Religious Tidbits for the Week
I have some religious tidbits I wanted to share. As opposed to writing multiple blog articles on the variety of religious topics I have discussed the past few days, I thought I’d sum it all up right here. So, let’s get right to it!
1. When someone says they follow The Bible, I have to wonder what Bible they are talking about. The Bible has only been translated into English for around 600 years. There are thousands of translations in various languages and several just in English. So I have two thoughts on this…
a. If The Bible has been translated into so many different languages that offer differing adaptations of Biblical stories, which Bible is right? Which is truly the word of God? Some Bibles do not even contain the same books. For example, the Catholic and Greek Orthodox Bibles contain a few different books of Maccabees, but the Protestant (and King James, especially) does not have this book in them. So, how can any Bible be viewed as the absolute word of the Christian “God” when it cannot even be agreed upon as to what the contents of The Bible contain.
b. If man wrote The Bible, then you are following the word of man who claims to be writing as or for “God”. It would be like any other author out their claiming their book was dictated to them by God. Man is not supernatural and therefore, is bound to make mistakes, so therefore there could be mistakes in translation and in writing of texts in The Bible.
Essentially, what I am saying is, it is hard to take people seriously when they say they literally believe The Bible and literally follow its teachings.
2. The founders of the U.S. were Deists. They set out to not rock any religious boats. The first settlers of the U.S. came to this nation to attain religious freedom and the founders had just endured tyranny at the hands of British rule. They were not about to oppress any specific denomination of any religion for the mere fact that they had felt the cruel hand of oppression already.
The first amendment of the Constitution prevents the U.S. from holding any religion over the other by not allowing government to assign a national religion and promises Americans freedom of speech. Therefore, by law, the U.S. must adopt an all or nothing policy when it comes to religion. Inevitably, attempting to appease all religions leaves one (or the non-religious) out.
Just what the First Amendment means is highlighted in the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli, as presented by John Adams:
“Article 11: As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”
….and Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association:
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. [Congress thus inhibited from acts respecting religion, and the Executive authorised only to execute their acts, I have refrained from prescribing even those occasional performances of devotion, practiced indeed by the Executive of another nation as the legal head of its church, but subject here, as religious exercises only to the voluntary regulations and discipline of each respective sect.] Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”
Keep the church out of all of our government. That’s all I’m saying. It was never meant to be there to begin with.
3. Let’s talk about prayer in public schools and the Pledge of Allegiance.
First, the first amendment does not prohibit children from praying in school. In fact, it guarantees them the right to do so. Essentially, what it says is the school cannot promote or lead any school child, activity, class or event in prayer nor promote any specific religion. This is for public schools, mind you. Parochial schools can do as they please. If you really want your child to be led in prayer, in school, by a teacher or principal then parochial school is the way to go.
In public school, your child can pray when and where he/she likes, so long as it does not interrupt school. That means no jumping up in the middle of a class lecture to pray. This makes sense, because children go to school to learn Reading, Writing, Science, etc. However, in between classes, during personal moments or quiet times during class, before or after school, before sports events, or before mealtimes, children can pray as they want and to whom they want. They do not have to pray the way a teacher or principal wishes them to.
Therefore, your child actually has more religious freedom in public schools. Honestly, who do you want telling your child how and when to pray? You or your child’s principal?
As for the pledge, it is unconstitutional in its 1950s, updated, Conservative, “under God”, phrase added state. The original pledge was fine without that phrase added in, so I do not see why it cannot be said in its original form? Otherwise, it breaks the first amendment. That is simple enough to understand.
4. Just because you and I pray to a different God(s) or none at all, doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.