Peter Heck - Guest Columnist - 6/23/2009 8:50:00 AM In a recent speech to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, former President Bill Clinton stated the obvious: that we are a nation with a great deal of diversity. Heralding this fact as a "very positive thing," Clinton joined with the growing chorus of cultural commentators who apparently think that there is something inherently wonderful about diversity.
Sure, ethnic diversity has many benefits. And the opportunity to learn about different customs and cultural characteristics is an enlightening exercise. But the architects of our republic chose the Latin phrase "E pluribus unum" in describing our civilization for a reason. The phrase means "out of many, one." It's the notion that though having different experiences and varying backgrounds, the people of our country accept, embrace, and perpetuate similar values, a common belief system, and a unity in purpose.
In other words, what has made the United States so special is not the mere fact that we have welcomed in immigrants from many lands â€“ that is merely diversity for diversity's sake. The true glory of America has come when that rich diversity of persons has united behind core principles and advanced shared ideals.
Unfortunately, at the behest of the politically correct and tolerant crowd, we are in danger of losing sight of that crucial reality. Remember it was not long ago that President Obama made the declaration that, "Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of non-believers."
Now, certainly Barack Obama is smart enough to know that this country has maintained populations of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists for generations â€“ it's not a new development. So what was he saying? Read in context, the President was suggesting that because of this diversity, the United States needs to fundamentally change its cultural foundation to incorporate values not just from the Christian faith, but from all these religions. He called for us to begin to "translate our reasoning" to a more diverse approach. This is a disastrous concept because it naÃ¯vely assumes that there will be no consequences from doing so.
Our Founding Fathers were wise and learned individuals who were students of political philosophy. When crafting the basis for our civilization, they could have chosen any of a number of belief systems, but they chose Christianity for a reason. No, it was not to use the power of government to force everyone to be Christian or abide by a strict Christian code. The First Amendment clearly prohibited such action. Rather, it was because they understood that the absolute, moral principles that come from Christian scripture â€“ respect for life, private property rights, charity, frugality, stewardship, benevolence, peaceful living, responsible liberty â€“ were the best friend to a free society and should be encouraged.
Don't take my word for it. John Adams said, "The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity, and humanity." Dr. Benjamin Rush added that the only means of perpetuating our form of government was the, "universal education of our children in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible. For this divine book, above all others, favors that respect for just laws, those sober and frugal virtues, which constitute the soul of republicanism."
Even Benjamin Franklin, commonly regarded as the least religious of all the Founding Fathers said, "History will afford the frequent opportunities of showing the excellency of the Christian religion above all others." If those words were uttered in our politically correct country today, whoever spoke them would be regarded as a narrow-minded, right-wing bigot. Thus, you see the danger we are up against.
Again, our founders weren't suggesting that we use the power of government to force everyone into the baptistery. They were suggesting, however, that for our culture to survive and endure, it would take a unified recognition amongst our people that not all belief systems are equal, and Christianity stands above them all.
Mr. Obama is right in saying that this country is made up of people of varying beliefs. But there's a reason that peaceful Muslims have found it safer to live in this country than in those founded on Islamic law. There's a reason atheists have found it safer to live in this country than in those founded on the absence of moral authority. It's because our founders made Christian principle our cultural foundation. And that's something that if we're wise, no amount of diversity will ever change.