A Constitutional Convention (Part Two)

In our republic’s early days, Thomas Jefferson predicted that Christianity would soon be relegated to a minor role in American society. His assessment wasn’t radical: it was the linear projection of a trend in place. Interest in religion had waned among his peers.

As Jefferson’s assertions were being made, however, a movement toward more intense Christian belief was already underway in distant parts of the country …… one of several such waves to occur during the early periods of American history.

The relationship between religion and constitutional governance is rarely analyzed in its proper context. To understand it, we must start with a discussion of power. Only then can values choices be considered with fairness.

Power dynamics drove the colonies’ relationship with their parent country from the outset of settlement in North America. The settlers were locally-oriented and independent. They required emergent, self-organizing solutions to survive in a harsh environment. This pushed their political orientation downward on the circle.

In contrast, Britain’s empire relied on hierarchical, top-down decrees. Its approach stood in diametric opposition to that of the colonies. Eventually, when each side had fully gravitated to its chosen pole of power, a war of revolution commenced ……

When the colonies emerged as a nation, the conflict over power wasn’t finished. It’s never resolved …… in any society. Therefore, the new country faced a choice.

The founders had learned during the war that it’s untenable for a country to be managed from a position at the bottom of the circle. An orientation that’s too local, libertarian, and laissez-faire becomes chaotic and anarchic. Some form of centralized power must be applied …… even if it’s limited. Thus, the U.S. Constitution tried to establish balance between the two vertical poles. It took a midway position on the power axis ……

Since political decisions are made in two dimensions, and not one, the nation’s power decision had to be accompanied by a complimentary values decision. Therefore, if a society wants to hold a moderate vertical orientation, its center of gravity must reside near the political circle’s left or right pole. Since society had historically been paternal, the country’s belief system moved right ……

Inherent within the nation’s founding manifesto (the Declaration of Independence) was the assertion that all humans are created equal. Therefore, widely-divergent human belief systems were increasingly granted equal treatment under the law. This provided an opportunity for maternal beliefs to gradually gain ground within the society, as seen in the growth of community-centric movements like feminism, environmentalism, and LGBTQ rights. A slow migration of positions toward the circle’s left side commenced.

This migration required regular appeals to top-down power, in the form of congress, the president, the Supreme Court, etc. It unexpectedly increased the country’s reliance on centralized decision-making structures ……

Unfortunately, rather than create balance between two competing values forces, the process has led to a dependence on concentrated power. In short, it has led to the oligarchic crisis we face in the early twenty-first century. The required resolution to that problem will be discussed next ……

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