Of God, America and our children

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I often have been struck by the nodes of genius that periodically have occurred throughout history, clusters of brilliance such as the great art of Greece and Rome and then, again, during the Renaissance, the glorious music of Handel, Mozart and Beethoven in the early 1700s. And, fortunately for America, in the late 1700s, the great minds were focused on the nature and source of government.

The Western world had upheld the Divine Right of Kings; that all the land belonged to the king and any land or rights the people had, were given, or taken away, by the king. The king’s immense power came from God.

But, as we moved out of the Dark Ages, the king’s power was being whittled by the nobility. Nevertheless, the common man had few rights and virtually no ability to be educated, to rise above his station or to own land, and he had no ability to control his destiny. In many countries, this still is true.

Our founding fathers, in sync with thinkers in Europe, repudiated The Divine Right of Kings and postulated instead that all rights – life, liberty, property and speech – came to each human individually from God and that, therefore, humans had the ability to form their own government and assign the ability to be governed to their elected representatives or to take it away.

Their manifesto was the Declaration of Independence and the contract between the governed and the government they authorized and created was the U.S. Constitution.

God, therefore, was the declared and avowed reason for the very existence of America. Because human beings had God-given rights, they could create this nation. Remove God from that equation and we stand on a foundation of sand.

Notice I didn’t mention any particular religion – not Congregationalist or Lutheran, not Jewish or Mormon, not Roman Catholic or Buddhist. I only mentioned God.

While it is undeniably true that our heritage is Christian, all religions were welcome. There were Jewish congregations in New York as early as 1655.

The only ban was that there could not be an official state religion. All religions were protected as long as they adhered to our laws. There would be no human sacrifice or multiple wives, or a crusade to kill anyone not of your particular faith.

Good news for atheists: They could choose to not believe in God at all but our constitution still guaranteed their rights as human beings.

As a parent or a grandparent, you probably already know all this. My question is: Do your children or your grandchildren know this? Do they know why America is great?

Our nation isn’t perfect. Our founding fathers weren’t perfect. They were men. Men all have flaws as do the institutions they create. That we have flaws or make mistakes isn’t the issue. The issue is the righteousness of our underlying principles, the acknowledgement of mistakes and the correction of those mistakes.

I put down these thoughts because of the “new” Boston Massacre perpetrated by Islamic Jihadists. I want people who say that America is somehow at fault for the actions of these murderers who used their religion as an excuse to blow an 8-year-old boy to smithereens, to understand that there never is an excuse for that behavior, especially in America, a country which exists because founders believed in the God-given rights of human beings.

 

Luci Snyder

Carmel City Council
lsnyder@carmel.in.gov


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