“We believe in democracy; we believe in freedom; we believe in peace,” said President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the end of his 1936 “I Hate War” address at Chautauqua. FDR was campaigning for re-election at the time, and conveyed in the speech his attitude toward the brewing international conflicts that would come to a head in World War II.
In the eyes of Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Americans take their freedom for granted. As he spoke to the Chautauquans packed in and around the Hall of Philosophy at 3:30 p.m. Monday, he drew upon history and tradition to illustrate how vital it is that Americans engage in the discussion of freedom.
He admitted that in his younger years, he thought democracy could be given like a gift. He joked that some people think they can introduce democracy to a country, wipe their hands and say goodbye, and then democracy will be magically “installed.”
Rev. Buzz Thomas preached about the nature of “dual citizenship” — sharing loyalties between the United States and faith communities — on Wednesday.
Thomas’ sermon was titled “Called to Serve Two Kingdoms: the Challenge of Christian Citizenship.” The readings were Acts 5:27-29, Romans 13:1-4 and Revelation 13:1-9.
Thomas began by reminding the congregation that the U.S. is different from the kingdom of God.
“For most of us, we live on a fault line, right? We have divided loyalties. We’re citizens of two kingdoms,” Thomas said. “Of course we’re citizens of the good old U.S.A., but we are also citizens of the kingdom of God, and how we balance those competing loyalties is the stuff of serious citizenship.”
In June, 1630, the Arbella landed in Salem, Mass., delivering, among many others, John Winthrop, a wealthy English lawyer, who would play a considerable role in the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Eight months later landed the Lyon, delivering another principal in the history of the New England settlements, Roger Williams, son of a merchant tailor. In those two devoted, religious figures looms a history that still influences U.S. citizens.
Charles C. Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center and director of the Religious Freedom Education Project will speak about that history at 3:30 p.m. today in the Hall of Christ. The title of his talk is “John Winthrop and Roger Williams: Competing Visions of Church and State in America.”