Why we’re not a Christian nation (and don’t want to be)

Via a blog named “Exposing Liberal Lies” comes this charming commentary on Tyson Foods and their decision to give their employees both Labor Day and a Muslim feast day as paid holidays:

This is America, a Judeo-Christian nation. Why should any employer accommodate the religious preferences of Muslims? Where is the call for separation of church and state in this situation? If these Muslims are not content with the American holidays that their employers offer, they are free to go back to whatever Muslim nation they came from. And you know what, we won’t miss them or their whining for Islamic religious rights or all their lawsuits.

If you were wondering why it’s important to stand up against Christian Supremacists and to fight for our First Amendment freedoms, this is why. All this nonsense about “respecting America’s historical heritage” and such, is just a smoke screen. The real, practical intent of making America a “Christian nation” is so that the power of government can be used to discriminate against those deemed to be non-Christians. Like Muslims, for instance. Or gays.

The problem with this sort of Christian nation is that it turns democracy into a kind of mob rule, and if you belong to a minority, then brother, it sucks to be you. Except that we’re all members of some minority or other. There are more non-Catholics than Catholics, more non-Baptists than Baptists, more non-charismatics than charismatics. Ultimately, every individual is a minority of one.

Besides, if the government is really going to promote Christian supremacy over other religions, it must first decide what Christianity is so that it knows what to promote. Do conservatives really want the Christian faith to be defined for them by Congress? By Ted Kennedy and Barney Frank?

Christians have been toying with spiritualizing their government for 2,000 years, and in 2,000 years the attempt has never succeeded in improving the spirituality of the state and never failed to corrupt and secularize the religion behind the effort. According to the Pentateuch, it took the Israelites 40 years to catch on to God’s will well enough that they were fit to enter the Promised Land and become His chosen nation. Those ancient Jews were downright prodigies compared to those who still haven’t caught on, despite 2,000 years experience of God refusing to bless the mingling of church and state.

Our founding fathers did catch on, fortunately, which is why the very first amendment to the Constitution is an amendment telling the government to make no law either for or against religion. America has a pretty spotty track record as far as actually respecting that prohibition (as witness the motto on our currency and the theistic interpolation into the Pledge). But that commitment to liberty and to religious neutrality, even though only partially enforced, has enabled us to benefit from the talent and hard work of people from all cultures, faiths, and ethnic backgrounds, and thus to become a great nation.

Sadly, that neutrality has been seriously eroded lately, and we’re paying the price. But we can recover, provided we speak up and stand up to oppose the Christian Supremacy movement wherever it rears its ugly head. State-sponsored (and thus state-defined) religion is a great detriment to any nation, and even believers ought to be eager to keep themselves unstained by it.

 
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Posted in Current Events, Politics, Society. 16 Comments »

16 Responses to “Why we’re not a Christian nation (and don’t want to be)”

  1. Galloway Says:

    If Christians were ‘smart’, they would realize that a secular society is their best chance to preserve their values in the long run. In two or three generations, when the moslems have reproduced themselves into a significant if not dominant voting bloc, they will use the precedents established by Christians to turn the government into their own version of a quasi-theocracy (who could blame them?). By adhering to a secular government and not establishing any religion-driven precedents, we have a better chance of ‘heading off at the pass’ future attempts to discriminate on the basis of religious beliefs.

  2. valdemar Says:

    100 per cent right, Galloway. (You’re not George Galloway, I trust?) A secular state would guarantee genuine freedom of conscience – which is why both Roman Catholics and Protestant fundies don’t like the idea. Perhaps Muslims will attempt a takeover in a major European city in the near future, whereupon different sects will fight each other as well as the infidels – as in Iraq.

    As a Brit, I’ve always hated the conflation of church and state, via the monarchy and Anglican faith. There are already rumblings that suggest the old edifice is going to come crashing down. What we need is a sensible republic, not unlike the USA envisaged by those Enlightened gentlemen in 1776. One can but dream.

  3. David D.G. Says:

    Excellent post as always, Deacon, except that I’d like to point out that gays and Christians are not mutually exclusive (though why gays would want to be Christian seriously confounds me). I realize that you said “deemed” to be non-Christians, but since whoever is doing the deeming isn’t clearly specified, it might be taken as if they were.

    valdemar wrote:

    As a Brit, I’ve always hated the conflation of church and state, via the monarchy and Anglican faith…. What we need is a sensible republic, not unlike the USA envisaged by those Enlightened gentlemen in 1776.

    As an American, I’d say we need the same thing.

    ~David D.G.

  4. bipolar2 Says:

    ** Our Constitution was not heaven-sent to a “xian nation” **

    >> The Constitution is the foundation document for the US

    There’s no natural law. Neither God nor religion plays any role. There are no “law givers.” Laws do not get delivered on Sinai. They do not get “handed down.”

    God-talk disappears from justificatory language of 1776 (in the Declaration of Independence) and gives way to a view of 1786 (in the Constitution) that the people give themselves their own dignity and rights as citizens.

    The Constitution contains no reference to any god. The word ‘God’ does not appear. (‘Jesus’, ‘Christ’, ‘Christianity’ don’t appear either.) The word ‘religion’ appears only once, in Amendment One.

    The first amendment protects “freedom of conscience.” Initially the rights of a well-to-do white man (not slave, not female, not propertyless) to freely choose how to conduct his life as a legal person.

    One Civil War (1865), the vote for women (1920), one Civil Rights Movement (1965) — that’s the turbulent blood-soaked price paid so far for extending equality (reciprocity) of rights.

    >> Amendment One also establishes freedom *from* religion.

    The US is a secular state from its inception. It is *not* one nation under any god, power, force or immaterial being.

    It (she or he or some committee) doesn’t rule here. The people do. Not child molesting priests, not fanatical tax-dodging televangelists, nor cabals of delusional fundies seeking to overthrow the Republic.

    The people enjoy or abuse their ‘freedom of conscience’ in matters of religion, speech, publications, public assembly, petitions to the elected representatives of the people, civil disobedience, and even armed revolution. Is this order on the edge of chaos? Yes, and designedly so.

    Some conjectured divinity (or divinized leader) can no longer claim as a “holy lie” the right to frighten people into acting in consonance with social order. The people are sovereign; we abide by the laws which we create for ourselves.

    >> Let’s be clear here: The people are sovereign.

    Christ is not sovereign . . . God is not sovereign . . . they do not exist. They are fictions no more real than Zeus, Sherlock Holmes, or Batman. And, theology is fifth rate fan fiction. As one wag puts it, “Theology is a subject without an object.”

    There are many who pretend to speak for metaphysical nonentities, demanding social control and political domination. They should be seen for the lying frauds that they are. They are christo-fascists (dominionists), threats to our secular Republic greater than all islamo-fascists combined.

    bipolar2

  5. Deacon Duncan Says:

    David– Thanks for pointing that out. It’s a point worth noting.

  6. B8ovin Says:

    I think there is a spectacular example of the kind of intellectual-emotional disconnect at play with these “christian nation” types.

    The author writes:”Where is the call for separation of church and state in this situation?” To me, this is the red light moment of stupidity in a blinking neon sign of stupidity. Not only are we a “judeo-christian nation” (as demonstrated by the healthy mix of christian and jewish presidents in our history) but we’re a socialist state where the actions of a private business are subject to the separation clause.

  7. Bacopa Says:

    Getting back to the original case I understand that the local union had a lot of Muslims from Somalia in it. They were simply negotiating for a day off and were willing to trade a holiday they already had off for it. This is an entirely private matter and I bet the chicken plant is closed on Christmas anyway.

    As fr the UK ditching the queen and becoming a full republic; Dream on. Australia coudn’t even do this with their constitutional referendum a few years back.

    I recently watched that old The Pallisers miniseries. They wanted decimal currency, disestablishment of the Church of England, what we in the US would call “redistricting” so that seats in Commons would correspond better to where people actually lived, and there were the first suggestions of votes for women. Most of the characters saw women’s sufferage as far fetched but thought disestablishment was just around the corner. How wrong they were. The younger girls in the series would get the vote in their adult lives, decimal currency didn’t come until the 60s, and the C of E is alive today. I don’t know enough British history to say when it happened, but I understand representation in Commons is at least as fair if not more fair than the US House. I think it was probably between the wars when yall worked that out, if not earlier. I’m interested to know how it happened.

  8. Lamont B Dumont Says:

    The earliest dictate that I am aware of regarding the separation of church and state came from a guy named Jesus, who was quoted as saying “Render unto God what is God’s and render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”. So, any attempt to “Christianize” our government may be Christian, but it is certainly un-christian. (I make a distinction between the “big C” and “little c” versions, as they are frequently diametrically opposed.)
    A lot of the effort by Christians to use the government to assuage their uncomforatable uncertainty about the nature of the universe is based on the fallacy (accepted at face value frequently above) that the United States of America is a democracy. It may have been edging that way over the last century or so, but it was founded as a democratically representative republic. (The noun is “republic”, the people – “demos” – only get the status of an adverb.) In the original structure, the only strictly democratically elected federal officials were the members of the House of Representatives, the lower House of government and that most connected to local politics. Jefferson particularly feared democracy, calling it “the tyranny of the majority”.
    In short, I concur; the best chance Christians have of being able to practice their religion without repression is to butt out of governance, as their founder recommended.

  9. Nemo Says:

    The link doesn’t work (any more?). Maybe even the author realized how stupid it was.

  10. Deacon Duncan Says:

    The post seems to have been moved to a slightly different URL; I’ve updated my link to match.

  11. Ally Says:

    Wait so…either I missed something or they’re complaining about having more paid holidays? Erm…

  12. Neil C. Reinhardt Says:

    This 74 year old Agnosic Atheist Activist says:

    While I agree the US is NOT a Christian and was never set up to be one as demonstrated by the 1797 Treaty with Tripoli were it states:

    “The United States of America is in NO SENSE founded on the Christian Religon” and “is NOT a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or Mohammandan one”

    I will point out that if “bipolar2″ actually believes “the christo- fascists (dominionists), threats to our secular Republic greater than all islamo-fascists combined.”

    He has NO CLUE what the hell he is talking about!

    The TRUTH IS we Atheist HAVE not only survived
    under the Christians in the US we are getting stronger and stronger all of the time!

    IF the Moslem Fanatics take control AS THEY DAMN WELL INTEND TO DO, THEY WILL HUNT US DOWN AND KILL US!

    And Children, the Moslem Brotherhood and the one hundred million who have pledged to fight, kill and die for them are,
    according to their published 100 year plan to take over the WORLD, are now in year 20 of their 100 year plan.

    They are not only ON SCHEDULE, they may well be ahead of it!

    SO BE WARNED!

    Neil C. Reinhardt

  13. » A White Christian Nation Evangelical Realism Says:

    […] Why we're not a Christian nation (and don't want to be) […]

  14. Nemo Says:

    IF the Moslem Fanatics take control AS THEY DAMN WELL INTEND TO DO

    They can intend all they want; there’s zero possibility of it actually happening. Whereas Christian fanatics, on the other hand, are never all that far from power in America.

  15. Neil C. Reinhardt Says:

    Well “Nemo,”

    At 75, I am not only more knowledgeable and much more experienced than are MOST people MY age much less anyone younger I’m smarter than over 97.5% of the world,
    my tested ability to effectively use my IQ is nearly double the level most people use theirs.

    I read about twice as fast as college grads of the 1950’s (Which was when grades were earned, not just given.) and I do so with high comprehension. And my tested listening skills are FOUR times better than most peoples.

    My interests are facts, accuracy, honesty, logic, truthfulness and knowledge. I spend many hours a day in search of facts, knowledge and truth.

    So Nemo, while I damn well KNOW what I am talking about, YOU do NOT! ALL your comments do is PROVE how IGNORANT of the FACTS you are.

    IF you GO DO SUFFICIENT RESEARCH, you will find out I AM CORRECT.

    Neil C. Reinhardt

    “A 75 year old Pro Iraq War Agnostic Atheist Activist, a Vet & an Iconoclastic, Philosophizing Beach Volleyball Playing Grumpy Old Son Of A Beach!”

    (Was a Grumpy Young SOB in Miami Beach, Fl., now Manhattan Beach, CA.)

    I am A Proud TEA PARTY Member

    As well as being a member of all of the following:

    http://www.NRA.org/

    http://VetsForFreedom.org/

    http://MAAF.info/

    http://www.Atheists.org/
    http://www.AtheistsUnited.org/

    http://www.FFRF.org/

  16. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Hi Neil,

    While I’m glad you dropped by, I’m not a big fan of the kind of conspiracy theories that read like Weekly World News articles, make excessive use of caps lock, and are punctuated with claims of personal superiority. You are welcome to stay and participate if you wish, but I’m going to cut this particular line of commentary short, and will strongly discourage any similar comments in the future.

    Thank you.

    dd