Monday, 3 July 2017

4th July 1776 and America's Original Sin










By 1984 it had become clear that I would spend my entire ministry in the U.S.A., so it made sense to become a U.S. Citizen.

Of course I was paying my taxes and the slogan "no taxation without representation" came to mind!  I also wanted the liberty of commenting on government policies and national affairs in my sermons (when the Sunday Scriptures pointed me in that direction.). It seemed unwise to do so as an alien guest, even as one with a Green Card.

Those were the incidentals.  What drew me most was the (mostly) magnificent Declaration of Independence. Imagine this -  it was a declaration of WE THE PEOPLE not I THE KING.

Who, apart from King George and his Tory Aristocrats and Bishops could quarrel with these magnificent words.

....all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

"all men?"   certainly not all men.

In 1776 it probably meant white men of property.


"all men?"   certainly not all men.

Black male slaves were not counted as "men".  It gets worse.  In order to boost the allocation  of seats in the House of Representatives (population based) slaves were counted as 3/5 of  free white men  in (the less populated slave owning States.

 "all men?"   certainly not all men.

In  1775 Men was a not a generic word for human beings.  Women were not given the vote until 1920 via a Constitutional Amendment.

And an "Equal Rights Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution (passed by the Senate in 1972)  was not ratified by sufficient States, which means that the rights of women are not guaranteed.

But  with all of its flaws I am still moved by the Declaration of Independence.  

That is until I read the following . Then my blood runs cold.


"He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.


This of course means that Racism is enshrined in our foundational document.   The noble Indian Nations with their rich histories are, in the Declaration of Independence, reduced to merciless Indian Savages,.


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Thirty three years on I am still proud that I chose to become an U.S.A . citizen.  But there is so much more  to do as we work t'wards a more perfect Union.






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