I have an old friend with whom I've recently reconnected on Facebook. His son was sworn in to the United States Army today. My friend was pretty upset because the Lieutenant in charge of the swearing in gave the soldiers a choice about whether to end their oath with "so help me, God". My friend is a conservative, a blue collar worker and he believes strongly in the Christian faith. His post ended with the statement "the liberals are taking over".
After I read my friend's post, I thought about a book I had read entitled So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle Over Church and State, authored by Forrest Church. The author cites numerous historical documents that show quite clearly that separation of church and state was an issue way back at the birth of our nation. It has never been a settled issue and probably never will be. Although I had no hope that it would make any difference whatsoever, I added a comment suggesting that folks interested in this issue might want to read Church's book.
But more interesting to me were the comments that other friends added to his post. One friend added the comment, "or less government interference in personal beliefs". At first I thought she was giving a contrary opinion to his. To me, less interference would mean that each person would decide for himself/herself about whether to add "so help me, God" to an oath. But after a few other people left comments indicating how disgusted they were at each enlistee being given a choice, she added another comment, "Is this America?"
I don't think she was even aware of how contradictory her two comments were. On the one hand, she was suggesting that the government stop interfering with private religious decisions. But on the other hand, she was indicating that she would like the government to force every person enlisting in the United States military to end the oath with "so help me, God". None of the commenters said anything contradictory to this train of thought. My comment came as close as I dared without risking endless flaming.
This is the problem with debates like this. Most of my friends, who are admittedly liberal to one degree or another, would state their opinion, then follow it with a statement that indicated that they would be fine with all people deciding for themselves. My few conservative friends are absolutely adamant that everyone should think like them. And many of them go on to add that anyone who doesn't agree with them is anti-American, evil, unpatriotic, anti-military, stupid or some other negative description. Insults usually fly in the direction of anyone who disagrees. And facts are NOT WELCOME.
The TEA Party, for instance, feels they are "Taxed Enough Already" and are protesting wildly all over the country. When you point out to them that some of the largest tax cuts for the middle class have been passed by Congress within the last year, under a Democratic president and a Democratic-controlled Congress, they refuse to believe it. For them, Democrats mean MORE taxes, so they do not want to be confused with the facts.
I am absolutely amazed at this failure of grown men and women to read and do their own research. They blindly repeat the conservative talking heads. There are probably times when I am guilty of believing the liberal talking heads, without doing my own research. But most of the time, I want to see the evidence with my own eyes. That's what we should ALL do, in my opinion. Demand to see the evidence!!!