The Watering Hole, Monday, December 28th, 2015: No Religious Test?

I ran across this opinion piece at christianpost.com [and for more religious wackiness, check out some of the stories on their home page] and felt it was a perfect example of the ridiculousness of the “Christian Nation” argument. In it, Reverend Mark H. Creech cherry-picks references from some version of the bible, from early American historical documents, and from the Star-Spangled Banner.

Recently, WTVD News ABC 11 for Raleigh-Durham reported that the mayor of Franklin, North Carolina, Bob Scott has a long tenure of public service. He was in the Army as a public affairs officer. He flew in the Civil Air Patrol. He spent ten years on the Franklin Board of Alderman.

Each time he was sworn into office he placed his left hand on the Bible to take his oath. But this year, which will make his second term as Franklin’s mayor, he decided to do something different. He decided he wouldn’t use the Bible, but instead swear upon a copy of the Constitution.

According to WTVD, Scott said that he had been thinking about the matter for a long time.

“I realized we are taking an oath to defend the Constitution, pure and simple, and those are the laws of the land. And If I’m gonna give an oath, that’s what I’m giving an oath to. It had nothing to do with religion — for or against — just swearing to protect and defend the Constitution,” said Scott.

Regarding the office of any public official, Scott also said, “We do not represent any religion, what we represent are the laws of the land. As far as I am concerned, there is no place in government for religion. I’m a secularist in that respect. I just don’t think there’s a place for any kind of religious doctrine in government because we represent everybody.”

The woeful ignorance of Scott’s view is breathtaking. You can no more separate our nation’s form of government from the Christian religion than you can separate smoke from fire or water from ice.

Granted, at the start of our fledgling republic, there was a severing of the politico-ecclesiastical ties that had long existed between the church and state. But the separation of the two did not mean the severance of our way of government from God, or from its basis — the Christian religion. As John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States stated, the American Revolution connected in “one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government and the principles of Christianity.”

This fact is voluminously evident in such matters as the biblical worldview that shaped the resistance of the colonists to King George’s tyranny, the Declaration of Independence’s references to “Nature’s God,” the “Creator,” the “Supreme Judge of the world” and its signers acknowledgement of “a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.” This is not to mention the repeated presidential and congressional calls for prayer and days of fasting in periods of great national challenges throughout American history.  [HUH?]

Scott may claim that there is “no place in government for religion,” but even something as simple as the concluding words of our National Anthem summarize the United States was birthed out of a religious commitment — out of a commitment to God.

“Blessed with victory and peace, May this heaven rescued land, Praise the Power that hath made And preserved us a nation!

“Then conquer we must, When our cause is just; And this be our motto, ‘In God is our trust!’**

“And the star-spangled banner in, Triumph shall wave, O’er the land of the free, And the home of the brave.

Scott may have chosen to take his oath on the Constitution, but neither can he remove that great document from its Christian influences. Stephen McDowell and Mark Beliles, in their book, Liberating the Nations, point out that James Madison, who has justly been referred to as the “Father” of the US Constitution, was a tremendous Christian statesman that delineated the biblical responsibilities of government in its preamble:

To establish justice — the goal of government as taught in Romans 13 and I Peter 2:14 is to punish evildoers and to protect those who do right.

To ensure domestic tranquility — a phrase that comes from the focus of prayer for government, which instructs us to pray “in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”

To provide for the common defense — “The protection of innocent human life is at the base of not only capital punishment (Gen. 9:6) but also in the provision of an army for protection from external threats.”

To promote the general welfare — Romans 13:4 says that civil rulers are servants of God “to you for good.”

To secure the blessings of Liberty — Liberty is a gift from our Creator, not simply a privilege granted by the government. The government should secure the God-given rights of every man to his life, liberty, and property.

No wonder Noah Webster said, “The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and his apostles … to this we owe our free constitutions of government.”

Moreover, these are some of the same reasons George Washington in his farewell address warned:

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars …The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for prosperity, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths…? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion …Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”

Mayor Scott certainly has the right to reject putting his hand on the Bible when taking his oath of office, but his choice sends a dangerous message that places every citizen at risk. His actions declare the erroneous notion that our rights come from the state — not God.”

While there’s a lot here that should be picked apart, I’ll leave most of that to you, my readers. I’m just going to throw out a few comments regarding certain parts.

First: Who the hell sings the entire National Anthem?

Second: Noah Webster was wrong: the democratic principles of the Greeks, not “the religion of Christ and his apostles”, introduced civil liberty and “our free constitutions of government.”

Third: Mayor Scott’s decision to swear his oath of office on the Constitution is not a danger to any citizen, it is a promise to ALL American citizens to uphold our rights as granted by the Constitution – NOT by the Reverend’s, or anyone else’s, god. No one’s god can take away my rights as a U.S. citizen.

Fourth: Obviously I disagree with George Washington’s notion that morality is dependent upon religion; however, I must point out that Reverend Creech left out an important line that followed the Washington quote he referenced:

“Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.”

If only George Washington could have foreseen the bastardization that is Liberty University.

**According to www.treasury.gov, we can blame adding the motto “In God We Trust” to U.S. coinage (not on paper currency) on Salmon P. Chase, who apparently was totally ignorant of the First Amendment. An excerpt:

The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout persons throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize the Deity on United States coins. From Treasury Department records, it appears that the first such appeal came in a letter dated November 13, 1861. It was written to Secretary Chase by Rev. M. R. Watkinson, Minister of the Gospel from Ridleyville, Pennsylvania, and read:

Dear Sir: You are about to submit your annual report to the Congress respecting the affairs of the national finances.

One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins.

You are probably a Christian. What if our Republic were not shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our past that we were a heathen nation? What I propose is that instead of the goddess of liberty we shall have next inside the 13 stars a ring inscribed with the words PERPETUAL UNION; within the ring the allseeing eye, crowned with a halo; beneath this eye the American flag, bearing in its field stars equal to the number of the States united; in the folds of the bars the words GOD, LIBERTY, LAW.

This would make a beautiful coin, to which no possible citizen could object. This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism. This would place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed. From my hearth I have felt our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters…

As a result, Secretary Chase instructed James Pollock, Director of the Mint at Philadelphia, to prepare a motto, in a letter dated November 20, 1861:

Dear Sir: No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins.

So, America has “Divine protection”? Coulda fooled me.

 

UPDATE:  Being ever so suspicious of religious quotes attributed to our Founders (or their children), Wayne checked and found out the John Quincy Adams quote above is a fake quote.  The words were written by John Wingate Thornton and are believed to be Thornton’s summary of a concept he attributed to John Quincy Adams.  Whether they represent Adams’ views or not, they are not his words, they are Thornton’s.

 

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

78 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Monday, December 28th, 2015: No Religious Test?

  1. “James Madison, who has justly been referred to as the “Father” of the US Constitution, was a tremendous Christian statesman that delineated the biblical responsibilities of government . . .”

    James Madison was a slave owner. “Biblical responsibility”? Say no more.

    “Liberty is a gift from our Creator, not simply a privilege granted by the government.”

    Seems to me it was the government that freed the slaves, that granted them “liberty,” not that non-existent god the wingnut Christers keep on talking about.

    My one regret about the first amendment is that James Madison’s words concerning religion weren’t fervent enough. If I were going to write that clause today, it’d say something like “No governmental entity anywhere in these United States shall ever allow any religious belief to dictate governmental policy, or impose any such belief on any person or entity.”

    Belief in ANY god-based religion is up to each and every individual, and there it should remain. Believe what you want, but shut up about it.

  2. “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 States.”

    Thus sayeth the Constitution. However, this does not prevent the people from imposing a religious test on candidates for public office.

    • If only it would have said, “no religious test shall ever be ALLOWED as a qualification for ANYTHING.” A clause that specified COMPLETE AND TOTAL separation of church and state would have been even better.

      Today’s problem is that the concept of “religious liberty” is interpreted by wingnuts everywhere as a concept the ALLOWS religious discrimination, even feeds the concept. “I fear God and therefore birth control pills must be made illegal because when wimmin take them it interferes with MY religious liberty!” Something like that.

      • I would call it “Amendment 1a.” and it would go something like…

        Any public official at any level of government, whether elected or appointed, who sites his/her personal religious beliefs as sole justification for public policy will be immediately removed from his/her position and forever barred from government service.

  3. Marco Rubio has snagged the coveted Trey Gowdy endorsement. Other GOP candidates seen sighing with relief.

    • Donald Trump Blasts Trey Gowdy As He Is Expected To Endorse Rubio

      Donald Trump on Sunday morning bashed Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, following reports that the congressman will soon endorse Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for the Republican presidential nomination.

      Trump criticized Gowdy’s performance at an October hearing with Hillary Clinton on the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, during an appearance on “Fox and Friends.”

      “His hearings were a disaster. Everybody was looking forward to something that was going to be really productive. And he didn’t win with those hearings. It was a total not-good for Republicans and for the country,” Trump said, according to Business Insider.

      “I mean, beyond Republicans it was very bad for the country,” he continued, according to Business Insider. “So I hope he does a lot better for Marco than he did for the Benghazi hearings. Because they were not good. That was not a pretty picture.”

      Everybody raise your hand if you didn’t see this coming…anybody? Anybody? Bueller?

      • Trump gives the nod that the public finally wised up to – Benghazi was a ‘burn Hillary’ witch-hunt from the start – one handily won in the end by the intended victim.

  4. I’m going to intentionally watch an NFL regular season game for the first time in a long time tonight. I just heard that A.J. McCarron is starting at Denver for the Bengals.

  5. Tomorrow I start Chemotherapy, not looking forward to the seven (7) hour treatment.
    May not be writing for a while, however will check in when I can.

    Thank you ALL for being!

    • Good luck with the treatment and the after-effects, as well. We’ll be pulling for you all the way!

      • Get yourself an iPod and load it with your favorite music.
        It’s going to be a long day.

    • Will be keeping you in our thoughts, Ebb. I remember how exhausted my mum was during her treatments, but once they were all over with, she bounced back really well. We all know how strong you are, and we know you will beat this. We’re all here for you!

    • My best hope and wishes for you, Ebb. I have always thought that “courage” was a higher virtue than “faith,” so I wish you courage.

      Courage, and an e-Reader loaded with lots of distracting but shallow nonsense with which to distract your mind as they attack the parasite within you.

  6. Texas Christian claims she diverted tornado to another neighborhood: ‘God had given us authority over the winds’

    Sabrina Lowe, of Rowlett, said 10 family members were visiting her apartment Saturday when they heard the distinctive train noise of the approaching tornado, reported NPR.

    “We actually went outside and started commanding the winds, because God had given us authority over the winds, the airways,” Lowe said. “And we just began to command this storm not to hit our area. We spoke to the storm and said, ‘Go to unpopulated places.’ It did exactly what we said to do, because God gave us the authority to do that.”

    The EF4 tornado, with wind speeds up to 180 mph, was among nine confirmed tornadoes that swept through the Dallas area, killing 11 people and destroying more than 1,000 buildings.

    The tornado killed eight people and destroyed about 600 buildings in nearby Garland as the storm barreled north from Sunnyvale to Rowlett, where Lowe lives.

    Anybody who even watched the movie ‘Twister’ knows tornadoes shift track abruptly many times during their path.

  7. Heh. With Moaning Joke Scabro on vacation, the libruls have taken over the M$RNC this morning, and are raking Trump over the coals.

  8. Donald Trump Isn’t the Biggest Narcissist in the GOP Field. Ted Cruz Is

    To hear the pundits and experts in Washington tell it, the problem with Ted Cruz is that he doesn’t play well with others in the Senate, he’s too hardheaded and he doesn’t compromise. In other words, he’s exactly what the Republican primary voters want.

    (snip)

    But there is a far bigger problem with Cruz: Donald Trump is not the most self-absorbed Republican running for president—Cruz is. Whether you like Trump or not (and I don’t), at least Trump makes no effort to hide his narcissism. In that sense, Trump is oddly genuine.

    Cruz, on the other hand, takes great pains to be whatever he thinks you want him to be. And the troubling thing is he’s really good at it.

    (snip)

    My dad was a preacher for 40 years—a great one I might add. He gave me some sage advice: “Never trust a preacher who wears makeup.” There it is. Cruz is the televangelist candidate. (To be clear, not all televangelists are phony, just most of ’em.)

    • Very interesting thoughts…. “Cruz is the televangelist” …. so now it’s nearly January and the primary voting is going to start soon …. and these are the two candidates at the front? Part of me is hoping that the GOP actually selects one of these two fascists to run. A pair of dirty underwear would beat either of them in November …. but then I think they probably said that about Hitler … and by the way for both these people, Godwin’s Rule does not count.

    • “Cruz, on the other hand, takes great pains to be whatever he thinks you want him to be.”

      I keep saying, Cruz looks like someone overlaid the ‘Comedy’ and ‘Tragedy’ masks onto his face.

      • I think you’re onto something. It’s like he has the lower half of the comedy mask, but the upper half of the tragedy mask, so when he’s smiling, his eyebrows and eyes appear as a grimace.

        • I think he face is perpetually in an expression of “can you smell my fart? well, can you?”

    • I invested 30 seconds of my time on that story – “overpaid man who’s only talent is lobbing a pig’s bladder 50 yards and should have got a proper job after high school” was doing some drugs ….. yawn.

      I sat and watched a bunch of 14 year old boys on TV yesterday – it was the youth teams of Valencia and Juventus playing – 7-a-side soccer. And all I ended up watching was the diving, the posing, the histrionics, the appeals to the ref and sighing – professional sports …. well except rugby, which I remain pleasantly surprised about, if you ever watch one of those games.

    • In the end I squeezed out 3…… probably never see the light of day again, so here they are on the Zoo:

      Frankenstein’s Combover Skullfucks His Creator

      Tea Party snake oil
      Talking heads supply lightning
      “I’m alive! You’re Fired!”

      – by Terry the Turtle (no more on Trump, don’t feed the Trump)

      Meet me on Cable Street

      TV preachers march
      Hearts and shirts black Dominion
      Meet on Cable Street

      – by TerrytheTurtle

      Peaceful refugees

      God’s knife, Assad’s fear
      Book Trumps love, Hopeless find peace
      The sea’s gentle kiss

      – by TerrytheTurtle

    • Yup – see above…. a living metal icon…. hopefully Ozzy lasts until Feb 6th at the Tacoma Dome.

    • I have one question, and one question only for Mein Trumpf, but it’s both simple and compelling:

      How the fuck do you comb your hair, and why?

      OK, so it’s two questions.

    • “(P.S. How do we know the guy taking the picture didn’t put them there just so he can talk shit about Liberals?)”

      My first thought.

    • I think Cruz’s expression is perpetually one of “Can you smell my fart? Huh? Can you?”

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