29 Nov

Christian Values

By Eric Allen Bell

  • EricAllenBell’s diary
  • I keep hearing that America is a country that is founded on “Christian Values”.  I have read the Constitution and don’t see the words “Christian Values” anywhere.  

    We could probably debate endlessly as to what the intentions of the Founding Fathers were.  Some say they were Deists, while others point to letters written where a handful of the Founders clearly state their personal views on the founding of America and its relation to Christian values.

    But this raises a more important question in my mind.  What are “Christian Values”?  People who oppose the construction of a new Islamic Center here in Murfreesboro, TN often use as part of their argument that “America was founded on Christian values”.  I also hear this used as a rationale of supporting some ideas and opposing others.  In fact many of the people who repeat that phrase often are the same ones who would like to turn America into a Christian theocracy.  

    Recently, Kevin Fisher, the man who organized the march against the mosque and then filed suit against the tax payers of Rutherford County to stop the construction of the Islamic Center, wrote an article in the Rutherford Reader stating that Christianity was under attack.  Talk about irony.  Would Fisher’s attack of members of another religion qualify as supporting “Christian Values”?

    Before Christianity, did we not know it was bad to kill, steal, lie, disrespect our parents? Do we really need a book to tell us how to be a decent human being? Do we need a list of dos and don’ts in order to simply be good-hearted? Doesn’t common human decency already dictate that we love our neighbor?

    Vedic writings that predate Jesus the Christ also promote compassion, forgiveness and seeing God in everyone – even the lowest among us.

    But can any religion claim the copyright on these ideas?  Common human decency is something that comes from within and it predates Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and even Hinduism (a religion that is said to be seven to ten thousand years old).

    Being a good-hearted human being, something I strive towards and fail at often, dictates that we treat others the way we would like to be treated.  No religion has the market cornered on that idea.

    Loving your neighbor as yourself is the hardest thing any of us can do.  Certainly Jesus the Christ was a positive example.  And so too was the Buddha and many other prophets, holy men, and many unsung heroes since the beginning of time.

    America is a country that I love.  But it was also founded on slavery, warfare, suppression of woman’s rights, segregation, oppression of the poor, intolerance of “the other” and so on.  We are, all of us, a work in progress.  This country will succeed or fail to the extent that we all come to the realization that we are one unit, comprised of many parts.  We are not a nation of Christians or Jews or Muslims or Conservatives or Liberals, but rather a nation of flawed human beings all pitching in trying to make a better world for ourselves and for those generations who will come after us.

    Arguing over which religion is superior, over which religion gets to stamp its brand on our collective psyche is counter-productive.  And, ironically, if there is such a thing as “Christian Values” forcing thy neighbor to conform to your ideas about religion would fly in the face of such a value system.

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