Say Your Prayers: National Religious Freedom Day

National Religious Freedom Day commemorates the Virginia General Assembly’s adoption of Thomas Jefferson’s landmark Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom on January 16, 1786.  This vital document became the basis for the establishment clause, and led to freedom of religion for all Americans as protected in the religion clause in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

Religious Freedom Day is officially proclaimed on January 16 each year by an annual statement by the President of the United States.  The day is commemorated by the First Freedom Center in Richmond, Va., by an annual First Freedom Award banquet.

The statute was drafted by Jefferson in 1777 and was introduced in the Virginia General Assembly in 1779.  However, it did not pass the General Assembly until 1786, thanks to James Madison. The statute formally disestablished the Church of England in Virginia and guaranteed freedom of religion to people of all religious faiths, including Catholics and Jews as well as members of all Protestant denominations.

Will Obama make the official proclamation tomorrow?   Can our narcissistic emperor-in-chief humble himself to acknowledge that there’s a greater power than himself in the universe?  Is he any better than any of the other petty dictators setting fire to the earth, corrupting governments, lying to and subjugating the peoples.

 

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” God commanded Moses to write in the Jewish Torah and Christian Bible – Exodus 20:3 – and Exodus 20:4-6:  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them:  for I, the Lord God, they God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”

 

There followed eight more commandments.  The people hearing all the commotion coming from Mount Horeb, ran back from the mountain.

 

They said to Moses, “Speak thou with us, and we will hear.  But let not God speak with us, lest we die.”  Exodus 20:19.

 

But Moses told them not to worry too much, “for God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces, [so] that ye sin not.”

 

He’s just trying to scare you into behaving yourselves.  He also ordered Moses to make altars to Him out of simple materials.  No silver or gold, or carved or polished stone.  Nothing made by the hand of Man to worship God.  Jesus would later admonish worshippers at the Temple in Jerusalem.

 

“He that is greatest among you shall be your servant and whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and that shall humble himself shall be exalted.  But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for neither neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” Matthew 23:11-13

 

Jesus was on a roll, as we like to say in modern times.  He went on to say, “Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whoesoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of them temple, he a debtor.  Ye fools and blind:  for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?”  Matthew 23:16-27.

 

In Matthew 24, it is recorded the Jesus left the temple in quite a fury and went up to the mount of Olives, his disciples hurrying to keep up with him.  “And Jesus went out and departed from the temple; and his disciples came to him for to s how him the buildings of the temple.

 

“And Jesus said unto them, ‘See ye not all these things?  Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.”

 

That is essentially the ideology behind Judaic and Christian worship.

 

Initially, the Colonials carved out lots for their religious followers, and in these towns, other worshippers were not welcome.  Maryland, for instance, was specifically designated for Roman Catholic worshippers.

 

The Torah, as we know it, in the Jewish faith is actually one of three sections:  the Torah, the Nevi’im, and the Kethuvim.  The Torah is composed of the five books of Moses (the first books of the Christian Old Testament).  The Nevi’im is composed of the seven Major Prophets and the 12 minor prophets.  The Kethuvim represent the “Writings” of the Jewish faith, psalms (or prayers), proverbs, and stories of important characters in Judaism (and Christianity) who proved their faith to God.  The whole sum of the books is called The Tanakh, the Holy Scriptures.

 

The Muslim Koran is the record of Mohammed’s oral teachings delivered between the years immediately preceding the Hegira in A.D. 622 and the Prophet’s death in A.D. 632.  The Koran is composed of Suras, or chapters.  The first is a prayer to God, “Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds!  The compassionate, the merciful!  King on the day of reckoning!  Thee only do we worship, and to Thee do we cry for help.  Guide Thou us on the straight path, the path of those to whom thou hast been gracious; with whom thou art not angry, and who go not astray.

 

Yes.   Well.  The second Sura says, “No doubt is there about this Book:  it is a guidance to the God-fearing, who believe in the unseen, who observe prayer, and out of what we have bestowed on them, expend for God.”

 

The Sura 2 goes on to say, “As to the infidels, alike is it to them whether thou warn them or warn them not; they will not believe.  Their hearts and ears hath God sealed up; and over their eyes is a covering.  For them, a severe chastisement.  And some are there who say, ‘We believe in God, and in the latter day.’  Yet are they not believers.  [This part is written as a declaration, not a question].  Fain would they deceive God and those who have believed; but they deceive themselves only, and know it not.  Diseased are their hearts!  And that disease hath God increased to them.  Theirs a sore chastisement, for that they treated their prophet as a liar.”

The Koran takes portions of the Tanakh and the Bible, and fashions into a different belief from either Judaism or Christianity.  Anyone who doubts that violence is at its heart need not go beyond Sura 2:20:8:  “And if ye be in doubt as to that which we have sent down  to our servant, then produce a Sura like it, and summon your witnesses, beside God, if ye are men of truth.  But if ye do it not, and never shall ye do it, then fear the fire prepared for the infidels, whose fuel is men and stones.”

 

The teachings of Buddha are a collection of sayings and brief essays by followers of the monk Buddha after his enlightenment.  Buddhism is practiced in India, Tibet, China and Japan, and by those who have immigrated here.  He taught about a concept called Nirvana, being the freedom from birth and death, and the meditation state called “Zen.”

 

“Once the Buddha addressed his awakened followers, “My friends, I am free of all human and divine entanglements.  And as you are likewise free of all human and divine entanglements, go forth into the world for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, with compassion for the world, and for the benefit, the blessing, and the happiness of gods and humans.  Do not two of you go out on the same road?  Teach Dharma that is good in the beginning, in the middle, and in the end.  Reveal the spiritual life, complete and pure in the spirit and in form”  from the Kamyutta Nikaya, “Go Forth Over the Earth”

 

The Analects of Confucius are a compilation of about 500 short pieces, conversations actually, similar to those of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.  “Confucius” is the Latinization of his real name, Kong Fuzi, or “Master Kong.”

 

In Book 10 of the Analects, we are told of Master Kong, “In the local community, [he] was rather unassuming and seemed as if he were an inarticulate person; but in the ancestral temple or at court he spoke readily but cautiously.  At court, when speaking with lower grandees, he was affable, and when speaking with higher grandees, he was forthright.  When the ruler was present, he was respectful but self-possessed.”

 

In Book 13, Master Kong Fui, or Confucius, says, “The gentlemen, although he behaves in a conciliatory manner, does not make his views coincide with those of others; the small man, although he makes his views coincide with those of others, does not behave in a conciliatory manner.”

 

The I-Ching was a book which Confucius spent a great deal of time interpreting.  Those in need of answers would ask questions of the I-Ching.  Known also as The Book of Changes, it is more than 3,000 years old.  Some consider it to be the oldest book in the world.  The I-Ching involves a series of hexagrams.  Questioners of old tossed 50 yellow stalks.  Today, people prefer to toss three similar coins.  There are 13 steps in the process.  You write your question on a piece of paper, shake the three coins in your hand, and then toss them.

 

The head side of the coin is worth 3 points, the tail side, 2.  Then you add up the value of the three coins.  You do this five more times, writing the number above the previous one.  For odd numbers, you draw a long, horizontal line, for even, a dotted line.  This creates your hexagram.  The result should be six lines, the upper being the upper triagram and the lower, the lower triagram.  The intersection between the upper and lower triagrams on the Hexagram Identification Chart is the number you are supposed to consult in the I-Ching.

 

Complicated?  Yeah, right.  Well, you get your number, let us say, for example, No. 43, The Sun Hexagram.  Overall, it says “In (what is denoted by the Sun), if there be sincerity (in him who employs it), there will be great good fortune; freedom from error; firmness and correctness that can be maintained; and advantage in every movement that shall be made.  In what shall this (sincerity of exercise of Sun) be employed.

 

Reading from the bottom line up, the I-Ching gives various answers and interpretation.  The guide suggests one hour, a quiet room and a lot of patience in consulting the I-Ching.

 

Hinduism is a largely ritualistic religion founded by Aryans who migrated to India, bringing with them their Vedic religion.  Their sacred text is the Veda, including the Upanishads, a collection of rituals and commentaries, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, which contain epic stories about gods, heroes, and saints.  Their traditions are devoted to the gods Vishnu, Shiva, and Shakti.

 

Those are the major world religions:  Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism.  There are also Taoists and any number of sects within Christianity.  We haven’t always been the religiously-tolerant America we’d like to be.  My Catholic paternal grandmother and her sisters wore black to my Lutheran mother’s wedding.  My father was henceforth ex-communicated from The Church when my mother refused to sign the paper saying that she would raise any children issuing from the marriage Catholic.

 

Protestant Americans refused to vote for the first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy.  The nation was a little less shocked when its largest city elected its first Jewish mayor, Michael Bloomberg.  Whereas Americans seem to be merely curious about the Asian religions, Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoisms.  They’re less tolerant of Mohaddism since 9/11 than they were in the 19th and 20th Century, when Mussulmen seemed harmless enough (except when they were hijacking ships in the early 19th Century.

 

The emerging religion is not a religion at all but an anti-religion, atheism.  It also goes by the name of Secularism.  According Glenn Beck’s The Blaze and the National Review, atheisms are beginning to build, or are considering building, their own houses of worship.  Seems sort of odd to pray to nothing, or worse, to pray to humanity.  There’s a sort of arrogance about praying to and worshipping ourselves.  That kind of worship is subject to the worst sort of abuse.

 

They don’t need God, they believe.  They believe that Man created God, not the other way around, which would come as a surprise to God.  They believe the worship of God is a burden and an infringement upon their freedom and liberties.  Therefore, they believe that God is a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  The ACLU is at the van, protecting the First Amendment rights of atheists and secularists, not to mention deists.

 

Heaven help us and say a prayer tomorrow for all those who believe in God, however they worship Him.

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Published in: on January 14, 2014 at 5:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

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