Saturday, May 08, 2010

A xian nation? Really?

Sarah Palin is one of those nutjobs who claim the USA was founded by xians for xians

Let's explore that idea:


The pramble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Nothing there about xianity. In particular, I notice that the "Blessings of Liberty" are not being prayed for. There's no begging some deity for protection. Screw that. We're going to do it ourselves. That's about the most un-xian an idea I can imagine.

The body:
A search of the text of the body of the Constitution reveals that the words 'God', 'Jesus', 'Christ', 'creator', 'prayer', 'church' and 'bible' do not occur anywhere in it.
The word 'religion' (or rather, 'religious') occurs once in the body (Article 6):

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United
[emphasis mine]

The body of the Constitution is entirely about the structure of the government, and I don't see how any of it can be thought to relate to xianity, so I'm going to focus on the Bill of Rights.

Does the Bill of Rights conform to the Ten Commandments?

Amendment 1)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This amendment flatly contradicts the first, third and fourth Commandments, and possibly the second and fifth as Freedom of Speech issues. That's half of them shot down right off the bat. No xian foundation here.

Amendment 2)

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Nothing that contradicts the Commandments, but no support for them either. No xian foundation here.

Amendment 3)

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Nothing that contradicts the Commandments, but no support for them either. No xian foundation here.

Amendment 4)

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Nothing that contradicts the Commandments, but no support for them either. It does sort of contradict some things Jesus said about the importance of possessions. No xian foundation here.

Let's do this the other way around.

Consider the Commandments. From the KJV, Exodus:

20:1 And God spake all these words, saying,
20:2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Tossed out by the first Amendment

20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Wow, xian's are not allowed to have artwork of any kind. Someone notify the Vatican. Anyway, this can be seen as a Freedom of Speech issue, and is tossed out by the first Amendment, as is the prohibition on worshiping images

20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Again, tossed out by the first Amendment

20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Again, tossed out by the first Amendment

20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Relates to the Bill of Rights only as a possible Freedom of Speech issue and as such tossed out by the first Amendment

20:13 Thou shalt not kill [some versions replace 'kill' with 'murder'].
Not in the Constitution, but a good idea that (AFAIK) vastly pre-dates the Ten Commandments, and has existed in all civilizations (with varying cultural definitions of 'murder') throughout history.

20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Not in the Bill of Rights. Not even illegal.

20:15 Thou shalt not steal.
See my above comment on murder

20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
No relation to the Constitution. Slander and libel laws do exist, but are just good sense for any civil society.

20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
Not in the Bill of Rights. Not even illegal. (Coveting is not stealing) In fact, coveting things is the fundamental basis of Capitalism.

So, of the Ten Commandments, none are foundational to the Constitution. Five are shot down by the Bill of Rights. Only three are encoded in US law, and those three are so ubiquitous that claiming those laws must be based on the Commandments is just stupid.

What about the claim that the founding fathers were xian?

It is very likely that most of them weren't. I'm not going there. There are plenty of sites that document what the founding fathers had to say on the subject.

What about "...Endowed by their creator...."?

The Declaration of Independence is a piece of inflammatory rhetoric with the sole purpose of telling off King George III. It has no bearing on the founding of the United States.

Well, that rant is spent.


(Hmm. The hide post thingy doesn't seem to be working right after all. I needed the bar again.)

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