To The Daily Sun,
Some recent letters have made inaccurate and misleading claims about the relationship between religion and government in America.
One writer claimed that the government forbids the teaching of creation. Not true. Creationism can be taught in a class about religions. But it cannot be taught in a science class; because it's not science. It's faith. Virgin birth is not included in a biology course for the same reason. The same letter said that schools "indoctrinate" students in the "theory of evolution." I would hope that evolution is taught in a science class. Students deserve a real education, based on 21st Century knowledge, not something stalled in the 18th Century. Evolution is a "theory" only in the same way gravity is a theory. It's tested, and based on facts and evidence. Those who still don't believe in evolution keep company with those who also believe that the earth is 7,000 years old, that the sun and planets revolve around it, and that if you sail too far west of Hawaii you'll fall off the edge of the world.
Another letter argued that some of the fundamentals of our country like the idea of a democratic republic and the rights of citizens are Christian principles. Actually our founding fathers derived them primarily from Enlightenment ideas, which were, among other things, a response to the authoritarianism of Christian kings and clergy throughout Europe. Christians in power opposed concepts like democracy and freedom of conscience and religion. They saw them as dangerous to their rule. A phrase later used to sum up this attitude was "error has no rights." Those supposed errors included separation of church and state, republicanism, and democracy. Ideals like natural rights and the social contract were not found in the prevailing European Christian theories of government. And so-called Christian principles that are found in our government can be found in the writings of all major religions, non-Christian Greek and Roman philosophy, some native American societies and among people who believe in no religion. They aren't exclusive to Christianity.
The basic problem is the ongoing attempt to peddle the claim that American is a "Christian nation." But the only mention of religion in the Constitution is in Article VI, which prohibits any religious test for holding office, and in the 1st Amendment, which prohibits Congress from passing any "law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting its free exercise..." The Constitution is a "Godless" document by design, and the writers deliberately left the word "God" out of it. They did not believe that America should be a Christian nation governed by the Bible. They believed strongly in the separation of church and state, knowing — given their knowledge of history — that mixing religion and government was a recipe for disaster. Jefferson wrote that "our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinion, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry."
The "Christian nation" argument is also based on the overly broad assertion that the founders and signers of the Constitution were Christians. The majority of them were not traditionalist Christians but were Deists, who believed in the God of the natural world. Many of them did not believe that Jesus was God. Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Adams and the rest would have considered today's preachers like Pat Robertson, Bennie Hinn, Tim LeHaye, James Dobson and their ilk to be crazy, or corrupt con men. Or both.
If we use the same shaky logic used by the "Christian nation" apologists, we could just as easily conclude some other falsehoods:
— The founders were all white. Therefore America is a whites-only nation, established upon the principles of racial exclusion.
— The founders were all men. Therefore America is a male-only nation, founded upon the principles of male domination and the exclusion of women from public life.
— Most of these "Christian" founders were slaveholders or supported allowing slavery to continue in the new nation. Therefore America is a slaveholding nation, founded upon the principles of slavery.
The claims that the United States is a Christian nation are based on twisted evidence and logic. They are also often thinly-veiled attempts to turn America into a theocratic country, where religious dogmas replace the Constitution, where our long-established cherished principles are discarded, and where one religious group tries to force everyone to live according to its sectarian creed.
- Category: Letters
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