Let Freedom Ring
This 4th of July, Christians are moaning and groaning. "Our freedom is lost", they cry. "The constitution has been trampled upon." As they predict the end of the United States as we know it, and liken the current situation to the fall of Rome, they bellow out the most ominous of warnings: "Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it." How dire their predictions are. How dismal the future they foresee.
Get a grip, guys. There is a class of people who now have the right to get married in all states, and the federal government will give full recognition to those marriages. That's it. I defy any of you to tell me what right has been taken away from you. What freedom have you lost, aside from telling these people that they're not allowed to marry? Please tell me. I'd really like to know what all this infantile whining is about.
I have already addressed the historically ignorant comparison of modern liberalism to the forces that brought down the Roman empire. I agree that it is worthwhile to learn history and to take lessons from it, but that doesn't imply that it should be interpreted through the myopic lens of your superstitious beliefs. Indeed, it seems clear from history that when religion and other over-arching ideologies (including "state atheism") get out of the way, both freedom and human achievement are the beneficiaries.
The United States was established as a secular nation, no matter how much Christians insist otherwise. Yes, there were Christians among the founders. Yes, there were early documents, including the Declaration of Independence, that mention God or the Creator. But put some historical perspective on it. This creator was not the God of Christianity. Read the works of the principal founders, such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Read The Age of Reason, by Thomas Paine, and you'll gain a better understanding of the Creator as the founders saw it - a deistic God of nature - the very same that was mentioned in the Declaration - as well as their view of the Christian God.
The constitution itself never even mentions God, except in reference to the date of its adoption, where the common phrase "Year of our Lord" was added some time after the wording had already been approved by the Continental Congress. And why did they not mention God? Because the United States was founded as a secular nation - the first in history. The United States does not have a state-sponsored religion or religious institution, and the government neither mandates nor prohibits any religious beliefs. This secular government is a core principle among our cherished freedoms. Read about it here. Our laws don't mandate religious practices or enforce any religious doctrines. Does any of this mean that you can't practice your own religion? Of course not. That's the whole point of religious freedom. You get to follow your own beliefs, but you don't get to impose those beliefs on others, because that would violate their freedom. And that freedom is enshrined in our constitution. It always has been, even if we haven't always lived up to it.
There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth among Christians who see secularism liberalism as a degradation of American principles. No. What degrades American principles is the backslide to anti-secular views. It began almost immediately, as elected representatives in congress insisted on appointing a chaplain, much to the consternation of James Madison, using as their justification the line from Article 1 of the constitution: "The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers". It wasn't until after the Civil War that the motto "In God We Trust" was added to currency, and during the Cold War when the phrase "under God" was added to the pledge of allegiance. Throughout the course of American history, religion flourished and prospered, unmolested by government, and sometimes found expression within the government, but our government remained basically secular.
In more recent years, those liberal policies that brought us freedom and prosperity have been systematically undermined and supplanted by right-wing politics, and the resurgence of religion in the halls of government. This rise of conservatism has been so dramatic and so sweeping that many people now view any call to return to our liberal founding principles as a dangerous turn down the path of degradation and destruction. They wrongly insist that that's the way it was from the beginning. For God's sake, learn some history. Those liberal principles are what made us different from all the other countries where people didn't enjoy the freedoms we have - the countries that so many people escaped from, in many cases so that they wouldn't have government imposing religious beliefs, standards, and practices upon them.
Since the founding of the US, many other nations have liberalized and reformed their citizens' civil liberties. As a retired military officer (that's right), I for one, appreciate the freedoms we have. And I don't want to see them lost because a bunch of religious people, spurred on by Fox News and a new-found political power, think their religion should take precedence over our constitution. For those of you who insist that allowing gay people to get married is a violation of your freedom, I will offer a quote from Catholic Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the champion of conservative and religious views in government, "Get over it." Just forget about the gays. Don't cry in your beer. Drink some moonshine and get wasted. Squeeze off a few rounds at your favorite picture of Obama if you can still see the photo (*). Fire up the barbecue. Crank up some country tunes like It's America by Rodney Atkins. And by all means, have a wonderful 4th of July, just the same as you did in the good old days.
(*) For those of you whose Obama photos are all shot to bits, here are a few more. Just don't forget to print the picture before you start shooting at it.