Monday, July 06, 2015

The United States of America and Divine Providence: American Exceptionalism 101

Expanded versions of quotes from an Editorial in today's HaModia

George Washington's 1789 Inaugural Address:

 ...Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station; it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence... 

 ...I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my Country can inspire: since there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists in the oeconomy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity: Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people...

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/american_originals/inaugtxt.html 



Thomas Jefferson, in Notes on the State of Virginia, inscribed on the Jefferson Memorial:

...And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever... - Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII 

http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/quotations-jefferson-memorial 



And, whether you agree with him or not, here is a contemporary perspective: 

Scalia defends keeping God, religion in public square 
By Valerie Richardson - The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 1, 2014 

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — 

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Wednesday that secularists are wrong when they argue the Constitution requires religious references to be banished from the public square. 

Justice Scalia, part of the court's conservative wing, was preaching to the choir when he told the audience at Colorado Christian University that a battle is underway over whether to allow religion in public life, from referencing God in the Pledge of Allegiance to holding prayers before city hall meetings. 

"I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over nonreligion," Justice Scalia said. 

"That's a possible way to run a political system. The Europeans run it that way," Justice Scalia said. "And if the American people want to do it, I suppose they can enact that by statute. But to say that's what the Constitution requires is utterly absurd."

Justice Scalia's remarks came as part of a day of public appearances in Colorado. He lectured students on the Commerce Clause during a morning class, and then received an honorary doctorate prior to his luncheon speech from CCU President Bill Armstrong. 

"At no place on Earth does Justice Scalia have as many admirers as he does on the Colorado Christian University campus," said Mr. Armstrong, a former U.S. senator. 

Justice Scalia was slated to give the keynote address Wednesday night at a conference at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder. The high court's longest-serving justice, Justice Scalia said that even President Thomas Jefferson, who's credited with creating the concept of separation of church and state, wrote in the Virginia Declaration of Religious Freedom that, "God who made the mind of man made it free." 

"We do him [God] honor in our pledge of allegiance, in all our public ceremonies," Justice Scalia said. "There's nothing wrong with that. It is in the best of American traditions, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise. I think we have to fight that tendency of the secularists to impose it on all of us through the Constitution." 

The biggest danger lies with judges who interpret the Constitution as a malleable document that changes with the times, he said. 

"Our [the court's] latest take on the subject, which is quite different from previous takes, is that the state must be neutral, not only between religions, but between religion and nonreligion," Justice Scalia said. "That's just a lie. Where do you get the notion that this is all unconstitutional? You can only believe that if you believe in a morphing Constitution." 

Given that he doesn't believe in the "morphing Constitution," Justice Scalia said his job is relatively stress-free. 

"If I had the other view of the Constitution — that it was an empty bottle, which was to be filed by my court, and it was my responsibility to decide . . . all these massive ethical questions — if they were all my call, I couldn't sleep at night," Mr. Scalia said. "And some of my colleagues have said, 'Oh, we agonize a lot.' I don't agonize at all. I look at the text, I look at the history of the text. That's the answer. It's not my call." 

He noted that references to God by government officials are already forbidden in many European countries, thanks to a widespread policy of secularism. 

"There are those who would have us adopt that rule for America, and if they want us to adopt that rule, let's put it to a vote," Justice Scalia said. "But they want to do it through the Supreme Court. And that is simply not what our Constitution has ever meant." 

Appointed to the court by President Reagan in 1986, Justice Scalia joked during a question-and-answer session that he doesn't let the pressure of the bench get to him. 

"What can they do to me? I have life tenure," Justice Scalia said. "It's even better than academic tenure." 

© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC. 

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/1/justice-antonin-scalia-defends-keeping-god-religio/print/

1 comment:

  1. Ah, but as Dostoyevsky said: When God is dead, all is permitted.

    ReplyDelete