During Pope Francis’ visit to the United States of America last week, he canonized Father Junipero Serra. This means that he proclaimed Father Serra a saint. For most Americans, this brings up many questions. What is a saint? Who was Father Serra? Why is there a controversy surrounding Father Serra? What does Father Serra have to do with American history? To understand American history it is necessary to understand Father Serra.
A Quick History of Sainthood
In Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, someone who lives in Christ and is believed in Heaven is considered a saint. But those believed worthy of greater honor or emulation are proclaimed a saint. This practice began immediately after the crucifixion of Christ. In the first centuries, early Christian spread the word of Christ by speaking to others. The Roman Empire persecuted Christians, martyring many. A martyr is someone who died for his faith. Early Christians began referring to those martyred as saints. For example, all early Christians referred to the Apostles as saints, such as Saint Peter, who Christians believe to have been crucified upside down.
The first person to have been officially declared a saint was in 993, when Pope John XV proclaimed Bishop Ulrich of Augsburg a saint, along with Polish martyrs. In 1234, the Catholic Church adopted a formal canonization process.
Who Was Father Serra?
Last week, Father Serra became the United States’ first Hispanic saint. He lived in 18th century Spain and became a priest. Father Serra joined the Franciscans, a medieval religious order, and promised a life of poverty. For many years, Father Serra’s life consisted of prayer, singing, physical labor, spiritual readings and instruction. Serra became a professor, and was known for being a great teacher. Giving up a comfortable life at the university, Serra volunteered to go to the new land to establish missions in California.
Father Serra established the first nine of 21 missions in California, which stretch from San Diego to Sonoma. Serra Christianized thousands of Indians, and the Spanish taught them how to farm, raise livestock, make soap, weave clothes, and how to survive in the new Spanish economy. Until about thirty years ago, no one questioned the accomplishments of Father Serra.
Some think Serra’s accomplishments were actually tragedies for the native peoples of California and that Serra should not be honored. Serra and the Spanish carried diseases the Indians did not have, and because of the Europeans, historians think 90% of the Indians died. Some even claim this is proof of genocide. Also, once the Indians joined a mission, they were never allowed to leave. The missionaries used the military to force Indians to stay. Some argue that the Indians were physically punished for not following the rules, but, Spanish were also physically punished for the same reasons.
There are many reasons these arguments against Serra are not strong. One, the Spanish did not know they carried diseases that would hurt the Indians. The word genocide means when a country as a policy tries to murder a people. There was no Spanish policy of genocide. Also, no Indian was forced to convert to Christianity and become part of the mission, and, there is no evidence Serra ever hurt an Indian. In Europe in the 1700s, serfs were not allowed to leave the land they worked on. The Spanish mentality of the 1700s was the same as every European in the medieval ages. Because of this, any Indian who ran away from the mission, was forced back by the Spanish soldiers. This was not a policy of Father Serra, but it was Spanish law.
American History and Father Serra
Father Serra is important for the history of California and also for the United States of America. During the American Revolution, a group of untrained farmers fought and beat the strongest army and navy in the world. Their military leader was George Washington, and he led the Continental Army in beating the British and establishing the United States of America. In 1777, Father Serra had all of the California missions collect money and he sent $137 to General Washington.
Every state chooses two people from their state to honor by placing their statue in the U.S. Capitol. Since, Father Serra’s statue is one of two from California that are located at the U.S. Capitol (the other is Ronald Reagan). He has been traditionally recognized as one of California’s most important citizens. On his visit to America, Pope Francis visited this statue and said of Serra, “tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected.” He said that relations between European and natives “were often turbulent and violent,” but “it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present.”
1. Who was Father Serra?
2. What did Pope Francis do regarding Father Serra las week?
3. What is the controversy surrounding Father Serra based on?
4. How is Father Serra tied to California and American history?
5. What is your opinion of Father Serra? Was he a great man? Was he an oppressor of Indians?
Pope Francis Visits Cuba and The United States of America
From September 19th until September 27th, Pope Francis will be visiting Cuba and the United States of America. For many reasons, his visit to these two nations is historic and perhaps controversial.
Who is the Pope?
The Pope is not just a person, but is called the Vicar of Christ for over 1.2 billion Catholics (that’s 1,200,000,000 people). The word “vicar” means earthly representative of God or Christ. Catholics believe that when Jesus Christ walked the earth, he chose a leader to guide Christians after he was to be crucified. Catholics refer to Bible passages to support this view, including Mathew 16:18. After Peter died, early Christians chose a new leader. Pope Francis is the 266th Pope in the history of the Church. When the Pope speaks, he speaks not only for himself, but for all Catholics of the world.
There are 801 million (that’s 801,000,000 people) Christians in the world today who do not believe the Pope is the leader of the Christian people. In 1053, within the Christian Church, there was a schism. A schism means a separation. The Christian Church divided in two, between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church did not accept the idea that the Pope was leader of the Christians on Earth. Then, in 1527, Martin Luther separated from the Roman Catholic Church, forming the Lutheran Church. This was the beginning of the Reformation. After this separation was made, hundreds of other Christian religions separated from either the Lutheran Church or the Roman Catholic Church. Faiths that separated from the Catholic Church do not hold that the Pope is leader of the world’s Christians.
The Pope and Cuba
Since 1959, people of religious faith have been persecuted on Cuba. Fidel Castro installed a Communist government in Cuba, and Communist countries outlaw religious belief. Christians have been oppressed, tortured and executed on Cuba since this time. However, in recent years, the Communist regime of Castro may be softening its stance towards religion. Pope Francis has worked to bring greater freedom to the religious people of Cuba. He brokered the deal between the United States of America and Cuba that improved diplomatic relations between the two countries. Raul Castro, the current Communist dictator of Cuba, will attend all three Masses the Pope will celebrate, and the dictator has said he may go back to the Church.
The Pope and the United States of America
Pope Francis will be in the United States of America from September 22nd until September 27th. His visit marks a few “firsts.” For the first time in history a Pope will address all members of Congress. This will take place 10:00 a.m. EST. Pope Francis will also canonize the first Spanish-American saint of North America, proclaiming Father Junipero Serra a saint on September 23rd at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Both events are marked with great interest and some controversy.
The Pope and the U.S. Congress
Many are waiting with keen interest to listen to what Pope Francis will say to the U.S. Congress. The Pope has made statements that seem very critical of free market principles, which is favored by the Republican Party. He also has written and spoken about global warming, which is a favored topic of Democrats. On the other hand, he has confirmed the Catholic Church’s stand against abortion, which is a procedure nearly all Democrats believe to be a right of women. And, he has spoken against euthanasia, which more Democrats support.
The Church and Father Junipero Serra
The Catholic Church proclaims a person to have been a saint if he or she lived an exemplary life for Christ, and, if two miracles can be attributed to this person after he or she has died. For example, if a believer asks a person he believes to be in heaven to pray for him, and the believer is healed of an incurable disease, the Church believes this may be a miracle. During his visit to the U.S.A., Pope Francis will be proclaiming Father Junipero Serra a saint.
Father Junipero Serra is somewhat of a controversial figure. Father Serra was a Spanish Franciscan priest who founded nine of California’s 21 missions from 1769 to 1782. Because of Serra, thousands of native Americans learned about Christ, were baptized, and learned trades that would help them in the new economy the Spanish brought with them when Spain colonized California. Once baptized, the Indians were not allowed to leave the missions, and when they broke laws or Church rules, Indians were physically punished, as was the custom in medieval Europe. On one hand, Father Serra is revered as a Christian who gave up worldly comfort to teach about Christ in a new land, but on the other hand, some believe he mistreated the Indians and should not be exalted.
1. What is the Catholic view of who the Pope is?
2. What happened in the year 1053?
3. What happened in the year 1527?
4. Since 1959, who has been in control of Cuba and how does this group treat believers in God?
5. What are the two different views of Father Serra?
On Friday, August 28th, three Americans on vacation, an American living in France, a Frenchman, and a Briton stopped Moroccan Ayoub El-Khazzani from attacking 554 passengers as they travelled from Amsterdam to Paris. El-Khazzani was equipped with multiple weapons full of ammunition and appeared ready to commit mass murder. French President Francois Hollande awarded the three Americans – Airman First Class Spencer Stone, 23; Alek Scarlatos, 22, a specialist in the Oregon National Guard; and their friend Anthony Sadler, 23 - and the Briton with the Legion of Honor, the highest award given by the country of France. The heroes were praised throughout France and Europe for stopping an attack that was believed to be motivated by Islamic terrorism. “Your heroism must be an example for many and a source of inspiration,” Mr. Hollande added. “Faced with the evil of terrorism, there is a good, that of humanity. You are the incarnation of that.”
Without the quick thinking and acting of the American tourists, the Moroccan would most likely have killed and wounded scores of people. El-Khazzani emerged from the restroom on the train shirtless, with an AK-47 and other weapons. A Frenchman tackled the attacker, who shot his gun. Upon hearing the gunshot, Spencer Stone awoke his sleeping friends. The three Americans ran towards the gunman, took him to the ground, and with the help of the Briton, tied up the attacker. Stone then went to the injured man the attacker had shot in the neck, put his fingers into the bullet wounds, stopped the bleeding, and stayed there until the train arrived at the next stop and emergency professionals could take over treatment.
Speaking of the three Americans, U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley said, "When most of us would run away, Spencer, Alek and Anthony ran into the line of fire, saying 'Let's go.' Those words changed the fate of many."
American hero Anthony Sadler was asked if he had any advice to give someone in a similar situation.
"Do something," he said. "Hiding, or sitting back, is not going to accomplish anything. And the gunman would've been successful if my friend Spencer had not gotten up. So I just want that lesson to be learned going forward, in times of, like, terror like that, please do something. Don't just stand by and watch."
1. What happened on a train from Amsterdam to Paris?
2. Who was the attacker?
3. Why is it believed he wanted to harm people?
4. Who were the three Americans honored by French President Hollande?
5. Do you think it was just coincidence that it was three Americans who saved everybody on the train, or are Americans more able to perform acts of heroism than others?
Since July, 2015, The Center for Medical Progress has released six You Tube videos of Planned Parenthood doctors and staff discussing the sale of aborted fetuses and body parts of aborted fetuses. These discussions have involved Planned Parenthood personnel trying to get the highest price for the body parts. Under federal law, it is unlawful to profit from the sale of aborted fetuses or body parts of fetuses, such as lungs, hearts, etc. Representatives from The Center for Medical Progress argue that the videos show that Planned Parenthood is in the business of making a profit of selling aborted fetuses. Planned Parenthood claims that the videos are edited to present falsehoods, and that no illegal activity is taking place. At least nine states Attorneys General and members of Congress have begun investigation into the allegations against Planned Parenthood. Because Planned Parenthood receives hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money, the controversy involves morals, ethics, and government.
Planned Parenthood was co-founded by Margaret Sanger in the early 1900s as “American Birth Control League.” Ms. Sanger believed in selective breeding, the idea to make a better human race by preventing reproduction of the ‘unfit’. Sanger believed the unfit were people of color, racial minorities, and those who were not performing well in society economically. When Margaret Sanger began her work, abortion was illegal in most states. And, all major Christian Churches banned the use of artificial contraceptives. Margaret Sanger wanted people, especially non-whites, to use artificial contraception, and to have abortions.
In the early 1900s, the great majority of Christians believed that only God should have ultimate control over whether a married couple has children. From its beginning, Christianity was against artificial contraception and abortion. 1500 years of this tradition was continued by the great Reformer Martin Luther. Luther wrote, that this “inhuman attitude, which is worse than barbarous,” was found chiefly among the well born, “the nobility and princes.” Luther:
How great, therefore, the wickedness of [fallen] human nature is! How many girls there are who prevent conception and kill and expel tender fetuses, although procreation is the work of God! Indeed, some spouses who marry and live together…have various ends in mind, but rarely children.
In the 1900s, major Christian Churches turned from the teachings of traditional Christianity regarding procreation. In 1930, the Anglican Church voted to approve the use of artificial contraception at the Lambeth Conference. Very soon after, nearly all Christian churches in America changed their stance on contraception, as well. Over time, American society changed its stance not only on contraception, but abortion, as well. Children became to be seen as burdens, and parents were urged to be “responsible” in taking over the decision to have children.
Over time, more states approved the use of contraception and abortion. In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that abortion was a constitutionally protected right. (see article below). Since 1973, it is estimated that over 56,000,000 abortions have taken place in the United States, and today, American doctors perform 3,000 abortions every day. The largest abortion provider in the country is Planned Parenthood (PP). PP is responsible for 1 in every 3 abortions. It performed over 330,000 abortions in 2014. Proceeds from abortion account for 50% of PP health services revenue. The U.S. federal government gives hundreds of millions of dollars every year to Planned Parenthood. In 2013, PP received $540.6 million (45% of its revenue) from the U.S. government, for health services.
In August, the U.S. Senate voted whether the U.S. government will defund Planned Parenthood. According to Senate rules, at least 60 Senators had to approve to begin discussion on the bill. The vote was 53-46, in favor of beginning of discussion. This means that the bill to defund PP failed. Voting yes were 2 Democrats and 51 Republicans. Voting no were 42 Democrats, 2 Republicans and 2 independents.
1. What did the Center for Medical Progress released regarding Planned Parenthood?
2. What does the Center for Medical Progress claim PP is doing illegally?
3. What is Planned Parenthood’s response to the Center for Medical Progress?
4. Who was the original founder of Planned Parenthood and what did she want?
5. What was the position of every Christian church on contraception and abortion before the 1900s?
1. Five-Minute Video on the Morality of Abortion from Prager University
2. History of Contraception in the Protestant Church: http://bound4life.com/history-of-contraception-in-the-protestant-church/
3. Center for Medical Progress: http://www.centerformedicalprogress.org/
Planned Parenthood: http://plannedparenthood.org/
Recently, the United States Supreme Court heard a court case involving homosexual marriage. There are many questions involved in the topic of homosexual marriage and legality. Do voters in individual states have the power to choose representatives who will decide the issue, or does the U.S. Constitution demand homosexual marriage (or same-sex marriage) be allowed? Is marriage a state or a federal governmental power? Is this an issue to be decided by voters or by the courts? Other issues involve morality. Is homosexuality wrong? Can a society create a legal system that reflects its moral beliefs, even when it goes against the moral beliefs of others in society? Because homosexual marriage touches so many issues, this short article will focus on the development of human understanding of morality, and how these have influenced law and marriage.
Polytheism and Moral Relativity in the Ancient World
One of the beliefs of nearly all ancient peoples was that the world was created and ruled by many gods. There was a god for the wind, a god for the ocean, a god for the rain. People who believed in many gods are called polytheists. Polytheists believed that if you wanted something, you could make a sacrifice to a god, and this god would then give it to you. If you wanted it to rain, you might kill an animal and burn it to make the rain god happy. Sadly, some polytheists sacrificed other humans, even children, to their gods. Human sacrifice happened on every continent in the ancient world.
Polytheists did not believe that there was a clear right and wrong for everyone. Since there were many gods, and sometimes the gods would compete with each other, what was right depended many times on what the ruler said was right. In Egypt, in ancient Africa, the leader was called pharaoh, and all Egyptians had to consider pharaoh a god. For the pharaoh, right was whatever made him strong. This meant that if the pharaoh believed killing someone made him strong, it was right. What was moral, right and wrong, was relative to the Egyptians. It depended on the person making the judgment what was considered right and wrong.
The Hebrews, Monotheism, and Morality
The Hebrews are considered the moral founders of western civilization. Western civilization refers to civilizations that have shared ideas and beliefs such as the idea that there is one God, that all people are created equal, and that all people should be treated equally by the law. Hebrews were the world’s first monotheists, which means they believed in only one God.
The Hebrews believed in morality, the idea that there is a right and wrong for all people. Hebrews taught that all people lived under God’s creation and were ruled by the same truth. We can also call this a moral order. Sometime around 1300 B.C., Hebrews believe God gave the Hebrews a set of laws to live by. Called the Mosaic Law, it is one of the first set of written laws that deals with relationships, placing importance on respecting parents and helping those in need. In the Mosaic Law, right and wrong is not a matter of feelings and emotions, but of justice and goodness.
Western Civilization, Morality, and Homosexual Marriage
Homosexual marriage was forbidden in all countries of the world from the beginning of civilization to 2001. In both the polytheistic and monotheistic societies, there was no such thing as homosexual marriage. However, in 2001, the Netherlands legalized homosexual marriage, and, Ireland recently legalized it, as well. Many in the United States of America and in countries of Europe are arguing that homosexuals should be allowed to marry. Their main arguments are, “If two people love each other, why shouldn’t they be allowed to marry?” and, “Who are we to tell someone that homosexual marriage is wrong, if that is the way they feel?”
The movement away from a society based on morality, justice, and goodness, to one based on individual and relative emotions and feeling marks a monumental change in how polytheistic and monotheistic civilizations have understood what is right and what is wrong. There is no historical precedence for it, and there are many problems that arise out of this understanding of what is good for society. Will polygamy be possible, if three or more people want to marry each other? Will children in schools have to be taught that homosexual marriage is healthy for individuals and society? If two people feel it is alright to murder each other, does this make it right? What happens when we base a society on individual feelings and emotions?
1. How did polytheistic societies determine what was right and wrong?
2. How did the Hebrews determine what is right and wrong?
3. What are two reasons proponents of homosexual marriage give to support legalizing homosexual marriage?
4. Before 2001, which society of the world legalized homosexual marriage?
5. Why do you think many Americans believe homosexual marriage should be legalized?
On March 10, 2010, President Obama signed a bill into law which greatly altered how health insurance is designed, bought, and sold. The law is titled “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” but is also known as Obamacare, because President Obama greatly favors the bill and because the President has endorsed this name. Recently, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that may be the end of this new law. The case, King v. Burwell, focuses on the source of subsidies that many receive who are insured under the new law. The court case touches on the constitutional issues of how laws are implemented, the meaning of words, and the separation of powers between the executive branch and the legislative branch.
Insurance is a funny product. The buyer purchases it with the hopes he will never use it, or at least hoping he won’t use it too much. The insurance company selling it makes a bet that the buyer will also not use too much of the insurance, and determines the price of it depending on the person’s age and health. So health insurance is a product bought and sold by people who hope the user will not really use it.
In the U.S.A., from 1789-2010, the U.S. government had stayed out of forcing an American to buy something. Nowhere in the Constitution is it written that the government has the power to force someone to purchase a product. This is because the American Founding Fathers believed in the free market and that the American government should be limited in its power. Obamacare changed the relationship between Americans and their government. Obamacare established the precedent that the government can compel its citizens to purchase products that the government decides is good for them.
In the U.S. government, there are three separate branches, each with its own powers. American founding fathers established the government this way so that not one branch would become too powerful. The executive branch (President) is to carry out the law, the legislative branch (Congress) is to write the law, and the judicial branch (Supreme Court and all federal courts) is to decide the legality of the law.
In the court case, King v. Burwell, plaintiffs argue that the Obama administration is not following the law, but is instead changing the law and thus, acting like the lawmaker, Congress. The defense argues that the Obama administration is correctly acting within its powers of the executive branch, and is merely interpreting the law so that it makes sense and works. Does the law mean what is written, or does it mean what the President says it means? This is one of the questions the Supreme Court justices are deciding.
At issue is how Americans receive subsidies to help pay for their health insurance. As the law is written, only citizens in states that set up their own exchanges, or markets, will receive subsidies. A chief architect of the law, Jonathan Gruber, was videotaped multiple times explaining that the Obama administration wrote the law this way to force states to set up their own exchanges, and that whichever state did not set up the exchange, would risk having their citizens not receive subsidies. Obama, however, is currently directing the federal government to offer subsidies to citizens of over 30 states, because these states decided not to set up the exchanges. These states argue that the Obama administration is taking power illegally, creating a federal government that is taking over the rights of the state governments.
It is believed the Supreme Court will issue its ruling on King v Burwell in June. If the Supreme Court decides the Obama administration is acting unconstitutionally, the federal government will cease offering subsidies to citizens in those states that chose to not have state exchanges, and the words of a law will determine its meaning. If the Supreme Court decides in favor of the Obama administration, it will mean Obamacare will continue as it is, and most likely, that whoever is the Presidents receives great freedom in determining what a law means, even if it means going against the meaning of the words used in creating the law.
1. What is Obamacare?
2. What is King v. Burwell?
3. What is the argument in King v. Burwell?
4. How is this a Constitutional issue?
5. How do you think the Supreme Court justices should decide? Explain your answer.
On January 22, 2015, from tens of thousands to 200,000 mainly young people marched in Washington, D.C. to demand the end of abortion in the United States of America. It was the 42nd anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade that mandated legal abortion nationwide. The pro-life march, which happens every year, was not covered by the major news networks, NBC, ABC, CBS, even though it is an annual event that draws large numbers of people. The history of abortion rights in the United States is one of deception and racism.
Before 1973, the legal issue of abortion was an issue that was determined by each state. When the American Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, they included the first ten amendments, which are explicit (stated in writing) guarantees of rights for the people and to the states. The framers of the Constitution did not want the U.S. federal government to become too powerful, as they believed Great Britain’s king was. The tenth amendment reserves all power that is not explicitly granted to the federal government to the states and the people. There is no power in the Constitution that refers to medicine or health. It is because of this, that from 1789 to 1973, health was considered a power that was specifically a state issue.
The Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade (1973) changed the relationship between Americans, their health, and the federal government. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court justices created a right to privacy that had not before existed and is not found in the Constitution, claiming that a woman had the right to end her pregnancy with an abortion, because she had a right to privacy. The justices argued that since Congress had not yet declared when human life begins, the unborn does not yet enjoy the right to life. The justices ordered that in every state, abortion would be legal. From then on, issues of health became a federal issue.
Jane Roe, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade (1973), was really Norma McCorvey. The court called her Jane Roe to hide her identity. Ms. McCorvey had a challenging childhood and great difficulties in the first part of her life. In 1970, she was pregnant and was not married. Under Texas law, a person could not have an abortion unless they were raped. Ms. McCorvey went to two lawyers, who had been seeking a pregnant woman who wanted an abortion to challenge the Texas law, and worked with them to file a lawsuit against the state of Texas. In the lawsuit, the lawyers argued that “Jane Roe” had been gang raped, and that the Texas law against abortion hurt women. Ms. McCorvey gave birth to a baby, who was adopted. The case went to the Supreme Court, however, and the lawyers won, making abortion legal throughout the U.S.A.
Ms. McCorvey worked in an abortion clinic for years, but eventually, she converted to Christianity. In 1995 McCorvey was baptized by evangelical minister Filip Benham in a Texas swimming pool filmed for national television. She became a vocal proponent in the pro-life movement and joined the Roman Catholic Church. In her book, Won by Love, she writes, “Abortion wasn't about 'products of conception'. It wasn't about 'missed periods'. It was about children being killed in their mother's wombs. All those years I was wrong.”
Since 1973, it is estimated that over 56,000,000 abortions have taken place in the United States, and today, American doctors perform 3,000 abortions every day. The largest abortion provider in the country is Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood was started by Margaret Sanger in the early 1900s as “American Birth Control League”. Ms. Sanger believed in selective breeding, the idea to make a better human race by preventing reproduction of the ‘unfit’. Sanger believed the unfit were people of color, racial minorities, and those who were not performing well in society economically. The U.S. federal government gives hundreds of millions of dollars every year to Planned Parenthood. In 2013, it received $540.6 million (45% of its revenue) from the U.S. government, for health services.
The March for Life that takes place in Washington, D.C., is an attempt to bring to light the truth behind abortion in the United States of America, and, to shed light on the abortion industry. Most Americans do not know the history of Planned Parenthood or the large amounts of money that taxpayers give to this industry.
1. What happens every year in January in Washington, D.C.?
2. Why does it take place in January?
3. What court case made abortion a mandated legal right?
4. Who started Planned Parenthood and what did she believe in?
5. Why do you think the major news networks do not cover this massive march?
Immigration to America surged in the second half of the 1800s. This “immigration wave” led the U.S. to organize a system to process all the people in a systematic way that was viewed as most beneficial way for America, and, to limit the influx of people.
In 1882, the U.S. government passed two pieces of major legislation regarding immigration. One was the Chinese Exclusion Act. The other was the Immigration Act of 1882. The Chinese Exclusion Act forbade Chinese to move to the U.S. The U.S. did this because it believed Chinese would not assimilate into American culture and because Americans feared Chinese were taking jobs. There was no such restriction for Europeans. The Immigration Act of 1882 set up a federal bureaucracy to handle the mass immigration from Europe of the 1880s. Immigrants entering the country by ship had to pay a tax. Any person unable to care for himself, with a criminal record, or with a mental of physical issue could be denied entry. From 1892-1954, many immigrants arrived through Ellis Island in New York, where U.S. officials accepted or rejected the applicants.
Mass immigration to America continued in the first decade of the 1900s but dropped dramatically after. This was due to three causes: World War I, American desire to allow entry only to those who support a free republic, and racial prejudices.
1. World War I, 1914-1917, made it difficult for people to immigrate to America because of all the personal hardships and duties of citizens at war. In addition, World War I was started by a Serbian anarchist and Americans didn’t want to admit any dangerous individuals.
2. In 1901, anarchist Leon Czolgosz assassinated President McKinley. Czolgosz was a Polish-American and Catholic whose parents had emigrated from Eastern Europe. McKinley’s murder made it obvious that some immigrants had the potential to harm the country. Because Czolgosz was of Polish and Catholic background and the majority of Americans were Protestant English, French, or German, Americans wanted to limit people from eastern and southern Europe. Also, America’s immigration policies were meant to keep out communists, who had pledged to destroy the United States.
3. The eugenics movement of the early 1900s promoted the idea that Americans of English, French, and northern German origin were genetically and socially superior than the rest of the world. Leaders in academia supported this idea. The Immigration Restriction League, comprised of presidents of Harvard, Wharton, and Stanford, believed in the idea of eugenics.
The Immigration Act of 1924, the National Origins Act, and the Asian Exclusion Act placed restrictions on the number of immigrants allowed to enter the U.S.A. based on their country of origin. Americans believed their country would be stronger if its population was from similar cultures and that people from certain ethnic and religious groups were genetically or socially inferior to others. The number of immigrants allowed to enter into the country was limited to 2% of foreign-born residents from a particular country in the 1890 census. In 1929, this was changed so that the total immigration from any one country could be 150,000, based on a percentage of a country’s representation of the U.S. population in 1920. During this time, illegal immigration to America increased.
In the second half of the 1900s, two changes regarding immigration to America greatly influenced immigration.
Under the Bracero Program, Mexican citizens were allowed to come and work temporarily. When this program ended in 1964, Mexicans began coming illegally to the United States in every-increasing numbers. The number of Mexicans and Latin Americans living illegally in the United States is estimated at somewhere over 11 million.
In 1965, the United States abolished the nation of origin restrictions in the Hart-Celler Act, opening up immigration to America base on kinship ties, refugee status, and needed skills. This law dramatically changed the number and origion of people immigrating to the U.S. And, as the Vietnamese War ended, many war refugees fled the communists and moved to America, where the immigrants were received as refugees.
On September 11, 2001, terrorists from Asia (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Lebanon) hijacked American planes and crash-landed them into the World Trade Center towers in New York city, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and in a field in Pennsylvania. The terrorists had entered the United States legally. The United States began a war on terror that we are currently in. Because of the threat of terrorism, many Americans are worried that there is a grave threat to the United States from legal and illegal immigration to the country.
Illegal immigration has continued from America’s southern borders in great numbers. Because the United States government has not done enough to secure the southern border, various states have tried to implement federal law. To fight a state attempting to follow the law, the Obama administration has sued Arizona for trying to implement federal law regarding immigration.
Questions to Discuss:
1. Is it correct for the United States to limit immigration? Why do you think this?
2. Does the fight with terrorists affect how the U.S.A. should legislate immigration control?
3. What should the U.S. do with its illegal immigrants?
The first-known case of Ebola on American soil was reported in late September in Texas. Liberian national Thomas Duncan contracted the Ebola disease when he was visiting Liberia and brought it to America. Ebola is an often fatal infectious disease that originated in Africa in animals. It spreads to humans when there is bodily contact, such as from eating an animal that has the disease. In humans, it spreads when there is contact between blood, secretions, bodily fluids of infected people, and when there is contact with surfaces and materials contaminated with these fluids. Symptoms of Ebola first resemble the flu but increase with severity over time. There is no vaccine against Ebola. Ebola was first known in 1976. Currently, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the worst ever, killing approximately 4,000 people.
Duncan helped people who had the disease, and then flew to the United States, taking at least three planes. He flew to Brussels, then to Washington, and then to Dallas. Reportedly, he told airport screeners that he had not been in contact with people infected with Ebola. After flying to Dallas, Duncan went to a hospital in Dallas with symptoms of fever. The doctors checked him, prescribed him antibiotics, and sent him home. A few days later, he returned in an ambulance. It was then he was diagnosed with Ebola.
Duncan lived with his partner, her son, and her two nephews. They are still in the apartment. The boys who had contact with Duncan went to school after he had been diagnosed with Ebola. School officials then sent the boys home.
Some countries, like Britain and France, have refused entry from those travelling from countries where there is an Ebola outbreak. The United States, however, has not done this. In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proposed new rules to keep infectious diseases out of the United States. These rules involved the forced quarantine of travelers who exhibited symptoms of serious diseases while en route to the United States. In 2009, the Obama administration scrapped the rules, after groups like the ACLU complained the rules were discriminatory.
In mid-September, President Obama said, “The chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low. We've been taking the necessary precautions, including working with countries in West Africa to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus doesn't get on a plane for the United States. In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we've taken new measures so that we are prepared here at home.” Within two weeks, the first Ebola case in the United States was reported.
The apartment Duncan lived in went for at least one week from being sanitized after Duncan was admitted to the hospital. Disagreement between two federal bureaucracies how to handle the items within the apartment caused the delay. One bureau, the Center for Disease and Control, considered the items medical waste. A second bureau, the Department of Transportation, thought the waste was illegal to transport. Until this was resolved, no sanitation could happen of the apartment. Meanwhile, Duncan’s partner, her son, and two nephews are quarantined in the apartment.
1. Based on Duncan’s travelling, and the activities of those he lived with, about how many people do you think came into contact with him while he had the virus, before he was admitted to the hospital?
2. What are a few simple things everyone can do to ward off sickness?
3. Do you think the U.S. should ban travel from countries where there are Ebola outbreaks?
John De Gree
John De Gree writes the current events with a look at the history of each topic. Articles are written for the young person, aged 10-18, and Mr. De Gree carefully writes so that all readers can understand the event. The perspective the current events are written in is Judeo-Christian.
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