Friday, September 10, 2010

Christian Nation Nonsense

I keep hearing all this "America was founded as a Christian Nation" nonsense and I've got a few questions for those proponents.

First, please point out for me the parts of the US Constitution that detail those "Judeo-Christian Values" you folks keep talking about. I have read the Constitution over and over but there are no uniquely Christian principles in that document anywhere, save one: the Separation of Church and State.

Second, if the Founding Fathers wanted to create a Christian Nation, they certainly did a poor job of it, since they never mentioned God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit, nor even a Bible verse as is so common when annotating an idea. In fact, most of the Founding Fathers would be considered heretical by today's evangelical standards, while a tiny minority would be classified as true theocrats and would scare the Bar-Jesus out of even Glenn Beck, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

Thirdly, the Bible itself never discusses those ideas of freedom we hold so dear. The Bible discusses soul freedom and freedom in Christ but those are theological concepts, not political ideas. Never once do the Christian Scriptures mention democracy, a republic or anything related to American values, nor even freedom of speech or freedom of religion; separation of powers and limitations on the power of the executive; nor an independent judicial branch, elections or voting. The Bible provides no model for "good" government or for personal freedoms. It is a purely religious/theological document.

Fourth, I find it puzzling that the Religious Right uses the term "Judeo-Christian Values" today in a not-so-subtle attempt to link themselves to the Jewish population. It is a rather odd attempt since the Jewish people of Colonial America were treated with contempt and persecuted in most places. But yesterdays persecuted minority is today's needed voting bloc ...

Fifth, I find the people who want to claim we are a Christian Nation to be completely ignorant (or intentionally ignorant) of US history. Never mind the Treaty of Tripoli explicitly declares we were in no wise founded as a Christian Nation. (I actually had one theocrat try to explain that as America's early attempt at foreign policy to appease the Arab World. Think about it: he said we intentionally lied about our founding to keep the Muslims from attacking our merchant ships. Imagine that. He is saying we denied Christ at the very beginning, something that would make every one of the "Founders" apostates in the eyes of God. Amazing.)

Then there were the responses from the Colonial churches who knew we were not founded as a Christian Nation since they proclaimed the Constitution "Godless" and urged people to vote against its ratification. I would add that the clergy of the day understood exactly what the Framers were saying, and understood explicitly that the Constitution was a secular document. Of course the Baptists of the day, e.g., John Leland, Isaac Backus,, applauded the Constitution's lack of Christian character since Baptists understood what it meant to be on the minority side of religious persecution when the Crown or Colonial government weighed in on theological matters. That also explains why the Baptists convinced Madison to make sure there was not even be the hint of government showing any faith that Most Favored Status. Baptists argued that theological matters are too lofty for the state to involve itself and that nowhere in the NT are we told to utilize the secular government to advance the Message of Hope.

Our current Constitution was noteworthy in its absence of religious recognition, and this formed the basis for much intense debate and opposition to its ratification. Rev. Doctor Wilson, in an 1831 sermon protested that it almost seemed as though God had been deliberately excluded from the origins of the new government:

"... the Constitution was framed and God was neglected. He was not merely forgotten. He was absolutely voted out of the Constitution. The proceedings, as published by Thompson, the secretary, and the history of the day, show that the question was gravely debated whether God should be in the Constitution or not, and after a solemn debate he was deliberately voted out of it ... There is not only in the theory of our government no recognition of God's laws and sovereignty, but its practical operation, its administration, has been conformable to its theory."

While there is certainly some legitimate debate over the person who preached this sermon, the sermon is accurate.  The sermon in question was titled, PRINCE MESSIAH’S CLAIMS TO DOMINION OVER ALL GOVERNMENTS: AND THE DISREGARD OF HIS AUTHORITY BY THE UNITED STATES, IN THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION, and as one site says, because of the way in which he criticized the Presidents, he was denounced.

The whole thing makes for an interesting read.

Finally, the only thing that makes sense to me is that the Religious Right has a vested interest in this. They want to manipulate the faithful for their own desires of avarice and power. When faith becomes a tool for political gain, faith is always corrupted and the faithful end up the hapless victims of their own religious leaders.

We still have much work to do. Let there be no breaks whatsoever in the wall of separation.

1 comment:

AV said...

The Religious Right can't (or won't) separate civil religion from Christianity. They are just capitalizing on the ignorance of their followers.

Thank you for showing that not all Baptists are part of this group.