Dear SHNV Readers,
Americans are by nature prone to wanting to say that a president that they sincerely agree with "is a Christian." Southern Christians have a way of being especially generous toward others in this way.
Contrary to the common structured campaign practices of both major parties, the truth is often far from the campaign rhetoric and hype. I listen to the "written-by-someone-else" campaign speeches, but no longer place much trust in campaign promises, though Democrats often actually do what they have threatened to do while the promises of Republicans to Southerners and Christians usually go unfulfilled. I did trust such things as a teenager, but now I rely solely on a candidates track record. It is often more the case that what a person has done in the past is a reliable guide to what they would do if they could obtain the current office for which they are campaigning.
Two of the SHNV readers did not believe me when I wrote that Ronald Reagan was an atheist and not ashamed of his conviction. After the War to Prevent Southern Independence millions believed that because Abraham Lincoln went to church once in a while that he was a believer. I knew the Reagan’s. Both of my parents worked in his White House and that of the Clinton’s and Bush Sr. and Bush the Younger. At the time I liked what Reagan had to say in his campaign speeches, and I worked in both of his presidential campaigns (which if I had to do over I would not do). His speeches were written by Pat Buchanan, one of my favourite persons. (Later Pat did not do well in his run for the presidency because the press corp discovered he placed Confederate flags on the grave of his great grandfather.) Reagan used such terms as "God Bless" etc. as a political way of wishing people well. The use of such phrases by western non-believers was a common respectful practice for hundreds of years as simply "good public manners" or to court Christian’s political support. Only very recently have people felt so free as to publicly express hostility to the Christian faith, its moral standards and people of the Christian faith. Reagan also claimed to love "Southern" people while hating much about their "ways" and their "Christian religion." The story behind how Reagan got the nomination of the Republican party is very revealing and seldom told.
John Wayne (named Marion Robert Morrison at birth), as well, made many political statements that sounded clearly positive about the South to any reasonable listener, but that is not all he said or all that Ronald Reagan said on the topic of "the South." John Wayne was from Iowa and generally and genuinely was conservative for his day (He did claim to be a socialist while in college) and ultimately took many anti-communist positions contrary to most other people in the Hollywood film industry. He joined the John Birch Society and strongly advocated much they stood for. There is some evidence in the documents of the former Soviet Union that Stalin ordered Wayne’s assassination. Chairman "K" rescinded that order before it could be carried out. Wayne’s grandfather (his father’s father) was a general in the USA military when it fought the CSA during The War to Prevent Southern Independence and fought to defeat and subjugate the Southern States. Wayne was always especially proud of his ancestors war record in support of the South’s defeat. He did state some positive things about the South as "standing with the south" usually in referring to his own conservative and anti-communist politics. He vehemently, however, rejected the offer to become the running mate of George Wallace in 1968 and did campaign for Richard Nixon and spoke on opening day for the 1968 RNC Convention.
I have liked some things about both men, but not all they expressed about their personal beliefs. It is possible to like and be hospitable to people who do not believe like we wish they would believe. I strongly feel that it is an act of intellectual dishonesty to claim such people are more like us than they really were. Southerners have always had the capacity to work with people diverse from themselves without insisting that they change and become like themselves.
I know the Bushes and have eaten meals with them. My parents, however, have spent more time with them than I have seeing them several days a week during their tenure in the White House. While in the White House as President of the USA, the older George Bush openly ridiculed and made jokes about "Southerners" and our ways. I did not know this when I was working for the Bush campaigns. Both Bush presidents were and are members of "Skull and Bones", something that no Christian could do and remain a Christian. Many of our Southern folks actually believe that the "Bushes are Southerners." The were from Connecticut and attended Yale University. You can get a Ph.D. in Religion at Yale without believing in God at all. Things were not always this way.
I am opposed to totalitarian (centralised) government wherever it is. I see the U.S. is too big, too powerful and too broken to be fixed. According to a statement by the Pentagon the U.S. military have fought 218 wars since the American Revolution which was not a revolution but more of war of secession. By anyone’s definition the U.S. has a long history of being a "welfare-warfare" nation.
I do disagree with those who state that "America was established as TWO sister nations totally separate with their own culture and society." The Founders of the free and independent separate colonies explicitly discussed and rejected the political concept of joining with each other to become a "nation." They saw their governments as federal republics or commonwealths, and formed a loosely knit "compact" between free, sovereign and independent republics and commonwealths. The term "nation" was used by such folks as Lincoln who made the assertion we were a "nation" in his Gettysburg Address. This assertion was very offensive to Southern people who knew the difference between a nation and a
Four "States" did not use the term "State", but used the term "Commonwealth" to refer to their "country" as in "The Commonwealth of Virginia," "The Commonwealth of Kentucky," "The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania" and "The Commonwealth of Massachusetts." Virginia used the term "Commonwealth" to refer to itself well before ratifying the compact to join a union of the former British colonies.
I usually also avoid using the widely used political word "America" which has come to imply many things. The former colonies formed a compact under which they were called the "united States of America." Later the word "united" became capitalised. Writers, in the South particularly, used the word "country" to refer to the State they lived in and not to the conglomerate union they formed together. To the Southerner their "country" was not "America." It was "Virginia", "North Carolina", " Texas", etc. Even most northerners considered themselves as "New Yorkers", "Pennsylvanians", etc. Sadly, how we talk about things in the South has been affected by our being, at least partially, "reconstructed." I discover new ways, nearly everyday, that the government has been successful in molding how I think about things, and I am trying to disconnect myself from it’s dominant secular and tyrannical influences.
"Commonwealth" is a traditional term for a political community founded for "the common good" and it has sometimes been used as synonymous with the term "republic." As a Virginian I was raised using the term "Commonwealth" and taught that "Virginia" was my "country" of origin and birth. (This may alert some to my advanced age.) The old English meaning of "wealth" did not necessarily refer to money, but it was commonly used to refer to ones general "well-being." Generally the term commonwealth has been thought of historically as taking its root meaning from the complex Latin of "res publica" as in our term "republic."
In my writing I will sometimes use "terms" that are not strictly denotatively accurate to my understanding of history, but for which the common public understanding is so strong that I use the language for clarity of the understanding of my readers. I work very hard and take much time in efforts to correct "revisionistic" histories that misrepresent my beloved Southland. The words we use to teach our history and explain things to others have grown very narrow and, at times, vague. The change in the use of terms to describe our Founding has been for purposes of reinterpreting history to suit the centralising of U.S. government authority. Our ancestors were much better and more accurate at this than most of us are.
Timothy D. Manning, M.Div
160 Longbridge Drive
Kernersville, North Carolina 27284
Phone: (336) 420-5355