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home : blogs_old : ability and accountability August 01, 2014

Ability and Accountability
By Richard Haddad, Prescott Valley, AZ
"[Children] don't remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are."
"Please watch out for each other and love and forgive everybody. It's a good life, enjoy it."

-- Two of my favorite quotes by Jim Henson

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

One nation under God, again

 By Richard Haddad

Afghan girls head for school hand-in-hand as black smoke billows from the site of a car bomb blast outside the entrance to the military airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast. (AP Photo/Farzana Wahidy)

In November 2001, U.S.-backed Northern Alliance guerrillas took control of Kabul, the Afghan capital, and for the first time in five years, the people of that region were no longer under Taliban rule. Their joy was broadcast throughout the world as they flew kites in the streets, listened to music, shaved their beards and let their children play with toys -- all harmless personal choices that were outlawed by their Taliban enforcers.

Today the Taliban have made a fierce and bloody comeback in several northern provinces and deadly attacks continue to plague the Afghan capital. With help from NATO soldiers the Afghan people are fighting to defy Taliban threats and retain their freedoms.

As Americans, we are blessed to live in a country that I believe was divinely endowed with the gift of choice. Unlike Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, we can send our daughters to school, listen to music, travel where we wish, bear arms and worship God as our own hearts dictate. We're not told how many children we can have, what church we must attend, or what job we must perform.

But a free America was no accident. I believe the men and women who founded this country were inspired by God to write the Constitution in a way that would ensure our personal freedoms. I believe the brave soldiers who fought to protect our freedoms were often blessed with divine intervention.

Over the past two centuries, this God-given freedom did not go unnoticed by the world, as evidenced by most of our ancestors who traveled across vast oceans at great sacrifice to obtain it.

One of the positive things we've all seen arise from the dust of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks is a nation that no longer veils its belief in God. Only a few short years ago, many Americans in the public eye avoided comments about God or prayer, being afraid to offend such groups as the American Civil Liberties Union. But now, even our top government officials and business leaders are comfortable expressing their belief in God and calling on the public to petition Him for help and protection in these troubled times.

This common acknowledgment of God's hand in our nation's destiny is refreshing and reassuring.

As a father, one of the most disappointing things that can happen in my life is when my children don't recognize the good things I try to give them. Perhaps our Heavenly Father feels much the same way about His children. At least that's what I believe -- and in America, it's OK to believe.

Thank you to all our soldiers who are working to protect these freedoms at home and abroad - especially one named Brian.

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Article comment by: Someone Save Us

I believe that the idea of separation of church and state was to not grant any specific religion preference over the next. With that thought, you can imagine if a Hindu group or maybe even a variety of religious groups wanted to put their particular statue or symbol in a government owned site, you would hear a huge outcry from the Christians in the nation. There is but a small amount of tolerance in this country for different religious beliefs, which is strange and sad considering the principles this nation was supposedly founded on. I also think that our elected leaders compound the problem when expounding war as “doing God’s work” …..It is very disturbing to me and I would hope to most Christians. But then again we keep electing these “Christian Hawks”. People use God as an excuse for all kinds of prejudice (it’s in the Bible or it’s in the Koran) and people extol the virtues of their God while castigating other’s. That our nation’s leader‘s express their belief in God and call on the public to petition Him for help and protection is not a huge comfort to many of us. We’ve been down that path before.

Posted: Saturday, September 12, 2009
Article comment by: Chris Bergman

Stephen, it does become a bit tedious, correcting your intentional mischaractarizations. We have discussed this before and you are well aware that I am on record as saying that this is not a Christian nation. The capital of the Nation of Christ is not in D.C. but in heaven. This nation was, however, founded on many uniquely Christian principles. Many other principles were incorporated which are not uniquely Christian; so what? The point is, that the “Wall of separation” to which Cate and I are referring was never intended to exclude Christian sentiment or practice from the public arena, but that governmental oversight and preference should never be construed to interfere with religious sentiment or practice, so long as such practice did not interfere with the basic rights of individual citizens (no human sacrifice, alright?). It is a wall that restrains in one direction only. Now, the statements above seem pretty clear to me. Would you care, Stephen, to misrepresent them in some other way? bergman_blogs@yahoo.com

Posted: Saturday, September 12, 2009
Article comment by: Tom Cantlon

Good grief Mr. Hadad. Our soldiers had divine intervention? Our country has a divine endowment? I have no problem with religion. It is a source of strength and comfort and guidance to many. You’re welcome to believe what you want, and believing in a god who intervenes equally for all according to their actions is fine. But when you start thinking a particular group or type of people have special favor, “our” group of course, you are not far from using that as justification for wrong actions. As has been pointed out, you can easily end up thinking your god liked us better than the Native Americans, or those Africans brought here as slaves really did need salvation, or if we think a little torture protects us it’s divinely given a pass. We don’t need divine favoritism when we stand on our principles and do what’s right. When we treat prisoners humanely, all the way from George Washington’s British prisoners to the Germans of WWII. When we are fighting because it is genuine self defense as in WWII. Then we are operating from the power of doing what’s right, and that gives us the strength to succeed. When we abandon our principles as many were in the years after 9/11 then no divine intervention will help or should be counted on. Yes, many brave soldiers have contributed to our freedoms. But those freedoms are ours to keep or lose based on our actions, not any divine influence. I really have no problem with religion, and fully understand the difference between freedom of religion vs. freedom from religion. But trying to get people to believe we have some divine favoritism going for us is nothing but dangerous, and can bring nothing but a temptation to foolishness based on trusting in a misguided belief.

Posted: Saturday, September 12, 2009
Article comment by: Stephen

Chris - of course prior to Jefferson letter to the Danbury Baptist Association there is documentation as ratified by Congress under the Treaty of Tripoli of 1796. In which article 11 clearly spells out the following - "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion..." Now, of course, given the period of which this was ratified you would think that those founders who sought to make this a Christian Nation would have not allowed such text to enter into an official U.S. document. That seems not to be the case, and greatly diminishes Mr. Haddad's argument about the 200 or so years of a Christian Nation. This, of course, is more historical bound than my previous comment (which is more philosophically bound).

Posted: Friday, September 11, 2009
Article comment by: Chris Bergman

Actually, Cate, I ask because I'd like to know what you think the phrase means and how you think it applies or should apply to our constitution. You see, I know where it comes from, It's historical intent and how most people use it. I'm genuinely interested in knowing whether you are aware of these things and that the statement, written by Tom Jefferson to the pastor of the Danbury Baptist congregation, was never meant to exclude religious belief from government but to assure the Baptist congregation that Jefferson was not showing preference for one religion over another, and that as such, the Federal government was prohibited from interfering with their right to worship as they pleased. bergman_blogs@yahoo.com

Posted: Friday, September 11, 2009
Article comment by: Stephen

So Richard you believe that is was "god's" destiny to allow the decimation of indigenous populations. Or that is was "god's" design to import millions for the act of slavery? To assume what an omnipotent being is capable of smacks of hubris and heresy. A critical thinking and active proponent of early American democracy, Thomas Paine, offered more rational and secularist views on why we should be an autonomous nation. You mention god like you can single such an entity out and clearly define, yet as we have seen in history the notion of god is an intangible one. Your god is not the same thing as someone else's god, yet you go on the record for defining this unknowable... are you sure? The costs of confusing gods is punishable in the afterlife, if you believe in such things. This dogmatic rhetoric is nothing more than a greedy cover to ensure yourself (by creating your own definition and boundaries) both the material and the ethereal. For too often I see Christians and other religions use their "divine authority" to horde both an unknown spiritual afterlife and a none access to resources. The unfortunate things is that in the grand scheme of things you are no different than the Taliban. Are the current atrocities of the Taliban any different than the past atrocities of Christians? You use the word believe often in your discourse, but my question is what do you know? I do not mean that in an accusatory manner, but you can only believe in god but not know if god really exists. This of course is the crux of you argument and the weakest point of you argument. Now you are free to believe what you like, but I do not agree (and will not stand idly by) while you try to infuse your spiritual beliefs with our material world. If you believe you are anointed to join a diety in the afterlife, than as they say "The Kingdom of Heaven is yours"; however if you have such a divinity to you I do not think it is your right to transfer such self-righteousness into our world, our country, our politics, and our resources.

Posted: Friday, September 11, 2009
Article comment by: Cate

Gee Chris, I'd like to take credit for coining the phrase but I think I have to footnote John Locke or Thomas Jefferson or some such. If you are asking why I bring it up in the context of Richard's posting, it's in reference to the trend he cites towards public officials, in their capactity as representatives of the people, invoking God: "But now, even our top government officials and business leaders are comfortable expressing their belief in God and calling on the public to petition Him for help and protection in these troubled times." They may be comfortable with it but I'm not. I wholeheartedly agree that the greatness of this nation is that we can disagree outloud on this point. But saying divine intervention protected our soldiers is a bridge to far for me. In fact a pastor is quoted in this week's New Yorker on WWII saying God "aimed our bullets at the Japanese while God protected us from theirs." Me, I don't think divine providence works that way. If it does, then we need to consider God's role in atrocities as well, no? But we don't need to debate personal belief systems here. The good news (agree with the post) is that we can and no one's going to imprison and torture us.

Posted: Thursday, September 10, 2009
Article comment by: Chris Bergman

Cate, could you tell me where you get your notion of "Separation of Church and State?" bergman_blogs@yahoo.com

Posted: Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Article comment by: Cate Zovod (Fourth Mom)

Um, is it pointing out the obvious that separation of church and state is not at the top of the Taliban's list of values. In fact "common acknowledgment of God's hand in our nation's destiny" might be lifted from a page outta their hymnal. PS Richard I am a big fan of yours, this is just a slope that I find to be awfully slippery when I try to stand on it.

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