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Rooster7

A Christian Nation?

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Dan,

 

First let me make it clear that I do not believe that the U.S. should be a nation of ONLY Christians. What I tried to show is that it was founded on Christian principles. I didn't realize people would think that meant that ALL founding Fathers were Christians. I wish you could read Marshall and Manuel's book, "The Light and the Glory," because then you would see that by founders, I was referring to people as far back as Columbus, not just the writers of the Constitution.

 

Kahuna, thank you for clarifying what I was trying to say. Our posts aren't always as clear to others as they are to ourselves!

 

Christopher Columbus was quoted as trusting in his Lord, Savior, and the Holy Spirit. I have not read the writings that the quotes were from, but the authors of "The Light and the Glory," who did read it, tell of Columbus' Christianity. That's why I (and Marshall and Manuel) look at it as divine intervention from God, rather than an accident that Columbus ended up in America.

 

Many of you may know that God called the Jews His chosen people, and He called them the Nation of Israel. After he sent His son, Jesus, He then had a nation of Christians. So, I don't find it difficult to believe that He wanted an actual land that would hold the nation of Christians.

 

Just as I told another poster, I am not against you, Dan. We are both entitled to our beliefs. As a Christian, I care about ALL people, so I will add you to my prayer list, too.

 

 

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I agree that I have no problem with "Christian Nation" in the way you mean it, Trev. But I think some people use the phrase to mean a nation *controlled* by Christian principles.

 

Someone in another thread asserted that they were not trying to force me to be Christian. But if you force me to follow Christian morality by codifying it into our laws, are you not doing the same thing?

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Funscout writes: "First let me make it clear that I do not believe that the U.S. should be a nation of ONLY Christians."

 

No, actually, I didn't think you did believe that. Very few people (outside of a few extreme fundamentalists) want us to be a nation of only Christians. But a lot more of those people have no problem codifying Christian morality into our laws, even when those morals conflict with the morals of other religions.

 

So who gets to say which we follow? The majority, who are Christians? Well, then we are back to a nation controlled by Christianity, and the name for that is theocracy. And which Christians get control? Do the Catholics get to outlaw birth control? How would the Protestants feel about that?

 

Where do we draw the line?

 

And I will return the favor and add you to my prayer list, as well....

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One of the nice things about being an American must be that you don't have very much history.

One bad thing about being English is that we have too much.

When I talk to friends from India, they seem a little confused that the English don't know more about what went on in India under English rule.

While a good number of English people might know the date 1776 and a few might even own up to losing the colony, for the most part we don't know a lot about American History.

So I do admit that my knowledge of American History is not the best.

I did teach English history for a couple of years. When we talked about people leaving England and other parts of Europe was to escape religious persecution.

Beginning in 1630 as many as 20,000 Puritans emigrated to America from England to gain the liberty to worship God as they chose. Most settled in New England, but some went as far as the West Indies. Theologically, the Puritans were "non-separating Congregationalists." Unlike the Pilgrims, who came to Massachusetts in 1620, the Puritans believed that the Church of England was a true church, though in need of major reforms. Every New England Congregational church was considered an independent entity, beholden to no hierarchy. The membership was composed, at least initially, of men and women who had undergone a conversion experience and could prove it to other members. Puritan leaders hoped (futilely, as it turned out) that, once their experiment was successful, England would imitate it by instituting a church order modeled after the New England Way.

Having read some of the speeches by early American statesmen and presidents there does seem to be a use of language that is akin to the language used by the Freemasons.

Eamonn.

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I agree that the laws of this nation should NOT be decided by Christians exclusively, in an attempt to force their morality on others. However, I do believe our country should have laws that reflect the will of the majority.

 

More accurately, the majority should be able to elect their representatives. Those representatives should create and pass laws that represent the will of the majority. Now, if the majority desires laws that so happen to reflect Christian morality, then it should be so. The will of the majority should not be denied just because their desires reflect the same values or ideas that Christians embrace. Furthermore, the motivations of the individuals which comprise that majority should not be called into question. Why someone votes for someone else, should be protected (as a matter of privacy), every bit as much as who received that vote.

 

If we say that we are a nation based on Christian principles, who gets to decide which of those Christian principles gets incorporated into our laws?

 

Thats simple. Our representatives who should be seeking to satisfy the will of the majority of voters the people who elected them to office.

 

If a voter doesnt like the way his representative legislates or sets policy, then that person should rally his friends and neighbors to vote for someone else next time. Pretty much the way it works now!

(This message has been edited by Rooster7)

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I am a Christian.

 

I am also something of an amateur historian, especially as regards the Colonial period, the Revolution, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution.

 

Our Colonial period is, from what I can tell, a Judeo-Christian escape of multiple denominations from Europe. Jews to Puritans to Lutherans, we had a bunch!!

 

Our Revolutionary and articles of Confederation period used the Enlightenment and the premises of Judeo-Christian law.

 

Our Constitutional Convention, and the Federalist Papers, all wanted no direct link between an organized denomination and government. That said, FREEDOM TO WORSHIP was a central premise. The framers had a presumption that a Godhead mattered to people's lives!!! They didn't want the Bishop preaching from the legislator's desk! They did want the Bishop participating in the public square.

 

Only in the mid-century past did the Supreme Court come up with the notion that MAN could legislate any/all morality, and did not need any Godhead with an absolute law.

 

When you drop the benchmark, the rest goes to mush.

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Thanks, Dan!

 

I appreciate that we can debate our different beliefs without anger. This is America at its best!

 

You might get a kick out of this story. In my younger days, I would never have been bold enough to talk about Christianity to a stranger or even to a friend who was a non-believer. One of my friends, however, was a different story.

 

My family used to take ski vacations with another family that had 2 teenaged girls the same ages as my sister and me. This worked out great, as all four of us enjoyed skiing together. One year, though, one of the girls decided that it was her Christian duty to preach to EVERY person she came across, so she insisted on riding "single" on the chair lifts, in order to expand her opportunities to preach to others. The three others of us were unhappy that her decision forced us to take turns riding single, now that our foursome was a trio. Sometimes we lucked out and got to ride with a cute boy, but usually we ended up with a middle aged dad or mom (that would be ME in the present!)

 

We three were a bit concerned that the "preacher" in our group would offend her chairlift partners, but luckily, no one ever was so desperate to escape her that they jumped from the chair lift!

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Rooster,

 

Are saying that there should be no protection of the minority from the tyranny of the majority? If the majority passes a law requiring students to recite the pledge of allegiance even if it violated their religious beliefs is that right? Can ministers be prohibited from serving in a state legislature if it is the will of the majority? School segregation was once popular. Should it therefore been legal? If a municipality bans baptism on public property should the minority who wishes to use the property for that purpose be forced to elect new representatives?

 

These are examples of why we have a constitution that guarantees freedoms and courts that will ensure that the supreme law of the land is followed.

 

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First a few obsevations

 

1) Terry, how did you get us to time warp into the future?

2) Funscout, if God wanted Israel to be a land for Christians, God must be sorely disappointed because if you remove Muslims and Jews the population decreases dramatically.

3) Yes, the majority of our laws follow what can be traced to so-called Judeo-Christian beliefs. However, Judeo-Christian beliefs can be traced to other things.

4) DanKroh - who is Brigit?

5) Oh my God! Was that a pig I saw flying? I partially agree with Rooster's post (first part). However, although I believe in a representative Gov't, representatives should vote the way they feel, no seeking to satisfy their constituents. When they do this, they take the risk of getting voted out of office but man I don't want a form of government like American Idol where we simply vote. I elect a representative to office to make what I feel are intelligent ideas, not just my wishes. We can create computers and have enough pollsters that we could eliminate representatives if we went with Rooster's train of thought.

6) If God "guided" Columbus, who guided the humans who were already here? And, if God guided Columbus, was this the same God who let Columbus die of a long terminal illness caused by a rare tropical disease (Reiter's syndrome)? Who said, God had no sense of humor?(This message has been edited by acco40)

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"Just what Christian values that would be considered the values of the nation are not shared by other faiths. What values that would be considered American values are uniquely Christian?"

 

This is kind of like the definition of pornography: I can't define it, but I know it when I see it.

 

You have to go to other countries that are not Christian to see the difference, I think. Countries governed by Sharia (Islamic) law have a completely different system than ours, not just in government, but in beliefs about human behavior. So do Hindu and Buddhist countries. Our system of marriage is a Christian-based system. We don't allow polygamy. Even divorce is based on Christian principles. In Arab countries, men can divorce their wives by merely saying it is so. Women have few rights there, even compared to the diminished number of rights women held here 200 years ago. Many of the values expressed by "mainstream society" are Christian values. Most people will not take a diety's name in vain in polite company.

 

In this country, suicide is not only illegal but thought of as a disgrace. In Japan, it has only been illegal for a short time (if it is illegal, I'm not sure) and at the time of WWII it was a very honorable act.

 

As to the question of who gets to decide, the people do. In legislation, we elect people who will do what we would like (although they never quite seem to do it, but that's a different story). Those people are constrained, though, by the Constitution so that if they wished to pass a law saying we all must go to a Christian church on Sunday and Hindu shrines are forbidden, they couldn't. Sadly, in my view, the Christian values of society are being eroded and I don't think we are a better nation because of it. Please understand I'm talking about values here and not the practice of Christianity itself.

 

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A wholly under taught little fact about the Consitution of the United States, which most people consider to be the founding document of the country, is that much of the basis for its structure of government, and most of the rights enshrined in the original Bill of Rights, comes from the governance structure of the Confederacy of the Iroquois. The Founding Fathers had interacted heavily with the nations of the Iroquois and all of them were heavily influenced by that interaction. Benjamin Franklin's Albany Plan took much of its structure directly from the Iroquois - that plan led the way to the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. Jame's Wilson, the author of the first draft of the Constitution used the Iroquois Confederacy principles to help create the draft. Even Thomas Jefferson writes of his embracing of the principles of the "savages".

 

Now some might say that the Declaration of Indepenence was the founding document of the US. The Declaration was as much a call to arms for the colonists as it was a "take your rules and shove them" letter to the King, and though much of the items in the case it laid out for independence became enshrined in the Constitution as rights of the people, it isn't the founding document of the United States - indeed, look closely at the Declaration and you'll notice that the word united is not capitalized when it speaks of the States, the capitalization doesn't occur until the Constitution. The Declaration even acknowledges that the 13 States are colonies.

 

That being said, if people are still convinced that the Declaration if the founding document, then history has more to teach us about this document as well. Most of the principles spoken of in the Declaration, and later enshrined in the Constitution, were ideas learned from the Iroquois. Some historians now even state that the colonists got the idea to declare independence from interacting with the free people of the Iroquois. It should be noted that in June 1776, while the question of independence was being debated, twenty-one visiting Iroquois chiefs were housed on the second floor of the Pennsylvania State House and were formally invited into the meeting hall of the Continental Congress.

 

The Iroqouis people had a tradition of meeting and democracy, of free speech, of free thinking, of tolerance for each other's differences of religion, of all those things which got attached to the Bill of Rights. Colonial leaders watched the method of government that the Iroquois utilized and they learned union and democracy from it. Historians are now beginning to admit that the government of the United States is not patterned after something across the ocean where there was a belief in the divine right of kings and where the people had no voice, but it is patterned after the government of the Iroquois, where all people, including both men and women were respected and took a part in their government.

 

As the people of the Iroquois, who had far more influence than overseas governance structures on the structure of our country, as well as much more influence on our ideals, were not Christian, it would be more correct to say that the United States was founded on Nativist, Pagan or even "savage heathen" principles.

 

CalicoPenn

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Kahuna,

 

Counselor, I think using WWII and pre-war Japan as a example of a nation that values human life is a crock of excrement, and it stinks.

 

In 1942, the US Government, through our Swiss Embassy, received a note from the Imperial Japanese Government. It was regarding treatment of prisoners of war during what was then "the present war."

 

Short version: Japan was not a signatory to the Conventions, honored the code of Bushido, and would treat captured soldiers as dishonored folk.

 

Dad, a young Corporal of the 59th Coast Artillery Regiment, was fighting on Caballo Is (Fort Frank) in the Manila Bay coastal defenses at the time. He had just turned 20. He went from about 160 lbs just before the war to a low ebb of about 100lbs in mid 1944.

 

Bottom line: Respectfully, what Japan did before Sept 1945 has zero weight with me.

 

The bedrock moral code of a Nation, imo, has to have a buck that STOPS somewhere. It can be whatever you can point to in Buddhism, the 10 Commandments, or the Code of Hammurabi for all I care. I do dislike that our Nation has free-floated its moral code in the same way it has free-floated the currency.

 

My thoughts. Thanks for letting me give feedback and why.

 

YIS

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I'll bet the Iroquois Nation was really happy that they helped us jump start our country, seeing that we repaid that kindness by killing off most of them later.

 

I suspect that from a political perspective, it'll never really matter what the true history is behind the founding of the country. In these days, when elections are won by those with the most money in order to spin their story for the media, truth or fact doesn't really matter that much.

 

Unless we get a more moderate administration in place at both the federal and state levels, I fear that it's only a matter of time until our laws become more and more based on conservative Christian beliefs. One book I read recently about Biblical history commented that if you want to see what kind of things can happen when you have countries controlled by religious values, you only have to look to some Middle East countries. I have no problem at all with various sects setting their own rules, let's say, to prohibit gay marriage. But I don't see where they have the right to try and force their religious beliefs on the rest of country by enacting their religious beliefs into law. I would think that laws like that would be directly in conflict with the Constitution. The fight on abortion right now is strictly a religious battle; there's no pretense that this has anything to do with medicine. And yet, that seems to be ok. I don't understand, I guess.

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Much of the difficulty in discussing this issue comes from a particularly narrow definition of "Christian principles." Individuals often bring this issue up defining Christian principles to include only exclusively Christian principles.

 

Ex: "What evidence is there to support the idea that the founders of this nation *wanted* Christian principles to be it's bedrock? There is no mention of Jesus or God the Constitution."

 

They will also assume that the consensi (consensuses?) of our nation somehow form a core set of "secular principles." This is a simple method of division, but it does not give an accurate impression of how principles such as human rights, separation of religion and state, specific ethical concerns, the western concept of education, and other supposedly "secular" principles developed. There are many things that historic Christianity and some forms of secularism have in common. Just as Christianity inherited many principles from Judaism and Greek philosophy, most of the notions and systems considered secular were born out of Christianity. Just as the concept of one Absolute God may be considered a Greek philosophical principle, a Hindu principle, a Jewish principle, a Christian principle, and an Islamic principle, some concepts may be considered both secular and Christian principles. There may, be a legitimate argument as to whether the set of principles used by the Founders may more accurately be described as Christian, secular, or something else, but we mustn't confuse the issue with false divisions or oversimplifications.

 

In addition, we must not forget that there is hardly a secular consensus on legal or ethical issues. Principles such as basic human rights, personal autonomy or the separation of state and religion have routinely been opposed by secular governments throughout history.

 

In the end, it is easy to define Christian principles as narrowly as to include only a few exclusive doctrines. It is also easy to throw out lists of things that one would expect a Christian government to enact, in an attempt to shock the reader. It is just as easy to define secularism in such a way that it cannot guarantee basic human rights and list atrocities committed by secular governments. Neither of these things are helpful to the discussion at hand.

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Regarding the Iroquois (or other native american tribes or cultures, for that matter), let's be careful not to romanticize them. One way that this is done is by assuming that those features of their culture which are not known or mentioned are the same as the features of our culture.

 

I am not familiar with the Iroquois tribe, but I have studied the cultural and personal histories of other tribes like the Sauk, Mesquakie, and Ioway. We can admire many aspects of the tribal culture (and I do), but there are other features which are seen as reprehensible in our own minds. Everyone in the tribe may have a voice, but the way in which a member of another tribe is seen was often not in keeping with our understanding of human rights (developed from the Christian tradition of western europe). Noble and heroic figures (or tragic victims, depending on one's bias) like Black Hawk did not believe in anything resembling human rights PER SE. There was nothing in the culture or belief system to prevent one from attacking and killing members of an enemy tribe, without reason or provokation. These may be unarmed, elderly, women or children. Such things were irrelevant to many tribes. The Iroquois, for example, were proud of the clans and tribes that they had wiped out in their history.

 

Also, the relationship of many tribes to European and later US civilizations was much more complex than we would like to think. In many tribes, especially the woodland cultures, conquering and wiping out an enemy was expected and understood behavior. There is also the whole issue of seeing white political figures as Fathers and forming real cultural and political relationships with them. The "We and Them" was very very rarely Indian and White, in Native American consciousness until very recently. The "Them" was always primarily another native tribe and historical enemy and the "We" almost always included a white Father. I would recommend reading first-hand accounts (albeit translated in many cases) in order to truly understand the historical native american experience, keeping in mind that the tribes were very different from each other and had different experiences.

 

Regarding the abortion question mentioned by Prairie Scouter, the fundamental question of determining what constitutes murder is never soley a matter of medicine. Who is a human being? What rights, if any, do human beings have? What behaviors are in keeping with human nature? These are ethical questions that only an ethical system can address. The fact of the manner is that "secularism" itself provides no basis for any form of human right. That we cannot torture and kill babies is a matter of religious principle. That we can legally torture and kill babies in certain situations in this country is a result of secularism, a central point of which is that there is no ethical system. The powerful do what they are able to to the weak. This is a case of physical power and political power. Those who are unable to vote cannot expect to be protected by Prairie Scouter's ideal government, since rights are nothing more than allowances granted by the government. I prefer the philosophical and theological notion that human rights are intrinsic to human nature and that they are bestowed by the Creator. Call me a zealot..

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