I will never forget the first time somebody used the line on me. It was in a newsroom in Revanna, Ohio. I think the reporter’s name was Craig, and Craig decided to lay a trip on me about Jesus while I was finishing my obituaries or whatever. And Craig laid the line on me for the first time I have ever heard it. Craig said to me
WE HAVE FREEDOM OF RELIGION, NOT FREEDOM FROM RELIGION.
I hope the look on my face at that time registered the sheer horror I felt at this horrifying statement. I mean I’ve always been a non-believer, I just stopped being shy about it in my 40s. At the time I was shy about it. But I hope my face looked like that time on the roller-coaster.
Because the sheer wrong-headedness of that statement is cruel and just downright wrong. Let us please be reminded of the introduction to Robert G. Ingersoll’s centennial speech: “One hundred years ago, our fathers retired the gods from politics.”
You may very well want to go read that speech on this day. Because it clearly defines what the Declaration was truly about: We are rebelling against a king. And kings have told us all along that their power comes from a celestial being. And we are basing an entire new experimental nation, at the risk of our own lives and livelihoods, on the notion that people should not be ruled by kings who claim to derive their power from “on-high,” but that people should govern people.
That is the idea that sparked the revolution. And we are no more a “Judeo-Christian” nation than I am Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.
The Declaration was about Indpendence from kings who told people for centuries that they got to rule and have all the wealth and got to make life-and-death decsions because The Lord told them they could. Our colonies said balls to that and made us a plainly secular nation.
Happy Independence Day.