Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Right of Belief

Grandpa and I were out in the wood shop one day finishing a piece of furniture that grandpa was going to surprise grandma with when I asked him about the concept of equality that the declaration of Independence cited. Here was his surprising answer;

"Boy, what I am about to say will be very controversial. So, before you repeat any of this be sure you understand it well because you will be challenged on it and it will be up to you to defend your words.

From the viewpoint of society there is one thing that our society has always had in common from its inception, division. When we gained our independence we came from a society of division. Division is a part of any society. It is only a matter of how you define that division.

Whether or not you divide a society up by rank, race, nationality, creed, gender, or religion that division will still exist regardless of how hard you try to bring equality about. It is an inherent quality of society itself even in the most monogamous of societies.

Before we gained our independence we were a part of a society that recognized the class of royalty and the class of commoners. It was this classification that the founding fathers were addressing when they declared that God created all men equal. They were declaring that God did not create certain persons to rule and certain persons to be ruled over.

This can be affirmed by the fact of the qualifications declared for office in the Constitution, one a positive and another a negative qualification. The positive qualification be age. The negative qualification is that religion is not to be considered as a qualifier. And I say this in recognition that citizenship is a given.

Though we eliminated one divisive element of society it was replaced by another, the class of free men and the class of the enslaved. The funny thing is that those who advocated slavery were saying that God sanctioned this division while saying that God created all men equal, a basic contradiction of beliefs.

And therein lies the problem. The source by which they use to declare these beliefs is consistent, though in a way that most of us would not accept. That source be the Holy Bible. The Bible would teach that God does create certain persons to rule and to be ruled. And the Bible would teach us that God does sanction the enslavement of men. It would appear that we are now a nation who declares itself above God instead of under Him as we pledge to be.

Have we replaced a belief in God with the belief that government is the supreme power and authority over men? Maybe a better question be, have we violated the 1st amendment by enacting laws that imposes on the religious establishment beliefs that they are to accept, teach and practice? If not, how can we reconcile this problem?

And this is not the only situation that has bothered me in regards to the 1st amendment. Utah had to outlaw their religious belief of polygamy before they were allowed to join the Union.

Students of Bob Jones University were denied scholarships because they held to a religious belief of the separation of the races.

Politicians were derided for speaking there even though the people at the university are just as much a part of the political system and our nation as any one else.

It was a case of government and political opponents version of practicing the religious concept of shunning. Granted, the school changed their policy on race relations but did they do it out of enlightenment or out of subtle coercion of government and society? That will be something that we will never know.

It is one thing, boy, for a religion to change their beliefs out of their own convictions but it is a whole different thing to change their beliefs to avoid punishment for holding to those beliefs. I’m just a foolish old man but it seems to me that the 1st amendment couldn’t have been written any clearer in terms of the relationship between the religious establishment and government. There are no laws to be written so that no belief can be punished.

As for those who espouses the idea that we be a secular nation there be one thing I would direct to them also. Prejudice is prejudice regardless of what they be prejudiced against. That includes being prejudicial against those who hold to religious beliefs not of their liking. And it is up to the government to protect those who may hold to unpopular beliefs from prejudicial thought, not recognize that prejdicial viewpoint and enforce the ideas of what to believe and not to believe. That is the meaning behind the 1st amendment. That is where you find true separation of church and state. It is not equality but inequality that men will recognize the need of the 1st amendment.

But then again, boy, I be but a fool of an old man set in his ways."

If we be under God as a nation it would appear that the God we declare to be under is a God other than the one worshipped by Christian, Jews, or Muslims. If we be a nation under God it would appear to be a God as worshipped by a very small minority of the people. If not, then we have declared ourselves a nation of atheists for only the belief of atheism could support the laws enacted and enforced that I have foolishly pointed out."

As I listened I could only feel stunned by his words.


Gayle said...

Methinks "Grandpa" was a very wise man, Griper. However, I believe as a child he would have given me a severe headache! LOL!

I didn't know that about Bob Jones University. That was indeed a modern version of "shunning" and it was wrong. We also have a very popular version of shunning when members of the military are unable to speak at certain universities because of student protests and violence. This is a very complicated subject. For instance, I would shun homosexual parades in San Francisco where they go naked and simulate sex in front of the public, including children. I have no problem with shunning them whatsoever! So... if we are to be absolutely fair does that mean we have to let everyone do their thing, regardless of how offensive it is?

Oh my... I feel a headache coming on.

The Griper said...

when we speak of the Constitution we speak of how government is to behave towards those they rule over, not individual's behavior towards each other.

and religious "shunning" is a bit different then the normal understanding of the word. a religious shunning has a taint of cruelty in the concept. it doesn't mean staying away from a person.

its a practice where the whole group of people treats a member of the group as if he no longer exists. no one will speak to him not even members of his own family. he eats alone. he is treated as if he be a ghost among the living.

Goat said...

I believe what he was descibing is the creeping socialism that is infecting society with its political correctness and intolerance for freedom of thaught. We are all equals in the eyes of God but not in the eyes of society for there will never be true equality as all have different abilities and talents there is only equality of liberty as long as your liberty does not impinge the liberty of others thus the basic laws of nature.

dcat said...

Wow Griper,

Yes and the political correct nut wings need to be in the same room for hours!

I'm afraid even that wouldn't penetrate the thick skulls but it would be fun watching them go comatose.


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