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God & Politics: redux

A repost from March, prompted by various Twitter and other assertions that the United States was founded on “Christian principles” … nothing could be further from the truth.

The only part of became the United States that was founded on “Christian” principles was the original Plymouth colony in Massachusetts, by the Puritans who were escaping religious persecution in England … and of course, they promptly started inflicting their own warped sense of Christian values on the Native Americans and amongst themselves (Salem Witch Trials, anyone?).

In any case, back in March mother sent me more mom-spam, this one being a purported re-write of the Preamble of the Constitution, accompanied by a series of articles. Some of the articles are basic pleas to common sense. But one in particular really got my goat.

ARTICLE XI: You do not have the right to change our country’s history or heritage. This country was founded on the belief in one true God. And yet, you are given the freedom to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith at all; with no fear of persecution. The phrase IN GOD WE TRUST is part of our heritage and history, and if you are uncomfortable with it, TOUGH!!!! GET OVER IT!!!

The problem is that this nation was NOT founded on the belief in one true God. Far from it; when asked about it, Alexander Hamilton once flippantly responded that the United States was not in need of “foreign aid.”

Please show me, in the original Constitution, where it makes mention of God. Please!

Unfortunately, you can’t, because the word does not appear once in the entire document.

The word God did not appear on US money until the Civil War, and did not appear in the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954, as a reaction to the McCarthy-driven anti-Communist hysteria.

Oh, sure, there are two brief mentions in the Declaration of Independence (cf. the phrases, “Laws of Nature, and Nature’s God” and “endowed by their Creator”), but the Declaration of Independence is not the document on which our nation is based … the Constitution, which was drafted 11 years later, holds that estimable position.

Heck … most people think that George Washington was the first President, too … but he wasn’t.

There were several Presidents of the United States prior to George Washington. Under the Articles of Confederation (drafted in 1777 and ratified in 1781), the following men served as President of the United States in Congress Assembled:

  • Samuel Huntington (March 1, 1781 – July 9, 1781)
  • Thomas McKean (July 10, 1781 – November 4, 1781)
  • John Hanson (November 5, 1781 – November 3, 1782) — the first to serve a full one-year term, and the first selected after the surrender of the British Army … but not the first.
  • Elias Boudinot (November 4, 1782 – November 2, 1783)
  • Thomas Mifflin (November 3, 1783 – October 31, 1784)
  • Richard Henry Lee (November 30, 1784 – November 6, 1785)
  • John Hancock (November 23, 1785 – June 5, 1786)
  • Nathaniel Gorham (June 6, 1786 – November 5, 1786)
  • Arthur St. Clair (February 2, 1787 – November 4, 1787)
  • Cyrus Griffin (January 22, 1788 – March 4, 1789)

By the way … the word “God” isn’t mentioned in the Articles of Confederation, either.

And because some people weren’t clear on the concept, the first 10 words of the First Amendment to the Constitution specifically state: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

If God isn’t an establishment of religion, I don’t know what is.

Furthermore, in the Treaty of Tripoli, ratified in 1797 in one of the Senate’s only unanimous votes, Article 11 famously states:

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

In 1802, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.

Note that Jefferson did not even capitalize the name of God in his letter. He, along with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine were not Christian, although they were Deists … they believed in one Supreme Being, however, but rejected many elements of the Christian church. James Madison, primary author of the Constitution once wrote on Christianity:

What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

For what it’s worth, I do believe in God, or rather that there is a higher power within all of us, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist alike … even in the fuckwit currently inhabiting the White House. I guess that makes me a Deist, like Jefferson, et al.

But God, in whatever form, has NO place in official government, by design. Please try to remember that when you cast your ballot over the next 6 days.

On the bike, however, is a different story all together … when I’m on the bike, I’m constantly praying … if only to make it to the top of the next rise without my lungs exploding. And I wear my Madonna del Ghisallo … now without a rash, since I finally got a nickel-free chain. And as a legally-ordained minister in the Universal Life Church (and member of The Church of the Big Ring), I feel like that’s acceptable.