Monday, May 4, 2009

An historical observation

I came across an interesting quote today, and I want to share it with you:

"We have a dangerous trend beginning to take place in our education. We're starting to put more and more textbooks into our schools. ... We've become accustomed of late of putting little books into the hands of children containing fables and moral lessons. ...

We are spending less time in the classroom on the Bible, which should be the principal text of our schools. ... The Bible states these great moral lessons better than any other manmade book."

Now, does anyone know who said this? It sounds like the kind of rant that I, and many other Baptist preachers have made and are making today. Well, except it states that "We've become accustomed of late" of using textbooks instead of the Bible. Hardly a recent problem, as I don't remember using the Bible in government schools growing up, at least not since we left Alabama in 1985.

So, who said it? Whose opinion is that above?

It's the opinion of a Congressman from Massachusetts. In fact, it's the opinion of one of the first Congressman from Massachusetts. He's a man named Fisher Ames (sometimes spelled Fischer). Why is Congressman Ames significant? Well, first of all, he beat Samuel Adams for his seat in Congress! That's right, Ames defeated the man called "the greatest incendiary of the empire" by the British, participant in the Boston Tea Party, hardcore American Revolutionary!

Why is Congressman Ames significant? Because he was influential in persuading Massachusetts to ratify the Constitution. How? By helping promise the Bill of Rights! And he served in the Congress that drafted the Bill of Rights that were added to the US Constitution.

In fact, his motion gave us the wording of one of the Amendments. No, he's not to blame for the current liberal confusion about the 2nd Amendment, and whether it means the Army gets guns or the people get guns (um, duh....nobody would be so dumb as to field a disarmed Army, would they? Why would you need an amendment stating that?)

And no, he wasn't the author of the Cruel and Unusual Punishment line. Neither did he write on the free press, search and seizure, quartering troops or state's rights. He instead, is the one who recommend this wording:

"Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the rights of conscience." on August 20, 1789. A few weeks later, a conference committee slightly modifed this to "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The words are slightly different, but when you read the previous wordings,you see that Ames is responsible for the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment. Not Madison's orginal wording, which was longer, nor Thomas Jeffferson, who penned the famous line 'Separation of Church and State' which I have heard equally cited as being postively received by Christians and negatively received.

Why then do our courts seek out Jefferson? Because they would not want to consider the opinion of Ames. Yet I challenge you to do so. Consider Fisher Ames. Who said: "Should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a schoolbook? Its morals are pure, its examples captivating and noble. ... In no book is there so good English, so pure and so elegant, and by teaching all the same book they will speak alike, and the Bible will justly remain the standard of language as well as of faith."

America was founded based on the Christian principle of religious tolerance, but not founded to be devoid of a national understanding of the Bible. Our morals, our ethics, must come from something and somewhere greater than ourselves and our ideas. That source was, at the beginning, the Bible, even for those who were not Christians. When we see our chaos, our crime, our failing government education systems (yes, they are. Why else do we keep hearing how Americans lag compared to the world in education? Check this article, especially the references to our education system being 24 out of 30 in science and 25 out of 30 in math. These are subjects with definite answers, that cannot be fluffed, and we can't hang with the industrialized world. What good is that our education is better than a country that hasn't mastered indoor plumbing?), our business issues, our healthcare problems, our lack of concern for life, for the poor, for the helpless?

Isn't it time we listened to the man who put into motion that Congress make no law establishing religion? And realize that never intended to place the Bible at the bottom of a stack of world religions books? That it never intended for the Bible to be in a stack at all, but to stand alone as the chief text for education?



  1. "In no book is there so good English" - Not exactly the text I'd want to use in my classroom to teach grammar, there, Congressman. Especially if it leads to syntax like that!

  2. What do you expect from someone who spoke in the 1700s, if not archaic verbiage?

    We'd still talk that way if we had been using the KJV for linguistics. I'd suggest we go with the NLT.

    Or the Cottonpatch Version.

  3. Good food for thought, Doug.

    Just heard good news for you guys - House Bill 2144 was "set aside" and the sponsoring representative (David Cook) has run up against term limits, so won't be back for the next session.



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