My Blue America
Our Secular America (part 2)

[This piece is even more appropriate now than it was six years ago, when I originally posted it after the fiasco that was the election of George W. Bush. The archives link has been truncated for some reason, but I had a text version. And so I am re-posting, as a small lesson in history for those who don’t know. You can read Part 1 here.]

I am so sorry you feel this way. If you actually had a clue as to what made this nation great, you would quit trying to suck the life out of it. America was founded on great conservative christian values (the Ten Commandments). You are free in this country to think and for the most part do what ever you want. But you do not have the right to hijack this country with your socialist values that undermine our national identity and security. We will continue to fight you and the terrorist with every fiber in our bodies. Because it is you who invited the terrorist into our country to kill our family members.

The quote above is a comment left on my blogpost of 04/11/04 by someone calling him/herself “Righteous.”

Well, I say that those who don’t know our country’s history are bound to keep screwing it up.

Perhaps “Righteous” is referring to those “Christians” who fled from Europe to seek religious freedom, freedom from religious persecution.

Oddly enough,

Although they were victims of religious persecution in Europe, Puritans supported the Old World theory that sanctioned it, the need for uniformity of religion in the state. Once in control in New England, they sought to break “the very neck of Schism and vile opinions.” The “business” of the first settlers, a Puritan minister recalled in 1681, “was not Toleration, but [they] were professed enemies of it.” Puritans expelled dissenters from their colonies, a fate that in 1636 befell Roger Williams and in 1638 Anne Hutchinson, America’s first major female religious leader. Those who defied the Puritans by persistently returning to their jurisdictions risked capital punishment, a penalty imposed on four Quakers between 1659 and 1661.

In other words, those righteous Christian Puritans became just the kind of persecutors from whom they were running away. And we all know what they did to those poor old women they decided were witches, right? But that’s another long and horrible story that needs truth telling about.

And let’s not forget all those Native Americans that were displaced and persecuted and executed by all of those righteous Christian members of our military. (The United States Army Seventh Cavalry used gattling guns to slaughter 300 helpless Lakota children, men and women.)

I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream. And I, to whom so great a vision was given in my youth, — you see me now a pitiful old man who has done nothing, for the nation’s hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead. — Black Elk. Oglala Holy Man on the aftermath of the Massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota December, 1890

Oh, well, maybe my commenter was referring to our Founding Fathers — you know, the ones who were smart enough to use the structure of the Iroquois Confederacy to inform the creation of our Constitutional form of government:

On June 11, 1776 while the question of independence was being debated, the visiting Iroquois chiefs were formally invited into the meeting hall of the Continental Congress. There a speech was delivered, in which they were addressed as “Brothers” and told of the delegates’ wish that the “friendship” between them would “continue as long as the sun shall shine” and the “waters run.” The speech also expressed the hope that the new Americans and the Iroquois act “as one people, and have but one heart.” After this speech, an Onondaga chief requested permission to give Hancock an Indian name. The Congress graciously consented, and so the president was renamed “Karanduawn, or the Great Tree.”

With the Iroquois chiefs inside the halls of Congress on the eve of American Independence, the impact of Iroquois ideas on the founders is unmistakable. History is indebted to Charles Thomson, an adopted Delaware, whose knowledge of and respect for American Indians is reflected in the attention that he gave to this ceremony in the records of the Continental Congress.

Now, speaking of those founding fathers:

The Framers derived an independent government out of Enlightenment thinking against the grievances caused by Great Britain. Our Founders paid little heed to political beliefs about Christianity. The 1st Amendment stands as the bulkhead against an establishment of religion and at the same time insures the free expression of any belief. The Treaty of Tripoli, an instrument of the Constitution, clearly stated our non-Christian foundation. We inherited common law from Great Britain which derived from pre-Christian Saxons rather than from Biblical scripture.

[snip]

Although, indeed, many of America’s colonial statesmen practiced Christianity, our most influential Founding Fathers broke away from traditional religious thinking. The ideas of the Great Enlightenment that began in Europe had begun to sever the chains of monarchical theocracy. These heretical European ideas spread throughout early America. Instead of relying on faith, people began to use reason and science as their guide. The humanistic philosophical writers of the Enlightenment, such as Locke, Rousseau, and Voltaire, had greatly influenced our Founding Fathers and Isaac Newton’s mechanical and mathematical foundations served as a grounding post for their scientific reasoning.

A few Christian fundamentalists attempt to convince us to return to the Christianity of early America, yet according to the historian, Robert T. Handy,”No more than 10 percent– probably less– of Americans in 1800 were members of congregations.”

The Founding Fathers, also, rarely practiced Christian orthodoxy. Although they supported the free exercise of any religion, they understood the dangers of imposing religion. Most of them believed in deism and attended Freemasonry lodges. According to John J. Robinson, “Freemasonry had been a powerful force for religious freedom.” Freemasons took seriously the principle that men should worship according to their own conscience….

The Constitution reflects our founders views of a secular government, protecting the freedom of any belief or unbelief. The historian, Robert Middlekauff, observed, “the idea that the Constitution expressed a moral view seems absurd. There were no genuine evangelicals in the Convention, and there were no heated declarations of Christian piety.”

How about we let those Founding Fathers of ours speak for themselves about how they feel regarding mixing religion and government:

JOHN ADAMS:
I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved–the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! …in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.

But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed. …in a letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816, 2000 Years of Disbelief, John A. Haught

The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole carloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
Lighthouses are more helpful than churches. ….Poor Richard, 1758

The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason . ….Poor Richard, 1758

When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, ’tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one. …. 2000 Years of Disbelief, by James A. Haught

Religion I found to be without any tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, serves principally to divide us and make us unfriendly to one another.

THOMAS JEFFERSON
Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are serviley crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blind faith. …to the Danbury Baptist Association on Jan. 1, 1802;

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative 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. ….The Writing of Thoma Jefferson Memorial Edition, edited by Lipscomb and Bergh, 1903-04, 16:281

…the legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. ….Notes on Virginia, Jefferson the President: First Term 1801-1805, Dumas Malon, Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1970, p. 191

…no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise..affect their civil capacities. ….”Statute for Religious Freedom”, 1779, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, edited by Julron P. Boyd, 1950, 2:546

I could go on and on. But I’m not about to try to teach historical facts to those Righteous people who obviously never got educated beyond what they’ve been told is in the Bible.

No, Righteous, it’s neither me nor my ilk who make other peoples look at this country with hatred and resentment. It’s neither me nor my Blue Brothers and Sisters who treat other cultures, lifestyles, and personal beliefs with such disrespect, misunderstanding, and righteousness that the seeds of potential terrorism are ungraciously fertilized.

My Blue America doesn’t require that everyone believe that the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament are the rule of law of the land. My Blue America requires that every citizen abide by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. In addition to that responsibility, they have the right to embrace the Old Testament and its Ten Commandments, and/or the New Testament teachings of Jesus, or the teachings of Upanishads or the Koran, or the Tao te Ching.

My Blue America does not pretend to be perfect. It does not insist on being Christian.

As the PBS series The Meaning of America explained:

Beyond the symbolism of flag-waving and patriotic cliches lies the heart of American Democracy: our system of personal rights and human dignity. Conceived in rebellion against the absolute right of monarchs, the American revolution asserted that the people are sovereign, that they must be free to speak, to choose their leaders, to pray — or not to pray — as they wish. Messy,highly imperfect and in need of constant maintenance, it is a system that confers on us the priceless gift of human freedom.

Amen, amen, I say to that.

Addenda:
— as one might expect, the email address left by the cowardly Righteous was bogus.
–Much of my original interest in the the legacies left to this country by the Six Nations was stirred up while I worked in the New York State Museum, where the histories of the Hau de no sau nee are preserved and revered. It was there I learned about the status and influence that women, especially older women, held in those Native American communities. Among all of the important democratic legacies of the Six Nations that our American system has discarded is the fundamental role of the Clan Mother, the Crone. Dr. Friedberg explores those legacies in her “Death of Democracy” article (no longer online).
— However, these other pieces by her are available:
http://www.opednews.com/friedberg_111504_media_whitewash.htm
http://www.opednews.com/friedberg_111104_america.htm
— You also might also take a look at a piece written by The One True b!X shortly after the election of George W. Bush, which was the inspiration for my Radical Rosie image/post.
— other relevant posts by b!X (who is becoming an expert on the separation of church and state) can be found among the other pieces here.

3 thoughts on “My Blue America
Our Secular America (part 2)

  1. Elaine,

    Thanks for that. I’ve been over the same ground with commenters just like the one you reacted to. Some as close as family, I’m sad to say. The ignorance of what the idea of America is –what it’s history is; the ignorance that so many Americans cherish (in the plain sense of the word: to ignore)I’m afraid cannot be cut with an axe. There is so much BS flying around; so many sound-bites that are so easily swallowed it’s hard for more difficult truths to compete. I don’t see a way out of this thicket.

    Thanks again,
    Jim

    Note that I changed my website URL

  2. Yup. Got your new url.
    Actually it was some FaceBook stuff by my family that got me obsessing about this — again. I don’t see a way out of this thicket either, but I still have to keep hacking away at it. It’s just who I am.

  3. Re seeing no way out but hacking away, this helps keep me going: “Hope and justice live when people, even in tiny numbers, stand up and fight for them.”

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