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Author Topic:   Is America a Christian Nation?
Taz
Member (Idle past 1550 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 31 of 206 (547038)
02-15-2010 10:24 PM
Reply to: Message 30 by New Cat's Eye
02-15-2010 10:02 PM


Re: Representative Leadership
asshole-lic scientist writes:

Erm, in light of the 10th Amendment I'd have to disagree.

Or would you prefer a Federal State of America as opposed to just a bunch of united ones?


And I suppose you are all for segregation if it's popular enough?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/...004/nov/30/usa.schoolsworldwide


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Otto Tellick
Member (Idle past 589 days)
Posts: 288
From: PA, USA
Joined: 02-17-2008


Message 32 of 206 (547055)
02-16-2010 12:27 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Percy
02-14-2010 8:15 AM


From the OP:

Percy writes:

It should come as no surprise that the same Texas Board of Education that is rewriting biology books is also rewriting American history books, and Don McLeroy is again the driving force.

Now that McLeroy has made the audacious step to inject an explicit reference to Christianity into public school policy, perhaps our best hope is that there will be a law suit to enforce the First Amendment on this travesty of a school board.

All the documentation of U.S. law and history are against McLeroy. I'd love to see him and his cronies get the same treatment as the old Dover, PA school board. It ought to be at least as easy a win for secularism. No weaseling around with all those complicated science issues; this is basic, straight-forward stuff that should be a slam dunk.


autotelic adj. (of an entity or event) having within itself the purpose of its existence or happening.

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Otto Tellick
Member (Idle past 589 days)
Posts: 288
From: PA, USA
Joined: 02-17-2008


Message 33 of 206 (547061)
02-16-2010 1:40 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Buzsaw
02-14-2010 5:56 PM


Buzsaw writes:

What they established primarily was the freedom to practice religion anywhere, be it in school, government or private sector, uninhibited. ... Thus no fuss was raised about praying and Bible reading in schools or anything like that.

This is missing the point {AbE: actually, it's just wrong} in a couple of big ways. To start with, what they established primarily was that government would have no direct involvement, and take no specific position, whether positive or negative, with respect to any particular religion, where "particular" entails not just "Christian Sect X" as opposed to "Christian Sect Y", but also "Any Christian Sect" (i.e. Christianity in general) as opposed to any non-Christian religion.

Secondly, there definitely was a fuss raised to make sure that this separation of religion from government was absolute in practical terms:

(1) Government must not tax any religious organization -- not only would this raise a threat of persecution by taxation, but it would also make the government financially dependent on the dominant churches, to the detriment of minority religious groups. (Think back to the relative scale of government budgets in the first few decades after independence.)

(2) Government must likewise not fund any religious organization, for reasons that should be obvious.

(3) Laws must not be based solely on religious doctrine -- each law must have a motivation and purpose that allow it to stand on its own in the face of rational and objective scrutiny, without appeal to supernatural causation or scriptural exegesis. (Obviously, many laws have been passed whose "secular" bases would not really withstand objective scrutiny, but folks like Buz can at least point out that church/state separation tends to save churches the embarrassment of being responsible for many of those mistakes. Meanwhile, folks like me can speculate on how much worse things would have been without this separation.)

There's some interesting material on the topic at the Library of Congress web site:

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel05.html

I was impressed by this interesting tidbit:

quote:
Arguments used in Virginia were similar to those that had been employed in Massachusetts a few years earlier. Proponents of a general religious tax, principally Anglicans, urged that it should be supported on "Principles of Public Utility" because Christianity offered the "best means of promoting Virtue, Peace, and Prosperity." Opponents were led by Baptists, supported by Presbyterians (some of whom vacillated on the issue), and theological liberals. As in Massachusetts, they argued that government support of religion corrupted it. Virginians also made a strong libertarian case that government involvement in religion violated a people's civil and natural rights.

I really like a position that is based on documentation. You should try it sometime, Buz.

Edited by Otto Tellick, : small addition to first paragraph

Edited by Otto Tellick, : No reason given.


autotelic adj. (of an entity or event) having within itself the purpose of its existence or happening.

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Otto Tellick
Member (Idle past 589 days)
Posts: 288
From: PA, USA
Joined: 02-17-2008


Message 34 of 206 (547067)
02-16-2010 2:27 AM
Reply to: Message 18 by joshua4missions
02-15-2010 7:58 AM


This should clear things up:

(Found at: http://zalandria.wordpress.com/2007/01/10/george-washington-v-jerry-falwell-whos-lying/)

Edited by Otto Tellick, : included actual image to supplement the link (since bare links are frowned upon)


autotelic adj. (of an entity or event) having within itself the purpose of its existence or happening.

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New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 35 of 206 (547108)
02-16-2010 11:41 AM
Reply to: Message 33 by Otto Tellick
02-16-2010 1:40 AM


(3) Laws must not be based solely on religious doctrine -- each law must have a motivation and purpose that allow it to stand on its own in the face of rational and objective scrutiny, without appeal to supernatural causation or scriptural exegesis.

Where does that come from?


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Percy
Member
Posts: 18842
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 36 of 206 (547116)
02-16-2010 12:55 PM
Reply to: Message 34 by Otto Tellick
02-16-2010 2:27 AM


I don't think Washington said that. Someone mentioned the Treaty of Tripoli earlier in this thread, and checking a little on the web I found that that quote, or something close to it, does indeed come from the Treaty of Tripoli, signed in 1796 while Washington was still president.

Speaking now to everyone here, like any large group of people I expect the founder's religious views were varied and probably highly nuanced, but there can be no doubt that they were wary of state sponsored religion. Modern interpretations of the establishment clause may have gone a bit too far (e.g., high school Bible study clubs have been challenged on 1st amendment grounds), but the 1st amendment is sufficiently unambiguous that even legal rulings by the Supreme Court could not significantly weaken it. Meaningful inroads toward making the United States an officially Christian nation would require its repeal.

So Christians can doctor up paintings that include our founders with Christian images, and secularists can misattribute quotes, and both will be successful at convincing people one way or the other, but only if Christians are so successful that the 1st amendment is repealed will the United States ever become a Christian nation.

But I'm still interested in the facts of the matter. I think both sides can agree that Thomas Jefferson would definitely not side with those claiming the United States is a Christian nation, but what about other founders such as Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin, among others.

--Percy


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Taq
Member
Posts: 8012
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 37 of 206 (547121)
02-16-2010 1:11 PM


My whole view is that America is a christian nation given that the predominant religion is christianity and our the majority of our traditions are christian in origin. However, our constitution is explicitly secular. Our founding documents go out of their way to exclude religion from government.

The way I look at it is to compare a christian group to a non-christian group. The AFL/CIO labor union may very well be predominantly christian in membership, but does that make it a christian organization like the Salvation Army? No. The goal of the AFL/CIO is to look out for the rights of workers, among other things. The goal of the labor union is not to push evangelize or proselytize. The Salvation Army does evangelize and proselytize to those it helps. I would also guess that the rules within the AFL/CIO prevent a religious test for membership, much like our government. At the same time do the religious beliefs of the members within the AFL/CIO color their decisions? Probably so.

Also, I have always found it curious that the Ten Commandments expressly forbid the worship of any other deity besides the God of the Bible and yet our constitution says that we can worship whomever we want.

Edited by Taq, : No reason given.


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hooah212002
Member (Idle past 81 days)
Posts: 3183
Joined: 08-12-2009


Message 38 of 206 (547152)
02-16-2010 6:51 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Taq
02-16-2010 1:11 PM


My whole view is that America is a christian nation given that the predominant religion is christianity and our the majority of our traditions are christian in origin. However, our constitution is explicitly secular. Our founding documents go out of their way to exclude religion from government.

This is a good point. However, I see this as being a result of people doing what is "popular". Sheep don't stray too far from the herd. It's nationally accepted, even expected at times, that you are a christian. Everyone assumes you are a christian until you say otherwise. Majority rules, that sort of thing.


Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people
-Carl Sagan

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
-Carl Sagan


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Coragyps
Member
Posts: 5398
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002


Message 39 of 206 (547158)
02-16-2010 8:03 PM
Reply to: Message 38 by hooah212002
02-16-2010 6:51 PM


Everyone assumes you are a christian until you say otherwise.

A not-uncommon question within two minutes of being introduced to someone out here in West Texas is "What church do you go to?" Grr.


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Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 5805
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 40 of 206 (547160)
02-16-2010 8:27 PM
Reply to: Message 36 by Percy
02-16-2010 12:55 PM


what about other founders such as Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin, among others.

George Washington was a moderate Christian, John Adams became a Deist after living in America, so did Thomas Jefferson, Madison was a deist as well but a huge supporter of rights for all religion but critical of organized religion. Alexander Hamilton was probably the most ardent Christian of them all, being the most similar with today's ecclesiastical Christians.


"Political correctness is tyranny with manners." -- Charlton Heston

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RAZD
Member
Posts: 20119
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.8


Message 41 of 206 (547161)
02-16-2010 8:34 PM
Reply to: Message 36 by Percy
02-16-2010 12:55 PM


The lessons of history
Hi Percy

I think both sides can agree that Thomas Jefferson would definitely not side with those claiming the United States is a Christian nation, but what about other founders such as Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin, among others.

Thomas Paine was also a deist, and along with the commonwealthmen, he was hugely responsible for many of the political thoughts currant at the time of the Declaration of Independence.

There is also little rational doubt that the reference to god in the Declaration of Independence was to the deist concept of a "Natural God" and I think it is safe to say that the christian faith practiced by any of the founding fathers was not a literalist fundamentalist faith. Many seem to have freely mixed deist and christian concepts.

But there is another historical factor here that many people may know, but not really consider important: some of the colonies were originally formed for followers of various (christian) sects to escape persecution in their home countries, persecutions that involve whipping to death, stoning to death, burning to death, hanging, etc. Usually because they were considered heretics or devil worshipers (witches etc) by the predominant religious culture of their homelands.

These people came here to have the freedom to practice their beliefs. Some of these colonies proceeded to establish religious based governments, such as the Puritans in Massachusetts, and it was not long before they too started persecuting others of alternate faiths by whipping them to death, stoning them to death, burning them to death, hinging, etc, because these others were considered heretics or devil worshipers (witches etc) by the predominant religious culture of the colony. Many people fled Massachusetts to Rhode Island and New York to escape religious persecution.

Roger Williams, who established the colony of Rhode Island, is credited with first articulating the concept of separation of church and state.

The founding fathers had both a theoretical basis from the philosophies and political thoughts of the enlightenment and they had the practical lessons of recent history to reinforce them.

The oldest synagogue in the US is in Newport Rhode Island:

http://www.tourosynagogue.org/

quote:
"It [Touro] is not only the oldest Synagogue in America but also one of the oldest symbols of liberty. No better tradition exists than the history of Touro Synagogue's great contribution to the goals of freedom and justice for all." - President John F. Kennedy, September 15, 1963


For over two centuries, the small synagogue standing on top of a hill on a quiet street in the New England seaport community of Newport, R.I., has occupied a unique place in American history -- not only as a part of the American Jewish experience but also as a symbol of religious freedom for all Americans. It is here "that the right of the individual freely and without governmental restraint to follow the dictate of his own conscience in religious worship could be exercised without danger to the state"

... On the second floor, guests may view permanent and changing exhibitions relating to the four-fold mission of the center:

  1. To explain how Newport and the Rhode Island colony became the center of and originating focal points for the concepts of religious liberty, tolerance, and the separation of church and state in colonial America;
  2. To educate the public on the role of the Founding Fathers (i.e.: Washington and Jefferson) as key figures in the dissemination of these concepts by telling the story of Washington’s Letter to the Jews of Newport;
  3. To examine the history of Jews in Colonial and Revolutionary War America;
  4. To explore the history of the Touro Synagogue, the oldest extant synagogue building in the United States, its congregation and its architect Peter Harrison.

Touro Synagogue, built beginning in 1759 and dedicated in 1763 during Chanukah festivities, is the oldest synagogue building in the United States and continues to serve Congregation Jeshuat Israel, first organized in 1658.

The founding fathers did not have far to look to see that religious based governments did not protect the basic human rights of those of alternate beliefs, and there was nothing theoretical about the relationship. They also did not have far to look to see that where religion was kept out of government that these rights were recognized. This was not ancient history to them.

Enjoy.

Edited by RAZD, : fix coding

Edited by RAZD, : delete duplicated section

Edited by RAZD, : ...


we are limited in our ability to understand
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Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 5805
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 42 of 206 (547164)
02-16-2010 9:33 PM
Reply to: Message 41 by RAZD
02-16-2010 8:34 PM


Re: The lessons of history
Some of these colonies proceeded to establish religious based governments, such as the Puritans in Massachusetts, and it was not long before they too started persecuting others of alternate faiths

Hell, they even began persecuting one another.

The founding fathers did not have far to look to see that religious based governments did not protect the basic human rights of those of alternate beliefs, and there was nothing theoretical about the relationship.

Absolutely, which is why it is important to distinguish what exactly someone means when they refer to America as "Christian nation." If it means that the majority of people identify as "Christian," yes that's true. If it means that the government is designed to model after Christianity, no that is not true.


"Political correctness is tyranny with manners." -- Charlton Heston

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Coyote
Member (Idle past 365 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 43 of 206 (547179)
02-16-2010 11:49 PM
Reply to: Message 42 by Hyroglyphx
02-16-2010 9:33 PM


Where this is coming from
Too often, when we hear "America is a Christian nation" it is to justify some Christians telling the rest of the population what they should do.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

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misha
Member (Idle past 2887 days)
Posts: 69
From: Atlanta
Joined: 02-04-2010


(1)
Message 44 of 206 (547259)
02-17-2010 5:41 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Taq
02-16-2010 1:11 PM


Taq writes:

My whole view is that America is a christian nation given that the predominant religion is christianity and our the majority of our traditions are christian in origin. However, our constitution is explicitly secular. Our founding documents go out of their way to exclude religion from government.

I agree. The predominant religion in America is Christianity and thus it would follow that people's decisions would reflect their faith. The great part is that our constitution draws a line where these decisions can not adversely affect other faiths purely on religious grounds.

I'm a Christian and my beliefs definitely affect my decisions. However, I'm glad that there is something in place to restrict my decisions from adversely affecting someone else on a purely religious basis.

Catholic Scientist writes:

Where does that come from?

It originated in 1878 with Reynolds vs US. Supreme Court decided that it was right in restricting religious action but not belief as long as the restriction was on a rational basis. The idea was that if they sided with Reynolds then anyone could do whatever they wanted and claim that their "religion" requires them to do it, resulting in complete lawlessness. Supreme Court decided that although the US could not determine "what" you believe it was capable of restricting your actions pertaining to said beliefs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reynolds_v._United_States

Since then it is commonly referred to as the Lemon Test based on Lemon vs Kurtzman. Supreme Court made the following guidelines to determine adherence to the First Ammendment Establishment Clause:

-The government's action must have a secular legislative purpose;

-The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;

-The government's action must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_v._Kurtzman


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Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 5805
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 45 of 206 (547273)
02-17-2010 7:22 PM
Reply to: Message 43 by Coyote
02-16-2010 11:49 PM


Re: Where this is coming from
Too often, when we hear "America is a Christian nation" it is to justify some Christians telling the rest of the population what they should do.

Yeah, pretty much... Which is why it is definitely good to define the terms. I am curious as to what that term conjures up for the people at EvC who do believe this is a Christian nation.


"Political correctness is tyranny with manners." -- Charlton Heston

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