Saturday, February 04, 2012

Thomas Jefferson Forcibly Unsung. Religious Freedom. Character, Questioners and Conscience.

.
Character in an Age of Attack.
The Texas Excision of Thomas Jefferson.
.
Religious Freedom.
Jefferson:  Freedom to Profess, Not Freedom to Practice
or Impose Practice.
.
Jefferson in Texas:  Make him "unsung"
.
Prescience: The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom 1786.  Jefferson helped draft it:  Freedom of religious belief is a freedom to
1) profess, and
2) by argument to maintain, opinions
and without those professed and argued positions affecting their civil capabilities.
.
That means professing and persuasion, not every religious "practice" is protected.  Is that so? See The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom 1786, at  http://religiousfreedom.lib.virginia.edu/sacred/vaact.html
.
1.  Speaking up for belief. Laudable.
.
Jefferson was known for his independent thought, see http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/04/01/andrew-sullivan-christianity-in-crisis.html.  Even courageous.
.
Thomas Jefferson:  How does he qualify for a site for the unsung?
.
He qualifies because if Texas has its way, he will indeed be formally "unsung." So, we put the spotlight on Texas un-singing Thomas Jefferson.  And proud of it, see http://www.texasinsider.org/?p=26126  Thomas,  a famous patriot, a principal author of the Declaration of Independence.  What did he do to deserve this?  Or is Texas a  non-entity, worthy of ignoring when it comes to reason and tolerance. Debate:  Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Changehttp://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html?_r=1; see background at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/14/backstory-how-the-texas-t_n_496831.html
.
2.  Texas.  Unilaterally Un-singing Thomas Jefferson.
.
A standard for his position are laid out in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, that Jefferson drafted and he Virginia legislature ratified in 1786. Learning, wisdom, tolerance, freedom to believe but not to force; and let no religious belief affect "civil capabilities." The Jefferson Building in Washington DC is named after him and houses the Library of Congress.
.
Thomas Jefferson found success in persuading others toward tolerance, see the Statute on Freedom, and here quoted in SaudiAramco World at p.5, that fine cultural-education magazine, http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/201104/thomas.jefferson.s.qur.an.htm:
.
3.  The effect of the unsinging is profound.

What Jefferson stood for:  rights to profess, and maintain by argument -- no force on others, no approbation -- one's religious beliefs, offers a benefit to the rest of us.  Removing Jefferson from Texas texts takes away the learner's right to argue, debate positions.
.
4.  Read the text of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom 1786
.
"We the General Assembly of Virginia do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or  belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities."
.
So:  people may profess, and by argument they may maintain their opinions in religion.
.
5.  Respect for one framework of belief, unforced, leads to respect to others.  Is that so? Note that Thomas Jefferson also owned and cared for a Qur'an, a translation, or better described, "interpretation," by Englishman George Sale.  He kept it with materials labeled jurisprudence, and his jurisprudence section was categorized under "Moral Philosophy."  See http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/201104/thomas.jefferson.s.qur.an.htm
Religious pluralism:  valued, lived for. Jew, Gentile, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, any "infidel" (non-Christian). 
.
Not all of his contemporaries agreed with this tolerance, and Jefferson's support for Article VI, Section 3, that no religious text would be required for an oath of office, was opposed by some Anti-Federalists" by painting a hypothetical scenario in which a Muslim could become president."  See site.
.
5.  Standing up for beliefs.
.
Character. Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times, book by Eyal Press, NYT review by Louisa Thomas. People who disobey orders for conscience, dissenters, can they be explained. No. Described, yes. Acts of conscience not only require movement toward the area of conviction; but also active, painful rejection of other loyalties, defiance of previously accepted norms, friends, support systems. There may be "nobility" in the narrow act, but there is also conflict.
.
6.  Texas wants no such conscience people.
.
Texas is imposing itself on people's conscience by barring expression of their beliefs, and children's exposure to it.  Conscience: any person can apply it to anything. Who is to say it is not conscience, but lucre, or desire for fame, or, as in Texas, domination of ideas offered to children and others. Hierarchy, supremacism.
.
7.  What if the act of conscience, however, the disrespect for another framework, kills another, in a variety of ways.  Is the action justified, as inthe killer of the abortion provider.  Not according to Jefferson.  Profess, argue, but your practice cannot interfere with the practice of another. Is that so? One person's justice, is another's fanaticism.  An act of support here, can be a betrayal of something else over there. 
.
Let children hear the debates and accept ambiguity, give and take.  And learn to restrain their practice.
.
7.  Texas.  The Force State. Texas:  apply the six-shooter, or the sword, or what it takes to excise.
.
.
The receiving end: Lee[ Thomas Jefferson in our historical interpretation without debate.  Caving on conscience, in order to fit in better, does not sit well, whether done by oneself or others.  Spot the candidates dance.  It is particularly painful to see a good stand, validly taken, cave.  This is not only in Texas:  see one on YouTube  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IAhDGYlpqY, attacked by NYT Columnist David Brooks, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/03/opinion/brooks-how-to-fight-the-man.html?scp=1&sq=how%20to%20fight%20the%20man&st=cse. And the retraction, so sorry, so sorry. Mea culpa. That is not conscience; that is testing the waters to see whether there will be reward.
.
8.  The issue there was hardly at the level of conscience:  it is the definition of religion: is it the beliefs, freely professed; or the practice that can kill.  Do our interpretation of freedom for institutions bind in ways that founders did not intend.
.
The answer there is, of course.  Old texts are barely legible, separated by many language-years, cultural interpretations.  See Creation as it really comes to us, without doctrinal overlay, at  http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/Hebrew_Index.htm.  Read the old words of Creation by Transliteration.  Now, pick up your favorite Bible.  I prefer the Transliteration, ambiguous, anomalous, open.
.
Checking sources of "religious belief" against text leads to unexpected places. Where is conscience in how humans treat animals. See Where did we get "sanctity" for human life.  Where is conscience in treatment of other humans.Does male supremacy flow from scripture, or distortions and omissions of contrary directives, see Eden's Mystery Job Description
.
The pursuit that Jeffrey began, and you squelched, is worth it, David Brooks of the NYT. Compare that to the young person who began independently thinking, seeming to stand up for something important to him, and his testimony on YouTube.
.
But then he fell away when the heat arrived, questioned him, and he faded as though he never had thought his position through in the first place. Media Opportunism?
.
The issue of conforming belief to the container nearest, arises in politics and religion frequently. Consequences of belief indeed can be draconian when the opposition to it is fierce; be prepared. Tom Lehrer: http://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=A0oG7tq.pW9Po0cAiL5XNyoA?ei=UTF-8&p=be%20prepared%20boy%20scouts%20marching%20song&fr2=tab-web&fr=yfp-t-701 . Time to praises again the few who can continue to express reasoned opinions in the face of it.
.
What does it take to test the character of the speaker? And how to know if the speaker really has changed his or her mind. There is no clear way. It takes a spotlight, and time to test the new position. The spotlight on the statement, the position, on the person who may then fall away, or become stronger, modify fair enough, but not collapse. Get the argument Jeffrey started back on track. Jeffrey, making money off conscience is not a good, conscience-filled, idea, is it?

No comments: