'Let's try returning to a value system similar to that which was in place when the country was formed.'

Harold Hutchison"Put everything on the table" is what this newspaper wrote in its opinion piece on Feb. 21. Good idea. Let's not forget to include a close look at our culture's prevailing value system. It's gotten to the point that there are no longer any absolutes, that "truth" is relative and situationally dependent.

This country was founded by good men, men of faith holding strong Christian beliefs. They crafted a marvelous document, the Constitution, which shaped the government that had been the envy of the rest of the world for a couple of centuries. It is only recently that the U.S. has fallen into disfavor. Why is that? Because we have gone off the course the founders originally set for it.

In the Constitution, the First Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for redress of grievances." Note the first clause: It cannot establish or prevent religion. Apparently that was the most important of all the issues being considered as they pondered how to create a government that would last. It was the very first of three clauses in the First Amendment.

There are numerous definitions for the word "religion." I'll offer this as reasonable: "A cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith." I imagine that most would agree that Muslims, Hindus, Christians and the rest could have their religion so described. I'll add that atheists and secular humanists also hold their beliefs with ardor and faith, and so those, too, can be described as a religion. In fact, our courts have ruled as much (among others, see the Supreme Court's 1961 decision in Torcaso v. Watkins).

We now live within a system that actively seeks to remove all trace of Christian religion from our daily lives. It's being replaced by atheism, the belief that there is no god, that all of the universe just sprang spontaneously out of nothing into existence, and evolved "naturally" to the point it is now.

Nothing occurred for a specific purpose, it just happened. That belief requires a very large amount of faith, perhaps more than is required to believe in a supreme, omnipotent creator that caused us to exist. That's a debate for another time.

Why is atheism promoted while other religions are banned? To what point? Who stands to gain from removing our moral footing?

I can't answer those questions, but I can suggest that the logical result is that a people under such direction will eventually have no sense of right or wrong. They will base the rightness (or wrongness) of an issue on how they feel about it at the moment. If someone said something we didn't agree with, or our porridge was cold, or it was raining, or any other such things could change how we feel, and so have a bearing on whether something is "right" or "wrong." The term sometimes used to describe this is "moral relativism."

Moral relativism is dangerous. Johnny cheated on his test, but it was OK because he needed the grade in order to pass. Julie texted while driving, but it was OK since she was letting her friends know she was going to be late. Nikolas killed 17 classmates, but it was OK since they made him feel like an outsider.

Let's try returning to a value system similar to that which was in place when the country was formed. Leave out the bad stuff, of course (I'm referring to oft-cited human rights issues of that day, which by the way have been addressed in the interim with constitutional amendments), but bring back our reverence for and reliance on the God that established us in the first place.

Read our history, and you will find many appeals by the founders for God's guidance. Read the preambles to each of the states' constitutions and you will find 46 of the 50 states have a specific expression of gratitude to our creator.

Is this news to you? If you are under 50 years old, I bet it is. Our schools no longer highlight what a marvelous event in human history the formation of this country was: a people that ruled themselves! How could it have happened without divine guidance and intervention?

Let's return to the place we were before, honoring the God that has protected and provided for us, and teach our children that there are standards worth striving toward. Work hard, do good things, love one another, and above all, love God with all your heart. Why not? How could that be a bad thing?

Harold Hutchison is a Forest Grove resident.

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