02 July 2007

What Would the Founding Fathers Think?

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
-Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

I can think of no other statement that better expresses the danger of Theocracy. And no better counter to those who claim that the United States of America is a "Christian country". Except, possibly, this one:

Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

And yet, a significant portion of the population of this country denies the second quote and seeks to institute a Theocracy. I have written before on the subject of "America as a Christian" nation and don't wish to repeat myself, but perhaps I should.

America was founded, for the most part, by people who had left Europe to escape persecution. The Puritans in New England, the Quakers (and others) in the Middle Colonies, and the Scots and Scots-Irish in the South all came here because of two things: the promise of land and to escape religious persecution. They were all 'others' in their homelands, and looked upon - at best - as second class citizens, or - at worst - as heretics.

One of the main concerns of the fledgling United States, after winning independence from Great Britain, was to assure that they would no longer suffer from religious persecution. This is why it is the First Amendment to the Constitution that says:

Congress 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.

People often look at this one amendment as three separate items, but they are not. They must be viewed of a piece - co-equal. Those that wish a return to "our Christian roots" or to establish a Theocracy (though they will never use that name) with the Ten Commandments as the supreme law of the land, are guilty of no less than treason. That's right, treason.

Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution says, in part: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." Actively espousing ideas that are against the Constitution is, indeed, "levying War against" the United States - and in a more insidious manner than Radical Islam is.

As Sinclair Lewis said, “When Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Theocracy and Fascism have a lot in common. Both depend on the suspension of reason, and the blind adherence to belief. Two years before his death, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter, "Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind." The spirit of the Sage of Monticello is no doubt moaning in grief at what is currently happening in the nation that he helped to found. Televangelists openly pushing for the initiation of the "end times" and the Current Occupant of the White House holding that he has been "chosen by God" to lead the country. How far the country has fallen from its' founding as a bastion of freedom.

I end, as I began, with a quote from Jefferson (emphasis mine):

All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826 (in the last letter he penned)

(Blog Against Theocracy)

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