Watching Gordon Howie during his 4th place campaign for the GOP House slot we were again subjected to the far-right’s assertion that American has drifted away from our “Christian founding/Christian heritage”. We heard this from Sarah Palin during the Presidential campaign and continue to hear it from fungelicals even as they try to explain away their defeats in their attempts to win public office despite using that argument. Of course being one with no belief in a higher power, listening to these arguments makes me cringe while seeing them lose helps restore my faith in our sensibilities as a nation (of course Texas is an exception).
After hearing Howie and his followers continue this argument at their sparsely attended rallies even after being trounced, I thought I’d throw out my thoughts on the subject.
First let’s put aside for this argument on whether we are a Christian nation the fact that the 11th article of Treaty Of Tripoli ratified by Congress and signed by President John Adams in 1797 specifically states that the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion. Secondly let’s put aside the establishment clause for just a moment, though I will get back to it in a minute, which seemingly also contradicts the Christian nation claim when it states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion“. Let us also not mention the fact that the Constitution not once even mentions Christianity which makes one wonder what nation would be founded on a religious foundation and then not mention that foundation anywhere in their most important document?
For this discussion let us instead look at an argument that I rarely come across that concerns the 10 Commandments, you know those 2 tablets sent from God (Mel Brooks intimates that there were actually 15 until Moses dropped one of the tablets but that is from a different version of the history of the world) that contain the basis for much of the so-called Christian morality that Howie et al want our nation to get back to following. Considering the importance of those 10 do’s and do not’s to the faithful especially back in the puritanical days of our nation’s founding, one would have to really wonder why our founders would then turn around and pretty much make any attempt by the government to enforce 4 of those “laws from God” Unconstitutional?
‘You shall have no other gods before Me.’ – Violates the Free Exercise clause of the 1st amendment.
‘You shall not make for yourself a graven image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.’ – Also Violates the Free Exercise clause of the 1st amendment.
‘You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.’ – Violates our freedom of speech guaranteed by the first amendment.
‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.’ – Seems to spit in the face of the establishment clause which would prevent the government from establishing a specific day of religiosity.
Of course this is not proof of the intent of our founders but it is just some more food for thought to consider when the Sarah Palin/Gordon Howie wing of the Republican party trots out their “Christian nation” meme at the next Tea Party rally.