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Some folks assert that the United States of America was founded upon Christian Principles, and that the Founding Fathers relied upon Christian Principles {or here or here} in formulating the guiding documents of our nation.

I have no argument today against that assertion. I do believe it to be irrelevant. When the Founding Fathers provided the means to amend our Federal Constitution, and almost immediately exercised that means via the Bill of Rights, it guaranteed that the Constitution would remain a living document, subject ultimately to what the citizens of America wished it to be. No 'Strict Constructionist' can offer an authoritative exegesis of 'Original Intent' regarding a Constitutional Amendment which was enacted after every Constitutional author was deceased.

The relevant discussion is what an America, guided by Christian principles, would be. It would have been impossible, either shortly after the death of Jesus of Nazareth or just after Christian scriptures had been largely fixated by Emperor Constantine in 325 CE, to predict what Christianity, guided by Christian principles, would be. That does not deter me from attempting to offer some possibilities for America.

Consider first the several ways in which Christian principles have already been used to guide governmental policy.

The Founding Fathers, who are assumed for the purposes of this commentary to have been guided by Christian principles, wrote in Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, that apportionment shall include "... three fifths of all other Persons." That is, slaves were counted as a fraction of a person. Slavery was allowed, de facto, constitutionally. The best exemplar for this, the Christian principle guiding this result, is 1st Corinthians 7:21:

Were you a slave when God called you? Let not that weigh on your mind.

America had a prolonged disagreement with Native American peoples about land rights, etc. Take the Indian Removal Act as an example. The Christian missionaries who opposed this genocidal Act were apparently misguided, since in 1830 there were still Founding Fathers available to correct deviance from Christian guidance. The resulting land cessions and forced migrations brought death and misery to thousands of Native Americans of all ages. I am not a good-enough Christian to provide the basis for this act of Holy Governance. Most Teabaggers should be able to describe the savage, un-educated and un-Godly lifestyle that prevented Native Americans from being worthy to retain land and rights which only the White Man might use advantageously. Perhaps, as with the Curse of Ham (Genesis 9:20-27) being applied to black-skinned peoples, the often-dark-skinned Native Americans would have been deemed to only exist as 'servants of servants'.

Such humanitarian scourges have not been confined to racial matters. All Christian religions (it is not just one, don'tcha know?) and denominations (for which there is insufficient space to list here) have disagreed and fought with each other in explicit ways. I was reared as a Southern Baptist. My church would not accept a baptized Christian for membership unless he or she were re-baptized as a Southern Baptist.

And what of a future America, fully guided by Christian principles, instead of being guided by the haphazard application of such principles? European governments of the past are a good model. It was common for non-Christians for have second-class legal status. The word for this in Islam (for non-Moslems) is 'Dhimmi'. We can expect, analogous with Saudi Arabia or Middle Ages Europe, to have Dhimmitude of non-Christians. Perhaps we would count Dhimmis as 3/5ths of a person.

I believe that one currently-prominent public discussion would be resolved by Christian principles. Tax policy would be greatly improved by tithing to the government as we all already do (we all do, right?) to our churches. No maximum tax rate of 33% - it would be 10%. No social manipulation by providing deductions for mortgages, medical expenses, or child care. No corporations like ExxonMobil, General Electric, or 2 of every 3 U.S. corporations which paid zero Federal taxes from 1998 through 2005.

We could easily solve a multitude of social problems as a genuinely Christian nation. Poverty would disappear as we followed the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth - Matthew 19:21:

If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

My Grandparents took in a '5th son' during the Great Depression to help families who were even poorer than my Grandparents. We could eliminate government departments of social services in this way.

The earliest church, which most intimately knew and understood the teachings of Jesus, did choose such a form of governance. - Acts 2:44-45:

And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

John Bolton, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President Bush (and an eminent Conservative), described the dominant non-republican aspect of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He said, "in Iran, you have a theocracy ... Iran is governed by jurisprudence that comes directly from Allah. ... If the law comes from God, and the only people who can really understand it are the Mullahs, are you really gonna have a vote on whether you agree or disagree with God?" America, which Bolton later described as "the most libertarian country in the world", would not accept such a system.

Teabaggers, simultaneously seeking minimal and Christian governance, are, in fact, already at war with themselves.

Originally posted to MoGemStone on Sat Nov 27, 2010 at 07:41 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The 1st Amendment violates the 1st Commandment (16+ / 0-)

    Freedom of religion allows one to worship any god.

    This is not a nation founded upon "Christian" principles.

  •  As Jefferson Explained, No. (11+ / 0-)

    Our system was founded on the English Common Law.

    For we know that the common law is that system of law which was introduced by the Saxons on their settlement in England, and altered from time to time by proper legislative authority from that time to the date of Magna Charta, which terminates the period of the common law, or lex non scripta, and commences that of the statute law, or Lex Scripta. This settlement took place about the middle of the fifth century. But Christianity was not introduced till the seventh century; the conversion of the first christian king of the Heptarchy having taken place about the year 598, and that of the last about 686. Here, then, was a space of two hundred years, during which the common law was in existence, and Christianity no part of it. If it ever was adopted, therefore, into the common law, it must have been between the introduction of Christianity and the date of the Magna Charta. But of the laws of this period we have a tolerable collection by Lambard and Wilkins, probably not perfect, but neither very defective; and if any one chooses to build a doctrine on any law of that period, supposed to have been lost, it is incumbent on him to prove it to have existed, and what were its contents. These were so far alterations of the common law, and became themselves a part of it. But none of these adopt Christianity as a part of the common law. If, therefore, from the settlement of the Saxons to the introduction of Christianity among them, that system of religion could not be a part of the common law, because they were not yet Christians, and if, having their laws from that period to the close of the common law, we are all able to find among them no such act of adoption, we may safely affirm (though contradicted by all the judges and writers on earth) that Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Nov 27, 2010 at 07:56:24 PM PST

  •  Once in a college course I was teaching... (16+ / 0-)

    in the South, I was giving a lecture on some aspect of the Medieval Church...when suddenly a young lady just cried out, "Catholics are NOT real Christians!"

    Another young lady in the front row turned and replied to her, before I could even say anything, "Shut your Baptist pie hole."

    Everyone started laughing...I tried to restore some semblance of order, but the Catholic girl was clearly outnumbered, before I knew it, people were raising their hands and speaking in tongues and I decided right then and there that I was moving back to Canada.

  •  This Nation Was Founded on the Principles (14+ / 0-)

    of the Age of Enlightenment which sought to free itself from much of Christianity's so-called principles.  

    Enlightenment.  Get it?   ;^)

    "ingratiation and access . . . are not corruption." -- Justice Kennedy (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010)

    by Limelite on Sat Nov 27, 2010 at 08:01:14 PM PST

  •  This country was NOT founded (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chipoliwog, ExStr8, Pluto, crose, JeffW, skohayes

    on "Christian principles."

    And no amount of saying differently will make this so.

    PROUD to be a Democrat.

    by noweasels on Sat Nov 27, 2010 at 08:22:48 PM PST

  •  Compare the 10 commandments (6+ / 0-)

    with the constitution and it's very clear that our founding fathers had a very secular outlook on the Federal govt.  

    By my reading 8 of the 10 commandments are completely abolished by constitutional principle:  

    Do not have any other gods before me?  
    Congress shall make no law respecting freedom of religion.
    Do not worship idols?  See above.
    Do not take the lords name in vain?  There goes freedom of expression.  (besides which the correct reading of this commandment I believe is do not claim to know Gods will when forwarding your own agenda... do not take the lords name in vain)

    Observe the Sabbath?  I'll be working tomorrow, and I won't be jobbing the constitution by doing so.  

    Honor your father and mother?  Thats great by and large, but when is the last time someone got taken to court for dissing their parents?  3/4 of teenage America would be locked up.

    Don't murder.  Ok... lets give that one to 'em.  

    Don't commit adultery?  I don't remember Jim Baker or any of the myriad other televangelists busted for adultery being hauled off to court for diddling someone other than their wives.

    Don't steal.  Ok... we'll give them that one to.

    Don't lie?  George Bush is an alligator.  Come get me.  Hell if that were against the constitution Bush would have been impeached in 2002.  

    Don't covet your neighbors wife?  Try telling that to Fox news with their leggy, busty, ex model hussy anchors with their gaudy wedding rings.  Sheesh... sex sells and it's not against the constitution obviously.  

    I guess I should have written my own freaking diary on this... sorry for hijacking the thread with a book.

    I am the neo-con nightmare, I am a liberal with the facts.

    by bhfrik on Sat Nov 27, 2010 at 08:40:31 PM PST

    •  Except: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chipoliwog, bhfrik

      Don't murder.  Ok... lets give that one to 'em.

      The United States is one of the few nations in the modern world that still murders its own citizens.

      You need to throw that commandment out, as well.

      •  Well.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        you start getting into various gradients when you talk about murder.  And believe me, I'm hardly arguing for the death penalty on this.  In fact I would just about do a spit take everytime Bush prattled about the culture of life with his record as gov. of Texas then starting a completely needless war.  

        BUT... when you start going into what constitutes murder versus justified killing and so on you can really get into the weeds.  There is no doubt that the ancient Israelites had their own outlook on the death penalty and quite honestly they made Texas look like the Dalai Lama was governor comparatively speaking.  They stoned people to death for farting sideways on the wrong day.  Well that may be a bit of hyperbole, but there you go.

        I am the neo-con nightmare, I am a liberal with the facts.

        by bhfrik on Sat Nov 27, 2010 at 09:03:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Depends on what you mean by "founded" (0+ / 0-)

    Although the setting up of the government was not Christian based, the settlers of this country were mostly Christian, and even today around 75% of the population is Christian.

    The founding of the country is not just the people and documents that created the government; it also includes, even more importantly so because of the democratic nature of our government, the people who came here when the country was formed.

    I'm starting to feel America again.

    by Shesk on Sat Nov 27, 2010 at 11:44:39 PM PST

    •  So we were founded as a criminal, adventurer, (0+ / 0-)

      greedy, theiving, bigoted and murdersou country?

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

      by enhydra lutris on Sun Nov 28, 2010 at 08:38:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry, but LOL (0+ / 0-)

    We could easily solve a multitude of social problems as a genuinely Christian nation

    What is a "genuine" Christian nation? Who are the "real" Christians- the Baptists, the Catholics? Lutherans? Have you forgotten the large population of Jewish people? What about Muslims or Atheists or Pagans or Buddhists?
    When you get that part resolved, get back to me.
    Frankly, we'd be better off as a country to get away from ancient Christian principles and start acting like a modern society unbound by religion-based prejudice and hate.

    How come the dove gets to be the peace symbol? How about the pillow? It has more feathers than the dove and doesn't have that dangerous beak. Jack Handey

    by skohayes on Sun Nov 28, 2010 at 05:00:17 AM PST

    •  Real Christian=Jesus (0+ / 0-)

      And I doubt if he would have been a member of any Christian church of any denomination today (maybe Unitarian). He would be railing against them.

      If we all practiced Jesus' teachings (or the teachings of the Buddha), I think we would be a better nation today. But that has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with leading a moral and ethical life.

      •  If we all treated other people (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SheriffBart, sewaneepat

        the way we wish to be treated, without judgements of gods and men and their various religions (who are the "real believers"?), we'd probably get along better.
        There was a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Tony Blair in Toronto the other day, where Hitchens  perfectly described faith mentality as "essential fanatacism, it's consideration of the human being as a raw material, and it's fantasy of purity. Once you assume a creator and a plan, it makes us objects in a cruel experiment whereby we are created sick and commanded to be well,"

        How come the dove gets to be the peace symbol? How about the pillow? It has more feathers than the dove and doesn't have that dangerous beak. Jack Handey

        by skohayes on Sun Nov 28, 2010 at 06:13:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Divine Right of Kings (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    was a Christian principle.

    If nothing else, the Revolution repudiated that.

    Television: The Plutocracy's Bully Pulpit

    by penguins4peace on Sun Nov 28, 2010 at 06:49:17 AM PST

  •  Thanks, folks ! (0+ / 0-)

    It's nice to see that, occasionally, I can still preach to the choir. Many of the comments could make another blog - especially on the subject which I explicitly avoided.

    I have no argument today against that assertion.

    means just that - TODAY. The 'founded upon Christian principles' claim is pathetic, a grade-school idealization.

    Yes, there are some Christian ideals which could improve the world. I was probably too subtle about 'feeding the poor' - the point is that most Christians, like me, don't do that much. Never have, never will. That is why we need secular government. Christian charity as a substitute for effective public policy is a fraud.

    Thanks again. Keep pushing back against:
    'founded upon Christian principles'
    'strict construction'
    'original intent'
    and a multitude of other dog whistles.

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