Sometimes you just have to break the rules to spark a little thought and discussion. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m bringing up politics and religion!
Thanksgiving prompts families and friends of all beliefs to gather for a traditional feast and offer thanks for their blessings, including the benefit of living in a nation of religious freedom. Accordingly, in America today, fighting words are continually exchanged between those who ardently oppose any religious expression regarding matters of the State and others who strongly contest that freedom of religion does not preclude the right to signify a belief in God, such as inscribing “In God We Trust” on our currency. The often heated battles raise all kinds of questions:
- Should high school cheerleaders in a small town’s public school have the right to mention God on the banners they display at football games?
- Should a city’s council members be allowed to pray for guidance before each meeting?
- Should a national political party remove any mention of God from its platform?
- Should religious symbolism of any kind be removed from all public land?
- Should local, state and federal governments strike all references to God?
Considering the ongoing controversies, you have to wonder what would happen if a modern US President issued a proclamation similar to George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation. Would it be deemed anti-Constitutional?
Take a moment to read the Thanksgiving Proclamation, issued by President George Washington in New York on October 3, 1789:
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor–and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be–That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions–to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
What do you have to say about the origins of Thanksgiving and freedom? Will such sentiments endure in the 21st Century? Should they?
You are most certainly free to exercise your right to agree or disagree with George Washington and the other Founding Fathers of the United States, but I am compelled to say–and to say it wholeheartedly–God bless America!
Sallie W. Boyles, a.k.a. Write Lady