by Richard Girard
"God... has formed us moral agents... that we may promote the happiness of those with whom He has placed us in society, by acting honestly towards all, benevolently to those who fall within our way, respecting sacredly their rights, bodily and mental, and cherishing especially their freedom of conscience, as we value our own." —Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) to Miles King, 1814. Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition; volume 14, page 197 (1908).
"Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." Gospel of Matthew 22:21, King James Bible.
"Reason is our soul’s left hand, Faith her right, By these we reach divinity." John Donne (c. 1572–1631), English divine, metaphysical poet. Verse Letter to the Countess of Bedford (c. 1607–8).
“It is as absurd to argue men, as to torture them, into believing.” Cardinal John Newman (1801–90), English churchman, theologian. Sermon, 11 Dec. 1831, Oxford, England.
This is an open letter to the former Governor of the State of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee.
Governor, where do your primary loyalties lie: with the United States Constitution or your Southern Baptist version of the Christian religion? If your answer is the latter—and certainly your recent comments in Michigan about changing the Constitution so it fits your interpretation of God's Law indicates this is the case—then you should withdraw from the Presidential race immediately.
You will note that I did not ask you to choose between God and the Constitution. God is far above and beyond your religious denomination (or mine), or any other human belief system. If God exists, and like you, I believe the Deity, in whatever form, does; God—Infinite and Eternal—can be described by we corporeal mortals poorly at best, through use of analogy and our very limited human language. And too often, our limited ability to express our individual experience of the Deity, forces us—in our hubris—to attempt to limit God when trying to describe our experience.
So by what right, upon whose authority, do you seek to impose your beliefs, and your notion of righteousness and moral judgement upon your fellow citizens?
All religions, Christian or otherwise, with their dogmas, doctrines, interpretations, and theology are the creations of humanity, not of the Deity. Claims of moral or theological supremacy by one religious organization or another is, in practical and rational terms, a matter of that religion's leaders seeking moral and political power over other human beings.
Epistemologically, it is not within the sphere of our human ability to reason to actually know (not believe, but know) which is God's true, or even preferred, faith or faiths. A declaration of this nature presupposes knowledge of the Infinite Mind of God by the very finite mind of man. To profess such beliefs as knowledge, rather than belief, is the height of arrogant presumption by any human being.
By what conceit does anyone say the Roman Catholic faith is preferred by God to that of the Southern Baptists; the Methodist creed is preferred to that of the Russian Orthodox Church; that Judaism is preferred to any of the Calvinist denominations; or the precepts of the United Church of Christ are preferred by God to Buddhism? Rationally, no human can, in good conscience, make an indisputable claim for any such belief, let alone describe it as knowledge. Governor, to try to force such a belief upon your fellow American citizens, by amending our Constitution, is a proposition I find morally reprehensible.
Governor, I am certain you (and those who share your wrongheaded beliefs) will try to use the Holy Bible to support your position, citing both its inerrancy and the “fact” that it is the literal “Word of God.”
Might I inquire which version of the Bible you claim this transcendent position for? The Torah, the Old Testament as a whole, the Catholic (or Douay) Bible, or one of the Protestant Bibles? If any of these, which translation: the King James or Revised Standard in English, Luther's in German, the Vulgate in Latin, the original Greek of the New Testament and Hebrew of the Old? And how may we make an informed, unbiased choice in this matter that is independent of the Bible, and a particular denomination's theology?
In the translation and transmission of whichever Bible you may choose, through so many generations; how can you be sure no error was made in its translation or transmission, either by accident or intent? I am reminded that Cinderella's slippers went from being fur (fourrure) to glass (verriere), when the fairy tale was translated from spoken French into written English.