Lectures from the UnbelievingWritten by Jenifer Christiaanse | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Two years ago, we invited some UT students from India to our home for Thanksgiving dinner. They were delighted to participate in this great American holiday, but it left me in a quandary. I knew the students were vegetarians, yet I didn’t want to cheat my family out of the great tradition of eating a Thanksgiving turkey. What to do? In the end, I served up Tom Turkey without the usual pomp and ceremony. He was sliced in the kitchen instead of being carved at the table on a big platter. We thanked the Almighty Creator before partaking — and no one was offended. Imagine if my guests had made a terrific scene lecturing us on the evils of eating flesh, praying to one God and participating in a holiday reserved for gluttony when so many in India are starving. How rude they would have been.
But there is a rude, rogue group of people from Wisconsin trying to dictate their lack of belief upon Toledo City Council after receiving a complaint from a Toledo resident, and upon those who would ask for blessings from the Almighty. Though they don’t attend meetings, they cry outrage. Though it is not illegal to offer prayer, they have decided to impose their minority views upon Toledo by protesting the opening prayer. Their modus operandi is to intimidate. Were these same rapscallions at the Continental Congress, they would have picketed the Founding Fathers who, in the Constitution, acknowledged a Creator. They would rewrite “The Pledge of Allegiance,” re-mint our coins and paper money, and demand that presidents not take the oath of office upon a Bible if they could. In court, they would bar the phrase, “So help me God.” And what of our state seal?
At the time our nation was formed, Islam was a thriving religion, Buddha had lived and passed in the sixth century, and Hinduism was well entrenched. Yet, none of the Founding Fathers were Muslim, Hindu or anything other than Bible-believing and God-fearing. The Bible was quoted often, Congress opened in prayer, and no one complained. Why then do we even entertain this fringe group 235 years later? Why do they cause commotion and generate newspaper articles when they speak? They are like little gnats upon a noble beast. These Wisconsin wimps cannot lecture Congress, so they are choosing to exert their influence upon cities like Toledo. In the name of tolerance, they are choosing to be intolerant. Their faith is their cause, and they are ardent and vocal.
What can those on The Freedom From Religion Foundation fear? If they do not believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful God, what could be the harm of prayer? It would be like the recitation of a poem. It seems as if a destructive element wishes to not just elevate non-western traditions, but the goal appears to destroy the underpinnings of western thought, religion and principles.
Benjamin Franklin was one of the 42 delegates present at the writing and signing of the Constitution. He was the only man to sign all five of the most important documents upon which The United States was built including the Declaration of Independence. As the four or five weeks in composing the Constitution dragged out with little unanimity, Franklin called out to the president of the assembly, George Washington, saying, “How has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to illumine our understanding? In the beginning of the contest with Britain when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. … I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And, if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this: and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel. We shall be divided by our little, partial, local interests, our projects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages. … I therefore, beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayer imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations be held in this assembly every morning we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy in this city be requested to officiate in that service.”
Here, here! We must not abrogate to a small minority the future and destiny of this city and this nation.
E-mail Jenifer Christiaanse at email@example.com.