Is America a Christian Nation? or One Nation Under the Constitution?

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Some thoughts as you get ready for the upcoming US 4th of July holiday


The book “Attack of the Theocrats: How the Religious Right Harms Us All & What We Can Do About It” is available in electronic and hard copy Learn about a Ten Point Vision of a Secular America

Faircloth is Dir. of Strategy & Policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science – US.

Written By: Sean Faircloth
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37 COMMENTS

  1. Really sorry to hear about Sean’s mum. He’s very brave to carry on with such a work load, but I’m sure he’ll be fine. My mum died a few years ago and the thought that I won’t see her again really isn’t a problem for me as an atheist. I didn’t have to invent a way around the problem or rely on far fetched concepts of her mind surviving death. I dealt with it there and then and it was a relief to know that she wouldn’t suffer any more.
    What it has done though is made me think more about my own mortality and this makes me want to achieve more in my life and enjoy it all the more without resigning myself to eventual reward and comfort in heaven.

  2.  Once again, Sean gives us an amazing speech. I am sure this speech will move some US citizens’ hearts.

    However, being a non-US national, I can’t shake-off the notion that this speech is an appeal to authority, the founding fathers. The founding fathers may be more secular than the religious conservatives we have today, but our views on morality have evolved quite considerably, or as some would say, advanced.

    If the conservative crowd could be persuaded by the argument because they revere the founding fathers, it’s a great first step, but they will need to eventually realise that the majority of those people were not against slavery and would probably laugh at the idea of universal suffrage. The founding fathers were the product of their time and they should not worship historic figures blindly. The fact is, even constitutions get amended. Laws are created by society to reflect their needs, they should not be blindly followed.

    Of course, some people are more susceptible to arguments from emotion rather than logic. If the rest of the US public can see the spirit of the founding father in the contemporary secular movement. They might be more willing view the movement in a more romantic light.

  3. Interesting idea about how ‘Charlotte’ would not get elected for a political office in the USA if she expressed the ideas of the founding fathers.

    That could actually be turned around: Someone could run for a political office in the USA not to get elected, but to spread the knowledge that the USA was not founded as a Christian nation.

    They would use the quotes of the founding fathers publicly and be criticised for them by those not knowing their origin, giving the political candidate (and others) the chance to show what the founding fathers really intended.

  4. 1. I do wish Mr Faircloth would desist from plugging his book, or encouraging others to do so; 
    it is getting very tiresome and some might imply he’s in it only for the fast buck. 

    2. If his vids were limited to 10 mins and be focused and ‘punchy’ I’d be more inclined to watch. 
    Surely his message can be driven home in reasonable time?

  5. Mr Faircloth is obviously mentioning his book in order to limit the time he needs to speak. He is promoting the book as he has documented strategies for counter-attacking the religious assault on human advancement and wants people to help in dealing with this crisis. It is a short book and probably easy to read. I have not read it myself mainly because I am not American. But quite likely will some time. I would expect almost every atheist American to have read this book if they take the issue seriously.
    He assumes that his audience have/will read the book and thereby limiting the time he speaks.
    Otherwise I and most posts find his talks very engaging.

  6. Here is a prayer for all:

    Please repeat after me.
    Religion……….is silly.
    It preys on the weak minded.
    It gives a false sense of comfort.
    It is the definition of evil
    Can I get a Ramen?   Ramen………………

    Thank you for coming. Please do not leave a donation in the coffer. You probably need it worse than I do.

  7. This is by far the best talk I’ve heard yet from Shawn. 
    But here’s my problem. For every anti-religious quote I can find from most of our founders, it seems I can find other quotes (from the same person) that are much more positive toward’s Christianity. Some, even the more deistic founders, sometimes speak uncharacteristically in favor of Christianity. Were they just playing politics here? It’s a shame, really. It seems they were sometimes as inconsistent as todays politicians. Anyone have any thoughts here … good books they would recommend that addresses this?

  8. Of all the
    animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a
    difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate
    and distressing, and ought to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the
    enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would
    at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we
    should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch
    as to endanger the peace of society.

    – George Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, October 20, 1792, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom, also James A Haught, 2000 Years of Disbelief

  9. What special rights? Marriage itself and Married Couples also have special rights. I have a bumper sticker I made for sale, you can copy it if you like, it reads: “Abolish Marriage.”  I say take the toy away from all of them. Whenever tax dollars are involved there is trouble. Same with most any issue. Washington D.C. needs to stay in… Washington D.C.

  10. A wall of Separation between Government and the peoples will and ability to practice their beliefs in any congregation, Atheist, or otherwise is important, but the term, “Separation of Church and State”, is also used to infringe on the will of the People; take for example the Memorial Cross at Mt. Solidad.

  11. I agree; the wisdom and teachings of the Bible have far more been regarded more worthy, historically, than the fanciful miracles found in its text, and, generally, only political carousers and their polemicists focus on them as a means to transmute the miraculous to the spiritual to the moral, finally equating to “God says you should vote for me!”

  12. Thats exactly what the United States needs is someone to run simply on the Ticket to inform the population.  Not only on not being founded on Christianity but also on Science in general.   I was hoping somene like Gates or Buffet would fund this individual or someone else with that kind of capital which could have a positive influence. 
     

  13. I like what Sean or someone here said about ‘hearts and minds’.  If humanists/atheists/Agnostics don’t appeal to the emotional/non-cerebral areas of life eg..charity, compassion, philanthropy etc.. then we are not going to make inroads into fundamentalism.  As Richard.D has said education is one of the key antidotes to early child indoctrination but that dosen’t help a lot of adults battling to survive day to day. In other words some sort of Non-religious economic aid and empowerment organisation on the ground would surely help undermine the appeal of religious pie-in-the-sky nirvana.  Our present economic system might be great for those who achieve but letting heaps of folks languish is a source of endless recruitment for literalism world wide.  

  14. I agree with @rdfrs-dfa139a3e179e750f66a946db4e414a8:disqus. The crucial question is not, “is America a Christian Nation” nor is it “Did the Founding Fathers want America to be a Christian Nation.” Rather, we should be asking, “Is Christianity True.” The Founding Fathers didn’t decide reality, and if Christianity if false, then guiding America according to Christian principles is to live a lie.

  15.  “The wisdom and teachings of the Bible”? Alpha-Bass, have you read “The God Delusion”? Dawkins devotes a chapter to demonstrating that wherever our morality came from, it certainly didn’t come from the Bible.

  16.  I realize I am responding to a post made months ago, but since the video is presently linked the front page, I think a response is warranted.

    There are times that an appeal to authority is clearly warranted and a perfectly logical and proper argument to make.  This is one such circumstance.  There is a legal principle for statutory interpretation which involves looking at the intent of the drafters when trying to interpret what was meant.  Thus, Jefferson’s and Hamilton’s views as well as their actions are highly relevant to interpreting the meaning of the Constitution and the First Amendment.  Another principle used is the drafting history of a document, including language that was discussed and ultimately stricken.  Attempts to include references to God and Christianity in the Constitution were made and rejected.  This is also telling.  While appeal to authority is not always a logically proper method of making a case, in this case, it most certainly is.  Another principle used to interpret meaning is application of a statute, and, as such, the way people like Washington and Adams treated the meaning of the Separation Clause and their expressed views are particularly pertinent given that they were two of our founding fathers and the first two US Presidents.  The same can be said of other founding fathers like Franklin.

    Admittedly, statements by people like JFK and Lincoln are far less persuasive authority as to the original intent of the drafters, and Mark Twain’s writings bear no weight in assessing original intent (although they are strong persuasive arguments for the ills of religion and its nefarious effects when mingled with state actions).  One thing to recall when reading the history of the First Amendment (and other Amendments for that matter) is that they only applied to the Federal Government and did not apply to the states until after the civil war when the 14th Amendment was passed (which included what is known as the “incorporation clause” which applied the Amendments to the states).  So while it was true that individual states may have had official state religions and had entanglement between government and religion, such activities were no longer permissible after the passage of the 14th Amendment which then applied the First Amendment to state actions.

  17. Highly recommend the author’s “Attack of the Theocrats” for a scary overview of the rabid religious right, people like Gov. Mike Huckabee, who says the Constitution should be interpreted according to Christian principles, and the Rev. John Hagee, the evangelical megachurch millionaire who claimed Hurricane Katrina was “God’s” punishment of New Orleans for living in sin.  Mr. Faircloth knows all the loonies when he sees them and doesn’t pull his punches in telling who they are and what their irrational beliefs and anti-democratic political policy positions happen to be.  Required reading!  (Hurry, the Yodel is coming soon. To explain, newly discovered Gnostic documents in Koine Greek say that “Rapture” is a mistranslation; the usual meaning of the original word is “Yodel.” Bumpter stickers will be changed to read: “In Case of Yodel, This Car Will Be Empty,” which is always on the same bumper as “Not Perfect, Just Saved.”)

  18. Highly recommend the author’s “Attack of the Theocrats” for a scary overview of the rabid religious right, people like Gov. Mike Huckabee, who says the Constitution should be interpreted according to Christian principles, and the Rev. John Hagee, the evangelical megachurch millionaire who claimed Hurricane Katrina was “God’s” punishment of New Orleans for living in sin.  Mr. Faircloth knows all the loonies when he sees them and doesn’t pull his punches in telling who they are and what their irrational beliefs and anti-democratic political policy positions happen to be.  Required reading!  (Hurry, the Yodel is coming soon. To explain, newly discovered Gnostic documents in Koine Greek say that “Rapture” is a mistranslation; the usual meaning of the original word is “Yodel.” Bumpter stickers will be changed to read: “In Case of Yodel, This Car Will Be Empty,” which is always on the same bumper as “Not Perfect, Just Saved.”)

  19. A constitution defines a state recognised by the world.  A nation is a group of people with a common outlook.  So a state can contain many nations, but only a totalitarian state that removes individuality by forcing a necessarily arbitrary common outlook on all can also be a nation at the same time as being a state.  So the question boils down to is America a totalitarian state?

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