Did God create the USA?
And the newspaper sneers at the body appointed to oversee the state's history curriculum for including ‘a Christian fundamentalist preacher’ who is alleged to be ‘fighting a war for America's moral soul’.
As far as The Guardian is concerned, of all the Christians worthy of scorn, derision and contempt, there are none who compare to the ‘fundamentalists’, which is Left-speak for ‘Evangelicals’, who are Protestants by another name.
And these rabid, feverish, saliva-spewing bigots simply want lessons ‘to emphasise the part played by Christianity in the founding of the US and that religion is a civic virtue’.
There is, of course, a strict separation of Church and State in the US. But Cranmer finds it difficult to perceive the creation of the United States with anything but a Christian provenance, and a Protestant Christian one at that. David Barton, one of the aforementioned ‘fundamentalists’, observes that the US Constitution ‘was written with God in mind including that "there is a fixed moral law derived from God and nature", that "there is a creator" and "government exists primarily to protect God-given rights to every individual". It follows, for him, that ‘children should be taught that Christianity is the key to "American exceptionalism" because the structure of its democratic system is a recognition that human beings are fallible, and that religion is at the heart of being a virtuous citizen’.
Another of the ‘fundamentalists’, the Reverend Peter Marshall, recommends that children ‘be taught about the "motivational role" of the Bible and Christianity in establishing the original colonies that later became the US.’ He observed: "In light of the overwhelming historical evidence of the influence of the Christian faith in the founding of America, it is simply not up to acceptable academic standards that throughout the social studies (curriculum standards) I could only find one reference to the role of religion in America's past."
He perceives the struggle over the history curriculum to be part of a wider battle: "We're in an all-out moral and spiritual civil war for the soul of America, and the record of American history is right at the heart of it."
And so these men are dismissed severally as being ‘simplistic’, ‘deceptive’ and ‘devious’. It is the ‘religious Right’, you see. It is one thing to recite a pledge of allegiance in class each morning which includes a reference to the US as ‘one nation under God’, but quite another to actually mean it.
The Pilgrim Fathers were pioneers of liberty: one needs no understanding of their Puritanism or grasp of the religious persecution from which they were fleeing.
But the principal issue here is not so much theology as the teaching of history. If one ignores the past, one is doomed to repeat the errors of that past. If one re-writes the past, one is destined to build a delusional future based on falsehood and lies.
It is one thing to have a constitutional separation of Church and State, but quite another to interpret this as a requirement for the eradication of every expression of Christianity from the public realm. The United States is searching for its via media: one which accommodates ‘In God We Trust’ and the liturgical coronation of a president – with hand on Bible and ‘fundamentalist’ in the pulpit – while somehow purporting to remain ‘secular’ and ‘neutral’.
The drive to eradicate God and Christianity from the history of the United States is simply mirroring what is happening in the UK and the EU. God forbid that one should refer to the Protestant Reformed Religion by law established, the Protestant Work Ethic or the part played by Christianity in the history of Europe. No, as far as the secularists who drew up the ‘Constitution for Europe’ are concerned, Europe evolved from the great civilisations of Greece and Rome and proceeded directly to the Enlightenment. The ‘missing link’ is a millennium of Christian insight and, of course, the Reformation. But, in the interests of secular ‘neutrality’, to placate the French and appease Muslims, these are ignored. And so it is in the UK, for what school history syllabus deals with the Christian foundations other than in a negative light? Henry VIII ‘invented’ the Reformation simply to bed the woman for whom he lusted. The Act of Settlement is bigoted, otiose and irrelevant. The history is forgotten, the battles are long gone, and it is time to move on and to ‘modernise’.
And so the public memory is diminished; vernacular history is subsumed to the postmodern need to empathise, and the people become ahistorical. Thus do we have the introduction of ideology; the means of ‘social engineering’. Understanding one’s traditions and culture demands a grasp of their history, and this must include a fair assessment of the role of religion. If this is not to be part of a school curriculum, then that curriculum is corrupted by omission because children are deprived a means of making sense of the modern world.
God made the US in exactly the same fashion as he created the world. It may have taken a little longer than seven days, but he had Americans to deal with... and quite a few of them wanted him out of the picture altogether.