Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pope Benedict was addressing Obama in the UK

Read Bill Donohue's comments on the significant omission of references to God when Obama was quoting the Declaration of Independence. He rewrote a well known founding document just to leave out references to God. He said "endowed (BY OUR CREATOR was omitted) with certain inelienable rights". Sorry, I just don't buy the fact that he made a mistake. He's far too calculating for that. And his fourth church appearance in 19 months with news cameras trailing behind doesn't make up for it. Obama wants to appear religious while at the same time expunging true participation of religious thinkers in the public debate.

 Pope Benedict, in his Westminster Hall address this week in London, discussed the crucial role religious belief plays in civilizing the culture, and the mistake civilizations make (20th century totalitarianism, financial meltdown due to unbridled greed) when God is leff out of the discussion. Far from suggesting the US or the UK adopt any one creed to run their government by, he merely meant that a reasonable discussion of ethics cannot exclude a discusson of the natural law, a common belief that our rights come from God and that he has written a code of ethics on the human heart. Is there anyone out there who needs to be taught "thou shalt not kill"? When God is excluded from the public square, man is left to his unruly passions, and the results are too often disasterous (abortion, euthanasia, financial meltdown).

Here are Bill Donohues' comments:
On September 15, President Barack Obama addressed the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 33rd Annual Awards. In his remarks, he made reference to the Declaration of Independence. He said, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed with certain inalienable rights: life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the president's words:

There are several errors here, though only one that really matters. On a small scale, Jefferson chose "unalienable" instead of "inalienable," and following the word "rights" there is no colon: instead it should read, "that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness." What really matters, however, is the omission of any reference to God: after "equal" it should read, "that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…."

Some are blaming the president for this error, but it is his speech writers, and those who vetted his address, who are to blame. The prepared remarks, as released by the White House, omit the word "Creator." Since this got by so many in the White House, it makes us wonder whether only incompetence was at work. While Obama may be given a pass, it is striking nonetheless that this omission got by a former constitutional law professor.

There are four references to God in the Declaration. God is the author of the "laws of nature and nature's God"; he is the "Creator" who "endowed" us with "unalienable rights"; he is "the Supreme Judge of the world"; and he provides "the protection of Divine Providence." As a former professor of political science, I made sure my students understood this, but evidently none of those who write or vet the president's speeches learned this in college. They should pay more attention, especially given the suspicion that Obama likes his religion lite.
Here is the text of Pope Benedict's speech to British government officials at Westminister Hall;  read this part in particular;
The inadequacy of pragmatic, short-term solutions to complex social and ethical problems has been illustrated all too clearly by the recent global financial crisis. There is widespread agreement that the lack of a solid ethical foundation for economic activity has contributed to the grave difficulties now being experienced by millions of people throughout the world. Just as “every economic decision has a moral consequence” (Caritas in Veritate, 37), so too in the political field, the ethical dimension of policy has far-reaching consequences that no government can afford to ignore. A positive illustration of this is found in one of the British Parliament’s particularly notable achievements – the abolition of the slave trade. The campaign that led to this landmark legislation was built upon firm ethical principles, rooted in the natural law, and it has made a contribution to civilization of which this nation may be justly proud.

The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. This “corrective” role of religion vis-à-vis reason is not always welcomed, though, partly because distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism, can be seen to create serious social problems themselves. And in their turn, these distortions of religion arise when insufficient attention is given to the purifying and structuring role of reason within religion. It is a two-way process. Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.
Reason, enlightened by faith has guided all that is good in Western Civilization. Obama and his ilk are trying to expunge faith not only from the current dialouge, but from history itself. How ironic, that it was men fo faith like William Wilberforce and Dr Martin Luther King Jr. whose Christian faith led them to fight discrimination against Africans, would not have a seat at the table in Obama's world.

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1 comment:

meskew said...

Your article ends with a very strong statement!
For as intelligent as our society deems to be, you would think it could remember that all great civilizations prior, ended for the same exact reasons; degredation of society, a slip in morals, the result of getting lost without God. We,the USA, were supposed to be different, right?