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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Quick History Lesson

  There has been much discussion by pundits about the religious base of America.  Folks like Bill O'Reilly, John McCain and others claim that America is a Christian nation at heart. Moreover, many claims are made in relation to Islam and whether or not the dead old guys would have accepted Muslims as equals. The reality is that not only did America claim herself to be a secular, Deist, not-exclusively-Christian nation back in the day, but had no problem with Muslim nations. 

  First off, nowhere in the U.S. Constitution is Christianity mentioned as the founding religion, in fact God is not even mentioned a single time. Just because McCain claimed so in his presidential run does not make it so. He is simply banking on people to not read it. So how about the Declaration of Independence? God is only mentioned in the vaguest terms- there is no mention of Jesus, Abraham, Moses, virgin births, or anything else to suggest adherence to any type of trinity. This becomes more important as I continue here. 

  Next, the first ally the United States had was Morocco, then led by a fairly open-minded guy, but still Islamic Sultan. (Mohammed ben Abdullah) In fact, many peace treaties were signed with predominantly Muslim nations during the Barbary Wars, the most famous of which included this statement:

Art. 11. 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 Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

  The treaty was composed during the time of Washington and ratified by John Adams. President Adams was a Unitarian, a Christian sect that focuses on a singular Deity and rejects the Trinity. He was succeeded by Thomas Jefferson, a secular Deist who believed that atheists could indeed be moral people. He expressed great admiration for certain non-Christian societies, like Natives, which became problematic when the idea of displacing them arose. 
  The following president was James Madison, a lawyer who worked tirelessly to remove the Church of England as an authority and instill freedom of religion. Not shockingly, he authored the Bill of Rights. He also wrote against appointment of chaplains for governmental institutions as well as the military, because he feared that religious exclusion would interfere with cohesion. 

  The final Founding Father to hold the ultimate post was James Monroe. Mr. Monroe did not display any religion publicly, maintaining any beliefs that he may have had as extremely personal. If President Monroe had any religion, he certainly never discussed it in any detail whatsoever.  He was, however, something of an anti-Semite, dismissing Consul Mordechai Noah from his Tunisian post. However, when he did, Mr. Noah was given letters of support from the three previous Presidents supporting the separation of church and state, as well as acceptance of Jews. 

  You have to wander along to President Number 15 for religion to have any religious play whatsoever, and it's not the answer people want. James Buchanan said that he would join the Presbyterian Church only after retirement from office, for to publicly unite with any religion would be hypocritical. The following honcho was Abraham Lincoln, who also did not pledge allegiance to any specific church. 

  We have covered a span of about 100 years. If the United States was established as a one-religion state, one would assume that it would have been done during the time of the founding fathers, or at the very least by the time of Lincoln.  It is only recently that religion has even been that much of a big deal. The old guys were so adamant about separating religion and state that most did not publicly profess any religion whatsoever. 

  A culture of acceptance was created by the Founding Fathers because they saw the tyranny that theocracies and monarchies (often one and the same) could bring. They witnessed the inherent wrongness of having to swear to the Church of England, of excluding others based solely on interpretation of the very same God. Alexander Hamilton experienced religious discrimination and Ben Franklin questioned organized religion and even the New Testament itself. 

  It's fine that politicians have religious beliefs that they hopefully use to better their lives. But to declare their beliefs as those of a nation, they are banking on your ignorance. America is a moral nation, but not a Christian nation, nor a nation that believes one man superior to another based on whether he prays and what he prays to. 

  Be well. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm following you on google and NB please do the same


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