Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Religion, the Cradle of Liberty

this is the essay i told you i had to write...just thought you might like to read it...sorry if it bores you:S

“Everywhere the claim is made that America was founded on the Ten Commandments - or at least that its system of law and justice is based on that biblical code. Not even the Chief Justice of the United States seems to realize that our governmental system represents a reaction to the principles inherent in that code - in some cases a mighty rejection of that code. The First Amendment of the US Constitution, for example, is an eloquent repudiation of the First Commandment's prohibition of religious freedom.” - (Frank R. Zindler, Ohio spokesperson for American Atheists)
This is the flow of what we hear today regarding US law and Christianity. Secular groups, especially atheists are furious that Christians claim that the United States was founded on Biblical principles and laws, and formed on the shoulders of godly men. They rave about how monuments of The Ten Commandments in public places show a favoritism of Christianity over other religions. They argue that this cannot be tolerated due to how diverse religion in America has become.
The conflict of opinion could be resolved by defining the terms of the argument clearly. It is important to define spiritual and political law as well as to recognize the religious ideas of the founding fathers accurately.
The Ten Commandments were not given by God to Man as political laws. They were given as spiritual or moral laws which, if obeyed, brought blessings upon God’s people. As many people have accurately pointed out, the laws of America are not a cut-and-pasted version of The Ten Commandments. This is obviously true because American Law and The Ten Commandments are completely different forms of law. The former was made for the governing of a nation, while the latter was made to establish the conscience of a people of God.
The fact that most of the founding fathers were members of established orthodox churches does not imply that they were trying to make the laws of America Christian, as much as make the laws allow freedom of religion. The founding fathers were made up of different denominations of Christianity, which means they were not trying to enforce certain beliefs, but rather to create political freedom for each man to express his religious beliefs according to his conscience.
Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America speaks of the way religious belief and civil liberty “advance together and mutually support each other…Liberty regards religion as its companion in all its battles and its triumphs, as the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims. It considers religion as the safeguard of morality, and morality as the best security of law, and the surest pledge of the duration of freedom…” As de Tocqueville observed, American Law was not formed as a replication of Biblical Law, rather it is political law in its own right that promotes social, economic, and moral freedom.
The Ten Commandments influenced the founding fathers. Many of them came seeking religious freedom; some came seeking economic freedom, and others political freedom. None of these however sought to establish the rule of religion or God over America. Liberty was the political goal of the early Americans. In America today, if we desire to be faithful to the intentions of our founding fathers, we will seek to preserve liberty. This will mean that the government will not show favoritism towards one religion. It also means that religious expression will not be hindered in the public forum.

References: Hang ‘Em All Completely – Frank R. Zindler, “Did You Know?”document, Democracy In America – Alexis de Tocqueville


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