Sunday, April 02, 2006

Excerpt from “God and the Founders”, By Jon Meacham, Newsweek

April 10, 2006 issue, taken from MSNBC’s Newsweek Society

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12115700/site/newsweek/

“However dominant in terms of numbers, Christianity is only a thread in the American tapestry—it is not the whole tapestry. The God who is spoken of and called on and prayed to in the public sphere is an essential character in the American drama, but He is not specifically God the Father or the God of Abraham. The right's contention that we are a "Christian nation" that has fallen from pure origins and can achieve redemption by some kind of return to Christian values is based on wishful thinking, not convincing historical argument.”

“Writing to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1790, George Washington assured his Jewish countrymen that the American government "gives to bigotry no sanction." In a treaty with the Muslim nation of Tripoli initiated by Washington, completed by John Adams, and ratified by the Senate in 1797, we declared "the Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion. ... " The Founders also knew the nation would grow ever more diverse; in Virginia, Thomas Jefferson's bill for religious freedom was "meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination." And thank God—or, if you choose, thank the Founders—that it did indeed.”

TonySeb: Can we have religious freedom without freedom from religion?

Recommended reading: Fogel, Robert W. The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Excerpted from:

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/256626.html

The Phases of the Four Great Awakenings
Robert William Fogel
from The Fourth Great Awakening & the Future of Egalitarianism

“To understand what is taking place today, we need to understand the nature of the recurring political-religious cycles called "Great Awakenings." Each lasting about 100 years, Great Awakenings consist of three phases, each about a generation long.”

“A cycle begins with a phase of religious revival, propelled by the tendency of new technological advances to outpace the human capacity to cope with ethical and practical complexities that those new technologies entail. The phase of religious revival is followed by one of rising political effect and reform, followed by a phase in which the new ethics and politics of the religious awakening come under increasing challenge and the political coalition promoted by the awakening goes into decline. These cycles overlap, the end of one cycle coinciding with the beginning of the next.”

TonySeb: According to Fogel, we find ourselves now in the fourth great awakening. How long before we begin the “…phase in which the new ethics and politics of the religious awakening come under increasing challenge and the political coalition promoted by the awakening goes into decline”?

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