Separate And Unequal

I find it funny when people who obviously consider themselves to be deeply intelligent – more so than most other folks for sure – expose the depths of their own ignorance, bias, and foolishness.  For your consideration on this topic, you might enjoy reading this editorial published on Discover Magazine’s web site.

“Demonstrably wrong”?  Interesting idea.  Good thing you’re so confident of your assertion that you don’t bother to even explain it or qualify it.  Abstinence only education is ineffective and foolish?  Perhaps he needs to be aware of some interesting recent findings that might make his arrogant dismissal look a tad foolish.  
So forgive me for being skeptical of the main thrust of his essay, which is that the founding fathers of our nation just used religious language to coax and control the stupid masses, while they privately held no qualms about denying the role of religion in the political realm.  The author asserts that since the quotes come from private correspondence, they more accurately represent the true feelings of these individuals.  The goal is to continue the erroneous assertion that America is not in any sense a Christian nation.
America was not founded as a Christian nation.  In other words, Christianity was not made the state religion or in any other way publicly endorsed over other religions.  At least, not any more than any other Western European-educated folks would be inclined to think and talk, which to our ears sounds amazingly pro-religion and pro-Christianity.  But in one sense those redefining the separation of church and state are right – we were not founded to be an officially Christian nation.
In another sense though, they’re dead wrong.  The Declaration of Independence and ultimately the Constitution reflect a deep and abiding understanding and acceptance of the primary tenets of Christianity, and these are used as the basis for our revolution with Great Britain, and are incorporated tacitly into the fabric of our understandings of how a government should interact with it’s constituents.  
The rights that we hold are not granted by the government, but by our “Creator”.    The government’s job is to protect these rights from abuse and usurpation.  All men are created equal (something that it took a long time for people to come to grips with even after affirming it in the late 18th century), and it is precisely this Christian understanding that has allowed people of all backgrounds and beliefs to come to this nation and find a home.  It is ultimately this Christian understanding of freedom and human rights that allows people to launch an attack on Christianity as the source of these concepts.  They’re free to do this, but in the process they sow the seeds of their own eventual demise.  As a plethora of high-profile atheist states have demonstrated, removing Christian concepts from the socio-political fabric does not result in greater freedom, but in some of the most severe and brutal revocations of freedom the modern world has ever experienced.  
So in this sense, yes Virginia, America is a Christian nation.  Not that we’re all Christians here, or all have to pretend to be, or that Christians receive preferential treatment of any kind.  But Christian in the sense that our freedoms and rights are based and steeped not in Constitutional Law, ultimately, but in the Fount and Source of even that law – our Creator.  When we unravel that connection ostensibly in the name of greater freedom and equality, be prepared to lose the freedoms and equality you now enjoy.  
But back to the narrower issue at hand in the essay.  
The problem is that the Freedom From Religion Foundation is doing something that non-theists are fond of accusing Christians and others of – cherry-picking quotes that support their position while ignoring other quotes that call their conclusions into question.  
The Library of Congress has some interesting resources on this topic.  For starters, you may want to read through this page, which includes quotes from John Adams (and in so doing, also provides a context in which to understand the quote that the FFRO is using).  Another interesting collection of quotes can be found here.   
Political rhetoric is at times known for being excessive.  It can also be said at times to be a collection of blatant lies and panderings.  But it does not have to be so, and in the case of our founding fathers at least, does not appear to be the case at all.  What a refreshing change.

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