We Hold These Truths….

Declaration of IndependanceBy: The David

Whether we care to admit it or not, religion has been a part of the history of the United States ever since the Framers of the Declaration of Independence formulated that document. Thomas Jefferson seems to have been a Deist who followed no set religion, but believed in a Supreme Being. John Adams was a Congregationalist. Other Protestant denominations were a part of that Congressional body, as were Pennsylvania Quakers. Benjamin Franklin who seems to have been an Atheist enjoyed a position as sage and advisor.

Although Thomas Jefferson is credited with being the author of the Declaration, he was in fact only the author of the first draft. Then, during the debate that followed, parts of Jefferson’s original submission were removed and replaced by the contributions of others until they were woven together into the fabric of the document we are familiar with.

The core of the document remains as Jefferson wrote it: “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.” This text gives awareness of a “universal God.” It does not speak to any particular religion, or to a concept of any single belief, but rather acknowledges the thought that there is a God who is the giver of human rights to all people.

There have been, through the history of these United States, efforts to hi-jack the Declaration and the Constitution to further the agendas of various religions and sects. Roman Catholics and Mormons suffered grievously at the hands of militant Protestants determined to stamp out what was different. The American Indian. This group of people were pushed out of their lands and herded on death marches and it was justified because they were “heathen” and did not know (the white man’s) God.

“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.”

It seems that the further back these words recede, the more some forget them and their intent. Time passed, and religious belief assured many from the North and the South that they were right under God’s Laws to hold slaves or to engage in the slave-trade. Still later, religion was used to justify laws against miscegenation and the so-called “separate but equal” laws of our own version of Apartheid. Many Churches blessed the persecution of people of color, the blacks, the yellows and still, the American Indians.

“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.”

So it continued. But never before in our history has any sect or religion attained the power enjoyed today by Fundamentalist Christians within these United States. Never before has any sect or religion so publicly entered our Political arena and insisted upon the systematic devaluing of other human beings who differed from their beliefs. Never before has a Religious Group attempted to force their dogma down the throats of the public, and in doing so, attempted to hi-jack the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

“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.”

Women, People of Color, Homosexuals,People who believe the Right of a woman to choose, Immigrants. All of these have been demonized in one way or another by the Fundamentalist Christian Leaders. These people have over-stepped the bounds that have allowed them to thrive and become wealthy under the tax laws of this country. If anyone believes they are not involved in politics and exerting pressure on elected officials, all we need do is look at their conventions where every Republican Candidate feels the need to be present and make obeisance to a group that should not have political power. Our politicians have given over their power to a group who has exerted force on them to pass the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), has attempted to amend the constitution to prevent homosexuals from enjoying the rights and privileges that come with marriage, (and have successfully done so in states such as California and Florida.) They attempt to pass laws that will send poor women back to the alleys and the coat-hangers for abortions when they cannot afford to bring another child into the world.

“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.”

We have given these people immense power by catering to their whims and their beliefs. Our politicians, particularly those from the Right have given power to people who despite all evidence believe that evolution is a lie; who, despite all scientific evidence believe that the world is only six thousand years old, and that the dinosaurs roamed the world with man. We have given such power to people who embrace Creationism as a valid branch of science, and believe the bible is to be taken literally. We have given political credence to these people who preach that Muslim fundamentalism is evil, and that Muslims themselves are evil because of it…. but don’t see the very serious evil in the brand of Christian Fundamentalism they themselves try to inflict on others. Theocracy, any theocracy is wrong. It is an evil that strips away the rights of the non-believer. In no way is this what the Framers had in mind.

“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.”

What is the remedy for this abuse of the rights of others? I believe it is imperative that politicians and constituents alike respect the right of the Fundamentalists, the so-called Christian Right to preach their poison in their own Churches. If any of them enter the political arena either in their preaching or practice, then I believe they must register as Lobbyists and be made to pay income Taxes. Aside from that, they must be ignored. By ignoring them we simply refuse to give them credence. Without credence, they will no longer have the power to harm others with the impunity they have enjoyed. If we can do that, maybe we can once again look the historic Thomas Jefferson in the eye and with a clear conscience, repeat his words and believe their promise:

“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.”