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Post by tim »

We had an excellent and very thought-provoking service July 7th, well worth rolling out of bed for on a Sunday morning! If you missed, you missed out!

We began with the fact that the NTCOF is itself a revolutionary undertaking. It is, in rejecting claims that religion is about supernaturalism, not unlike the American colonists who rejected claims that political power is divinely held by kings. Rather, to paraphrase Thomas Paine, the NTCOF seeks “to begin religion over again.”

A Moment of Science was presented by NTCOF member John Gauthier on the subject of the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle. The story began with an effort to figure out the most efficiency that could be gotten out of a light bulb. This led to – among other things – an explanation for why atoms have the structure they do. John explained it all very well.

We then enjoyed, and had to struggle with some important facts that we were never taught in school, during a presentation/sermon on the subject of the American Revolution. “Dissolving Political Bands” was also the featured subject of the July bulletin at https://www.churchoffreethought.org/bul ... lletin.pdf.

Did you ever wonder why all the dramatic actions of the American Revolution took place in the colonies in the north? Boston, Lexington, Concord, Bunker Hill (which actually took place on nearby Breed's Hill), West Point, Philadelphia, Valley Forge – and even the Yorktown victory that ended the war – are all well north of Georgia and the Carolinas. Who were the heroes of such southern colonies? What stirring words and ideas did they contribute to the events of 1775-1781? And why did the other colonies cave in to them when they objected to Thomas Jefferson's clause excoriating King George for the British role in the slave trade and inciting slaves in the colonies to violently rise up against their masters? The clause was duly deleted from the Declaration of Independence. Did the northern colonies (in which, at the time, slavery was mostly legal also) really need those southern colonies that based their whole way of life on slavery? And what might have happened, both immediately and in the long term, if those southern colonies had not joined in the cause of the American Revolution? Many – perhaps most or all – of our members in attendance were surprised and troubled by what they learned.

To take just one example: the British legal case of Somerset v Stewart in which the plaintiff, an enslaved African, James Somerset, objected to being sent to Jamaica to be sold off. The judge in the case, William Murray 1st Earl of Mansfield, found for Somerset on the grounds that, in England proper, no laws authorized slavery and there was no basis for slavery in British Common Law. The key language was this:

“The state of slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only by positive law [statute], which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasions, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory. It is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law.”

This case was decided in 1772 and was known and widely talked about in the American colonies. In fact, Somerset v Stewart is linked to the beginning of the abolitionist movement in what would soon become the United States and the actual abolition of slavery in the northern colonies. This and other important issues put the causes of the American Revolution squarely in the domain of economics more than in politics and ideology.

Yet another little-known fact is that, while the colonists styled their complaints as being with King George the Third, their real difficulties were with Parliament and its “rage for equality” as Edmund Burke called it at the time. In the late 18th Century the king had no power to override this British legislative body - Parliament - that had actually passed the laws that the colonists found so burdensome.

NTCOF member Don Krause then spoke about a contemporary “dissolving of political bands,” that of “Brexit.” Again, the matter is linked not just to popular sentiment about such things as immigration but to simple economics, to who gains and who loses.

The service concluded with spirited discussion and a music video from the internet relating to the American Revolution. Whew, what a rush!
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