Thanksgiving – A Time To Understand Religion In America
By: J.J. Jackson
It is fashionable these days to forget the truth and even downright ignore it when it cannot be forgotten. And what about when the truth cannot be ignored? Well, in that case we are far too accepting of any attempt to distort it.
These days in America we have a subculture of poorly educated Americans who erroneously believe that somehow, somewhere in the Constitution there exists a â€œseparation of Church and Stateâ€ which precludes government from recognizing Almighty God and the faith of those that founded this nation.
Our first amendment provides only two simple and powerful restrictions on the government with regards to how it handles the religious beliefs of the people. First, it prevents the Congress from making laws â€œrespecting an establishment of religionâ€. Second it prevents the Congress from making laws that prohibit the â€œthe free exerciseâ€ of religion by all citizens even if they are elected officials. Thatâ€™s it and nothing more.
James Madison, once remarked during the discussion of the amendment that if the amendment were clarified by adding the word â€œnationalâ€ before religion such confusion over what was meant would be easily corrected. For you see, that is what the founding fathers really and truly meant.
What they feared was what they and their ancestors had escaped from; a national church headed by the government. In England you either belonged to the Church of England or you life was made miserable at the very best.
The founding fathers completely disagreed with those today who would strip the vestiges of God from the public lives of the people. One need only look at the very Constitution itself where those that affixed their names proudly proclaimed that their act was â€œdone in year of our Lordâ€. Hardly something that a group of people who believed God should be stricken from American life would do.
In fact the first amendment is nothing more than a means of preventing a mandate by government as to how the people would be allowed to worship Almighty God.
In the years that followed the birth of America, our founders publicly implored Americans to give thanks to God in no subtle terms and furthering this belief that religion was important to the public lives of Americans. George Washington, John Adams and even James Madison all proclaimed days of thanksgiving often with the blessing of Congress where they pleaded that Americans remember the blessings of God and show humility before Him.
They however never ordered the people to participate not did they dictate the manner in which those that participated worshipped. That would have been unconstitutional to its core by violating the right of all Americans to worship (or not worship) God as they saw fit.
Since then, Thanksgiving has become a national holiday no longer decreed by Presidents who implored the citizens to remember God. And while many people who gather on Thanksgiving Day will certainly give thanks to God, many more will not. Such is their right.
To some Thanksgiving is simply about food and family and not God. But no matter whether you chose to give thanks to God or not on Thanksgiving, remember that religion was important to both the public and private lives of those that came before us. So much so, that they made sure to write into our federal Constitution that they firmly believed in the Almighty God who gave his only son for us.
That is powerful. And it needs to be remembered. Laus Deo.
J.J. Jackson is a libertarian conservative author from Pittsburgh, PA who has been writing and promoting individual liberty since 1993 and is President of Land of the Free Studios, Inc. He is the Pittsburgh Conservative Examiner for Examiner.com. He is also the owner of The Right Things - Conservative T-shirts & Gifts The Right Things. His weekly commentary along with exclusives not available anywhere else can be found at Liberty Reborn.