Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The End of the Founders' America?

Bp. Chaput of Denver is concerned.

...America could afford to be "secular" in the best sense, precisely because its people were overwhelmingly religious. The Founders saw religious faith as something separate from government but vital to the nation's survival. In the eyes of Adams, Washington and most of the other Founders, religion created virtuous citizens. And only virtuous citizens could sustain a country as delicately balanced in its institutions, moral instincts and laws as the United States.

As a result, for nearly two centuries, Christian thought, vocabulary and practice were the unofficial but implicit soul to every aspect of American life – including the public square. The great Jesuit scholar, Father John Courtney Murray, put it this way: "The American Bill of Rights is not a piece of 18th-century rationalist theory; it is far more the product of Christian history. Behind it one can see, not the philosophy of the Enlightenment, but the older philosophy that had been the matrix of the common law. The ‘man' whose rights are guaranteed in the face of law and government is, whether he knows it or not, the Christian man, who had learned to know his own dignity in the school of Christian faith."[4]

The trouble is that America's religious soul – its Christian subtext – has been weakening for decades. The reasons for that erosion would need another day and another talk. But I do think we're watching the end of a very old social compact in American life: the mutual respect of civil and sacred authority, and the mutual autonomy of religion and state.

Less successful models: atheist Communism, agnostic/atheist socialism, and of course, Muhammedanism.


jimspice said...

Well, we'll always have John Quincy.

Anonymous said...

And of course there's Paul Revere warning the British not to take our guns. Those incapable of understanding history are doomed to rewrite it.

Dad29 said...

Anony can't even accurately quote the history--or Palin's re-telling of it, either.

Pathetic moron.

Anonymous said...

She said what she said. Deal with it. Of course it's easier for your lot to attack the truth when it doesn't suit your juvenile world view.

So now you're rewriting last MONTH's history?