2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life.
God ‘The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.’ from George Washington’s first Inaugural address.
Firstly, It’s highly telling that Principle 2 comes after Principle 1. America before God. Capitalism, greed, and the pursuit of one’s own happiness before Biblical values. Forget about loving thy neighbor – if America is warring with them, and America is better than God, then we can just forget about the Bible and some of its nicer teachings entirely.
In America, George Washington was free to believe in whatever higher power he wanted to believe in. He had the freedom of speech to say whatever he thought about his religion. But Americans and the American government have never been free to insist that believing in God or any particular faith or religion is a prerequisite to being an American. In fact, if Washington were alive today he might have thought twice about bringing up religion in his inaugural address. I would like to think that the “Father of our Country” would be sensitive to the fact that we are a pluralistic society with a diverse population and wide spectrum of religious beliefs. Washington’s contemporaries realized this which is why the word “God” appears nowhere in the US Constitution. Instead the Founders sought to ensure that each of us could follow our own conscience on religious matters.
This is clearly stated in the Constitution in two places. In the First Amendment, it states that it is illegal for the government to favor one religious belief over a different religious belief or NO religion at all. There are many Americans who believe that incorporating Christian symbols into public events is illegal and distasteful, just the same as invoking a prayer to Thor the Thunder God, Superman, or Allah, or imposing atheism, would be to Christians. The Constitution agrees with that standpoint, in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Further, Article VI Section 3 of the Constitution states that there can never be a religious test to hold any office. The exact wording is this:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
So what… you can hold any office or public trust in the country up to and including President while being an atheist but you can’t be one of Glenn Beck’s nutters?
In Glenn Beck’s world view, America is only for people who believe in God. That’s why he chose the quote that he did; it’s designed to co-mingle the concept of your life, your nation’s life, and faith in God. Atheists need not apply, please get off the Beck Bus at the next stop.
If you agree with Principle 2, that’s fine. But remember that America was NOT founded as a Christian nation. We are a pluralistic society guided by the principle (and law) that government shall not establish any religion. That means that your kid’s public school teacher can no more ask for a moment of prayer to Jesus in the public school classroom than they can have a ritual human sacrifice to a Mayan entity. Glenn Beck’s inclusion of a speech by George Washington where Washington referenced a “higher power” implies that we are a Christian nation. In fact, our government is NON-THEISTIC. Freedom of religion actually means freedom FROM religion. That way we can all practice the way we choose to.
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