Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.

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The fourth of July is a day of parades, political speeches, fireworks and back yard barbecues. But most of all it is a day of celebrating our Independence; an independence which was won and is maintained by the sacrifice of many lives. We are celebrating an Independence that is not Absolute. Adam, the first man, thought that he had Absolute Independence and we are still suffering from the effects of it. Only God has Absolute Independence.

Our Independence is rooted in our Dependence on God. We are contingent, dependent beings. An independent creature is an intrinsic impossibility. Not even God can create an intrinsic impossibility. God can create a square and God can create a circle but not even God can create a squared circle. It is an intrinsic impossibility. That is why the First Commandment is also the greatest Commandment. Only if we are completely dependent on God can we enjoy freedom. Either we are dependent on God or we will be dependent on some creature.

This dependence on God is clearly stated in our Declaration of Independence. It begins like this, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights…” And it ends “with a firm reliance on Divine Providence we pledge our lives, our fortunes and our honor…”

Our nation was founded on belief in God. The President takes his oath of office by placing his hand on the Bible, the Word of God, and ends with, “So help me God.” In our pledge of allegiance we say, “One nation under God.” Engraved on our money is “In God we trust.” Our Congress has a chaplain, begins each session with a prayer, and provides for chaplains for the Military.

Our Founding Fathers may have opted for a separation of Church and state but not for a separation of God and state. There is no brotherhood of man without the Fatherhood of God. The division of life into the sacred and the secular is a false dichotomy. There is not now, there never was and there never will be the purely secular, that is, anyone or anything which is not dependent on God. Atheistic capitalism would suffer the same fate as atheistic communism.

What the Constitution guarantees is not freedom FROM religion but freedom OF religion, freedom to practice religion. The irony, the contradiction, is that those who are pushing for freedom FROM religion are actually pushing THEIR OWN RELIGION, which is secular humanism.

In secular human the Supreme Being is man, greedy, lustful, proud man. But which man? There are more than seven billion of them in the world each claiming to be independent. These Supreme Beings are the creators. And they are creating rugged individualism, corruption, addictions, war and terrorism. There is nothing as inhuman as secular humanism.

On September 11, 2001 the illusion that we were absolutely independent went down in smoke and ashes with the Twin Towers. On that day we fell to our knees and asked God for help. And in so doing realized how far we had wandered from God and from the convictions of our Founding Fathers.


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