Concerning the last segment of the first Republican Presidential debate for 2016, moderated by FoxNews on August 6th, 2015;
Megyn Kelley was one of three ‘moderators’ in what was more a Q & A than a debate between candidates. Before the final break and also introducing the final segment, Ms. Kelley made rather flippant comments concerning whether or not the candidates had received any specific inspiration on what their first actions or priorities should be… from ‘God’, as if to put down anyone with faith in a Supreme Being. It was short comment. It was a curt comment. It rang as loudly as a fire alarm in my ears.
I cannot put words to the candidates’ responses. Some were allowed to comment directly to the question, others were not offered an opportunity. I do have the following to share on this particular topic.
None of the candidates would be on the stage were they not somehow inspired by some higher power. Few would argue that Mr. Trump presents himself from the inspiration of his ego, though I am one who would. All professed some intent to fulfill a patriotic duty to the country. Some invoked their God. Those doing so placed themselves in good company.
You see, our system of laws is built upon a specific Decalogue in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, a Decalogue that is equally respected by our Islamic brothers and sisters. These Ten Commandments provide the foundation for our Constitution and laws of governance and public policies. Social Security and Medicare are largely responses to the 4th of those laws, ‘Honor your father and mother’ through the financial and health support of our elderly citizens. “Thou shalt not kill’ seems a rather pertinent one to this discussion, given the numbers of mass murderers on trial the recent killings so publically promoted by the news media. Baltimore, MD is having a particularly difficult problem this year. ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ has been officially ignored by our Supreme Court this past session. ‘Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors’ goods’ is routinely ignored by thieves and prosecuted not quite as frequently, as thieves are difficult to apprehend.
Our founders thought it important to acknowledge a Supreme Being from our beginnings as a nation. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Who is ‘their Creator’ if not the God that gave us the Decalogue? To this and the rest of the Declaration of Independence, our representatives closed the document with “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” A reliance on God, Divine Providence, saw most of these men die as traitors or in poverty. What survived was country they dedicated to God.
Is our country dedicated to God from its beginning? It is a fair question. Let me answer it with the ways that used to exhibit our faith in such a beginning.
- From the third stanza of a song sung from the days of the Revolution until only a few years ago in our schools; 3rd stanza of America
- “Our Father’s God, to Thee, Author of Liberty, to Thee we sing. Long may our land be bright, with Freedom’s holy light. Protect us by Thy might, Great God our King”
- From the War of 1812, from Baltimore harbor, September 15th, 1815, a young lawyer scribbled these words on an envelope; from the 4th stanza of the Star Spangled Banner;
- Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
- Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
- Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,
- And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
- From Lincoln’s 1858 ‘House Divided’ speech to the Illinois Republican Convention. He was discussing the Dread Scott decision concerning equal admission of slave states to non-slavery states;
- “In my opinion, it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved; I do not expect the house to fall; but I do expect it will cease to be divided.” Mr. Lincoln’s quotations are a direct quote from the Christian gospel, words attributed to Jesus of Nazareth in Mark 3:25.
- From Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
- “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
- In 1895, Katherine Lee Bates wrote another song that was, until recently, sung widely and in our schools as well. This is her 1904 chorus revision;
- “America! America!
- God shed his grace on thee
- And crown thy good with brotherhood
- From sea to shining sea!”
- Martin Luther King, Jr, August 28th, 1963, promoting the advancement of equal rights for the Black population of our nation, revived several of these previous examples;
- “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
- – AND-
- “This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
- And finally, Mr. King closed with;
- ‘And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
The threads of the Decalogue, of the dedication of our country by ‘We, the People’, remain evident in what has become our civil as well as faithful religion in these united States. We are a Nation and a People founded on the Liberty found when laws establish boundaries for behavior. For more than the two-hundred-forty-six years since a Declaration was proclaimed we have bound ourselves to a faith in God. That faith has served us well.
Were the men on that stage last night and those presented in the earlier broadcast by Fox, and the others looking forward to presenting themselves as candidates to tend to our country’s business inspired by God? You should know they were, are, and continue to be, either by their own commitment or by their adherence to the civil religion professed in our public proclamations.
So, please, Ms. Kelley, please provide some modicum of respect when you speak about our God, our Divine Providence, our Creator when you broadcast national events. We are all bound to Divine Providence whether we acknowledge the Creator or not.