Registrato: 24/06/19 04:01
|The controversy of prayer in governmentally supported institutions grow ever more heated. How did we arrive at this contretemps?
Blame it on Benjamin Franklin ? that great printer , politician, diplomat, inventor and patriot.
The Constitutional Convention of 1787 had been in session for a month working out details for a new form of government the delegates described as 'republican.?
By that term, the ?Founding Fathers? meant a nation whose citizens had equal political power, which they delegated to a few government functions supervised by representatives elected by democratic election.
This was a unique invention that has served well the United States of America -- and served as a model for many other nations.
Historically, there had been 'democracies? of citizens -- Greece and Rome for example. In the early stages of democracy, citizens voted directly on affairs of state.
However , these ultimately failed. Large groups of citizens, seeking personal privilege, could not agree on courses of action.
Consequently, government functions centered in a ?king? who ruled by his own whim, backed up by a personal army. Greed andor lust for greater power by the head of state led to collapse of the governing system.
The task of creating a national government of equally powered citizens that could compromise and rule was daunting. Delegates from 13 new states struggled. Tempers flared.
On June 28, Benjamin Franklin, an aged delegate from Pennsylvania , rose to this feet and requested permission to submit a new proposal. Wearily the presiding chairman, Gen. George Washington, recognized the venerable Franklin.
The venerable Franklin spoke in somber tones:
?Mr. President. The small progress we have made after four or five weeks close attendance, continual reasonings with each other, and our different sentiments on almost every question -- several of the last producing as many Noes as Ayes ? is, methinks, a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the human understanding.
?We , indeed, seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running all about in search of it.
?We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those republicks, which -- having been originally formed with the seeds of their own dissolution -- now no longer exist.
?And we have viewed modern states all round Europe but find none of their constitutions suitable to our circumstances.
?In this situation of this assembly -- groping as it were, in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us -- how has it happened , Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to illuminate our understanding.
?In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for ?Divine Protection.?
?Our prayers, Sir, were heard and graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending Providence in our favour.
?To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity.
?And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need its Assistance?
I have lived, Sir , a long time. The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth ? that God governs in the affairs of men!
?And if a sparrow cannot fail to the ground without His notice, is it probable than an empire can not rise without his aid?
?We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that: ?Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.? I firmly believe this.
?I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.
?We shall be divided by our little, partial , local interests. Our projects will be confounded and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages.
?What is worse, Mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human Wisdom and leave it to Chance, War and Conquest.
?I therefore beg leave to move that: ?Henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven -- and its blessing on our deliberations -- be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business; and that one or more of the Clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.?
James Madison, secretary of the convention , records the following statements and action.
?Mr. (Roger) Sherman seconded the motion.
?Mr. Hamilton and several others expressed their apprehensions, that, however proper such a resolution might have been at the beginning of the Convention, it might at this late day, in the first place, bring on it some disagreeable animadversions; and in the second, lead the public to believe that the embarrassments and dissensions within the Convention had suggested this measure.
?It was answered by Dr. Franklin , Mr. Sherman, and others, that the past omission of a duty could not justify a further omission; that the rejection of such a proposition would expose the Convention to more unpleasant animadversions than the adoption of it; and that the alarm out of doors that might be excited for the state of things within would at least be as likely to do good as ill.
?Mr. Williamson observed that the true cause of the omission could not be mistaken. The Convention had no funds.
?Mr. Edmund Jennings Randolph of Virginia proposed, in order to give a favorable aspect to the measure, that a sermon be preached at the request of the Convention on the Fourth of July, the anniversary of Independence; and thence forwardSupplying temporary kitchen area t.