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Christianizing Secular Society and the Cult of the Supreme Being

Recently on a local radio NPR station I happened upon a conversation with the Mayor Rex Parris, of Lancaster California. The conversation was about how the city of Lancaster, a sleepy Air Force town in the outskirts of Los Angeles county, is growing a “Christian community.”

In the discussion,  Mayor Parris, in a state of the city address, called for Lancaster to grow as a “”Christian community” and asked for voters to support a city ballot measure that would authorize daily Christian prayers at city council meetings. The message was framed in the context of the citizenry (voters) to promote the love of the neighbor, and the basis of the Christian faith. His foundational basis is that with a community 85% Christian, it shouldn’t be to much of a stretch to direct the community towards its natural leaning. Further, he indicated that the city had “lots” of christian churches and only one synagogue.  The closest mosque being a town over

The reaction to this has included charges filed by the ACLU and an investigation of Mayor Parris as having committed a hate crime.

This raises some interesting questions about what’s going on in Los Angeles, but it has some interesting synergy with other goings on that have been manifesting across the country. What comes to mind most recently is the new blog that has started publishing under the aegis of the battle between the Antients and the Moderns, (circa 1800’s). In it, the writer has taken several specific positions, but mentioned the idea of a “Cult of the Supreme Being” especially as espoused by Albert Pike.

The rational here is that as America was founded on the principal of religious freedom, it was established on the basis of Christian principal, and its on that principal that the shift from an ambiguous God to a specific interpretation of god is necessary to continue to flourish, in the case of Lancaster, Ca, and to recover the ideology that was lost in Freemasonry, in the case of Versus the Moderns.

Without taking any particular stance on this, so as not to promote a particular direction, is this a fair way in which to steer civic life, or is it time to rein in the laissez faire trade of religion (or its previous freedoms), and focus on the principals of one particular religion, to focus on making ours specifically a Christian society? Or, more close to home, should Freemasonry be governed solely on a Christian principal?  If that were to take place, would it alienate its non-christian membership?

Some concerns that I can see in the headlights include the alienation of those of other faiths, especially in communities that they may have very little representation, and then as an extension of that alienation, would pockets of other specific religions begin to spring up and within their own community, establish their religion as the basis of the community? It happens now at the secular level where you have pockets of people of similar mind, but what if you allow them to apply their faith into their civic leadership?

Another instance is something I came across in a Masonic reading circle (really more of an email chain that a brother sends out to a list). In it, he outlined clearly his disapproval at other faiths (in this case Wicca) going so far as to say that it was his belief (as applied from his Christian faith) that a pantheist should not be in the U.S. military. Again, I can understand the personal application of faith, but is it ok to assert ones own faith over another’s simply because the two are dogmatically opposed?

In the secular arena, when did theology step over into guiding democracy? I it fair to say that this simillar to the way politics in Iran is governed, a subservient republic under a theocratic leadership?

Is it a safe idea to move towards a less secular more faith based fundamental, or does the notion of a Cult of the Supreme Being invite others to participate with their religion in tow? Should faith guide us to the exclusion of others?

What do you think?

Posted in Masonic Traveler and tagged , , , , .

A devoted student of the Western Mystery Traditions, Greg is a firm believer in the Masonic connections to the Hermetic traditions of antiquity, its evolution through the ages and into its present configuration as the antecedent to all contemporary esoteric and occult traditions. He is a self-called searcher for that which was lost, a Hermetic Hermit and a believer in “that which is above is so too below.” Read more about Greg Stewart.

11 Comments

  1. it was his belief (as applied from his Christian faith) that a pantheist should not be in the U.S. military

    Well then – he can come and try and get me to quit, or get me kicked out – if he thinks he is man enough.

    15+ years of service, still serving, and been a practicing Neo-Pagan since before I joined.

    Joined the Lodge while I was one, as well.

    Served as Master for a year, too.

    Bring it.

  2. I think maybe what we’re starting to see is a polarization in society, and people are falling back on what they know best — or at least what they “think” they know best.

    We’re seeing disconnects between voters and politicians. Between our morality and the morality presented on television. Between what we perceive as day-to-day truth and what our media tells us is truth.

    Like Linus, folks go for the blanket in uncertain times. In some cases, that blanket is religion. Also, I wonder if Masonry isn’t also a blanket — more people are joining at younger ages.

    Also, there’s a lot of provocation going on out here. In my case — and maybe the people listening to the Lancaster mayor think the same way — I’m tired of turning the other cheek. I’d rather sin a little bit by giving the other side a some hell for a while.

    Finally, it’s worth noting that the First Amendment didn’t apply to the several states until the application of the Fourteenth Amendment. Several states had official state religions — for example, Massachusetts taxpayers were supporting the Congregational Church all the way through 1833.

  3. This in from the feed:
    Nothing arouses my ire more than the thought of organizing Freemasonry under the “principals” of any religion. I would not be a member of any Lodge that did not give my Jewish (and others) brethren equal status. Period.
    Michael H. PM.

  4. Of course, that mayor doesn’t want a “Christian” community. Because that is a meaningless, diffuse, undefinable thing. Does he mean that he wants to inculcate and structure the civic framework of the town with the ideals of the Copts? Of Unitarian Univeralists? Roman Catholicism? (Vatican II or anti-V II?) Methodism? Quakerism? (that wouldn’t be the worst, actually) Syrian Orthodox? Maybe something along the lines of Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist “God-Hates-Fags” communion? Mayor Parris is an unfortunately and unsettlingly ignorant sort. “Christianity” is an abstraction, an aggregation of a thousand parts, most of whom (not all) have been beating each other up for as long as they have, each, existed. What does he REALLY mean, is the question…

    He wants HIS “Christian” community; and were such a thing to actually be inaugurated, it would rather quickly devolve into contests and chaos, completely voiding any possibility for civic function. What, does he think that our society isn’t rife enough with infighting and sectarianism, that he wants to overlay an additional blanket of frustration?

    Fallacy. Nothing good could ever come of it. (But how do I +really+ feel?)

  5. “In the secular arena, when did theology step over into guiding democracy?”

    Actually, I think it was quite the opposite! Consider this…

    I think we need to answer this question: Did religion influence politics (and by extension, Freemasonry) in 18th century Europe and the United States? If so, what religion? I contend that it did, and it’s Christianity.

    Just look at the literature and historical documents of the time, and you find that Christianity was extremely pervasive. Life in general, including politics, for most people was very Christian-centric. The extent to which Christianity is woven in the very fabric of our society is staggering. From dates (“year of our Lord”–which, by the way, IS in the Constitution, so yes, “Jesus” is implied in the text of the Constitution) to inscriptions on public and government buildings, to architecture, to the very school books used to teach students (such as the New England Primer.)

    I speculate that the majority of religious issues were more likely differences between Catholics and Protestant, or denominational differences within the Christian church than they were inter-religious among Christians, Muslims, atheists, etc. Those specific conflicts, though dating back many, many centuries, are really more recent in local scope.

    Though I am not a Masonic scholar, it seems obvious to me that Judeo-Christian teachings, morality, etc. are at the very foundation of Freemasonry. After all, aren’t masonic rituals largely based on the Old Testament (and the New Testament in the higher York Rite degrees)?

    So to answer you question, I think that it was probably post-WWII (the 1960’s?) where a public voice of acceptance and tolerance became rooted. Since then it has grown, and technological advances like the jet airplane and the Internet (which have made the world a much smaller place) make international and inter-religious issues more accessible.

  6. So to answer you question, I think that it was probably post-WWII (the 1960’s?) where a public voice of acceptance and tolerance became rooted.

    I think you missed some very good parts of Masonic History wherein, thanks to the spread of Empire, Freemasonry was exposed, and taught, that there is more to religion than just flavours of Christianity.

    To quote a Brother more elequent than I:

    We’d Bola Nath, Accountant,
    An’ Saul the Aden Jew,
    An’ Din Mohammed, draughtsman
    Of the Survey Office too;
    There was Babu Chuckerbutty,
    An’ Amir Singh the Sikh,
    An’ Castro from the fittin’-sheds,
    The Roman Catholick!

    We ‘adn’t good regalia,
    An’ our Lodge was old an’ bare,
    But we knew the Ancient Landmarks,
    An’ we kep’ ’em to a hair;
    An’ lookin’ on it backwards
    It often strikes me thus,
    There ain’t such things as infidels,
    Excep’, per’aps, it’s us.

  7. Any move to blending state and religion is a step on a slippery slope to a theocracy, which at its core is nothing more than another tyranny over individual liberty. Something which I think we all can agree is abhorrent. The concept of “separation of church and state” may not necessarily have come out of Christian influences as so much as it may have evolved out of the various forms of religious intolerance and tyranny that many experienced all across Europe, albeit intolerance between various Christian schisms.

    Individual liberty is rightly a cornerstone of our society in the United States and it doesn’t matter the size of the majority if that majority is tyrannical over a single person.

  8. I do not agree that our country was founded on christian principles. I do think it would be fair to say that many of the founding fathers were Deist and not christian per say .The seperation of church and state should be maintained regardless of ones beleifs. My christian freinds feel the same way on this matter as they would not want to be forced to be or pray as something other than christian.

  9. Christian communities are Christian by example, not by law or regulation. My concern is that truly faithful people live and set the example by their faith and actions. The community in question has demonstrated by their forward moving efforts to serve the youth and public on a “voluntary” basis. Not on the basis of law or regulation funded by tax payers and city treasuries that are filled by people of all faiths.

    Somehow, the minority will not be as well served because public money would most likely be used to support their faiths and ideals. They therefore will not be promoted nor represented in an effective manner.

    Freedoms are so delicate to maintain and develop where they initially don’t exist, it is easy for ‘feel good’ legislation to become successful without the trial of experience except by their history.

    Church of England comes to mind and somehow our forefather’s experience about that “Christian” church became manifested in the idea of separation of church and state the first opportunity they had to do anything about having a “religious community.” If a religion is good for people, it should be done by their example and not by legislation.

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