Thursday, August 2, 2012

It Doesn't Take Common Sense To Know...The United States is a Secular Country

It Doesn't Take Common Sense To Know...The United States is a Secular Country

First, I need to apologize for not posting for a little bit. It was the weekend and then I had some dental work on Monday. Needless to say, I haven't really been in the mood to type or even think of anything to write.

I must start by saying that this is a heavily debated topic, and I know that it will either come under critical praise or criticism. To me, though, it is evidently clear that the United States is in fact a secular country. Obviously, that does not mean the United States doesn't have religion. Quite frankly, it has more than it should. What I mean by saying the United States is a secular country is that our country is not founded on a specific set of religious values. Within the last few years, there seems to have been a resurrection of the idea that the United States is a Christian nation.

There has been an unfortunate wave of Christian conservatism that has been embraced by a lot of people in this country and although it may be a minority, the people who are of this Christian conservative school of thought are in high and important places. The most recent controversy in the news is the CEO and owner of "Chick-fil-a" Dan Cathy making this statement: "The biblical definition of the family unit" and that he prays "God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about." Now, obviously I am not calling the CEO of "Chick-fil-a" a powerful and influential person, but it's controversies like this, that bring the issue of religion and faith in the United States into the public domain. I have already touched on some of the issues regarding gay rights and marriage in a post and can be found here, http://itdoesnttakecommonsensetoknow.blogspot.com/2012/07/it-doesnt-take-common-sense-to_17.html. That's not what this post is about. Although the issues regarding gay rights and the religious and political oppression are important, this post's focus is about emphasizing the fact the United States is not a Christian nation founded on Christian values, nor in anyway intends to represent the values of Christianity.

Lets start with a pretty popular argument that seeks to prove the United States is a Christian nation. "The founding fathers were all Christian and founded this country and wrote our constitution using Christian values." Now I can't overstate how wrong that statement actually is. If you think that statement sounds wrong or made up here is a quote from Sarah Palin "Lest anyone try to convince you that God should be separated from the state, our founding fathers, they were believers". How about Rick Perry: "America is going to be guided by some set of values...The question is going to be, 'Whose values?'" He said it should be "those Christian values that this country was based upon." Now I guess those aren't the fairest examples of politicians who think the United States is founded on Christian values but the fact is one was a front runner for the GOP nomination and the other was an ex-vice presidential candidate. Those quotes just highlight the people who persist in delusion and hold positions of power. The problem with the statement about the founding fathers and the Constitution is that they are simply not true. They are misguided and ignorant of the truth.

If we can focus just on the Constitution, it is evident to anyone who has actually read the document that it is in no way shape or form a religious document. I think that this is more than clearly evident by the wording and implementation of the first amendment of the Constitution. "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." The key part is obviously, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". These are the first words of the Bill of Rights. In fact, that is the only time religion is even mentioned in the Constitution. The words God and Christianity are never mentioned. You would think that if the framers of the Constitution felt that Christian values were important to the establishment of this country and the Constitution itself, they might have mentioned something about it within the document. The truth is that the United States Constitution is one of the most truly secular founding documents ever written. I find it insulting when anyone claims that the Constitution is based on Christian values because it is just simply ignorant to even believe that. The best way to prove to me that you have not read the Constitution is to say that it was written using Christian values.

Moving on to the the next part of the argument which is: "Our founding fathers were religious men". Now, I will concede that many of our founding fathers were religious men. Yes, some of them were very Christian, but all of them, being children of the Enlightenment, knew that separating religious values and ideas from government was paramount. They knew that power based on religious tyranny and oppression has not worked and will never work. They saw religion as an important expression of freedom, but that means all religions not just the Christian sort. Below is a list of quotes from the "highly religious" founding fathers and you be the judge about there faith, and if they wanted the United States to be a christian nation.
Thomas Jefferson

-"The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs." --Letter to James Smith, Thomas Jefferson

-The religion-builders have so distorted and deformed the doctrines of Jesus, so muffled them in mysticism's, fancies and falsehoods, have caricatured them into forms so monstrous and inconceivable, as to shock reasonable thinkers, to revolt them against the whole, and drive them rashly to pronounce its Founder an imposter. Had there never been a commentator, there never would have been an infidel." -- Jefferson's Letter to Timothy Pickering, Thomas Jefferson

-"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." -in Poor Richard's Almanac, Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin
-"When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself so that its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of it's being a bad one." Benjamin Franklin

-"In the affairs of the world, men are saved not by faith, but by the lack of it." Benjamin Franklin

-"As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?" -letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816, John Adams

John Adams
-"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!"-letter to Thomas Jefferson, By John Adams

-"Can a free government possibly exist with the Roman Catholic religion?" -letter to Thomas Jefferson, By John Adams

-"God is an essence that we know nothing of. Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there will never be any liberal science in the world." John Adams

-"This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it." John Adams

-"Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst." Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine
-"We do not admit the authority of the church with respect to its pretended infallibility, its manufactured miracles, its setting itself up to forgive sins. It was by propagating that belief and supporting it with fire that she kept up her temporal power." Thomas Paine

-"I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all." Thomas Paine

I would like to be fair on this issue, but the evidence is glaring. There is nothing you can show me that would prove that the founding fathers weren't atheists, deists, and agnostics. These men understood religious oppression and tyranny and sought to ensure that the country they founded would not have that. They were children of the Enlightenment, and understood the importance of having a secular document that ensured religious freedom without the document itself perpetuating a religious agenda. The Constitution of the United States is crafted so beautifully that it infuriates me when people, who have never read it, try to manipulate it to suit their religious ignorance, and seek to use it for there own political gain.

Now, many people have become alarmists about conservative Christians and religious extremists. These people are simply crazy. They will have there fifteen minutes, express there ignorance and get lost in shuffle with everyone else. Many atheists and agnostics look down at people who have faith because of the few extreme and crazy, and that is wrong. It is not a religion's fault for the actions and words of a few. Unfortunately, it is the loudest and most extreme who get the publicity. Not every Christian in this country thinks that America was founded on Christian values or should be based on Christian values. The United States is a great nation not because of its faith, but its lack of faith. Because we are one of the only countries in the world whose founding document seeks to ensure the freedom of all religions and does not establish a specific faith to be its own. People can have whatever opinions they want, but that doesn't mean they are right and that certainly doesn't mean they should be law.

Written by: Salvatore Pezzino Jr.
Edited by: Julius Motal

7 comments:

  1. Do you have any sources from those founding fathers who were men of profound faith? Even they, men of God, believed it had no place in their government.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Perhaps you can define Christian values in a repost?

    I ask because, you aruge that the Constitution wasn't written with Christian values simply because some of the early patriots were agnostic. That doesn't follow. For instance, isn't love a Christian value? Aren't love of life, enjoying it, and helping others to do so Christian values? And wasn't the country set up simply to end tyrannical British monarchical power, and to establish a free, loving place?

    The verbiage of dumb politicians never ceases to amaze, but you need, I think, to prove your point by underlining the fact that the US was founded with ideas in common with Christianity, but that are in common with any rational, loving, altruistic human being/religion. Nobody seems to talk about this glaring truth. Your article did for the most part, however. Nice.

    ReplyDelete
  3. When I say Christian Values, I mean, Christian cannon, doctrine, or any other belief that christian conservative politicians try to perpetuate.

    Love may be a Christian value but it is not exclusive to the christian faiths. If the Constitution was written using love, that does not automatically mean that, because love is a christian value the Constitution is a christian document.

    Love of life, enjoying it, and helping others maybe christian values but they are also a simple truth of life. Just because Christianity cites them as part of their doctrine does not mean they don't exist outside of Christianity and they can be implemented with out believing in a christian deity.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I stole your "one nation under god" picture. Do you want me to reference back to your site or remove it from my site?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hahaha don't worry about it. I got it from google images. If you like what you read though please feel free to reference back my blog anyway.

      Delete
  5. I stumbled across this site and was amused. The constitution is more of a legal document on how things work so it is understandable that it would not have things in it specifically referencing God but be more general. I would like to see you use the same "logic" you apply above in evaluating the Declaration of Independence which is why the constitution was able to be completed so that a government could be formed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually the Declaration of Independence is not a governing document at all. It was a document written to the king of England, proclaiming that we are free from the tyranny of English rule and that we will fight for our freedom if necessary. So comparing the two is an act of futility. The Articles of the Confederation is the document that preceded the Constitution of the United States as our official governing document.

      If you want me to say that Deceleration of Independence is a secular document I can't. However the Declaration stands as a great political document. Thomas Jefferson's goal was to create a document that laid the groundwork of a future government designed and upheld by people and not based on a superstitious god or religious monarchy. The Declaration of Independence observed that all men "are created equal" meaning that we all have the natural ability of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That "to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men." Please note that the Declaration says nothing about our rights secured by Christianity. I quote "Governments are instituted among men." not by divine right.

      The pursuit of happiness does not mean a guarantee of happiness, only that we have the freedom to pursue it. Our Law of the Land incorporates this freedom of pursuit in the Constitution. The first amendment says that we can believe or not believe as we want. We can succeed or fail in our pursuit, but our Constitution (and not the Declaration) protects our unalienable rights in our attempt at happiness.

      Finally, the mentioning of God in the Declaration does not describe the personal God of Christianity. Thomas Jefferson who held deist beliefs, wrote the majority of the Declaration. The Declaration describes "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God." This nature's view of God agrees with deist philosophy and might even appeal to those of all beliefs, but any attempt to use the Declaration as a support for Christianity will fail for this reason alone.

      So if I can be clear, just because the Declaration of Independence just so happens to mention the word God in it several times does not mean that is a christian document or an overtly religious one. The document isn't void of theistic values, but to say that ethics and morals are solely attained through religion is not only arrogant but just flat out wrong. I hope I answered your question.

      Delete