Well, rather than acknowledge the truth in that, Ben Franklin’s naysayers will declare he didn’t make it official by inserting it into the Constitution. Making something official doesn’t make it any more nor less his opinion, nor does it become any more nor less false or true. It just makes it into law. Right or wrong, if’n it ain’t law, the naysayers want nothing to do with it. Truth doesn’t change, whether or not we know it. Opinions and laws are subject to avarice, whimsy and learning, and about as easy to change as a fat woman’s corset, but opinions do furnish us with a record of a person’s thoughts and intentions.
If you realize the truth inherent to that, then you are doomed to accept that the recorded statements from our country’s founders are lighthouses set to illuminate their ongoing intentions for us, to shine a light on their wisdom as we now negotiate passage into a rock strewn future subject to raids by pirates. We can learn to understand their plain-spoken admonitions, and then to understand them as warnings against those who wish to mince their words into meanings contrary to their origins.
More such lighthouses shine enlightening beams from across the oceans in our own time, to cast an accusatory glow from such groups as ISIL, Al Qaida and others that have expressed deadly intentions against the rest of the world. Will we awaken to see them as lighthouses shining their beacons upon their equivalents in our own familiar religions?—or will we find ourselves already subdued and crying out in regret for our comfortable decades of apathy?
What the ancients named ataraxia and eudemonia in a tenet of hedonism recommending to maintain a balance between pleasure and pain should also act as a lighthouse for us. It would warn us that seeking only comfort piles up pain as a cost be paid later, usually all at once. We, or our children soon to follow, will learn a gruesome lesson about enjoying unwary comfort in the midst of predators who look upon the rest of us as prey.
Call to action: Whatever your system of belief (or none) learn whatever you can about those American Catholic and Protestant fanatics worming their ways into positions of political power. Discover their intentions, their sectarian names, listen to what they say, observe those whose sectarian overtones should announce their intentions to enforce them onto you and yours. Whenever such as I criticize religion, religious people complain, “That’s not us. We don’t do that. We don’t say that. We don’t believe in that.” That is where to start. Learn to be a lighthouse. Avoid the appearance of collusion. Separate yourselves from them, and shine your beacon on them and their misdeeds. Query your neighbors about them as a way to alert them. Make them so stand out that even such as I can tell them from you. Why, after all, should you need an atheist to do God’s work, if you had been doing it all along?