For much of American history, xianity adversely affected every American's life. Many of us remember those times and can make our own lists of the ways xianity made people unhappy.
Here are several of many instances. When my parents were approaching the age to marry, the government jailed people who told couples how to avoid pregnancy. When I was approaching the age to marry, the only sex education was in the printed porn kids passed around. Husbands were supposed to know what to do and wives weren't allowed to say what they liked. If a movie showed a married couple's bedroom, viewers knew the two slept in twin beds that were several feet apart.
Many xians want to restore those times and they're reminding me of the above. They're reminding me too that the law allowed only pharmacies to open on Sundays. Within miles of where I lived there was one pharmacy. The other 20 or so stores in town, even the large food store and a small one, were closed.
America wasn't founded on xianity but xians made the laws. Xianity, like the Catholicism I knew until I quit it, needed people to be unhappy. Today many xians want to return America to that.
I'm old enough that I won't be around much longer. If today's young people let xians return America to those unhappy times, then from wherever my little heap of chemicals is, I will do what I can to get a few thunderbolts hurled.
The Tripoli Treaty's Section 11 explains it: ...the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.
Don't you young folk forget that; Don't you let xians restore the America I knew. Let me RIP.
Tom, I'm no "spring chicken" either, having actual memories of when the USSR launched Sputnik, Castro marched victoriously into Havana, the Cuban Missile Crisis, etc. And, like you, I too was indoctrinated into the Church of Rome, until I grew up and parted ways with the Vatican. I have a slightly different view, though. Yes, religion and religious indoctrination were an undoubtedly important part of the stultifying post-WWII era through the early 1960's. However, the 1960's did bring fundamental change with the Civil Rights movement, the push for women's equality, and the advancement of science through the space program (albeit motivated by the cold war). Religion was starting to take a back seat to human progress and decency.
Then, much to my chagrin, came Ronald Reagan. A right wing push back to an era of "every man (to hell with women) for themselves," and an unwarranted imposition of jingoistic nationalism allied with the insidious influence of religious fundamentalism and bigotry. That's not to say that many of the gains made by the left during the 60's and 70's didn't get derailed, in part, by those that who wanted to take things to extremes. Nevertheless, Reagan and his ilk held the door open for the religious extremists to waltz into the halls of power in Washington and try to impose their dogmatic dictates on the rest of us. We live with the aftermath of that disastrous policy to this day. Official homophobia, less than subtle racism, the destruction of the middle class, and erosion of freedoms long fought for, all based on the writings of cattle and human sacrificing iron-aged barbarians. What was once considered extremist is now couched as "middle of the road."
There is a certain glimmer of hope, though. Rationalists and those who have no need of religion and gods appear to be on the rise in this country. Evangelism is starting to get a well deserved public black eye, and the rantings of old bigoted white men living in gated communities seem to become more and more hollow every day. One can only hope the trend continues.
@Pat -I was about to respond that though I'm far too young (just a gaffer at 26) to remember such times, it seems to me that the last 100 years has been ear-marked with moments of both progression and decline in this arena, but then I read your post and decided that you and Tom have probably put it better anyways.
What then, of men like Reagan? Does America still have a pinky toe stuck in the dark ages, where such an individual could rise again, thus disturbing Tom's slumber, as he alluded to? Or have we reached another allegorical renaissance in the sense that knowledge is too readily available now to allow everyone's bullshit detectors to fail them, as they so gravely did under the Ronald regime? I'm not as hopeful as I was even a couple of years ago...
Today's Xians work hard to misrepresent America's early years. Their efforts founder on truth's rocks and shoals.
Many early Americans, including James Madison and other founding fathers, became deists who did not believe in the divinity of Christ and instead viewed reason as the source of religious knowledge. From the perspective of today, this seems unsurprising and in keeping with the Enlightenment philosophy of the time. But at the time it was highly controversial -- Christian pastors excoriated deists as heretics and "infidels" and some deists asserted their deist faith in opposition to Christianity -- taking actions designed to taunt Christians and attending "infidel conventions":
"[While] individual proponents of deism stressed different principles, ... nearly all deists agreed on two basic points. They accepted the existence of a God in one form or another, but they rejected Trinitarian theology. Jesus, in their view, was
only a human, not the son of God. Second, all deists denied that the Christian Bible contained a special, divine revelation of God's will. At its core, deism was a complete rejection of supernatural revelation in favor of reason as the only source of true religious knowledge. Some deists used these positions to offer moderate calls for the reformation of Christianity. Yet others hoped that deism would entirely overturn Christianity; indeed they believed that deism would destroy all religious systems that included supernatural or metaphysical teachings. ...
"[And] by all accounts, [the] infidelity [of deism] was on the rise. Specifically, more, not fewer, Americans publicly announced their deism between the 1770s and 1830s.
"Thomas Thompson was one such deist. He was born in 1775 on the eve of American independence and by 1829 had abandoned Christianity. Perhaps he embraced deism after reading Thomas Paine's Age of Reason, published in 1794 when Thompson was nineteen. Or maybe Thompson reacted to Federalist attacks on Thomas Jefferson's [lack of] piety during the contentious election of 1800 by committing himself to the very opinions that the Federalists feared. Thompson may have found the emotional highs of evangelical revivals and their demands for new birth experiences too psychologically taxing. Regardless, by 1829 he was moderator at the Hall of Science, a prominent two-story building with Greek columns on Broome Street in New York.
"Located in a former church, the Hall of Science was a venue for critics of Christianity to debate their ideas and a site where Sunday morning gatherings were held as alternatives to church services. The hall's proprietors adorned its windows with pictures of Thomas Paine and William Godwin in order to taunt visitors and employees of the Bible repository located directly across the street. Before Thompson died in Brooklyn in 1852, he had attended 'infidel conventions' in Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1836 and much larger ones in New York City in 1845 and 1846, where he was appointed manager of the organization that hosted the meetings. Thompson also served as treasurer of the Paine Monument Fund, and as trustee and treasurer of the Free Enquirer's Library Association. The latter organization formed to counter Christian tract societies by publishing and circulating inexpensive editions of writings critical of Christianity, including The Age of Reason and atheistic works by eighteenth-century French philosophes.
Excerpted from Eric R. Schlereth's An Age of Infidels: The Politics of Religious Controversy in the Early United States. Publisher: University of Pennsylvania, Copyright 2013 by the University of Pennsylvania Press, Pages: 4-8.
I obtained it from Delanceyplace.com where you can sign up to receive, via a free brief daily email, an excerpt or quote they view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context.
Now that (Delancyplace.com) is a nice little daily something which may actually be OF USE to me, by comparison with the "Cat of the Day" or daily astrology report I used to get. Thanks for mentioning that, Tom!
I was born in 1967. Through the 70's and 80's, as I was growing-up, I never thought of the US as being religious at all. It seemed very secular to me, but I was raised by an Atheist. My Mom didn't try and persuade us to not believe there was a "god", but nobody I was around really talked about religion or gawd at all. It was just some sort of idea to me, floating around somewhere in my mind, but never something at the forefront. In the 90's I ignored anything I heard mostly, and concentrated on raising my kids. Now that I have the time and see what the right (who is wrong) is doing, I am PISSED-OFF. I don't keep my mouth shut now, and I will fight the idea that the US is an xtian nation until I die.