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January 25, 1994

Commentary Editor
Star Tribune
425 Portland Avenue South Minneapolis MN 55488

A Christian Country?

I remember being appalled and amazed when I realized that propagandists of the old Soviet Union had rewritten history to their own liking. How could they get away with it? Wouldn't somebody catch on and spread the word?

Now I have been able to see the phenomenon at close quarters and have found it to be remarkably effective. Intelligent people, lacking certain elements of truth and substituting plausible lies which they have been taught and sincerely believe, can weave a reasonably coherent fabric.

For at least a generation, the religious heritage of America has been omitted from the education of its young people. Certain key concepts, such as "the separation of church and state," have
been turned on their heads. Because of this, when Christian talk of reclaiming the nation, it sounds like a foreign invasion.

Yet the truth is very different. The concept of "separation" (which is not in the Constitution) was included in a letter of reassurance by Thomas Jefferson to a churchman that the government would not interfere in the affairs of the church. It now is taken to mean that not only the church, but even religious motivations, must have no place in government or public policy.

The Founding Fathers would have been flabbergasted at this interpretation. Patrick Henry, wrote the following, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ." Of course, today, he would be sued by the ACLU.

Noah Webster wrote, "All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the
precepts contained in the Bible." He sounds awfully narrow minded, doesn't he?

Robert Winthrop, an early speaker of the House, said, "Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled by a power within them or by a power without them, either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man, either by the Bible or by the bayonet." Now we assume that man is basically good and we cannot understand why the increasing lawlessness.

George Washington, in his farewell address, which has been stricken from the textbooks for over forty years, apparently because of the blatant religious content, said, " Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are the indispensable support s. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars." Now, a group can call themselves "People for the American Way" who actively try to weed religion and it's moral correlates from the life of the nation.

For some of the modern view, it does not matter what the founders said because they are dead and their ideas are old and truth changes and new is improved. But the real historical fact is that the old ideas established and preserved a unique way of life for 200 years. The new ideas founded nothing and appear to be destroying what they were given.

Ross S. Olson MD

Send comments to me at ross{at}rossolson.org

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