In a recent interview with Bill O'Reilly, Sarah Palin made a statement that it is "quite clear" that the founding fathers intended our government to make laws based on the Bible [http://is.gd/c0c3F].


In addition, she stated that the Constitution acknowledges that our inalienable rights come from God, not man:

I have said all along that America is based on Judeo-Christian beliefs and, you know, nobody has to believe me though. You can just go to our Founding Fathers' early documents and see how
they crafted a Declaration of Independence and a Constitution that
allows that Judeo-Christian belief to be the foundation of our lives.
And our Constitution, of course, essentially acknowledging that our
unalienable rights don't come from man; they come from God. So this
document is set up to protect us from a government that would ever
infringe upon our rights to have freedom of religion and to be able to
express our faith freely.

Let ME be "quite clear".


Sarah Palin is an idiot.


The Day of Prayer aside, there are several fallacies in her statement - she obviously (again), doesn't remotely understand the point of a secular society.


1) Those with this secular "worldview" want to remove any discussion of god from the public sector.

No. I do not want to prevent people from discussing god in the public sector. They can discuss all they want. They can pray, observe, meditate, worship, holy roll or be as spiritual as they please - no
mandate should be in place that prevents that. However, my view of an
ideal government is one that neither promotes nor prohibits any form of
religious expression, as long as such expression does not cause harm to
others or violate current law. For instance, if a religion has a tenant
stating they are to sacrifice their firstborn, that shouldn't be
tolerated and any practitioners should be jailed.


2) The Constitution is based on Judeo-Christian values.

Some of our founding fathers may have been Christians, yes. Some may have been Deists, Unitarians, Atheists - especially in the case of Thomas Jefferson, there are conflicting reports. Their personal
correspondence, however, was not law. The Constitution says nothing
about a god - the Declaration of Independence states only the term
"Creator". This creator wasn't given a name, or even if said creator was
considered a deity, a "prime mover", etc. Thus, it is NOT clear that
the founding fathers, by the actual law-giving document, intended all
laws to be based on the Bible. Even if they were intended to be so, as
O'Reilly stated, we are becoming an increasingly secular nation. Palin
either made the mistake of stating that the Constitution says this, or
she is lying to make the point.


As I stated in my comment to Jerry Murphy concerning the Wilderness Outcry on the SE Missourian:

What are the Judeo-Christian "values" you are promoting? I need to confirm that said values match a common sense of decency and human rights, without any subjugation of women, condemnation of homosexuality,
exclusion of religions other than Christianity or belief in magical or
mystical cures for society's woes. If any of the above are included or
promoted, or books which include/promote the above, then said values are
to be considered antiquated and NOT something the populace of our
country needs to be exposed to [on a legislative level]. [http://is.gd/b94QU]


3) Those with a secular "worldview" are afraid of those without one.

Yes and no. For the exceedingly fanatical religious people who want to push our country toward a theocracy, who laud war and human suffering as an indication that their "messiah" is soon to return and thus as a
good thing, or otherwise wield their faith as a means to mold others
into submission of their own views - yes, there is fear. Fear that our
country will be injected with laws based on a specific religious sect
without any neutral, secular application. Fear that we will start taking
steps backward into intolerance, bigotry and persecution of those who
do not adhere or support a religious mindset or other deviations from
Bible based societal norms. It's a fear that spurs us to take steps in
order to insure a secular (neutral society), and to minimize the
influence of those who truly believe that to be non-religious is to be
evil, to be savage or to be unacceptable in society.


Palin's comments echo the same arguments I've heard many times about the role of religion in society. Even though I don't think O'Reilly really disagreed with Palin's statements, I do think he spoke the truth
about an evolving society. We should evolve. Expand our knowledge as
much as possible, recognize and acknowledge our past with its mistakes
and its victories, but be willing to discard that which no longer works,
while strengthening that which does. We've evolved in so many ways
since 1776 - our medicine, or technology - even how we treat one
another. As with civil rights, equality for women, and more recently,
same sex marriage, as we see areas that can use improvement, we should
be willing to progress as individuals and as a society. This is where a
humanistic approach to morality and the concepts of right and wrong are
superior to those based on religion in many cases.


I assert that we should only follow any writ of morality such as that found in the Bible, as long as it aligns with our common sense of decency and human values (as stated above). For instance, when we as a
society realized that enslaving other humans was indecent, we amended
that practice, in spite of those who used their interpretation of the
scriptures to justify continuing the atrocity.


If you choose, follow the Bible, the Koran or any other philosophy that helps you interact in a fair and decent manner with your fellow man. However, if what you read in that book does not resonate with you
own empathy/education, if it encourages you to infringe on another’s
right to happiness and wellbeing, and finally, what allows us to operate
and evolve as society – ignore those portions of the book.


We will all be better off if we take what is good from our religions and philosophies and discard the bad, harmful and illogical.

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Comment by Justin Van Kleeck on May 23, 2010 at 9:16am
"We will all be better off if we take what is good from our religions and philosophies and discard the bad, harmful and illogical."

Thank you! I would add the same for secular systems of thought as well.

Every person has to find their own way to live a good, beneficial life by applying critical thought to everything in the world and selecting those things that best contribute to the welfare of themselves and others. It would indeed be a mistake to dismiss something just because it has a religious origin; only if it is deemed wrong, valueless, irrelevant, or harmful should it be passed over.

Many of our problems come when we take the easy way out and simply follow something because it is part of some system or expounded by some authority figure/source (which can happen on any side of the religion/theism fence, by the way).

I appreciate your openness to new ideas and to dialogue with differing viewpoints, to critical scrutiny and curiosity, rather than derogation out of hand.
Comment by Martin Allen on May 23, 2010 at 3:18am
well put. I'd go further in your point 2. Any reference to "Creator" is clearly not intended to reference the Judeo-Christian god (take your pick from Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Paine etc). And you are too nice to O'Reilly, who was a sycophantic arse (as he often can be) in his interview, generally agreeing with Palin and giving her an easy ride rather than take issue with the raging inconsistencies in her argument. Any half decent journalist would have wiped the floor with her.
Comment by Jim Mo. on May 23, 2010 at 12:45am
Very well articulated. Thanks!

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