Jewish World Review Nov. 24, 2004 / 11 Kislev, 5765
Would the Pilgrims be brave enough to come ashore today?
This is the conversation William Bradford might have had with his band of pilgrims had they landed at Plymouth this year instead of nearly four centuries ago:
"My fellow pilgrims, we have endured great peril at sea in search of religious freedom. As we survey this vast New Land, let us humbly give thanks.
"What's that, Isaac Allerton? You think the prayer of thanks should be that we haven't gotten off the ship yet? You say we may be free from the oppression of the Church of England, but this place could run it a close second? You've hidden your Bible under a keg of ale and three smoked hams?
"Allerton!? Where is your courage?
"Yes, Elizabeth Hopkins? You agree with Allerton and have stored your replica of the Ten Commandments beneath a bolt of fabric at the bottom of your trunk? You've heard the Ten Commandments can be a lightning rod for fury? Mrs. Hopkins, have you so quickly forgotten the promise of a city on a hill?
"What's this? Rose Standish has tucked her lovely Creche under a loose board on the gun deck so as to spare our band legal harassment? What's wrong with you, pilgrims?
"Yea, I have had my fill of speculation that we must not go ashore without a small posse of civil liberty lawyers to protect us. Since when did we shift our trust from the Almighty who rules the heavens to attorneys who bill by the hour?
"I agree the Welcome Kit delivered to the ship was an odd package, but this is America! If you don't like the DVDs of reality television, don't watch them. If you don't like the gangsta rap CDs, don't listen to them. And there's no one forcing you to use the Victoria's Secret gift card. By the way, was anyone able to revive Mrs. Thomas Tinker after she saw what Victoria's "angels" are wearing this Christmas?
"Pilgrims, while some of you have been below deck cowering and hiding all tangible remnants of our Christian heritage, I've been surveying the situation from the main mast. I tell you I have seen a country like no other.
"There is freedom of worship here. You are free to worship, assemble and pray at the church of your choosing.
"There is a freedom of speech here. You have the freedom to speak both your mind and your heart.
"There is a thirst for learning here, pilgrims. There are public schools, private schools, parochial schools, and home schools. There are libraries and museums and parks such as you cannot imagine.
"And, pilgrims, there is sweet liberty. You have the freedom to make your own life, rather than having others make it for you. You are free to come and go as you please, to work, to earn, to save, and if a man be industrious, to even build a Mayflower of his own one day.
"Yes, there are wrongdoers here, but such is the nature of liberty. Liberty not only grants freedom to choose virtue, but freedom to choose vice. This is not an unfamiliar theme to us, pilgrims - I refer you to the book of Genesis. This freedom to choose wrong is as old as Adam.
"This country may not be exactly what we had in mind when we set sail, but no other land on earth beckons with such open skies, freedom and opportunity.
"Gather your cloaks and lower the plank, pilgrims - we're going ashore. Thanks be to G-d and G-d bless America."
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© 2004, Lori Borgman
JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of , most recently, "Pass the Faith, Please" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.