A group blog to promote discussion, debate and insight into the history, particularly religious, of America's founding. Any observations, questions, or comments relating to the blog's theme are welcomed.
Uber-Calvinist Samuel Adams, called by many as the father of the revolution, launched the Solemn League and Covenant in 1774, echoing the original Puritan Revolution document of the “Covenanters” of 1640s Britain.I often don’t recognize Two Kingdoms arguments when wedged into the American context. The Puritans left “ecclesiastical” courts behind in Britain. But the most theologically desirable result of separating church and state is not that society is godless or amoral, but that the church is free from the interference of the state or of duties to it. But somewhere along the line, the door got stuck swinging the other way instead, keeping religion out of the public square, which was never the intention.http://www.pbs.org/godinamerica/people/puritans.html"Like the Pilgrims, the Puritans were English Protestants who believed that the reforms of the Church of England did not go far enough. In their view, the liturgy was still too Catholic. Bishops lived like princes. Ecclesiastical courts were corrupt. Because the king of England was head of both church and state, the Puritans’ opposition to religious authority meant they also defied the civil authority of the state.In 1630, the Puritans set sail for America. Unlike the Pilgrims who had left 10 years earlier, the Puritans did not break with the Church of England, but instead sought to reform it. Seeking comfort and reassurance in the Bible, they imagined themselves re-enacting the story of the Exodus. Like the ancient Israelites, they were liberated by God from oppression and bound to him by a covenant; like the Israelites, they were chosen by God to fulfill a special role in human history: to establish a new, pure Christian commonwealth. Onboard the flagship Arbella, their leader John Winthrop reminded them of their duties and obligations under the covenant. If they honored their obligations to God, they would be blessed; if they failed, they would be punished."Again, the lesson of the shining “City on a Hill”–it’s quite possible to blow the deal. Ask the Jews if being the “Chosen People” is really all that great. You’re actually held to a higher standard, while the heathens just merrily glide along under the radar.Dreisbach:What do Americans do with this Christian-religion DNA in them? Does Calvinism always lie dormant in them?One of the things that we know about Calvinism, from its origins in Geneva right through to the American experience, is it provides a rather comprehensive worldview.Good interview, BTW. I’m not big on the Puritans because they became quite unPuritan PDQ. But you can see their plan of wanting to live in a godly society. You can’t force godliness on people, this is true, but neither did liberty ever equal license:http://www.pbs.org/godinamerica/interviews/daniel-dreisbach.html#puritans
But the most theologically desirable result of separating church and state is not that society is godless or amoral, but that the church is free from the interference of the state or of duties to it. Yes, it is not in the interests of the churches to have government helping in their theological matters.It is just as much in the desirable interests of the state that they don't have to get embroiled in theological matters.Mutually ensured you're not the boss of me.It is in the people's interest that churches/religion tend to matters of the spirit and morality, without governmental help, and that the government not dictate or promote religion in secular/temporal matters of the state - except through the citizen representing the values of their faith as representatives and participants of church and state, as they see fit. The state meddling in religion and religion meddling in state business was olde Europe. And we, and the Founders, know how well that didn't go.As to the "religion being kept out of the town square" myth, No one and no government in America is preventing religion in the town square, or on the radio, or on the television, or on the corner, or in storefronts, or at the rodeo, or at NASCAR events, or in the subway, or in the space station, or in the schools. There is, however, an effort to keep the institutions of government from establishing religion (or overt religious preference), to the consternation of some, which is consistent with the Constitution and the spirit of freedom of conscience - the fundamental natural right of the individual. In addition to the Baptists of old, with respect to state establishment of religion, the Catholics in the 20th century were rather instrumental in getting religion out of the public schools because of discrimination by Protestants in matters of religious representation. I believe that this is covered in the PBS program that you cite. It's a matter of record that keeping the state out of the business of establishing religion and religious preference is also beneficial to the various sects within any given religion. I mean, can you imagine a government giving preference to, let's say, the Sunnis over the other sects of Islam? Sounds like trouble to me.
There is, however, an effort to keep the institutions of government from establishing religion (or overt religious preference), to the consternation of some, which is consistent with the Constitution and the spirit of freedom of conscience - the fundamental natural right of the individual. A clever if not sneaky parenthetical.However, theism is not synonymous with sectarianism. The First Amendment was designed as a bulwark against the latter, not necessarily the former.
However, theism is not synonymous with sectarianism. The First Amendment was designed as a bulwark against the latter, not necessarily the former.If by theism you mean the individual's belief in one or more deities or their moral grounding through their faith, then I agree. And, I accounted for that when I said, "except through the citizen representing the values of their faith as representatives and participants of church and state, as they see fit." See, I snuck religion into government. Pretty much the same way that the founders and the first amendment did/does. And, of course, there is no requirement of religious affiliation of observance to participate in governance. So, via participation of the individual of theistic faith (of whatever creed and sectarian affiliation), the government is not Godless/godless and the non-theistic individual is still guaranteed participation and representation.Of course we expect them all to be of some higher moral character but also know that they're all subject to failure. Not a bad arrangement if we expect government to be the protector of our - and I'm being very inclusive here - basic natural and civil rights as citizens.
If by theism you mean the individual's belief in one or more deities or their moral grounding through their faith, then I agreeBy theism I mean God is a reality. This was the default description of reality, although certainly room was left for anyone to conscientiously reject that reality.The law does not extend to personal belief, and it's useless to try anyway.But that did not mean that God-as-reality was rejected in the name of "neutrality." That is the modern perversion, and although we're on the ropes, it's not quite yet the law of the land.
However, theism is not synonymous with sectarianism. The First Amendment was designed as a bulwark against the latter, not necessarily the former.By theism I mean God is a reality.I gave a mechanism that God could occupy government via the faith of the individual, which presumably means that a Christian, for instance, would believe in the reality of God, but you don't seem satisfied because "the law does not extend to personal belief".In trying to understand your position, are you saying that the 1st Amendment doesn't provide a bulwark against the government institutionalizing the reality of God in law? What would that mean?Should the government limit participation by the "heathen" (that you disapprovingly allude to) and/or the infidel and/or the pagan - all of whom may be theistic in some fashion, but maybe not the "right" fashion? Or should only the non-theist be counted out as contra government? How would we find out? What about the pesky religious test clause?I don't get what you're getting at.
That "neutrality" isn't neutral.
That "neutrality" isn't neutral.What's a neutral solution?
What's a neutral solution?Exactly.Hunter Baker is an old blogbrother.http://www.amazon.com/End-Secularism-Hunter-Baker/dp/1433506548
Well then, I assume that your position is Hunter Baker's position. Accurate?
And, how do you define secularism?
Actually, you can't tell Hunter Baker's position from the reviews.And, how do you define secularism?Who, me? I define it as you, the stuff you spout. Duh.
Actually, you can't tell Hunter Baker's position from the reviews.Then why do you link to the site? Just put it in your own words.Who, me? I define it [secularism] as you, the stuff you spout. Duh. :) Surely you can do better than this.
Hunter's thesis is that the Constitution permits both a more religious nation or a less religious one. It's a very good book. Here's the google previewhttp://books.google.com/books/about/The_End_of_Secularism.html?id=FyAF86k-EV0C
I've had a bit of a chance to look into hunter's book - via your link and a couple of reviews that I found - and find his formulation of secularism, pluralism and neutrality interesting and worth pursuing at some point.
There's a podcast interview with Hunter Baker(1) that probably gives a fair understanding of his thesis. I don't have the time to sit through the whole hour but will do so in chunks - the first 15-16 minutes seems to lay out a good part the foundation with respect to his perception of secularization based on what he terms secularization theory.1) http://www.researchonreligion.org/christianity/hunter-baker-on-secularism
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