Did You Know?

4th of July Comments

Did You Know?

 

During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia declaring the United States independent from Great Britain rule.[5][6] After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.[7]

Adams’s prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.[8]

Historians have long disputed whether Congress actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, even though Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin all later wrote that they had signed it on that day. Most historians have concluded that the Declaration was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and not on July 4 as is commonly believed.[9][10][11][12][13]

Coincidentally, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but another Founding Father who became a President, James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831, thus becoming the third President in a row who died on the holiday. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872, and, so far, is the only U.S. President to have been born on Independence Day.

 

 

Source:
Wikipedia

 

Acceptance: Not Just Tolerance

Acceptance: Not Just Tolerance

Author:   Aliana Soulfire   

I have been a witch (in-progress, really) for six years. My parents were “Christians” or like to think they were, at any rate. But at just barely sixteen I found something new, something that called to my soul. And that was paganism, and magick.

At the beginning of December 2006, I was married in a handfasting-type ceremony I wrote myself. My mother was displeased when she first heard this, but I stood my ground. It was a ceremony I could feel connected to, one in which I could actually feel like I was making a binding between two souls, not just repeating lines. But I digress.

This is about acceptance. Please do not misunderstand me. By acceptance I do not mean that you have to worship everything. I mean, maybe we, as in the world, should accept the fact that maybe the gods for each different religion actually exist. Doesn’t mean we all have to pay respects to each one. Just means they are out there.

Most people, on every side, think I’m a lunatic for saying such things. But really, acknowledging that Allah exists doesn’t make you a Muslim. Acknowledging the Christians’ god is the same.

Saying that Isis, Diana, Ra, The God or Goddess, or any one of them is real doesn’t mean you’re going to have to start burning incense and saying spells to the midnight moon.

What if they all exist, and we just quietly and peacefully choose to worship who we will?

There are flaws to any religion, regardless of who thinks what. There are zealots, too. The Muslim terrorists. The Christians who forced their religion on so many cultures from the past. And the modern Witches/Pagans/Wiccans bad-mouthing Christians constantly.

So what if their God exists? Should it bother you?

If you know in your heart that Diana watches over you, or that your spells work, great! If not, maybe you should study up on lots of different paths and find one that speaks to you.

The anger and hatred we have spread over the world because of religious differences is causing pain everywhere.

I personally think tolerance is just a nicer way to be condescending to another person or people. Seriously, look at what ‘tolerate’ means: to put up with. Now that doesn’t even sound nice. If someone tells another person his/her god doesn’t exist or that he/she is going to hell, it’s more than likely that person is the one who is insecure in his/her own beliefs. But I’m sure most people who read this will disagree.

Look at this country; we can’t even have a war protest that is peaceful. It hurts that we can’t seem to see a different way of life. Look to our future. What do we want our children to believe? That violence is the only way to succeed?

Let go of all the grudges you hold. We have to teach our children that peace is attainable, and the more we teach that, the more the idea will take hold in their hearts. I want this world to be a better place for my kids, when I finally have them. And I still have the hope that it can be.

But it requires effort. Lots of effort, a ton of open-mindedness, and a heart big enough to never give up. Peace is real, and it doesn’t take having a war to gain it. There will be bad people in the world, no matter what we do. Don’t hate everyone else just because of them. Don’t judge based on the worst people or actions of that society.

Seriously, though, there is nothing wrong about having faith in a specific god or group of gods. It shouldn’t matter. We should all respect the difference, of course, but please, don’t fight over faiths or paths.

Just picture this: Our children are all grown, and they didn’t have to suffer through what a lot of us did. On the television there is news of a tenth annual Paths Festival, where people from every religion can go to study, meet others, learn, and enjoy being together. The energy in the air is vibrant, full of life, tranquility, and happiness. You walk out the door wearing your cross or pentacle, or Star of David; you wear it with pride, instead of leaving it at home in fear.

While, of course, there would still be fighting over something, at least that would be one less thing we’d try to battle over. Life will never be springtime forever. As humans, we are obsessed about differences in everyone else. Celebrate those differences. Celebrate life. If we do that, it may help.

Look at our past and present for proof that we need to change. The Middle East has been torn by war with its own people for centuries. Christians killed in the name of god. Jews have had a horrible history of being oppressed by many different peoples. And today in our society, the Middle East is still in conflict.

In America, this country of the “free”, you are looked on with suspicion if you have a Quran, or worship Allah. You are “weird” or a “devil-worshipper” if you wear a pentacle. You are strange or bad for being different than the ruling powers.

What is the good of this free country if we deny those who seek that freedom? We are supposed to welcome people with open arms, not look down on them, or wrongly accuse them.

We have sauntered right off the path our forefathers tried to lay down for us. Thomas Jefferson, a man who owned a Quran, freed his slaves and above all, believed in freedom for the masses. He is what Americans today should be. Open-minded, accepting.

Our American Muslims should not have to live in fear of being thought a terrorist. Our Pagans should not fear Christians denouncing them. Our Christians should not focus on converting the whole country. That was not the original purpose.

Someday everyone will understand what I mean. A better way to peace. A better life for our children. They should be able to bring Qurans, Bibles, or their Book of Shadows to school with them. They should not fear rejection for being themselves, for following their hearts.

No one should ever have to fear that. Least of all, our future.

Are We a Christian Nation?

Are We a Christian Nation?

Author: Disciple of Oghma

“Whatever we once were, we’re no longer a Christian nation, ” then-candidate Barack Obama said during a June 2007 speech. “At least not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, and a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.” This speech stirred a great deal of dust in the religious, markedly Christian, circles. Are we a Christian Nation? Well let’s look at the Constitution, the framework for our Great Nation.

In response to widespread sentiment that to survive the United States needed a stronger federal government, a convention met in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 and on September 17 adopted the Constitution of the United States. Aside from Article VI, which stated that “no religious Test shall ever be required as Qualification” for federal office holders, the Constitution said little about religion. Its reserve troubled two groups of Americans–those who wanted the new instrument of government to give faith a larger role and those who feared that it would do so. This latter group, worried that the Constitution did not prohibit the kind of state-supported religion that had flourished in some colonies, exerted pressure on the members of the First Federal Congress. In September 1789 the Congress adopted the First Amendment to the Constitution, which, when ratified by the required number of states in December 1791, forbade Congress to make any law “respecting an establishment of religion.”

The first two Presidents of the United States were patrons of religion–George Washington was an Episcopal vestryman, and John Adams described himself as “a church going animal.” Both offered strong rhetorical support for religion. In his Farewell Address of September 1796, Washington called religion, as the source of morality, “a necessary spring of popular government, ” while Adams claimed that statesmen “may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.”

Many Americans were disappointed that the Constitution did not contain a bill of rights that would explicitly enumerate the rights of American citizens and enable courts and public opinion to protect these rights from an oppressive government. Supporters of a bill of rights permitted the Constitution to be adopted with the understanding that the first Congress under the new government would attempt to add a bill of rights. James Madison took the lead in steering such a bill through the First Federal Congress, which convened in the spring of 1789. The Virginia Ratifying Convention and Madison’s constituents, among whom were large numbers of Baptists who wanted freedom of religion secured, expected him to push for a bill of rights.

On September 28, 1789, both houses of Congress voted to send twelve amendments to the states. In December 1791, those ratified by the requisite three fourths of the states became the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Religion was addressed in the First Amendment in the following familiar words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In notes for his June 8, 1789, speech introducing the Bill of Rights, Madison indicated his opposition to a “national” religion. Most Americans agreed that the federal government must not pick out one religion and give it exclusive financial and legal support.

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the third and fourth presidents were less hospitable toward religion than their predecessors. Thomas Jefferson, in fact, was fiercely anti-church. In a letter to Horatio Spafford in 1814, Jefferson said, “In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer for their purposes” (George Seldes, The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey Citadel Press, 1983, p. 371) . In a letter to Mrs. Harrison Smith, he wrote, “It is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read. By the same test the world must judge me. But this does not satisfy the priesthood. They must have a positive, a declared assent to all their interested absurdities. My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest” (August 6, 1816) .

James Madison, Jefferson’s close friend and political ally, was just as vigorously opposed to religious intrusions into civil affairs as Jefferson was. In 1785, when the Commonwealth of Virginia was considering passage of a bill “establishing a provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion, ” Madison wrote his famous “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments” in which he presented fifteen reasons why government should not be come involved in the support of any religion. This paper, long considered a landmark document in political philosophy, was also cited in the majority opinion in Lee vs. Weisman.

The views of Madison and Jefferson prevailed in the Virginia Assembly, and in 1786, the Assembly adopted the statute of religious freedom of which Jefferson and Madison were the principal architects. The preamble to this bill said that “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.” The statute itself was much more specific than the establishment clause of the U. S. Constitution “Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise [sic] diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities”.

Realizing that whatever legislation an elected assembly passed can be later repealed, Jefferson ended the statute with a statement of contempt for any legislative body that would be so presumptuous “And though we well know this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted with the powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable, would be of no effect in law, yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right” (emphasis added) .

On Final note; Signed and sealed at Algiers, January 1797, America made a treaty with Tripoli. In article 11 of that Treaty declares that “the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” This reassurance to Islam was written under Washington’s presidency, and approved by the Senate under John Adams.

I have come to the determination that we are neither a Christian Nation, nor are we an Anti-Christian Nation. In the architecture of the Constitution, the founding fathers made safeguards to ensure the free growth of personal religious freedoms by basing the nation’s framework on a secular foundation. In this way the rights and responsibilities of the people shall neither be shaped nor suspended by the popular religious Idea of the day. Ensuring the stability and nurturing the potential of our Great Nation. So while Christianity may be a largely accepted, popular, mainstream faith it is not the established faith of this nation. Therefore we are not a Christian Nation, but a nation of People.


Footnotes:
Thanks to Alyson Grace (Profile ID: 275132) for the inspiration to write this article.

Acceptance: Not Just Tolerance

Acceptance: Not Just Tolerance

Author: Aliana Soulfire

I have been a witch (in-progress, really) for six years. My parents were “Christians” or like to think they were, at any rate. But at just barely sixteen I found something new, something that called to my soul. And that was paganism, and magick.

At the beginning of December 2006, I was married in a handfasting-type ceremony I wrote myself. My mother was displeased when she first heard this, but I stood my ground. It was a ceremony I could feel connected to, one in which I could actually feel like I was making a binding between two souls, not just repeating lines. But I digress.

This is about acceptance. Please do not misunderstand me. By acceptance I do not mean that you have to worship everything. I mean, maybe we, as in the world, should accept the fact that maybe the gods for each different religion actually exist. Doesn’t mean we all have to pay respects to each one. Just means they are out there.

Most people, on every side, think I’m a lunatic for saying such things. But really, acknowledging that Allah exists doesn’t make you a Muslim. Acknowledging the Christians’ god is the same.

Saying that Isis, Diana, Ra, The God or Goddess, or any one of them is real doesn’t mean you’re going to have to start burning incense and saying spells to the midnight moon.

What if they all exist, and we just quietly and peacefully choose to worship who we will?

There are flaws to any religion, regardless of who thinks what. There are zealots, too. The Muslim terrorists. The Christians who forced their religion on so many cultures from the past. And the modern Witches/Pagans/Wiccans bad-mouthing Christians constantly.

So what if their God exists? Should it bother you?

If you know in your heart that Diana watches over you, or that your spells work, great! If not, maybe you should study up on lots of different paths and find one that speaks to you.

The anger and hatred we have spread over the world because of religious differences is causing pain everywhere.

I personally think tolerance is just a nicer way to be condescending to another person or people. Seriously, look at what ‘tolerate’ means: to put up with. Now that doesn’t even sound nice. If someone tells another person his/her god doesn’t exist or that he/she is going to hell, it’s more than likely that person is the one who is insecure in his/her own beliefs. But I’m sure most people who read this will disagree.

Look at this country; we can’t even have a war protest that is peaceful. It hurts that we can’t seem to see a different way of life. Look to our future. What do we want our children to believe? That violence is the only way to succeed?

Let go of all the grudges you hold. We have to teach our children that peace is attainable, and the more we teach that, the more the idea will take hold in their hearts. I want this world to be a better place for my kids, when I finally have them. And I still have the hope that it can be.

But it requires effort. Lots of effort, a ton of open-mindedness, and a heart big enough to never give up. Peace is real, and it doesn’t take having a war to gain it. There will be bad people in the world, no matter what we do. Don’t hate everyone else just because of them. Don’t judge based on the worst people or actions of that society.

Seriously, though, there is nothing wrong about having faith in a specific god or group of gods. It shouldn’t matter. We should all respect the difference, of course, but please, don’t fight over faiths or paths.

Just picture this: Our children are all grown, and they didn’t have to suffer through what a lot of us did. On the television there is news of a tenth annual Paths Festival, where people from every religion can go to study, meet others, learn, and enjoy being together. The energy in the air is vibrant, full of life, tranquility, and happiness. You walk out the door wearing your cross or pentacle, or Star of David; you wear it with pride, instead of leaving it at home in fear.

While, of course, there would still be fighting over something, at least that would be one less thing we’d try to battle over. Life will never be springtime forever. As humans, we are obsessed about differences in everyone else. Celebrate those differences. Celebrate life. If we do that, it may help.

Look at our past and present for proof that we need to change. The Middle East has been torn by war with its own people for centuries. Christians killed in the name of god. Jews have had a horrible history of being oppressed by many different peoples. And today in our society, the Middle East is still in conflict.

In America, this country of the “free”, you are looked on with suspicion if you have a Quran, or worship Allah. You are “weird” or a “devil-worshipper” if you wear a pentacle. You are strange or bad for being different than the ruling powers.

What is the good of this free country if we deny those who seek that freedom? We are supposed to welcome people with open arms, not look down on them, or wrongly accuse them.

We have sauntered right off the path our forefathers tried to lay down for us. Thomas Jefferson, a man who owned a Quran, freed his slaves and above all, believed in freedom for the masses. He is what Americans today should be. Open-minded, accepting.

Our American Muslims should not have to live in fear of being thought a terrorist. Our Pagans should not fear Christians denouncing them. Our Christians should not focus on converting the whole country. That was not the original purpose.

Someday everyone will understand what I mean. A better way to peace. A better life for our children. They should be able to bring Qurans, Bibles, or their Book of Shadows to school with them. They should not fear rejection for being themselves, for following their hearts.

No one should ever have to fear that. Least of all, our future.