Do we really appreciate the ideals that make America great? From the Declaration of Independence we find phrases such as “all men are created equal … with certain inalienable rights … Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Constitution begins, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
We should marvel at the character, the tenacity, the intestinal fortitude of the few who spend a lifetime fighting the forces that oppose America’s ideals as set forth by our founding fathers.
Fortunately for America, there was a woman named Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) who would not be intimidated or defeated. She spent her life fighting for equal rights, establishing justice, domestic tranquility and the general welfare for Americans. Her battle started with slavery. After investigating slavery, she shocked the abolitionists by declaring that the Bible and its clergy were the primary reasons for slavery’s existence in America.
Even before abolition was achieved, she turned her attention to the miserable niche her own sex occupied in society. Again she asserted the Bible and Christianity as the cause. Christian dogmatists had an agenda for women -- no divorce, no vote, no birth control, no right to own property, and no equality.
Ms. Stanton stated, “To me, there was no question so important as the emancipation of women from the dogmas of the past, political, religious, and social. It struck me as very remarkable that abolitionists, who felt so keenly the wrongs of the slave, should be so oblivious to the equal wrongs of their own mothers, wives, and sisters, when, according to the common law, both classes occupied a similar legal status.”
July 19-20, 1848 Elizabeth Cady Stanton, with four friends convened the very first woman's rights convention in the world in Seneca Falls, N.Y. Stanton was the first woman to call for "women’s suffrage." Stanton warned that suffrage was almost “too shocking to utter” and would alienate supporters. Nevertheless, the suffrage plank won endorsement and galvanized US women for the next 72 years.
Fifty years after that convention Elizabeth Cady Stanton, said in an interview with the Chicago Record, June 29,1897, “In the early days of woman-suffrage agitation, I saw that the greatest obstacle we had to overcome was the Bible. It was hurled at us on every side.”
Soon Susan B. Anthony and hundreds of other women and men who had had their fill of bigotry joined her. Ms. Stanton wrote, “When women understand that governments and religions are human inventions; that bibles, prayer-books, catechisms, and encyclical letters are all emanations from the brains of man, they will no longer be oppressed by the injunctions that come to them with the divine authority of ‘Thus sayeth the Lord.’”
She fought for 50 years against the ponderous inertia of chauvinism. For half a century she attacked the pulpits and the irrational dogma that came from them. She found the bible revolting and largely uncivilized. Preachers tried to comfort her by claiming the New Testament was better than the Old, only to hear her say, “All the men of the Old Testament were polygamists, and Christ and Paul, the central figures of the New Testament, were celibates, and condemned marriage by both precept and example.” For years she and a score of women combed the Bible to highlight its perverse vilification of their sex. The completed project took two volumes to contain it all. It was called The Woman’s Bible and it started an uproar that caused it to be published time and time again. It remains in print today.
It is fitting that Ms. Stanton wrote the words in the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution granting women’s suffrage. When it passed in 1920, she had been dead for 18 years.
The Nineteenth Amendment is a testament to Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s status as an American hero. Ms. Stanton did not need to wear a flag lapel-pin or say the pledge of allegiance to prove her patriotism. She understood and honored America’s ideals and demanded they supersede all conflicting ideals, religious or otherwise. Ms. Stanton demonstrated what it means to call oneself an American.
Christian clergy have propagandized Americans by with the idea that Christian ideals equate to America's ideals. This is a lie. Just for starters, America participated in the bible endorsed teaching on slavery and women's inequality. These heinous doctrines were finally rejected after long fought battles with American clergymen.
Where do Christians get the idea that their ideals are remotely close to America's ideals? Christians oppose "equality for all" and their "inalienable rights." "Life, liberty and happiness for all" is acceptable provided the "all" are Christian white, male, and of the proper sexual orientation. Creating a "perfect union" is a quality Christians within the same denomination do not practice as evidence by their 2,000 denominations. The threat of eternal damnation tells you all you need to about the Christian "establishment of justice." Where have Christians ever brought about "domestic tranquility?" The most devoted Christian fundamentalists have the highest divorce rates. Evangelical Christians tend to be the most avid supporters of George Bush whose "promoting the general welfare" equates to tax breaks for the wealthiest. "The blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity" is fast evaporating with the Bush's Patriot Act and NSA spying on Americans.
Today, America continues to face the onslaughts of government imposed fundamentalist prayer in schools and the posting of the Ten Commandments. These same fundamentalists led by the likes of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Father Richard Neuhaus, etc., etc. want legislation banning stem cell research, women’s reproductive rights, contraception, and sex education. The Protestant faction also opposes science and teaching evolution. They promote Middle East wars in the fantastical hope of bringing about Armageddon and their rapture.
This religious fundamentalist movement equates to the Taliban in Afghanistan and the post WWII Communist movement. They want to overthrow American democracy and replace it with their theocracy. They make the evils of bin Laden and Hussein look like kindergarten play. They not only build their megachurches, but then prove themselves to be “freeloaders” by not paying real estate taxes.
America desperately needs modern day Elizabeth Cady Stantons who will speak the truth lest we return to the Dark Ages. Any brand of Christianity, whether Protestant or Catholic, that seeks to impose its dogma through legislative action must be exposed for what it is: both non-Christian and un-American
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