Sunday, April 12, 2009

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.

[Originally published on Sunday, February 18, 2008]