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Constitution’s Meaning in Today’s Society Discussed


September 16, 2013 - The 226th birthday of the U.S. Constitution was celebrated a day early Monday during a gathering at Eastern Florida State College that focused on the framing of the country’s founding document and its relevance in today’s society.

Rep. Posey
U.S. Rep Bill Posey is pictured with Eastern Florida State College's Dr. Linda Miedema, V.P. Academic Affairs and Sandy Handfield, Mebourne Campus Provost before the forum.

U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, the event’s keynote speaker, was joined by three members of the college faculty: Dr. Lee Wyatt, an instructor of history, Alicia Spring, an instructor of world religions and Dr. Rick Parrish, a professor of history.

Dr. Wyatt addressed the history of the 4,453-word document's adoption by 39 signees of varied backgrounds over 88 days, its current applicability and closed by referencing the ongoing debate about whether the Constitution should stand as written or be updated for modern times and circumstances.

“As we pause today to remember the ingenuity of those men who gathered in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, it might be wise for us all to ponder that question,” he said. “I believe we can all agree on one point — that what our founders created 226 years ago was the greatest political document the world has ever seen.”

Spring addressed the foundation of the United States rooted in the search for religious freedom, its evolution and its historical context.

“The point of this cannot be overstated: Those who were once oppressed in England came to these shores and became the oppressors,” Spring said. “In fact, by the time the Constitution was being written we had established state religion in almost every colony.”

However, the Constitution was formulated “by a group of brilliant 18th Century enlightened thinkers who were not enmeshed in this kind of religious fundamentalism. Some had religious ideals, some did not,” Spring added.

“So most people are surprised to find that despite the deep history of Christian faith in the European immigrants to this country the Constitution really has little to say about religion. Within the document itself only Article Six explicitly mentions the subject and it says this: ‘No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.’”

In his brief remarks, Dr. Parrish asked those in the audience to see all sides of any historic discussions relative to Constitutional amendments, using the Second Amendment dealing with the right of the people to bear arms as an example.

“Whatever the issue . . . you can’t just focus on one part,” he said.

Among other matters, Posey spoke to the Constitution’s deep meaning in today’s society.

“We must never be too busy to pause and review the principles that should guide our public policies and state our liberties,” he said. “I believe the greatest inheritance that you will ever get is the freedom you enjoy in this country, the freedom that’s guaranteed by our Constitution.

“We give our government rights, our government does not give us rights. Our founders made it clear that our rights come from God. We give rights to our government. Our belief is that government derives its authority from the governed. In short, government serves the people, not the other way around. That’s what makes us Americans.”