Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Debatable Opinions; Letters to the Editor

(originally published by OpEdNews)

It was good to read my old home town newspaper, The New London Day, which represents Southeastern Connecticut. It was nostalgic. That’s where I spent the first 40 years of my life. “How the hell old am I?” you ask. That is a question for the ages, my ages in particular.

The letter that caught my eye was written by a person who seems to be a Sarah Palin supporter. Although Palin supporters were a large and strong group at one point in our history, they, like the polar bear, are close to being placed on the endangered species list.

The issue that the writer uses to defend the Alaska Governor is the premise that “Creationism belongs in the nation’s classrooms”.

The writer uses several arguments.

For example, he states that Christianity was the principle upon which this country was “solidly founded” and that “the separation of church and state is not a core American principle”.

Nowhere in The Constitution which most agree is the law of the land is “God”, “Jesus”, “The Bible” or any other reference to a specific religion mentioned. Religion is referenced twice in the constitution.

The First Amendment to The Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...”

Religion is also referenced in Article VI. “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

If those who wrote and approved The Constitution wanted The United States to be a Christian theocracy, it would seem that they would have been certain to include that fact in the law of the land. Alas, they did not and for good reason.

It’s often said that the first settlers of this land came here to escape religious persecution and intolerance. This is true. However, as history shows, they came here to escape England’s intolerance of their religion.

For example, the Calvinist Protestants who settled in New England immediately took their cue from the intolerant Church of England, from whom they had just escaped, and became the intolerant church of New England. The Puritans, a name by which they came to be known, would not allow Baptists, Presbyterians, Quakers, Unitarians, Methodists, Roman Catholics or Jews on their territory. When members of other religious sects wandered where, according to the Puritans, they did not belong, The Puritans would administer horrific punishment up to and including burning at the stake. New England would founded as an intolerant theocratic region.

Likewise, Virginia was founded as an exclusive Anglican territory. This may be difficult to believe. It’s difficult for me to believe, but it’s true. Virginians also punished those who did not swear allegiance to The Church of England.

So two areas in “The New World”, populated by people who were escaping the results of what happens when religion and state are equal partners in the leadership of people, created communities in which the leadership was based upon theocratic principles.

There is an obvious irony, but it’s not the only irony. The people who populated these two areas knew exactly what happens when state and church join to lead a nation. They were not only victims of England’s intolerance, but they knew of the history of European conflicts based upon religious differences.

The Inquisition, The Reformation and The Bloody Statute were only three examples from which the settlers should have learned, but, obviously, did not.

Luckily, the signers and approvers of The Constitution had learned and made certain that no religion would influence the governing of the new nation.

Contrary to what the writer states, it’s quite obvious that the founders did not believe that “The Bible should be the basis for education in our schools.”

The writer is also mistaken when he writes, “Teaching creationism does not force “religious beliefs” on anyone any more than teaching evolution does.”

Whose creationism is the writer referring to? Do all religions believe the same story of creation?

Hindus believe that the world is billions of years old, even older than the scientific study of evolution claims. Is it this creationism that should be taught in our schools? Or, possibly, Christian based creationism is, indeed, based as much upon science as is the study of evolution, but Hindu creationism is not.

Creationism based upon what’s written in The Bible is, consequently, based upon a specific religious belief. Therefore, teaching it in our public schools which are paid for with the tax dollars of Hindus, Muslims, atheists and others who don’t believe the Judeo-Christian narrative of how the world began, is teaching religion in our public schools.

The Constitution was not ratified easily. One of the most intense arguments against its ratification as it stood at the time was that there was no mention of God or Jesus.

As recently as 1910, groups such as the National Association for the Amendment of the Constitution have been attempting to change The Constitution so that God and even Jesus would be mentioned. All the attempts have failed to date, but the mere fact that groups were formed to put God and even Jesus in The Constitution is proof that there is no mention of them. This begs the question if The United States was founded as a Christian nation, why, throughout the years, right from the beginning, have people been trying to amend it so that it definitively represents a Christian nation? It doesn’t make much sense to me.

Sorry gang, but The USA was never a Christian nation; its laws were not based upon Judeo-Christian holy scripture; the creationism that Judeo-Christians want taught in the schools is based upon the writings of a specific religious belief and, therefore, teaching it would be teaching a specific religious belief; those who signed and ratified The Constitution clearly meant for there to be a “wall of separation between church and state,” as Thomas Jefferson described it in 1801.

<a href="http://www.buzzdash.com/index.php?page=buzzbite&BB_id=117383">How much do you think the Bible influenced the Constitution?</a> <a href="http://www.buzzdash.com">BuzzDash polls</a>

To friendship,

“It's not a matter of what is true that counts but a matter of what is perceived to be true.” - Henry Kissinger

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