By: Rabbi Mark Borovitz
Yesterday, I was reading the New York Times Sunday Magazine and I came across the main article, Founding Father by Russell Shorto. I read with amazement the actions of the Texas Board of Education regarding what goes into the State textbooks. What the Board is committed to, according to this article, is promoting that the United States was founded as a Christian Country. They have issued guidelines that, among other things, ask eighth graders to analyze the importance of the Mayflower Compact and the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. The reason being that the Fundamental Orders declare that the State was founded “to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.” The Mayflower Compact describes the Pilgrims journey as being “for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith”. While Cynthia Dunbar, a member of the Board also believes that we follow the Judeo-Christian law and speaks of Moses’ influence on American Law, she makes no mention of any other religion and/or ideology as valid.
This is scary, people. The textbook publishers follow the Texas Guidelines very heavily for the textbooks for all the country. Our children are being taught that they have no legitimate place in the fabric of this country unless they are Christian. These conservatives have marginalized everyone else, even Catholics! They quote Moses but give no credence to the idea that Jews have a place here. They are heading toward the day when we have to pledge allegiance to Jesus or not be counted! This is the natural outgrowth of the “Family” a secret conservative organization that says to worship power is to worship Jesus!!
We have to start to speak out. We have to stop trying to reason with people who don’t listen. We have to gather together to preserve the 1st Amendment’s right to Freedom of Religion. I believe in Religion. I believe in Mosaic Law. I believe in the Bible. I believe in living a life of faith. I don’t believe in a faith monopoly. I don’t believe in fundamentalism and fanaticism of any kind. I don’t believe in the Literal Interpretation of the Bible. I don’t believe in the Literal Interpretation of Mosaic Law. All of Judaism rails against this type of thinking. The Rabbis took the Torah and made the 613 Mitzvot from the Agada (stories) as well as the Halacha (law). They interpreted the Torah and found that an eye for an eye was never to be taken literally. They took the words and proved how it must mean monetary compensation for the action. In fact, actuary tables are still in effect to this day. Does this mean that the United States is, in fact, a Jewish Nation because it uses so many of the Mosaic Laws as the basis for American Law? Of course not.
One of the principles that the United States, not the colonies, was founded on was Freedom of Religion. The Declaration of Independence states that there is a Creator, which most of us can agree on. It does not, however, state that Jesus is the Creator! The Christian Right is working hard to remake our Country to exclude any one other than Christians. Is this really what we want for our Country?
We have to stop this! We have to speak out against apartheid by the Religious Right. We must speak out against intolerance and either/or thinking. We must stand up for the qualities and principles that have made our Country great! We must stand up in order to keep America “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”!!