Paul Buchanan doesn’t let truth get in the way of a good story.
In declaring independence from Great Britain, the founding fathers were also declaring independence from the Church of England. After all, their forbearers fled religious persecution from the (Protestant) Crown.
This is somewhat true… but read on.
They consequently swore to never allow the State to be overcome by religious doctrine. Instead, they envisioned the State as secular and agnostic, rooted in but not reducible to any single religious belief, and in fact devoted to upholding freedom of worship regardless of the nature of the God or Scripture in question.
This, is absolutely not! The very first document of government in the United States was the Mayflower Compact. It hardly reads like a “secular and agnostic” breakthrough.
- In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc.
- Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620.
My reading suggests that of the original 13 states, only Virginia did not have an official state religion – and in those days “religion” was not Islam, Buddhism or Christianity, it was Presbyterian, Anglican or Baptist. The federal government was not established without a denomination because they wanted a secular state, but because no one wanted the other guy to have his denomination as the federal one.
Over the years that principle mutated to the popularly held notion that the US is constitutionally a Christian (read Protestant) nation (later amended to Judeo-Christian), when in fact it is nothing of the sort.
Let’s be clear: the only moral question between the beliefs of Jews and Christians that I know of is Christ. Also, I’m guessing that most Americans didn’t like the concept of a pope to rule over them, given how hard they fought to get rid of a king.
The US constitution merely upholds a belief in God as a foundational principle, which was common in pre-industrial times. The nature of that God and the proper way to worship her was purposely left unlegislated. The sub-text of Protestant belief as the foundation of the constitutional order was based on the notion that it was a more tolerant Christian ideology than others, Catholicism in particular.
I’d love to know what other versions of Christianity that Dr Buchanan knows of outside of Protestant and Catholic!
It did not account for Judaism or Islam, because when the founding fathers wrote the Constitution they had little concern with either.
Thus, either the founding fathers were rank hypocrites who were trying to pass off a Protestant State as a secular one; or they were principled in that they truly believed in what they wrote. Two centuries of common practice and law indicate that they were the latter. Yet, be it in “prayer in school” debates at the local level or in the appointment of Supreme Court justices, conservative Republicans have been trying to overturn that foundational principle for the last 30 years.
In fact it is Paul Buchanan who is the rank hypocrite. He is trying to portray the historical as recent, and the recent as historical. The fact is, after two centuries of “common practice and law” some atheist prick started a movement to get rid of God, and real Americans have been fighting to restore those “two centuries” for the last thirty years.
Take these comments from America’s greatest president, Abraham Lincoln. Have a look at the rest, and tell me that America was an atheist country which refused religion within the bounds of the White House before 1978.
I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years struggle the nation’s condition is not what either party, or any man devised, or expected. God alone can claim it. Whither it is tending seems plain. If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God.
Letter to Albert G. Hodges on April 4, 1864 (CWAL VII:282)
Worse though is what Buchanan is using this nonsense to defend Barack Obama’s pastor.
What Obama or all other politicians cannot do is bring personal religious belief into public service, the White House in particular.
Apparently they should change religious and become atheists when they walk in the door. What a thin excuse – “if my religion is not elected, the guy who is has to change to it”.
And yet that is exactly what Reagan and Bush 43 did—they wore their faith on their sleeve (or in the case of Reagan, he acted like he did) and used the White House as a bully pulpit for proselytizing conservative Christian values.
This is the Reagan and Bush that were both reelected, right?
Few other than atheists complained about this assault on one of the country’s political foundations,
Now that is an amusing comment – only atheists complained when atheistic ideas were absent from the White House.
Ever seen a person stand up in a public meeting thinking that everyone is behind his complaint when they are not? Ever seen a guy like that try to talk on behalf of the crowd, try to get the crowd aroused? It’s a recipe for awkward silence, and America’s atheists have had it in spades over the years, as well as a health dose of “just sit down”. Even so, they still don’t get it.
so it is a bit odd that people have reacted so strongly to the “pastor disaster.” But then again, perhaps it is a matter of race and political opportunism combined.
After all, if there’s supposed to be an atheist government, what difference is it between a mainstream Christian of true faith and a racist crackpot who rants against conspiracies that exist only in his own mind? Both are “objectionable” under this invented and imagined standard.
If on the other hand the public expects strong faith from their candidates, like Lincoln and Bush, how intensely disturbing it must be to see Jeremiah Wright ranting, “God Damm America”. How much more disturbing the clear ignorance of the followup: “that’s in the Bible”.
What exactly is a man who leans on an unstable man like going to do in times of trouble? America is asking that, and few like the answer.