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Author Topic:   Is America a Christian Nation?
Posts: 4352
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 3.1

Message 111 of 206 (652490)
02-14-2012 1:27 AM
Reply to: Message 108 by jrchamblee
02-13-2012 8:01 PM

Message 1:
Percy writes:

Is America a Christian Nation founded by Christians and based upon Christian principles?

Message 108:
jrchamblee writes:

Yes because several of our founding father's were Christians, that is already known as you can research them for your self, I think most of America is Christian, but there is Freedom of religion here so other religion is here to.

Something that's been bothering me every since shortly after 1980 when the RRR came up the claim Percy's talking about: just exactly which founding principles are they talking about and just how are those supposed to be Christian in origin.

Let's start with Freedom of Religion, which you yourself brought up. How is that supposed to be Christian? Where in Christian doctrine is everybody given the right to believe what they want to believe, even to join other religions if they want? That thought seems to me to be quite foreign to Christianity. In Rabbinic Literature class, our teacher, a rabbi, told us about a famous Italian rabbi who had been a Christian but who converted to Judaism. But he had to keep his conversion a secret, because Constantinian law, which was in effect throughout Europe from the time of Emperor Constantine until the mid-1800's, made converting from Christianity a capital crime, ie punishable by death. That Christian principle doesn't quite sound like Freedom of Religion to me, but rather quite the opposite. And I'm sure you are also aware of how worshipping other gods fares in the Bible.

What about democracy? You know, the pagan Greek idea of self government. Or a republican government, you know, the pagan Roman idea of representative government with its two assemblies and a triune executive. When James Madison was travelling to the Constitutional Convention, was he studying his Bible for ideas of how to form this new government? No, he was busy studying classical history, ie the histories of ancient pagan Greece and Rome. And it is no accident that our federal government is based on those pagan governments.

Indeed, the very idea of self-government and of the governed granting the government its right to govern, derives much more from humanism, the philosophy that had sparked the Renaissance, the Rebirth of Western Civilization, than from Christianity. The strongest expression of this idea, along with the Preamble to the Constitution, is the Declaration of Independence, which flies completely in the face of the prevailing governing principle that was truly Christian, the Divine Right of Kings. Indeed, King James had his version of the Bible commissioned because the other popular English translation did not sufficiently emphasis the Divine Right of Kings.

I trust that you can see why such Religious Right claims never made any sense to me. Had you ever given it much thought yourself?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 108 by jrchamblee, posted 02-13-2012 8:01 PM jrchamblee has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 118 by RAZD, posted 02-14-2012 10:18 PM dwise1 has responded

Posts: 4352
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 3.1

Message 119 of 206 (652608)
02-15-2012 12:50 AM
Reply to: Message 118 by RAZD
02-14-2012 10:18 PM

Re: wall of separation
The specific wording, "wall of separation of church and state", may have been in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist congregation, but he was just describing a concept that had already been presented to the public about 40 years earlier by his life-long friend and fellow Founder, James Madison, in A Memorial and Remonstrance (my emphasis added):
2. Because Religion be exempt from the authority of the Society at large, still less can it be subject to that of the Legislative Body. The latter are but the creatures and vicegerents of the former. Their jurisdiction is both derivative and limited: it is limited with regard to the co-ordinate departments, more necessarily is it limited with regard to the constituents. The preservation of a free Government requires not merely, that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained; but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great Barrier which defends the rights of the people. The Rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are Tyrants. The People who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them, and are slaves.

The situation under which that document was written is described on my page, http://dwise1.net/rel_lib/memorial.html, which contains its text:
Patrick Henry's constituents had been complaining to him about the decline of public morality, much as the Religious Right does nowadays. In response, he sponsored a bill that would allocate public funds (ie, tax money) to "[establish] a provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion" (ie, clergy). Thomas Jefferson's faction opposed the bill and were able to delay a vote on it until the next session. Then they were able to persuade James Madison to write a pamphlet opposing the bill which they then distributed throughout the state. That pamphlet, A Memorial and Remonstrance, proved so effective that when the State Legislature reconvened, Henry's bill was dropped without even being brought to a vote. Instead, Thomas Jefferson's Religious Liberty bill was voted into law.

It should be noted that Madison wrote A Memorial and Remonstrance in 1785, a few years before he drafted the First Amendment, so here we have the original intent of that amendment.

The first paragraph expounds on the idea of rights of conscience, that "The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate." The following paragraphs examine the detrimental effects of mixing church and state.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 118 by RAZD, posted 02-14-2012 10:18 PM RAZD has acknowledged this reply

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