Today, as was the case in 1954 and 1776, a Judeo-Christian philosophy – not religion – serves as the foundation of American rights. Our Founding Fathers asserted in their Declaration of Independence from England that, “We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Men and women far greater than any of us assured King George III that man’s rights do not derive from a King, the judiciary or the government but rather from God and recognizing that philosophy in the Pledge of Allegiance does not establish a national religion.
Secular progressives base their argument for a metaphorical “wall” between church and state on Justice Hugo Black’s majority opinion in Everson v. Board of Education. I bet very few of you reading this know Black’s opinion in Everson actually upheld the reimbursal of parochial student bus fees with government money. Black admitted to his biographer, Robert Newman, that he thwarted the majority from within because he knew colleague Justice Jackson’s opinion would have been more favorable to religious interests. Black’s opinion set a marker by which his successors could further separate church from state under the principle of stare decisis – adherence to precedent.
In his opinion, Black alluded to a letter from President Thomas Jefferson to Baptist ministers explaining why Jefferson did not call for national days of fasting or thanksgiving. Jefferson thought government should not instruct man on how to give thanks to his God and therefore a “wall” exists between church and government regulation of it. If you buy into the secular progressive argument, then Jefferson was either naA_ve or a hypocrite because two days after writing his infamous letter he attended religious services in the House of Representatives.
Now we are at the point in our history when Michael Newdow – a man ordained in the Universal Life church, which “espouses the religious philosophy that the true and eternal bonds of righteousness and virtue stem from reason rather than mythology,” wants his beliefs thrust on society through the courts. Newdow admitted to Newsweek in 2002 that “In God We Trust” on our national currency originally lit his fire. However, Newdow concluded the Pledge of Allegiance in public classrooms was an easier target from a legal standpoint. Discouraged but not defeated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s original decision, Newdow found three atheist couples and litigated on their behalf.
The real target in the secular progressive’s crusade is not a symbolic pledge or Ten Commandments but rather the Judeo-Christian philosophy inherent in our country’s creed. Imbedded within this philosophy is a profound sense of right and wrong that secular progressives loathe. They do not want any judgments made about any behavior, and for the American people to accept their belief requires a re-writing of history George Orwell could not fathom. Secularists constantly plead, “Don’t force your beliefs onto me,” yet they ask the courts to force theirs onto you. I can just hear our Founding Fathers spinning in their graves. Can you?
John Stiglitch is an LSA junior. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.