Mustafa Akyol argues in The New York Times that it is time for Muslims to have their own Letter Concerning Toleration. I couldn’t agree more! He points out that many Muslims support harsh punishments for “heresy,” “blasphemy,” and other practices that are deemed offenses against Islam. However, within Western Christendom it took more than Locke’s influential Letter. Locke was only one (albeit an important one) of hundreds who wrote passionately against intolerance, both before and after him. And it took years of bloodshed, violence, and oppression before the idea of toleration took hold, and then only begrudgingly at first. This is not to say that Muslims should not take up the cause of toleration, but to say that it is going to take more than a Muslim John Locke. It will take a determined movement over a long period of time. I hope some Muslims will take up the challenge! Thanks for the suggestion Akyol!
The Declaration of Independence has become a sacred document for the Religious Right because they believe that it supports their claim that the United States is a Christian nation. John Harding Peach is no exception. In Thomas Jefferson: Roots of Religious Freedom, Peach claims that the Declaration is an expression of Judeo-Christian principles. The only evidence Peach provides for this assertion is an excerpt from an online essay written by Bo Perrin. Who is Bo Perrin? He is a minister and conservative blogger. Who needs an expert when you can find a random blogger to support your desired conclusion! The fact that Peach relies on a person with no expertise on the subject is enough to make his claim dubious, but just for fun let’s see what Bo has to say.
Bo makes his argument in a commentary for the American Heritage Project, a blog site run by Bo and created for the purpose of “Defending the Biblical Foundation of the Declaration,” to celebrate the Declaration on the Fourth of July 2011. It is a brief hagiographic piece touting the Judeo-Christian foundations of the revered document. There are many historical inaccuracies in his narrative, which is clearly ideologically driven. While there are many factual errors in the posting, I’ll focus solely on the claims related to the religious implications of the Declaration.
The first piece of evidence that Bo finds in the Declaration to support his claim comes from the statement: “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”
Claim: Bo insists that the “Creator” mentioned in the Declaration “is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” and that “[t]he only possible way to make the term Creator mean anything other than the God of the Bible is to rip the Declaration from its historical moorings.”