We are the 99%

November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving, Saint Paul, and Harry S Truman

Our good friends on the Tribune-Review's editorial board, even with a "feel good" Thanksgiving editorial, can't resist invoking "religious freedom" to assert their wish to authorize of one faith (presumably theirs) over all.

They could have quoted one somewhat recent president declaring to a congregation that:
We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson, for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.
By the way, this was Ronald Reagan (yes RONALD REAGAN) speaking before the Temple Hillel and Community Leaders in Valley Stream, NY in 1984.

Instead, Scaife's braintrust quotes a less recent president speaking before a different congregation:
“In Thanksgiving,” President Truman said, “we have a purely American holiday — fashioned out of our own history and testifying to the religious background of our national life. That day expresses what we mean when we say that our form of government rests on a spiritual foundation.

“It is from a strong and vital church — from the strength and vitality of all our churches — that government must draw its vision,” he continued. “In the teachings of our Savior, there is no room for bigotry, for discrimination, for the embittered struggle of class against class, or for the hostilities of nation against nation.

“St. Paul, in writing to the early church at Colossae, said, ‘Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.’”
Before I go further, let me point out that there's a bit of a cheat here. Because if you look at the original speech of Truman's to the Westminster Presbyterian Church in 1952, there's a whole lot of stuff between the quoted first and second paragraphs - stuff Scaife's braintrust opted you didn't need to see - with no indication that there's been an omission.

What did they decide that you didn't need to see?  Apart from the expected "only faith is what will save us from godless communism" we find passages extolling the need to wage a "ceaseless war against injustice in our society" and that "we are all our brothers' keepers"  and finally touting the need for something called the "Point 4" program - which turns out to be a government plan to spread American scientific know-how to impoverished countries around the world.  Gee, I wonder why the arch-conservatives at the Trib decided you didn't need to read any of that.

But all that's beside the point.  Instead of Reagan's assertion that State and Church must remain separate and that "we command no worship", we get from the braintrust Truman quoting Paul's Letter to the Colossians asserting cultural and religious unity - but only through Christ.

Yea, that's freedom.

Finally, with all due respect to President Truman, I am not sure Colossians 3 is really the place to find much support for a contemporary "war on injustice" or a "fight for brotherhood."  Why?

Colossians 3:18-24:
18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Yea, that's freedom.

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