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Friday, May 16, 2014

Necessity: the Mother of Invention

First Amendment
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The crucible of experience has revealed a stark and troubling aspect of the First Amendment.  The First Amendment seems to be in harmony with a widespread relativistic approach to life. The Declaration of Independence, however, clearly demonstrates that the American rebels were anything but relativists and would not agree in the least with such statements as: "You can't know anything for sure;" "You shouldn't judge;" "Nobody' right;" and "You can't know anything" (quotes from The Evidence Bible - Ray Comfort, page 349).

The challenge the First Amendment presents is that we must establish a civil religion on the sly for we perforce must have one. The prison system is one of many institutions dealing with the chaos created by the profligate assumption of relativism. My godson Ramon Green is soon to be released from federal prison. While there he participated in a program that attempts to deal with the chaos caused by relativism.  In fact, he became a tutor in the program. The civil religion that the federal prison system is establishing seeks to inculcate the following values: we are to live with eight operative attitudes: Caring; Responsibility, Objectivity, Willingness; Open-mindedness; Gratitude, Humility.

The City of St. Petersburg where I worked in the Leisure Services Department inculcates the following values: Self Discipline; Teamwork; Achievement; Responsibility; Respect; Honesty.(  In a sense the promulgation of either of these belief systems is unconstitutional. Both from my point of view share basic signal guiding principles of Christianity and Methodism.  As a nation we toy with the establishment of a civil religion for based upon the crucible of experience we find that relativism is not an option.  The absence of a civil religion breeds chaos on the street, in halls of government, and on Wall Street.

Neither the federal prison system nor the City of St. Petersburg is so bold as to include faith as one of its operative principles.  That is, they assume an ethical life follows rational projections and that doing the right thing will always be the rational thing-- the obvious "best" practical choice.   The question that remains to assess once a civil religion is firmly and explicitly established (which must be done) is to determine whether or not "in God we trust" is to remain a nonrational guiding principle during periods of ambiguity.

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