LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION ARTICLE FOR
June 18, 2016 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 813-835-0129
“Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”
Yes, most of my readers will recognize the first amendment to our national constitution. The question we all face is how did America get from there to where we are now? The constitution insists that we all have the right to be wrong, at least in the eyes of other people, and not have to be punished for it.
It is very difficult to respond not only to the Orlando tragedy but to the many stories of accusations of “hate speech” on college campuses and throughout our nation today in the light of the first amendment. I think the first observation to be made is that the freedoms outlined in this piece of constitutional literature do not come naturally to humans as they exist today. We do not do unto others as we would have others do unto us. The great civilizations of history were totalitarian. We have seen this in modern times in Nazi Germany, in many Communist regimes and in most of the Islamic governments of the Middle East. Freedom to differ was, and in some cases is, not an option.
In the United States the development of the sovereignty of the individual has taken over so that we see any opinion or world view which differs from another as an attack. The right to differ has been reinterpreted as “hate speech.”
If we understand this we will see the contemporary scene as a reversion to a more primitive state of humanity. Darwin interpreted human history as a tale of the survival of the fittest, which actually means the strongest. Hitler tried to create the superman. Christians, following the Bible, see the present state of humanity as a result of man’s desire to be like God. Adam was given the right to be wrong and he did not choose wisely.
How then did the founders of the United States of America come up with the First Amendment which is so contrary to the flow of human history? They were very much aware of what they were doing. The moto of the United States, written on the National Seal is “Novus Ordo Seclorum,” which translates to “A New Order of the Ages.” The freedoms offered in the First Amendment are built on the theology of the Declaration of Independence. “We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.”
Not all the founders were orthodox Christians, but they were all biblical in their thinking. They understood that God created man free. The Bible clearly teaches that Adam was free to sin and free not to sin. In other words man was given the right to be wrong. If God gave this right to mankind in the beginning the authors of the First Amendment saw fit to guarantee this right in the formation of a new government.
Understanding the human condition does not dry the tears of tragedy. It might drive us to more deeply cherish our freedom, to pray for a revival of the faith on which the nation was built, to be loving and tolerant of those who differ, to set an example of communication with those who do not believe or behave as we do, to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org). END-whs