To the Editor,
This is in response to Ronda Keck’s letter in the Sept. 10, 2012 issue.
Who makes the rules?
In a democratic republic, we, the people, have the freedom to elect officials to represent us in local, state, and federal government. The people we elect then vote on bills that then in turn become law.
In essence, we make the laws.
Thankfully, through the foresight of our Founding Fathers, who wanted to eliminate the very single-minded orthodoxy that they fled from, we have religious freedom and freedom from religion today.
However, Christopher Hitches, British-American journalist and author, says it best, “How dismal it is to see present day Americans yearning for the very orthodoxy that their country was founded to escape.”
Yes, our country was founded upon Christian principles, but to declare our Founding Fathers as Christian men who fought vehemently to create a Christian nation is, well, quite myopic.
Benjamin Franklin wrote, “A man compounded of Law and Gospel, is able to cheat the whole country with his Religion, and then destroy them under Colour of Law.” Yes, Franklin was a Christian, though a noted anti-clerical Christian.
Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, took a copy of the New Testament, eliminated all references of Christ as the son of God, miracles, the virgin birth, resurrection, and other things that he considered were mere fables. He created a work of the moral sayings of Jesus, which he felt was appropriate for an age of science and reason. It is disappointing that we are still waiting for that Golden Age.
George Washington attended church in Philadelphia, though was known to avoid taking communion. When the priest approached him about it, Washington apologized though ceased to attend church whenever communion was to be offered for fear of being labeled a religious man. One would think a founder of a Christian nation would not avoid taking communion, criticize religion as the destroyer of democracy, or create a book of heresy and name it, cynically, The Jefferson Bible.
The events that took place at Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country were a triumphant moment for the freedom of speech, though that very Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” The Founding Fathers were so fearful of religion that they placed it before the freedom of speech — an unalienable right of American culture.
Though the Amendment can be interpreted in many ways, it has been decided that there can be no law that fosters “an excessive government entanglement with religion,” according to the decision in Lemon v. Kurtzman, (1971). The religious beliefs of a person cannot be imposed upon others, or disenfranchise a group of people based on them, no matter the question of “morality.” One person’s sin is not the country’s sin.
To establish one’s morals on a book would imply one is inherently moral-less. Some can obtain morals without a how-to book of slavery and abominations. The most wondrous trait of this country is that not everyone is a slave to Christianity — society can interpret God’s law how he or she sees fit.
Religion is an individual experience.
Yes, Federal law does state that marriage is between a man and a woman, though there have been laws dictating that African-Americans were three-fifths of a vote, that separate was equal, and were considered to be second-class citizens for far longer than any American deserves. To condemn homosexuality makes one no better than a racist.
President Obama is not endorsing sin, he is endorsing equality — the very foundation that our country was founded upon, yet still struggles with today. Just because a Federal law defines marriage does not mean it is correct, morally right, or even constitutional.
Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden all recognize or perform same-sex marriages.
To say the United States is a revolutionary leader and visionary on equality and freedom is faux nationalism. One would think American exceptionalism would lead this charge on this change.
Hitches once said, “We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.”
“Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.”
Please feel free to post your responses in the comments below!
When the Founding Fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence some 240 years ago, the small part about “all men are created equal” was only held to be true for white men who owned property, disenfranchising those of different races and of certain sub-socioeconomic creeds.
Slavery was a common practice then, with many of the founding fathers themselves owning slaves and operating large plantations. Yet, supposedly, all men were created equal, though at the time true equality was not practiced.
But as time passed after the interpretation of the Declaration changed with society, African-Americans and women were eventually given the same rights as what the white man had had prior, like the right to vote and land ownership.
Yet, though, there is a group of Americans born from the very fabric and definition of this country, defending it, dying for it, who do not have the same rights as everyone else. For a country that was built upon equality, even with its biased and troubled beginnings, one sould think that a developed and educated society would understand the definition of equality:
1. The state of being equal, esp. in status, rights, and opportunities.
Yet for a gay or lesbian couple to receive the same marriage benefits as those who are married to members of the opposite sex, they have to, against there will and personal pursuit of happiness, marry some one they do not want to, while being denied the right to marry the one they love and care deepest for.
Why? What is wrong with one man loving another or one women finding warm loving comfort in another woman and deserving the same rights as those who find love in their opposites?
One would argue the religious foundations that this country was built upon is enough to limit the rights of homosexual behavior. Though believing that is blindly ignoring history and replacing it with loose theological understandings of American history. Even with no clear separation between church and state written in any founding American documents, and the term not widely applied to the states themselves until 1947, the Founding Fathers believed there should be separation.
Yes, many of the Founding Fathers attended church, believed in God and were religious, but staples of American folklore like Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin were declared and open Deists.
But what brought many of us to this land was fear of persecution from the government as they wielded religion unjustly over the people, much like religion is tossed upon the dreams of gay and lesbian activists, today.
George Washington was so fearful of being labeled a religious man to his constituents that he stopped going to church after being confronted on why he was not taking communion, attending Sunday church just as sporadically as most American’s do today; 16 times in 1760 and just 14 times in 1768. He did, however regularly attend church while on business, usually participating in Anglican, Quaker, and Catholic services.
Who, today, attends three different denominational services?
Laws have been wrong and unconstitutional and always, laws will change for the better of all.
To deny gays and lesbians of their marriage rights to one another of the same sex harkens back to the 1960s when the African-American way of life was segregated from the whole of America, when they were not given the same respect in a country that declared, and still declares itself an equal nation.
I guess equality is obtained so long as a bigoted status quo is met.