Friday, June 24, 2011

JULY FOURTH: A Great Day, NOT A Holy Day

Sidelights of celebrating Independence Day

On this particular weekend, which ends with the Fourth of July celebrations next Monday, there is much good to remember and to be thankful about.

But the original inhabitants of this land, the few that are left, may not necessarily look upon the occasion in a celebratory spirit.

As a general rule the Founding Fathers of our fair land had little respect for the earliest residents -- on good days they were obedient Indians and on bad days, red-savages. There were more bad days than good. (“The only good Indian being a dead one” was not said in jest.)

There were a few missionaries who went to the American wildernesses with the worthy motive of converting the Indians, while back home in Boston, Philadelphia, New York and later Washington, D.C., most laws and actions were to rid the land of the Indian tribes, one by one. Our “thanksgiving day” myths have twisted history’s story a tad.

Since the white population of the thirteen colonies were predominantly from the British Isles, their religious traditions, along with free church Germans, Swedes and Dutch had definite European roots. It was a time in which the radical Protestants of the Reformed tradition sought release from church-state clerical domination.

By the late 18th century and the forming of the United States government, many if not most, of the founders were found to be taking lightly the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Sunday, they might worship a loving God, but Monday through Saturday they were busy: (1) attempting to exterminate the Indians, and (2) blatantly ignoring the inhumane institution of slavery.

For every one of our early ancestors who saw the horror of treating Indians and slaves as “not really human,” there were hundreds who only wanted to be rid of them; work the slaves till they drop, drive the indigenous people from their villages.

So the Revolutionary War brought a new and free nation into being, it also brought death to the indigenous people. This phase of the events of those days was little stressed, if at all, in my school books from elementary to high school to college and even seminary. It simply did not fit the developing myths that made our ancestors “supermen.”

For all the good Daniel Boone did in founding the white settlement of Kentucky, there were thousands of innocents forced from their land, driven to resist and die. To expand meant getting rid of the inhabitants. The senators and representatives did what they usually do down to this day – ignore the problem, hope it will go away.

Even when laws were passed to treat the Indians with fairness and equality, they were ignored on the frontier. Reconstruction after the Civil War did not fulfill the promises made to the slaves. That took another 100 years and there is still much to do.

For those who want to believe America is a Christian country and special to God are hereby allowed to remain in their ignorance. But such stuff is not in the records of history nor in the United States Constitution. A document which wiser men than I have shown to be a flawed and non-divine document, created by flawed men like you and me. How they got so much right of it right is an amazing miracle.

To take the Hebrew Bible as the basis for our government is not a good alternative. Theocracies are anti-democratic and as unsuitable now as they have always been.

Celebrate the Fourth and rejoice we have the freedom to do so. Leave such celebrations out of Sunday’s worship. Worship is to the lord, not to the flag or nation. For those who have read this far and are still reading, I add one little bit of advice: Take those American flags out of the sanctuary and put them in a place of honor in the fellowship hall.

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