Saturday, February 26, 2011

We Must Hang Together or We Will Hang Separately

      My title is from a statement made by Benjamin Franklin during the famous American Revolutionary War when the king of Great Britain was sending troops over to America to suppress the revolution from taxation without representation.
      This article is inspired by the 47minute presentation by Elder Dallin H. Oaks at the Chapman University Law School assembly, Feb. 7, 2011. I hope you will invest the time to listen to it and decide your course of action regarding it. 
      At some point you will be "called upon" to act, whether it be to privately or publicly teach someone the principles, practices and results of religious liberty. You may be asked to assert your views to a Senator or congress-person or public official.   You may simply see an opportunity and "feel the call" to assert your views in a public forum. Whatever the situation, I hope you will have here developed the resolve to positively act when the opportunity arises. One person, rising to his or her feet and speaking out with clear reason and controlled passion can have great effect on both the immediate and the long term results.
      I have read large portions of the Holy Bible and small portions of the Holy Quran. Both speak of the God of Heaven instructing His children to be honest and kind, upright and righteous, and the reward will be wonderful in this world and in the world to come after mortality. I have read the words of Jesus who is called "Messiah" by Peter, Paul and the Prophet, Muhammad (may peace be upon him). Jesus calls for all to love God above all and to love our fellow man as we love our own selves. Jesus taught that Religion, pure and undefiled, is to serve and support the widow and "judge" the fatherless. 
      I believe Jesus meant "judge" to mean  "discover the truth of what the child needs" and help fill those needs and teach truth with kindness and compassion. We must teach the child to judge between truth and error.
      In doing those actions kindly, with care, our religion becomes not simply rituals and professions but reasonable actions of heartfelt faith that Providence effectually comes to the aid of those who serve their neighbors. We all need Providential aid from time to time. Who hasn't found that aid coming at one point or another from the hands of someone else who acted as one of God's mortal angels?
      Since the aid came from mortal hands, does that mean Providence is of necessity excluded?
      The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were all, to one degree or another, either merely respecters of Providencial Power or solidly faithful Christians of the Holy Bible. Whether Quakers, Shakers, Presbyterian, Puritans, Catholics, Methodists, Anglicans, Jewish or "other", they recognized and relied upon help from Providence all through the Revolutionary time period. Benjamin Franklin claimed no particular sect even while he urged the Continental Congress to petition God in prayer for Providential help. 
      As of today, 2011, a full 84% of the American population professedly believes in a Providential God who is interested in our lives and is active in assisting us upon our need and our requests and our uprightness or righteousness. If we are honest, kind and good, God will be more disposed to helping us than if we are evil, unkind, dishonest, etc. No matter the religion - Jewish, Christian, Aisian, Muslim, etc.- about 84% of Americans claim belief and some faith in God. Some 2% to 4% are full athiests. The rest simply don't know (and don't really concern themselves with it.)
      So why is there such a thrust on the part of our esteemed to remove God from public display? Why remove it from the face of our coins? Why remove prayer from the public square? Why must 84% worry so much about the thoughts of 4%?
      Certainly the 4% matter. That is not the question. The 84% matter just as much.
      What, then, is meant by my title, hanging together or hanging separately? Merely that we, the respecters of God, must stand together to repeat the demand for protection of our Constitutionally protected, God-given right to worship as we see fit without government intervention. "Congress shall make no law" inhibiting or abridging our rights of worship. That includes NOT prohibiting us from praying at a civic, state or even federal function. If Congress is opened with prayer and the 10 Biblical Commandments are engraved in the wall above the seats of the Supreme Court judges, a lowly school football game may begin with a prayer supplicating Providential protection over the youth playing that rough sport.
      Who will stand up in defense of that right? Actually, who did stand together in that defense? Certainly not enough people because our federal government did make a law restricting public worship in that forum. While we have the right to do it, anyone "caught" praying over the microphone before a school function will likely be severely reprimanded at best. We have rights with reduced legal liberty. 
      Now, that is just not right!
      In the early 1960's prayer was removed from public schools because one young atheistic mother was financially supported by an atheistic organization and took the local school district to court because she didn't want her child to be "forced" to pray when the teacher lead the class in the Biblical Lord's Prayer and in school assemblies that were opened with a prayer. Her child couldn't just sit quietly and think about marbles or dolls during prayer. No. Prayer had to be removed so she didn't have to explain why she didn't believe as other people believed. In the 1960's, around 92% of Americans professed belief in God, 1%-2% were atheists and the rest didn't care to know either way.
      Since then, step by step, the religious rights of the majority have had to be de-legalized in favor of the irreligious preferences of the minority. It isn't enough for them to quietly rest while we worship. We must not worship in public.
      It is interesting to note that, while the religious majority must become more withdrawn and silent for the minority's sake, the homosexual minority must be allowed to become more open and vocal for their own sake, no matter who might be offended by it. There is a rather obvious double standard applied by the governing powers.
      Who will be able to organize enough support to reverse the trend toward removing God from the public forum? How will the Moral Majority be unified in order to establish our rights in this country as opposed to simply watching them be eroded away? These questions must be answered if the silent, Moral Majority of respecters of God are not to become divided, persecuted and silenced forever. Governments, even so-called "Christian" governments have been known to jail, torture and kill other Providentially minded people who did not conform to the sectarian "faith" of the government. Those people died separately until they unified and left the land. 
      Will that happen to us?

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