Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More Needed Reading

There is a lot being overstated by those on the right about the separation of church and state. They continuously misrepresent it to mean that the "progressive secualrists" want to eliminate faith in God. Their reason for that is because they know that the progressive secularists have a strong argument in referring to the writings of the founders as clearly indicating the need for a secular government.

What they do is latch onto the writings of Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, and characterize their atheism as representing all secualr progressives. Which is of course a false picture. It's like Bill O'Reilly presenting Mary Katherine Ham, a former sports writer and now right wing blogger, as an internet expert. Because she blogs.

However, a reading of James Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance clears up what the actual progressive secularist position is.

Nowhere in that little essay does Madison deny there is a Creator, nor that folk may believe in him. In point 1 of his essay he clearly states, "Before any man can be considered as a subject of a memeber of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe." He also states in point 4,

"If 'all men are by nature equally free and independent,' all men are to be considered as entering into Society on equal conditions; as relinquishing no more, and therefore retaining no less, one than the other, of their natural rights. Above all are they considered as retaining equal title to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience.' Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and to observe the religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds are not yet yeilded to the evidence which has convinced us."

Most progressive secularists have this same attitude. What Madison clearly lays out is the reality that Christianity does not need government, (point 6) and hence should not receive any monies from it. Which of course we know isn't happening now. Madison also lays out that government is not to interfere with any belief. There is to clearly be separation between the two, which he states in point 8,

"What influence in fact have ecclesisatical establishments had on civil society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny, in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people."

Today's religious right couldn't abide if we actually did what Madison stated. If they lost their tax exempt status, they would go broke, or we would all discover whether or not there is an all sustaining and providing God. They also can't adide any reality other than theirs.

Let me close this post with a statement from this Remonstrance that makes the point of the dangers of church/state relations. It is a point which is being shouted loudly across the country by many seclaurists, Christian and non-Christian alike, that being that America was never intended to be anything other than secular, and any attempt to change that makes is inimical to what America is as laid out in the founding documents of this country.

"Because the proposed establishment is a departure from the generous policy, which, offering an asylum to the persecuted and oppressed of every nation and religion, promised a lustre to our country, and an accession to the number of its citizens. What a melancholy mark is the bill of sudden degeneracy? Instead of holding forth an asylum to the persecuted, it is itself a signal of persection. It degrades from the equal rank of citizens all those whose opinions in religion do not bend to those of the legislative authority. Distant as it may be in its present form from the Inquisition, it differs from it only in degree. The one is a first step, the other the last in a career of intolerance. The magnanimous sufferer under the crual scourge of foreign regions, must view the bill as a beacon on our coast, warning him to seek some other haven, where liberty and philanthropy in their due extent, may offer a more certain repose from his troubles."


Post a Comment

<< Home