Favorite Chapters

Posted August 25, 2018 by billpeach
Categories: Uncategorized


A Biography of Seven Bricks 9/22/2014

Confessions of a Main Street Philosopher 11/14/2015

Seven Decades in College 1/18/2011

Old Franklin and New Franklin 1/12/2018

My Downtown Philosophy Office 11/19/2012

Number One Conservative-friendly County 5/10/2010

The Transition of the Republican South 4/11/2015

Williamson County People Get Along with Each Other 12/12/2014

A Place at the Table of Reason for Everybody 9/22/2013

Main Street Retail and Family Values 7/23/2012

Taking Students to a Higher Academic Standard 4/22/2013

The Government Role in Educating Children 3/15/2015

Religion and Public Education 11/7/2010

Love Reigns as the Defining Human Moral Code 2/27/2013

School Boards, Trustees for the Scholastic Population    4/13/2014

Closing the Eye of Reason 8/26/2011

The Power of the President and the Supreme Court 6/16/2015

Size and Stratification of Government 2/18/2014

Secular Ethics and Religious Ethics 11/11/2009

Political Correctness 12/2/2009

Born Again Liberal Christian Secular Humanist 4/19/2010

Finding Peace in the War on Christmas 11/13/2009

Intellectuals and Academics 1/7/2010

Awakening and Enlightenment 11/9/2011

Where the Old South Died 11/15/2009

My Thoughts on Reproductive Rights 12/7/2011

Thoughts on Small Business 12/18/2011

A Christian Nation’s Romance with Firearms 12/14/2012

Secular Humanism and Christian Humanism 3/20/2015

Thoughts on Marriage Equality 6/27/2013

Teaching Students How to Think, Not What to Think 9/26/2014

An Exceptional America 10/13/2014

Civil Rights and Human Rights 8/29/2010

Things We Need to Talk About 1/13/2011

The Mind and Soul of America 5/7/2010


Bill Peach District 63

Posted April 4, 2018 by billpeach
Categories: Uncategorized

Retired Main Street small business owner Pigg & Peach Men’s Shop, continuously employed on Main Street for 52 years.

Former Franklin Special School District Board Member for 16 years, and Williamson County School Board for 8 years. Only person to have served on both boards.

Former Board Member and Chairman, Franklin Housing Authority

Former President, Downtown Franklin Association

Former Chairman, Merchants Committee, Chamber of Commerce

Seven decades of continuing adult education, including Bachelor of University Studies from MTSU (1988), plus 29 hours at Lipscomb and Columbia State.

Army Reserve, 6 year veteran

Writer, philosopher, and columnist, Sunday school teacher, public speaker, author of six books, including Main Street Philosopher 

Born in The South Side of Boston, Tennessee and graduate of Hillsboro (Williamson County) High School, sixth generation in Williamson County

Married (Emily), daughters Rebecca (FSSD) and Dea (WCS) are K-5 librarians and media specialists, daughter Lucie is former English teacher at Freedom Middle School. Seven grandchildren educated in FSSD and Williamson County public schools

Active supporter and founding member of Authors Circle and Pull Tight Theater, author of 1971 production To Think as a Pawn

A voice of reason.

Bill Peach; Post Office Box 581; Franklin, Tennessee 37065

billpeach.wordpress.com (Blog) or billpeach9@gmail.com

The Philosophical Landscape of Franklin

Posted February 10, 2018 by billpeach
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In my early days in the Church of Church there seemed to be a fear of Philosophy. It was within the larger category of the “foolishness of man” as opposed to the “wisdom of God.” The origin of the universe was found in the first chapter of Genesis. Logic was something you should have learned, or maybe been born with. Any omission of logic was usually followed by a lengthy verbal reprimand. Ethics was some all inclusive collection of selected Bible verses reinforced by what your mama told you. Then the fundamental nature of reality, took away the culture we revered as our “used to be.”

I took my first Philosophy course in 1998 after four decades in college. Ironically, it was Ethical Theory at Lipscomb University, followed ten years later by The History of Philosophy also at Lipscomb for my sixth decade in college.

One Sunday morning after one of my Sunday school sessions at the Fourth Avenue Church of Christ a woman approached me and asked about something I had said. She asked if it was something I had known or something I had learned from a book. I told her I did a lot of reading to prepare for each lesson. The class included several elders and deacons, some of them fundamentalist Bible scholars, and the few secularists and free thinkers. I found that by remaining within the ideological boundaries of that diversity I could maintain a safe degree of tolerance. The class was in a small auditorium with about 125 people on a typical Sunday morning, and they let me teach for three years.

In my earlier days as an almost English major, I was exposed to Greek and Roman, and European Literature. English, History, Theology, Political Theory, and other liberal arts courses which had nothing to do with my career as a Main Street merchant. I found those subjects finding a way into my Sunday school lectures and my daily conversations with customers and visitors to Franklin. I still have people tell me about long conversations in their early visits before and after they decided to move to Williamson County. It may have been that I was the only liberal Democrat they met on those early visits.

By the time I closed the store in 2003, I had written and published three books, which I sold in the store. In more recent books, I have been fortunate to have blurbs, forewords, and prefatory remarks from credible scholars, preachers, and authors. One of the local newspapers, in covering a book event in Leiper’s Fork, referred to me as one of Franklin’s “most prominent” philosophers. I don’t know that I fully appreciated the scope of that accolade. My fifty-two years as a Main Street merchant, and the politics, Theology, and philosophy of my books seem to have validated the title for my sixth book, Main Street Philosopher.

In reality, in Williamson County, a majority of our adults have college degrees. With a church on every corner, we are blessed with philosophical theologians. Our students are the highest performing in the state. I think the fear of generic intellect has gone away except in some intolerance of liberalism, and anything the religious community might label as secular. There is more to Philosophy, than just the body of what we believe. The value of Philosophy is the exploration of things we did not know and the discovery of ideas we had never thought about.  Philosophy includes branches and divisions that may or may not clearly define those ideas within the following concise definitions:

Aesthetics–the branch of philosophy dealing with such notions as the beautiful, the ugly, the sublime, the comic, etc., as applicable to the fine arts, with a view to establishing the meaning and validity of critical judgments concerning works of art, and the principles underlying or justifying such judgments. (2) The study of the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty.

Metaphysics– (1) A division of philosophy that is concerned with the fundamental nature of reality and being and that includes ontology, cosmology, and often epistemology.

Cosmology–The science of the origin and development of the universe; an account or theory of the origin of the universe.

Ontology–The branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being.

Epistemology–The study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity.

Ethics–The branch of philosophy that deals with morality. Ethics is concerned with distinguishing between good and evil in the world, between right and wrong human actions, and between virtuous and nonvirtuous characteristics of people.

Logic–The science that investigates the principles governing correct or reliable inference. (2) A particular method of reasoning or argumentation. (3) The system or principles of reasoning applicable to any branch of knowledge or study.

These may not be subjects you would expect to encounter on a typical downtown street corner or in a Church of Christ across the parking lot on the same street. But downtown Franklin is not a typical ideological landscape with the aesthetic, logical, and ethical tradition of its Public Square and its Main Street.


Old Franklin and New Franklin

Posted January 12, 2018 by billpeach
Categories: Uncategorized

I spend a lot of my time trying to explain the history of Old Franklin to people who might be considered New Franklin. The visual image of Franklin is our landscape of a Confederate monument surrounded by four Union cannons on our public square.  To begin, you have to understand the continuing attention to the Battle of Franklin. Many of you know of my 1964 confrontation with the 100th anniversary celebration during the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam Anti-war movement. I was concerned that we were perpetuating regional and racial animosity. I felt we were caught in a reverence and lingering allegiance for the Confederacy and a moral tolerance of our plantation life style with a culture and economy based on slavery. I grew up hearing stories of cruel task masters and benign acceptance of white supremacy.  I grew up knowing about the Daughters of the Confederacy and the monument and reading the inscription on our “second-place trophy” and hearing stories of ancestral heroics and military sacrifice.

Fast forward to 1989 and 1990, I was chairman of the Downtown Franklin Association during what we came to know as “Streetscape.  We were a separate entity from the Heritage Foundation and the Battlefield Trust. We were downtown retail merchants. Through a joint venture with the Heritage Foundation we created a historical district including a fifteen block commercial and residential area which has become the poster image of historic preservation.

Consider this scenario.  Williamson County is the seventh richest county and the fourteenth fastest growing county in America. We were the only Tennessee county Donald Trump did not carry in the Republican Primary, and yet he received 68% of the vote in the general election. Our public schools are the highest performing district in the State and our adult population is predominantly college graduates. We have a church on every corner and we are a church planter’s haven for evangelical exploitation of our Bible belt culture.

By any demographic standard about 70% of our population would identify as conservative, Republican, and Christian in whatever order or relationship the conversation might include. We still have black churches and white churches. We have black neighborhoods and white neighborhoods, but we have a community of racial harmony that defies the political image of conservatism. Our historical preservation and appreciation for our heritage helped create a mutual respect for our shared ancestral roots.

Like most southern towns we were slow and reluctant to integrate our churches, our schools, our public facilities, our merchant community, and our civic clubs. We were part of the racism and arrogance of Jim Crow mentality well into the 1970s.

To understand who we are, we need to examine what offends or does not offend us today. Obviously, we are offended by slavery, the Civil War, segregation, white supremacy, racism, bigotry, and to a degree by the symbols and artifacts we associate with our past. The current movement to remove or destroy Confederate monuments is a mixed message. This is not a liberal and conservative, black and white, or regional divide. The history of America, in our textbooks and our statuary, is replete with flawed heroes and demagogues. This would include our Founding Fathers and military icons in uniforms of both blue and gray. To erase these from our history, the printed word, chiseled in stone, or shaped in bronze, would be an injustice to academia, and a tragic loss for posterity.

We use these to teach the vanity and folly of war, and to learn about a history we should not have to repeat. Most of you are familiar with our Confederate soldier casually known as “Chip” from the missing piece of his hat, broken during the erection of the statue. He is part of a history of commemoration of the unknown Confederate soldiers spanning decades of regional and ideological affection for the Confederacy and the hallowed land on which they fought and died for an ignoble cause.

Let me share my local perspective. I share with Chip a common ancestry of slave owners. Chip probably did not own a slave. He took up arms, volunteering or conscripted, to defend his homeland. To me and most of my friends who are descendants of slaves and slave-owners, slavery was, or is, an abomination. It is part of our history. But for us who shared the institution of segregation and racial prejudice into the 1970s, racism and bigotry are our scars and sins of injustice.

I think I find a greater interracial harmony within Old Franklin than I find among New Franklin people.  There is a personal, human, hometown warmth among “old Franklin” friends. New people, black and white, who move to Franklin, seem to find or assume an interracial climate more akin to the current media imagery.

Consequently, all discussion about the statuary landscape and skyline seems misdirected. The guns and military artifacts are part of the character of Franklin, and to me they are historical and academic. I feel no affection or attraction to battlefields, reenactments, and would oppose any public funding for land purchase, rail fences, and stacks of cannon balls. As a former merchant, I respect the tourism revenue from these. I appreciate the aesthetic integrity of our public square when it is showcased in documentaries and on the covers of magazines.

My concern is the renewed political atmosphere of conservatism and racial conflict we experienced during the Obama presidency and the resurgence of racism in the first year of the Trump presidency. I watched the demonstrations in Charlottesville, with the Confederate flags and symbols and portrayal of the Klan culture of a former time. The political climate of Williamson County is changing. That is not who we are. I think I can safely say that our monument is safe. Our mission is not to erase our history, but to learn from it. Racism and the language of racism are indefensible. Members of Congress, Cabinet members, ambassadors, advisors, and celebrity icons are finding it difficult to function in this environment of racial and ideological disharmony. Many are resigning or choosing not to seek reelection. This is not about the presence of a concrete replica of a solitary soldier, or four artillery pieces that have been silent for 153 years. This is about a more perfect union, and casting aside our animosities, and raising our sons and daughters as Americans. This period of political obscenity shall pass, and America will welcome an age of moral and intellectual enlightenment.

Faith, Worship, Morality, Tolerance, and Fellowship

Posted May 15, 2017 by billpeach
Categories: Uncategorized

In my Church of Christ tradition, I was taught I was my brother’s keeper. I had some obligation for “seeking the lost.” This did not translate into an evangelical imperative that I should convince my Methodist cousins to give up their love for the piano in Sunday morning worship, or their resistance to baptism by “immersion.”

It took me a long time to appreciate the sincerity and dedication of the young Latter Day Saints or Jehovah’s Witness missionaries who knocked on my door with Bibles and printed religious tracts. I was more appreciative of the welcoming neighbor, bringing baked goods and the offer of fellowship within their steeple of choice.  I feel a kinship among friends in most religions, and the welcome in the many congregations I have visited.

Our First Amendment is a wall of separation, a barrier to an established government religion, and also a fortress of refuge for believers from falsehood and fanaticism. The growth of non-denominational Christianity has restructured our paradox of unity and diversity. Congregations offer traditional or contemporary praise and worship, and we promote or quietly deny our liberal or evangelical leanings to recruit the young and the unaffiliated. Christianity, as I knew it in my childhood, has become rare. The Church of Christ which I now attend has an electronic screen behind the song leader rather than fumbling through the pages of hymnals. Much of their Christmas was focused on food and heavy coats for charity. I found them to be very apolitical during the election. Their young minister is academically conversant with contemporary and classic literature and media hype, but astute in rational Christianity and biblical integrity.

I enjoy the faith, worship, morality, tolerance, and fellowship of Christians. They are in no way as despicable as they are perceived to be in politics, mega church television charlatans, retail bigotry, ostentatious end zone celebrations, or divine attribution for trophies of vanity. They reach beyond their faith, their praise and worship, and selective biblical literalism, and embrace a harmony of tolerance and fellowship.

Concurrent with Sunday worship, in my extended week, I find a similar harmony in our secular culture. Most people are church going spiritual people for whom their spirituality is more personal and less vocal. Most of them believe in a higher power, the unseen designer and author of truth, morality, ethics, love, tolerance, and charity.

On a more secular note, I find comfort among agnostics, humanists, Unitarians, moralists, and freethinkers who have found and embraced their morality, ethics, tolerance, love and compassion through secular intellect and logic, through reason rather than revelation. Earlier in one of my books, I included a reference to a comparison of religious ethics and secular ethics. I shared a conversation I had with a professor who has taught in more than one Church of Christ universities. Our mutual thought was that secular ethics may be stronger today than fundamentalist religion. This is not by design of God’s will, or the Messianic message of Jesus. Neither is it an apostasy, or a religious falling away of a chosen people.

Academia and the several theories of ethics have served us well historically. Logic bends toward ethics, morality, love, compassion, and fellowship. You don’t have to abandon your Sunday morning praise and worship. You don’t have to abandon the inspiration of the New Testament writers when you receive your doctorate of science, technology, literature, history, political science, or philosophy. Christianity is not a fairy tale or mythology. There is a harmony of faith and reason. The human mind and altruistic love are the creations of divine will, by whatever name or written document.

This harmony requires tolerance without compromise. Absolutes are imperative, or pragmatically idealistic. Truth is truth; falsehoods are untrue; sins are sins and crimes are crimes as defined by appropriate law. In our culture and politics we may find some conflict and compromise of ideology and immorality. We often find less affection for persons who are different by birth, created by a loving but indiscriminate God. We often find discomfort around people with special needs, physical frailty, limited cognitive skills, different sexual orientation, or coveted heroic and gifted attributes. We find our warmest fellowship among those with the greatest commonality.

I have come to rethink the concept of inspiration. As a writer, I seldom find inspiration and make no claim to it. I respect the writing of the Old Testament scribes and God’s covenant with the people of Israel, and the metaphorical story of creation. I embrace the Apostle’s writing and the Epistles chosen to be included in our Christian Bible. This was and is the religion within which I grew up, and eventually grew old. I have less affinity for inerrancy, fundamentalism, charismatic signs and wonders, visual and physical manifestation in praise and worship. I find no common purpose with the Religious Right and no kinship with the movement we have come to know as Evangelical. I like the word Christian, even in derogation, as a label, maybe somewhat short of the image or likeness of Jesus. As a measurement of attitude and compassion, I like the word liberal. For intellectual integrity, I think I like the designation logical disciple.

Populism and Christian Nationalism

Posted March 29, 2017 by billpeach
Categories: Uncategorized

In searching for a correlation of populism and nationalism, I found the period in American History between 1876 and 1898 in a textbook title, “The Triumph of Nationalism.” In the years following the Civil War and Reconstruction and signs of national prosperity, the Republican Party claimed and received the reputation of being “the party of progress.” In the election of 1884, religious issues were allowed to enter politics and introduced the phrase “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion.” The ratification of the 14th and 15th Amendments in 1868 and 1870 gave citizenship to former slaves. One of the first women’s suffrage laws was passed in Wyoming Territory in 1869. This period saw the introduction of the fraternal society, the Grange, to protect farmer interest. Also new, were the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the National Rifle Association, the Knights of Labor, Yellowstone Park, the first Jim Crow law, a completed Transcontinental Railroad. It was a period of unrest—Little Big Horn, Boss Tweed, and the Molly Maguires. We had the split administrations of Grover Cleveland and a sequence of Republican Presidents from 1897 through 1893. William Jennings Bryan was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee three times during a period of populism and a People’s Party and a Progressive Party during a period in which Liberalism and Conservation were not easily delineated. 1(Mahoney, 340-347).

The Populist movement was composed of two successive organizational vehicles, the Farmers’ Alliance and the People’s Party. The central goal of the Alliance was to relieve the suffering of farmers who were increasingly tied to a cycle of debt. The major economic demands of the Alliance were intended to bring higher prices for farm products and to reduce debt. Alliance men pursued cooperative efforts at the local level and advocacy of economic reform at the national level. Eventually, the political passions of many members and leaders, combined with the frustrations that emerged in the course of the movement’s experience, pushed the Alliance into the independent political action that had been building alongside the movement. This led to the formation of the People’s Party, the followers of which came to be known as “Populists.” As in most analyses, however, the term “Populism” is used here to cover both parts of the movement.

Populism, attuned to the needs of “the people,” as used today is a reminder of theories rather than the structure of the original Populist or People’s Party. Today’s most prominent Democratic candidates are more about “mines and mills than towns and gowns.”2 (Safire, p. 560)

The 2016 election seemed to follow a pattern of Nationalism that we have been discussing in recent classroom lectures. Our reference to the factors of –language, religion, allegiance, and our national symbols of patriotism has implications of parallels of populism and nationalism. While our country denies any formal or delineated class system, the word populist has become the symbol of white, Anglo-, working class, patriotic Bible reading Christians.

“In this broad discourse, talk about the religious heritage of the West has reemerged. Steve Bannon, former member of the Breitbart group,  wants to advance a Judeo-Christian traditionalism” for economic reasons, and to deconstruct a liberal government.  During his campaign, Donald Trump sought the endorsement of religious communities and emphasized America’s Christian heritage. Fifty-two percent of Catholics as a whole, and sixty percent of white Catholics, voted for Trump. Fifty-eight percent of Protestants supported the Republican candidate.  Eighty percent of white evangelicals supported Trump, yet fifty-one percent of these indicated in polling they were actually voting against Hillary Clinton, “rather than for Trump.” This number is probably similar in the Catholic electorate.  Many conservative Christians backed Trump not because they approved of him as a moral role model, but because they could not endorse Hillary Clinton’s perceived stance on late-term abortion, or fear of gun confiscation. This was a major issue in the third presidential debate. More generally, many conservative Christians were worried about the future Supreme Court appointments. Trump’s charming Midwestern Vice-President-elect Mike Pence certainly helped his campaign secure a majority of the Christian vote (which makes up seventy-five percent of the total electorate). Pence, who once worked as a Catholic youth minister and who “wanted to be a priest,” had charted new territory in ecumenism by describing himself as an “evangelical Catholic.”3  (Peterson).

Christian Nationalism is an important concept, because the threat to a pluralistic society does not come from those who simply believe in a very conservative interpretation of Christianity. It comes from those who adhere to a political ideology that proposes a Christian right to rule. Christian nationalists believe in a revisionist history, which holds that the founders were devout Christians who never intended to create a secular republic. Separation of church and state, according to this history, is a fraud perpetrated by God-hating subversives. One of the foremost Christian revisionist historians is David Barton, who, in addition to running an organization called Wallbuilders that disseminates Christian nationalist books, tracts and videos, he is also the vice-chairman of the Texas Republican Party. The goal of Christian nationalist politics is the restoration of the imagined Christian nation. As George Grant, former executive director of the influential Coral Ridge Ministries, wrote in his book “The Changing of the Guard:”

“Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ — to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness. But it is dominion we are after. Not just equal time, but world conquest that Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less… Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land — of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ.” 4(Grant)

Dr. Grant is currently the minister of the Parish Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Franklin, Tennessee. In the past his name has frequently been linked with Dominionism or Reconstructionism.  In my personal conversations with him, he  disavows any current ties with the religious populism that we associate with those ideologies.

We usually associate those with the writings of R.J. Rushdoony (1916-2001), Calvanist philosopher, historian, and theologian and is widely credited as the father of Christian Reconstructionism and an inspiration for the modern Christian home school movement. His followers and critics have argued that his thought exerts considerable influence on the Christian right.

While it is true that the United States of America was founded on the sacred principle of religious freedom for all. Liberty was never intended to exalt other religions to the level that Christianity holds in our country’s heritage. Our founders expected that Christianity — and no other religion — would receive support from the government as long as that support did not violate peoples’ consciences and their right to worship. They would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference.

The iconography of Christian nationalism conflates the cross and the flag. It claims supernatural sanction for its campaign of national renewal and speaks rapturously about vanquishing the millions of Americans who would stand in its way. At one rally at the statehouse in Austin, Texas, a banner pictured a fierce eagle perched upon a bloody cross. For a liberal, such imagery smacks of fascism. But plenty of deeply committed Christians also object to it as a form of blasphemy. It’s important, I think, to separate their faith from the authoritarian impulses of the Christian nationalist movement. Christianity is a religion. Christian nationalism is a political program, and there is nothing sacred about it.

“Christian nationalism is contingent on symbols and imagery. The flag salute and the Pledge of Allegiance with the addition of “under God” to the Pledge added a religious tone which I would think should be considered a violation of the Establishment Clause if the recitation is compulsory in a public education setting.  In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled accordingly in Engel v. Vitale. The petitioners contended among other things that the state laws requiring or permitting use of the Regents’ prayer must be struck down as a violation of the Establishment Clause.” 5 (Woll, pp. 150-151).

Every society has the right to perpetuate itself by building loyalty to its institutions and its values through the education it provides its youngsters. Tyrannies are often characterized by their use of schools and youth movements to indoctrinate their youth to blind loyalty to the regime, trampling the truth where necessary, or suppressing it when it is necessary for them to do so. Free, democratic societies, however, rest upon the premise that rational persons will choose to be loyal to them if they have access to truth. The educational system of a liberal democracy, therefore, should be able to develop a commitment to its perpetuation through a course of instruction that develops in the students a spirit of free and unhampered inquiry and critical thinking.”6 (Leiser, p. 287)

“It was never intended or supposed that the [First] Amendment could be invoked as a protection against legislation for the punishment of acts inimical to the peace, good order, and morals of society. However free the exercise of religion may be, it must be subordinate to the criminal laws of the country. It was passed with reference to actions by the general consent as properly the subjects of punitive legislation.” 7 (Hamilton), Gillette v. United States.

“As the populist ideology has found harmony with religious fundamentalism, what began as economic justice and freedom has become an instrument of both nationalism and authoritarianism. Liberals hear the words of the Moral Majority and see a monster. They are caught between the mind-crippling force of fundamentalism on the one hand and the promise of freedom and life through learning and education on the other. When I first began to hear the words of Jimmy Carter and Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell, and others like them, I thought I was hearing ghosts.” 8(Young, p. 6)

From our Ronald Reagan narrative in 1980, “Once upon a time, America was a shining beacon. Then liberals came along and erected an enormous federal bureaucracy, that handcuffed the invisible hand of the free market.” 9(Haidt, p. 332).

“Fundamentalist Christians are politically conservative. How are they distinct from progressive Christians? What do fundamentalist Christians mean by “freedom” and “liberty, “and how does that meaning relate to right-wing political leaders? There is a single answer to this question—strict father religion.”10(Lakoff, pp. 182-183)

“Yet it is surprising that most conservative Christian leaders, who represent some of the constituencies that have provided a major source of legitimacy and stability in the public order, are now going beyond challenging policies to questioning the very structure and basis of public life.”  11(Adams, p. 127) ( 2002)

“I  believe the coalition of fundamentalism and evangelicalism with their re-emergence in politics and their opposition to public education have drastically moved organized religion so far to the right we are losing the best and brightest of academia and politics. Case in point, the influence on the Republican Party, in Congressional and Presidential elections with opposition to reproductive rights, opposition to same-sex contractual rights, displaying religious images in public venues, and symbolic utterances of religious verbiage, has distracted politics from matters of governance, of Constitutional integrity, human rights, and attention to human suffering. We may need another Age of Enlightenment. Where is Thomas Jefferson when we need him?” 12The Eye of Reason, (2012) p.282

I just read a lengthy article on the new wave of liberal Christian involvement in politics. It is difficult to understand the meaning of the establishment clause and the religious freedom clause of the First Amendment. It seems that government sanction, endorsement, legislation, or financial support of religion is a violation. Also, government denial of religious freedom is equally a violation. Within the IRS codes “as prohibited by the Johnson Amendment” any tax-exempt organization cannot endorse or finance a candidate or party, but may support or oppose behavior or ideology deemed to be immoral or irreligious. Christians have historically opposed slavery, segregation, and wars from the left, and more recently been involved in reproductive rights, gun rights, public education, and marriage equality along liberal and conservative political lines.

The 2016 Presidential election injected a major conflict of liberal and conservative ideologies and the moral and ethical behavior of the candidates. Christians have an imperative to respect the institutional separation of church and state, and to reject any religious tests for candidates. But we also have to differentiate religious dogma from morality. There are several reasons. We do have a social contract with the poor, the sick, the handicapped, the stranger among us, the children, and the long list, explicit and implied, in the teachings of Jesus. Also, exemplary icons are needed as role models for public office. We cannot require a Christian label across the forehead, but as voters, we can send a message for our moral and ethical standards, as peacemakers, and our compassion for those identified as “least of these.” Christianity is not a political party. We have Liberal Christians, Republican Christians, and non-partisan Christians.

“Politically and culturally, Christians on the right feel threatened by public schools, abortion clinics, homosexuals, the Supreme Court, gun control, the ordination of women, liberalism, the welfare system, deficit spending, anti-capital punishment groups, and other ominous influences over which they have no control.

On the left, poised to defend their beliefs, are those who believe that education and secular or civil autonomy are being threatened by the religious right and conservative coalitions.  They advocate separation of church and state, non-sectarian public education, and the integrity of scientific and medical exploration.  Most leftist Christians support reproductive rights, tolerate diversity of gender identity and sexual orientation, and oppose all forms of violence, including capital punishment and war.  They are skeptical of televangelists, the faith healers, the snake handlers, and other charlatans of the industry.  They openly oppose legislation concerning school prayer, the Ten Commandments, the modified Pledge of Allegiance, and all efforts of civil government to impose religious principles by civil law.  To them, morality is a rational societal imperative for human interaction, contained within a body of ethical theory that came from man’s rational interpretation of God’s will.  To them it encompasses both intuitive directives from the human conscience and written ecclesiastical doctrine, without conflict, but being all sufficient for shaping human behavior without the other.

The subject of American exceptionalism has been the recent focus of controversy about the content of History textbooks in public schools. We believe this refers to the special character of the United States as a uniquely free nation based on democratic ideals and personal liberty. This is derived from our political institutions founded on the Declaration of Independence, the Revolution, and the Constitution.

There is a counter argument that there is also a negative connotation that we have been exceptionally immoral, racist, and violent. We tend to exaggerate and politicize both extremes as we reevaluate the incremental recognition of rights and the violence involved in the denial or acquisition of those rights.

We began as a group of independent colonies which found the necessity of national unity to gain our independence from England and “to form a more perfect union.” We debated the need for a standing army, or reliance on a system of well-regulated militias. Our Tenth Amendment allowed states to practice or prohibit slavery, later resolved by a bloody war. Our entrepreneurial spirit enabled us to achieve the American dream, and also gave us industrial giants and the financially elite. We ran our factories with low wages, child labor, and workplace tragedies. We created unions, suffered acts of violence in our coal mines, walked picket lines, and eventually found ways to regulate commerce and monopolies. We denied voting rights and access to social equality on bases of gender, skin color, and national origin.

We cited the wisdom of our founding fathers to determine whether we were a Christian or secular nation. We attached labels of Christian or Deist to measure the spirituality and secular wisdom of those who wrote our Constitution and formed our government. We speak of and fear moral decline, or impending theocracy.

We include a chapter on immigration. We tell the story of the English, Spanish, and French who discovered, settled, and built a new nation. We include the history of the Irish, Catholics, Jews, Asians, and Native Americans whose seats at the table of democracy and religious equality were reluctantly and belatedly acknowledged. We recite the celebratory phrase “give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores” and we appeal for a higher wall and more security on our borders.

Our History books accurately define our exceptional America in democratic ideals, free enterprise, religious freedom, military superiority, family values, our historical founding documents, and human rights. Yet there should be a few paragraphs or pages to document and learn from the times and events in which those have been denied to some, or unwillingly and violently imposed on others.

I read a newspaper account of a Catholic Priest who suggested that those who voted for Barack Obama should confess their sins for voting for a pro-abortion candidate.  Statistically, approximately 54% of voting Catholics supported Senator Obama.

In small rural country churches, in inner city black churches, in suburban mega-churches, there were millions of liberal Christians who raised their voices from the pulpits and from the pews for the end of racial prejudice, for the end of an ill-conceived war, for a season of hope.  At the same time, there were other sincere people of faith who voiced their fears of a potential election of someone who might be a Muslim, whose pastor was not an American, whose friend was a 1960s radical revolutionary and a terrorist bomber.

I believe within a decade or two, this battle will end.  Peace will come to the southern fields made fertile by the bones of intellectual giants and Bible scholars.  No longer will our hallowed land be strewn left and right with the bruised and broken bodies of Christians, left and right.

Christianity, by its only document, is non-violent.  Hatred is precluded by the Christian conscience, and sustained by love and compassion.  When we will have survived the fray, we must rejoin the defense of religious freedom and intellectual freedom and insure for all of us–the right to believe, the right to know, and the right to think.

As long as there are craftsmen who fashion, shape and forge the links of chain, for mind or ankle, there will be southern writers who will fashion, shape, and forge the words that break those chains.”13  (Wisdom, pp 38-39).


  1. Mahoney, Rev. Charles J., (Editor) Book Three, Christianity and America (1948)
  2. Safire, William, Safire’s Political Dictionary, (2008)
  3. Peterson, Paul Silas, Essays & Exchanges, The Election of Donald Trump, “Religion and the new populism.”
  4. Grant, George, The Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action, published in 1987 by Dominion Press
  5. Woll, Peter, American Government: Readings and Cases (Sixth Edition, 1962)
  6. Leiser, Burton M., Liberty, Justice, and Morals: Contemporary Value Conflicts. (1973)
  7. Hamilton, Marci A., God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law (2005)
  8. Young, Perry Deane, God’s Bullies (1982)
  9. Haidt, Jonathan, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012)
  10. Lakoff, George, Whose Freedom? The Battle over America’s Most Important Idea (2006)
  11. Adams, Lawrence E., Going Public: Christian Responsibility in a Divided America (2002)
  12. Peach, Bill, The Eye of Reason (2012)
  13. Wisdom, Emma, editor, Barack Obama: Vision to Victory (2009). “A Broken Shackle in the White House,” Peach, pp. 38-39)

Songs for Political Theory Class

Posted February 1, 2017 by billpeach
Categories: Uncategorized

In our Political Theory class at Columbia State we were assigned the choosing of ten songs that were relevant to what we are learning about government and politics.

I will begin with the anti-Vietnam War songs. Blowing in the Wind by Bob Dylan and Where Have All the Flowers Gone by Pete Seeger were probably the most played, recorded by many folk artists including Peter Paul and Mary and the Kingston Trio.  I was a child of the 60s. I included lines from one of these songs in a play I wrote for our local community theater, Pulltight Players.  The play also included a reference to the now infamous photo of Kent State. Neil Young wrote Four Dead in Ohio which is about the shooting by the National Guard at Kent State.

We Shall Overcome became the anthem for the Civil Rights movement. I think the lyrics were written by Zilpha Hart, but it has roots in Gospel Music and has a history of creative lyrics to fit the occasion. Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a Changing and Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come were favorites for defining the Civil Righs movement. The Byrds recorded Turn, Turn, Turn also by Pete Seeger, taken from the well-known Biblical quote in Ecclesiastes, “There’s a time for every purpose under Heaven.” It fit into the 1960s which depicted the decade as the “best of times and the worst of times.”

On freedom of speech, my daughter introduced me to One Voice by the Wailin’ Jennys (not Waylon). The first verse is a solo proposing the idea of one voice for freedom of speech. This is followed by a duet for the second verse with two voices, and a third with a trio and three voices. Then they all sing the fourth verse as the voice of everyone, and the fifth verse as one voice including everyone.

On the subject of pluralism, Woody Guthrie, made a statement for diversity and inclusion with This Land is Your Land, “From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream Waters. From California to the New York Island, this land was made for you and me.”

On a current note and recurring theme, Woody Guthrie, wrote and recorded Deportee. It is a story of migrant farm workers who picked fruit in the Southwest who drowned after being deported. The references to the disaster included no names, just repeating the word deportee.

On the subject of nationalism and patriotism, three come to mind. The Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key brings us to our feet routinely at athletic events and proudly when our athletes win medals. It has had moments of protests. Members of our track team raised black gloves and clenched fist on the winners stand at the Olympics. More recently NFL players have “taken a knee” to protest Black Lives Matter and other racial issues. This was followed by a right wing backlash of anger and condemnation.

Lee Greenwood’s Proud to Be an American has become the anthem for conservative America. Wherever there is a gathering of Republicans or any right wing group Lee seems to show up and inspire the crowd. “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.”

To make the quantum leap from the sixties to 2017, I have one of the classics from the worst of times or best of times. The campaign, election, and first month of the new Presidency have filled the streets with demonstrations and protests similar to my generation. Barry McGuire captured the mood of troubled times in 1964 with his hit, The Eve of Destruction.  Ironically, when I went to a link to look for a quote from the lyrics, the first images on the video were of President Trump. Here are the lyrics: