Attacks on humanism, whether secular or sectarian, is on the rise and we, as Americans of religion or of heresy, should be very angry.
The Constitution of the United States is clear on this point. The very first sentence of the very first “right” given to the people who reside within her borders (citizens or not) is the freedom to believe as they wish and to be free from any state-sanctioned religion. The founders of this great nation understood the problem with a sectarian based government. They knew England.
Unfortunately, this is one of the most misrepresented and misunderstood of all of the privileges guaranteed under this country’s supreme law.
The original European settlers, as opposed to the Vikings and Chinese who came to these shores centuries earlier, were determined to create their versions of a Christian nation. I question any person of the 21st century who still believes that Puritan Massachusetts was a better place.
Today’s Evangelical Protestants would not survive in the original settlements. They, along with Catholics, Methodists, Jews and heretics of every flavor, would be persecuted due to their beliefs or the questioning of the ruling religious order. Persecution by execution, jail, expulsion, confiscation of property, added taxes and loss of personal rights. Rights that we now take as truly “inalienable.”
The United States, as we know it today, was founded as a pluralist nation, of secular government and religious freedom. We know this because the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the original document of a newly formed United States, the Articles of Confederation, say so.
Since June, I have read over two dozen articles, nationally and locally, concerning the “new” heresy movement in America and fear of heretics and atheists. Fear of the humanist society and skeptics.
Most have never read “The God Delusion,” “God is Not Great,” “The Humanist Manifestos” I and II or the Communist Manifesto. Most have never read a Torah, Quran or Book of Mormon, the writings of Buddha, the myths of the Nords, John Locke’s “Two Treatises of Government” or the Jefferson Bible. I dare to say most have never really read the New Testament. I invite all to borrow these from my personal library with the promise to read and return. At least the Missourian printed the Declaration of Independence on July 4 while our other paper slept.
There has been a distrust of nonbelievers and the heretics, those who question. A fear that spirituality not based on God but in the human spirit will cause personal or worldwide disaster.
The words “wall of separation” do not appear in our Constitution. However, the Constitution does say that the government shall not establish a state religion and that there will be no religious test for any government office or trust. The Treaty of Tripoli says in unprecedented language, “the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” Our founders knew the dangers of a theocratic government. They understood the “truth.”
On July 4, 1776, the “truths” were declared and attested to by signature. Jefferson wrote that the citizens of this new nation maintained “... 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.” Men and women given the right to govern, not religious fanatics from any sect.
We are fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq against theocratic tyranny, the Taliban and religious extremists who wish to impose their religious beliefs on the world. Why would we allow the same radical wave in the guise of another religion to do the same here? We should not and we should be angered at those who wish to impose their beliefs as government.
David Rosman is a business and political communications consultant, professional speaker and instructor at Columbia College. He welcomes your comments at ProfDave1011@netscape.net.