Lately it has become fashionable for political figures to claim that the US of A is somehow a “Christian nation”. Some have taken quotes out of context and just made up outlandish spin and lies to try to sell the normalization of integrating Christianity and the US Government. Glenn Beck just spent 8 months pumping us up for his “Restoring Honor” rally which was nothing less than a rewrite of American history, the claim that God is instructing him to make all the political noise he makes, and that the only way we’re going to “restore honor” is to buy into some surrender of our Constitutionally-guaranteed right to practice or not practice whatever religion we choose.
The country’s founders were NOT all Christian. This is a lie, nothing more, nothing less. Sure, there were some Christians in there, and I’m not going to pretend that there weren’t. But the idea that God-fearing, cross-loving Bible-thumpers made up the majority of this country’s founders is a complete fabrication. In fact, the sheer amount of quotes from numerous founders on the evils of Christianity and Christians in general could fill an entire site of their own.
The founders were not particularly diverse, I’ll admit. White men made up the bread and butter of just about every major western political establishment back then, and in fact they still do today. But that does not mean that they were all good Protestants or something of the like. Their every so slightly diverse religious foundation included (but was not limited to) representatives of Christianity, deism, and most importantly, atheism.
Thomas Jefferson, Deist and Unitarian
Thomas Jefferson, in particular, was an outspoken opponent of religion interfering in government. Any time somebody throws a zealous quotation at me from some 18th century American that is famous for no apparent reason, I cordially cite the accurate and enlightening words of our third president. Jefferson was SO adamant in his beliefs against orthodox religion, that he faced quite a bit of opposition during his bid to become president.
Can you imagine if Thomas Jefferson tried to run again for president today? He wouldn’t even get past local procedures, unless perhaps he was in Portland. CHRISTIANS HAVE HIJACKED AMERICA. They have bred like rabbits (the proper term for 19 kids is ‘freakish’), and are LYING to and INDOCTRINATING their poor offspring so fast that they can’t tell Santa Claus from Jesus Christ. And now they are editing history to suit their twisted purposes. How could the followers of Christ be so un-Christlike? Alas, my musings on the supposed rich-loving gun-nut Jesus will have to wait for a later post.
John Adams: Unitarian
“I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved–the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!” — John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson
John Adams, Thomas Jefferson’s predecessor, served as the 2nd president of the United States of America. Imagine that – two presidents in a row so eager to bash Christians. These men are universally respected Founders of our country, the authors of the rights that we all enjoy, arbiters of freedom and justice. And they were outspoken opponents of Christianity. The simplistic idea that these men tried to ingrain Christianity into society, that they wanted a Christian nation, is ignorant to the point of stupidity.
1797 Barbary treaty, signed by President Adams: ‘As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen-’
And here we have it again. Straight from the mouth of not only a president, but a revolutionary and a Founding Father. Sure, we might have honorable and brilliant presidents such as George Bush that make comments to the contrary (some might say they’re ‘nucular’), but this man, President Adams, was far ahead in IQ, honor, and of course had a huge influence on and knowledge of the Constitution. The gall of all the rabid evangelicals that seem to think we were founded for and by Christians is simply beyond me.
But proof of history being re-written by the victor currently resides in the public schools of Texas. The latest addition to the long and groan-inducing line of edits to the Texas school curriculum involves the complete erasure of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, from history, and his replacement with such figures as Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. This would have made the Founders cringe. The separation of church and state being so heavily blurred as to be downright confusing. Every day, the very people that claim to want to go back to our founding principles are taking us farther and farther from them.
With so many groups such as the OathKeepers and TeaBaggers saying they want to “return to Constitutional principals”, people really can’t help but get confused. But exactly what form of the Constitution are they suggesting we return to? If we go back to the original version (no amendments), slavery would be legally permissible and free speech would not be protected. If we reverse all the amendments subsequent to the Bill of Rights, then only white men could vote. You see, secularism has been ingrained in America for so long and in such a way that erasing it bears little difference to re-legalizing slavery, or denying women the right to vote. Our Founders viewed this separation as something extremely important, and we can see that in every facet of their political lives; and in how quick they were to in fact change their country’s Constitution just so they could include this one tidbit.
James Madison, later to become 4th President of the US, wrote the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution known as the Bill of Rights. There was a lot of process to be determined by Congress since this was new; nobody had ever “amended” the Constitution before. There were many political squabbles going on regarding dozens of proposed amendments, and some in Congress held the view that there was no need to do anything at all. Nonetheless, the work on the Bill of Rights was done in about 3 months, completed on September 25, 1791, and signed 3 days later on September 28, 1791. The very first Amendment put it by the secular Congress led by Deist James Madison created what has become colloquially and legally referred to as the “wall of separation” between church and state.
Amendment 1 – Ratified 12/15/1791
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This, I think, is one of the most important parts of the entire constitution. Note both parts – Congress shall not make a law respecting an establishment of religion, but neither shall they make a law prohibiting the free exercise of such. Christianity, or any other religion, will not be recognized in a public fashion, nor held in higher regard than any other faith. However, no religion shall be oppressed or held back within the confines of the law, and this is why the Islamic mosque at Ground Zero is perfectly legal and acceptable. There is absolutely no difference, legally or dare I say rationally, between a mosque at Ground Zero and a Christian church near the pentagon. The constitution allows a church near any of the numerous sites that murder has been committed in the name of the Christian god. So why does it deny the right of a mosque to open near Ground Zero? Trick question: it doesn’t. Because of our separation of church and state, aside from zoning permits, law has little to say about the project.
Now let’s look at the former part. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” This one is my personal favorite. I like directly quoting this part when people tell me atheists and Muslims and Jews are destroying America. I like quoting this part when people tell me that this is a Christian nation. And I especially like quoting this part when people tell me there’s no problems putting up nativity scenes on government lawns.
Let’s take a closer look at this. Ten commandments on the court wall, nativity scene on the lawn. Well, believe me or not, I have absolutely no problem with this. No, I’m serious. In fact, I think it would be nice to see a nativity scene on many government lawns (though every may get tiresome). I just would love to see that little Arab baby Jesus, and those three ethnic wise men; and right next to them a menorah with a dreidel perched aside it; beside them, a pile of Buddhist sutras for Bodhi day. Perhaps a row back, we’d have a yule log for the Wiccans, a copy of the Avesta for Zartosht No-Diso, and of course a nice bowl of fettuccine for Holiday, the main holiday of Pastafarians (I personally hold a deep respect for FSM). You see, I have no problem with religious symbols all over the place. But they have to be equal. It can’t be a celebration of the birth of Jesus, or a gruesome depiction of his death. It should be all-inclusive. Are we going to have a birth scenario? Fine! Let’s show baby Jesus, baby Zoroaster, baby Anubis, and a pink unicorn foal to boot. A death scene? Great! Let’s show Jesus on the cross, Muhammad on his death bed, the fall of Odin at Ragnarok, and the deletion of Richard Dawkins’ scarlet letter “A”. This would not be respecting an establishment of religion. This would be celebrating culture and diversity, and I think that’s something every government should do.
The founders were extremely explicit about America being a safe haven for everyone of every religion to come and enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And instead, what’s happened? People disrespect our laws to come illegally. We’ve locked people up strictly based on ethnicity or religion. There’s talk of denying rights for one religion to compete with another. And every single commander in chief for the last 200 years has been, at least outwardly, a Christian. Why? Well, of course, there are a combination of factors, but it all comes down to the fact that Christians make up the huge majority of the United States’ presidential constituency. People do not care about all the issues anymore. People care about candidates themselves, and people care about a few small issues rather than the broader spectrum. I’ll admit that even I’m guilty of the latter, having denied support to President Obama (favoring Dennis Kucinich instead) during the 2008 primaries strictly due to his stance on gay marriage. But simply listen to the right’s favorite presidents, and you’ll see exactly where their priorities lie. Reagan? Nobody cares about Iran-Contra or any of the other crap that plagued his presidency. He was such a great speaker, and a good Christian to boot! Bush? Well of course now a lot of people go back and dis him, but it wasn’t the case five years ago. Back then he was a good Christian that knew God was on our side.
So maybe you’re asking, what should the role of religion be within government? Of course, the answer is obvious: none. The president should accept no spiritual advisers. Of course he must be allowed where he pleases in terms of church, but s/he must not take anything from there back into the White House. Similarly, the president should not invoke God in his speeches. Not only is it in violation of the separation of church and state, it shows great disrespect to the Americans that do not believe in God, or at least the one he’s talking about. Church committees should not be recognized like other committees (such as rights and environmental ones) are. They should not be recognized, at all.
Now I suppose I should address the idea that “America was founded upon the principles of Christianity.” Well, for a few points, I suppose this is true. America was founded with the Biblical gung-ho attitude towards slavery. America was founded with the Biblical ideal to treat women as second-class citizens. But I’m afraid that’s where I see the similarities end. You see, America was founded upon the principle of religious tolerance, and that’s really one of the main things that the entirety of the Bible preaches against. Now maybe somebody wants to bring up the fact that things like murder and thievery are against the law and are based on the Bible. No, they’re really not. Things like this (no murder, thievery etc.) are human principles. And they’ve been included as ideals of virtually every major religion that’s ever existed. And Christianity was very late to the religious game. No matter which way you stab at it, exclusively Christian ideals had absolutely no inclusion in our foundation. Long since the founders have died, we can see some Christian intolerance and dogma creeping in, and it’s a scary thing. But we must remember that they are not reclaiming America as a Christian nation, they are simply attempting to CLAIM America as a Christian nation.
“Christianity neither is, nor ever was part of the common law.” Yet again, facts are on the side of those evil progressives. Religion is creeping up on society, and we need to watch out for it and repel it. Chime in whenever you hear some comment about our “Christian” nation. Just as the religious attack on our nation is a work in progress, so will be this article. Comment below and let me know what you think, tell me how religion has affected your local government, and let me know what you think we can do to prevent people like Glenn Beck from hijacking the nation with their divine lies.