Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lies Conservatives Tell Us

"America is a Christian nation."

I've already established a convincing argument why any concept of America being a 'Christian' nation is a bunch of rubbish - you can read it here, but if you want the Cliffsnotes, it comes down to the Founding Fathers declaring:
"The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion."
Funnily enough, I discovered something new today that throws even more water onto the smoldering embers of evangelical indignation.

The next time somebody arrogantly sneers: "It's 'One Nation Under God', remember?" you can throw right back at them with: "No, it ain't."

"One Nation Under God" comes from the American 'Pledge of Allegiance', a ditty familiar to any American schoolkid, as they recite it under their nation's flag every morning in the classroom (a practice I thoroughly approve of.)

Most people will know the pledge as:
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all."
This is the phrase that gives all those evangelicals their ammunition. "See, it reads 'One Nation Under God," they argue.

Well, the fact is it doesn't.

The original Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892, by Francis Bellamy. Bellamy was a queer fish - an unrepentant Socialist (although also a devout Christian) he deliberately left out any mention of religion (he also left out references to 'equality' and 'fraternity' as that suggested that blacks and women should be included in the 'all men are created equal' bit in the Declaration of Independence.)

Bellamy's Pledge of Allegiance - which was our nation's pledge for over fifty years, was a short, sweet and secular:
"I Pledge Allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all."
The words 'flag of the United States of America' were added in 1924, ostensibly to give the in-rush of Italian, German and Jewish immigrants a clear reference that it was the American flag they were pledging allegiance to, not their own.

President Eisenhower only signed an act adding 'under God' to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 - under intense pressure from the Catholic Knights of Columbus (and, according to some, in order to appease the McCarthyites, who were quick to remind people that only 'evil' Socialists were non-religious.)

And ever since Eisenhower signed that alteration into law, there's been controversy surrounding the addition of the words 'under God' to the Pledge - with good reason. It doesn't take a Supreme Court Justice to realize that it violates the First Amendment clause (banning establishment of Religion.)

But even then, Christians laying claim to a 'Christian America' just because of a cynical addition to the Pledge of Allegiance is a bankrupt endeavor. America isn't - and has never been - a truly 'Christian' nation.

It was founded by Deists, Atheists and bickering Christians of every denomination - and almost every article of American law gives broad mention to an all-encompassing, monotheistic spirituality - but not one reference to 'Jesus Christ.'

In fact, America's 'religion' could reference practically any spiritual belief: There are mentions of the 'Laws of Nature' and 'Nature's God' and a reference to 'the Creator' - but all that's closer to paganism than Christianity. I challenge anybody to find a single mention of 'Jesus Christ' in any significant Government documentation... least, one that wasn't scrawled in the margins by Donald Rumsfeld.


Coffee Bean said...

Good Lord Roland. You really need to have someone untwist your panties!

The facts are that many, if not most, of our founding fathers were from a Christian background and many of the principles found in Christianity were in play when this country was formed.

Pull out a dollar from your wallet and tell me what it says on the back. What did all of the presidents before Obama place their hands on when they took the oath of office? What did/do people put their hands on when giving their testimony in court?

Christianity has been a big part of this country from the beginning. That being said, this country wanted freedom of religion for all who live here. That means that the government was not to dictate what people choose to believe. We are also have democratic principles in play in that we have a say in how things are run through our votes. People tend to vote according to their personal principles. The fact that this country has historically been comprised of predominantly Christian people has been reflected in our laws.

Those very Christian principles have protected the rights of others to choose to practice other religions... even Satanism and witchcraft of which Christians are most definitely opposed.

What is happening today is that many people are wanting to eradicate all traces of anything Christian. Do you not see that?

Christian beliefs are seen as some sort of impedus to the rights of others. Gosh, people have been trying to push through hate speech laws for years that would make saying homosexuality is wrong a criminal offense. What the heck? I think opening things in the grocery store and eating them before paying for them is wrong... yet I see people doing it all the time. What if I were to say publically that I think that is wrong and it offends the person who thinks it isn't? Oh, but that is a silly analogy, isn't it?

I love you Roland... I love that we can discuss this stuff and you are open about what you believe and why and that you are always willing to hear me out. It is really cool. Sometimes you make me crazy though. OY!

Coffee Bean said...

I really should proof read my replies. I think you know what I mean.

Roland Hulme said...

Who told you I was wearing panties? :-)

Funnily enough, 'In God We Trust' was only adopted as the US motto in 1956 as well (although they had it on coins and bills in the Civil War.)

You're right - a lot of what shaped America was Christian in context, because America is largely a Christian-occupied nation. My point is that the government itself, the laws and rules of the United States, are all aggressively non-Christian in nature (although they do recognize a 'higher power.')

Besides, what DID Christianity give us?

The Ku Klux Klan was founded largely by evangelical Christians and the segregation movement was largely upheld and supported by conservative Christians who interpreted the Bible as saying the interracial marriage was wrong.

Christianity has done a lot of GOOD for America, but it's also done a lot of harm (for, example, all this gay malarky.)

But just as I say to my Mormon friend - I might think your religion is utterly absurd, but if the end result is you, who are sweet, kind and nice, than it can't be all bad.

I feel much the same way about you. You're utterly lovely, patient, open minded and sweet and if that's the result of a Christian faith and upbringing, I really have no right to complain!

Expat mum said...

Unfortunately, some things that are done in the name of religion (in this country Christianity mainly) are the meanest things you can imagine, and certainly not what Jesus would have done.
We are having the church debate over at Pond Parleys on our next post. (Sunday/Monday). Please come and join in the fray!

Gregory said...

Hi Roland,

Just stumbled upon your blog and this post specifically and I must say I enjoyed reading it (specially the conversation above). And I agree with what you said about your friend coz I (Roman Catholic) too had a close friend (Protestant) in high school. Difference in religion never became a hindrance for our friendship. We may all not like each other's religion but we should have the mutual respect each one deserves. Thanks. :-)