One Progressive’s Viewpoint-Religion in American Life
First Amendment of the Bill of Rights-
“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”
That, above, says it all. In the face of centuries of blood baths as to whose religion is the right one, the Founding Fathers well understood the association of ‘State Religion” with tyranny and despotism. Conservatives like to say that the republic was built on a Judeo-Christian foundation as justification as to why we are to assaulted with this whether we want it or not. On the contrary, the Founding Fathers just all happened to be of Judeo-Christian background. I do not think that it was their intent to put pressure on the Quakers or Shakers. If there were Muslims or Buddhists there at the time, I, when examining the language, did not see how Founding Fathers would have excluded these or any other religion as not applicable under this amendment.
Government is neither to promote not discourage religious association and worship, anyway, that is how I see it. The term’establishment’ is very important. It says for example that I have a right not to have my children indoctrinated in public school with the dogma from any religion. Conservatives like to say that progressives have a problem with any mention of God. Not so, if you want to indoctrinate your children in the tenets of a particular faith, whichever that may be, you can set up private schooling for that purpose or home school if you are so inclined. In public schools, you can pray silently to yourself or with others who volunteer on their own time during the school day. No particular religious faith should be showcased by authority figures as that is a form of establishment. I don’t have a problem presenting Creationism as a proposed alternative theory to Evolution, as long as the subject is treated clinically and the classroom does not become a pulpit as a result.
I never considered myself either immoral or amoral. I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition of ‘hell fire’ preachers, ‘expressive worship’ and all that. I was generally a kid that was obedient and did not cause my folks a great deal of trouble. As I reached my early teens, I started to question why we went to church. I saw it as more of a social club, where gossip was exchanged and the latest fashions worn and commented upon. I did not see that as worth my time away from the ‘funny pages’ in my Sunday paper. Looking at the experience from a positive prospective in the early days, the church was the focal point of the Black Community. While, I appreciated the monumental role, it was difficult to buy into it on an individual level. I learned to detest people with fuzzy brains and reasoning that tell me that I need to accept a premise because that is what our forebears accepted. You had a spiritual problem if you did not. I disliked people that were determined not to think for themselves and expected you to do the same. These are the people that carried Bibles around all the time, kept them on the coffee table for public display but never really took the time to read and know what was in it. In the meantime, they were ready to beat you over the head with that large bible if you question any of the tenets of the ‘old time’ religion. It still was quite annoying when I read how the strategy of the Democratic Party candidates for president was so formulistic. They all come to the Black churches, stand with the minister who then advises his ‘flock’ to support this person or that. To get our allegiance by simply ‘pulling a chain’ was so embarrassing to me. As a result, I never thought much of those that are too lazy to bother thinking and who resign themselves to follow the herd, for social acceptance and convenience. Furthermore, they expect you to put your brain on the shelf in the same way. I say that the Conservatives use the Judeo-Christian background of the Founding Fathers as the national equivalent of the ‘old time’ religion. They say, “this is what the ‘Founders’ believed, should this not be America’s religion”? “If you are an American, why is it not your religion?” This Herman Cain fellow, one of the 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls show how easily demagoguery can take over ones thinking. This is referring to an issue regarding the building of a mosque in a Tennessee town. Based on the principles of the First Amendment, no community can say that a mosque cannot be built just because the community as a whole takes issue with the Islamic faith for cryptic reasons. Cain took on the fool’s errand of handing out red meat for right-wingers making himself appear un- presidential as a result.
In regards to all the points that are really of crucial importance in a discussion of this topic, the individual having scholarly credentials in theology really knows no more than you do. Until God comes and settles this issue, I accept the fact that the beliefs of my neighbor or lack of same is just as valid from his point of view as my viewpoints are for me. Conservatives need to realize that this is one of the important decisions and acknowledgements that an individual can make. It is personal and as individual as a fingerprint and cannot be subject to a herd mentality. While I subscribe to Judeo-Christian principle, it is now for my reasons and not merely to follow the herd. Credence’s tireless and relentless logic has got to have a little to do with that. (Laugh track) In a democracy, the art of persuasion is how you get people to see a different course. We have plenty of televangelists’ programming and even networks devoted to specific religious faiths. Most people don’t like to be coerced, but can be, if so inclined, persuaded by your good example that is free from hypocrisy when your tenets are closely examined.
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