My friend Maxie Holmes sent me an email which offers an interesting juxtaposition.
It begins with this quote:
President Barack Obama said in Turkey : "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation.
We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."
What follows are quotations from the Constitutions of all fifty of the United States acknowledging, in various ways, that the people of this country are cognizant of and grateful for the blessings of Almighty God by which we enjoy our political freedom and personal liberty.
Surely no one disputes the role of the President of the United States as the principal spokesman for our country everywhere around the world.
That’s part of his job.
No doubt the President was trying to ingratiate himself, and, by extension, to present the people of America as friends of the people of Turkey.
It was not the first time a representative of the United States denied our Christian heritage. During the War of 1812, an American privateer, the Abellino, was capturing British merchant ships in the Mediterranean. The skipper, Captain Wyer, wanted to sell his prizes in Tunis, but the British protested to the Bey of Tunis that their treaty with him forbade such sales in “any war between England and any other Christian nation.”
President Jefferson’s emissary, one Mordicai Noah, showed the Bey a copy of the U.S. Constitution, proving that all religions were permitted, and he argued therefore that America was not a Christian nation.
Or so the story goes. Noah himself later revealed that he had to sweeten the process with payments to the Tunisian authorities before they would let Captain Wyer use the harbor.
So much for the prospect of cozying up to a Muslim potentate.
No one questions that our Constitution requires government neutrality on questions of religious doctrine. The First Amendment explicitly forbids the establishment of a state religion in America.
We are not, nor can we be, a nation in which all citizens are required to worship God in any particular way. So it is quite true that we are not a theocracy such as Iran, where the civil authorities are answerable to clerical leaders like the Grand Ayatollahs.
But we are a nation with a Judeo- Christian heritage.
Belief in the God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus Christ is not compelled by our laws, nor is it universal among our people. Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus, Taoists and Scientologists all are welcome here.
But political correctness or the desire to be perceived as open and friendly to every belief system do not require that we deny our roots.
The Founders of this nation were mostly Christians. The majority of our people are Christians. We count our days by a Christian calendar. We celebrate Christian holidays. Our language is peppered with Christian idioms and biblical references.
This is our culture. This is who we are.
The ideals and the set of values which President Obama attributes to the people of the United States are the ideals and values that generations of Jewish and Christian parents have passed down to their children.
They are the ideals and values that Christian Presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush have espoused and enunciated.
I have no doubt they are the ideals and values that Barack and Michelle Obama hope their girls will learn and cherish as well.