Pardon Me, Are You a True American?

Suppose you were walking down the street one sunny afternoon and were
suddenly confronted by a radio DJ who tells you that he is doing
a survey on a very important political issue and asks you if you would
like to participate. You cautiously agree. The delighted DJ
then tells you that the survey consists of only four questions which can
be answered in any order, but he wants you to be as honest in your answers
as possible. Then, after a short pause to make sure the little red
blinking light that says “record” is, well, blinking, he asks you the following
questions:

  • Question one: What does an American look like?
  • Question two: What does an American sound like?
  • Question three: What does an American act like?
  • Question four: What religion (if any) does an American profess?

What would be your response to these questions? For most, I suspect
it would seem silly to even ask such a set of questions since the answers
are so obvious. Indeed, we could make it even simpler by asking our
contestant if s/he “could point out a non-American, an impostor
if you will, on a busy street corner in Anywhere, USA?” Again, the
answer would (or should) be obvious. And yet there is a portion of
our society that would labor over these very questions, and go to great
lengths in defining what an American is and more dangerously, what an American
is not!
It is one such case that we will be addressing here, involving a Christian
revisionist tract that is currently making the rounds in Christian news
groups and email forwarding databases. I have received it twice already
from different sources. It was written anonymously (which should
be cause for concern in and of itself) and it seeks as its goal to attack
the very foundations of our Constitution by way of a Christian-based revision
of history, to include changing the very convictions of our founding fathers,
in order to convince the targeted audience (i.e., already believing
Christians) that the United States is a “Christian nation,” founded by
Christians, for Christians!
As we shall see, the author fails to provide any references whatsoever
to back-up the polemical assertions he makes, but instead attempts to draw
attention away from this problem by appealing to the post-September 11th
emotional stigmas in the minds of his targeted audience.
It will be my position in my rebuttal to demonstrate the egregious errors
the author makes in his relaying of the “facts” about our history as a
nation and what it means to be an “American.”
My commentary will appear along with the article in question, with the
article text appearing in blue and my comments
in black.

First, let me present the entire text of the article in question:

IMMIGRANTS, NOT AMERICANS, MUST ADAPT.
I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some
individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Sept.11,
we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Americans.
However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the “politically
correct” crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism
was offending others. I am not against immigration, nor do I hold
a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to America.
Our population is almost entirely comprised of descendants of immigrants.
However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our
country, and apparently some born here, need to understand. This idea of
America being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty
and our national identity. As Americans, we have our own culture, our own
society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been
developed over centuries of struggles trials, and victories by millions
of men and women who have sought freedom. We speak ENGLISH, not Spanish,
Arabic,
Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language.
Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language!
“In God We Trust” is our national motto. This is not some Christian,
right wing, political slogan. We adopted this motto because Christian men
and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly
documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our
schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of
the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture. If Stars
and Stripes offend you, or you don’t like Uncle Sam, then you should seriously
consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture
and have no desire to change, and we really don’t care how you did things
where you came from. This is OUR COUNTRY, our land, and our lifestyle.
Our First Amendment gives every citizen the right to express his opinion
and we will allow you every opportunity to do so. But, once you are done
complaining, whining, and griping about our flag, our pledge, our national
motto, or our way of life, I highly encourage you to take advantage of
one other great American freedom, THE RIGHT TO LEAVE.

The Rebuttal



IMMIGRANTS, NOT AMERICANS, MUST ADAPT. I am tired
of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual
or their culture.


I find it interesting that the author associates “Americans” with
being a “culture” in and of itself, as if the cultural background of a
Muslim immigrant, for example, should be markedly different from a Muslim
American simply on the basis of geographical location. America is
a country that thrives in lieu of our differences, not in spite of them!
In fact, as my good friend Dan Barker has noted (correctly), the term “United,
We Stand” that we hear so often today is not really accurate. It
would be better stated “Divided, We Stand” since that is what freedom
is all about, being free to hold our differences without fear of retribution
because of them, and yet find common ground on which to stand. As
I will point out later, this is what makes a secular government so critical,
and pinpoints the true genius behind our Constitution and the profound
understanding of history that our founding fathers displayed in creating
it.



Since the terrorist attacks on Sept.11,
we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority
of Americans. However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when
the “politically correct” crowd began complaining about the possibility
that our patriotism was offending others. (emphasis
mine –bam)


Notice how the author makes it a point to apply the deeply emotive words
“terrorist attacks” (translation: “THEM, the Evil”) and “patriotism” (translation:
“US, the Good”), and then ties-in The Good with “the majority of
Americans.” And, of course, you know who The Bad are, don’t
you? Yes, it’s those among the “politically correct crowd” who are,
allegedly, the minority, whose rights it seems are of little or
no consequence. Worse, the author makes a dangerous allusion
to what he will later confess outright; that by “the majority” he really
means Christian as in “A Christian nation,” and how one must
be among that “majority” or else you are “un-patriotic” and consequently
“un-American.” More on this later.
The sad fact is that he has conveniently ignored one of the most important
principles in the U.S. Constitution, a principle that our founding fathers
labored over in order to secure it in no uncertain terms: that while the
majority may rule the minority has right! And in case there
are some that don’t understand what is meant by “minority right,” it means
specifically that the majority, whatever it may be at any given time, cannot
(CANNOT) impose it’s will on the Constitutional rights of the minority,
whatever may be in the minority at any given time. Perhaps those
that would scoff at this simple yet brilliant ideology would do well to
heed Thomas Jefferson’s warning:

It behoves every man who values liberty
of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others;
or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own. — Thomas
Jefferson, letter to Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803

Every citizen of the United States, whether through birth or through naturalization,
has the exact same rights under the U.S. Constitution! We are all
Americans
in every sense of the term! To deny that is to deny the unprecedented
nature of our secular Constitution and reduce it to just one more in an
endless line of totalitarian and theocratic regimes.



I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a
grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to America.
Our population is almost entirely comprised of descendants of immigrants.


Talk about shooting yourself in the foot! Amazingly, the author seems
to be unaware of, or unmoved by, the fact that prior to the influx of European
immigrants onto this section of North America we now call the United States,
it was already inhabited by aboriginal natives, millions of them,
and they had existed here in some form for more than 10,000 years!
They had their own gods, their own customs, their own languages, and their
own heritage. But the tragic consequences of Colonialism and Manifest
Destiny
would soon make itself felt through the complete and utter
devastation of these native populations!



However, there are a few things that those who
have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here,
need to understand. This idea of America being a multicultural
community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national
identity
. (my emphasis –bam)


Notice how the author’s real feelings begin to reveal themselves!
His use of emotive words begins to increase, and he does so because he
is building-up to something that he has a lot of emotional investment in.
Look again at these phrases:

“This idea of … multicultural[ism]”

“dilute our sovereignty”

“our national identity”

It’s difficult for me to believe that he means what he claims here!
If America is not “multicultural” then what is it? Multiculturalism
is precisely what makes America America! Does he really wish
to imply that only those of European descent (i.e., Caucasian) qualify
as “Americans” today? One must first of all remember that all of
the land we now claim as “American soil” was literally stolen from the
indigenous cultures that inhabited it before us (and those would be “sovereign”
cultures, incidentally; a point the author conveniently ignores)!
Are all native Americans, then, just aliens in their own lands; lands that
their ancestors inhabited for thousands of years?
And what of the tens-of-thousands of Africans that were brought here
through the “God approved” slave trade? They did not want to come
here, but were captured and brought here by force; and as such they did
what they had to in order to survive, what anyone would do, they had children
and laid roots here that are nearly as deep as any among Caucasian ancestry
today. Later, they would be recognized as “free men,” and as “Americans,”
although the deep prejudices persisted (particularly in the case of women),
as they do even today. So are all blacks and their descendants living
among us today to be excluded as part of American cultural simply because
there is no signature of a black man on the Constitution? And if
they happen to find more identity with their own cultural heritage in Africa
and seek to cultivate and carry-on that identity here in America, as tax-paying
citizens, does that make them any less American than you or I?
Just looking at the author’s points of contention up to this stage,
one would have to wonder just what he would classify as legitimate
Americans; a type of person, let’s say, that he would feel comfortable
presenting as the poster-child for our “national identity”?
Indeed, to this point he has not stated what America is, but rather
what it is not! In other words he is defining us through exclusion
and, as we shall see, his terms for what is not excluded is rapidly
narrowing toward a very ancient and very destructive ideology. . .



As Americans, we have our own culture, our own
society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been
developed over centuries of struggles trials, and victories by millions
of men and women who have sought freedom.


Sought freedom? Freedom for whom and from what? The term freedom
is very subjective and it’s meaning changes dramatically based on the perspective
of those applying it. The Aztecs and Incas sought freedom
from the conquistadors who ruthlessly murdered their men, pillaged their
wealth, stole their land, raped their women, and insulted their Gods, all
of which was supposedly “God-approved” on the part of the conquistadors
through Papal Bull (i.e., the Pope ordered it). The African slaves
sought freedom from the white man who shackled him and sought to
destroy his heritage, his religion, his identity, indeed his freedom itself–for
profit. The native Americans sought freedom to inhabit their
own lands and live their lives unmolested by the pillaging, disease, and
cultural devastation brought-on by these pale-faced barbarians. The
Hawaiians sought freedom (and continue to seek freedom even today!)
from the American government that had set it’s gaze upon it’s shores, as
well as the Christian missionaries that soon followed; the former, because
it saw Hawaii as a critical military outpost in the South Pacific, and
the latter because it sought to bring “God’s love and grace” to a “primitive,”
“savage,” “immoral,” and “religiously misguided” culture. The list
goes on.
In the 1980’s when the Soviets were still being peddled by our government
propaganda spinners, in typical Orwellian fashion, as the “ultimate evil”
(the “Red Menace”) and “unstable threat” to American freedom, the
American government (i.e., “the good”) poured literally billions
of dollars into arming and training these same factions of
Muslim extremists that we are fighting today in Afghanistan! Why?
So that they could fight for us against our archenemy, the “evil”
Soviets! We knew, even then, about the destructive terrorist activities
these militant factions were involved with elsewhere in the world, but
because we saw an opportunity to use them for our purposes we were
willing to look the other way and support them with American dollars, American
weapons, and direct training by American military specialists.
But what is most interesting about this debacle is that our government
and mainstream media never once referred to these factions as “terrorists”
as we do today (and they are terrorists, make no mistake); rather,
we called them “freedom fighters”! These
are the same factions, mind you, that flew passenger jets into the
World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11th; the same factions that
are now using the very weapons and training we gave them, against us!
Interestingly enough, they still refer to themselves as “freedom
fighters” (a term we claim for ourselves) while we now refer to them as
“terrorists,” even though their ideology and actions have not changed at
all, only their targets.
So let me ask you again: when this gentleman talks of “the
victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom”,
to whom and from what perspective does he presume to speak? I would
encourage you to think about this carefully before jumping to judgment
about what I have said.



We speak ENGLISH, not Spanish, Arabic, Chinese,
Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become
part of our society, learn the language!


Hmmm. Is he correct? Let’s break this down. Prior to
the colonization of the eastern shores of North America by Caucasian, English-speaking
settlers (these were not “Americans,” incidentally, they were a
British colony, not unlike Hawaii was a colony to the U.S. prior to it’s
becoming a state in 1959.), there existed many different languages spoken
by hundreds of aboriginal tribes that inhabited these lands, and “English”
was not one of them! The African men, women and children brought
to these lands as slaves also did not speak English! Even the so-called
“discoverer of America,” Christopher Columbus (a dubious accolade to be
sure), and the conquistadors that followed him were not English-speaking,
but SPANISH, or Portuguese!
And what of that little U.S. land acquisition deal Thomas Jefferson
negotiated in 1803 called the Louisiana Purchase? That vast
expanse of land, extending from the Mississippi river to the Rocky Mountains
and from the Gulf of Mexico to British North America (essentially the Canadian
border today), was purchased from FRANCE! Indeed, there is
today a rich history of French-Spanish-African ancestry in Louisiana in
general and the port city of New Orleans in particular. We even have
a name for it–Creole.
And another thing these “English only” pundits should consider is that
virtually all of the Founding Brothers of the United States itself,
the “revolutionaries,” were highly educated and most were fluent in three
or more languages! Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin had even been ambassadors
to France! In his autobiography, Ben Franklin had this to say about
his pursuit of language acquisition:

I had begun in 1733 to study languages.
I soon made myself so much a Master of the French as to be able to read
the Books with Ease. I then undertook Italian . . . I afterwards
with a little Painstaking acquir’d as much of the Spanish as to read their
Books also.

And he goes on to relate how his mastering of the above mentioned
languages (French & Italian) made it easier for him to re-apply himself
toward mastering the Latin language! That makes a total of five
languages that Franklin would speak and even read! He even offers
advice to “the Consideration of those who superintend the Educating
of our Youth”
that they should begin with French followed by Italian
and only afterward proceed to the Latin, because, and I quote:

(They would have) acquire’d another Tongue
or two that being in modern Use might be serviceable to them in
common life. (my emphasis)

Far from advocating an “English only” attitude as this gentleman
and others of his ilk are demanding, we should be encouraging, indeed requiring,
that our children learn at least one additional language! In virtually
every other industrialized nation on the planet, it is a basic requirement
for students to become fluent in at least one additional language, and
it is not at all uncommon for them to speak three or four by the time they
graduate high school! By comparison, much of our youth, indeed much
of our adult population, cannot even speak proper English let alone be
fluent in another language! This is not something to be proud of.
Indeed, we should be embarrassed by this “dumbing down” of America; and
not only in the areas of language acquisition and science (where we are
most lacking), but in every other basic subject.



“In God We Trust” is our national motto. This
is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan. We adopted this
motto because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded
this nation, and this is clearly documented.


At last, the cat is out of the bag! The theological message he intends
to sell you is that America is a “Christian nation,” and that if one presumes
to be a True American (TM) then one must believe in God,
and by “God” he does not mean Allah, or Vishnu, or Mithra, or Horus, or
Quetzalcoatl, or any number of indigenous North American tribal gods, he
means the “Christian” God!
The fact is, however, his perception of history is severely distorted,
and it’s quite possible that he knew this in advance since he makes it
a point to state that the “Christian” views he is espousing are “clearly
documented,” as if to say to the already believing Christian audience
he hopes to appeal to:
“If you really want to check my facts, my brothers
and sisters in Christ, you may, but as I am a ‘God-fearing’ Christian who
would never lie to you, you should just trust me at my word that I am telling
you the truth when I say that the information I am relaying would be the
same information you would find were you to actually study the documentation
for yourselves. But since I have already studied these issues, and
found them to be self-evident truths, there is no need for you to be troubled
with repeating the process; as such, I humbly request that you do not delay
in sending this message on to other good people such as yourselves. In
His name, –signed, Anonymous”
But I say this: Don’t take him at his word! Do check
it out for yourselves! Moreover, I also suggest that you do not take
anything I say at my word either, but check it out! I will
stand by the evidence that I present, and I will put my name to it!
Indeed, I find it shameful that the rhetoric being peddled here comes with
the comfort of anonymity for it’s author, because I would take great delight
in debating this person on his disingenuous soap box rhetoric!
So, let’s just test a few of his “clearly documented” facts, shall we?
Is “In God We Trust” the
national motto our nation’s founders decided upon?
Well, if our Nation had been established during the anti-communist McCarthyism
hysteria of the 1950’s, then our friend might have a case here, since it
was in 1956 that this “motto” came into being. The Cold War was building
and political propaganda spinners sought to draw a clear line of delineation
between the U.S. (“The Good”) and the Soviets (“The Evil”), and they did
so by making communism and atheism virtually synonymous terms (which is
silly), with each to be despised and aggressively opposed as a “threat”
to “American values” and the “American way of life”–a stigma that remains
alive and well even today.
But “In God We Trust” is not our original motto! The original national
motto, which (thankfully) still appears on The Great Seal of the United
States
today, is E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one), as agreed
upon by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams after the First
Continental Congress (July 4th, 1776) assigned them the task of producing
an appropriate seal to represent our country.
The actual design of our Great Seal was one of great concern
to our founders and the process ultimately encompassed six years and three
separate committees between 1776-1782 (each with different committee members)
before it was complete. As in any decision-making process there are
going to be good ideas and bad ideas produced in brainstorming sessions
and such was the case here. Ultimately some ideas from each
committee were incorporated into the final design, while others were rejected
for one reason or another. The motto E Pluribus Unum was one
of the keepers! Other ideas, such as depictions of Moses defying
the Egyptian army at the Red Sea, the Judgment of Hercules, a white-clad
“virtus” (virtuous) maiden, and other complex designs, did not make
the cut for obvious reasons. No where on the final version, in fact,
do the words “God” or “Jesus” or “Christian Nation” or “One Nation Under
God” appear, and it was not by mistake that such things were excluded!
They were excluded for the same reasons such terms were excluded from the
Constitution; because this is not a nation governed by gods or kings
or masters, but by the People–“We, the People”!
The changing of our national motto from E Pluribus Unum to In
God We Trust
was a knee-jerk reaction by Congress; as was the dubious
addition of “under God” to our Pledge of Allegiance in 1954.
Prior to that the Pledge read as follows:

I Pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America,

and to the republic for which it
stands,

one nation, indivisible, with liberty
and justice for all.

But in 1952 the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization,
began a vocal campaign to have the Pledge changed to read “one nation
under God“; and, riding the wave of anti-Soviet sentiments of the
day, they (and the American Legion) petitioned a sympathetic Congress to
have the wording changed. And just like that everything our founding
fathers had fought and labored to secure for ‘We the People‘ was
trampled underfoot of a self-serving religious ideology.

Were the founders of our nation
“Christian men”?

Many of them were Christians, and yet many of them were not!
Indeed, some of the names that inhabit the “non-Christian” list are striking
considering the key roles they played in our history; people such as
Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, James
Madison and Thomas Paine, among others. And some were not only not
Christian, but were openly critical of Christianity, the Bible, and the
clergy.
Jefferson was an avid student of religion, including Christianity, and
while he thought good of some parts of the Bible, he despised most of it,
and he made an interesting analogy of this by calling those good points
“diamonds in a dunghill.” And while he was very careful about expressing
his own views about the Bible in public (wisely, it seems), he was more
forthcoming in his private correspondences with family and colleagues.
In one letter to his nephew, Peter Carr, he makes a statement that, were
it made today (or even in his time), would make him unelectable as President
of the United States:

The Christian god can easily be pictured
as virtually the same god as the many ancient gods of past civilizations.
The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious.
If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god,
one only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him.
They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites.
Thomas
Jefferson
, letter to his nephew, Peter Carr

And what do you suppose would have been the fate of George W. Bush
in our latest Presidential election were he to have expressed such words
as these made by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to a colleague of his, Dr.
Woods?:

I have recently been examining all
the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular
superstition one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables
and mythologies. The Christian God is a being of terrific character —
cruel, vindictive, capricious, and unjust.
Thomas Jefferson,
letter to Dr. Woods (undated), referring to “our particular superstition”
Christianity

Jefferson made multiple more comments of like nature to these, but
that doesn’t seem to stop people like our anonymous friend here from claiming
that our founding fathers were all “Christian men” intending to make a
“Christian nation.”
Thomas Paine is another case all together. He is truly one of
the most critical figures in American history because of his uncanny ability
to invoke action through the written word. It was his best selling
Common Sense pamphlets, in fact, that re-invigorated the people
with a will to fight at a time when morale was at its lowest and defeat
seemed a foregone conclusion. It was Paine who went to France and
convinced Louis XIV to donate six million livres toward the war effort!
It was Paine who gave us the name, “United States of America.” It
was Paine who said such famous quotes as “what
we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly”
and “These
are the times that try men’s souls”
and “Those
who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the
fatigues of supporting it.”

But Paine was also a vocal enemy to Christianity and the Bible and any
organized religion that sacrifice reason for superstition and dogma, and
he made those views clear when he published The Age of Reason, which
was also a best seller but one which resulted in his becoming reviled as
a pariah and doer of the “devil’s work.” Here are just a few quotes:

All national institutions of churches,
whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human
inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power
and profit.
Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason
The study of theology, as it stands in Christian
churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on
nothing; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate
nothing and admits of no conclusion.
Thomas Paine,
The Age of Reason
The Bible: a history of wickedness that has
served to corrupt and brutalise mankind.
Thomas Paine, The
Age of Reason

And what of others among our founders? Here are but a few
among multiple dozens available.

I have found Christian dogma unintelligible.
Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies.
Benjamin
Franklin

He [the Rev. Mr. Whitefield] used, indeed,
sometimes to pray for my conversion, but never had the satisfaction of
believing that his prayers were heard.
Benjamin Franklin
As I understand the Christian religion, it
was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables,
tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation
that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?

John Adams, letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, December 27, 1816
I do not like the reappearance of the Jesuits….
Shall we not have regular swarms of them here, in as many disguises as
only a king of the gipsies can assume, dressed as printers, publishers,
writers and schoolmasters? If ever there was a body of men who merited
damnation on earth and in Hell, it is this society of Loyola’s. Nevertheless,
we are compelled by our system of religious toleration to offer them an
asylum.
John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 5, 1816
I almost shudder at the thought of alluding
to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind
has preserved — the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief
has produced!
John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson
We have abundant reason to rejoice that in
this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of
bigotry and superstition … In this enlightened Age and in this Land of
equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit
the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and
holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.

George Washington, letter to the members of the New Church in Baltimore,
January 27, 1793
If they are good workmen, they may be of Asia,
Africa, or Europe. They may be Mohometans, Jews or Christians of any Sect,
or they may be Atheists.
George Washington, letter to Tench
Tilghman asking him to secure a carpenter and a bricklayer for his Mount
Vernon estate, March 24, 1784
I had always hoped that this land might become
a safe and agreeable Asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind,
to whatever nation they might belong.
George Washington,
letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp, a Mennonite minister, May 28, 1788
I have diligently perused every line that Washington
ever gave to the public, and I do not find one expression in which he pledges,
himself as a believer in Christianity. I think anyone who will candidly
do as I have done, will come to the conclusion that he was a Deist and
nothing more.
The Reverend Bird Wilson, an Episcopal minister
in Albany, New York
The purpose of separation of church and state
is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked
the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.
James Madison,
letter objecting to the use of government land for churches, 1803
Experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments,
instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a
contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment
of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less
in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility
in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.
James
Madison
, A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,
addressed to the Virginia General Assembly, June 20, 1785
Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two
Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure
principle of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points
must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything
like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains
establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be
performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them, and
these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does this not involve the
principle of a national establishment…?
James Madison,
“Essay on Monopolies”

This is not to say that any of these men openly expressed atheism
(as is the case today, to even suggest such a thing would have been tantamount
to political suicide), but rather they posited deistic views about God
and nature; meaning that they acknowledged an impersonal “(g)od of nature”
but did not believe in the personal “(G)od of the Bible.”

Is the United States a “Christian
Nation”
?

Well, if it is then someone forgot to tell that to the delegates that
came together to debate and form our Constitution. They certainly
had ample opportunity to do so, and yet nowhere in that document do we
ever see the words God, Jesus, Christianity, Gospels, the Bible, or any
other term associated with Judeo-Christian theology! Do you suppose
it just slipped their minds? Nope.
At the Constitutional convention in fact, Luther Martin, a Maryland
representative, opined that some kind of recognition of Christianity should
be included in the Constitution on the grounds that “it
would be at least decent to hold out some distinction between the professors
of Christianity and downright infidelity or paganism.” But this
proposal was rejected by the delegates (many of whom were Christians)
and the Constitution was drafted as a secular document. Indeed, the only
time religion ever mentioned in the Constitution at all is in exclusionary
form: Article VI, Section 3, which states that “no
religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office
or public trust under the United States.”
A short time later
it would be mentioned a second time in the establishment clause
of the First Amendment, but again it was exclusionary of religion and not
an endorsement! Does that sound like the actions of a group of “Christian
men” intent on making this a “Christian nation”?
It is a very disturbing problem, I think, that so many people are being
influenced by these right-wing Christian extremists (I’m sorry, but that
is what they are) whom, finding our history as it stands to be unpalatable
with how they think it should have happened, attempt to rewrite
that history, and even the views of our founding fathers themselves, in
order to contort them into something more in-line with their theocratic
motivations. But these people are doing a great disservice to those
minds (young or old) whom, thinking they are getting an honest and unbiased
picture of history (warts and all), are not; and if they are not inclined
to check-the-work of their would-be teachers then they may never learn
otherwise, and that is a shame.



It is certainly appropriate to display it on
the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider
another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our
culture.


To invoke “God” is to presume the supernatural, and that, by definition,
carries religious implications. And that fact in and of itself makes
our friend’s assertion, that “it is appropriate to
display it [In God We Trust] on the walls of our [public] schools”
to be false! To the contrary, it is categorically inappropriate!
To demonstrate the point, consider what this man would say if we changed
the word “God” to “Jesus”; would he find offense in that? No, he
would not! Indeed, he would like nothing more than for the name of
his own professed god to be prominently placed on the walls of very classroom
in the country in order that the Hindu child and Muslim child and atheist
child (all heathens in his mind) would have to look upon it and acknowledge
it as some divine authority that is not open to challenge. But what
would this man’s reaction be if the word “God” were replaced with “Allah”
or “Vishnu” or Isis? Imagine it, honestly: “In Allah We Trust”
or “May Vishnu Bless America.” Would he not be up in arms
and demanding their removal at once?



If Stars and Stripes offend you, or you don’t
like Uncle Sam, then you should seriously consider a move to another part
of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change,
and we really don’t care how you did things where you came from.


Yes, of course, let us rid this country of the leeches! Let
us send the African Americans back to Africa; the Chinese Americans back
to China; the Japanese Americans back to Japan; the Mexican Americans back
to Mexico; the French Americans back to France; the Hawaiian Americans
back to. . . a. . .; the Alaskan Americans back to . . . ahem; The British
Americans back to . . . er . . . ‘um . . . let’s skip that one; the Native
Americans back to . . . Oh, dear.



This is OUR COUNTRY, our land, and our lifestyle.
Our First Amendment gives every citizen the right to express his opinion
and we will allow you every opportunity to do so. But, once you are done
complaining, whining, and griping about our flag, our pledge, our national
motto, or our way of life, I highly encourage you to take advantage of
one other great American freedom, THE RIGHT TO LEAVE.


Were this sort of vitriolic rhetoric not so harmful it would be
humorous. Our anonymous friend has made it clear that his ideas
of “freedom” are represented in terms such as subservience, conformity,
intolerance, subjugation, discrimination and segregation–terms that seem
antithetical to the “freedom” our founding fathers fought a revolution
to obtain, and afterwards wrote a Constitution to ensure!
On the other hand, there is nothing unique about our friend’s views
and I suspect that most of what he has said is just parroting of propaganda
that has been fed to him from the pulpits, and not through any sincere
efforts on his part to crack the history books, the historical archives,
and the autobiographies in search of the truth!
The most alarming thing in all of this is that the distorted views our
friend seems to be living with are not unlike those that have been openly
expressed by President Bush and others in his administration, particularly
Attorney General John Ashcroft, who is completely out of control.
One wonders how far it will go. Perhaps we should take seriously
the warning issued by James Madison:

I believe there are more instances
of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments
of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.

Visions of Bush, Ashcroft, and the Religious Right?
As a thought experiment, consider the following two quotes and see if
you can guess who the person was that said each of them:

(Quote #1)

It is interesting, that termites don’t build
things, and the great builders of our nation almost to a man have been
Christians, because Christians have the desire to build something. He is
motivated by love of man and God, so he builds. The people who have come
into (our) institutions (today) are primarily termites. They are into destroying
institutions that have been built by Christians, whether it is universities,
governments, our own traditions, that we have…. The termites are in charge
now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for
a godly fumigation.
a) Pat Robertson

b) Abraham Lincoln

c) Bill Clinton

d) Adolf Hitler

e) Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

(Quote #2)

“Today Christians … I pledge that I never will
tie myself to parties who want to destroy Christianity. We want to
fill our culture again with the Christian spirit … We want to burn out
all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and
in the press – in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which
has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess
during the past years.”
a) Pat Robertson

b) Abraham Lincoln

c) Bill Clinton

d) Adolf Hitler

e) Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

For answers click here.

Yours in Truth,
Bruce Monson

www.freethoughtfirefighters.org

ANSWERS

(Quote #1)

It is interesting, that termites don’t build
things, and the great builders of our nation almost to a man have been
Christians, because Christians have the desire to build something. He is
motivated by love of man and God, so he builds. The people who have come
into (our) institutions (today) are primarily termites. They are into destroying
institutions that have been built by Christians, whether it is universities,
governments, our own traditions, that we have…. The termites are in charge
now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for
a godly fumigation.
a) Pat Robertson


(Quote #2)
“Today Christians … I pledge that I never will
tie myself to parties who want to destroy Christianity. We want to
fill our culture again with the Christian spirit … We want to burn out
all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and
in the press – in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which
has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess
during the past years.”
d) Adolf Hitler