July 2, 2012
This is a big week, for Americans. The 4th of July is just a date on the calendar for 95.6% of the world’s population, but for the 313 million (estimated) who live in America, it’s a special day in the year. We call it “Independence Day,” and it marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence by the men who led the effort to give the 13 Colonies a future apart from England.
It was 85,226 days later when Major Nidal Hasan – a 39-year-old American born in Virginia to Palestinian immigrant parents – carried out his plan for terrorism at Fort Hood – outside Killeen, Texas – when he killed 13 and wounded 39 at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center on the base.
His trial is “in process,” but the question I raise in this patriotic week: what does it take to be an “American?”
So, if you’re born on American soil… or, you study and take a test (that most “born-heres” would not pass), you’re one of us? Is it something you’re born into – or you can intellectualize – that declares you to be a true “American?”
What is the creed that defines what makes an American an American? William Tyler Page took a stab at that question, back in 1917. Page was the Clerk of the US House of Representatives, from 1919 to 1942. Rep. Charles Eaton said about him: “He believed that the Constitution of the United States was next to the word of God: the most spiritually illuminated and divinely inspiring political document of modern times. So he sat here, a philosopher, a friend, a Christian gentleman, and we sat at his feet and received from him new strength, new courage, new understanding.”
Page proposed a core personal declaration, to make “American” mean something:
- I believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.
I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.
I doubt that Nidal Hasan would have embraced those words with a lump in his throat; his actions on November 5, 2009 were a direct attack on the nation that is defined in that summation. How great if everyone gathered under our flag on Wednesday – in parks and porticos, from sea to shining sea – held those concepts at their core.
We suffer a similar confusion today when the term “Christian” is offered to define one’s spiritual identity. We have numerous public figures who claim affiliation. Would they embrace the Creed – not inspired Scripture, but a summary of the essence of the biblical foundations – that has described belief for followers of Jesus since the 4th Century?
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.
If that’s the line in the sand, we just lost a number of among-us participants in the church picnic. Hasan wore the Army uniform, but he was an enemy of America. How many “wolves in sheep’s clothing” are in the ranks of the Christian army?
May America – in the future – be the home of great creedal Americans, and great creedal Christians…