American Conservatism in the 21st Century- Part 3: A Moral Compass

Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.

For the vast majority of our country’s history, there was an important moral compass pointing the way- religion.  Today, less and less people consider themselves “Christian,” let alone “religious.”  That is not an indictment against religion; it is an example of the power of the Left.

That moral compass has been crushed by the secular Left based largely on a single phrase from an 19th century letter: “separation of church and state.”  Hence, it requires some explanation since the phrase is nowhere to be found in the Constitution itself or the Bill of Rights.  The Establishment and the Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment are the flip sides of the same coin: it articulates a freedom of religion, not a freedom from religion.  When the Constitution was being ratified, many states actually had established religions.  Some required that its inhabitants profess a belief in Christianity, or one in God.  Many states required officeholders to be Protestant.  The last state to do away with an established religion was Connecticut in 1833- almost 50 years after ratification.

There is a clearly defined separation of church and state in the Constitution- that between the federal government and the various state governments.  When Jefferson wrote that letter and inserted those immortal lines to the Danbury Baptist Convention, the “state” to which he referred was Congress.  He is correct in asserting Congress cannot establish a religion because that right was reserved to the states.  There is nothing mysterious about the Establishment Clause and the fact Jefferson did absolutely nothing to deal with the plight of the Baptists at the time clearly indicates, correctly, that it was a state matter, not a federal matter.  If the authors of the Establishment Clause meant something more, they would have said it.

Hence, all the recent “controversy” over words in the Pledge of Allegiance, words on coins and currency, Christmas displays, the Ten Commandments, crosses on public land, school vouchers for parochial education, etc. are all bogus.  Their banishment from the public realm are not because of Constitutional violations, but because it is a concerted effort by the Left to remove and delegitimize religion.  If they can do that, they remove and delegitimize the moral compass that united this country for the better portion of our history.  Once that is accomplished, they can institute their own moral compass.

The fact is religion and religious people have been an integral part of our history.  The Founding fathers were replete with references to God and faith.  The Left would have you believe they were all atheist.  Even the ultimate “deist,” Thomas Jefferson, believed God was the Creator that set things in motions and left men to their own devices.

The Left’s opposition to vouchers for parochial schools gives one a glimpse into their mindset.  They argue that by doing so, the government is, in effect, establishing a religion.  The diversion of funds from public to parochial education, they say, ultimately hurts the public school student.  With the Left, it is always “for the children.”  This is the same crowd who believes in choice when it comes to killing a human life in the womb, but will not give parents the choice on where to educate their children.

A very good friend of mine works for the New Jersey Department of Education.  Besides overseeing the state’s after-school programs and another project, he has been tasked with analyzing various programs throughout the state to help develop a “best practices” matrix.  This writer suggested a simple comparative study: why do, on average, parochial schools turn out more mature, better educated, morally-principled, and better disciplined students compared to public schools?  Of course, he cannot because that would somehow require him to crawl over that mythical wall between church and state.  And, he being a product of a parochial education, most likely knows the answer- the presence of religion.  Adherence to religion not only sets one’s moral compass, but it also instills discipline and a sense of personal responsibility.  And that is what the Left most fears: a moral compass, discipline and personal responsibility.  To them, all these things are antiquated ideas to be relegated to the dustbin.

Those who argue against religion in the public realm are motivated not out of principle or some misguided reading of the Constitution or a misinterpreted letter by Thomas Jefferson.  It is because they fear religion since it stands in the way of their agenda.  No conservative is arguing for a theocracy and anyone on the Left who suggests such is simply fear mongering.  Basing one’s argument on the notion of “separation of church and state” is stale since the phrase appears nowhere in our Constitution.  Ironically and indicative of their aspirations, that phrase did appear in the constitution of the former Soviet Union.

It can be argued that when this was a more religious country, it was a better country.  Religious zealots came and went throughout our history and we survived.  The moral constraints and the moral compass created brought about a Nation that has come full circle to the point that our toleration and even acceptance of people of all religious sects has now created the atmosphere to take that all away.

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