Your view: Active citizen speaks out

Joshua Fahler

When reading Matthew White’s Oct. 22 column “America born from religious soil,” I should have skipped to the next editorial after his first sentence generalized all progressives as “hating America.” However, as a citizen who tries hard to be active, and after being inspired through Greg Golden’s recent rebuttal to White’s misinformation, I must speak up.

After being pointed to evidence already stated in Golden’s rebuttal of the general lack of “religiosity” among the founders, White performs an uncanny and strange deed by referring to the “founding father” who Golden already correctly identified as a very famous deist and overall skeptic, Thomas Jefferson. The fact that White refers back to Jefferson in order to defend his claim that America is indeed created on religious grounds is silly, especially when we consider Jefferson’s authorship of what scholars of American religious history refer to as the “Jefferson Bible,” more formally known as “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth,” in which the author removes supernatural power (and thus deification) from Jesus himself, pointing to the figure as a moral leader, rather than the traditional understanding that Jesus was in fact a part of the Christian Trinity. When we consider this “Jefferson Bible,” we find that Thomas Jefferson’s “god” was much different than Matt White’s.

That America’s “founding fathers” (I hate to use that term) were well-founded in Christian thought and theology does not correlate to the intention to create a theocracy, nor the formation of a “Christian nation,” whatever this phrase means.

Jefferson and others sought to separate church and state to protect both parties, remembering the wars of religion pervading most of European history. This separation has benefited both sides at a quick glance, as large-scale religious violence is generally absent in America. Also, if we are to consider what scholars refer to as smaller “populist” denominations which were only able to grow because of official disestablishment created by the First Amendment, we find what some might see as, metaphorically speaking, a “free market” of American religious belief – something White should certainly grow to like.

The fact that White claims that America is officially some sort of “religious nation” attempts to circumvent the Constitution, dumbs down American history, and ignores the fact that we have a changing nation with a de-facto pluralist “religious landscape” capable and willing to include every sort of religious or philosophical belief, regardless whether or not a conservative Christian approves. Nobody, even those devilish “secular progressives” would deny that religious people take part in American politics; however, the idea that because they do, America’s political institutions should officially endorse religion places both the political and religious sides of Jefferson’s “wall” into danger. Perhaps White should stick to his conservative values in keeping the government out of where it needs to be.

Joshua Fahler is a senior integrated social studies major and guest columnist for the

Daily Kent Stater.