of Hebrews reminds us to be careful to entertain strangers as some have entertained strangers unawares.¬† Jesus says we are to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked and do unto others as we would have them do to us. Our forefathers believed all men were created equal. Also when they built the Statue of Liberty they made sure to inscribe the following words at her base which are still their today.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
(The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus )
That was the original vision of our forefathers. All were welcome especially those that other nations didn‚Äôt want. That is still the vision of at least one candidate Hillary Clinton. She wants to welcome all and make it easier for them to get citizenship, find work and be able to live the American dream as many have before them and to leave something better for their children and grand children. That is what we have always done and I believe is the American way. It is by uniting together we have been made strong and become the great nation we are today. It is by continuing to embrace all and stand united together¬† we will become even stronger and go to new heights and a greater America than we are at present.
Some may say the Muslims are terrorists, killers, Jihadists who want to destroy our way of life by declaring war on us and bombing and killing our people. Yes that is true of some of the Muslims. So what does the Bible tell us to do to our enemies?¬† Hate them and ban them from our country? Go bomb them to smithereens so they can‚Äôt harm us? Maybe we should do to them before they have a chance to do to us? Maybe we should go round them all up along with their families and deport them? Nope none of those ideas are found anywhere in the Bible especially the New Testament and within the teachings of Jesus.
Instead Jesus teaches us to love our enemies. The writer of Proverbs shows how we can do that. He says:
‚ÄúIf your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him something to drink;
For so you will heap coals of fire on his head,
And the Lord will reward you.‚ÄĚ¬† (Proverbs 25:21-22)
We win by treating them in a way they don‚Äôt expect and have no defense for. When they come with hate and rage we respond with love and forgiveness. We find out their needs and meet them if we can. We become the hands, feet, mouth of Jesus to them showing them a better way than the path they are on currently, We win by offering them hope that things can be better and they can have a new start and go on to fulfill their dreams and what God created them to be. That is how we should treat our enemies by love not hate. By acceptance not rejection and by inclusion not exclusion realizing that united we stand and become strong. Division and separation only weaken us and will eventually cause us to fall.
As for the freedom of religion that they call for and pass laws to protect whose freedom are they talking about? Certainly not mine and I believe not yours either. Those of the religious right that Trump represents want religious freedom for themselves only and the right to discriminate against everyone else. For LGBTQ¬† they want to overturn the Supreme Courts legalizing of same sex marriage in 2015 and have the constitution amended to define marriage as between one man and one woman. They want to allow businesses to discriminate against us simply because of our sexual orientation which they don‚Äôt like. Only one problem the Constitution prohibits them from doing it period.
‚ÄúCongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.‚ÄĚ
This says that Congress cannot make any laws in support of any religion not can they make any laws which prohibit the free exercise of any religion. This means that I have the right as a gay person to worship God as I see fit and practice my religion as suits me including the right to marry the one I choose to marry whether of the same sex as myself or of the opposite sex. Trumps attempt to overturn that which was granted to us and recognized by the Supreme Court in 2015 would in my opinion be in violation of¬† the Constitution¬† on two accounts.
First the religious right whom Trump represents is asking the courts to recognize only their definition of marriage based on their understanding of the Bible to be the correct one. Thus asking the courts to make the Bible the final arbiter of what is right or wrong according to Conservatives fundamentalist interpretation. That would make government no longer neutral but siding with extreme fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible.
Secondly by passing and adding an amendment to the constitution defining marriage as only between a man and woman they are again in violation of the constitution which prohibits congress from doing such a thing.
When this country was founded there were sects like the Shakers which prohibited their members, even married couples, from engaging in sex. Others like the Oneida Community practiced free love and wife swapping without any interference from the government and everyone managed to get along on the whole fine.
Also it needs to be noted that the original Conservative movement was on some issues pro gay rights not against. The movement originally was intended to protect the rights of all to live as they saw fit without big government interference. Two of the founders Senator Barry Goldwater (R. Arizona, GOP nominee for President 1964) and Ronald Reagan (R California former Governor 1967-1975, 40th President 1981 ‚Äď 1989) at different times took positions in favor of gays.
In 1990 Senator Goldwater came out for the allowing of gays to serve openly in the military. That was nearly two decades before President Obama made that a reality. ¬†As for Reagan in 1978 there was an initiative on the ballot in California called the Briggs Initiative after its author. It would have made it illegal for any gay person to teach or be employed by any school district in California. Also if any gay person was currently employed in any California school district they had to be terminated immediately. Ronald Reagan at the time was preparing for a third run for the White House in 1980. One of his aides told Reagan about the initiative. At the time it was winning by a pretty good margin. Reagan immediately went on the radio to denounce the initiative as un-American, un-constitutional as we stood for the rights of all and therefore couldn‚Äôt discriminate against gays. The result of his speech is the Briggs Initiative was defeated.
This is not an endorsement of everything Reagan did or believed. However it does show that the original movement was not homophobic. That didn‚Äôt happen until the rise of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority in 1980 and their hijacking of the Republican Party based on their moral views.
In summation then I have tried here to present two different visions and paths that Americans can vote for in the upcoming election. One path appeals to stirring up people against each other, appeals to racism and bigotry, tries to divide us and keep certain people out of the country who don‚Äôt believe as they do. They want to impose a moral code based on their understanding of the Bible on all Americans especially LGBTQ peoples. They want freedom to discriminate against LGBTQ people and deny us out right to marry the person of our choice. They want to take us backwards to what I believe is Fantasyland to an America which never existed.
On the other hand there is a candidate I believe whose views is much more in line with what I believe is biblical teaching. Hillary wants to build bridges to immigrants and help them become a part of the American Dream not walls barring them from entering the country. Her views are closest to the words engraved on the Statue of Liberty. She also supports gays and will help defend and protect the hard fought rights we have just won. One who believes we are made strong through our diversity.
Have we always been perfect? Not hardly we have committed genocide against the Native Americans, kidnapped from Africa and held in forced slavery blacks, treating them as second class citizens once they got their freedom, had a political party the American Party that was anti Catholic, anti Irish, anti foreigners ¬†and about anyone else who didn‚Äôt fit their ideal of the perfect American. They wanted to restrict voting and office holding to native born White Protestant Americans. In 1856 the nominated former President Millard Fillmore as its candidate for president and carried the state of Maryland. We fought a Civil War from 1861-1865 which threatened to divide us into two separate nations. Here in California we passed laws against the Chinese and other Oriental peoples making it legal to discriminate against them. In 1941 we rounded up all the Japanese and put them into internment camps.
However we didn‚Äôt remain there. We united and overcame our differences and found ways to be able to live peaceably with one another on the whole. Have we made it to where there are no more problems? Not hardly! However thank God we are not where we used to be we have made progress. Our glory days are not behind us but in front of us. We are already a great nation but we can be even better. As we unite together now and in the future we can continue to rise to new horizons that will make us greater than we are now. That is what I believe America is all about. That was the message that we heard from Hillary and the Democratic Convention last week. Not one of gloom and doom but one of hope in an even greater future as we move forward united together.
In closing then I offer this as food for thought. The views expressed here are strictly my own. Some may disagree with what has been shared here, disregard and still vote for Trump. That is your right and I will fight to my dying breath for your right to vote for who believe is best even if I happen to disagree with you. We will simply agree to disagree and you are still my brother or sister in Christ nothing changes that. However for those who don‚Äôt fall in that camp I hope I have given you some food for thought especially as to what type of country we want to have as we move forward to the November elections and beyond. As always any questions or comments are welcomed
God Bless You All Family
Brother Lawrence Damien CoS
August 2, 2016 at 8:20 pm #17718
Thank you for looking at the question with an eye to the Founding Fathers.
I was in Philadelphia about 8 years ago and took the opportunity to visit some of the historic sites there. My minor was history and aside from one Canadian history course all the others I took had to do with US History so for a Canadian I thought I knew alot about history of your country.
However, right at the site where the Liberty Bell is (in an enclosed building) was a plaque noting how the people had fought off the Irish as they were deemed to be unworthy (Roman Catholic).
That struck me because while I knew the USA has had swings of being oriented towards the world outside, they have also had significant periods of time when they were highly isolationist and unaccepting of others.
Dare I say Trump’s racism, anti-trade, anti-Muslim rants are an attempt to take the US back to the times in US history when they did not accept Irish, or they imprisoned Japanese, or ….. To me, that does not make America GREAT AGAIN.
August 3, 2016 at 12:06 am #17720
This is among the most confused and confusing pieces of hog wash I have ever read. Just sayin’. First of all, let me state that I agree with author unequivocally regarding the co-opting of the Founding Fathers as “born again Christians”. It makes my blood boil and as the author points out, is totally false historically. So far so good. The author makes the point that Donal Trump wants to keep out immigrants. He just forgot to use one tiny word, “ILLEGAL”. We have a very effective system in place in the USA for immigration and it does not involve climbing over fences or digging beneath walls. This is what Trump is railing against. If the author is descended from immigrants, you have just slapped them all in the face because I have no doubt they immigrated following the proper procedure. Using the PC term “undocumented” in place of “illegal” is ridiculous. If one breaks the law, one has done something illegal. Are you with me? Second, let me point out that a minority of Muslims is pro-jihad. However, that minority is roughly 300 million people! Think about it. Donald Trump wants nothing more than to protect the innocent citizens of this country from jihad. Do you know what’s happened to Germany? Sweden? France? Belgium? Those countries will never be the same because of their open door policy to a group of people who follow a “holy book” that preaches jihad, killing “infidels”, forcing their conversions or levying a huge tax on them to all ow them to continue practicing their own religion. Muslims have no intention of assimilating and assimilation is what made our country great, not “refugees” whose sole intention is to overtake us, subdue us, wipe us out. They want us to accommodate them. That is not the way this country became great. Think about it. Furthermore, the Founding Fathers were addressing the issues of their time, not ours, and those issues are/were vastly different. If you want to appropriately and honestly study history, sir, I would suggest starting by reading it in CONTEXT. Moreover, the Constitution guarantees us the right to defend ourselves. The world is becoming more and more dangerous, and although I ascribe to your vision of a utopic America, it’s not going to happen. It’s going to get worse and worse. Everybody has a right and responsibility to defend him/herself. That is about life not death. Finally, you have drunk so much Kool Ade you must be drunk. Hilary Clinton and her husband are two of the most corrupt politicians in the history of this country. Hilary Clinton is a CRIMINAL who has committed treason, betrayed us, and has blood on her hands, lots of it from Vince Foster to Benghazi. It boggles my mind that this is the person you want to be the Commander in Chief of the United States. Hilary talks a smooth game, but she’s under investigation by the FBI, remember? Hilary Clinton et. al. think they are above the law. Hilary Clinton belongs in prison. I pray God this country wakes up in time before it makes the most disastrous choice in the history of this country. God willing, Donald Trump will be our next President. He is our only hope at this point. And by the way, the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional: the Supreme Court doesn’t make laws, Congress does. This issue should be properly under the jurisdiction of the States, not the Federal Government. Peace be with all of you. Thank you for allowing me to paint a corrective portrait of this essay. As the author points out, regardless of political persuasion, we are still brothers and sisters in Christ. I’m hoping my brothers and sisters in Christ will wake up and smell the coffee. And don’t worry, the Religious Right is FAR from being in a position to run this country, let alone legislate political mandates. You don’t need to fear the Religious Right, they are losing momentum as I write, and will soon be extinct.
August 3, 2016 at 6:23 am #17721
Let me address the issue of the Supreme Court making laws. It does not make laws. On the issue of gay marriages it was called upon to rule whether gays had HUMAN rRIGHTS as cited in the Constitution and it ruled that they did. Human rights are protected in the Constitution.
Never can you leave human rights to voters. Think of what voters might do to a minority group. As pointed out in my last item, at one time the Roman Catholic Irish were despised. Remember in 1960 how that even became a huge issue when John F. Kennedy was running for President. He overcame it. Remember Sodomy laws put many gays into jail when States controlled such laws but the Supreme Court removed the State sodomy laws as gays had a Human Right. School Segregation would still be in place if the Supreme Court had not undertaken to impose Human Rights. In all those instances, if left to States, people’s Human Rights would have been taken away by voters. One cannot trust Human Rights to voters.
I have a friend who worked for Human Rights in Sudan. he had a Masters degree and his issue was WOMEN;s RIGHTS. He escaped to Australia since I last saw him as the Government of Sudan seized his computer and interrogated him because he was working to free women from the mutilation and servitude imposed by that government. Human Rights surpass any government.
Unfortunately, Pence and Trump see the radical right fundamentalist Churches as having more rights than the rest of society and would take away HUMAN RIGHTS, not just from gays but from others. The Supreme Court must protect everyone’s HUMAN RIGHTS.
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