Usually when you quote somebody, either it is because you agree with what the person said, believe the person is someone who deserves our attention or both. You even can imply the person quoted shares your beliefs.
If the person quoted is, say, George Washington, you seem to garb yourself in the raiments of the Father of our country. On the other hand, you should be careful about whom you quote and be sure the quote is consistent with the quoted person’s beliefs,
Reverend Micah Beckwith is one of my opponents in the May 5 GOP primary for United States House of Representatives in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District. Reverend Beckwith is a pastor at White River Christian Church in Noblesville and currently at Northview Church in Carmel, Fishers, Anderson, Westfield and Kokomo.
On his website - Wednesday, yesterday and this morning - were portraits of two men and a quote from each. Everyone knows one such person, Washington - who led the Continental Army and who presided over the 1787 Constitutional Convention.
Washington also was the first President, and rejected the notion of a monarchy. He could have been king, but thought the notion bad. He also claimed ownership over other human beings - i.e., he was a slave holder - but at least freed those people by terms of his will.
Rev Beckwith quotes Washington: “The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.”
One is left with the distinct impression Washington invoked “Heaven” - of the same origins and location as that in which Rev Beckwith believes; after all, an upper-case “H” is at the start of each “Heaven.”
Unfortunately, the general consensus of scholars is Washington was a deist. Holmes, “The Faiths of the Founding Fathers,” 2006, pp. 50-51. That is “belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe. The term is used chiefly of an intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries that accepted the existence of a creator on the basis of reason but rejected belief in a supernatural deity who interacts with humankind.”
Given other statements on Rev Beckwith’s website, I infer that the deist rejection of a supernatural deity who interacts with humankind would not be Rev Beckwith’s belief.
The other person whose portrait appears on Rev Beckwith’s website is Charles Finney, who is quoted: “The time has come that Christians must vote for honest men and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them. Christians seemed to act as if they thought God did not see what they do in politics. But I tell you he (sic) does see it - and He will bless this nation according to the course they take in politics.”
Perhaps Mr Finney, a Nineteenth Century Presbyterian minister slipped irony into his statement: the pronoun “he,” to refer to the supreme deity, starts with a lower-case “h” then an upper-case “h.” That is not “consistent ground.”
Mr Finney was credited with inspiring John Humphrey Noyes, who went on to found the Oneida community in upstate New York. Hillebrand, “The Shakers/Oneida Community, Part Two.”
The Oneida community manufactured and marketed a variety of things, perhaps the most memorable of which was flatware, still manufactured under the Oneida brand name. Noyes did not confine his thoughts to great designs of forks to prick things.
Noyes preached “perfectionism” - as did Finney - but also “rejected monogamy and the idea that one man and one woman should become closely attached to one another.” Oneida Community, Britannica Online Encyclopedia.
Noyes advanced a concept of “complex marriage,” in which “every woman was the wife of every man and every man was the husband of every woman.” Id. The community denied rumors about orgies or sexual promiscuity in the community.
Unfortunately, one can misinterpret a situation. Finney, who had inspired Noyes, advocated social reforms, such as abolition of slavery and equal education for women and African Americans. “Presidents of Oberlin College,” Oberlin College Archives.
Finney taught at, and later was president of Oberlin College, where students were accepted without regard to race or sex. Oberlin’s faculty and students were activists for abolition, the Underground Railroad, and universal education. Hambrick-Stowe, “Charles G. Finney and the Spirit of American Evangelicalism,” 1996, p. 199.
And Oblerin College? Its mere name - “the concept, the notional idea of it seems to represent something deeply evil and threatening to the right-wing commentariat. The specific evil is not quite nameable;...” Spencer, “Why do conservatives hate Oberlin so much?” Salon, 06/18/19.
Rev Beckwith quotes Finney - whose teachings inspired a community accused by regressive people of having orgies and who taught and gave shape to the progressive early history of Oberlin College - on the website of what I infer is Rev Beckwith’s pro-trump candidacy.
I cite GOP leaders through history for specific stands, but never have said I adopt every point of each. During his fourth debate with Stephen Douglas, in 1858 in Charleston, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln said: “I am not nor ever have been in favor ... of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.”
Theodore Roosevelt busted monopolies and favored progressive income taxes, yet also was a militarist; he created the national parks, but blew away beautiful wild creatures.
The United States was founded on gross hypocrisies. The Constitution spoke of “Justice” and “Liberty”, Preamble, yet protected the most vile of institutions, slavery. Inconsistency between stated values and conduct is American as chop suey.
Rev Beckwith should clarify his positions. To quote Washington, a deist, to advance a political agenda steeped in religion is inconsistent with Washington’s beliefs and misconstrues the first President’s use of the term “Heaven.”
Finney’s philosophy seems more consistent with Oberlin College today than with Rev Beckwith’s, whose alma mater, Huntington University, says students should reflect Christ in “our appearance and behavior ... [and] behavior ... may be different from behavioral expectations of societal laws and norms....
Huntington also wants its students to “maintain high standards of sexual purity. Sexual relations are reserved for the institution of marriage between a man and a woman. Possession or use of sexually obscene or pornographic matter in all forms is prohibited. These guidelines apply both on-campus and off-campus.”
This is where Rev Beckwith really needs to clarify his views. After all, the Oneida community advocated marriage between a man and a woman - but a whole bunch of marriages.
In the context of college, campus-wide orgies might appeal to millennials. Perhaps that is a demographic to whom Rev Beckwith seeks to appeal. Otherwise, Rev Beckwith should not quote people, such as Washington and Finney out of context.
This is especially true when a candidate states positions consistent with dominionism and theocracy.
I am Mark Small, a candidate in the GOP primary for U.S. House in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District. I am proud to be a progressive. The “Moral Majority” was neither. The religious “right” hijacked the GOP. We need to grab the GOP back. I approve of this blog. Hell, I wrote it.