Monday, February 15, 2010

Christian Founders?

I came across this NY Times article this weekend and apparently it has been getting a good deal of attention since. That, I am sure, has no relation to me looking at it however.

I had read before about how Texas controls what goes in most American textbooks. That is unfortunate. This article seemed especially timely coming on the heels of Howard Zinn's recent departure for the big protest in the sky.

As it is a broad, big article, I have many thoughts on the content within. At this moment I would just like to pose two of them.

1. Even if the entire reason for the founding of America was the creation of a Christian nation (and lets not kid ourselves, the only reason "Judeo" is tacked on there is because the conservatives understand who they can afford as enemies.) is that, rationally, the best course for a modern, stable democracy? If you want to test that just substitute any religion for Christianity and I think you get the answer. No one wants to live under a government designed to enforce a religion they are not a participant in. Well, there might be someone somewhere, but it would seem more like a fetish than a brave stance.

2. If we accept that all of the founders believed themselves to be Christian, do their actions hold them up as Christians? For example, say I am going to found my own country in my basement. My country's motto will be "For the upliftment of Christ." Our constitution will forbid all non-Christians and our laws will be the Ten Commandments. Another thing we will do in my country is murder children. I don't mean that in an abstract way. Some of the citizens might just be rapists, but a lot of them will also murder children. They will murder old people too. Sometimes they will wantonly kill adults as well, but the children thing seems the most notable. Could anyone pretend that that was a Christian nation? Even if it called itself "Make No Mistake We Are Chritian-sylvania"?

I would think the answer to number two is clearly no. And it seems ridiculous but is it any different from what the people in this article are saying? The U.S. is a Christian nation but had legal slavery participated in by its most notable aristocrats for hundreds of years. Slavery, of course involves rape and murder, I don't think I am being controversial in saying that. Of course you could point out that slavery wasn't that frowned upon in many nations in history that considered themselves Christian. Sure, but could anyone make a real go of it with that argument about America now? So, to me, any argument that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation is a silly rhetorical trick that cares little about actual history or political/theological/philosophical thought. A Christian nation in the midst of a genocide be it of Africans or Natives is a mockery of both religion and government. If that is truly the argument they are going with, then the textbooks should ask the question; Why were the founders such absolute, pathetic failures?


The Morholt said...

I would like to see American History books address the fact that parts of the constitution and declaration are basically plagiarized form enlightenment philosophers and essentially none of it comes from scripture, even saying the word God (rather than creator or providence) was too strong language for the founders to approve, and that a firm rejection of the supernatural was pretty common among founders, especially Jefferson, who was nominally Christian but rewrote the Bible leaving out the miracles, anti-semitism, and all of that bastard St Paul.

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attempting to silence the voices in my head.