Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Avalon Chronicles #61: "Religion and Morality"

Avalon Chronicles #61: "Religion and Morality"

by Allen B. Clark                  allenbclark@aol.com

www.combatfaith.com          www.combatfaith.blogspot.com

     There are incredible gems of wisdom, patriotism, good government, and all matters of personal and public conduct in George Washington's Farewell Address.
     Actually he began writing this valedictory letter to the American people to be delivered after what he had planned to be only one term in office, but he decided to run for a second term as president due to the "...rancor between his Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton (later killed in a duel by Aaron Burr) and his Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson..." (Wikipedia) which reflected significant political disunity in the new country between the two new parties recently formed (Federalist and Republican). So what is else is new 220 years later? He believed his leadership was needed to keep America on a strong course. He put the letter aside until his second term was at its end and he declined a third term. He was completing 20 years of service to the new country.
     The Wikipedia page on the Address (accessed June 21, 2016) has this to say: "One of the most referenced parts of Washington's letter was his strong support of the importance of religion and morality in not only promoting private and public happiness, but also in promoting the public prosperity of the nation. He argues that religious principles promote the protection of property, reputation, and life that are the foundations of justice. Washington goes so far as to say that the nation's morality cannot be maintained without religion and, since morality is necessary in popularly elected governments, religious principle is vital in maintaining the popularly elected government of the United States. He writes."
      "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

     Amendment 1 to the Constitution states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..." This amendment to the Bill of Rights was ratified (with the other nine) on December 15, 1791. A major reason for this amendment was so that no denomination or specific faith would be favored as had been the case for the Church of England's influence in the colonies. It did not abolish religion per se nor its freedom to be exercised by any means. It definitely did not preclude the free expression of morality so lacking then and especially as I view the landscape of our land today. My honor code at West Point was that a cadet would not lie, cheat, nor steal, nor tolerate those who did. This surely would be an appropriate practical application of Washington's passage above for private and public lives.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Avalon Chronicles #60: "Liberty and America"

Avalon Chronicles #60: "Liberty and America"

by Allen B. Clark    allenbclark@aol.com

www.combatfaith.com    www.combatfaith.blogspot.com

     In light of all the recent political rhetoric and especially after the horrendous attack in Orlando, I was moved to read George Washington's Farewell Address delivered to Congress on September 17, 1796, Constitution Day. There is magnificent wisdom in his address. Recall he would have had to write it out long-hand, no computer, and most probably no speech writer! We were much smaller then and less diverse than today, but, if any desire to reflect on some unchangeable sentiment about our foundations and values, we could go no further than to recollect the richness of these remarks.

     "The unity of government, which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquillity at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; ...
     For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations....You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes."