(or, Langston vs. The Apologist) Wanna help me combat an apologist? Come on, you know you wanna....it'll be fun...

I forget which discussion it was in on the Forum, but somehow I came into contact with this website:

www.faithfacts.org

It's an apologist website. I looked through it a bit, and, man, the stuff you'll find there is....well, I won't say it, but WOW. I’m over here just shaking my head; shaking it in pity or consternation or awe of disbelief, I know not which.

Anyways, I noticed a little something they had on their front page. It appears as follows:

Is or WAS America a Christian Nation?
June 22, 2009

What do Americans celebrate on the 4th of July?

President Obama says America is NOT a Christian nation. Was it ever? Are there biblical prinicples for America's laws? (Yes, they misspelled “principles”; but don’t tell them, though).

Supreme Court Justice David Josiah Brewer made the following statement in the 1892 Decision of Holy Trinity Church vs. U.S.: "These and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation." [emphasis added]

And listen to Rep. Randy Forbes from Virginia ask the question, "Did America ever consider itself a Judeo-Christian nation?



That's all it has. The whole "America is a Christian Nation" thing is one of three or four things that really pisses me off about the Christian religion; I say this to make the point that, in truth, there really aren't that many things about it that piss me off. Just a small handful.

So I wrote them a short e-mail and handed them Article XI:

A preliminary treaty between the United States and the Bey of Tripoli was signed at the close of the Washington administration in 1796. John Adams sent the document to the Senate during his administration and that Senate, containing many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, ratified it. Adams signed it on June 10, 1797. Article XI of the Treaty 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 tranquillity, of Musselmen [i.e., Muslims]; and as said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan [i.e., Mohammedan] 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." (brackets added)


I then explained that "though the vast majority of people in this nation *claim* to be Christians, this does not make us a ‘Christian nation‘”. It makes us a nation of mostly Christians.

Here’s the prompt and brief reply from Charles.

Hi, Joseph. Thanks for the feedback.

Here is an article by David Barton on this issue:
http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=125

Of course, we are not a Christian nation in the sense that the Christian church runs the government. But our laws and institutions have a very large Christian influence and so in this sense we are indeed a Christian nation.

Blessings,
Charles


More like “Christian hegemony”. And if he has the right of things, then quite literally.

he·gem·o·ny [hə jémmənee, héjjə mnee] n
authority or control: control or dominating influence by one person or group over others, especially by one political group over society or one nation over others (formal)

Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


I am contemplating on how to respond to this. I am planning something devastating. I have a few options in mind. First I need to read the Barton article (I can’t open it for some reason; can anyone else send that to me?)

(1). IF you are right, then a “Christian Nation” must be willing to except the sins and ills of the U.S. Government and all the sins found through the nation’s history and heritage. After all, you cannot claim such illustrious influence and such a grand role while turning your head and eyes away from all the bad things, pretending that only the successes of your “laws and institutions” that have such a “very large Christian influence” belong to you while their failures are someone else’s, anyone else‘s but that of your “Christian Nation“. If you take the title to heart, you must accept these as yours as well. To shuck them off onto an imaginary demon or evil spirit force, or to blame them on “the ungodly, the unrighteous, the sinners, and secularism”, would be incongruent with your claim.

What have we?

a. Stealing of Native American lands, the murder and sequestering and infecting of a great, once- numerous people. Manifest Destiny, remember, Charles?

b. Raping what was once a bountiful land, filling it with pollution, marring the landscape with development. Essentially your “Christian nation” took what was god-given and spat on it. After all, if god had wanted you to have what you have today, he would have given it to you that way. But you found it as it was (in its original, god-given state), and now look at it.

c. Slave trade and trafficking of Africans. Now why would a “Christian Nation” let this go down on their watch? I also recall that people calling themselves Christians took a book, called the Bible, and used “information” they found therein to justify this most morally vile and inane practice.

d. The ridiculously high divorce rate. It is called a social ill and deplored by members of your “Christian Nation” on a regular basis. Come to think of it, if somewhere around 80 to 90% percent of people say they believe in god (or at least a higher power), and the divorce rate is somewhere around 50% (!) wouldn’t it mean that most of those who are getting these divorces are self-identified Christians?

e. If the Bible commands you to “turn the other cheek” (what’s the verse for that? I don’t have my Bible handy, or the time to look it up), then why did your “Christian Nation” participate in WWI, WW2, The Gulf War, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, The Cold War (technically not a “real” war, but the hostility and all other brotherly war elements were present), and now our battles in Iraq/Afghanistan. Let me guess: there’s some other Bible verse than can be used to justify this participation. But, in that case, you’ve used another verse to cancel out the other. A contradiction in the Bible (or a means to make two such verses in god‘s book clash against one another)? Surely not.

There are others, but I’ll stop for now. Basically, criticize these arguments. Help me strengthen them, find where they are weak, and, also, add more examples to the list. I’m ready to take it to this guy.

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Personally, I think you're wasting your time.

Blind faith is blind faith due to their uncanny ability to ignore evidence.
What they believe in works on the same lines... if they believe the US is a Christian nation, nothing you say will change their mind.
Anything you say, they will think of as a 'test of their faith'.

If you get enjoyment out of knowing you've proven them wrong, then great... I'm just saying don't expect any of them to actually think about what you're saying.
They will read your responses just far enough to know they don't like what you're saying, and then stop reading.
... and promptly respond to you with some arbitrary passage from their bible, which has nothing to do with what you said... but they seem to think it will convert you.

This is the way it has always gone... this is the way it will always go.


But hey, as I said, if it gives you personal gratification, then great... that's really all that matters in the end.
Along the same lines: try having a born-again read Matthew 27:52-3 in front of you and then have that individual look you square in the eyes and have him/her tell you they believe that's a report of an actual historical event. Their eyes will betray them. They don't really believe it to be true. But, damn, if they won't admit that. (Or else they'll tell you the text is to be taken "symbolically". In other words, it's not literally true. An admission by a bible literalist admitting Scripture is not literally true when the gospel author leaves no doubt he is presenting his report as historical fact.)

The die-hard Jesus people must be from another planet or something. What absurd beliefs to believe in. I tell you.
You may very well be right, but it's entertaining, and it's practice. Sharpen the intellect on the ol' whetstone. It's not that I enjoy *attempting* to prove anyone wrong. I just like making or constructing an argument. It's always fun to see what someone will say....or, according to you, how they will "distort" what they receive to make it less damaging or more streamlined with their beliefs. I mean, come on, how would YOU answer an argument of this sort if leveled at you?

I do know what you mean about blind faith perpetuating itself, though. You get some smart people who unfortutately hold some very foolish notions. I think of my sister-in-law, who, once a vegetarian, said she stopped being one because she had 'read her Bible'. I thought to myself, you must not have read it all that closely then.
I can't speak for others but the reason I engage in the debate is so that the folks who make the preposterous claims learn that these claims won't go unchallenged. To sit by quietly and do nothing is to give tacit approval (remember the Swiss and the Catholic church in WW2?).

Besides, if it ever really comes down to it and the fecal matter impacts the rotary ventilation unit, it's nice to have the weapons ready rather than the need to prepare them later.
If you don't have time to look up the bible this site is useful:
http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/. Its a skeptical quick reference to the Bible, Quran and Book of Mormon.
Certainly, Cannon law influenced English law which, in turn, influenced our legal code.

However, we were also heavily influenced by Napoleonic Law.

If I were you, I would argue that our country is actually more Napoleonist than it is Christian.

Article Six of the Constitution prohibits anyone from being submitted to a religious test in order to hold a public office or become a public service.

Here is a legal precedent that isn't Christian at all:

All laws against atheists holding office were ruled unconstitutional and unenforceable by the 1961 Supreme Court case Torcaso v. Watkins on a first amendment basis.

I would argue that our legal code and Constitution are not static representations of 200 year old Church law. Whatever we may have carried over at the beginning is surely unrecognizable now. We continually improve upon it because we expect our legal code to be responsive to our needs.
See, here's the kicker: I recently read apologist Dinesh D'Souza's "What's So Great About Christianity". He makes what I consider to be a good (note I say "good", not perfect or unassailable; as apologist presentations go, it's decent) case for the "Christian-ness" of our nation. Here it is, in 6 points:

1. He says that the barbarians (Visgoths, Huns, Vandals, Goths) that toppled the Rome and Roman civilization were eventually civilized by Christianity, after they'd adopted it. He says a transformation took place, from a savage barbarian warrior to a chivalric knight (the virtues of which we so familiarly associate with them being undergirded by Christian values and principles), and new ideals of civility and manners and romance were formed that shape our society today.

2. He says that the influence of Christianity is evident in our history and present day through our laws, our calendar, our holidays, our economics and politics, our art, and our moral and cultural priorities.

3. The term secular is itself an invention of Christianity; so are secular values, even if they've been severed from their original source. So is the concept of separation of church and state (he says Christ seems to be the first one who thought of it, and for evidence he cites Matthew 22:21: "Christ said, 'Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and to God that which is God's.'") So is the idea of limited government; for this he cites Augustine of Hippo's The City of God and Augustine's conceptualization of the two realms, the sacred (heavenly city) and the profane (earthly city). He says "our modern idea of limited government takes the Christian notion of space that is off-limits to state control and extends it to the whole private sphere."

4. The nuclear family, the concept of the rule of law, and our emphasis on the relief of suffering all derive from a basic Christian understanding of the dignity of fallible human beings.

5. Christendom developed a new notion of romantic love, which is today one of the most powerful forces in our civilization.

6. The legal system is "{here D'Souza quotes Harold Berman} a secular residue of religious attitudes and assumptions which historically first found expression in the liturgy and rituals and doctrine o the church, and thereafter in the institutions and concepts and values of the law."

Now obviously I didn't go into detail on how he expands on each of these, or how he defends them, but IMO I find it to be pretty good.

So, part of my plan is to go in and use material from D'Souza's book as part of my essay reply to Charles. If you are knowledgeable about any counterproofs on any of these points (or even better yet, if you've read the book) hit me up.
I've noticed some of this countrys founders spoke out of both sides of their mouths the way current politicians do. They were trying to appeal to everybody.

If the early Christian politicians had access to the knowledge we have today, they probably would have not been Christian. All a Christian has going for them is the bible and their faith. The former is being ground down with every scientific advance and the later is whithering as a result. If the Christian leaning founders could have known what the Hubble telescope has shown us today they would have realized just how insignificant their pitiful fictional friend was.

If they could have known where archeology, undersea archeology, paleontology, geology, biology, etc, etc has taken us, I think they would have done more then to hold religion in check today. Of course the problem is religous leaders today are aware of all the advances in science and they still promote their fictional friend. It's all about the money. They freely give fear, guilt and sorrow in an attempt to sell salvation.

I focus on the people who sit in the pews rather than the hucksters leading the parade. Truth is the majority of people are on the edge in regards to their beliefs someone else gave them. I regularly have letters to the editor published in my local paper and I slaughter the Christians. All they can say back is they will pray for me. Or they lay some stupid biblical quote on me like a hex. At some point they will have to ask why their pastor, priest, reverand, or rabbi refuse to engage me.
I think you're going about this with a proper perspective. If the religious claim ties to the origins of certain institutions and those institutions have to be ratified by secularists or fail altogether they should be called on to answer for those failures as well as successes.

My father used to say "the sun shines on a dog's ass sometimes". By the same token if your hand is in everything, you share the blame of it's failures. I can't say I'm intelligent enough to formulate a cohesive argument for your particular discourse, but I know one when I see it.

You're doing a fine job. Thanks for your tenacity in helping to keep those poor ignorant bastards honest.

P.S. Thinking along the lines of the modern calendar, I wonder how many modern religious individuals realize that every time they speak the name of certain days of the week, they're uttering the names of other gods? Ignorance is so poisonous.
http://www.calendar-origins.com/day-name-origins.html
Or that Christmas was formed to coincide with the final day of the festival of The Saturnalia? Let 'em claim that fuck-mess of debauchery.
It is easier every day to be anti-theist. More and more people are stepping forward. The Pope is taking heat on a regular basis. The farther down archeology digs, the farther back in time we realize civilization predates the old testament. In fact, we know the Jewish authors stole the creation and great flood stories from the Sumerian tale of Gilgamesh which had been around a thousand years prior to. I am so pleased the FFRF has put up 8 billboards questioning faith in the Detroit area. Below is a letter of mine rejected by the Toledo Blade. I wasn't being too facetious, they are gutless. I canceled my subscription. (Matthew 6:5-8) American Atheist did a 1/2 hr TV segment on this issue.

Editor Toledo Blade, 9/4/09
I am amused by the recent controversy over city council prayer before public meetings. Public prayer is a biblical violation akin to showing off. Given the state of the financial crisis in Toledo these days and strong possibility of a double dip recession, it would seem no clergy would want to force the issue. Politics has no place in church and the church has no place in politics. For local politicians to beg god to help run the city is absurd. When the economy turns further downward will those local politicians blame the bogeyman?
Mark Farris
Yes indeed, a bunch of ignorant, hate filled misogynous men who were afraid of the dark wrote the bad book. The majority of Christians only know the bits and pieces they were spoon fed as children. If a person only read bits and pieces of Mein Kampf, Hitler might sound like a swell guy. I believe the majority of believers actually don't know what to believe. Really they don't. Get them in a bunch and you'll get a knee jerk reaction every time.

The most adamant are the most insecure. Of course the hucksters selling the stupidity are going to defend their paycheck adamantly. When Christians squeal the loudest they do so defensively. When you have to revive something on a regular basis, it is near death. It is dying, slowly.

I don't know about where you live but Catholic churches and schools are closing here because the Catholics are in decline. Not bacause of loss of faith so much as the fact they no longer listen to that old fool the Pope. Pretty rare to see 10 or 12 kids in a Catholic family anymore. I suspect birth control is out of the old fool's control.

Plug away and bombard your local print media with bits and pieces of ebonmusings in short coherent letters to the editor. I regularly do and the clergy are afraid to stick their necks out because all they have is the bad book and faith. They don't stand a chance. They are giving away fear, guilt and sorrow in an attempt to sell salvation. I just saw Jimmey Swaggert on TV selling bibles. What suckers.

Just think, Atheist Nexus now has about 10 thousand members. There are three or four or more major Atheist organizations holding national annual conventions. Atheist meetup groups are everywhere. Non-belief has doubled in the last 20 yrs and could double again in another decade at which point we are the majority. It is easier every day to be an anti-theist.

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