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Chuck Norris
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Thanksgiving -- A Violation of Church and State?

Comment

Is the government's observance of Thanksgiving a violation of the separation of church and state?

This past week, a Newsweek/Washington Post editorial labeled presidential Thanksgiving Day proclamations as "cracks in the wall of separation." The author explained, "The problem with these proclamations, it seems to me, is that they pave the way for public acceptance of gross violations of the constitutional separation of church and state." What?!

Forget for a moment that nearly every president since George Washington (and the Continental Congress before him) has given Judeo-Christian proclamations for Thanksgiving (except between 1816 and 1861) and also has declared other national days of fasting and prayer. Secularists, such as the author of the editorial, get almost giddy every time they highlight that Thomas Jefferson rejected the notion of proclaiming Thanksgiving spirituals and prayers. But the truth is Jefferson was far from the modern-day secularist they make him out to be.

Sure, Jefferson was adamant (as we all should be) that there should be no federal subscription to any one form of religious sectarianism. That is largely what the First Amendment is all about — establishing the free exercise of religion and restricting sectarian supremacy in government, as well as government intrusion in churches.

But secularists make two grave mistakes when it comes to Jefferson and the First Amendment. First, they misconstrue his understanding of separation. Second, they overlook how Jefferson himself endorsed and intermingled religion and politics, even during his two terms as president. Let me explain, as I believe it is a timely reminder, given that we are experiencing a new round of battles in our Christmas culture war, too.

The phrase "separation of church and state" actually comes from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1802 to the Danbury Baptists. He told them that no particular Christian denomination was going to have a monopoly in government. His words, "a wall of separation between Church & State," were not written to remove all religious practice from government or civic settings, but to prohibit the domination and even legislation of religious sectarianism.

Proof that Jefferson was not trying to rid government of religious (specifically Christian) influence comes from the fact that he endorsed the use of government buildings for church meetings and services, signed a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians that allotted federal money to support the building of a Catholic church and to pay the salaries of the church's priests, and repeatedly renewed legislation that gave land to the United Brethren to help their missionary activities among the American Indians.

Some might be completely surprised to discover that just two days after Jefferson wrote his famous letter citing the "wall of separation between Church & State," he attended church in the place where he always had as president: the U.S.

Capitol. The very seat of our nation's government was used for sacred purposes. As the Library of Congress' Web site notes, "It is no exaggeration to say that on Sundays in Washington during the administrations of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) and of James Madison (1809-1817) the state became the church." Does that sound like someone who was trying to create an impenetrable wall of separation between church and state?

Let's face the present Thanksgiving facts. President Bush likely will give the last explicit Judeo-Christian Thanksgiving proclamation that Americans will hear for the next four to eight years, as President-elect Obama likely will coddle a form of godliness in his Thanksgiving addresses (if he indeed gives them) that appeases the masses with a deity that fits every politically correct dress.

But I'm an optimist. And because so much attention is being given right now by the media and the president-elect himself regarding his parallels to and lessons learned from President Abraham Lincoln, I recommend Obama heed Lincoln's Thanksgiving wisdom. Don't mince or water down the God of the Pilgrims, as is being done in public schools across this land through the retelling of the first Thanksgiving.

Obama doesn't even need a speechwriter for Thanksgiving 2009. He simply can recite Lincoln's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, in which Lincoln thanked the Almighty for America's bountiful blessings and providential care despite enduring a war and grave economic hardships. The content seems divinely timed for even such a wintry season as our own:

"No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. … I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens … to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father, who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union."

Whatever your religious persuasion, don't hesitate this Thanksgiving to bow your head, give thanks to God, and follow Lincoln's advice. And when you do, don't forget to say a prayer for our troops and their families. While they serve us so we can serve our Thanksgiving feasts safely, the least we can do is serve them a little honor and remembrance.

To find out more about Chuck Norris and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CHUCK NORRIS

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.



Comments

4 Comments | Post Comment
I agree Chuck. Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas!! God bless you for stepping out and speaking out for the Lord and this Great Nation. I pray the Lord protect this Nation from those who want to do away with all that it was founded for and on.
It's so sad to see the Salvation Army standing out side of Wal Mart or whereever ringing their bells but not wishing people a Merry Christmas. Maybe I shouldn't but I just walk by. If they can't acknowledge it as Christmas then they don't want my donations. I can give to the poor other ways. I know it's Thanksgiving right now but I believe it all ties together. Remember when we use to shop to live church groups singing Christmas carols to glorify the Lord. The One that it is all about. It made grown ups and children feel so great!!! When I was little we didn't have a lot for Christmas but it was great the way all over America there were people right out in the City Squares singing and ringing in the season. It's that spirit of the season that makes it Christmas. There is power in His name and they don't want to hear it.
This might sound like I'm just talking about Chirstmas but these 2 holidays have always been intermingled. I think that's why they chose to celebrate Thanksgiving just a month before Christmas. Maybe not but that's just my thought.
Again thank you for speaking up for the Lord and this Nation. God bless!
Comment: #1
Posted by: Lola Mathuews
Tue Nov 25, 2008 11:48 AM
Sir;... If all you godless hypocritical Christians would live more Godly lives, seek less of power, give more of sacrifice, care for the maimed and the injured of life, be less critical and more virtuous it might be possible that you could hear God in your own ears, forgiving all sins, forgetting all affronts and so rate forgveness yourselves; and then, the weak power and recongition you so desire from government would seem meaningless, -as it is to all the faithful.... What I thought Jesus said about the religious powers in his time who were like those in our own age, taking alike from rich and poor, getting fat on the poverty of the land was: Do as they say; Not as they do... No one should follow the Christians in the nonsense they do; and everyone should follow Jesus into caring and sacrifice... Jesus asked no official position, and rejected the kingdoms of the world... No one needs the authority of church or state to live a virtuous life... Just do it... Just do it and wash your face... And thank God for the power to help instead of needing help... God hears the cry of the poor... Pity his poor ears, and be his angel.... Do I ask so much??? Are your muscles only for show, and are they your reward, or are they some good for carrying a cross??? Next year I'm putting some wheels under mine...Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #2
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Tue Nov 25, 2008 3:51 PM
Re: Lola Mathuews;... I am just like you ma'am.... I look for excuses not to give... This one didn't wish me a Merry Christmas....That one had a gun....The other one didn't have teeth, and the one with him smelled bad... I keep expecting the needy to look like Jesus, and they never do... And no matter how broke you go handing pennies to the poor there is always some person standing there begging, looking more desparate than the last one... I don't know why the government does not do more, except that I deny them taxes because I disagree with their stands, even when they are sitting... My church would do more, except that they spend all the extra on advertizing... Jesus advertized... He told people not to tell... Wasn't that like telling them to tell??? But it seems like if we would all go broke being Chrisitians that we would not have to advertize, that even if we were as destitute as those we fed and clothed that people would judge us by our deeds and want to be like us... Naw... Ef the poor... If they don't measure up to my standards from now on they get nothing from me but a blind eye and a go to ell....Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Tue Nov 25, 2008 4:06 PM
Thanks for all your articles, Chuck, including this one. Seeing that we are getting close to Christmas, you might like to check Amazon for a 1976 novel by British author Frederick Forsyth entitled The Shepherd. It's about a 20-year-old RAF jet pilot who gets into difficulties over the North Sea on Christmas Eve, 1957, when his aircraft suffers a major instrument failure. With fog blotting out the landscape and low on fuel, the young officer desperately asks God for help but thinks this is futile, in that he had forgotten God for so long, surely God had forgotten him. But had He? It's a great Christmas story. You can read about it on Wikipedia and elsewhere on the web but I suggest don't do that until you've read the story - it's quite short.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Alan O'Reilly
Thu Nov 27, 2008 10:42 AM
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