Friday, April 14, 2006
The Founding Fathers had ample opportunity to use Christian imagery and language in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, but did not. At the same time, they were not absolute secularists. They wanted God in American pubic life, but, given the memory of religious warfare that could engulf and destroy whole governments, they saw the wisdom of distinguishing between private and public religion. In churches and in homes, anyone could believe and practice what he wished. In the public business of the nation, however, it was important to the Founders to speak of God in a way that was unifying, not divisive. "Nature’s God" was the path they chose, and it has served the nation admirably. Despite generations of subsequent efforts to amend the Constitution to include Jesus or to declare that America is a "Christian nation," no president across three centuries has made an even remotely serious attempt to do so. - American Gospel, by Jon Meacham (p. 22-23)
Now I’ve done it. Brought faith into the mix. Everyone is either going to start ranting, raving or just running for the door. But those who remain will still represent the majority. It’s Good Friday, Passover, which means something to some of us, though not all, that’s for sure. Nevertheless, it is a holiday weekend.
We may not be able to define what religion exactly means in this country today. But most of us sure know there is something deeply spiritual about this place we call America. Democrats may have lost our voice on religion, while Republicans have found one, so it’s just a matter of choosing whether being mute or shrill is a better place from which to move forward.
Yes, we may get tongue tied at times, but at least Democrats have a rich history of putting our spirituality into practice through policies that sing arias around the Republican notion of government. What was it that Grover said? Oh, yeah, "get it down to the size…" …you know the quote by heart. Republicans want to drown government because they believe it serves no common good. Never mind we’ve got the most bloated government in 40 years, with a deficit to match. The contradiction is illustrative as to how we got in the mess we’re in today. And boy are we in a mess.
But since Republicans are supposed to be the religious ones, why don’t they ever infuse humanity into their policies? Why doesn’t the religious morality they tout make it into their foreign policy? What is it about the ultra-religious, who espouse their faith so openly, but who remain wedded to war first, talking reserved as a last resort? Why are Republicans so conservative with their compassion?
Democrats want to find a way for illegal immigrants to make a life in America as citizens earning a living wage. Republicans began by wanting to felonize 12 million people through law. They still want to separate them into groups according to time served in America. Then they want employers who hire illegal immigrants to get off free. They talk about border security, without funding it.
Democrats want to find a way to provide health care for all Americans. Republicans start paying the federal bill by yanking money away from programs that aid the poorest among us, including children. Is that Christian? Is it moral? For that matter, is it right?
When thousands were stranded in New Orleans, why didn’t the federal government jump into action, no-holds barred, all stops out, everyone rushing to do what they could? Why did President Bush need a DVD of news clips to show him what human suffering looked like in Louisiana?
Is saying you’re a Christian against gambling, then getting mixed up with a crooked lobbyist in gaming illustrating leadership worthy of your professed faith?
Why is poverty not the first item on the agenda for a president and a Republican Party who touts their religious roots? Why do tax cuts to the top 1% matter more than the middle class?
Democrats want to raise the minimum wage. We want to provide health care for all Americans. We want to put back regulation on corporations and others who are destroying our environment. Democrats want to engage with the world and solve our challenges together. And Democrats absolutely reject the notion of any type of nuclear war whatsoever. But that’s where we sit poised today. Talking about nuclear war. It’s nuts. Only the morally weak and spiritually bankrupt would consider it. Nuclear weaponry released in the Middle East is not an option. It is the end.
If religion and spirituality mean anything in public life it is that we have the choice to infuse the answers we uncover in private meditations into our public works. Where private faith and public works meet is a place where lives can be changed, the world moved. From Democrats it is a message of hope versus the Republican language of fear, war and almost certain doom.