The Founding Fathers of the United States forged a nation in which church and state were intended to be separate. They believed the state should be free from supernaturalism.
State of the World 2003 advised that there are now about 10,000 religions, with 150 of them having a million or more followers. People favour Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, in that order. Two-thirds of the global population adheres to one of these three faiths; 20% belong to other faiths, and 15% are uncommitted. So the concept of a nation being based on a single religion takes on the aspect of a lottery.
In the 1700s, the U.S. was thinly settled and pioneers had to be independent and self-reliant. Such independence led to "free-thinking," a characteristic of the U.S. at that time.
People throughout the world have respected the American Dream, a dream wherein freedom of speech, worship, and thought would enable humans to build a nation offering peace and security. Its goal was to guarantee freedom and justice to every citizen. The U.S. began with resolve that might ultimately have transcended the intolerance of religions and warfare. The American dream is admirable, and is worthy of respect for the minds that conceived it. In its original form, it is worthy of emulation everywhere. But, regrettably, its inspiration has decayed through political and corporate sabotage.
Descent into commercialism, nuclear threats and "Star Wars" has turned the dream into a nightmare. Today's militaristic leaders, estranged from truth, have denounced free thinking as "unpatriotic." The United States is being transformed from a democracy to a theocracy. President George Bush's claim to receiving direct advice on policy from God gives credence to Jared Diamond's observation, in Guns, Germs, and Steel, that "The remaining way for kleptocrats to gain public support is to construct an ideology or religion justifying kleptocracy - the precursor to an institutionalized religion that buttresses the chief's authority."
The policies and practices of the Bush administration, far from being divinely inspired, make a mockery of the idealism that animated the men of principle who wrote a noble Declaration of Independence and a strongly democratic Constitution. American leaders now lack the philosophical background and independent thought of their forefathers. They have retrogressed by ignoring the private connection between each of us and the universe. Centuries before the belief in a single God, there was widespread belief in a bond between the Cosmos and every soul.
Proclus, who died in the Trojan War (circa 1300 B.C.), wrote in Proposition 209 of his Elements of Theology: "The vehicle of every particular soul descends by the addition of vestures increasingly material, and ascends in company with the soul through divestment of all that is material and through recovery of its proper form." Descent basically accompanies our materialistic way of life. Ascent, which is overdue, is found by rejecting selfishness, greed, and a selfserving mindset.
The first seven Presidents of the United States were Deists. They accepted the idea of a general Providence, but denied the superiority of miraculous revelations as preferable to reliance on one's own intellect.
They comprehended the classical idea of soul as a striver after perfection, "an adventurer and possible Hero, like Hercules of old." Acceptance of the idea that soul and flesh are distinct entities meant that each person must face life alone and transcend the limitations of the flesh by refining all aspects of being. The U.S. founding fathers rejected dependence on a divine intercessor as an abandonment of individual responsibility. They accepted the ancient view that mastery over life's challenges is "a form of science involving the strictest of discipline and practical striving."
In History and Social Intelligence (1926), Harry Elmer Barnes disclosed that "the …