certain unalienable rights

Home » certain unalienable rights

Real Thanksgiving Spirit

This is the Thanksgiving spirit. I wish we could see more of this –

From Informed Consent:

In Memphis, Tennessee, Christians, Muslims and Jews are jointly commemorating Thanksgiving, behaving like real Americans and proper human beings. The Heartsong Christian church congregation and a Muslim community center in the Cordova district of Memphis, held a joint Thanksgiving celebration in Memphis on Wednesday. They asked a Jewish American to read the opening prayer.

Pastor Steve Stone explained to a local news reporter, “The Islamic Center bought the land right across the street from us, and that makes them neighbors, and Jesus teaches us to love our neighbors.”

Now that’s Christianity.

Of course, the classic Thanksgiving was also multicultural. The poor starving Christians at Plymouth Colony were taught New World farming and fishing techniques by the Wampanoag Native Americans, who worshipped Kehtannit, the Great Spirit and were not Christians. The noblest in American traditions are the multi-cultural and tolerant, and Thanksgiving should exemplify those values.

In fact, one of the things we should be giving thanks for on this day is that we live in a society where, ideally, it should make no difference if you are Christian or Muslim, Jewish or Buddhist, agnostic or Hindu. You can build your place of worship anywhere you like, within the boundaries of civic zoning laws, no matter which path you follow. The liberties of the US Constitution require no religious test before they can be enjoyed. They are universal. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…” Americans are not Americans because they are white, or Christian. Everyone born here or naturalized is an American. Muslim-Americans are Americans.

Ironically, the district of Memphis where the joint event was held is known as Cordova. It was originally a farming village east of Memphis founded in 1835, which was named for Cordoba (Qurtuba) in Spain. It seems to me likely that these American pioneers knew about Cordoba through Washington Irving’s 1832 Tales of Alhambra, about Muslim Spain (he also spelled it with a “v”). Pastor Stone thus stands in a long line of Tennesseean urbane tolerance. And, Cordoba itself was the site, under the later Umayyads of a remarkably tolerant society of Jews, Christians and Muslims that is described so brilliantly by Maria Rosa Menocal in her book, Ornament of the World. It wasn’t perfect, and didn’t last, but at its best it was a damn sight better than the hell of bigotry and religious rancor fanned by the hateful in New York, Gainesville and Murfreesboro this fall. Between the two, Pastor Stone and the hateful mob, I know which one I think is the authentic American true to the ideals of the Founding Fathers.

BTW, I hope that you and your family had a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

By |2015-11-26T07:58:47-04:00November 27th, 2010|Domestic Issues, General|Comments Off on Real Thanksgiving Spirit

So, let's start with a partisan prayer

To be honest, I have no problem with a prayer to start a Board of Education meeting. I think that’s fine. But listen to the partisan and misguided prayer that whe delivers. Cynthia Dunbar, who delivers the invocation, ends her prayer with a very partisan statement that we are a “Christian land governed by Christian principles.” The whole thing is so disappointing.

I have no idea who Cynthia Dunbar is or what she does for a living. I don’t know if she’s an ordained minister or simply a well-connected zealot. If you’re just a little bit thoughtful about what you say before you say it, you would do little bit of research. Within the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence there is a reference to God.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Well, this must be evidence that our forefathers thought we should be a Christian nation. Well, I’m not sure that is direct evidence. The Declaration of Independence is really a letter from the colonists to the King of England. So this letter is basically telling King George that we’re not going to live under his rule anymore.

Our first governing structure was the Articles of Confederation, constructed in 1776. Although the Articles of Confederation did not mention God, it did mention “the Great Governor of the World.” Even early drafts of the Constitution refer to God and to Christianity. I’m not sure if Ms. Cynthia Dunbar has actually read our Constitution. I have. And when you read the Constitution you notice that there is no mention of God, the Creator, the Great Governor or anything like that in its final version. Why? Again, if you study American history and not just the blatherings of Newt Gingrich and Focus on the Family (“…the Constitution was designed to perpetuate a Christian order..”) you recognize that this was not an oversight. Instead, it was a deliberate attempt by our forefathers to remove God and religion from the document. This is why Article VI declares that there be “no religious test” to hold office in the United States government. This language was inserted not by Thomas Jefferson or John Adams, but by Charles Pinckney, governor of South Carolina. The measure was adopted without much discussion and, according to a Maryland delegate, it passed by an overwhelming majority. Again, if Ms. Dunbar had truly studied her history she would’ve noticed that in several of the states there was a heated debate over this clause. Reverend David Cantwell, a Protestant minister from North Carolina, was fearful that “Jews and pagans” would be able to govern. There were similar arguments in multiple states. There was a general worry that a Quaker might get into the White House and his pacifism cause us to be overrun by anyone or some foreign power. Virginia went so far as to suggest changes in language in Article VI so that it read “no other religious test shall ever be required then I believe in the one and only true God, who is the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the evil.” James Madison defended the idea that there be no religious test to hold public office in the Federalist Papers number 51 and 56.

We really and truly do have a remarkable document in the US Constitution. Many states, including Massachusetts and Virginia, had language in their state constitutions which included actual religious tests for office holders. They had to be Christians. Over the years this language was dropped. This shows us how remarkable it was that we were able to get a Constitution that was as liberal as it was.

Finally, Ms. Dunbar has proven that she does not belong on the Board of Education of any state. Before giving her prayer, she did not do her homework. She instead resorted to the common wisdom of people like Jerry Falwell and Newt Gingrich. If you want to teach your children common wisdom just remember that’s not the same thing as teaching them facts. The fact is we have a Godless Constitution, which was written by Christian men who feared tyranny of all kinds. Our forefathers purposely omitted God so that we could truly have freedom of religion or the freedom not to have any religion if we wanted. That’s the beauty of our Constitution.

Sections of this post were taken from the fabulous book, The Godless Constitution by Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore.

By |2010-05-21T23:16:40-04:00May 21st, 2010|Books, Legal|Comments Off on So, let's start with a partisan prayer
Go to Top