Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Does Anyone Honestly Think Our Founding Fathers Wanted a Land Of More of The Same?

I guess lately, I am stuck on the issue of our founding fathers and their actual intention for our nation. It just seems to be the foundation for the right wing extremist and their plight to not only make a national religion for America, but it also seems to be the root of their anger and arrogance. They seem to have forgotten about about the humble aspect of their beliefs. It has simply turned into a political platform. This group ignores actual fact on a regular bases unless it can somehow back up their propaganda. And usually the facts have to be twisted just to fit into that hole.

Living in the south, I have to hear on a regular bases from my right wing friends, that we are a "Christian nation". I have to hear about the "prophecies" coming true as prayer is being removed from graduation ceremonies and football games. I have to hear many of them use Glen Beck, and Fox news in general, for their resource of history of our nation. Therefore, I have been educating myself on our nation's history, our roots, and the actual intentions for this nation. Not that it really should matter though right? Even if it were true, for argument sake, that this country was founded on Christianity, shouldn't we learn to evolve into the all encompassing nation that we set out to be?

I have been reading a book called, The Moral Minority - Our Skeptical Founding Fathers, by Brook Allen. Although I am only half way through the book, I have gotten a better insight into our beginning as a nation and the ludicrous notion that these men would actually base this nation on the Bible. The author gives a history on some of the founding men and their philosophies. As I was already aware, many of these men were deist. Which means, they didn't give a whole lot of regard to religion itself, but did respect the root of each religion's teachings. They, themselves, believed in a God of life so to speak, but not a religious God, and definitely not the Christian God. Benjamin Franklin even used a great analogy. He said that ALL religions are like sugar. They can be wrapped in different colored paper, but that the contents were all the same. Although, I will not deny the fact that there were many that were Christian. However, it is important to know that our founding authors were not all from the same fabric, but that their vision to make this an inclusive nation for all peoples tended to be uniform. It is also important to know that the majority of these men were intellectuals. In a time when education was a luxury, a good half of our first congress went to college and held law degrees.

Our roots fled from England and the religious suppression. America became our new home and open to a new description. However, we fell back into our old ways after a few generations of living on this new continent. Religious persecution ran rampant within the strict Puritan laws in some communities and in events such as the Salem Witch Trials. Stories of persecution in England were passed down to our founding fathers, and they also witnessed it first hand in the colonies. When they set out to make laws for the country they fought so hard for, these men understood that religion had no place in government, hence separation of church in state. They understood the slippery slope it could lead to.

The term "God" is used in the Declaration of Independence. It was a generic God term and this was a script written to tell England, and all nations, that we were now our own country. But, in the actual Constitution (the actual laws and rights of our nation), God and religion is left out. Statesmen used to have to make an oath that the Bible was truth and they soley believed in its contents when taking office. During the writing of the Constitution, this oath was abolished.

Benjamin Franklin, Jefferson and others were very candid and open about their beliefs, and even bordered on atheism in some regards, while George Washington was very private. Our founding men had a reputation to uphold and had to appeal to the masses and to the religious extremist...much as it is today. So, often times, a reference to the Bible, or to religion in general, was more for social reasons as they held powerful yet fragile positions. This is where today's right wing likes to find contradiction and twist facts to their liking. As many of our pivotal founding men were open about their beliefs and their visions for America on one hand, they would often speak the religious words the voters wanted to hear while at the podium, on the other hand. But, it all boils down to one point. Does anyone honestly think our nation's authors really wanted a land of more of the same? They heard the stories of suppression in England and they witnessed first hand, within the colonies, of what extreme religion (of any kind) could lead to. They understood the dangerous consequences of what starting a nation, and continuing it, could be if based on a single belief system.

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