Archived Story

Commissioners know not what they do

Published 7:10pm Thursday, February 27, 2014

To the editor

Imagine the commissioners’ meeting where a disheveled, smelly man with ragged clothes and a distinct Middle Eastern look comes in to give the opening prayer.

With him is his trusted companion and friend, a woman named Mary Magdalene. His words are radical.

“Love your neighbor as yourself,” “Pray for your enemies,” “Judge not so that you are not judged,” “Take the log out of your own eye before you look at the splinter in someone’s else,” “Walk humbly with God” and so forth. He even recites from the Torah.

I am sure the Lutheran minister would have been the first to ask that the police be called and perhaps, given his “mideastern look,” Homeland Security. That man was Jesus.

It is amazing to me that to many people, Jesus and God are white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants and heaven is going to be one gigantic men’s club. Perhaps, in their minds, women and people of other color can be there to cook and clean up. Of course, no gay people would even be allowed to do that.

The Britannica Blog states the following: “Although the Declaration of Independence mentioned “Nature’s God” and the “Creator,” the Constitution made no reference to a divine being, Christian or otherwise, and the First Amendment explicitly forbid the establishment of any official church or creed.

There is also a story, probably apocryphal, that Benjamin Franklin’s proposal to call in a chaplain to offer a prayer when a particularly controversial issue was being debated in the Constitutional Convention prompted Hamilton to observe that he saw no reason to call in foreign aid. If there is a clear legacy bequeathed by the founders, it is the insistence that religion was a private matter in which the state should not interfere.

In recent decades Christian advocacy groups, prompted by motives that have been questioned by some, have felt a powerful urge to enlist the founding fathers in their respective congregations. But recovering the spiritual convictions of the founders, in all their messy integrity, is not an easy task. Once again, diversity is the dominant pattern. Franklin and Jefferson were deists, Washington harbored a pantheistic sense of providential destiny, John Adams began a Congregationalist and ended a Unitarian, Hamilton was a lukewarm Anglican for most of his life.”

To Jesus “the greatest of these things is love.” The Dali Lama states, “loving kindness is his religion” (he probably would not be allowed to speak at the commissioners’ meeting either, by the way).

We are blessed with freedom to worship as we each please. There is no state religion or opposition to religion.

We may not agree with
everyone’s religion but they have the freedom to practice it. That is what freedom is about and what the founding fathers came here to establish. The word “sin” literally means to miss the mark as in archery.  Both the Lutheran minister and the commissioners missed it and the shame is that no one had the courage to question it as it was happening. It is easy to cast stones but it is much harder to build with them a world governed by love and tolerance without ego and hubris. Jesus said as he was dying “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

I guess that can be applied to the commissioners’ meeting. We have to forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing.

– Shirley Bradley, 

Campobello, S.C.

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