All Maine Matters

June 2006



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Restoring Maine’s Foundation
By Bob Emrich

There is a lot of talk these days about the combination of morality, religion and government. Some would have us believe that this is a recent development. It seems to me that we should back up about 200 years to get an “American perspective”. That should enable us to step outside of current trends and political maneuverings. The great majority of historians believe that Washington was very concerned about the precedents being established for the presidency and indeed for the federal government. Many of his assessments and recommendations are summarized in his farewell address. I quote one part of that here:

“Of all the habits that lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would men claim the tributes of patriotism who would work to destroy these great pillars of human happiness.”

Here in Maine, we might appeal to a somewhat later, but more local acknowledgement of the same principles. Maine Governor Joshua Chamberlain, in an official proclamation, called upon the people of Maine to recognize “our utter need of His saving power in Christ”, and to “humble ourselves before God, as to be spared the chastisement which our sins deserve, and obtain the blessings of His grace upon ourselves, our country, and our fellow men”. Both of these men are icons of American history and their writings are a reliable source of the traditional mindset of our state and nation. It does not take a genius to note the importance of religion and morality to the good of our society.

One immediate conclusion we can draw from the above quotations is that the “new religious right” is not new at all. The foundational thinking of our society and government was built upon assumptions of morality and religion. That does not mean we are, or should be a theocracy. Nor does it mean that government should promote one denomination over another. But it does mean that we have long held to a standard of faith and morality to guide us. Those who want us to follow another standard have the burden of proving the need to abandon our established traditions.

That is at the philosophical heart of who have recently been dubbed “values voters” or the “religious right”. We share the concern of others for national security; fiscal responsibility; economic prosperity and for maintaining a compassionate society. But we also are greatly troubled by the corruption of our traditional culture. There are specific issues that are bringing us into the public view. Let me point out a few of them.

We see marriage as foundational to a well-ordered society. Marriage as an institution must be protected from those who are seeking government action and approval to overturn centuries of established tradition. That trend is increasingly clear. Although much of the nation is strengthening marriage, Maine is not. Marriage is the union of one man and one woman. We are calling upon government to refrain from altering that sacred institution. In fact, we want to protect the definition of marriage with a constitutional amendment.

America has made a terrible error in allowing the intention killing of unborn children. The right to life is among the most basic rights recognized by our founders and the most treasured by our society. It is an unspeakable tragedy that this basic right is not afforded to the most vulnerable among us. That tragedy is only intensified by the interference of government into family relationships by prohibiting requirements for parental notification, consent and involvement. The fact that it is easier for a young woman to kill her unborn child that it is to stop a headache is a travesty. It is shameful that we do not even require abortionists to notify women about fetal development or the pain felt by children during abortion procedures. And in order to protect the “right” to abort children, we don’t even inform women of the long term health risks they face as a result of an abortion. We desperately need to rebuild a culture of life, not only in America, but also here in Maine. Unborn livestock on farms have more protection than unborn children in Maine.
Public education has strayed far from its original intent in our society. The most renowned universities were started to promote moral and Biblical literacy. Now the leading education policy makers want to deny school children the most basic religious freedoms. Public prayers, Bible reading, and public displays with religious themes are often met with great resistance if allowed at all. “Values voters” want to see their rights of religious expression protected and want to provide the education that best suits their personal convictions without undue government interference. We do not want public schools to be used by select groups to promote philosophies and behaviors that are contrary to the best traditions of our society. We want to maintain and encourage parental rights to educate their children at home or in the schools of their choosing.

Freedom of religion is crucial to the well being of our state. This is no movement to stifle diversity or to promote intolerance. We are however; ready to insist on the right to freely express our religious views in the public arena. We are prepared to follow the tradition of past generations to build a fair, just and decent society upon the pillars of faith and morality. Weak and imperfect beings will always stumble in such a noble endeavor, but we will not allow the time-honored pillars to be removed because of that weakness and imperfection. Israel Washburn, as the Governor of Maine wrote, “While our lives have been upheld by His power and blessed by His love, they have too often borne the bitter fruits of weakness, insincerity, and uncharitableness.” We join Governor Washburn in calling upon Maine people to overcome those weaknesses by clear and public demonstration that “our strength and reliance are in Him.”

Bob Emrich has been active in the religious and political matters in Maine, most recently, as the director of the Maine Jeremiah Project. More information, visit the website at or email him at

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