To the Editor:
In addition to the adventure of discovering a “new world,” the North American continent was a magnet for freedom, especially religious freedom. So concerned were our forefathers of this freedom that they went a long way to separate church and state as our new nation developed into the United States of America. We were founded not only on freedom of religion but on freedom from religion!
Current political movements seek a change by merging government and politics with their preferred religion of Christianity, a Christian nation. This appears to be promoted by a Right aligned core of Republicans advocating for a church-state; the same group who wants to adhere to the Constitution as written (originalism)! Not only would this approach be in direct conflict with our Constitution but separates out all non-Christian religions. By this action, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and non-believers such as agnostics and atheists would be unwelcome. Are these change-makers looking to form a monolithic nationalistic union? Who would be next?
During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the framers postulated that our government should not influence people towards or away from religion and wrote the finished document, the U.S. Constitution, that church and state be separate.
It is important that those in the extremes, Right and Left, help to set the guardrails that guide us to questions about our future. Questions should and need to be asked. People on the edges (Marjorie Taylor Greene, Bernie, etc.) explore possibilities; they help us see what we cannot even while their ideas are not entirely taken. Nader’s “Unsafe at Any Speed” did not get all he wanted, but safety in the auto industry improved because of the light he shined!
What do we want to be? What do we want to do?
These are times of questions and tests. Who shall stand up and debate or take a position to promote our founding principles? Are we blinded by bias or scared to speak out? Will hypocrisy and divisiveness flourish or will moderation craft the best offerings and take hold? Change can help us keep up with the times, but destroying our foundations leaves us tottering, unbalanced, and fractured as a nation.
Now is the time to shape our future by understanding risks and benefits.
Now is the time for the less outspoken to speak up and guide us to the best ideas of the Right and Left.
Now is the time.
— Jim Vanderbeck, Pittsboro