Many Christians argue that America was founded on Christian morals and beliefs. I have never really been able to grasp that crazy concept especially given the fact that we were founded based on a collective agreement that religion in government is a bad thing and we no longer wanted to be oppressed by it. Religious oppression is the very reason America is HERE today! So, why circle back? Well, we are on track for doing just that.
From 1892 to 1954, god was not mentioned in our pledge of allegiance. It took the Communist scare of the early 50’s to get the word “God” added to anything. You see, at that time, communists were known atheists and since we did not want to align ourselves with communism in any way, we over reacted (weird) and added the word “God” to everything so that it was known that we weren’t atheist therefore we could not be communist either (this is a gross over-simplification of the entire ordeal, but you get the point).
“Senator Homer Ferguson sponsored a bill to add the words ‘under God’ to the Pledge. On June 8, 1954, the bill was approved as joint resolution and signed into law on June 14, Flag Day. That day President Eisenhower said, “From this day forward, the millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.” The alteration made the Pledge both a patriotic pledge and a public prayer.” ( Buzzle )
Flag Day became a horrible, horrible day and a giant step backwards for Americans. But, I digress…
It is in America’s nature to be constantly in the pursuit of wealth and success. Wealth means you succeeded in your pursuit of the “American Dream” and that monetary success is highly frowned upon in the Bible:
“And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24
We value individualism, free speech and the power of dissention. But the Bible says that we should submit ourselves to “every ordinance of man” :
“Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.” 1 Peter 2:13-14
Ok. Most of us abide by the law, even if we disagree. But what if our laws and values are contradictory to god’s laws and values?
The Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:3-2, 7-10, 12-17
1. “You shall have no other gods before Me.
We idolize our favorite celebs.
2. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
These things sell like hot cakes!
3. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.
35% of all working Americans work on the weekend and 51% of those working more than one job do, too. How much do you want to bet that one of the days they work is a Sunday?
5. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
We have a culture of getting rid of our parents as they age and become bothersome.
6. “You shall not murder.
7. “You shall not commit adultery.
Yes, this is completely real. It actually exists.
8. “You shall not steal.
9. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Look at any magazine or newspaper rack in America (who am I kidding… look anywhere online!) and find stories of people blaming others, telling lies and living in deceit.
10. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey (I prefer to say ass. It sounds funnier and I’m really mature.), nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Plastic surgery is a BOOMING industry in the US. Everyone wants what they don’t have!
American values rarely align themselves with Christian values and for that, I am glad. Of course there are some virtuous Christian values and some awful American values, but, if it were up to me (and it is) I would pick American values over Christian values any day.
I value working hard and earning what I have while recognizing that others around me may not be so fortunate (and doing something to help!). I value education, growth and progression. I value the freedom to think and believe anything I want as well as to question anything and everything. I value equality and rights. I value accountability and being held responsible for my actions. Most Americans value these things as well.
I do not, however, value ignorance or submission. I do not value blind faith in things that may or may not exist. I do not value holding on to useless traditions that stunt growth and progress. I do not value needless guilt for things I cannot help. I do not value living to anyone’s standards but my own. And, unfortunately, these are the things most Christians do value.
America is NOT a Christian nation and I am proud of that. I refuse to stand by and watch it ever become one.
Some – a lot, actually – of your points are salient and clearly show the failings of Americans to be proper Christians or any other properly God(s)-fearing people. As such, it’s not wrong to say that America is neither a Christian nor any other form of God(s)-fearing nation, a sad that that will lead to our destruction.
That being said, if you’d ever really read the writings of America’s Founders you’d have realized that your opening paragraph was horribly wrong and inverted. They were in favor of- or indifferent to Religion in Government but dead-set against Government being in Religion. They were also inherently Judeo-Christian and were far, far, far more focused upon avoiding Christian sectarian conflict than upon any other form of faith or the lack thereof.
It was not until the 20th century that some poor fools changed the legal inference of the “separation of Church and State” to become something disgustingly antt-theist.
Yes, this post does shed light on some of America’s shortcomings BUT, mostly my point was to shed light on the fact that Americans as a whole, value things that are un-Christian, yet still claim themselves to be Christian. That is the sad thing that will lead to our destruction: not lack of god, but lack of integrity and self-responsibility.
Of course I have read the “writing’s of America’s founders”… I have a degree in Political Science! The founders left England because they were not able to practice their religion of choice. They came to America and agreed that government and religion did not mix; whether government in religion or religion in government. The first amendment says,
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
This clearly says that government cannot be in religion but, nowhere does it say, or even imply, that religion can be in government. In fact, it says nothing of the like. Congress (the government) can “make no law respecting an establishment of religion”. Wouldn’t allowing religion into government be a show of respect and/or preference to a particular religion? American politics run on a capitalist “winner-take-all” philosophy which is why the founders of this country worded this part of the First Amendment the way that they did. People are free to have any religion they choose, but government must remain neutral and show no preference and do nothing to hinder the “free exercise thereof.”
I think you are the only one referring to the “separation of church and state” mantra as being anti-theist. I have never perceived it that way and I haven’t ever come across anyone else that has either. I don’t care if you believe in a god; I don’t, and would therefore prefer that a god have nothing to do with my government. THAT is the meaning of the mantra and there is nothing anti-theist about it.
I have a related, but distinct question: do you think the Bible can be quote-mined?
Absolutely. I do it all the time. Of course, I also post a lot of quotes that have kept with the context of the book or story as well. That is one of the interesting, and frankly, disturbing, things about the Bible and how it is used by believers and non-believers alike. Christians use it as fuel for justifying actions and thoughts (i.e. marriage equality) and Atheists (mostly I am speaking for myself here) use it as a means of drawing attention to the most ridiculous parts of the bible as well as to point out how Christians are “mining” (I like the way you put that) quotes for said justification.
Atheist Bible-quote-mining is a great way of pointing out the errors in the fundamentalist branches of Christianity that quote-mine to justify their prejudices and traditions. You can’t just dredge a phrase out from leagues of context and pretend you can make something meaningful out of it.
Do you think there’s a way to draw a line between quoting and quote-mining? Like when YECs quote-mine scientists to try and discredit evolution; we all know it’s phony. I have a few criteria in mind, but I was curious to know if you thought it was possible at all.
I do think it is possible and actually, I would prefer it. It is very frustrating to me and even more frustrating that, in order to meaningfully combat it, one must quote-mine right back!
Awesome. We should come up with a set of criteria to distinguish quoting from quote-mining. Any suggestions? Maybe this can be an upcoming post….or joint post.
A little confused here. Are you arguing that the current interpretation of the First Amendment is being used to block religious people from being involved in government?
I am absolutely not. In fact, I think America has done the opposite (sadly). Christian Americans view Atheists as immoral and therefore unfit to serve the public, which is why we have yet to see an Atheist take on a major role in our government. But, that is a whole different story! My argument was to say that religious preference is not permitted to be in government just government is not to be permitted in religion. Did I word that better?
I was responding to JONOLAN actually here….sorry.
Oh, sorry! As a side note- are you a teacher? You ask a lot of great questions. Questions that make people look at their original answers from all angles. If you aren’t, you should strongly consider it! 🙂
Haha, thanks! I love teaching—I taught research and writing for a few years during college—but that wasn’t my degree. It’s something I definitely enjoy!
I try to live my life by http://xkcd.com/1053/. Or http://xkcd.com/1081/ as the case may require.
Ha! Those are great!
Reblogged this on paarsurrey and commented:
I liked your style. It was interesting to read the post.
Well thank you very much!
I’m so tired of the Religious Right’s constant advancement of the “Christian Nation” trope. While a great many of the Founders were ministers and so forth, the prominent ones (Franklin, Jefferson, and so on) were decidedly not Christians. They felt Christianity was an effective opiate for controlling the masses and maintaining the public order, and thus encouraged a preference for it, but that was where their Christianizing stopped.
Right?! It is remarkable how someone could come up with the idea in the first place, but even more remarkable how many people would latch on to it!
It’s an attractive viewpoint. It feeds into the “us-vs-them” mentality of fundamentalism, which depends on the belief that there was once a Golden Age of common acceptance of their movement which can be reignited in a Coming Utopia. Once the belief of a Golden Age is established, all manner of social ills and vendettas can be tied in. Because, after all, correlation establishes causation.
Excellent post, again. You missed one, though. American Christians are always hyping on about the Judeo-Christian beliefs, and the Jewish tradition (lore) firmly states that life begins at birth. In fact, it states once the “greater part of the body is out,” which is interpreted to mean the head. Soooo, the Christian anti-women’s rights activists are in fact contradicting the very lores they’re saying are paramount.
That’s a great point! It further accentuates the the many contradictions of a Christian.
Oh, they just ignore that awkward point. Kinda fun from a train-crash perspective to point it out to them, though.