Sunday, February 17, 2008

Is This a "Christian Nation"?

Grandpa McCain said so a while back -- "the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation", but immediately had to backpedal a bit to say we are "a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles".

And that's a corner that you can back a lot of Fundo Xians into when they start spouting that "Christian Nation" bullshit, but they tend to stop there, dig in their heels and insist that the United States was founded on "Christian principles" (ironically, as we shall see, they tend not to give the Jews a lot of credit in these things).

Usually when the subject comes up, it's within the Fundo-Xian snake-handling bible-thumping tradition that, for example, excoriates those liberal-atheistic-commie-pinko activist judges in the Federal courts for telling Judge Roy Moore that he couldn't display on public property that giant carved rock containing the Ten Commandments, or some such similar nonsense. And note that it's almost always some kind of rabid frothing at the mouth over the "suppression" of the Ten Commandments -- other bibilical topics get pretty short shrift with these people.

Okay, so maybe they have a point: Maybe the United States was founded on the Ten Commandments. I think an examination of the appropriate part of the so-called Holy Bible is in order. So here, complete and unexpurgated, is the section of Exodus wherein can be found the Big Ten:

Exodus 20
1 And God spake all these words, saying,
2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
13 Thou shalt not kill.
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15 Thou shalt not steal.
16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
And there you go. Now let's take a look at the US Constitution and see how many of these holy-writ directions from god ended up there.

Go ahead, read it. I'll still be here when you get back.

Okay, done? Now, what is your answer?

What??? None of them, you say??? But how can that be, if the Founding Fathers, the authors of the Constitution, founded this nation on Christian principles?

Okay, maybe the Fundos don't really mean the Constitution when they say that. Maybe they mean just those general laws passed to govern behavior in society. You know, state criminal codes and stuff like that.

I will concede that it appears that a handful of the commandments managed to make it into the laws: Murder, perjury, theft (and, in some jurisdictions, adultery). But those laws about murder and theft, etc., are not particularly biblical -- pretty much every civilized society in the history of the world has had similar laws, for obvious reasons: Without them a civilized society would deteriorate rapidly into anarchy or dictatorship. You don't need a supernatural revelation from The Flying Spaghetti Monster to figure that one out...

But back to the Big Ten. You really have to wonder why ALL of them didn't get into our laws. After all, if we were founded on these principles, why would only some of them make the cut? And why were the two "biggies" -- no other gods, no graven images -- kept out?

Oh, but that's the OLD Testament, you say, and the "true" Christian Principles are really found in the New Testament. (Even though we all know that's it's really the Old Testament that the vast majority of these Fundos are referring to when they talk about this -- they don't want to be bothered with the New Testament and all that "love thy neighbor as thyself" and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" crap. I think maybe it sounds too much like namby-pamby wimpy-assed nancy-boy socialism to them.).

Okay, so go grab yourself one of those nifty "red letter" editions of the New Testament and look up the words of Jesus. They're printed in red so they are easy to find. Then pop on back and tell me which of THOSE principles are incorporated into the Constitution.

Never mind, don't go to the extra trouble. You won't find 'em there, either.

So, regardless of the particular religion or the spiritual/supernatural beliefs (or lack thereof) of those Founding Fathers, not a single one of them insisted that those "Christian Principles" be enshrined in the most important secular document the world has ever seen.

Jeez, this isn't rocket surgery, but you'd more easily convince Rush Limbaugh to suck Hillary Clinton's toes than you would trying to make one of those Fundo-Xian knuckledraggers understand this stuff.

33 Comments:

pepsiholic said...

Hey Farns, I noticed you left out the declaration of independece. Why was that? Could it have something to do with:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Or how about :

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Now... you were saying?

pepsiholic said...

Lets see if George Washington thought God was important:

President George Washington
Presidential Thanksgiving Day
Proclamation
November 26, 1789

Nov 26, 1789
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint committee requested me to "recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many single favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the Service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. (Hey Farns, what's you interpetation of that statement?) That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks, for His kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the single and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, of the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have to acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humble offering our prayers and supplications to the Great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all people, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone know to be best.

Now Farns, you know I'm an athiest but al least I'm not drinking your flavor of kool aid trying to deny that religion had a big influence on our founding fathers and our country.

Our founding fathers created a National holiday - Thanksgiving JUST to give thanks to God.

commander other said...

pepsiholic seems to interpret words such as "Creator", "Divine Providence" and "Almighty God" as a requirement in a direct and exclusively belief in the Christian fundamentalist attribution of religion.

thanks for sharing your myopia, pepsiholic! these same Christians who founded our country also saw fit to ensure a distinct Separation of Church and State, providing equal protections under the law for persons of all Faiths and Creeds. that many of them did so as slaveholders merely underscores the inherent duplicity in their particular religious bent. at least, however, they were cognizant enough to setup a system whereby one particular religion wouldn't hold sway over others.

in other words, our Christian founding fathers didn't establish and inherently and exclusively Christian Nation. because they were smarter than that. i'm sure that they hope that you don't lay claim to any direct ancestry from them.

hey, OPOV, it's taken me forever, but i've been reading your works ever since the last Blogroll Against Theocracy endeavor (methinks we need to have another). i blogrolled you today at long last, and i hope that's okay.

keep up the good work.

pepsiholic said...

Commander,

There's a big difference between freedom of religion and freedom FROM religion like Farns wants.

The United States was formed because England and Europe had strict views on how religion should be and they brooked no intolerance.

Many of the British North American colonies that eventually formed the United States of America were settled in the seventeenth century by men and women, who, in the face of European persecution, refused to compromise passionately held religious convictions and fled Europe. The New England colonies, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland were conceived and established "as plantations of religion." Some settlers who arrived in these areas came for secular motives--"to catch fish" as one New Englander put it--but the great majority left Europe to worship God in the way they believed to be correct. They enthusiastically supported the efforts of their leaders to create "a city on a hill" or a "holy experiment," whose success would prove that God's plan for his churches could be successfully realized in the American wilderness. Even colonies like Virginia, which were planned as commercial ventures, were led by entrepreneurs who considered themselves "militant Protestants" and who worked diligently to promote the prosperity of the church. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel01.html

What our founding fathers DIDN'T want was one specific religion (Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, Baptist) to be elevated over any other. That is what they meant by freedom of religion.

So no matter what Farns says, the founders wanted a Christian Nation. They just didn't want a church run government.

Farnsworth68 said...

Thanks for the link, CO. I've returned the compliment.
Just ignore that highpitched yapping sound you hear. He's an attention whore who will eventually go away if no one takes his bait -- buys his wares, so to speak.
-The F Man

pepsiholic said...

"Jeez, this isn't rocket surgery, but you'd more easily convince Rush Limbaugh to suck Hillary Clinton's toes than you would trying to make one of those Fundo-Xian knuckledraggers understand this stuff."

Jeez, it makes me wonder what Farns would have called George Washington if Farns was alive back in those days... How dare he make a religious holiday like Thanksgiving!!! Hay Farns, you could have pointed out to GW, Jefferson, Adams and all those other guys how the constitution says nothing about religious holidays so they must be illegal!!!

pepsiholic said...

LOL Commander, Farns got tired of facts constantly proving him wrong...

Liberals and facts are like vampires and garlic (yes Farns I know there are really any vampires... unless you count the underclass sponging off hard working Americans...)

commander other said...

i've seen the type many times over. ironically, they consider themselves possessed of "critical thinking", "unique thoughts" and "categorical relevance".

it's kind of fun to watch roil about making pointless arguments based on nothing. this particular one doesn't even seem to realize that Coke is better than Pepsi.

;-)

thanks for the link-back. keep up the good work.

Farnsworth68 said...

LOL! Thanks, CO.
And the same back at ya!

pepsiholic said...

Pepsi and Coke are different like liberals and Conservatives.

Pepsi is a lemon based product while Coke is Orange.

Liberals base their arguments on emotions, conservatives use facts.

That's where we get the "critical thinking", "unique thoughts" and "categorical relevance".

All pretty much factual based. Facts give liberals a allergic reaction... they have major problems with the truth.

pepsiholic said...

"this particular one doesn't even seem to realize that Coke is better than Pepsi."

Sorry Charlie, as a liberal, you must be used to being wrong most of the time. Pepsi tastes better than Coke to most people but Coke sells more to restaurants at a discounted price to keep up their market share.




In 1975, Pepsi introduced the Pepsi Challenge marketing campaign where PepsiCo set up a blind tasting between Pepsi-Cola and rival Coca-Cola. During these blind taste tests the majority of participants picked Pepsi as the better tasting of the two soft drinks. PepsiCo took great advantage of the campaign with television commercials reporting the test results to the public. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepsi

The Future Was Yesterday said...

Good post first off. No, make that **excellent** post!! I was born into, and raised by, a Fundamentalist family. Your commenter's were a step back in time, to say the least.

From 18 years of forced personal experience, I can tell you this with authority: Fundamentalists only "live" what they preach when in public view. Consider it a mask. The rest of the time, again speaking with authority, they are some of the cruelest, meanest,disrespectful, potty mouthed people of any one "group" I've ever met in my nearly 60 years of living. They will discuss "principles" until the cows come home. It's living them they have real problems with. I know. I was there, living with them, and among them. Finally, here's what Fundamentalism gave me for my 10th birday. Every Fundamentalist who has ever read this, or told the story, says: "Oh, that's not us. We're not like that!" Then who the fuck was it in my Mom's room? Santa Claus? Personal Responsibility isn't one of their strong suits, either.

Do I hate Fundamentalists?

No. Hate is far too gentle a word. What I feel for Fundamentalists goes far beyond hate.

Once again, this should be post of the decade, and required reading. Wonderful writing!!

Farnsworth68 said...

Thank you, FWY.
Sadly, as you point out, the story of the tragedy of your 10th year remains all too common.
Even at this late date, my heart still goes out to you and your family for what those Fundo Xian motherfuckers put you through.
When will enough finally be enough?

commander other said...

Dan'l (FWY), i presume? glad to see you here. i was beginning to think that the folks in my blogroll only talked amongst themselves, lol. i enjoyed Gladfly's debut, and re-added FWY to my delicious in honor of it.

i was raised by a fundamentalist family as well. that's why i find it so nearly-endearingly charming what pepsiholic has to say on this post (and so many others). i learned so much about bigotry, duplicity, and self-righteousness from those people. 19 years of more-than-i-wish-to-remember, that's for sure.

i remember your august, 2006 post when it was written. your story is much more provocative than mine, which is why i never bothered to say anything then. both of my parents were JF's. we haven't spoken in over a decade, and not for my lack of trying. i was literally disowned when i chose not to become a minister, and stricken from their Will when my girlfriend had a child out of wedlock.

so many ways to screw up a nation's life. let's all vote for Huckabilly, huh? pffft.

nunya said...

Farnsworth. Thank you.

pepsiholic said...

My family used to be slightly religious. My youngest brother was born with cancer of the throat. He needed surgery and blood transfusions to go along with the surgery. My grandmother's sister said that if we gave him a blood transfusion, that we would be kicked out of the church... My mom told them to go to hell. That was the last time I ever attended church.

pepsiholic said...

I'm wondering why no one has mentioned Obama. Have you guys actually listened to him? Does he or doesn't he sound like a baptist minister? He's got people yelling and shouting, clapping their hands, people fainting and sending chills up legs. Now you have the religion of Obama! Believe in his message of change and hope and be saved!!! I can't wait until he starts his laying of the hands...

The atmosphere at his events is such that one wonders if Obama is about to walk out with a basket with some loaves and fishes to feed the thousands. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23182456-28737,00.html

IrritatedVet said...

Farnsworth:

Thanks for the good word to IrritatedVet. Thanks also for the blogroll listing. I believe I shall do the same. Drop me a line.

IV

The Future Was Yesterday said...

Farnsworth:
I don't know how I gave the impression I had shut TFWY down and moved to Is America Burning, but I do some goofy ahit at times.:) At any rate, TFWY is alive and well, and Gladfly has joined me as a contributor. Thank you also for your understanding of events in my life years ago. The pain has eased, but not the burning desire to rid this earth of every one of those freaks by any means possible!! "When will enough be enough?" Fundamentalists are like alcoholics - there never is "enough." If Fundamentalists were to destroy us all, they'd turn on each other. I've seen it happen many times where they are all bunched together, and no air or light can get in.

Commander Other:
Thank You for your kind words, as well. I can't speak for others, but I've been busy buying and moving into a house, so my wanderings have been very limited for some time, and my comments even more so. I don't play the "scratch mine and I'll scratch yours" comment game. If I think I see a good post, or something worth commenting on, I comment. Otherwise, they all can jolly well bite me.:)

damien said...

*1st Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion....

*The U.S. Congress officially recognized the Noahide Laws in legislation which was passed by both houses. Congress and the President of the United States, George Bush(snr), indicated in Public Law 102-14, 102nd Congress, that the United States of America was founded upon the Seven Universal Laws of Noah, and that these Laws have been the bedrock of society from the dawn of civilization. They also acknowledged that the Seven Laws of Noah are the foundation upon which civilization stands and that recent weakening of these principles threaten the fabric of civilized society, and that justified preoccupation in educating the Citizens of the United States of America and future generations is needed. For this purpose, this Public Law designated March 26, 1991 as Education Day, U.S.A.

*You weren't aware that the USA was founded on the laws of Noah? It's here in the library of Congress and it's discussed here. Well, you live and learn. THERE.IS.NO.LOBBY.

Farnsworth68 said...

This one apparently flew under the radar -- I was not even aware this law.
Plus I had never heard of those Seven Laws of Noah, so I had to look them up:
1. Prohibition of Idolatry: You shall not have any idols before God.
2. Prohibition of Murder: You shall not murder.
3. Prohibition of Theft: You shall not steal.
4. Prohibition of Sexual Promiscuity: You shall not commit adultery.
5. Prohibition of Blasphemy: You shall not blaspheme God's name.
6. Prohibition of Cruelty to Animals: Do not eat flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive.
7. Requirement to have just Laws: You shall set up an effective judiciary to fairly judge observance of the preceding six laws.
PL 102-14 does indeed say that the US was founded on these seven laws. Okay, so which of THESE immortal rules for mankind made the cut?
Again, we're back to the "normal" laws that govern mankind in pretty much any civilized society: Murder and theft.
Except for the judicial requirement, the rest of them didn't make the cut, either. Especially that nasty Idolatry thing.
But, just because a law get passed at the late date of 1991 obliquely referencing those "Seven Laws", it doesn't make it true that this is a "Christian Nation" or, as we have seen, one founded on "Christian principles".
People seem to think that we on the secular left want to suppress all religion (the smarter ones don't really think that, but that's how they can best frame the issue to make us look like Nazis or Communists to the Moron-American voting bloc). It simply isn't true. We believe in that second part of the freedom of religion in the 1st Amendment as much as the first. That's why we insist on maintaining that Wall of Separation, to keep the two parts from interfering with each other.
Reasonable people can see this. Unreasonable people who are incapable of critical thinking and independent judgment do not. It's really that simple, but you'd never know it from the abuse the Fundo Xians heap on those of us who do believe that.
Oh, and that second link you provide? From a cursory examination, it appears to be an Anti-Semitic site dedicated to demonizing Jews. What's up with that, and why did you link it? And what does your final "there is no lobby" mean?

libhom said...

pepsiholic: The author of the Declaration of Independence was Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was a deist, not a Christian. Jefferson compared the "virgin birth" story of Christianity to the tale in Roman mythology of Minerva coming out of Zeus' head.

So much for a Christian nation.

pepsiholic said...

libhom... yes, you are correct Jefferson wouldn't be considered a Christian since he didn't believe in supernatural events like Christ. He did believe in God though... so I think that's a little nitpicking.

Farnsworth68 said...

Thanks for the post, libhom. I hope you'll be back. But my advice to you and everyone else is to just ignore pepsiholic. He's not interested in facts or the give and take of reasonable debate. His main purpose in life seems to be flinging shit into every conversation, with the hope that he can bait you.
If we ignore him, he will go away.
--The F Man

damien said...

Oh, and that second link you provide? From a cursory examination, it appears to be an Anti-Semitic site dedicated to demonizing Jews. What's up with that, and why did you link it? And what does your final "there is no lobby" mean?

My point is simply that the US can do without legally endorsing ANY religious beliefs.

The second link had an interesting discussion of the background circumstances under which Public Law 102-14 was passed. It claimed that the impetus for the legislation came from the Chabad Lubavitch movement, a Hasidic sect that appears to bear a similar relation to Judaism that some evangelical Christian sects bear to Christianity. Rather than exhibiting any generalised anti-Semitism the article -- which appears to have been written by some insecure Christian author -- specifically criticised features of the Lubavitch movement. The author also noted the close connections between some US political leaders and that movement. I do not hold or support the views of the author. I passed it on as an interesting piece of commentary. I also expected sophisticated readers to assess both the contents and the authorship of the article in a political setting where religious based legislation was brought to the Congress by an ultra conservative religious sect. There was no intention to promote or endorse any anti-Semitic views.

The phrase "there is no lobby" was not intended as anything sinister. I don't see "Zionist plots" everywhere. Quite the contrary. Israel has, however, played a considerable role in encouraging the US into Iraq and continues to encourage US attacks on Iran. Those who criticize what some have taken to be an inordinate influence of Israel on US foreign policy (a "lobby") are often subject to unfair charges of being anti-Semitic. Academics Mearsheimer and Walt are a case in point.

Farnsworth68 said...

Ah, as certain of my readers might testify, I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer... I get it now. Thanks, Damien. I appreciate the "heads up" on PL 102-14, and I hope you'll come back often. You offer a unique and needed perspective on these things.
Do you belong to AU, and if not, would you like to join?

damien said...

That's a kind invitation Farnsworth68 which I must regretfully decline. My personal life is already suffering from too much blogging. I normally post over at Existentialist Cowboy (where you posted). Your site is an important one for defending church-state separation and maintaining a sane, secular and humane society. Rampant public religion is a social menace as you know. I will come come back and visit. Thanks for your kind words. Cheers.

damien said...

...btw my brother is an Aussie Vietnam veteran from 1970-72 with 4RAR in Phuc Toy province.

pepsiholic said...

Farns, since when do you like facts... aren't you still reporting the 700,000 plus killed?

Farnsworth68 said...

Thanks, Damien. I'm sure I'll be running across you at Existential Cowboy. His blog is one that I read regularly.
I knew some Aussies when I was in Vietnam (1968-69), and when my wife and I went to Australia in 2004, we stumbled upon the Australia Vietnam Veterans Museum at Philip Island, where I met a guy who had been stationed about 15 miles from where I had been, at the same time I was there.
It's really a small world when it comes to the universe of Vietnam veterans -- we are all brothers, and that's the way he treated me.
Thanks for dropping by and posting.
--The F Man

The Future Was Yesterday said...

Re the 7 laws of another myth:

That makes 17 rules to follow! You'd think the crazy cocksuckers could at least get a FEW right, wouldn't you?:) That's the problem with the bible, or as I call it, the Book Of Bottomless Bullshit. It's been rewritten with spin added each time, about a zillion times. If it ever WAS true, it's became so diluted now it's meaningless.

Farnsworth68 said...

Yeah, I think if we really dug into it, we could find 200 or 300 more bullshit "laws" without breaking a sweat.
My personal favorites to needle Fundos with are all those personal conduct laws in Leviticus. It drives them nuts.
The problem is that there are probably a number of Fundos who, if you really pinned them down, think that those laws are a GOOD thing.

Doppelganger said...

The Decalaration, as any sensible person understands, is NOT the document upon which this nation's laws are based.

Further, vague references to a 'creator' and 'divine' this or that doesn't seem very bible-centric to me. If they were the Jehovah-sycophants the Right wants to make them out to be, why didn't Jefferson just write "God"?