Pluralism, postmodernity, and religious liberty: the abiding necessity of free speech and religious convictions in the public square.
I. Jews and Evangelicals on Religious Expression at the U.S. Air Force Academy
On April 22. 2005, The Anti-Defamation League reported its concern about religious harassment at the Air Force Academy:
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today encouraged the US Air Force Academy to continue its efforts to address religious discrimination at the institution. Bruce H. DeBoskey, ADL Regional Director, issued the following statement: The Anti-Defamation League is seriously concerned about allegations of religious harassment and evangelization at the Air Force Academy. We support the efforts of General John Rosa, Academy Superintendent, to provide training to the Academy community on respecting the beliefs of all cadets, no matter what religion they profess, or indeed if they profess no religion at all. ADL has offered its assistance to the Academy to assess the nature of the problem, and to provide its expertise and resources for training on issues of diversity and religious freedom. Today's cadets are America's officers of tomorrow, who will be commanding troops from a variety of religious backgrounds. US military officers are representatives of our nation, and it is vital that they understand that our country does not promote any particular religion. As American officers, they must model our nation's respect for minority faiths and beliefs and uphold the Constitution's protection for freedom of religion.
As this story unfolded, the A.D.L. again reported on June 22, 2005, that they "welcomed the efforts outlined today by the U.S. Air Force to address the climate of religious intolerance at the Air Force Academy." Abraham H. Foxman, A.D.L. National Director, issued the following statement:
The task force's report is encouraging because it clearly recognizes that a "religious climate" and "perception of religious intolerance" exist at the academy, and that this climate has festered as a result of a "lack of awareness over where the line is drawn between permissible and impermissible expression of beliefs." The report confirms many of ADL's concerns and those raised by cadets, staff chaplains, civilian observers and military personnel that a persistent pattern of religious intolerance exists at the academy, and that change is necessary. Beyond identifying the current problems at the Academy, the report offers substantive recommendations for reform, including the establishment of clear policy guidelines for commanders and supervisors regarding inappropriate religious expression, a plan to promote increased awareness of and respect for cultural and religious differences, and internal controls and corrective actions to ensure that the Air Force provides a climate of religious tolerance for all staff and cadets. We are especially pleased that it is not limited to the Academy in Colorado Springs, but is applicable to the entire Air Force. We hope that the Air Force will implement these programs with all due haste, and that religious tolerance programming does not get short shrift as it has in the past. If implemented effectively, such programs could provide a model for the entire U.S. military, so that the separation of church and state is ensured, and evenly applied across the armed services.
However, the evangelical response to these actions was quite different. Ultimately, evangelical criticisms resulted in a different set of guidelines for religious expression at the Air Force Academy than those originally proposed. Alan Cooperman wrote in the Washington Post on February 10, 2006:
The Air Force, under pressure from evangelical Christian groups and members of Congress, softened its guidelines on religious expression yesterday to emphasize that superior officers may discuss their faith with subordinates and that chaplains will not be required to offer nonsectarian prayers. "This does affirm every airman's right, even the commanders' right, to free exercise of religion, and that means sharing your faith," said Maj. Gen. Charles C. Baldwin, the Air Force's chief of chaplains. The guidelines were first issued in late August after allegations that evangelical Christian commanders, coaches and cadets at the Air Force Academy had pressured cadets of other faiths. The original wording sought to tamp down religious fervor and to foster tolerance throughout the Air Force. It discouraged public prayers at routine events and warned superior officers that personal expressions of faith could be misunderstood as official statements. But evangelical groups, such as the Colorado-based Focus on the Family, saw the guidelines as overly restrictive. They launched a nationwide petition drive, sounded alarms on Christian radio stations, and deluged the White House and Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne's office with e-mails calling the guidelines an infringement of the Constitution's guarantees of free speech and free exercise of religion. Seventy-two members of Congress also signed a letter to President Bush criticizing the guidelines and urging him to issue an executive order guaranteeing the right of military chaplains to pray "in Jesus' name" rather than being forced to offer nonsectarian prayers at public ceremonies. The revised guidelines are considerably shorter than the original, filling one page instead of four. They place more emphasis on the Constitution's free exercise clause, which is mentioned four times, than on its prohibition on any government establishment of religion, which is mentioned twice. The guidelines still warn superior officers to be "sensitive to the potential" that personal expressions of faith may appear to be official statements. But they say that, "subject to these sensitivities, superiors enjoy the same free exercise rights as all other airmen." They now add that there are no restrictions in situations "where it is reasonably clear that the discussions are personal, not official, and they can be reasonably free of the potential for, or appearance of, coercion." Baldwin acknowledged in a telephone interview yesterday that the changes reflect the criticism from evangelicals. "I think that my evangelical friends were concerned that we did limit, and somehow restrict, the chaplains' service, for example, because the guidance said chaplains should be 'as sensitive to those who do not welcome offerings of faith as they are generous in sharing their faith with those who do,'" Baldwin said.
The fault lines in the debate are clear: the protection of an adherent of a minority religion, particularly those who are in a subordinate position of authority, from the overt influence of the believers in a majority religion versus the protection of the rights of conscience and free speech for the adherents of the majority religion inclusive of those who are in a superior position of authority.
The initial contemplated solution to this tension at the Air Force Academy was to create and enforce a tolerated religious language. This solution proposed by leaders at the Air Force Academy was supported by the Jewish A.D.L. But, from the evangelical perspective, the believer whose faith was to be thus edited and restricted was being coerced into practicing an established state religion. The regulated and tolerated religious expression would likely have given adherents of minority faiths a buffer from evangelicals. Yet, a homogenization of religious expression would result in the truncation of the conscience of the person of faith who would no longer be able to be faithful to his or her convictions. Is there a better way to address this impasse?
In this context, it is beneficial to remember the wisdom of William Penn, one of the primary founders of religious liberty in America. Penn declared: "I abhor two principles in religion and pity them that own them; the first is obedience to authority without conviction; and the other is destroying them that differ from me for God's sake. Such a religion is without judgment, though not without teeth." (5) Penn's remark seems to address both sides of the strained debate between Jews and evangelicals. "Obedience to authority without conviction" is the result of a restricted and "tolerated" religious expression that in reality is less than genuine since it is enforced by the state. "Destroying them that differ" is the result when a majority religion coerces a minority faith to acquiesce to the dominant faith on pain of sanctions.
Penn's solution includes a full recognition of the rights of religious liberty for all, growing out of a protection and accommodation of conscience for all. This solution was inherent in Penn's ideal city, "Philadelphia"--the city of "brotherly love." Ultimately, Penn's vision was to become the vision of America; as historian Philip Schaff noted, "The United States furnished the first example in history of a government deliberately depriving itself of all legislative control over religion." (6)
Penn's solution has abiding validity for the Air Force Academy debate, but the clarity of its relevance has been clouded because of the ideological impact of postmodern views of tolerance and the relativizing of religious truth-claims. Hence, there is a need to critique the postmodern solution to the problem of the interplay of religion and conscience that calls religious adherents to act as though truth is not at stake in their tolerated and enforced expression of religion. There is an inextricable link between one's truth-claims and one's conscience as an adherent seeks to practice his or her faith. To require a specific legal form of tolerable religious language or worship under governmental sanction is ultimately to prohibit one's claim for truth and consequently to assault one's conscience.
Political philosophers may no longer be willing to countenance the Founders' language enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident," yet the religious conscience relishes the desire for truth and implicitly understands the impact that truth-claims have upon one's conscience.
First, we will consider postmodern thought and suggest how adversely it impacts the issue of religious conscience and religious speech. Then, we will review the unique history of religious liberty in the American context stemming from Penn, which ultimately issued in our First Amendment rights. These will provide direction for the ongoing debate over differing religious expressions in taxpayer-supported settings.
II. Postmodernism: If Truth Is Unobtainable, Do Religious Truth-Claims Matter?
The explosion of interest in postmodernism can be seen by a simple search of literature that is readily available. (7) Postmodernism emerges from a belief that objective reality is not attainable for human understanding and thus makes the general claim that a correct description of reality is impossible. Its philosophical roots are found in Nietzsche's skepticism and rejection of the possibility of ultimate truth, (8) and it reflects the skepticism of Wittgenstein, Popper, and Kuhn. Hence, the core beliefs of postmodernity include the following: (1) Truth is limited. approximate, and constantly evolving. (2) No theory can ever be proved true (a theory can only be shown to be false). (3) No theory can ever explain everything. (4) Thus, absolute and certain truth that explains all things is unobtainable. Since human knowledge is only that of the individual who tries to interpret his or her own reality, postmodernism is skeptical of claims that purport to be valid for all communities, civilizations, ethnicities, or cultures.
Because postmodernity is "post" or "after" modernity, it rejects the modern worldview claim that declares the possibility of a weltanschauung or holistic interpretation that makes sense of the world in all areas, whether religious, scientific, or philosophical. Postmodernism denies this and replaces the explanatory worldview "metanarrative" with one's personal narrative, experience, or story. Since postmodern thought emphasizes the relative truths of each individual, interpretation becomes foundational since reality appears only through one's own interpretations of what one perceives one's world to be. This insistence on the primacy of the specific narrative over the metanarrative reflects the hermeneutic of Jean-Francois Lyotard's dictum, "narrative not metanarrative.'" Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition established him as a leader in postmodern thought. Since postmodernism questions and critiques all claims for certainty, Lyotard dismissed the legitimacy of universal theories of truth, claiming that arguments defending "grand narratives" were no longer credible. Thus, Lyotard's opposition to the grand narrative, as well as its inherent authority, led him to defend the idea of the "little narrative," namely, the stories of individual human beings, which require no foundational or epistemological defense. (9)
His summary of postmodernism declares, "I define postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives. This incredulity is undoubtedly a product of progress in the sciences ... To the obsolescence of the metanarrative ... corresponds, most notably, the crisis of metaphysical philosophy ... The narrative function is losing ... its great goal. It is being dispersed in clouds of narrative language." (10)
Jacques Derrida's application of these ideas to the interpretation or hermeneutics of written texts has been developed under the rubric of poststructualism. His essential insight is that there is no inherent or essential meaning to a text. Rather, texts contain implicit contrasts or differences that can be denominated "deconstructions." Just as in the empirical realm there are many variations, not simply one reality, so in a text the meaning is not monolithic but multiform and contradictory. A "deconstruction" results when the deeper meaning contrasts with the prima facie meaning of the text. Derrida argues that texts have multiple meanings that are in tension with one anther. Analyzing the "violence" between the varying textual meanings is the goal of the interpreter.
Postmodern skepticism has impacted personal and cultural values and ethics. If each individual can imagine a reality different from another, and no other's reality is more important than this, a relativity of meaning and ethic results. Postmodern skepticism means there is no possibility of establishing a legitimate hierarchy of value. Consequently, every culture, religion, and community can proclaim that its "truths" are just as legitimate as any other's. The logical consequence of this rejection of truth is "tolerance" of everyone's personally imagined truths.
But, before the hermeneutical field is fully yielded to postmodern claims, the telling critique of famed linguist Noam Chomsky should be considered. Chomsky claims that postmodernism is meaningless, as it offers nothing to human knowledge. He asks why postmodernist scholars do not answer as "people in physics, math, biology, linguistics, and other fields are happy to do when someone asks them, seriously, what are the principles of their theories, on what evidence are they based, what do they explain that wasn't already obvious, etc? These are fair requests for anyone to make. If they can't be met, then I'd suggest recourse to Hume's advice in similar circumstances: to the flames." (11)
Chomsky, normally not a book-burner, is unrelenting in his assessment of the shortcomings of the postmodern hermeneutic. Again, he has written:
There are lots of things I don't understand--say, the latest debates over whether neutrinos have mass or the way that Fermat's last theorem was (apparently) proven recently. But from 50 years in this game, I have learned two things: (1) I can ask friends who work in these areas to explain it to me at a level that I can understand, and they can do so, without particular difficulty; (2) if I'm interested, I can proceed to learn more so that I will come to understand it. Now Derrida, Lacan, Lyotard, Kristeva, etc.--even Foucault, whom I knew and liked, and who was somewhat different from the rest-write things that I also don't understand, but (1) and (2) don't hold: no one who says they do understand can explain it to me and I haven't a clue as to how to proceed to overcome my failures. That leaves one of two possibilities: (a) some new advance in intellectual life has been made, perhaps some sudden genetic mutation, which has created a form of "theory" that is beyond quantum theory, topology, etc., in depth and profundity; or (b) ... I won't spell it out. (12)
Given Chomsky's remarks, there may be dire consequences if the postmodern approach is uncritically embraced for the American context of political and religious liberty. The American understanding of pluralism evolves from the classic words of the Declaration, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."
What happens to our liberties when there is a "deconstruction" of this foundational text? Can religious adherents embrace the ultimate truths of conscience with the full protection of religious liberty if the mandated political philosophy espouses the view that there is no truth at all, let alone self-evident truth? How can "unalienable rights" cohere with the bare "tolerance" provided by postmodernism's skepticism? Is there a better way than the silencing of religious diversity for a collective homogenized religion that pushes all religious expression into a privatized state in the name of tolerance? If we hope to preserve authentic pluralism, we must not unthinkingly embrace Leotard's and Derrida's postmodern deconstruction that could reduce religious liberty to mere "tolerance." To that end, we must reaffirm Penn's original "Philadelphia" that was conceived from his magisterial concern for the rights of conscience and his unshakeable commitment to the freedom of religious persuasion in the public square.
III. From Postmodernism's Religious Tolerance to Pre-Modern Philadelphia's Religious Liberty: William Penn, Conscience, and Religious Liberty
Although Penn was a clergyperson, he had studied law at Lincoln Inn in London. He experienced the great suffering and pain caused by the Black Death of 1665 and the great London fire of 1666. Raised in the Anglican and Reformed traditions, Penn converted to Quakerism after hearing a sermon by a Quaker preacher named Thomas Loe on the theme, "There is a faith which overcomes the world, and there is a faith which is overcome by the world." (13)
Penn became a Quaker street preacher at a time when the Quakers were a despised sect. His preaching and questioning of Protestant and historic doctrines ultimately found him imprisoned in the Tower of London. Here Penn wrote his classic work, "No Cross, No Crown," based on the last words he had heard from his dying mentor, Loe. (14)
During these days of imprisonment he developed his dream of a place where freedom of conscience in regard to religion would be maintained. As noted above, Penn wrote of his abhorrence of "obedience to authority without conviction" and "destroying them that differ from me for God's sake. Such a religion is without judgment, though not without teeth." (15) After nine months of experiencing the "teeth" of a state-established religion, Penn was released from the Tower. He was convinced that the Golden Rule had to be applied to all in the public square: "we must give the liberty we ask ... we cannot be false to our principles." (16)
When Penn's father died, the younger Penn became his heir. Charles II owed the Penn estate 15,000 Pounds. Facing financial difficulties, the King was disposed to Penn's request to be paid by a tract of land in America. An essential part of receiving the land was that Penn would be its proprietary governor with the power to make its form of government and its essential laws. This enabled Penn's dream of a commonwealth with religious liberty to become a reality.
The patent was signed by the King on March 4, 1681. Penn's initial governmental document, The Frame of Government, created the opportunity for the establishment of a free commonwealth based on what he believed to be the principles of the Christian Scriptures. The Charter of Privileges, the first Constitution for Pennsylvania, ensured that citizens would not be "molested or prejudiced" because of their faith, nor would anyone be "compelled to frequent or maintain any religious Worship, Place or Ministry contrary to his or their Mind." So important were these provisions, Penn ensured that they could never be violated. Near the end of the Charter, Penn reiterated:
BUT because the happiness of Mankind depends so much upon the Enjoying of Liberty of their Consciences as aforesaid, I do hereby solemnly declare, promise and grant, for me, my Heirs and Assigns, That the First Article of this Charter relating to Liberty of Conscience, and every Part and Clause therein, according to the true Intent and Meaning thereof, shall be kept and remain, without any Alteration, inviolably for ever. (17)
Revolutionary for its time, Penn's Charter is the American Magna Charta of religious liberty. Penn's radical dream was that Philadelphia would be a city that lived up to its name. There, religious liberty, largely unknown elsewhere, would be legislated and practiced.
Penn advertised heavily to the oppressed religious peoples of Europe, assuring them that Pennsylvania offered "Liberty to all Peoples to worship God, According to their Faith and Persuasion." (18) The significance of Penn's Charter includes religious liberty to all Christians, whether Protestant, Catholic, Quaker, etc., and to Jews and Muslims; and religious liberty was considered to be of such importance, it was placed "first" (and last) in his Charter.
For a period of time Philadelphia was the only place in the entire English-speaking world where religious liberty was available to Roman Catholics. Indeed, when an English priest came to Philadelphia in 1741 to assist at St. Joseph's, he wrote that "we have at present all liberty imaginable in the exercise of our business, and are not only esteemed, but revered, as I might say, by the better sort of people." (19) In contrast to Penn's expansive 1701 Charter, the Charter of Georgia granted in 1732 had the following restrictive language:
And for the greater Ease and Encouragement of Our loving Subjects and such others, who shall come to inhabit in Our said Colony, We do ... grant, establish, and ordain, That forever hereafter there shall be a LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE allowed in the Worship of God to all Persons ... within our said province, and that all such Persons, except Papists, shall have a free exercise of Religion. (20)
In colonial America, there were relatively few Roman Catholics. As a point of fact, John Carroll of Maryland was the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence. Maryland, founded as a refuge for Catholics in British America, possessed a form of religious freedom at its beginning until the growing Protestant majority disenfranchised the Catholics. Nevertheless, the small body of Maryland Catholics grew to other parts of North America. The first Catholic parish in Philadelphia was founded by a priest from Baltimore. Ironically, the only religious pogrom in American history was perpetrated by the Protestants of Philadelphia against Catholics in 1844. Churches were burned as the anti-Catholic protest continued for days. Nevertheless, Penn's colony granted remarkable if not perfect liberty for Roman Catholics. (21)
As limited guarantees of religious liberty were the norm for the other colonies, Philadelphia and Pennsylvania grew faster than any other settlement in the New World. George Washington, (22) Thomas Jefferson, (23) and others commented on the growth and economic blessings that flowed from the religious liberty practiced in Philadelphia.
Penn's City of Brotherly Love was unique in its five emphases that would ultimately influence the other states, and the Constitution of the United States. Penn's Charter and Frame of Government provided for "(1) autonomy for the churches, (2) separation of the institutional church from the state, (3) freedom of conscience for the individual, (4) the informal support of religion as a creator of the morality necessary for good citizenship, and (5) natural law as the intellectual basis for policies in the colony and state." (24)
Penn came to America twice to oversee his "holy experiment," as he called it. He carefully planned the city of Philadelphia before it was settled, remarking in a letter to Robert Turner, dated March 1, 1681: "... [the grant] 'tis a clear and just thing, and my God that has given it me through many difficulties, will, I believe, bless and make it the seed of a nation. I shall have a tender care to the government, that it will be well laid at first." (25) The "seed of a nation" it did indeed become--with freedom of conscience as its very first roots.
IV. The Philadelphia Story Becomes America's Legacy of Religious Liberty
The American Constitution expressly forbids religious tests for holding federal office. Many assume that this was a product of enlightenment unbelief, but the principle of religious liberty that creates this position is actually the result of our Founders' coming to grips with the sweeping liberty implied in the Golden Rule--"Do to others as you would have them do to you" (Mt. 7:12; Lk. 6:31).
This insight was initially declared by two great Founders of our American colonies that became two of our original states, namely, Puritan/Baptist preacher Roger Williams from Rhode Island and, as we have already seen, Quaker preacher William Penn of Pennsylvania. Williams wrote in his Bloudy Tenent of Persecution: "God requireth not an uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state; ... An enforced uniformity of religion throughout a nation or civil state confounds the civil and religious, denies the principles of Christianity and civility, and that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh."
Williams offered three arguments for religious liberty: "1. that forced worship stincks in God's nostrils; 2. that it denies Christ Jesus yet to come; 3. that in these flames about religion, there is no other prudent, Christian way of preserving peace in the world but by permission of differing consciences." (26) In a letter to the Town of Providence in January, 1655, Williams gave an illustration of his conception of the liberty of conscience in a commonwealth:
There goes many a ship to sea, with many hundred souls in one ship, whose weal and woe is common, and is a true picture of a commonwealth or a human combination or society. It hath fallen out sometimes that both Papists and Protestants, Jews and Turks may be embarked in one ship; upon which supposal I affirm that all the liberty of conscience that ever I pleaded for turns upon these two hinges--that none of the papists, Protestants, Jews or Turks be forced to come to the ship's prayers or worship, nor compelled from their own particular prayers or worship, if they practice any. I further add that I never denied that, notwithstanding this liberty, the commander of this ship ought to command the ship's course, yea, and also command that justice, peace, and sobriety be kept and practiced both among the seamen and all the passengers. [Emphasis added.]
As noted above, Penn's 1701 Charter of Privileges was deeply concerned for conscience as the heart of religious liberty: "... if abridged of the Freedom of their Consciences, as to their Religious Profession and Worship ... Almighty God being the only Lord of Conscience ... molested or prejudiced, in his or their Person or Estate, because of his or their conscientious Persuasion or Practice." This early concern for religious liberty was later established in Virginia by Jefferson's text that became the Virginia Bill for Religious Liberty:
I. Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time
II. Be it 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 burthened 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 opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities. (27)
James Madison was responsible for bringing Jefferson's words to the Virginia State House to establish religious liberty, reflecting his own deep concern for religious liberty. Madison acknowledged and condemned the reality of religious persecution in his native Virginia in a letter to William Bradford, Jr., on January 24, 1774, calling it "that diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution":
Poverty and luxury prevail among all sorts; pride, ignorance, and knavery among the priesthood, and vice and wickedness among the laity. This is bad enough, but it is not the worst I have to tell you. That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some; and to their eternal infamy, the clergy can furnish their quota of imps for such business. This vexes me the worst of anything whatever. There are at this time in the adjacent country not less than five or six well-meaning men in close jail for publishing their religious sentiments, which in the main are very orthodox. I have neither patience to hear, talk, or think of anything relative to this matter; for I have squabbled and scolded, abused and ridiculed, so long about it to little purpose, that I am without common patience. So I must beg you to pity me, and pray for liberty of conscience to all. (28)
Madison's concern for "liberty of conscience to all" became a reality as the result of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
V. America's Pluralistic Public Square: Constitution, Conscience, and the First Amendment
On March 4, 1789, eleven states ratified the U.S. Constitution. North Carolina and Rhode Island ratified it in November, 1789, and May, 1790, respectively. The preamble of the Constitution highlights the quest for and value of the "Blessings of Liberty": "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defens, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Of much debate surrounding the new Constitution, however, was the lack of a Bill of Rights. There were those who felt strongly that a Bill of Rights was essential to protect the citizens from the return of a tyrannical government. James Wilson and John Smilie debated the need for such a document in November, 1787. Wilson, as a signer of the Constitution, asserted that it was unnecessary, because any power not expressly given to the government in the Constitution would be understood to be reserved for the people. Smilie vehemently disagreed, noting that
So loosely, so inaccurately are the powers which are enumerated in this constitution defined, that it will be impossible, without a test of that kind, to ascertain the limits of authority, and to declare when government has degenerated into oppression.... At present there is no security, even for the rights of conscience, and under the sweeping force of the sixth article, every principle of a bill of rights, every stipulation of the most sacred and invaluable privileges of man, are left to the mercy of government. (29)
Further impetus for the crafting of a Bill of Rights was the existence of such a document in Virginia. Madison's ideas of religious liberty had developed under Jefferson's significant influence. (30) Jefferson's 1777 text for "An Act for Establishing Religious Freedom," quoted above, was successfully brought to adoption under Madison's leadership in the Virginia Legislature in 1786. This was only a year before the adoption of the U. S. Constitution, and five years before the adoption of our First Amendment in 1791. (31)
Madison, with the aid of several others, also developed the language of the First Amendment. In a letter sent to Madison on February 28, 1788, titled "John Leland's Objections to the Constitution without a Bill of Rights," the Rev. Mr. Leland stated:
What is clearest of all--Religious Liberty, is not sufficiently secured, No Religious test is Required as a qualification to fill any office under the United States, but if a Majority of Congress with the President favour one System more then another, they may oblige all others to pay to the support of their System as much as they please, and if Oppression does not ensue, it will be owing to the Mildness of Administration and not to any Constitutional defence, and if the Manners of People are so far Corrupted, that they cannot live by Republican principles, it is Very Dangerous leaving Religious Liberty at their mercy. (32)
Twenty iterations of the language for the First Amendment ensued in the Congressional debate before the final version that we now know as the First Amendment was sent to the House on September 24, 1789: "Congress shall make no Law respecting an establishment of Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." (33) It is worthy of note, that not once in any of those twenty attempts to write the language of the First Amendment did the phrase "separation of Church and State" appear. The word "conscience," although it does not appear in the final form, occurs in twelve of these proposed iterations. Thus, it is evident that the motivating concern of the drafters following the concerns of Penn's Charter in developing the First Amendment was to protect conscience from government. Within two years, ten amendments known as the Bill of Rights were approved, providing the foundation for the protection of the fundamental rights and liberties we now enjoy in America.
This focus of protecting the conscience is also seen when Jefferson's famous language of the "wall of separation between Church and State" is quoted in context. In his letter to a committee of the Danbury Baptist Association, Connecticut, January 1, 1802, Jefferson declared:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State. Adhering to the expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has not natural right in opposition to his social duties ... (34)
Ironically, the phrase "separation between church and state" does not appear in the Constitution or the First Amendment, but it was included in the Constitution of the former U. S. S. R.: "In order to ensure to citizens freedom of conscience, the church in the U.S.S.R. is separated from the State, and the school from the church. Freedom of religious worship and freedom of anti-religious propaganda is recognized for all citizens." (35)
Religious liberty in its basic form was completed in America after various historic denominations rewrote their creeds and forms of governments so that they would reflect the American Federal Constitutional system of the nonestablishment yet free exercise of religion. (36) All the state churches including those of New England, were ultimately disestablished to conform to the freedom of religion on the federal level. Many state constitutions explicitly include language to protect the rights of conscience. (37)
America had broken with the Old World's acceptance of religious persecution and laid the foundations for a new form of government that was intended to ensure religious and civil liberty for its citizens. The next task was to implement a government that achieved these ideals. Washington, as America's first president, confirmed his commitment to religious liberty in his classic letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, dated August 18, 1790:
The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. (38)
Note the superiority of "liberty of conscience" that Washington extols over the inferior liberty of "toleration." Penn's Philadelphia, the Founders' First Amendment, and Washington's letter to the Jewish Congregation in Newport all unite in the celebration of religious liberty rather than a mere tolerance of private religion.
VI. America "s Historic Commitment to Religious Liberty Protects Jews and Muslims
Penn's "holy experiment," perfected in America, has yielded religious liberty yet unknown in still half the world, which continues to face persecution marked by untold tragedy because of hostilities toward differing faith perspectives. Sadly, much of the world still does not enjoy the religious freedom that Americans experience on a daily basis. In a speech by President George W. Bush given on May 7, 2001, to the American Jewish Committee, titled "The First Freedom of the Soul," Bush underscored the profound need for religious liberty worldwide:
The Middle East is the birthplace of three great religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Lasting peace in the region must respect the rights of believers in all these faiths. That's common sense. But it is also something more: it is moral sense, based upon the deep American commitment to freedom of religion ... Leo Napoleon Levi, a Galveston, Texas, lawyer and a president of the national B'nai Brith, drafted President Theodore Roosevelt a telegram denouncing a Russian pogrom in 1903. The Czar of Russia was so stung by Roosevelt's message that he formally refused to accept it. Some Americans complained that Roosevelt had gone too far. He replied that there were crimes so monstrous that the American conscience had to assert itself. And there still are ... No one is a better witness to the transience of tyranny than the children of Abraham. Forty centuries ago, the Jewish people were entrusted with a truth more enduring than any power of man. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "This shall be My covenant with them, said the Lord; My spirit which is upon you, and the words which I have placed in your mouth, shall not be absent from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your children, nor from the mouth of your children's children--said the Lord--from now, for all time ... It is not an accident that freedom of religion is one of the central freedoms in our Bill of Rights. It is the first freedom of the human soul: the right to speak the words that God places in our mouths. We must stand for that freedom in our country. We must speak for that freedom in the world. (39)
Bush detailed in his speech the areas in the world where crimes against humanity were being committed in the name of religious faith. There are indeed "crimes so monstrous that the American conscience has to assert itself." Clearly, liberty's message still needs to be heard throughout the hurting, hungry, and poverty stricken nations of the world.
In this context, American religious liberty must not recede but must remain vital by not permitting the liberty of conscience to be diminished to a postmodern mere "tolerance." What, then, of the consciences of the people in the midst of the debate at the Air Force Academy? How do the majority and authority figures protect their rights of conscience before the minority and their subordinates? How do the minority and subordinate figures protect their rights of conscience before their superiors who reflect the majority religion? This is an important matter for Judaism and Islam as minority faiths in the United States. How can the rights of everyone's consciences be protected without creating an unjust obligation for someone to pay homage to a creed that is not one's own?
Professor Khalid Blankinship of Temple University in Philadelphia presented expert testimony on behalf of the position that sought to remove the Ten Commandments display in West Chester, PA, in 2002. He wrote for the court: "There is no question that the Muslims in the United States are an important part of the religious and cultural scene that cannot be ignored. Their existence here represents an increase in the religious pluralism here that was formerly confined to the Christian and Jewish traditions, but now includes many others." (40) Muslims appropriately seek their rights afforded by the governmental application of the historic Judeo-Christian ideal of religious liberty even for minorities. (41) However, does Islam find continuity with the American tradition of "liberty in law" (42) that is afforded by the Judeo-Christian Torah text of Lev. 25:10, which is on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia? This great symbol of American religious and civil liberty declares: "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." (43)
Muslim countries have been characterized as some of the least free in the world. (44) Speaking of the worldwide growth of Islam, Blankinship explains, "It has also become the majority religion of many countries, including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, the Sudan, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Chad, Nigeria, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, the Palestinian entity, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Albania, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, the Maldives Islands, and the Comoro Islands." (45) Significantly, most of these countries either do not possess or significantly restrict religious freedom, according to the U.S. State Department. (46) Most have experienced significant religious persecution.
Blankinship states that it is unfortunate that it has been said "that Muslims do not integrate well into our political system here because they deny its legitimacy." (47) Muslim leaders should answer a critical question: Does the Qur'an require Muslims to deny the legitimacy of the American system of religious and civil liberty? This is a fundamental question for the health of American constitutional liberty.
America's Judeo-Christian heritage of liberty created the nonestablishment of religion that enables the very pluralistic religious life referred to by Blankinship:
Adherents of other religions, such as Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Confucianists, and Shintoists, not to mention followers of non-Christian American Indian traditions or Wiccans, are all the more left out, because none of their religions acknowledges the Bible as a scripture nor any of its personages as religious figures at all. Followers of all of these religions will tend to feel excluded by the display of this text [that is, the Ten Commandments] on a public building that belongs to all citizens. (48)
It must be emphasized, however, that it is the Judeo-Christian heritage enshrined in the American tradition that has provided this religious liberty. This religious tradition is the progenitor of our Bill of Rights and the religious liberty afforded in the First Amendment. Would these various religions prosper under Islamic law? In this context, however, it is important to recognize that there is a deep commitment to religious liberty by some American Muslim scholars. (49) The critical question here is whether religious liberty can flourish under any system of law that does not value freedom as the Judeo-Christian tradition has. Religious liberty so far has spread to only half the world. (50)
Religious liberty means that no one can compel another to pay homage to a creed that is not one's own. Nevertheless, we must recognize that the fabric of American democracy contains certain values that all Americans must hold. If they hold them because they are contained in the Judeo-Christian tradition, that is fine. If they hold them because they believe they simply are wise, that is fine. The issue is not the establishment of religion but the establishment of religious liberty in a society of order and justice. Religious liberty--not mere "tolerance"--is one of the greatest gifts of the Judeo-Christian heritage to the world. The history that produced such liberty ought to be well-known by all its citizens, even if not all of these citizens agree with the religious influences that helped to shape the liberty that they enjoy.
Conclusion: Jews and Evangelicals Must Labor Together to Protect the Rights of Conscience of Both the Majority and the Minority
A dictum attributed to Marx says, "Take away a people's roots, and they can easily be moved." If we as Americans would retain our legacy of religious liberty, there is a necessity for education in the heritage of religious liberty that has shaped our nation and our civil liberties. To put it another way, ignorance is a threat to freedom. Sadly, there are many signs of America's growing ignorance about its own heritage.
America's historical ignorance of our heritage has been described by the provocative phrase, "American amnesia." This is not an overstatement. (51) Jefferson said, "A nation has never been ignorant and free; that has never been and will never be." (52) Madison repeatedly agreed, "The diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty." (53) "Learned institutions ought to be favorite objects with every free people. They throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against crafty and dangerous encroachments on the public liberty." (54) "It is universally admitted that a well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people." (55)
We must teach our nation's Judeo-Christian historical commitment to religious liberty, to assure that no one is ever forced to pay homage to a creed that is not his or her own.
What, then, is the solution to the controversy over religious speech at the Air Force Academy? Whatever may be the practical implementation, on the philosophical level the solution must include a full recognition and protection of religious pluralism, religious liberty, and the rights of every conscience without curtailing anyone's free speech even in the tax-funded public sphere of the military. Is this solution difficult to achieve? Certainly, but it must be sought if we are to assure that we avoid the two principles of persecution that Penn "abhorred."
If we are to maintain religious liberty and the full dignity of human conscience, rather than reducing such liberty to a "toleration"--whether at the U.S. Air Force Academy, or anywhere else--Jews and evangelicals must affirm together that there is an abiding necessity of free speech and religious convictions for all in the public square. This is true for the majority and minority religions. This is true for both the superior and the inferior military authorities.
What, then, might be a way forward in addressing the problem that motivated the Jewish complainants to bring the protest about the Academy's policies? While any solution may prove ultimately impractical, there do seem to be a few possibilities. First, could the Academy establish an ethics committee made up of representatives of all faiths that are represented at the Academy? The purpose of such would be to assure that full religious liberty was maintained and that any appeal to its review was nonprejudicial in character. Second, perhaps part of the orientation programs for the incoming leaders and students at the Academy would include a brief legal, religious, and historical segment documenting the critical importance of all aspects of religious liberty in American civil and military life. Third, the chaplains, who are so critical to military morale and spirituality, should be trained with an unyielding commitment to the rights of conscience and to the privilege of the free exercise of religion. Finally, perhaps a task force of civilian and military leaders should be convened to address this matter with the mandate to develop realistic procedures and educational measures that seek to balance the rights of all religious faiths, regardless of whether they are held by officers or cadets. The challenge will be complex, but the vital spiritual liberty of the believer to pursue his or her understanding of divine revelation and the necessity of the government to protect the individual conscience from coercion must be simultaneously maintained and protected. In historic terms, is this not the essence of the universally recognized ethical power of the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have done unto you"?
Nietzsche notwithstanding, the Declaration affirms that certain "self-evident truths" exist, but what is self-evident? Penn, along with many Christians and Deists, identified natural law as the basis of the state. Modern and postmodern thought, generally speaking, has not accepted this thesis. While no one will ultimately agree on universally true claims for self-evident truths, given the notorious conflicts in metaphysical philosophical reflection, could not the following line of reasoning provide a potential philosophical platform for reflection on this crucial matter in the public square? First, as both Augustine and Descartes have argued, doubt always leads to truth. (56) We ultimately know we exist because we doubt. Because we doubt, we think--Cogito ergo sum. But, this inescapable existence also means that at some level we possess truth precisely at the level of our own existence. For Augustine and for Descartes that fact permitted rational moves to the ultimate truth of the divine. The ethical implication of this for our purposes, then, is that the individual conscience in seeking truth encounters the inescapable truth that people ask the question if there is a God. This too may be answered by doubt. But, is it not true that we cannot doubt that we are doubting about God? Since the self permits itself to ask these questions as an expression of its own existence, why would one doubter, one seeker, prevent another existing doubter to pursue the same questions?
The seeker may or may not adhere to a logical conclusion about God's existence or to a rational claim for a natural law emanating from a divine source. Certainly, the various doubters' possessing the truth of their own existence and the truth of their questions about God may in faith accept differing claims of divine self-disclosure or revelation, but this, too, cannot be doubted. We cannot doubt that one mind engages one set of truth-claims about divine revelation in contrast to another's mind that holds to an entirely different set of revelatory claims. Hence, the truth of diverse questions, diverse beliefs, is an indubitable reality and is self-evident. And, just as it is self-evident truth that one wishes to be free to be, to doubt, to think, to answer questions about the world and God, there can be no rational grounds to deny the right to pursue such questions to another. Hence, the existence of one psychic center of doubt, reflection, and faith yields the right for another psychic center of doubt, reflection, and faith to exist as well. All of this seems to be self-evident truth and at the core of a rational basis for religious liberty. This is clearly insufficient self-evident truth for a religious believer, but it is a sufficient basis for the public square's need for a rational foundation for religious liberty.
Thus, one of the greatest of these self-evident truths is the conviction that every person should be free to pursue in a governmentally unfettered manner the religious truth that most agrees with his or her conscience. Following Chomsky's advice, let us then, metaphorically speaking to be sure, put postmodern skepticism in the flames. I would propose that we throw in along with it the postmodern principle of bare "tolerance" and warm our hearts instead with a commitment to the "unalienable rights" of religious liberty and the liberty of conscience.
Let us together with Penn abhor the "teeth" of any government that would gnaw away at the rights of conscience and religious liberty, reducing them to a privatized and homogenized, governmentally enforced religious tolerance. Penn's ideal "Philadelphia" may be difficult to achieve, but America's pursuit of his "holy experiment," by the civil application of the Golden Rule and the First Amendment, must continue unabated. Only then can we be sure that no one will "destroy those that differ ... for God's sake." (57)
(1) "Rabbi Yehiel Poupko has been on a mission for more than two years to educate Mainline Protestants that their blanket rejections of Christian Zionism are inherently a rejection of any Jewish claim to our homeland and an endorsement that any such claim is nullified in the coming of Christ. It is a brand of supercessionism [sic]. He is also engaging Evangelical Christians to articulate better the theological underpinnings of their support for Israel that do not flow from prophecies about Armageddon. The Jewish people, according to Poupko, are caught between two extreme theologies, one that says we have no connection and the other which says we have a connection only because Jesus is coming" (Ethan Felson, "On the Road: The Jewish Community Relations Encounter with Evangelical Christians," in Alan Mittleman, Byron Johnson, and Nancy Isserman, eds., Uneasy Allies? Evangelical and Jewish Relations [Lanham, MD, and Plymouth, U.K.: Lexington Books, 2007], p. 98). Felson then quotes from Yehiel Poupko, "Evangelicals: A Brief Description and Some Jewish Considerations," March 27, 2006: "The Mainline Protestants and the Evangelicals now meet to do theological battle on the playing field that is the Jewish people and the State of Israel. We have become their soccer ball. In effect, the Mainline says, 'How can Christians support Israel out of a theology that is based on biblical literalism, inerrancy of prophecy, and the assertion that one can look at contemporary events and know God's will?" Indeed, the Mainline is thus holding the Jewish people and Israel accountable for Evangelical support, and is saying, 'How justified can Zionism and Israel be if their strongest support in the Christian community is coming from Evangelical quarters?' And in effect, the Evangelical turns to the Jewish community and says, 'For decades, many of you have made common cause with Mainline Protestants, with the liberals, with the Democratic party on a whole series of social, political, and economic issues. And now, when it comes to Israel, which we Evangelicals know matters most to you, they are not your friends, and we are'" (Felson, "On the Road," pp. 98-99). He continues: "Almost every element of the organized Jewish community is programmed to align with liberal Protestants on a vast array of issues and to turn a blind eye to their anti-Zionism Similarly, the community had seemed programmed to reject those from the Evangelical community who embrace Zionism, as an odd 'other' with a hidden agenda. More than a decade of experience, setting boundaries around political matters and proselytization, have moved the American Jewish community, reluctantly at times, to a position of increased comfort in working with Evangelical Christians. The very actions of the Mainline Protestants, in attacking both Israel and any theological position that could support a Jewish homeland there, have been catalysts in this transition. Along the journey the Jewish community has found an increased comfort zone that has enabled the long-sought partnerships on domestic issues such as religious accommodation legislation, environmental protections, and the rights of religious minorities in other lands" (Felson, "On the Road," p. 99).
(2) "In the last analysis, America is a Christian country, governed by Christians, on the basis of Christian Protestant principles. It is at the same time a nation that has gradually opened its doors to members of all religious communities to live and practice their faiths in freedom and security. America has created a constitutional system that offers freedom of worship to members of all faiths and protects churches from one another, guaranteeing an open market of religions. One should therefore look at the historical religious disengagement of the turn of the nineteenth century and the partial separation of church and state that followed, as policies advocated by Christians, for the sake of Christians, although other groups benefited from them as well. At the same time, the ruling Protestant elite attempted openly or covertly to Protestantize members of other communities and bring them to accept the values of the majority faith. Ultimately, America has come to promote its own brand of Christianity, which represents American values, including emphasis on thrift and proper civil conduct. This American brand shows respect for individual choices within a framework of mass culture. Religion in America has become both a matter of choice and a social convention. It offers a great variety of communities that advocate similar values and norms. In their many forms and guises, Pietist churches have captured the souls of Americans and, to a large extent captured the soul of the nation as a whole. The reason, I would claim, that Evangelical, Adventist, Mormon, and Pentecostal forms of Christianity have become so successful in our time is because they represent American values, no less than they have helped to shape them. Protestant Christianity has had such a profound influence on American thinking that non-Protestants, from Jews to Zen Buddhists, have gone, in one way or another, through a process of Protestantization, altering their manners and values as they make room for themselves in American society. American culture is so thoroughly Protestant that one wonders how anyone could suggest it is equally Buddhist. That is, unless one reaches the conclusion that in America, Buddhism is Protestant, too" (Yaakov Ariel, "Is America Christian? Religion in America at the Turn of the Twentieth Century," in Mittleman, Johnson, and Isserman, Uneasy Allies? pp. 16-17).
(3) "I will close with two observations. First, most Jews are unaware that Evangelicals and fundamentalists have been some of their best friends--at least in the Jewish struggle for a secure homeland. Yet, as Merkley remarks, American Jews 'are conditioned to look upon the conservative side of the Christian religious spectrum with loathing: these are the bible thumpers, whom everyone is permitted to despise ... whom not to despise is a sign of cultural deficiency" (Gerald R. McDermott, "Evangelicals and Israel," in Mittleman, Johnson, and Isserman, Uneasy Allies? p. 146 [quoting Paul Charles Merkley, The Politics of Christian Zionism, 1891-1948 (London: Frank Cass, 1988), p. 208]). McDermott continues: "Perhaps some rethinking is in order: for Jews to acknowledge what is at least 'co-belligerency,' and for conservative Christians to recognize Jews as religious cousins. Fundamentalists and Evangelicals have already recognized that modern Israel is 'prophetically significant,' as Southern Baptist Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. has put it, if not in itself the complete fulfillment of biblical prophecy that some fundamentalists have proclaimed. But they should also recognize that insofar as the state has served as a vessel of protection for the Jewish people, it is perhaps a judgment on the church and a reminder that God will protect His people even when the church will not. Second, on most of these matters Evangelicals and fundamentalists agree. Before the second intifada there was a certain divide over where to place emphasis. Fundamentalists tended to stress more than Evangelicals the biblical promises of land and future to the Jews, while Evangelicals tended to place more emphasis on the conditionality of the promises. Hence, fundamentalists more than Evangelicals agreed with Gush Emunim supporters who defend the West Bank Jewish settlements on the grounds that the land conquered in 1967 was returned to its rightful owners. And more Evangelicals than fundamentalists would argue that while Israel has a right to at least its pre-1967 borders and must be guaranteed security, Israel should not control the lives of Palestinians or prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state that is committed to peaceful coexistence. But at the same time, especially since the second intifada, most all fundamentalists and Evangelicals argue that the land seizures of both 1948 and 1967 occurred after wars started by Arabs to destroy the (vastly outnumbered) Jewish state, and after turning down the UN partition plan (which Jews had accepted). Many Evangelicals deny a one-to-one correspondence between the modern State of Israel and the prophetic promised return of Jews to the land--because the return is to be accompanied by widespread spiritual renewal and is not necessarily connected to expansive land claims made by some Zionists--while at the same time affirming a connection between the two. They agree with the prominent Evangelical leader Gary Burge that 'God's people cannot make a religious claim to the land without exhibiting religious devotion to [the terms of] the covenant'" (McDermott, "Evangelicals and Israel," pp. 146-147 [quoting Gary M. Burge, Who Are God's People in the Middle East? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1993), p. 118]). McDermott goes on: "At the same time, more and more Evangelicals are wondering if we need to more humility when criticizing Israelis for how they treat Palestinians--particularly when the much-criticized fence (more popularly known as "the wall") seems to have reduced significantly the number of suicide bombings. They wonder how we would respond if we experienced a succession of 9/11-like attacks, almost monthly over several years, in a country the size of New Jersey, where nearly everyone knows someone who has been killed or maimed. More and more they see the hypocrisy of critics of Israel, who routinely excoriate Israel for alleged human right abuses but typically ignore China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and other countries deemed 'not free' in annual Freedom House assessments. They also notice that critics of Israel regularly ignore human rights abuses against Palestinian Christians perpetrated by Palestinian Muslims and disregarded by the Palestinian Authority" (McDermott, "Evangelicals and Israel," p. 147).
(4) "American Jews continue to grapple with the question of how to regard Evangelical support for Israel. Whereas many embrace them as friends of Israel, many others shudder at the very mention of cooperation. Clearly, American Jews do not speak in one voice on this issue. Given the paucity of pro-Israeli voices in the world today, and the new recognition of the widespread pro-Israel sympathies among Evangelicals, it seems inevitable that increasing numbers of pro-Israel Jews will reach the conclusion that Israel's interests will be served by a cautious embrace of these millions of supporters. As in all coalition building, limits must be set and issues must be defined, but it is increasingly difficult to imagine that American Jewry will veer far from the Israeli government's view. That view, which has been shared by every man who has occupied the Prime Minister's office since the mid-1990s, can best be summed up as embracing friends and emphasizing areas of shared values" (Carl Schrag, "American Jews and Evangelical Christians: Anatomy of a Changing Relationship," in Mittleman, Johnson, and Isserman, Uneasy Allies? p. 176).
(5) Sanford H. Cobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty in America: A History (New York: Cooper Square Publishers, 1968 [orig., 1902]), p. 441.
(6) See Peter A. Lillback, Proclaim Liberty: ... A Broken Bell Rings Freedom to the Worm (Bryn Mawr, PA: The Providence Forum, 2001), p. 44.
(7) For various examples of definitions for postmodernism, cthttp://steigerblog.blogspot.com/2004_12_01_archive.html; www.objectivistcenter.org/obj-studies/cyber/DefPoMo.asp; www.spaceandmotion.com/Philosophy-Postmodernismhtm; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism; and www.pbs.org/faithandreason/gengloss/postm-body.html.
(8) Nietzsche's hostility to religion in general and to Christianity in particular gave rise to the rejection to the notion of religious truth that is close to the heart of the postmodern approach to the epistemology of religion. He wrote, "To quote from a book of my own, The Gay Science: 'The truthful man (using 'truth' in that audacious sense science presupposes) is led to assume a world which is totally other than that of life, nature and history. Does this not mean that he is forced to deny this world of ours? ... The faith on which our belief in science rests is still a metaphysical faith. Even we students of today, who are atheists and anti-metaphysicians, light our torches at the flame of a millennial faith: the Christian faith, which was also the faith of Plato, that God is truth, and truth divine.... But what if this equation becomes less and less credible, if the only things that may still be viewed as divine are error, blindness, and lies; if God himself turns out to be our longest lie?' Here let us pause and take thought. It appears that today inquiry itself stands in need of justification (by which I do not mean to say that such justification can be found). In this connection let us glance at both the oldest and the most recent philosophers: to a man they lack all awareness that the will to truth itself needs to be justified There is a gap here in every philosophy--how are we to explain it? By the fact that the ascetic ideal has so far governed all philosophy; that truth was premised as Being, as God, as supreme sanction; that truth was not allowed to be called in question. But once we withhold our faith from the God of the ascetic ideal a new problem poses itself, the problem of the value of truth. The will to truth must be scrutinized; our business now is tentatively to question the will to truth" (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy and The Genealogy of Morals, tr. Francis Golffing [New York: Anchor Books, 1956; orig.: The Birth of Tragedy, 1870-71; The Genealogy of Morals: An Attack, 1887], pp. 288-289). Similarly, he argues, "What is it, in truth, that has triumphed over the Christian god? The answer may be found in my Gay Science: 'The Christian ethics with its key notion, ever more strictly applied, or truthfulness; the casuistic finesse of the Christian conscience, translated and sublimated into the scholarly conscience, into intellectual integrity to be maintained at all costs; the interpretation of nature as a proof of God's beneficent care; the interpretation of history to the glory of divine providence, as perpetual testimony of a moral order and moral ends; the interpretation of individual experience as preordained, purposely arranged for the salvation of the soul--all these are now things of the past: they revolt our consciences as being indecent, dishonest, cowardly, effeminate. It is this rigor, if anything, that makes us good Europeans and the heirs of Europe's longest, most courageous self-conquest.' All great things perish of their own accord, by an act of self-cancellation: so the law of life decrees. In the end it is always the legislator himself who must heed the command patere legem, quam ipse tulisti. Thus Christianity as dogma perished by its own ethics, and in the same way Christianity as ethics must perish; we are standing on the threshold of this event. After drawing a whole series of conclusions, Christian truthfulness must now draw its strongest conclusion, the one by which it shall do away with itself. This will be accomplished by Christianity's asking itself, 'What does all will to truth signify?' Here I touch once more on my problem, on our problem, my unknown friends (for I do not yet know whether I have any friends among you): what would our existence amount to were it not for this, that the will to truth has been forced to examine itself? It is by this dawning self-consciousness of the will to truth that ethics must now perish. This is the great spectacle of a hundred acts that will occupy Europe for the next two centuries, the most terrible and problematical but also the most hopeful of spectacles" (Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy, pp. 296-298).
(9) Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: a Report on Knowledge, tr. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), p. xi.
(10) Ibid., p. xxiv.
(11) See http://www.cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/ chomsky.on.postmodernismhtml.
(12) See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism.
(13) For a survey of Penn's life, see Lillback, Proclaim Liberty, pp. 16-24.
(14) Penn's work that prompted his arrest was titled "The Sandy Foundation Shaken" (1668) (The Select Works of William Penn, 4th ed. (New York: Kraus Reprint Co., 1971 [orig.: London: William Phillips, George Yard, Lombard Street, 1825]), vol. 1, pp. 129-156). The book seemingly questioned and criticized doctrines important to traditional Christian faith such as the Trinity. Before his release, Penn wrote another work, "Innocency with her Open Face, Presented by Way of Apology for the Book entitled, The Sandy Foundation Shaken," clarifying that he did not reject the deity of Christ. Therein he wrote, "[F]rom whence I conclude Christ the Saviour to be God; for otherwise God would not be himself; since if Christ be distinct from God, and yet God's power and wisdom, God would be without his own power and wisdom; but inasmuch as it is impossible God's power and wisdom should be distinct or divided from himself, it reasonably follows, that Christ, who is that power and wisdom, is not distinct from God, but entirely that very same God.... 'God is light, and in him is no darkness at all;' from whence I assert the unity of God and Christ, because though nominally distinguished, yet essentially the same divine light; for if Christ be that light, and that light be God, then is Christ God; or if God be that light, and that light be Christ, then is God Christ.... From which I conclude Christ to be God: for if none can save, or be stiled properly a Saviour but God, and yet that Christ is said to save, and properly called a Saviour, it must needs follow, that Christ the Saviour is God" (Select Works, vol. 1, pp. 158-159). Penn believed that theological mistakes were made in his first theological book that prompted this initial theological skirmish that resuited in his imprisonment. In "Fragments of an Apology for Himself, by William Penn," he stated, "That which engaged the Bishop of London to be warm in my Persecution, was the credit some Presbyterian Ministers had with him, and the mistake they improved against me, of my denying the Divinity of Christ, and the Doctrine of the Trinity" (see Remember William Penn, 1644-1944 [Harrisburg, PA: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, William Penn Tercentenary Committee, Department of Public Instruction and Pennsylvania Historical Commission, 1944], p. 32, emphasis in original). Penn's second book was clearly attempting to correct this costly "mistake."
(15) See note 5, above.
(16) Penn's 1670 work, The Great Case of Liberty of Conscience, once more briefly debated and defended by the Authority of Reason, Scripture, and Antiquity; Which may serve the place of a general Reply to such late Discourses as have opposed Tolleration has two texts from the Gospels on the title page: Mt. 7:12, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you do ye even so to them"; and Mk. 12:17, "Render unto Caesar, the things that are Caesar's, and to God, the things that are God's" (Select Works, vol. 2, pp. 128-164).
(17) Article I of the Charter of Privileges reads: "BECAUSE no People can be truly happy, though under the greatest Enjoyment of Civil Liberties, if abridged of the Freedom of their Consciences, as to their Religious Profession and Worship: And Almighty God being the only Lord of Conscience, Father of Lights and Spirits; and the Author as well as Object of all divine Knowledge, Faith and Worship, who only doth Enlighten the Minds, and persuade and convince the Understandings of People, I do hereby Grant and Declare, That no Person or Persons, inhabiting in this Province or Territories, who shall confess and acknowledge One almighty God, the Creator, Upholder and Ruler of the World; and professe him or themselves obliged to live quietly under the Civil Government, shall be in any Case molested or prejudiced, in his or their Person or Estate, because of his or their conscientious Persuasion or Practice, nor be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious Worship, Place or Ministry contrary to his or their Mind, or to do or [suffer] any other Act or Thing, contrary to their religious Persuasion. AND that all Persons who also profess to believe in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World, shall be capable (notwithstanding their other Persuasions and Practices in Point of Conscience and Religion) to serve this Government in any Capacity, both legislatively and executively ..." (text available at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/default.asp).
(18) Leo Schelberg, Swiss Migration to America: The Swiss Mennonites (New York: Arno Press, 1980), p. 151.
(19) Robert H. Wilson, Freedom of Worship: Meeting Houses, Churches, and Synagogues of Early Philadelphia (Philadelphia: Old Philadelphia Churches Historical Association, 1976), p. 15. The plaque at St. Joseph's Church says: "When in 1733/St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church/Was founded and/Dedicated to the guardian of the holy family/It was the only place/In the entire English speaking world/Where public celebration of/The holy sacrifice of the Mass/Was permitted by law. In 1734/The provincial council of Pennsylvania/Defending the liberty of worship/Granted by William Penn to this colony/Successfully withstood/The demand of the governor of the province/That this church be outlawed/And such liberty be suppressed/Thus was established permanently/In our nation/The principle of religious freedom/Which was later embodied into/The Constitution/Of/The United States of America."
(20) Cobb, Rise of Religious Liberty, p. 419, emphasis in original. John Locke had a key role in drafting the original Constitution of South Carolina. His perspective in that document was quite tolerant for his day, and certainly more tolerant to Roman Catholics than was the Charter of Georgia. See The Works of John Locke, A New Edition, Corrected in Ten Volumes (London: printed for Thomas Tegg; W. Sharpe and Son, 1823; repr.: Aalen, Germany: Scientia Verlag, 1963), vol. 10. pp. 193-196.
(21) "It needs, however, to be noted that Pennsylvania never proceeded against persons. There were no instances of persecution, or of personal hardships for religion's sake, unless exclusion from office can be so termed. Men were not hindered the free exercise of what religion they preferred. Stille quotes from Hildreth the statement, that the Roman Church of Saint Joseph in Philadelphia was the only place in the thirteen colonies where the mass was allowed to be publicly celebrated prior to the Revolution. In theory, indeed, Pennsylvania, after 1700, lagged behind even the once theocratic Massachusetts, but in her treatment of persons we find no harshness. During the Seven Years' War with the French and Indians the assembly passed a law for disarming Roman Catholics, but the motive of the act was not religious oppression, but a fear lest the religious sympathy of the Romanists might cause them to aid the French. The fear was the result of an unjust suspicion, and the law, due to a moment of panic, was never put in force. Of all the religious legislation in the colonies nothing was more absurd than that against Roman Catholics. One would suppose that the Roman Church was a constant and threatening foe to colonial institutions. The fact was far otherwise. With the opening of the Revolution, it is estimated that there were not more than thirteen hundred Romanists between Canada and Florida. And this is not to be understood as the effect of "antipapist" laws. For some other reason, not clearly discernible, the people of that faith were not drawn toward America. The opening of Maryland, as a refuge for them from the proscriptions of England, did not attract many. At the beginning of that colony, the majority of settlers were Protestants, and in the following years the disproportion increased steadily, so that by 1700 the Romanists were less than one-sixth of the inhabitants. With all circumstances to attract, and with the sure prospect of possessing the controlling power, the Roman Catholics declined to come in any larger numbers to their own colony. In the face of such a fact, and in face of the still more remarkable fact that, during the half century in which the Romanists governed Maryland, they were not guilty of a single act of religious oppression, the legislation against them was specially unwarranted and base. In the Maryland of the eighteenth century it was the voice of a monstrous ingratitude. In the other colonies it was so needless as to be ridiculous. Of course, we recognize it as but a reflection from the baleful fires that burned so long in England; and much of the blame for it must be laid at the door of the English government, insisting without reason that the distinctions, which meant so much in English law and society, should be perpetuated in America, where they could not properly apply. This was specially the case in Pennsylvania. The Quakers would never have moved such restrictive measures, if left to themselves; and it is their peculiar disgrace that, unlike themselves, they quailed before the voice of regal authority demanding an action which all their professed principles detested. In so judging, however, it needs always to be remembered that this invidious legislation was never followed by oppression of persons for their religion, and that, while Romanists were excluded from civil rights, yet in the private and public exercise of their faith they were possessed in Pennsylvania of larger liberty than in any other colony. In this regard they were perfectly free. No law 'excepted Papists' from the category of intending inhabitants, or made the colony dangerous ground for 'Popish Priest' or Jesuit. Coming to Pennsylvania, they were unmolested, and seemed content to rest under the civil ban, so long as their religious worship was not forbidden or hindered" (Cobb, Rise of Religious Liberty, pp. 450-452).
(22) George Washington wrote a private letter to Sir John Sinclair from Philadelphia on December 11, 1796, which said that "Pennsylvania is a large state, and from the policy of its founder, and of the government since; and especially from the celebrity of Philadelphia, has become the general recepticle of foreigners from all countries, and of all descriptions; many of whom soon take an active part in the politics of the State; and coming over full of prejudices against their own governments, some against all government, you will be enabled, without any comment of mine, to draw your own inference of their conduct" (John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington (Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1940), vol. 35, pp. 325-326. Washington had received an interesting letter several years earlier, on June 23, 1760, from Andrew Burnaby, who was writing to him from Philadelphia. Burnaby wrote, "Philadelphia is beyond my Expectation; and when I consider that it contains near 20,000 Inhabitants of Many Nations and Religions; that it Employs one Year with Another 350 vessels; that it has a well regulated Police; and is in beauty, Trade, Riches, not inferiour to many cities in Europe, I am lost in Admiration of that Great Man Mr Penn, who by his Wisdom and vast foresight, has been able to Accomplish such things" (W. W. Abbot, ed, The Papers of George Washington: Colonial Series [Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1988], vol. 6, p. 439).
(23) Jefferson wrote: "Our sister states of Pennsylvania and New York, however, have long subsisted without any establishment at all. The experiment was new and doubtful when they made it. It has answered beyond conception. They flourish infinitely. Religion is well supported; of various kinds, indeed, but all good enough; all sufficient to preserve peace and order" (Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, ed. William Peden [Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1955], pp. 160-161).
(24) J. William Frost, A Perfect Freedom, Religious Liberty in Pennsylvania (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993), p. 4. (25) Charles Michael Boland, Ring in the Jubilee: The Epic of America's Liberty Bell (Riverside, CT: Chatham Press, 1973), p. 13.
(26) Cobb, Rise of Religious Liberty, p. 427.
(27) William R. Estep, Revolution within the Revolution: The First Amendment in Historical Context, 1612-1789 (Grand Rapids MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), pp. 194-195.
(28) Saul K. Padover, ed., The Complete Madison: His Basic Writings (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1953), p. 298.
(29) Erik Bruun and Jay Crosby, eds., Our Nation's Archive: The History of the United States in Documents (New York: Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, 1999), pp. 167-168.
(30) For the very close personal connection between Madison and Jefferson, see Padover, The Complete Madison, pp. 6-11.
(31) Estep, Revolution within the Revolution, pp. 194-195. Patrick Henry had a significant impact on religious liberty in Virginia as well. In what became known as "The Parson's Cause," he helped defeat the required payment of tithes to the state church by the citizens of Virginia, a law that forced many to support a church in which they did not believe. John Eidsmoe has written: "Several Anglican clergymen were suing some tobacco planters under a Virginia colony law that required a certain portion of tobacco revenues be paid for the support of the clergy. Henry agreed to defend the planters when their previous attorney declared the case hopeless and withdrew. He assailed the Anglican clergy without mercy, amid a packed courtroom filled with Anglican clergymen confident of victory, and 'Dissenters' (Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians) looking to Henry as their champion: 'We have heard a great deal about the benevolence and holy zeal of our reverend clergy, but how is this manifested? Do they manifest their zeal in the cause of religion and humanity by practicing the mild and benevolent precepts of the Gospel of Jesus? Do they feed the hungry and clothe the naked? Oh, no, gentlemen! Instead of feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, these rapacious harpies would, were their powers equal to their will, snatch from the hearth of their honest parishioner his last hoecake, from the widow and her orphan children their last milch cow! The last bed, nay, the last blanket from the lying-in woman!' Henry could not demand a verdict for the planters since the law was clearly on the side of the clergy. Instead, he asked the jury to bring forth a verdict for the clergy in the amount of one penny--which the jury did" (John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution.. The Faith of Our Founding Fathers [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1987], p. 301, quoting Norine Dickson Campbell, Patrick Henry: Patriot and Statesman [Greenwich, CT: Devin-Adair, 1969, 1975], p. 35). Henry also helped to defend persecuted preachers of the gospel who were not part of the established church. William J. Federer has written: "Prior to the Revolution, in 1768, Patrick Henry rode for miles on horseback to a trial in Spottsylvania County. He entered the rear of a courtroom where three Baptist ministers were being tried for having preached without the sanction of the Episcopalian Church. In the midst of the proceedings, he interrupted: 'May it please your lordships, what did I hear read? Did I hear an expression that these men, whom you worships are about to try for misdemeanor, are charged with preaching the gospel of the Son of God?'" (William J. Federer, America's God and Country: Encyclopedia of Quotations [Coppell, TX: Fame Publishing, 1994], p. 287, quoting Allen Nevins, The American States during and after the Revolution: 1775-1789 [New York: Macmillan, 1924], pp. 431-432).
(32) In Estep, Revolution within the Revolution, p. 201.
(33) See John Witte, Jr., Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment: Essential Rights and Liberties (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000), pp. 64-72, for the following enumeration:
1. Congress shall make no laws touching religion, or to infringe the rights of conscience. (6/21/1788)
2. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence, and therefore all men have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience, and that no particular religious sect or society ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others. (6/26/1788)
3. That the people have an equal, natural, and unalienable right freely and peaceably to exercise their religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that no religious sect or society ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others. (7/26/1788)
4. That any person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms ought to be exempted, upon payment of an equivalent to employ another to bear arms in his stead. (8/1/1788) (this clause added to no. 2, above)
5. The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or any pretext infringed. (6/8/1789, as part of Madison's initial draft for a Bill of Rights)
6. No state shall violate the equal right of conscience, or the freedom of the press, or the trial by jury in criminal cases. (6/8/1789, as part of Madison's initial draft for a Bill of Rights)
The following three clauses were presented in an initial draft of the Bill of Rights, drafted by a committee of eleven representatives duly appointed by the House following Madison's urging, on 7/28/1789):
7. no religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed.
8. no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms.
9. no State shall infringe the equal rights of conscience, nor the freedom of speech or of the press, nor of the right of trial by jury in criminal cases. Additional iterations:
10. Congress shall make no laws touching religion or infringing the rights of conscience. (8/15/1789)
11. "the equal rights of conscience, the freedom of speech or of the press, and the right of trial by jury in criminal cases, shall not be infringed by any State." (8/17/1789)
12. "Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the rights of conscience." (8/17/1789)
13. "No person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms in person." (8/17/1789)
14. Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, nor shall the rights of conscience be infringed. (8/25/1789)
15. Congress shall make no law establishing One Religious Sect or Society in preference to others, nor shall the rights of conscience be infringed. (9/3/1789)
16. Congress shall not make any law, infringing the rights of conscience, or establishing any Religious Sect or Society. (9/3/1789)
17. Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination of religion in preference to another, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, nor shall the rights of conscience be infringed. (9/3/1789)
18. Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. (9/3/1789)
19. Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and petition to the Government for the redress of grievances. (9/9/1789)
20. Congress shall make no Law respecting an establishment of Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. (9/24/1789).
(34) Emphasis added. Similarly in his letter to the members of the Baltimore Baptist Association, October 17, 1808, he wrote: "In our early struggles for liberty, religious freedom could not fail to become a primary object. All men felt the right, and a just animation to obtain it was exhibited by all. I was one only among the many who befriended its establishment, and am entitled but in common with others to a portion of that approbation which follows the fulfillment of a duty. Excited by wrongs to reject a foreign government which directed our concerns according to its own interests, and not to ours, the principles which justified us were obvious to all understandings, they were imprinted in the breast of every human being; and Providence ever pleases to direct the issue of our contest in favor of that side where justice was. Since this happy separation, our nation has wisely avoided entangling itself in the system of European interests, has taken no side between its rival powers, attached itself to none of its ever-changing confederacies. Their peace is desirable; and you do me justice in saying that to preserve and secure this, has been the constant aim of my administration. The difficulties which involve it, however, are now at their ultimate term, and what will be their issue, time alone will disclose. But be it what it may, a recollection of our former vassalage in religion and civil government, will unite the zeal of every heart, and the energy of every hand, to preserve that independence in both which, under the favor of heaven, a disinterested devotion to the public cause first achieved, and a disinterested sacrifice of private interests will now maintain."
(35) Starting with the Bolshevik rise to power in 1917, followed by the Communist regime under Stalin and Khrushchev, until the fall of the Berlin Wall, the church and religion in the Soviet Union suffered an unending barrage of attacks on the structural and ideological underpinnings of the church. Legal and propaganda attacks destroyed the infrastructure of the church and the credibility and status of the clergy. The infamous Stalin purges successfully decimated the ranks of the clergy, as well as religious institutions and houses of worship. In spite of Khrushchev's statements that the Soviet Union continued to support "full freedom of conscience and religion," the reality was far different. Perhaps truer to the communist view of liberty is the quote attributed to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, "It is true that liberty is precious--so precious that it must be rationed" (attributed and quoted by Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation? [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936], vol. 2, p. 1036).
(36) As an example of a church that changed its creed in the context of the American experience of religious liberty, note the striking difference in understanding of the relationship of church and state between the original version of the Presbyterian Westminster Confession of Faith and the altered American text. The original version of 1647 affirms that the magistrate ought to have coercive power in religious matters. "The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed, and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed. For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to call synods, to be present at them and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God" (XXIII. 3). Under the leadership of John Witherspoon, the President of Princeton, and the only clergyperson to sign the Declaration of Independence, the Presbyterian Church in the United States amended its Confession. The American Edition of the Confession, thus adopted in 1789, recognized a clear distinction between the power of the state and the power of the church, noting that the government should protect all faiths, not just one established religion. Chapter XXIII. 3 states: "Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and Sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; or, in the least, interfere in matters of faith. Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger. And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief. It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance."
(37) It is interesting to observe the gradual change in the Pennsylvania Constitution as it developed through the years. The Provincial Conference of Committees of the Province of Pennsylvania met June 18-25, 1776, to discuss the issue of independence. It required the following religious test for those who would represent Pennsylvania at the Continental Congress: "Resolved, That no Person elected to serve as a Member of Convention, shall take his seat or give his vote until he shall have made and subscribed to the following Declaration: I--do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ his eternal son, the true God, and in the Holy Spirit, one God Blessed for evermore; and do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration" (Proceedings of the Provincial Conference of Committees of the Province of Pennsylvania Held at Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, June 18-25, 1776, facsimile of an original as printed by W. and T. Bradford [Philadelphia: Independence Hall Association, 1989], p. 10.) This profession of faith was thus taken by Benjamin Franklin, who was a representative of Pennsylvania at the Provincial Conference of Committees. Upon the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the Pennsylvania Assembly wrote its new Constitution. The Pennsylvania Constitution continues to require a similar test of faith but one that is not explicitly trinitarian: "And each member, before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz: I do believe in one God, the creator and governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration." In the 1791 version of the Pennsylvania Constitution (after the adoption of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights), this religious test was removed. From the 1776 Pennsylvania Constitution until today, the rights of conscience have been guaranteed.
The language of the 1776 Constitution begins, even as Penn's Charter did, with the emphasis on religious liberty: "A DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE INHABITANTS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OR STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA: I. That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, amongst which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. II. That all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences and understanding: And that no man ought or of right can be compelled to attend any religious worship, or erect or support any place of worship, or maintain any ministry, contrary to, or against, his own free will and consent: Nor can any man, who acknowledges the being of a God, be justly deprived or abridged of any civil right as a citizen, on account of his religious sentiments or peculiar mode of religious worship: And that no authority can or ought to be vested in, or assumed by any power whatever, that shall in any case interfere with, or in any manner controul, the right of conscience in the free exercise of religious worship."
In the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1790, the same language in defense of the rights on conscience is found in Article IX, sec. 3: "That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty god according to the dictates of their own consciences; that no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry, against his consent; that no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience; and that no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or modes of worship." Article IX, Sec. 4, states: "That no person, who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments, shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this commonwealth." This section, in its original intent, protected the person that did not conform to the prevailing theological views of the day. Since this language continues to this day, it now has the effect of protecting the person of faith from an atheistic, secular interpretation of secular government. Either way, then and now, the Constitution has preserved and continues to preserve the rights of conscience. For the above texts, see http://avalon.law.yale.edu/default.asp
(38) Emphasis added. See Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Papers of George Washington: The Presidential Series (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1996), vol. 6, pp. 284-285. This was written on August 17, 1790. See also Washington's letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Savannah, Georgia, in May, 1790, in The Papers, vol. 5, pp. 448-449. There he wrote: "I rejoice that a spirit of liberality and philanthropy is much more prevalent than it formerly was among the enlightened nations of the earth; and that your brethren will benefit thereby in proportion as it shall become still more extensive. Happily the people of the United Sates of America have, in many instances, exhibited examples worthy of imitation--The salutary influence of which will doubtless extend much farther, if gratefully enjoying those blessings of peace which (under favor of Heaven) have been obtained by fortitude in war, they shall conduct themselves with reverence to the Deity, and charity towards their fellow-creatures. May the same wonder-working Deity, who long since delivering the Hebrews from their Egyptian Oppressors planted them in the promised land--whose providential agency has lately been conspicuous in establishing these United States as an independent nation--still continue to water them with the dews of Heaven and to make the inhabitants of every denomination participate in the temporal and spiritual blessings of that people whose God is Jehovah." Madison wrote to Mordecai M. Noah, May 15, 1818, "Having ever regarded the freedom of :religious opinions & worship as equally belonging to every sect, & the secure enjoyment of it as the best human provision for bringing all either into the same way of thinking, or into that mutual charity which is the only substitute, I observe with pleasure the view you give of the spirit in which your Sect [Jewish] partake of the blessings offered by our Govt and Laws" (Padover, The Complete Madison, p. 310). To Jacob de la Motta, Madison wrote in August, 1820: "The history of the Jews must forever be interesting. The modern part of it is, at the same time so little generally known, that every ray of light of the subject has its value. Among the features peculiar to the Political system of the U. States, is the perfect equality of rights which it secures to every religious Sect. And it is particularly pleasing to observe in the good citizenship of such as have been most distrusted and oppressed elsewhere, a happy illustration of the safety & success of this experiment of a just & benignant policy. Equal laws protecting equal rights, are found as they ought to be presumed, the best guarantee of loyalty & love of country; as well as best calculated to cherish that mutual respect & good will among Citizens of every religious denomination which are necessary to social harmony and most favorable to the advancement of truth. The account you give of the Jews of your Congregation brings them fully within the scope of these observations" (Padover, The Complete Madison, pp. 310-311).
(39) Peter A. Lillback, The Wall of Misconception: Does the Separation of Church and State Mean the Separation of God and Government? (Bryn Mawr, PA: The Providence Forum Press, 2007), pp. 91-92.
(40) See ibid., p. 93.
(41) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948, states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."
(42) The American notion of liberty in law is well reflected in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's address to the U.S. Congress on January 6, 1941. He said, "In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression--everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way--everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want--which, translated into world terms, means economic undertakings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants--everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear--which, translated into world terms, means a worldwide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor--anywhere in the world.... Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere."
(43) According to Adrian Karatnycky of Freedom House, "The correlation between Christianity and freedom at the end of the twentieth century is very strong ... Christian countries, at this stage of human development, are about six times more likely to be free and democratic, as they are to be nondemocratic and suffer from serious abridgements in human rights" (Adrian Karatnycky, "Religious Freedom and Democracy as Fundamental Human Rights," an address at the International Coalition for Religious Freedom Conference on "Religious Freedom in Europe toward the New Millennium" in Berlin, May 29-31, 1998; available at www.icrf.com). He noted further, "[O]f the 81 countries that we rate as free in our survey, 74 are majority Christian. Of the seven free countries that are not majority Christian, one is Israel, which is part of the Judeo-Christian civilization. Two others, Mauritius, and South Korea, have very large Christian communities, and in some cases growing Christian communities, more than a third of their population. Of the four free countries that don't have strong relations to the Judeo-Christian tradition, one is Mali, which is predominately Muslim. Another is Taiwan, where nearly half the population is Buddhist. Another is Mongolia, which is traditional Buddhist. And finally there is Japan, which observes both the Buddhist and Shinto traditions" (Adrian Karatnycky, "The Changing Landscape of Religious Freedom," an address at the International Coalition of Religious Freedom Conference on "Religious Freedom in Latin America and the New Millennium," October 10-12, 1998, in San Paolo, Brazil; available at www.icrf.com). There is also a historic commitment of religious toleration in Buddhism. Ninan Koshy wrote: "Twenty-three centuries ago King Ashoka, patron of Buddhism, recommended to his subjects that they should act in accordance with a principle of toleration. 'Acting thus, we contribute to our creed by serving other. Acting otherwise, we harm our own faith, bringing discredit upon the others. He who exalts his own belief, discrediting all others, does so surely to obey his religion with the intention of making a display of it. But behaving thus, he gives it the hardest blows. And for this reason concord is good only in so far as all listen to each other's creeds and live to listen to them'" (Ninan Koshy, Religious Freedom in a Changing World, Risk Books Series 54 [Geneva: WCC Publications, 1992], p. 51).
(44) President George W. Bush's above-quoted speech to the American Jewish Committee depicts the reality of religious persecution on the world stage:
"... crimes are being committed today by the government of Sudan, which is waging war against that country's traditionalist and Christian peoples. Some 2 million Sudanese have lost their lives; 4 million more have lost their homes. Hospitals, schools, churches and international relief stations have often been bombed by government warplanes over the 18 years of Sudan's civil war. The government claims to have halted air attacks. But they continue. Women and children have been abducted and sold into slavery. UNICEF estimates that some 12,000 to 15,000 people are now held in bondage in Sudan. The story of the Exodus still speaks across the millennium; no society in all of history can be justly built on the backs of slaves. Sudan is a disaster area for human rights. The right of conscience has been singled out for special abuse by the Sudanese authorities. Aid agencies report that food assistance is sometimes distributed only to those willing to undergo conversion to Islam ... I'm pleased to say that many countries in the region show considerable and improving respect for religious liberty: Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan and Bahrain among them. But there are other regimes, not only in North Africa and the Middle East, whose disrespect for freedom of worship is seriously disturbing. Iraq murders dissident religious figures. Iran systematically maltreats Jews, Christians and adherents of the Baha'i faith. The Burmese junta tortures adherents of Islam, Buddhism and Christianity. Cuba monitors and harasses independent priests and ministers. Afghanistan's Taliban government has horrified the world with its disdain for fundamental human freedoms, epitomized by its destruction of ancient Buddhist works of art. And the newly independent republics of Central Asia impose troubling limits on religious expression and missionary work" (Lillback, Wall of Misconception, p. 189, n. 37).
(45) Lillback, Wall of Misconception, p. 95.
(46) See "A Summary of Findings Based on 2000 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, issued by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U. S. Department of State, 5 September 2000," in Lillback, Proclaim Liberty, p. 59. Several of these countries fall in the categories of regimes that display overt hostility or discrimination and persecution toward minority religions, through either legislation or stigmatization through association.
(47) Lillback, Wall of Misconception, p. 95.
(48) Ibid., pp. 95-96.
(49) In 2002, Imam Tammam Adi, Ph.D., wrote in "'Fanatics and Terrorists Are Misguided" (available at http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/ features/articles/fanatics_and terrorists_are_misguided): "I will try to show that America's fight against terrorism is justified by the Quran, and-that fanatics and terrorists misinterpret the Quran to justify their views. Islam's prophet, Muhammad, is a descendant of Abraham. His message, the Quran, confirms the Gospel and the Torah. Its essence is that we should love God above everything and not play God on this earth (Allahu akbar), and also that we should treat all humanity as brothers and sisters. According to Shatibi, a 14th century Spanish-Muslim scholar, the Quran outlines a bill of rights. All verses work together to define five rights in this order of priority: religious liberty, right to life, freedom of the mind, social liberty, and finally, economic liberty. In his famous four-volume work 'How Things Fit Together in the Roots of Legislation,' Shatibi details the proof. He says all religions protect these basic rights--see, for example, the Ten Commandments. We find in verses 2:190-193 that the Quran values religious liberty even above the right to life: '... attacking a religious group (fitnah) is more severe than a plain attack (qatl).' These are the first verses revealed that tell Muslims to fight to defend themselves. 'Jihad' is an Arabic word that means 'struggle.' It is either military or nonviolent. The verses prescribe when military jihad is allowed. In all other situations, nonviolent jihad (personal and civic struggle) is the only legitimate way to achieve change 'Fight in the way of God against those who are fighting you and do not start a fight: God surely dislikes aggressors.' Since the verb 'fight' is in the plural form, jihad is a collective action based on a political decision by 'mutual consultation' (Quran 42:38). No scholar, mullah or religious leader may 'declare jihad.' The grammar also excludes non-collective military actions such as assassination, sabotage and guerrilla warfare. The 'way of God' is then defined: 'And kill them only in combat clashes, and expel them only from where they expelled you.' This outlaws the killing of non-combatants (terrorism), prisoners of war, retreating troops or surrendering soldiers. It also prohibits overreaching into enemy territory in the course of liberating a country. 'And fight them until there are no more attacks against religious groups and all religious authority is God's alone' (Quran 2:193). Given this clarity in the Quranic presentation of principles, religious fanatics have to use blatant misinterpretations to justify their causes. For example, extremists misinterpret Verse 2:193 to mean "Fight until there is no more polytheism and all submit to the religion of Allah (Islam).' Fanatics replace 'kill them only in combat clashes' with 'kill them wherever you find them.' The Arabic language and the context of the verses do not allow this twisting by any stretch of imagination. But in a dictatorship without freedom of speech, such state-sponsored mistranslations can stand unchallenged, and will be confirmed by scholars serving the despots. You can recognize misinterpretations by the fact that they contradict other verses or known principles. For example, a common mistranslation of verse 5:51 is 'O you who believe, do not take the Jews and Christians as friends (awliya)....' The right translation is 'protectors,' not 'friends,' and it refers to Muslims collaborating with enemies at a time when a specific war was going on, as 5:52 explains. Verse 60:8 makes the general relationship between Muslims and others crystal clear: 'God does not prohibit you from treating with utmost friendship (birr) and fairness those who have not attacked you because of your religion or expelled you from your homes. God loves the fair ones.' The concept of 'birr' is the way one should treat parents and relatives. The old Romans and Persians targeted Jews and Christians within their empires. Early Muslim armies fought against them to protect targeted religious groups. Muslims did not convert anybody. They remained in their nearby garrisons to assure local self-rule according to the Torah or the Gospel. Muslim 'conquests' were called 'fat-h,' which means 'opening' or liberation. Islam spread peacefully. That early Islamic way of life included some cherished values: self-rule, religious freedom and pluralism. The Quran blessed this approach: '... and if God did not cause people to defend each other, monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques would have been demolished in which God's name is often remembered' (Quran 22:40). 'There should be no coercion in religion' (Quran 2:256)."
(50) A 1986 U.N. study done by Elizabeth Odio Benito, the Special Reporter of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, presented eight distinctive relationships between church and state: (1) state religions, (2) established churches, (3) neutral or secular states as regarding religion, (4) no official religion, (5) separation of church from state, (6) arrangements with the Roman Catholic Church, (7). protection of legally recognized religious groups, and (8) the millet system, recognizing a number of religious communities. See Elizabeth Odio Benito, Study on the Current Dimensions of the Problems of Intolerance and Discrimination on Grounds of Religion or Belief (New York: United Nations, Commission on Human Rights, 1986).
(51) In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, on November 24, 2003, "How to Combat 'American Amnesia': The Humanities Are Vital to Our Country's Defense," Bruce Cole (then-chair of the National Endowment of the Humanities) wrote: "I'll give just a few examples. One study of university students found that 40% could not place the Civil War in the correct half-century. Only 37% knew that the Battle of the Bulge took place during World War II. A national test of high school seniors found that 57% performed 'below basic' level in American history. What does that mean? Well, over half of those tested couldn't say whom we fought in World War II. Eighteen percent believed that the Germans were our allies! ... If Americans cannot recall whom we fought, and whom we fought alongside, during World War II, it should not be assumed that they will long remember what happened on September 11 or why we must be prepared and vigilant today. And a nation that does not know why it exists, or what it stands for, cannot be expected to long endure. As columnist George Will wrote, 'We cannot defend what we cannot define'" (available at http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110004339). David Horowitz, "The Anti-Americans among Us," July 10, 2000, wrote, "In a recent survey of seniors at 55 of the highest rated American colleges and universities, including Harvard and Princeton, 80 percent of those questioned failed to get better than a D on a high-school level history exam and could not identify Patrick Henry, for example, as the author of the phrase 'Give me liberty or give me death,' let alone provide its context. (AP 6/27/2000) None of the 55 schools in the survey required a course in American history for graduation, and only 20% required their students to take any history classes at all" (available at http://wwwfrontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx? GUID=80D59500-1921-4BC5-ADA4-DCAD0971E).
(52) "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be" (Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816).
(53) James Madison to George Thompson, June 30, 1825.
(54) Written to W. T. Barry, August 4, 1822 (Padover, The Complete Madison, p. 337).
(55) James Madison, Second Annual Message, December 5, 1810.
(56) In The City of God, Book XI, Chap. 26, a millennium before Descartes, Augustine developed the cogito ergo sum argument, but in so doing he gave a logical basis for self-evident truth as well: "And we indeed recognize in ourselves the image of God, that is, of the supreme Trinity, an image which, though it be not equal to God, or rather, though it be very far removed from Him,--being neither co-eternal, nor. to say all in a word, consubstantial with Him,--is yet nearer to Him in nature than any other of His works, and is destined to be yet restored, that it may bear a still closer resemblance. For we both are, and know that we are, and delight in our being, and our knowledge of it. Moreover, in these three things no true-seeming illusion disturbs us; for we do not come into contact with these by some bodily sense, as we perceive the things outside of us,--colors, e.g., by seeing, sounds by hearing, smells by smelling, tastes by tasting, hard and soft objects by touching,--of all which sensible objects it is the images resembling them, but not themselves which we perceive in the mind and hold in the memory, and which excite us to desire the objects. But, without any delusive representation of images or phantasms, I am most certain that I am, and that I know and delight in this. In respect of these truths, I am not at all afraid of the arguments of the Academicians, who say, What if you are deceived? For if I am deceived, I am. For he who is not, cannot be deceived; and if I am deceived, by this same token I am. And since I am if I am deceived, how am I deceived in believing that I am? for it is certain that I am if I am deceived. Since, therefore, I, the person deceived, should be, even if I were deceived, certainly I am not deceived in this knowledge that I am. And, consequently, neither am I deceived in knowing that I know. For, as I know that I am, so I know this also, that I know. And when I love these two things, I add to them a certain third thing, namely, my love, which is of equal moment. For neither am I deceived in this, that I love, since in those things which I love I am not deceived; though even if these were false, it would still be true that I loved false things. For how could I justly be blamed and prohibited from loving false things, if it were false that I loved them? But, since they are true and real, who doubts that when they are loved, the love of them is itself true and real? Further, as there is no one who does not wish to be happy, so there is no one who does not wish to be. For how can he be happy, if he is nothing?" (Augustine, City of God and Christian Doctrine, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, 1st Series, ed. Philip Schaff (1886), tr. Marcus Dods (1871) [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1956; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995], vol. 2, p. 220).
(57) See note 5, above.
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|Author:||Lillback, Peter A.|
|Publication:||Journal of Ecumenical Studies|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2009|
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