Letter: Founding fathers aware of tendencies

Published 10:00 pm Monday, November 20, 2017

Observation of November as One Nation Under God Month undermines democracy. A radical minority created the framework of democratic government. Establishing democracy depended on broad public support. Weakened financially by the Revolutionary War, the fledgling government gained support by broadening the voting franchise, facilitating commerce and quieting civil strife. That many settlers were refugees from religious strife had not prevented them from punishing those dissenting from their creeds. How quiet troubled waters?

Our founding fathers were aware of religions disruptive tendencies. Scriptures cautioned that possession of wealth and power often corrupts its possessors. The Roman Empire showed churchmen how to gain and exercise power. A dual monarchy of church and state formed, and corruption flourished. The Protestant Reformation attacked some of the abuses, but religious conflicts continued. The founders also knew of the philosophic idea of the uncaused causer. Their Declaration of Independence states that men were “endowed by their creator,” choosing not to call this creator God. Shouldn’t we infer that the First Amendment to the Constitution guaranteed freedom from religion?

With increasing our wealth, our government could provide supporting services to all of its citizens, but those who build fortunes out of the Civil War and subsequent industrialization wanted to concentrate power in their own hands. They induced the government to emulate European powers and build an empire using troops to defend it. Modern churches desiring the money and prestige of wealthy people compromise by urging them to exercise self-restraint while trying to repair some of the human wreckage left in the wake of industry and commerce. Now propertied interests condemn governmental attempts to build a better society as “social engineering.” Reform efforts are relegated to the mayor’s prayer breakfasts. Can we delegate care of our conscience and our democracy to compromised authoritarian, sectarian religions?

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Many who populate pew and pulpit are humanely motivated. They err in failing to hold democratic governments accountable for establishing social justice.

John E. Gibson