Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What Has Happened to Our Culture? Chris Matthews et al

During a recent segment on MSNBC, host Chris Matthews commented on an interview of Sarah Palin, done by Gretta Van Susteren of Fox News. In the interview Palin was asked about her political plans in the future. She said she was looking for guidance from God about running for national office again. Chris seemed quite offended by this. He said, "...I mean God is telling her to run? And she's saying it openly on a secular television show? This isn't the religious hour....Talking about God, in a political setting is troubling to a lot of people. If you're talking about a big tent, this looks more like the church tent, not the big tent."

Because Chris is not alone is his feelings about this type of expression, I don't want to pick on him exclusively. But since this is a timely story I will use it as an example.

Has he not read the history of this country? I suppose it could seem kind of "quaint" and old-fashioned to look at the very religious expressions of our Founding Fathers. Perhaps he doesn't want to consider that our country really got rolling with the Declaration of Independence, which stated that our rights are not given to us by government, but rather are bestowed on us by our creator. The same document said:

"...appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions..."

"...And for the support of this declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

Moving to more recent times, how about FDR's words in his national broadcast for our D-Day operations. Was he afraid to speak of God in public?

My Fellow Americans:

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings.

Or President Carter has often been quoted as saying, "There's no doubt that during my time as president I prayed more intensely and more fervently for God's guidance than at any other time in my life..."

Peppered throughout our history are examples of very well-known figures in our government using their faith to help them make decisions and (horrors!!!) speaking of it in public. In earlier days this was not considered unusual or newsworthy beyond the topic of the prayer. But years and years of hearing that "separation of church and state" means your religious thoughts should be kept to yourself (or only expressed in your house of worship or home) have brought some to be offended when a public figure "admits" they are seeking guidance from God. This attitude is more obvious within the "mainstream media" than almost anywhere else. And since that same media controls much of what we hear on the nightly news or see in the headlines of our local newspaper, it becomes "the truth."

But that is not the truth. It is certainly not historic. Read the rest of the posts you find here - feel free to ignore my opinions and just read the actual quotes of the Founders and other public figures.

Read more here:
Newsbusters Blog


CrypticLife said...

"I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments of both body and mind."

-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia

I don't use this quote to slam Jefferson, but to point out that saying this today would be viewed quite inappropriate. Matthews didn't say it was illegal for Palin to cite God, he said it appeared exclusionary to do so. And many will agree that it does. There are probably those who lamented -- or even still lament -- the loss of the culture of racism also.

History Matters said...

Regarding: "Matthews didn't say it was illegal for Palin to cite God, he said it appeared exclusionary to do so."

I perhaps didn't say things as clearly as I could have. Many of the other posts in my blog go to the point that people think things are illegal or unconstitutional that are really not. But in this particular post, I was trying to get to the very attitude that would cause Matthews to say this was exclusionary.

One contrast I tried to make was comparing FDR asking all Americans to pray with him vs. Palin saying how she personally uses her faith to make decisions. It seems to me FDR was taking far more for granted than Palin is; that FDR was being far more exclusionary to non-believers than Palin is; and that statements like FDR's would be seen as more offensive today than they were previously. Actually, I don't feel that Palin saying she asks God for help is exclusionary, as long as she doesn't insist that everyone else use the same method. And both campaigns agreed to appear with Rick Warren, which more-or-less says that faith is going to be a part of the decision-making process for many folks.

Certainly one can not argue that our Founders were perfect individuals. I personally have several points of contention with Thomas Jefferson, for one example. The quote you provided would seem in conflict with all men being created equal, at least by today's understanding. Fortunately (and I presume deliberately), Jeffersion did not codify his suspicion about blacks. He DID codify that rights come from a creator.

Our Founders, knowing within themselves that they and other human beings are not perfect:

1) looked to God for guidance, and 2) created a Constitution that was able to be revised when needed, such as when we woke up to the fact that voting should not be a gender- or color-based right. They wisely (I believe) made the change process difficult enough that the Constitution would not swing with the political wind, but could be amended with some effort.