For History/Government Courses


The first leg of the trip to Washington will be spent in Harpers Ferry, Antietam, and Historic Colonial Williamsburg.

Harpers Ferry was the philosophical site of the outbreak of war between the North and South. The story of John Brown is a caricature of that event. The North and South were hopelessly divided (polarized) over the issue of slavery. A similar type of polarization exists today in the form of Red and Blue states. (Conservative and Progressive parties) Red states represent those states with more conservative thinking and Blue states those with more liberal thinking. It is recommended that students interested in this issue watch the current Republican debates to discern how intense the struggle is over States Rights v Federal Rights. In many of the Red states there may be a strong constituency of people known as Christocrats. Christocrats link religion and state with their moral agenda. The following is representative of much of the thinking in the Conservative party:

Pro- Life, (no abortion) America is a Christian nation,(Separation of Church and State is a myth) no stem cell research, elimination of Roe v Wade, the teaching of intelligent design, accept vouchers (public money) for private schools, Biblical inerrancy, Family values, the union of conservative politics and conservative religion, permanent control over major political, cultural, educational, medical and legal institutions, pro gun and 2nd amendment rights and no new taxes to solve the debt crisis.

The Blue states have a very different agenda: In general support for the Separation of Church and State, gun control, minimum wage laws, clean water, endangered species legislation, the maintenance of social security and social/medical programs, legal abortion (Roe v Wade), public education, the teaching of evolution, and Pluralism, strong support for the Unions, movement in the direction of a strong social agenda providing European style social benefits for all and more taxes for those who earn over $250,000.

The sensitive parts of this philosophical war are mostly underground and in public debates questions are seldom asked regarding the vital philosophical issues. Historically a central issue usually emerges which dominates the discussion currently it is the “Economy”. However, every politician understands that behind the central issue there is a political platform spoken or unspoken which he/she must in general adhere to. To understand how intense the war is and the real issues behind the current national polarization you may want to consider the information in the recently published book “The Baptizing of America” by Rabbi James Rudin.

Time might not allow you to consider all aspects of the differences between the Red and Blue states and all the polarizing issues so you and some of your friends might like to have a little fun. In class your teacher may wish to assign various chapters of Rabbi Rudin’s book to numerous members of the class for a 10 minute report each on various issues that interest the class. This is a fast way to accumulate a lot of information. You could also get a few of your friends together and do the same. First consider the events which divided the Union and sparked the Civil war at Harpers Ferry. Next you might like to pick the items out of each platform (Red/Blue) which you think are most harmful to the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution, Bill of Rights or “Natural Rights” which contribute to the current national polarization. You might like to sort out which issues you believe cause the most polarization and currently appear to be irreconcilable.

Pluralism and Dominionism are two concepts that define the core thinking in American Society today (Red/Blue). It will be helpful to understand how these concepts contribute to or diminish Freedom of Conscience and religion. You might try to discover (according to Rabbi Rudin) which emotional views drive the division between Red/Blue states? Is Pluralism or Dominionism obvious in any of the Presidential candidates or the political platforms? Finally, what solution would States Rights v Federal rights play in the solution of the divide (polarization)? Feel free to pick the issues which you feel are causing the greatest divide (polarization) in America and which affect freedom of conscience the most.

At “Freedom Classroom” we are pro-active and are always searching for solutions. As you write your essay plan to bring the discoveries you have made to “Freedom Classroom” in Washington D.C. We plan to have a lot of fun sorting out issues, searching for answers, as well as having a great social event while we exploring both the past and present.

The second leg of the Washington trip will be spent in D.C. area. Students will have the opportunity to visit the Congress, The Senate, visit their Congressman or Senator for a photo and ask freedom of conscience questions (If the legislature is in session) Visit the outstanding monuments, war memorials the General Conference and other historic sites. This segment of the trip will focus on 1st Amendment issues and be addressed by legal scholars and Attorneys.


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