Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Religion and the American Constitution

Recently I have been interested in the religious foundation of our country. My curiosity was originally piqued by Brooke Allen's article in The Nation entitled "Our Godless Constitution". After referring it to my parents, my dad sent me a response that Gary DeMar wrote in response entitled "Did George Bush Lie About American Being Founded on Christian Principles?" Both of these articles are equally biased, with Allen's being the liberal leftist view and DeMar's being the Christian right wing. By this time I was committed to this subject, and started researching. Luckily, my humanities class assigned a paper covering whatever subject I wanted as long as it fell into a certain time period. Turns out the writing of our Constitution fell between those dates! So I combined Allen's and DeMar's article and wrote my own thesis. I invite you to read it here.

Well the really interesting thing is when I finished my essay I emailed it to Gary DeMar himself. Here's what I wrote him and his response:

Mr. DeMar -

I have recently come across your article "Did George Bush Lie About
America Being Founded on Christian Principles?" after having read
Brooke Allen's article that you refute. Allen's article sparked at
debate in my mind and after some initial research I found that the
evidence that I was uncovering was proving her point more than yours.
In her article she is blatantly biased against Christianity and it's
heritage in the US. I respected your article because it offered an
equally biased counterpoint to hers.

Perhaps a little background would help shed light on why I am emailing
you. I am currently a Sophomore at Pepperdine University. I have no
other qualifications for writing on the subject of the Christianity
and our Constitution other than being a student. My major isn't even
related to history at all, I'm a Business Administration major. This
semester I was prompted by my professor of Humanities to write a paper
about anything that I wanted. It had to thoroughly researched and
well written (of course). I chose to write about this topic. I have
grown up in a Christian family, and both of my parents are strong
supporters of you (they were the ones who referred me to your
counterpoint article after I confronted them with Allen's). I held
the belief that the United States was indeed founded upon the
Christian religion, but I do not anymore. After researching for my
paper, I felt betrayed and misled. I enclose my essay for your
viewing. I do not know if this will ever reach your eyes, but I
thought I would give it a shot. I would be open to any comments you
would like to make.

Sincerely,
Elliot K DeRemer

and what I got in response:


Elliot,

I must say that after reading your paper quickly, I would have given you a D
in terms of how it related to my response to Allen's article.

Notice the premise of Allen's argument: “One of his Administration’s current
favorites is the whopper about America having been founded on Christian
principles." This was her premise: that America was not founded on Christian
principles." In terms of what I wrote in response to her, you have not made
your case. Like her, you make no mention of the state constitutions that
were thoroughly Christian at the time the Federal Constitution was written.
The state constitutions remained in effect even after the Constitution was
ratified. You state: “But as evidenced by the text of the constitution, no
one thought it important enough to include a reference to god, like the
states would do later." You have it backwards. The states mentioned God
BEFORE the Constitution was drafted. If you read my article, you will note
how specifically Christian they were.

You also state: “The only reference to a deity is in Article VII: 'done in
Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth
Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and
Eighty seven," and then you mention this caveat: “But this is not a
reference to any god of any religion. It is merely a ritualistic relic of
Europe’s system of dating. All important documents in the 18th century were
dated using this phrase, it does not signify any favouritism to
Christianity."

This is nonsense. The dating and the use of “LORD“ is a direct reference to
Jesus Christ. We know what religion and what God. When compared to what the
French did in starting their calendar with a new Year One, this inclusion is
very significant. This nullifies your claim that “all important documents in
the 18th century were dated using this phrase." Obviously the French didn't
use this phrase, and it was an important document in the 18th century. If it
was the purpose of the founders to distance themselves from all aspects of
Christianity, then why not do what the French did and leave out any
reference to Jesus Christ? Why include a reference to the Christian Sabbath
in Art. 1, sec. 7?

The Constitution of 1787 did not define America. There was a nation before
it was drafted. The Constitution did not eradicate the “Christian
principles“ that the already existing nation was founded upon. The
Constitution cannot be studied in isolation from the states that gave it
birth. It mentions no law, that is, no prohibition against murder, theft,
rape. It doesn't tell the states how to run its affairs. They can be
Christian or non-Christian.
If it was the purpose of the founders to distance themselves from all aspects of
Christianity, then why not do what the French did and leave out any
reference to Jesus Christ? Why include a reference to the Christian Sabbath
in Art. 1, sec. 7?

The Constitution of 1787 did not define America. There was a nation before
it was drafted. The Constitution did not eradicate the “Christian
principles“ that the already existing nation was founded upon. The
Constitution cannot be studied in isolation from the states that gave it
birth. It mentions no law, that is, no prohibition against murder, theft,
rape. It doesn't tell the states how to run its affairs. They can be
Christian or non-Christian.


And although DeMar seems to have beaten me, I defy him! Mr. DeMar was confused, he thought my paper was a direct response to his and Allen's articles. Which it isn't, he just merely inspired me to do my own investigation. He makes the argument that the state constitutions were thoroughly Christian before the federal constitution was ever drafted. He says I don't cover these in my paper , but I do, in my conclusion. And the thesis of my paper is not about the state constitutions, it is about the federal government, so this "state constitutions" arguement is null and void. It is an irrelevant straw man.

And then he thinks that you can compare the American Revolution with the French Revolution. It is true that the French overthrew all clergy and all ecclesastical instutions, beheaded their king, and even created a new calendar. However, the French were in a much different position than the colonists in America. The French were starving, oppressed and thoroughly fed up with the corruption of the church and state. And just to make sure you understand, every important document in the 18th century is dated using "in the year of our Lord" except the French documents. But even the French calendar didn't last long, it is not in use today and is basically a relic of the Revolutionary France. And as far as the reference to the Christian sabbath in Art. 1 Sec 7, according to the National Archives, there is NO reference to a CHRISTIAN sabbath, indeed there is a reference to sunday. But Sunday is very much a PAGAN day, taken over by the Christians.

Mr. DeMar did not read my paper very well at all.

3 Comments:

Blogger Dap said...

It wouldn't have made any sense for the French to use the "year of our lord..." phrasing because by creating a new calendar, their new dates would no longer align with the traditional dating system. What a crap argument.

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