Monday, July 04, 2011

What the 4th of July Made Possible

What the 4th of July Made Possible
by Bob Johnson
Betsy Ross Flag
As we celebrate the 4th of July this year we should not only pay tribute to what America's Founders accomplished but also to what they made possible.

Prior to the American Revolution each colony had its own government recognized and established church. In some colonies it was the Congregational Church and in other colonies it could be the Anglican or Lutheran church. After the American Revolution this type of religious domination came to an end.

In the first part of Thomas Paine's indispensable work
The Age of Reason he wrote, "Soon after I had published the pamphlet Common Sense, in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion."

The success of the American Revolution made possible a revolution in religion. No longer were people subjected to the raw punishing power of the state at the command of the clergy. Freedom of thought and speech were now unshackled. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in one of his final letters regarding the 4th of July on June 24, 1826, just one and a half weeks prior to his death on the 50th anniversary of the 4th of July, "May
it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves . . . the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them."

As Deists the best way to show our "undiminished devotion" to the rights won for us at a very high cost of blood and treasure is to take advantage of the freedom to write and speak to others about Deism and to DO all we possibly can to promote the growth of Deism. Prior to the American Revolution this would have been illegal. Now, thanks to the courage and action of the American revolutionaries, we have that right and ability to openly get the word out about Deism. This is the best way to show our sincere thanks to all of those people and families who gave so much for freedom and progress. People like the Isaac Davis family. Isaac, who was only 30 years old at the time, and Hannah Davis had four young children by April 19, 1775 when government/British forces approached to enforce gun control at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. Isaac was a Captain of the Minutemen and went without hesitation to confront the enemy forces. He was shot through the heart and died at North Bridge in Concord. His four small children were left without a father and his wife was left without a husband. But his and their sacrifices, and similar sacrifices made by thousands of other revolutionaries, have paid the very high price required for our right to freedom of and from religion, of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It is up to us to DO something meaningful with our hard-won freedoms they have given to us.

(Here's an article I wrote last year which contains some important talking points regarding the 4th of July which Deists and freethinkers can use to reach people who currently believe the Bible is the word of God.)