AN ACLU MEMBER OUTS by Perry Mann

AN ACLU MEMBER OUTS

Robert H. Bowers graced the Gazette with a letter (8-31-02), in which he alleges that if one knows those who fund the ACLU, he knows the individuals “who want Christianity destroyed without exposing themselves to public scrutiny and criticism.”   He further alleges: “America is infested with deceitful, anti-God groups and people who seek to change America from within.” And he lets the readers know that these individuals are communists who failed and have changed titles and are trying again, included under “titles” are ACLU, NOW, People for the American Way, and Leaders of Separation of Church and State.

Mr. Bowers’ letter caught my attention; for at the very time I read it, I had on my desk an invitation from the ACLU to renew my membership and an invitation from Americans for Religious Liberty to join them. I forthwith wrote checks to both and hurried to the post office to mail them, lest some ecclesiastical court issue a writ demanding my presence to answer an inquisitional body before my memberships activated.

Further, I witness that I have been a member of the ACLU on and off for many years and that I have great admiration for the organization and depend upon it to safeguard my liberty to believe in matters of religion however my conscience, heart, and intellect dictate. Also, I witness that I either belong to all of the organizations libeled by Mr. Bower or am in sympathy with their means and ends. I belong to them and take comfort from their efforts, because I fear people like Mr. Bowers, who, from what I infer from his frequent letters, is a religious descendant of the Pharisees, Torquemada, Cotton Mather and all those religious theocrats who cannot tolerate a religious opinion counter to their own.

I take exception to Mr. Bowers’ assertion that I infest America and that I am deceitful and am anti-God. I have been here 81 years and my daddy and grandaddy and great-grandaddy and great-great-grandaddy and mothers to boot were here before me, not infesting America but doing their duty by family, neighbor and nation. And I have since my majority made it known, every day in every way in which I have had an opportunity, just where I stand religiously and politically. And I am not without, I trust, a brief of my living to support that, on Judgment Day, I can make a case that I have served my God as faithfully as Mr. Bowers has served his.

I support every effort by liberals and libertarians to keep religion “out of schools, out of swearing in juries and government officials, out of the Pledge of Allegiance and school graduation ceremonies.” It is the diamond of distinction that America is the first nation in all of history that has constitutionally separated church and state. Little Rhode Island and Jefferson’s Virginia were the forerunners. Heretofore, in history, state and church were one. Read, Mr. Bowers, the bloody, horrific, appalling accounts of the religious wars, the slaughters, tortures and executions of heretics — those whose only crime was not to believe as did the majority. Furthermore, Christ advised against all swearing, just yea or nay, said He; and he exhorted the faithful to retreat to a closet, to shut the door and to pray to God in secret, assuring His listeners that God would hear them and be better pleased without the public fanfare and hypocrisy.

Thomas Jefferson had read history as well as James Madison and other Founding Fathers; and that is why the very First Amendment forbids the establishment of a religion. I know the mind and heart of Jefferson and I think and feel as he did. I admire him and lean on him for support in the great controversy regarding the First Amendment. I think what he wrote to Charles Clay on January 15, 1815, is exceedingly pertinent in response to Mr. Bowers’ letter:

“I should as soon think of writing for the reformation of Bedlam, as of the world of religious sects. Of these there must be, at least, ten thousand, every individual of every one of which believes all wrong but his own. To undertake to bring them all right, would be like undertaking, single-handed, to fell all the forests of America. … I abuse the priests, indeed, who have so much abused the pure and holy doctrines of their Master, and who have laid me under no obligation of reticence as to the tricks of their trade. The genuine system of Jesus, and the artificial structures they have erected, to make them the instruments of wealth, power, and preeminence to themselves, are as distinct things in my view as light and darkness; and while I have classed them with soothsayers and necromancers, I place Him among the greatest reformers of morals, and scourges of priest-craft that have ever existed. They felt Him as such, and never rested until they had silenced Him by death.”

Mr. Bowers is rightfully concerned that, in China and other Bush denominated axis-of-evil countries, Christians are persecuted for their beliefs and for proselytizing Moslems and others who are not Christians. He should be commended for his concern. But Christ forewarned him and all other Christians: He told them: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents and, and harmless as doves.” And he further told them: “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”

Mr. Bowers ends on a hopeful note: “The liberal press and courts lead the fight to take God out of America. But they will never win.” So what is his worry. Who questions that God will win in the end? Of course, He will. The wonder is what are the details and dimensions of the word “win.” It is Mr. Bowers’ and his think-alikes’ concept of “win” that has induced me to put pen to check and to out myself as a Jeffersonian Democrat, who subscribes to what Jefferson wrote in his letter to Charles Clay and to what Christ taught and lived, rather than all the talk of all the worldly ecclesiastical institutions of whatever persuasion, denomination, sect or cult.

I venture to say that were Jefferson here today he would be writing checks for membership to all the liberal entities that offend Mr. Bowers and that he would announce to everyone that he had joined them.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to Amazon.com to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (wvhighlands.org), and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation (ksff.org). I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at martinjul@aol.com or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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