12 December 2006

Diversity strengthens

In a recent article entitled "America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on," by Dennis Prager , the author states among other things:

"Devotees of multiculturalism and political correctness who do not see how damaging to the fabric of American civilization it is to allow Ellison to choose his own book need only imagine a racist elected to Congress."

We have elected many racists to congress, someone should tell him.

It isn't within the scope of this blog to discuss Mr. Ellison's choices. What concerns me here is the devisiveness of Mr. Prager's article and what it suggests about America, or at least Mr. Prager's view of America.

"Diversity" is one of those key words that is guaranteed to get right wing knees jerking. Just say it out loud among the right crowd and you'll see what I mean. Pluralism and multiculturalism have a similar effect. But we live in a diverse culture and that is what the founders wanted from the start. We were not created a "christian nation" as some would discern by selective readings of the founders documents.

Reading from the various constitutions in place among the original states we find broad differences in regional concepts of State v. Faith. For instance:

South Carolina, 1778 "
The Christian Protestant religion shall be deemed...to be the established religion of this State."

Tennessee 1796 "...no minister of the gospel, or priest of any denomination whatever, shall be eligible to a seat in either house of the legislature."

Massachusettes 1780 "It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the SUPREME BEING, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe..."

So the idea that the founders were of one mind, and that being the same mind as the second millenium's christian right is wrong, though quaint. For Catholics we should be encouraged by this truth because if it had not been this way we likely would have been the first to be persecuted.

Diversity strengthens. Clearly this the cultural heritage that has made us the great nation that we are today. But how we view diversity threatens to divide us and a house divided will fall. So let's get away from the divisiveness and seek unity.

Writing then as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger the Pope wrote in 2004:

"Because the one being, man, is at work in all mankind, all men are capable of coming into communion with one another; indeed, all are called to this." (Truth and Tolerance, Ignatius Press)

I pray for unity among men.


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