single grateful thought raised to heaven
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 and 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 twenty-sixth 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 service 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 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 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 has been pleased to confer upon us.
also that we may 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 duties properly and punctually;
to render our National Government as a blessing to all the people
by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional
laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to promote the
knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase
of science among us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such
a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
under my hand, at the city of New York, the third day of October,
A Christian gives thanks that America is not a Christian nation
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
-- The Declaration of Independence
As a spiritual descendant of Mary Dyer, I'm profoundly grateful that America is not a Christian nation. If it were, my Quaker convictions might get me into very deep oatmeal. And as a Christian who does his best to take reason as seriously as I take faith, I find impossible to understand America as a "Christian nation" -- and I believe that there are vibrant possibilities in the fact that it is not.
Whatever America's founders believed about Christianity -- and they believed a wide range of things -- they clearly rejected the idea of an established church. That's strike one against the curious conceit that we're a Christian nation.
being a Christian nation means asking ourselves every day, "What
would Jesus do?" about a political issue, then doing it, that's
strike two. To take but one example (without forgetting things like
slavery, justice for those who can afford it and peace through war):
If, as Christians believe, God is the Creator and Redeemer of All, then there's no way God favors Americans above people of other nationalities. Strike four.
a Christian, I'm passionately opposed to American pretensions that
we have special standing with God; to political office-seekers who
play on our religious differences; and to the religious arrogance
that says, "Our truth is the only truth." But I'm equally
passionate about the urgency of creating a culture of meaning that
responds to the deepest needs of the human soul. This is a task
we have been neglecting at great peril, a task that demands the
best of all our wisdom traditions, a task on which people of diverse
beliefs can and must make common cause.
Of course, we can continue to have pseudo-theological food fights over questions like, "How can we save our nation by making all Americans into God-fearing souls?," or "How can anyone be so ignorant as to believe in God or the soul?" Or we can take advantage of the fact that American democracy offers us an open space in which to pursue questions of personal, communal and political meaning, illumined by multiple sources of light.
Which will it be? That's a question worth wrapping our lives around, with gratitude for our political inheritance.
Life is the only gift of God within you ... be grateful. Yogi Bhajan
"Life is like a gift they say...wrapped up for you everyday."