Re prayer at public events
Thank God for Charles Pinckney, an Episcopalian, and his Christian leadership; a governor of South Carolina four times, United States senator and a strong Republican.
Pinckney fully deserves a place among our American heroes of religious liberty; he was the author of the “Pinckney Plan,” presented to the Constitutional Convention on May 29, 1787, insisting on freedom from religious tests for office. Pinckney declared, “How many thousands of the subjects of Great Britain, at this moment labor under civil disabilities, merely on account of their religious persuasions!” He spoke of the great differences of religious convictions in the states, because of such different groups as Quakers, Roman Catholics, Baptists, Jews and “Calvinists; South Carolina stands for religious liberty!”
Pinckney’s strong Christian values in support of freedom of religion were an important factor in securing the final ratification of the Constitution by South Carolina by a vote of 149 to 73. This was accomplished May 23, 1788. He called for one nation under God.
Fourteen years later on Jan. 1, 1802, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.” Jefferson united a nation.
Americans must be united under God. United we stand under the same God, not by region. Americans must not be divided. In New York at Public School 368 in Hamilton Heights, Arabic is mandated for children in grades 2 to 5 to broaden their perspective. Think about it: E pluribus unum, Latin for “out of many, one” on the Great Seal of the United States has meaning, but it also has a message for those who would divide us regionally or use a letter to the editor to create conflict. Our Judeo-Christian heritage has given us free will and a lamp which guides the feet of all Americans on our journey.
Among others, the Baptist community, especially in South Carolina, stood fast in their belief in “free will” and created an environment which champions freedom of religion. That is the reason why most American Jews lived in South Carolina up until the War for Southern Independence, and the oldest continuing functioning synagogue in America is located in Charleston. All of us are created in the image of the same God.
The writer lives in Little River..