Tag Archives: American Civil Religion

Dear Mr. Trump, Restore the Basic Plan

November 20, 2016

Dear Mr. Trump,

First, congratulations!

I am writing to suggest a small piece of the puzzle in making America great again, maybe just a reminder since I learned of your secondary education in military school at NYMA.  There is a need for a common belief in core values.  There is a need to return to schools, public and private, the Pledge of Allegiance and the like to our routines.

Your expertise as a builder and developer gives you insight about the importance of an exact set of drawings, plans, and schematics to drawing a team of engineers and contractors to the start, continuing effort, and completion of a project.  Every ribbon cutting you’ve participated in is a testament to this as fact.  I suggest it is a fundamental Truth of success in building.

Certain factions of our populace have been changing the fundamental plans of our national project, and they have used our courts to do it instead of the voting booths across the nation.  First prayer fell, then the Pledge of Allegiance, and along the way our songs also fell.  God Bless America, America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee), and America, The Beautiful are only a few of such pages of the plan that have been set aside.  All this began during the celebration of our Bicentennial.

These simple songs and words provide a basis of thought for what is the American dream.  Upon this foundation, the stories of the struggles of pioneers from Roanoke Island, and Jamestown, Plymouth Rock, opening the Ohio Valley, the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails, and clipper ships to California frame the dream in the passions, struggles, failures, and successes of the People, of “We, the People”.

Some among us have changed the blueprints.  They argue the plans are flawed because of errors that were made.  The argue that genocide was committed in the name of Manifest Destiny and this makes the basic plan flawed.  They see no value in the plan.  They replaced the plan, rather than modify it, singularly focusing it on individual groups, creating divisive cracks in the foundation of the American dream.  The argument made is one based on a freedom ‘from’ religion, rather than an appropriate freedom ‘of’ religion.

I suggest these words and songs mentioned represent the American Civil Religion, the basis for a common belief in the American dream and necessary to the survival of this grand project called The United States.  Robert N. Bellah wrote (from Berkeley) in 1966;

“I think it should be clear from the text that I conceive of the central tradition of the American civil religion not as a form of national self-worship but as the subordination of the nation to ethical principles that transcend it in terms of which it should be judged.” 1

Mr. President, as you work to Make America Great Again, may I humbly suggest that you use “The Midas Touch” to renew the plans for this nation’s future, to correct the misuse of the original blueprints, and restore the ethical principles to the People.  Find within your routine and build within your team the means to restore the teachings of the Pledge of Allegiance, America, and America The Beautiful to our national fabric.  Those wandering in the streets protesting today were never taught that purple shadows on mountains can be majestic, that amber waves of grain feed the world, that it is pilgrims’ feats of blood, sweat, and tears which build alabaster cities, no matter what station in life they start their journey from.

With great respect and awe, I am your loyal servant,

John L. Zoll

  1. Bellah, Robert N. “Civil Religion in America”. Daedalus, Journal of the American Arts and Sciences, Winter 1967 Vol 96 No 1 pp 1-21.

Civility Removed-Not Replaced

In the wake of the shooting incidents in Orlando Florida the week of June 7th, 2016, the ‘major’ media outlets spent several days trying to write stories that might explain the tragedies.  Jihadist attacks in San Bernadino CA, Paris France, and Belgium were all reviewed.  My opinion is a rough ‘rant’, but however poorly written, it seems a much better explanation than we are given by the traditional writers of our immediate history.

A true void is impossible to picture.  There is no reference to anything else, thus, no real picture.  The Void of Space is presented as a point of thought while you read.

 void of space


You took it all away, you ‘Intelligencia’.

You took it all away, Our American civil religion.

We were a nation of the Book.  Not the Captain’s log book, but the scripture that was the foundation of Our Nation that likely accompanied the Captain’s log.

It arrived with Columbus in the Bahamas. Cortez brought it when he arrived in Mexico.  It arrived in Roanoke and then at Jamestown with Captain Smith.  The Pilgrims brought it to Plymouth Rock. Jacques Cartier brought it to the Gaspe’ Peninsula in Newfoundland.  Surely, it was the Christian Book, yet that Book drew from the Jewish one.

You attacked these bold men for their transgressions.  You took Your modern principles and applied them in retrospect, and decided their crimes were greater than their achievements.  You vilified them, and you vilified Our history with them.

The Book traveled across the sea, and then across the continent.  Books, rare and costly as Our country grew, only one was likely carried most prevalently.  Because it was the one, we taught Ourselves and Our children to read out of it.  Because it was the one Book, we talked about it, we discussed it, and we relied on its wisdom.  Even in the great wars we fought, the Book accompanied US and was the source of Our repentance in the aftermath.

We were inspired and wrote songs about the subject of the Book.  The words of “America” replaced those of “God Save the King”, and we praised the Creator of Liberty for Ours, just as the Israelites praised him for theirs.  “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” called Us to remember who lit the fires of justice in Our hearts.  “America, the Beautiful” reminds Us of the pilgrims’ feet traversing the land.  “God Bless America” invokes the Creator’s beauty and bounty given Us, even as the Psalms we read recalled the same sentiment from two millennia earlier.  Arlo Guthrie gave Us “This Land is Your Land”, joining Us all together from coast to coast, further describing the beauty and grandeur of Our Country.  And at the end of the twentieth century, Lee Greenwood was inspired to give Us “God Bless the USA”.

Our Book taught us to “Promote the welfare of the city to which you have been exiled.  Pray for it to the Lord.  For upon its welfare depends your own” (Jer 29:7)  A hundred years ago, in the midst of the massive immigration of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when people were pouring into Our country from cultures around the world, Our schools taught Our children and Us to Pledge Allegiance to the Flag.    “George Cohan wrote songs celebrating that Flag, that grand symbol of what we were becoming. That tri-colored banner of stars-and-bars represented US, on Our streets, over Our government buildings, over Our ships and Our troops.  We waved it proudly as we came upon the world stage.  To Our Pledge we added, ‘under God’ after the horror of a second world war in half a century.

But you, you “Intelligencia”, you have different ideas.

Vilifying Our Founders was just the start for you.  You took away prayer from Our schools in 1962 (Madalyn Murry O’Hair).  You allowed Us to commit genocide beginning in 1972(Roe v. Wade).  You attacked Our religious freedoms in 1990 (Employement vs. Smith).  You destroyed a millennium of social law by attacking marriage in 2015. (Obergfell vs. Hodges).  Americans for the Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberty Union, and others…your churches of worship.

Our public schools don’t teach those songs above any more.  There are no more ‘Christmas’ concerts.

The schools don’t have students pledge their allegiance to a flag any longer.  It’s now ‘offensive’ to immigrants, rather than a rallying point. You celebrate as ‘art’ the desecration of the Stars and Stripes.  Spattered with feces, walking on top of it, and burning it are applauded as ‘freedom of speech’.  But Our protests of the same are to be silenced and shoved aside.

You teach Our children that men and women are interchangeable, in spite of the decades of social statistics you otherwise Used to promote the building of families requiring both.  Contrary to the lessons of the Book some still carry, and contrary to others’ professions, any number of adults of any chosen sexual assignment or chosen gender may substitute in place of those once vital statistical facts.

You, you ‘Intelligencia’, you’ve taken it all away, and in your rush to destroy Us you’ve given Us nothing to replace it with but chaos and confusion.  You’ve failed those who trusted you and you betrayed those of Us who relied on you to promote Truth.

Why do Our children fall into despair?  Why do they turn to drugs?  Why do they choose the violence of firearms?  Why do they commit suicide in ever greater numbers?

Why do those who do survive their youth, and then fail as adults commit horrendous crimes?

Why are Our ‘Citizens’ faithful to Islam find their radical counterparts so compelling that they would join with them and bring carnage to Our own shores?

You took away Our Book.  You took away Our civil religion built on the book.  You’ve given Us nothing in return to believe in but individual ‘freedom’.  And when each person is free to choose, without guidelines for the choice, then there are as many choices as there are people, and the ‘People’ will cease to exist.


They Were All On Stage Because of God’s Inspiration Megyn

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.