Neither God nor the Government is Ours

Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer
Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Founding Fathers wrote often of their posterity. The consensus about the afterlife among these giants of human progress was for the hope of immortality, not on some ethereal plane, but in the continued progression of their establishment. This is not a new thought, nor an anti-religious thought; indeed, we find the same hope in the biblical book (albeit, Catholic) Wisdom of Solomon. These sentiments are good politics and good religion because they ensure a particular viewpoint. The future is not ours; what we do now is not for ourselves, but for our posterity.

However, the United States faces a dual attack of bad religion and bad politics. Segments of our population, dividing from the mainstream by a myriad of forces, believe the government and the world are coming to an end.

In many of our more conservative churches, war is preached. Rather than focusing on a broader view of Christianity, they confuse the United States with the Church. Because of this, they place themselves in a position of attack. Any suggestion the Founders were imperfect is an attack on God. Any slight against (their) Christianity is a threat to the country. Their mindset is one of an approaching end and they are on the defensive. The line must hold.

The Tea Party is promoting the same message. However, there is not one Tea Party, but several Tea Parties, each with its only Jim Jones at the top. Any hint of comprise is the promise of total surrender. Tea Party candidates run against Republican candidates, even the Speaker of the House and the current Senate Minority Leader. They too are on the frontline against the approach of change.

At the recent Value Voters Summit, the fear of a non-white majority and the loss of Christendom merged. Many stood up to prevent any progress in this country.

Rand Paul gave what amounted to a hate speech directed against Muslims, citing the non-existent war he believes is waged against Christianity. He states, “Across the globe, Christians are under attack as if we lived in the Middle Ages or as if we lived under early pagan Roman rule.” Ironically, it was the Christians who attacked Muslims during the Middle Ages and according to Candida Moss, professor at Notre Dame, the supposed pagan persecution of Christians likely did not happen on the scale Paul envisions. Facts do not matter when you can use fear to make your point.

The Republican candidate for the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, EW Jackson, doubled down on his previous statements at the Value Voters Summit — including his views on homosexuals, liberals, and other Christians. There is no sense of progress in these individuals, but only desperation. Change, progress, forward thinking are evil. They must preserve their current structure. There is no future, only the past.

However, the history of human civilization tells us in order to have a future we must accept change. There is no need to leave everything behind, but we must understand the nature of change. Change takes place by incorporating the new and the old, building on a foundation and reaching forward. We become lost in our own narrow-mindedness if we fail to understand the need for social progress.

Humans have socially evolved, but not always successfully. Progress is never pretty, often temperamental, but it moves us to an ultimate reality. If we understand this, then we can also understand just how dangerous it is for Church and State to withhold progress. There are times when those who are losing power will rise up in a final and terrible manner to attempt to eliminate change. However, progress will eventually win.

God is not ours. We hold our theology in a sacred trust and intend to pass it down to our children in a better way than we have received it. If we are honest, we will acknowledge Scripture is often used to oppress others. At one time, Scripture supported the divine right of kings; Scripture was used to sanction slavery in the United States; and women and minorities were not welcomed in leadership positions. Presently, in a vast majority of American churches democracy is biblical, women can lead, and slavery is a social issue to fight. We inherit our views of God in a trust and believe we must pass them on, adding to that charge unique contributions.

If one day we wake up with Christianity no longer a majority in this country, our best hope is that we continue to view God as not ours, but as a trust for our children. We do this by extending ecumenical bonds, but stating truths of history and the present, and by not giving into hate.

The Government is not ours. The Found Fathers knew this. They worked for their posterity — for us. They did not intend for their established Government to last unchanged. This is why the Constitution, with an amendment process incorporated therein, was modified by one of the first acts of the new Congress. The Founders believed the afterlife of posterity would redeem their shortcomings. In many ways, we have. We have extended citizenship rights to most Americans, ended slavery, and established a more perfect union. We still deny rights to those we few as less than human. We still use entrenched power to oppress others, both foreign and domestic. If our Government is a trust, then we must seek these tumors out and work to cure them. This is how we grow the trust for the next generation.

In the lead up the American Civil War, Southern politicians could foresee the end of slavery and the loss of southern dominance of the national stage. Instead of working to insure the trust of a better, more equal country, they decided to regress the progress of the time. This led to terrible bloodshed and a delayed future for the United States. Where once the Founders declared the end of history with a great hope for the future of the species, a new generation was handed broken promises, severed trusts, and a bleak hope.

We face a similar future. We face a future where a minority of the minority, even after losing elections, still seeks to control this country by fear. Indeed, they are fighting not battles for the future, but wars of the past. What the Tea Party seeks to give the next generation, instead of the sacred trust of the democratic promise, is a future filled with fear. They will come to fear change. Our posterity will no longer progress, but seek either the stability of the status quo or even worse, regression. Because the current conservative mindset a selfish one, what will be passed on to our children is not the sacred trust of our ancestors, but a debt of hope.

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