Champions of American secularism

newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/spirited_atheist/2010/06/winners_and_sinners_church_and_state_on_independence_day_2.html?hpid=talkbox1

It is significant that when it actually came time to write the fundamental law establishing the federal government, the founders did not even include a general phrase like the one in the Declaration of Independence stating that all men are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." This was the language of natural rights, familiar to all raised on Enlightenment thought and rhetoric. It was intended to convey that every citizen had the same rights and that no king could abrogate them. It was not intended, as those who claim that America was founded as a "Christian nation" claim, to establish a religious, much less a Christian, government. That is why no god appears in the Constitution--an omission widely noted and debated at the time and one that the right wing can never get around or explain away today, however hard it tries.

Interesting argument. She quotes the text that states that it is self-evident that mankind has been endowed with rights from their Creator.

She then claims that the same community that affirmed that belief, intended to deny that rights originate from God. So, apparently they all became atheistic between the time the Declaration was written and the Bill of Rights was composed.

Samual Adams issued an official proclamation with the consent of state legislature calling for a Day of Solemn Fasting and Prayer in March of 1797. Obviously, Adams understood the intend of America's founding documents (since he helped compose them) and undersood that is was common knowledge that liberty and rights were the legacy of the Judeo-Christian worldview.

The article posted here is an attempt to re-write American history as if the founders were atheists.

She quotes the text that states that it is self-evident that mankind has been endowed with rights from their Creator.

She then claims that the same community that affirmed that belief, intended to deny that rights originate from God.

That’s simply incorrect. Nowhere in the extract that you quoted did the author claim that the founding fathers “intended to deny that rights originate from God.” She says – very clearly, I might add – that their words were not intended to establish a religious government.

And of course, the point that the author begins with in this paragraph is that the Constitution, the highest legal document in the land, the document that actually establishes the government in question, doesn’t even mention any gods, much less the Christian god or the Deist god.

Again, the argument that this author is presenting is that the founding fathers did not intend to establish a religious government, and from the weight of historical evidence, this argument is very clearly correct.

Please read more carefully in the future. You will find that paying attention to what is actually being said will strengthen your comprehension of the arguments.

The problem is the hypersensitive notion some people have of just what qualifies as a “religious government”. Just have any particular government official (unless of course it’s a leftist) mention God at all and you’ll have at least a few people screaming about the coming theocracy.

The article is accurate. America is a child of the Enlightenment. Its founding documents are suffused with Enlightenment thought.

The American government is therefore based necessarily on a belief in God as the Creator and giver of rights.

Not “necessarily.” Our founding documents were products of the Enlightenment and America wasn’t founded as a religious nation, Coral Ridge Ministries notwithstanding.

[quote="Rich_Olszewski, post:7, topic:204278"]
Not "necessarily." Our founding documents were products of the Enlightenment and America wasn't founded as a religious nation, Coral Ridge Ministries notwithstanding.

[/quote]

Our founding documents state that it is self-evident the rights which the nation defends originate from God, the Creator. So, yes - "necessarily".

Here is my view.

Our founders were careful not to create a government based religion. The constitution was deliberately framed as to not be pro or anti any religion. Many of the founders were not COE and knew first hand what it was like in England when a government favored one religion against another.

Religions of the founders:
candst.tripod.com/tnppage/qtable.htm

Having said that, it is pretty clear from reading a number of sources, that the founders and the early US government were very religion friendly. From prayers to open congressional sessions, through a request by Benjamin Franklyn, of all people, for daily prayers and a chaplain to lead them through every day of the congressional convention (no one knows if they actually followed through on his request or not,) to General Washington offering up prayers of Thanksgiving a number of times during the Revolution, to establishing army chaplains, to giving space in the US Capital for Sunday services, our nation's founders made room for religion in the daily lives of Americans and their own daily lives.

Next time you look at a $1 bill. Look at the Great Seal of the United States. That eye you see above the unfinished pyramid is the eye of Providence. The eye of God.

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." – Closing sentence of the Declaration of Independence

And the motto there on:
[FONT=Arial][size=1][LEFT][size=2]Annuit Coeptis (He [God] has favored our undertakings)[/size][/LEFT]
[/size][/FONT]

It was no mistake:
state.gov/www/publications/great_seal.pdf

[quote="reggieM, post:6, topic:204278"]
The American government is therefore based necessarily on a belief in God as the Creator and giver of rights.

[/quote]

Egads, man. You do grasp the difference between the Declaration of Independence -- which was a bunch of guys declaring their colonies free from the empire -- and the Constitution -- which establishes a new government -- don't you?

exoflare:

The problem is the hypersensitive notion some people have of just what qualifies as a "religious government". Just have any particular government official (unless of course it's a leftist) mention God at all and you'll have at least a few people screaming about the coming theocracy.

Well, not really. As you note yourself, "leftist" politicians invoke god just as much (if not more) than any other politicans, and aside from a few nutjobs, nobody seriously equates this with "theocracy." And while I personally think the constant god-talk is off-putting and think that the semi-unspoken religious test for office is ridiculous, I certainly don't think that politicians expressing personal belief in a deity is tantamount to a "theocracy."

Similarly, I don't think that any of the founding fathers expressing personal belief in a god is tantamount to a "theocracy." If they had made the government operate according to religious laws, then yes, that would of course be a theocracy. Luckily, those of us who are literate can look at the Constitution and confirm that absolutely nothing in that document indicates that government is to have anything to do with any religion. [And, of course, there's the later Treaty of Tripoli, which explicitly says, "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion"]

Now, I think there is a valid debate that can be had over some of the finer points of church/state separation, but really, stuff like putting up the rules of particular religions (like the Ten Commandments) in state buildings cannot be allowed, unless you let every other religion post whatever the heck that want in that state building, which will quickly descend into inanity.

The United States of America is the only country of the world that has it in writing, in the highest legal document in the land, that you cannot mix religion and government -- an idea that serves the interests of both religion and government. It's somewhat troubling to see people refuse to patriotically celebrate one of the most original ideas in the history of the world.

The Constitution was not intended to be a religious doctrine. It was intended to be a list of rights, description of how the government was to work, etc. Yes, the founders were mostly Christian people but with the Constitution they made it so we are free to choose a religion and also to be friends with people from different backgrounds than our own (instead of being forced to turn them into the government for heresy or whatever).

It looks like BOTH sides are trying to rewrite history.

On one side, there are people who are convinced that the founding fathers were atheists and are trying to erase all references to religion from our history books, despite many obvious Christian references (commandments) in our laws, and the fact that so many founders and Presidents were Christians.

On the other side, people are trying to say the USA is a Christian nation, when it is really open to people of all faiths, hence "freedom of religion" not "freedom of choice of Christian denomination." If the USA were a Christian nation, all Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. would not be allowed to immigrate to the U.S.

[quote="stephe1987, post:12, topic:204278"]
On one side, there are people who are convinced that the founding fathers were atheists

[/quote]

I have never seen anyone claim this. Could you please provide one example of someone seriously attempting to claim that the founding fathers were atheists?

and are trying to erase all references to religion from our history books

I have never heard of anyone attempting to do this either. Could you please provide one example of any attempt to modify history books to remove reference to religion? [Please note that in Texas, right now, there is an attempt to change history books to downplay Thomas Jefferson's role in our nation's foundation and to downplay church/state separation as well]

despite many obvious Christian references (commandments) in our laws

Of the Ten Commandments, only three are actually laws, and they're the ones that are common to almost every society that has ever existed, including those that predate the Hebrews.

[quote="reggieM, post:6, topic:204278"]
The American government is therefore based necessarily on a belief in God as the Creator and giver of rights.

[/quote]

Which doesn't necessarily mean anything other than that God created the world and its order. This is consistent with that rationalism of Deism, and doesn't imply any kind of revelation based religion. In Deism, God created the world and then handed it over to mankind - nothing more than that.

Is there any reason to think that the Founding Father of the US went beyond that? Certainly it did not make it into the US Constitution.

[quote="Dale_M, post:14, topic:204278"]
Which doesn't necessarily mean anything other than that God created the world and its order. This is consistent with that rationalism of Deism, and doesn't imply any kind of revelation based religion. In Deism, God created the world and then handed it over to mankind - nothing more than that.
Is there any reason to think that the Founding Father of the US went beyond that? Certainly it did not make it into the US Constitution.

[/quote]

It necessarily means that God exists. That's written into the foundational documents. Additionally, the reference is to God - singular. One God. Additionally, it means that it is self-evident that rights which the nation defends originate from God. So, it's more than the Deism you're talking about where God does not confer a special status on mankind. All men are created equal -- so, all men are created by God.

Even if they didn't go beyond what is stated, this refutes the claim of the article that the country was established as an entirely secular entity. The foundation of the rights which the nation sets out to preserve are in God, the Creator and giver of rights and dignity on mankind.

This certainly has something to say about atheism.

[quote="AntiTheist, post:11, topic:204278"]
Egads, man. You do grasp the difference between the Declaration of Independence -- which was a bunch of guys declaring their colonies free from the empire -- and the Constitution -- which establishes a new government -- don't you?

[/quote]

The "bunch of guys" are the founders of America. They explained where the rights which they claimed for the people of the nation, originated.

[quote="AntiTheist, post:13, topic:204278"]
I have never seen anyone claim this. Could you please provide one example of someone seriously attempting to claim that the founding fathers were atheists?

[/quote]

The facts are that not just a few of our country's founding fathers were atheists, and that most of those that were not recognized and respected the belief of atheism. Source: atheist site-- infidels.org

Several of the Founding Fathers of the United States were ... Atheists. (heavingdeadcats.com (Skeptical Freethought Atheist Musings)

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