May 4, 2005

AND LET SLIP THE GRAY LADY (via Matt Murphy):

When Columnists Cry 'Jihad' (John McCandlish Phillips, May 4, 2005, Washington Post)

I have been looking at myself, and millions of my brethren, fellow evangelicals along with traditional Catholics, in a ghastly arcade mirror lately -- courtesy of this newspaper and the New York Times. Readers have been assured, among other dreadful things, that we are living in "a theocracy" and that this theocratic federal state has reached the dire level of -- hold your breath -- a "jihad."

In more than 50 years of direct engagement in and observation of the major news media I have never encountered anything remotely like the fear and loathing lavished on us by opinion mongers in these world-class newspapers in the past 40 days. If I had a $5 bill for every time the word "frightening" and its close lexicographical kin have appeared in the Times and The Post, with an accusatory finger pointed at the Christian right, I could take my stack to the stock market.

I come at this with an insider/outsider vantage and with real affection for many of those engaged in this enterprise. When the Times put me on its reporting staff, I was the only evangelical Christian among some 275 news and editorial employees, and certainly the only one who kept a leather-bound Bible on his desk. [...]

In the long journey from the matchless moment when I became "born again" and encountered the risen and living Christ, I have met hundreds of evangelicals and a good many practicing Catholics and have found them to be of reasonable temperament, often enough of impressive accomplishment, certainly not a menace to the republic, unless, of course, the very fact of faith seriously held is thought to make them just that. It is said, again and again and again, that the evangelical/Catholic right is out of accord with the history of our republic, dangerously so. What we are out of accord with is not that history but a revisionist version of it vigorously promulgated by those who want it to be seen as other than it was.

Evangelicals are concerned about the frequently advanced and historically untenable secularists' view of the intent of our non-establishment/free exercise of religion clause: that everything that has its origin in religion must be swept out of federal, and even civil, domains. That view, if militantly enforced, constitutes what seems dangerous to most evangelicals: the strict and entire separation of God from state. This construct, so desired by some, is radically out of sync with much in American history that shows a true regard for the non-establishment of religion while giving space in nearly all contexts to wide and free expressions of faith.

The fact is that our founders did not give us a nation frightened by the apparition of the Deity lurking about in our most central places. On Sept. 25, 1789, the text of what was later adopted as the First Amendment was passed by both houses of Congress, and subsequently sent to the states for ratification. On that same day , the gentlemen in the House who had acted to give us that invaluable text took another action: They passed a resolution asking President George Washington to declare a national day of thanksgiving to no less a perceived eminence than almighty God.

That's president , that's national, that's official and, alas, my doubting hearties, it's God -- all wrapped up in a federal action by those who knew what they meant by the non-establishment clause and saw their request as standing at not the slightest variance from it. It's a pity our phalanx of columnists cannot crawl into a time machine to go back and reinstruct them.


Of course, all these folks on the Left would oppose the Constitution were it up for ratification today.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 4, 2005 11:43 PM
Comments

That's president , that's national, that's official and, alas, my doubting hearties, it's God -- all wrapped up in a federal action by those who knew what they meant by the non-establishment clause and saw their request as standing at not the slightest variance from it. It's a pity our phalanx of columnists cannot crawl into a time machine to go back and reinstruct them.

I believe the default answer for the left when presented with a statement like this is "Yea, but those people owned slaves." It's a non-sequitur to the question at hand, and it doesn't even apply to the founding fathers who came from the northern states and believed in God just as much, but it's a security blanket the left pulls out any time the religiousity of the founders is brought to their attention.

Posted by: John at May 4, 2005 11:57 PM

Thanks for posting, OJ.

This editorial is excellent. Everyone go read it, right now.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 5, 2005 12:38 AM

oj:

Not to mention the preamble to the Declaration of Independence.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at May 5, 2005 3:12 AM

I don't really care about the nitwits who yammer in the MSM and their utter ignorance of American history and political science. What bothers me more is when I see the same from our ijjit judiciary. The Myron Thompsons of the world need to be bounced, or at least sent back to a remedial law school. There is no rational way an intelligent person can argue that the placement of a '10 Commandments' in a Federal court by a private entity is unconstitutional. It may be unwise, it may be impolitic, it may be provocative but it is not unconstitutional.

I just spent two weeks in Jacksonville Florida, where there is no shortage of evangelical and other Christians, including all of my parents' neighbors. When we went to Seder at the local Reform temple, nobody expressed a quaking fear of their non-Jewish neighbors. When my father's increasing aphasia has occasionally made it necessary to converse with him in a mixture of English, French, German and Yiddish, nobody around us bats an eye. People in the development are uniformly friendly and considerate for the most part.

It seems to me that people who are trying to eliminate Christian religious references from public life are doing so not to secularize the nation, otherwise they would do a better job of educating people especially in the sciences. There is no shortage of horribles one can claim have been done in the name of religion.

They instead I believe do it to encourage discord, to put Americans at loggerheads with each other for no good reason, in a nihilistic desire to undercut the very basis of our society. A lot of Americans believe we are a Christian nation, and I would say objections to that notion are technical at best. When American Christians are not permitted to express even those small things which unify them in their faith, why should anyone be surprised when they get upset? And that is precisely the purpose of the Barry Lynns of the world. If America is caught up in a maelstrom of sectarian hatred, those things which made it great will not survive.

Posted by: bart at May 5, 2005 10:55 AM
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