May 20, 2018
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The religious left misunderstands history

By K. Douglas Merrill Jr., Special to the BDN

In his recent screed against the influence of Christian thought, Sean Faircloth presented a ten-point vision of how to restore America to greatness. It is ironic, then, that the message presented by this ten-point plan is predicated by a violation of a tenet found in the original ten-point plan: “Thou shalt bear no false witness.”

Mr. Faircloth gets himself into trouble by presenting the false dichotomy of religious versus secular values. All Americans (and all of humanity, for that matter) operates under a religious worldview that includes a system of morality.

To wit, Mr. Faircloth cites Thomas Jefferson extensively, even using the phrase “Jeffersonian values” in a revisionist attempt to purport that the Founders embraced secularism. This would be the same Jefferson whose thought was profoundly impacted by English Unitarian minister and scientist Joseph Priestley, according to the Unitarian Universalist Association.

By no means are Jeffersonian values — and since Mr. Faircloth so closely identifies himself with them, his ten-point plan — secular. They were and are shaped according to a specific religious bias or worldview — a humanistic approach to the Bible, one which Mr. Faircloth clearly embraces. One only needs to observe who the left trots out to lead the fight for marriage equality and social justice. Ever notice that most of them wear collars identifying them as members of the clergy? Clearly, there is no battle between the religious and the secular.

For sake of argument, I’ll play along with Mr. Faircloth’s grade-school, oversimplified usage of “religious right,” but to preserve intellectual honesty, the contrast can’t be drawn with the “secular” but with the “religious left.”

Before addressing that, let’s take a moment and apply critical thought to a couple of the ten points established by Mr. Faircloth.

No. 2 — the prohibition of Christians from applying principles of their faith within the health care industry. This is not only a clear violation of equal employment opportunity principles, but a violation of the Prohibition Clause found in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, i.e. “Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the free exercise of …” Notice that point No. 2 is a direct contradiction of point No. 4, where Mr. Faircloth writes, “There shall be no bias in employment … law.” It’s generally not a good idea to contradict oneself when attempting to make a convincing argument.

No. 7 — the prohibition of usage of government funds when religious bias exists in education. In that case, better close that hotbed of humanism known as the public school system.

Typical of the religious left, Mr. Faircloth decries all bias, well, all bias except that against Christianity.

When a member of the religious right mentions the Founders in conjunction with moral standards, the religious left blusters about the Founders and slavery. OK, let’s play that game. Mr. Faircloth’s paragon of secular virtues was not only a slave owner, but according to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation — an organization whose purpose is to further his legacy — Jefferson was the father of up to six children by one of his slaves, Sally Hemings, making him not only a slave owner, but a serial sexual harasser as well. We want Jeffersonian values? Really.

While it would be impossible in this space to exhaustively address the Biblical foundation on which America was established, it goes without saying that the values of the vast majority of our nation’s Founders more closely mirror those of the religious right than those of the religious left. It’s easy to discover for oneself the historical context from which originated our Constitution.

The Framers were the same men whose “secularism” manifested itself in such documents as the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which states in Article 3, “Religion, Morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, Schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged.” Apparently, they weren’t aware of Point No. 7.

Links to the Northwest Ordinance and to Congress’ sanction of the printing of the Aitken Bible whereby it recommended it “to the inhabitants of the United States,” can be found on that hotbed of fundamental, Bible-believing Christianity known as the Library of Congress website.

The fundamental question that needs to be addressed then is upon which foundation is your worldview built — the shifting sand of a humanistic interpretation of the Bible to fit preconceived notions or the rock of a normal, grammatical approach that allows the Scriptures to set the standard?

K. Douglas Merrill Jr. lives in Verona Island.

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