Whitewashing Over Faith
Robert George relates an anecdote about some literature at an American Constitution Society for Law and Policy conference. A pamphlet provided visitors with the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address as reading material,.. only, the included version the Gettysburg Address omitted the phrase “under God.”
At the time, staring at the text, I wondered whether it was an innocent, inadvertent error—a typo, perhaps. It seemed more likely, though, that here is the apex of the secularist ideology that has attained a status not unlike that of religious orthodoxy among liberal legal scholars and political activists. Nothing is sacred, as it were—not even the facts of American history, not even the words spoken by Abraham Lincoln at the most solemn ceremony of our nation’s history.
True, there are versions of the Address that lacked the reference to God, but the final version, as spoken, wasn’t one of them, and at any rate, that counts merely as an excuse, in my view.
The story brought to mind the speech given by Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly at this year’s Portsmouth Institute conference. Reviewing Newman’s writings about higher education, Reilly noted that secular scholars who’ve edited or otherwise handled that work have actually omitted the Cardinal’s emphasis on religion, in at least one case explaining that it was of mere anachronistic, historical significance — not relevant to the larger message at all, it would seem.
This raises the question: Can the secularists disappear God, in the fashion of Soviet airbrushing? I suspect not. More likely, they’re creating the opportunity for backlash when their brightest students and other followers come to the inevitable “everything I know is wrong” moment at which the God-shaped hole pulls together threads that had previously drifted off into nothing.