Sen. Marco Rubio’s Super Tuesday drop-out speech asserting it is not God’s plan that he be president of the United States this year, or maybe ever, might cause some jaws to drop in wonder.
Rightly defining Americans as “go-getters,” lauding his immigrant parents’ successes, and declaring we all are descendants of those who endured hardships for the opportunity to work and prosper in freedom whether Pilgrims, westward bound settlers, or emancipated slaves, he then contradicted himself by stating that “in their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps,” and “God has a plan for every one of our lives.”
With those words, he effectively dismissed the personal efforts and achievements of generations of individual Americans pursuing their own happiness, exercising their own brainpower, and summoning their own stamina to overcome challenges to achieve their own dreams.
The facts are that although historically most Americans believe in a God and pray on their knees at night, they pull themselves up by their bootstraps in the morning, formulate their goals logically, and toil individually or cooperatively to achieve their self-chosen lifestyles.
These acts are initiated by the use of free will, an innate faculty of every individual’s mind that must be activated to establish a value system, a set of principles including moral-behavioral standards by which to live. Animals act on instinct, but reason is every human being’s primary tool for survival and success. Men and women of faith may implore a supernatural, higher authority to aid their endeavors, but to actualize them they must employ their own wits and labor.
The subject of a God plan would not be troubling if limited to average citizens; their beliefs and behavior affect only their own lives and those around them. Presidential behavior affects the well-being of more than 300 million American citizens along with all people and countries interacting with America; therefore, we must consider the worldwide impact such a belief could engender if a president of the United States truly believes he is part of an overall plan determined by a God.
What, then, of objective, reasoned judgment? When one says “God bless America,” this is simply a generalized wish for good tidings. If, however, a president seriously believes in an overall God plan, how would he react to a terrorist attack like the destruction of the World Trade Center? Would that be part of God’s plan? Of course not. But given a religion-oriented worldview, by what criteria would such a president make sound, effective, politically wise decisions?
Marco Rubio will not be elected president of the United States in 2016. Yet, because of his passionately proclaimed religious ardor as candidate for that powerful position, the subject of faith versus reason must excite attention by voters choosing which candidate should chart the course of our country into the future.
It is one thing to pray privately to a God for inner strength or spiritual succor but quite another to handle the helm of an entire nation with a clear-headed rational mind.
Especially in 21st century America, we have not two but three religions worshiping the same God in different ways. Judaism and Christianity have dwelt in harmony, but Islam demands its own system of law outside of and incompatible with the United States Constitution.
That Constitution provides for separation of church and state, and so it should remain. But what if religious and secular institutions, one founded on faith and the other on reason, are merged into one governmental system by a president adhering to a personal God rather than addressing national issues with a mind anchored in reality of circumstance?
In Barack Obama we already suffer a president who often succeeds in ignoring the laws of our land, so precedent is set. If advanced, this behavior could tear to shreds the only document protecting Americans from tyranny.
Although many religious individuals recognize natural law and free will today, population and voting dynamics change. We must attend closely to any potential president who believes so zealously in religion that he can utter such overarching, deterministic rhetoric as Mr. Rubio did, even ending his speech with a resounding prayer to his God.
Such fervent religiosity in politics may encourage future would-be presidents to invoke their own personal Godhead for our nation, thereby opening the door to any one particular religion wishing to usurp the foundational structure of America: individual liberty to believe, think, and act independently.
Free will is the cornerstone of a free country. Even a decision to follow God’s will requires free will to choose it. A president is not a preacher. He may privately follow faith, but as the highest public servant of "we the people," America’s president must head a religion-neutral government, speaking and acting according to our Constitution and reason alone, favoring none and representing all.
Alexandra York is an author and founding president of the American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) a New-York-City-based nonprofit educational arts and culture foundation. She has written for many publications, including "Reader’s Digest" and The New York Times. Her latest book is "The Innocent." For more on Alexandra York, Go Here Now.
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