Friday, August 21, 2009

A Christian Nation is a Civil Right. Right?

The insistence that we are and were always intended to be a Xian nation is much like other aspects of evangelical Xian belief, where they cherry-pick a few factoids and ignore or deny everything else, it makes me want to taze the whole bunch in hopes the shock makes some of their synapses fire ( Zap! Hey, I just noticed that opinions aren't the same as facts!). Yes, it's true that the Pilgrims were Puritans and Virginians were Church of England and, in fact virtually all the 13 colonies were Xian. That, however, does not mean that in 1776 the founding fathers wanted religion incorporated into their government.

Currently, evangelicals are the most insistent that we were always intended to be a Xian nation. This does a great disservice to their forefathers. The evangelicals at the dawn of our nation were the most adamant supporters of separation of church and state. Heck, Roger Williams, Baptist minister and founder of Rhode Island is credited with first using the term "a wall of separation," when talking about keeping church and state separate. The prevailing attitude at that time was, that anyone who felt their religion needed help from the government, had very weak faith in their religion.

Unlike today, the first generation of US citizens had seen plenty of examples of Xian nations for comparison. They viewed the Church of England as synonymous with the British government from whom they were seeking independence, they'd observed how the Catholic Church controlled the governments of other countries and, many of the people had themselves been driven out of their homes for following the wrong religion.

The colonies themselves were also examples. The Puritans of Mass. didn't come to America for religious freedom so much as they came to isolate themselves from the less conservative religions. They drove out or, in a few cases, killed those who wouldn't convert to the Puritan religion. At the same time, in Virginia, one could not get a government job without joining the C of E. Bigotry against Catholics and Jews was prevalent and it's estimated that only about 15% of the American population were members of a church when the Constitution was written.

All of that history is largely irrelevant since every time the separation or church and state is argued in court, the separation is reiterated. Still we get people standing up at school board or local government meetings insisting we are a Xian nation, therefore we have a right to blah, blah, blah. I think the problem is that since they have the right to freely practice their religion, any opinion shared by a majority of their church congregation must also be their religious right to practice.

They think subjecting the general public to Xian ceremonies is a good idea, then it must be their 1st amendment right. The same is true about what constitutes a fact, what media should be censored, what politician should be elected, what minorities should not be tolerated, or whether miniature marshmallows should top the jello salad at the potluck. It's not opinion; it's their god-given constitutional right. Right?

1 comment:

NeverTheTwain said...

Terrific post, Dan. It should be required reading for everyone in America.