Monday, July 28, 2008

The Impossibility of a "Christian Nation"

Millard Fillmore's Bathtub features a post about some debates I did with blogger Hercules Mulligan. This post is based off a comment I left there.

In my last post I noted, though a minority, some folks do argue for a reading of the Constitution and the American Founding that privileges "Christianity" over other religions. This blogger is one of them. And, in making his case, he cites 19th Century hagiographers who promoted Christian America sounding ideas. Unfortunately, such hagiography made its way to the Supreme Court in the Holy Trinity decision which illustrates something we all understand -- that even the Supreme Court is capable of getting it utterly wrong.

American Founding ideals make it impossible to implement the notion of a "Christian Nation." We have to define exactly what we mean by "Christian Nation." It's the notion of some type of indissoluble connection between America’s civil institutions (its government) and “Christianity.” Well, in order for Christianity to have some kind of “special status” or organic connection to government, you have to first define it. And that’s something government, arguably, is incapable of doing. Indeed Jefferson and Madison believed it violated the natural rights of the Declaration of Independence for government to do this.

I know from communicating with the blogger that he defines “Christianity” very narrowly, with “orthodoxy.” And that’s fine because there is a strong tradition in Christendom for doing this. Indeed, most of the religious conservatives who posit the "Christian America" idea define Christianity in this manner. If you don’t believe in orthodoxy then you aren’t a Christian even if you call yourself one. See for instance, the Mormons. The same people who argue for "Christian America" tend to argue Mormons aren't "Christians."

The problem is many of America’s Founders, notably John Adams, weren’t “Christians” even if, like the Mormons, they understood themselves as such. And they were the ones who supposedly delivered America a "Christian order." Jefferson, J. Adams and Franklin certainly were not "Christians" in this regard. And it's highly doubtful if Washington, Madison, and others were either.

Mulligan offered a quotation from the 33rd session of Congress that seemed to be based on Joseph Story’s constitutional commentaries.

At the time of the adoption of the constitution and the amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged — not any one sect [of Christianity]. Any attempt to level and discard all religion, would have been viewed with universal indignation.


And Story, as a Unitarian, likewise was in that position of thinking himself a Christian but not really being one according to the understanding of the “orthodox”.

So when Story noted that “Christianity” had some kind of organic connection to the civil state (a position in which Jefferson & Madison strongly disagreed) he certainly included his heretical Unitarianism into the understanding of “Christianity.” Joseph Story and John Marshall, both Unitarians, probably give the most notable historic testimony in favor of that anti-Jeffersonian-Madisonian position.

So in giving “Christianity” such special rights, government would necessarily have to define it to include that which the orthodox regard as utter heresy. To the orthodox, this would poison the proper understanding of Christianity.

Could you imagine the orthodox thanking Joseph Story and John Marshall for their sentiments in arguing for an organic connection between Christianity and American government. And then saying but your false, heretical religion doesn’t get one iota of support because it’s not “Christianity.”

This is a recipe for sectarian squabbles, what America was founded to overcome. Indeed those squabbles did happen. In the Dedham decision in 1820 in Massachusetts, Trinitarians sued Unitarians for control over the benefits of the state Establishment aid using very similar arguments (i.e., the aid is for we “real Christians”). And they lost. And yes, there were Unitarians on the Mass. Supreme Court whom the Trinitarians blamed for “bias.” And then seeing the Unitarians getting such public aid under the auspices of a “Christian establishment,” the Trinitarians got Mass. to finally end its state religious establishment, the last one in the nation.

Like slavery, established churches or government supported Christianity, though initially permitted at the state level, were incompatible with American ideals -- i.e., the natural rights of the Declaration of Independence.

History vindicated the Jeffersonian-Madisonian understanding that held government cannot by right define Christianity. And if it cannot define it, it cannot support or protect “Christianity only.” If government, rather, protects “religion” in general, the problem is solved. That’s why natural religion (or reason) could serve as America's Founding public religion because it could unite all “good men,” regardless of their sectarian creed or status as “Christians.”

35 comments:

Pinky said...

Bingo!

Brad Hart said...

You bring to light a very important issue that most Christian Nationalists have so confused that they are unable to see from the correct perspective. While most Christian Nationalists will say that the United States is a Christian nation -- and they have every right to do so -- they scream foul whenever anyone raises a well-prepared opposing view. They will automatically go on the attack, pulling out the usual "WEAPONS OF MASS DISTRACTION" by calling their opponent, "unpatriotic," "un-American," "biased," "a crazy liberal," "brainwashed," etc.

For me, this is the most difficult factor when dealing with Christian Nationalists. It is as if any attack on their views is taken as a direct attack on the whole of Christianity -- as if we are crucifying Jesus all over again.

I have had the chance to read a great deal of what Hercules Mulligan and Jon Rowe have written over the past year or so and I have found them both to be passionate about the subject of early American religion and history. Though I generally favor Rowe's conclusions, I feel that people like Herc. Mulligan can and do serve a great purpose, which is to challenge the "secularists" within the historical community. With that said, if it is true that Herc. Mulligan has banned Rowe from his blog, then I find this to be extremely disappointing. After all, what is the point of having a blog in the first place? For me, I find it much more enjoyable when a person has disagreed with me. It gives me the change to "stretch" my history muscles a little bit.

One last point: When it comes to the Christian right, I think that their history is oven tainted by their desire to "protect" the legacy of our founding fathers. As a nation, the legacy of our founding fathers is "sacred" in the sense that it defines who we are in a number of ways. Naturally, many of us want that history to reflect who we are in the here and now. This reasoning, however, cannot and should not trump the historical record, which, sadly, is exactly what so many Christian Nationalists are currently doing.

In the end, I hope that Christian zealots -- along with everyone else -- will refrain from "banning" people from their blogs or "boycotting" the opinions of those with whom they disagree. It is indeed a very childish thing to tell somebody that they are not welcome simply because they have a different view, lifestyle, etc. And, in the end, isn't that the "Christian" thing to do?

Our Founding Truth said...

Mulligan has banned Rowe from his blog, then I find this to be extremely disappointing. After all, what is the point of having a blog in the first place? For me, I find it much more enjoyable when a person has disagreed with me. It gives me the change to "stretch" my history muscles a little bit.>

If that last exchange is read again, you will see why Herc banned him.

Proving this nation was a Christian nation is easier than managing a household. My blog proves this nation was formed by orthodox Christians, besides a couple infidels you love to mention, who thought they were smarter than the rest.

Story and Marshall believed the Bible inerrant, that The God, and the revelation the same, they differed from all the other framers in two attributes of Jesus Christ. The religion is not changed, just an internal perception of Jesus' attributes.

Marshall repented, and became orthodox before he died, justifying the Christian label I put upon him. As for Story, it's too bad.

Tom Van Dyke said...

...in order for Christianity to have some kind of “special status” or organic connection to government, you have to first define it. And that’s something government, arguably, is incapable of doing.

Elegantly argued, Jonathan. Even at the Founding, there as no agreement about what "Christianity" truly was. How could it be protected, let alone elevated in statuss?

Keep this one in your holster, with the safety off. Fire at will.

bad Jim said...

So the Trinitarians got behind the separation of church and state in Massachusetts in order to deny funding to the Unitarians? Too funny! It's like learning that the Baptists were solidly behind the heretical founders because they understood that keeping government neutral aids religious innovation.

Mind, I'm of the party that thinks America would be better off were it less religious, and that the very secularity of our government fosters our nearly universal religiosity, with the result that most of our citizens reject basic scientific notions like evolution. Other countries whose traditions tied them into centrally planned religions wound up with religious market failure, widespread atheism, and wider acceptance of science than we have now.

Still, and unlike them, we get to say this isn't a Christian country, it's a free country.

Brad Hart said...

Sorry OFT, but the only thing your blog proves is that you are a biased Christian Nationalist...nothing more.

Our Founding Truth said...

Sorry OFT, but the only thing your blog proves is that you are a biased Christian Nationalist...nothing more.>

You're right, I am biased, for Jesus, the Bible, and truth. There are other posts on my blog, but this post proves beyond the shadow of a doubt, my nation was formed a Christian nation. I suggest ALL of you read it closely.

Remember, four guys do not determine what Christianity is, The Bible, and the Westminster Confession, and Catechism hanging on the walls of every school determine what Christianity is; and that is orthodoxy.

Religion belongs to the States. That's what Rowe and everyone else can't understand.

If California wanted to form Buddhism as the State Religion, they could do it, and the framers could do nothing about it, but of course, Christians chose Christianity.

OFT

Our Founding Truth said...

Check it out:

http://ourfoundingtruth.blogspot.com/2007/09/secularist-ed-brayton-comments-on-d.html

Our Founding Truth said...

So the Trinitarians got behind the separation of church and state in Massachusetts in order to deny funding to the Unitarians?>

Of course. Would you grant funding for a buddhist sect claiming to be Christianity? Unreal.

Elegantly argued, Jonathan. Even at the Founding, there as no agreement about what "Christianity" truly was. How could it be protected, let alone elevated in statuss?

Keep this one in your holster, with the safety off. Fire at will.>

Go ahead, fire. There's blanks in your gun. Orthodoxy was defined by everyone but your absurd 4 guys! I still can't believe you people buy the easily proven lies of secular liberalism.

On every school and college hung on the walls what orthodox Christianity was, it was called the Westminster Confession, ever heard of it? There is also the Bible, read every day in class, ever heard of that?

OFT

Our Founding Truth said...

Unitarianism was only considered Christian in a few areas, the majority knew it is heresy, and rightly condemned it. That's why Adams and Jefferson had to keep their beliefs low.

The framers knew unitarianism departed from inerrancy and other orthodox doctrines.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Just keep talkin' OFT; you are making our side look better every time you open your mouth.

Our Founding Truth said...

Just keep talkin' OFT; you are making our side look better every time you open your mouth.>

You're welcome to try refute my posts if you'd like. In light of the orthodox state constitutions, it is impossible to claim we weren't a Christian nation. The greatest scholar in this nation cannot change that!

I haven't said one thing on this blog that wasn't true, but anyone is welcome to try and prove the contrary. I am willing to learn when I am wrong, even from you, which I have, but I will never stop speaking what I know is the Truth, and Jesus Christ.

OFT

Jonathan Rowe said...

Heh. You've said lots of things that aren't true. Like for instance, "in light of the orthodox state constitutions, it is impossible to claim we weren't a Christian nation."

PA, VA, RI, NY??? These weren't "orthodox" states in their Constitution. Jefferson's 1786 Act for Establishing Religious Liberty fully secularized that state! And btw don't bother with the PA 1776 Constitution that Franklin opposed, but the one he had revised that required simple God belief. And even Mass., the poster boy for a "Christian Establishment" just used "Protestant Christianity" not Trinitarianism its Constitution. Indeed that the Unitarians soon were able to get their hands on the Establishment aid well illustrates this.

Pinky said...

OFT writes, "I haven't said one thing on this blog that wasn't true, but anyone is welcome to try and prove the contrary.".
.
I don't see it as though what you've posted isn't true. But, you are not referencing the national founding. Rather, you are pointing to the separate states some of which were definitely created as specifically Christian.
.
When the focus is put on the creation of the nation, it becomes obvious that it was designed to overcome the problems created in those states that joined the state with the church.
.
So, as far as I can see, your proposition falls flat on its face.
.

Brad Hart said...

OFT has taught me that religious arrogance can cloud judgement and perspective more than any other thing. If you wern't so passionately opposed to every single view that differs from your "Christian America" viewpoint, you might be able to see that history is not black and white.

Ed Darrell said...

Two quick observations:

1. I didn't realize Story was Unitarian. My, but that does put a spanner in the works of so much of the Bartonistas' claims about him.

2. Hudson's many editions of Religion in America noted that nine of the thirteen colonies had disestablished their churches by the end of 1778. Remember that in 1775 the Continental Congress advised the colonies to make necessary modifications in their charters to continue to function if there were lengthy hostilities with the mother nation. In almost every case, the legislatures took steps to disestablish. Only in four states did vestiges of establishment remain, officially, after 1778 -- Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and some argue, in Virginia, where the issue of glebe lands sort of festered through the war. Virginia's Bill of Rights seems rather clear that there should be no establishment, but the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, passed in 1786, put the issue to rest. Connecticut abolished its last vestiges of establishment in 1818, New Hampshire in 1819, and Massachusetts in 1833.

Tom Van Dyke said...

This still proves that the principle of federalism uhnder the contitution permitted the states to establish [and disestablish] churches as they saw fit.

OFT's point stands.

Pinky said...

.
heh heh heh

Our Founding Truth said...

PA, VA, RI, NY??? These weren't "orthodox" states in their Constitution.>

NEW YORK 1777 (until 1821) That all such parts of the said common law, and all such of the said statutes and acts aforesaid, or parts thereof, as may be construed to establish or maintain any particular denomination of Christians or their ministers, or concern the allegiance heretofore yielded to, and the supremacy, sovereignty, government, or prerogatives claimed or exercised by, the King of Great Britain and his predecessors, over the colony of New York and its inhabitants, or are repugnant to this constitution, be, and they hereby are, abrogated and rejected.

Protestantism was the religion of New York, unitarianism was not a part of the reformation.

Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786)
Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as it was in his Almighty power to do;

The people of VA said their rights came from The Lord Jesus Christ, proclaiming Virginia's belief in His Word. They were Christians, not heretics like Jefferson. All Christians grant freedom of conscience, the reformation passed on that idea.

Yes, The Lord(Jesus) is orthodox.

Rhode Island kept the same charter until 1843. http://candst.tripod.com/cnstntro.htm
Charter of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations - July 15, 1663
called Rhode-Island, and the rest of the colonie of Providence Plantations, in the Narragansett Bay, in New-England, in America, that they, pursueing, with peaceable and loyall minces, their sober, serious and religious intentions, of goalie edifieing themselves, and one another, in the holie Christian ffaith and worshipp as they were perswaded;

"Protestant Christianity" not Trinitarianism>

Protestantism is not heresy(unitarianism), but orthodoxy. The other states: GA, MA, SC, NC, MD, NJ, VT, DE, CT, NH, were orthodox

The majority of PA was orthodox, and the constitution uses the word "ministry," that word was only used in Christian sects.

Every state was connected to Christianity

I don't see it as though what you've posted isn't true. But, you are not referencing the national founding. Rather, you are pointing to the separate states some of which were definitely created as specifically Christian.>

You're wrong! Christianity was the established religion. What do you call a nation of Christian states?

When the focus is put on the creation of the nation, it becomes obvious that it was designed to overcome the problems created in those states that joined the state with the church.>

Wrong again! I feel like I should get paid for teaching you people. The first amendment was designed to limit a national church, like the Church of England. The State Constitutions prove separation of church and state is a lie!

OFT has taught me that religious arrogance can cloud judgement and perspective more than any other thing. If you wern't so passionately opposed to every single view that differs from your "Christian America" viewpoint, you might be able to see that history is not black and white.>

Exactly what people say when they can't handle the truth.

Connecticut abolished its last vestiges of establishment in 1818, New Hampshire in 1819, and Massachusetts in 1833.>

Not one state had an established Christian denomination, orthodox christianity was the established religion of the states.

Our Founding Truth said...

Indeed Jefferson and Madison believed it violated the natural rights of the Declaration of Independence for government to do this.>

How could Jefferson say it violated natural rights, when he wrote Jesus Christ into the State Constitution that gave natural rights, and in the Declaration of Independence?

Madison affirmed the states could form whatever religion they wanted.

So in giving “Christianity” such special rights, government would necessarily have to define it to include that which the orthodox regard as utter heresy. To the orthodox, this would poison the proper understanding of Christianity.>

I apologize Jon, but you need to study some more. If religion is left to the states, what does it matter what they establish, or if it's bogus? The states can establish taoism if they want. The Federal Govt. isn't allowed to establish anything. It's completely irrelevant what the religion is, or if it's heretical.

Heresy doesn't come into play, heresy was basically underground, and everyone rejected it.

Furthermore, you've compromised your own position, again, by quoting two guys, leaving everyone else out; when Law is a public act, understanding what the public believed is paramount to understanding the Founding Fathers and our religious heritage.

Could you imagine the orthodox thanking Joseph Story and John Marshall for their sentiments in arguing for an organic connection between Christianity and American government. And then saying but your false, heretical religion doesn’t get one iota of support because it’s not “Christianity.”>

That would never happen because everyone knew what heresy was.

In the Dedham decision in 1820 in Massachusetts, Trinitarians sued Unitarians for control over the benefits of the state Establishment aid using very similar arguments (i.e., the aid is for we “real Christians”). And they lost. And yes, there were Unitarians on the Mass. Supreme Court whom the Trinitarians blamed for “bias.” >

This happened years later because liberalism always corrupts and erodes; the people allowed the leaven to grow, it has culminated to what we have now, but not by the Founding generation. So long as orthodoxy was supreme, heresy could not intercede.

Like slavery, established churches or government supported Christianity,>

So when Read and Bassett made the Constitution, on their way home to Delaware to make the State Constitution, they forgot what they were doing right? And all the other representatives from the states forgot what they were doing right? Had no clue what they were doing was wrong, right? Insanity! It must have been a long carriage ride!

History vindicated the Jeffersonian-Madisonian understanding that held government cannot by right define Christianity. And if it cannot define it, it cannot support or protect “Christianity only.”>

If can define it anytime it wants as anything it wants to be.

Like slavery, established churches or government supported Christianity, though initially permitted at the state level, were incompatible with American ideals -- i.e., the natural rights of the Declaration of Independence.>

Jefferson said Jesus Christian made your natural rights!

Ed Darrell said...

This still proves that the principle of federalism uhnder the contitution permitted the states to establish [and disestablish] churches as they saw fit.

Quite the contrary. After 1778, no state established a church. The only action in that sphere was to disestablish. In fact, that was one of the points Madison cited in his late 1787 correspondence with Jefferson over a bill of rights -- since every state had already disestablished its church, and included religious freedom in its charter, there was no need for a federal law. Jefferson suggested that the states might think they could backtrack.

Madison thought Article VI did the trick. It might have. It was not tested until 1961, and then the Supreme Court said that the First Amendment made it clear the states had no power to establish a church, and did not get to the Article VI argument.

To make a case that a state could establish a church, there would have to have been some action of a state actually working to establish a church after 1788. There is no such example.

Ed Darrell said...

The people of VA said their rights came from The Lord Jesus Christ, proclaiming Virginia's belief in His Word. They were Christians, not heretics like Jefferson. All Christians grant freedom of conscience, the reformation passed on that idea.

Yes, The Lord(Jesus) is orthodox.


You know, Jefferson really was a prophet; he foresaw that someone would make that claim. It's not true, of course.

In his Autobiography Jefferson recounted the 1786 passage of the law he proposed in 1779 to secure religious freedom in Virginia, the Statute for Religious Freedom (the law referred to in the post above; Jefferson wrote:

The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read, “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo, and the Infidel of every denomination.


See Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Modern Library 1993 edition, pp. 45 and 46.

Not a Christian bill, not a bill endorsing Christianity, not a Jesus bill, in other words.

Ed Darrell said...

How could Jefferson say it violated natural rights, when he wrote Jesus Christ into the State Constitution that gave natural rights, and in the Declaration of Independence?

Madison affirmed the states could form whatever religion they wanted.


I think you've got the history exactly backwards there. Can you offer a citation to either claim? I think they are both exactly wrong.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Thanks Ed. I'm really busy now so I didn't have the chance to respond. But I would have said exactly what you did. OFT wants to flip Jefferson's position on its head.

Our Founding Truth said...

The only action in that sphere was to disestablish.>

Nice point, but we both agree that isn't the issue. The issue is Madison believed the states could establish whatever they wanted. The principle, not action is the important thing. Common sense wins the argument. If a state has people of many denominations, why impose a state denomination? The other Christians won't have it.

You know, Jefferson really was a prophet; he foresaw that someone would make that claim. It's not true, of course.>

Hey Ed, you had to know I'm aware of that one right?

Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read, “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo, and the Infidel of every denomination.

Not a Christian bill, not a bill endorsing Christianity, not a Jesus bill, in other words.>

Once Jefferson used the word "Lord" doomed him. That word refers to Jesus Christ, period! No exceptions. We both agree freedom of conscience is granted in the article, that's what Jesus gives, and only He gives.

Since Jesus is granting the freedom, yes, it is His bill. This shows Virginians believed Jesus granted their rights, so yes, it is a Christian Constitution.

OFT

Ed Darrell said...

I do not find any evidence to support a claim that Madison thought the states could establish a church. That's exactly contrary to what he said in 1787 and 1788. It's exactly contrary to his proposal for what became the First Amendment. It's exactly contrary to Madison's own statements in that debate.

It's an extraordinary claim you make, contrary to everything else Madison did on religious freedom in his life. Do you have some extraordinary evidence to support that claim?

And of course, the trend to disestablishment only offers dozens of other examples in which the rest of the nation agreed on that policy. After 1775, 13 colonies disestablished their churches (if they had one -- Rhode Island, not "orthodox" in any way, was established on the principal of religious freedom -- nine of them completely disestablishing. None ever backtracked.

In actions over the next 53 years, the states and federal government took several other steps on the issue of religious freedom, all of them in favor of it, none of them backtracking. If you wish to establish that the founders intended to create a Christian establishment of any stripe in that half-century, you'll need some actions to support that claim. There are none.

You're aware of Jefferson's description of the Statute for Religious Freedom as not for Christians only, but you reject Jefferson's words? Then you should read the actual statute, sometime. Any reference you claim refers to the God of Abraham can just as easily refer to the Ba'ab, or to Vishnu, or to Zoroaster, or any incarnation of Marduk. Jefferson meant "Jesus?" Odd, he wrote the exact opposite, and everywhere Jefferson ever acted on this issue was contrary to your claim. Perhaps you're trying to say that Jefferson was incompetent, or an idiot, and somehow acted contrary to his beliefs at every opportunity between 1776 and 1826? You'd be insulting history, everyone else here, and yourself. That's a fantastic, unsupportable claim.

As Walter Isaacson noted, specifically, the founders avoided saying Jesus granted the freedoms. Freedoms are inherent in citizens, not gifts from monarchs, governments, or gods. The rights are unalienable. As Madison explained it to Jefferson, all rights stay with the people unless and until they are delegated, and Franklin pointed out some rights can't even be delegated.

So, your claim that Jefferson believed rights came from Jesus is also an extraordinary claim. Once again, you'll need some extraordinary evidence. Once again, you'll find that well completely dry.

Jonathan Rowe said...

"That word refers to Jesus Christ, period! No exceptions."

Heh. No exceptions?!? Jefferson, as a Socinian, meant "Jesus," the "holy author of our religion," as just a man not God at all. This is not orthodox Christianity, but heresy. That's where trying to pin these theological arguments down delivers you.

Our Founding Truth said...

I do not find any evidence to support a claim that Madison thought the states could establish a church. That's exactly contrary to what he said in 1787 and 1788. It's exactly contrary to his proposal for what became the First Amendment. It's exactly contrary to Madison's own statements in that debate.

It's an extraordinary claim you make, contrary to everything else Madison did on religious freedom in his life. Do you have some extraordinary evidence to support that claim?>

No problem Ed. At least give me the acknowledgement, and check out my blog, it has good information.

"If there were a majority of one sect, a bill of rights would be a poor protection for liberty. Happily for the states, they enjoy the utmost freedom of religion...Fortunately for this commonwealth, a majority of the people are decidedly against any exclusive establishment. There is not a shadow of right in the general government to intermeddle with religion. Its least interference with it would be a most flagrant usurpation. I can appeal to my uniform conduct on this subject, that I have warmly supported religious freedom. It is better that this security should be depended upon from the general legislature, than from one particular state. A particular state might concur in one religious project. But the United States abound in such a variety of sects, that it is a strong security against religious persecution; and it is sufficient to authorize a conclusion, that no one sect will ever be able to outnumber or depress the rest."
James Madison, June 12, 1788. Elliot's Debates In the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution(Virginia)

The important thing to remember with ALL the framers, is the Fed could not interfere with religion at all. Like I've said on my blog, the framers would allow California to establish Taoism as the state religion if it wanted.

After 1775, 13 colonies disestablished their churches>

Besides Anglican Virginia, not one state had an established denomination.

If you wish to establish that the founders intended to create a Christian establishment of any stripe in that half-century, you'll need some actions to support that claim. There are none.>

The State Constitutions achieve establishment quite nicely. Remember, the states didn't establish churches, they established Christianity.

Any reference you claim refers to the God of Abraham can just as easily refer to the Ba'ab, or to Vishnu, or to Zoroaster>

You couldn't give that away Ed. Lord means Jesus, and always will.

Perhaps you're trying to say that Jefferson was incompetent, or an idiot,>

He was a huge idiot, who else has the audacity to challenge the accuracy of the Bible's transmission with no proof? He was definitely an idiot. And all his writings meant was freedom of conscience which only exists from the Creator Jesus Christ.

As Walter Isaacson noted, specifically, the founders avoided saying Jesus granted the freedoms.>

Isaacson needs to check himself. The framers prayed to Jesus because He gives us our rights. Check out the date, Jefferson was there too:

"The Congress...desirous...to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God's superintending providence, and of their duty devoutly to rely.... on His aid and direction... do earnestly recommend...a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that we may with united hearts confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life,...and through the Merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain His pardon and forgiveness."
Journals of Congress (1905), Vol. IV, pp. 208-209, May 17, 1776.

Once again, you'll find that well completely dry.>

Looks like I'll be seeing you over in my parts. See you later.

OFT




and Franklin pointed out some rights can't even be delegated.>

Because they derive from the Lord.

Our Founding Truth said...

Heh. No exceptions?!? Jefferson, as a Socinian, meant "Jesus," the "holy author of our religion," as just a man not God at all. This is not orthodox Christianity, but heresy. That's where trying to pin these theological arguments down delivers you.>

It wouldn't matter if Jefferson was a jehovah's witness, subjective intentions account for nothing, statutes are laws, and laws are made by the people, therefore, what the people thought is the principle that matters; the people of Virginia were Christians.

OFT

Jonathan Rowe said...

1) It's not at all clear that "the people" of VA were all orthodox Trinitarian Christian. Rather, it's just as likely that a statistical majority were "nominal," "unregenerate" and not "born-again." Indeed, statistics show the majority of folks from the Founding era were not members of Churches and your own religion teaches a "narrow path."

2) Jefferson told us in his autobiography that "the people" purposefully chose to NOT appeal to the authority of Jesus Christ by name JUST TO MAKE SURE that folks didn't get the message that Christianity had any special rights over other religions.

And you have flipped this on its head and got the very message Jefferson said "the people" tried NOT to give.

Our Founding Truth said...

1) It's not at all clear that "the people" of VA were all orthodox Trinitarian Christian. Rather, it's just as likely that a statistical majority were "nominal," "unregenerate" and not "born-again." Indeed, statistics show the majority of folks from the Founding era were not members of Churches and your own religion teaches a "narrow path.">

Strawman argument doesn't apply. The majority were Anglicans; trinitarians. It is your job to prove the majority departed from the tenets of their denomination.

2) Jefferson told us in his autobiography that "the people" purposefully chose to NOT appeal to the authority of Jesus Christ by name JUST TO MAKE SURE that folks didn't get the message that Christianity had any special rights over other religions.>

Since the people contradicted themselves by using the word "Lord Jesus" your conclusion has to be wrong. Anyone can see that contradiction.

Please provide the text showing the people purposefully chose to not use the name of Jesus, not describing freedom of conscience.

OFT

Jonathan Rowe said...

Where are the words "Lord Jesus" used in Jefferson's Virginia Statute? They are not. And Jefferson explains why they are not.

Raven said...

OFT stated:

Proving this nation was a Christian nation is easier than managing a household. My blog proves this nation was formed by orthodox Christians, besides a couple infidels you love to mention, who thought they were smarter than the rest.

Sorry, but your blog proves jack! Actually, it proves that you know nothing of this topic.

Raven said...

And again, OFT states:

I haven't said one thing on this blog that wasn't true, but anyone is welcome to try and prove the contrary. I am willing to learn when I am wrong, even from you, which I have, but I will never stop speaking what I know is the Truth, and Jesus Christ.

OMG!!!

Pinky said...

.
Ha ha