Saturday, June 11, 2011

Render Unto Caesar . . .

in my posts, i try to avoid writing about politics, but i have become increasingly alarmed at the ongoing attempts to rewrite american history and the willingness of a large segment of the public to accept these revisions.  the role that the "religious right" is playing in this activity and the dissemination of false and misleading pronouncements about our past in churches and particularly from their pulpits is especially disturbing to me.  yesterday i read that david barton made a statement to the effect that our "founding fathers" had come down on the side of creationism in the creationism-evolution debate years before darwin had written about his observations leading to the development of the science of evolution.  this follows accounts of supporters of sarah palin rewriting the article on paul revere in wikipedia so that the article conforms to palin's misstatements concerning the famous "midnight ride."  thoughts of orwell's 1984 came to mind.

there is little doubt in my mind that our country grew out of the ideas of the enlightenment and that in large measure the founders of our country were influenced by the religious manifestation of those ideas.  many were clearly deists who rejected the beliefs of orthodox christianity, particularly the literal interpretation of the bible, the divinity of Jesus, and the concept of the trinity.  their experience with established religion as a partner of government led them to create a new form of government that was wholly secular, showing no partiality to any church or creed.  the later inclusion of the "establishment clause" in the first amendment to the constitution is further evidence that the early leaders of our revolution eschewed any role for a particular religion in the government of the new united states.

this idea that our country was established with the intention of "judeo-christian" religious thought dominating our political life is abhorrent to me.  certainly, the founders accepted the idea of a "creator god" and the extent to which many of them rejected christian orthodoxy varied from person to person.  in making of them mythic heroes rather that flesh-and-blood people who dared to defy conventional thinking about the how and why of government does them and us a great disservice and leads us down a dangerous road towards the very establishment of religion that our early leaders feared.

my prayer today is that we examine the pronouncements coming from the religious right about our country's origins and those most prominent in its formation with great care and that we question the ideas that come from all ends of the political spectrum before embracing any of them.

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