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Old 12-04-2008, 01:09 AM   #106
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^ firstly, you're addressing an Australian, who, unlike many conservative Americans, likely doesn't think that the Constitution and the "founding fathers" are the be all end of of human achievement.

i think you're missing the forrest for trees and coming off as rather smug.

to me, the big point in the "founding fathers" and their purposefully vague references to a Creator is to demonstrate, in their 18th century way, that all human beings are cut from the same cloth, that there is no more worth to a king than to a shepherd, and one way in which this was understood was to believe that, in the eyes of the Creator, we are all equal. it's quite egalitarian, nearly communist if you think about it.

but the point remains that the founding fathers had faith not in God, but in *people* and in the ability of *people* to govern themselves. not just any people, but people who were engaged and aware and, again in an 18th century context, were aware of themselves as individualistic sentient beings.

democracy is very, very hard. democracy isn't natural. democracy doesn't arrive by bombs.

haven't we learned this, if nothing at all, over the past few years?
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Old 12-04-2008, 01:10 AM   #107
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*yawn*


you're tired too?

take me to bed or lose me forever.
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Old 12-04-2008, 01:42 AM   #108
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^ firstly, you're addressing an Australian, who, unlike many conservative Americans, likely doesn't think that the Constitution and the "founding fathers" are the be all end of of human achievement.
Your only half-right, regardless of the practicalities of slavery, genocide and discrimination, I think that the American constitution does contain some of the finest principles in existence. The first amendment gives a guarantee of free speech, free thought and secularism, I'm very enamored with it, if I can't have one in this country I would like to live somewhere that has it.
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Old 12-04-2008, 01:50 AM   #109
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A far cry from "Genuine freedom begins with the rejection of religion" don't ya think?
You still don't understand the statement.
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Old 12-04-2008, 05:42 AM   #110
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It doesn't matter if the founding fathers were Christians or secularists. What matters is they decided not to establish a state religion.
That isn't enough, by placing the benchmark at an established state church it excuses public funds and support being lent towards sectarian campaigns, if the American government decided to hand millions of dollars over to religious religious groups, but gave to as many religions as possible it would still be wrong.

And it must be reinforced that religious people can be secularists, they can support a wall of separation, to borrow a phrase from Mr. Jefferson, between Church and State. I am an atheist and a secularist, those are separate positions, they not synonymous.

I don't believe in any Gods (atheist) and don't think the state should promote or persecute religious beliefs (secularist).

One could just as easily believe in God and not want the state meddling in what you are allowed to preach, or oppose making you give money to support a rival denomination.
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The so-called framers or founding fathers were just a bunch of 'jerk-offs' doing things for their own self interest.

Much like the Southern Confederates that came along some 75-80 years later.

Why romanticized any of them?
Because some had some very progressive ideas that are still relevant today, Jefferson, Franklin, Paine etc.

Freedom of speech, the public role of religion, the limits of government, the right to self-defence; these are important issues.
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Old 12-04-2008, 06:05 AM   #111
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It seems Thomas Jefferson anticipated this thread.
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For we know that the common law is that system of law which was introduced by the Saxons on their settlement of England, and altered from time to time by proper legislative authority from that time to the date of the Magna Charta, which terminates the period of the common law ... This settlement took place about the middle of the fifth century. But Christianity was not introduced till the seventh century; the conversion of the first Christian king of the Heptarchy having taken place about the year 598, and that of the last about 686. Here then, was a space of two hundred years, during which the common law was in existence, and Christianity no part of it ... That system of religion could not be a part of the common law, because they were not yet Christians.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814, responding to the claim that Chritianity was part of the Common Law of England
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[A] short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandising their oppressors in Church and State; that the purest system of morals ever before preached to man, has been adulterated and sophisticated by artificial constructions, into a mere contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves; that rational men not being able to swallow their impious heresies, in order to force them down their throats, they raise the hue and cry of infidelity, while themselves are the greatest obstacles to the advancement of the real doctrines of Jesus, and do in fact constitute the real Anti-Christ.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Samuel Kercheval, 1810
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To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779
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History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813
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When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom ... was finally passed, ... a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion." The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, 1821
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Life is of no value but as it brings us gratifications. Among the most valuable of these is rational society. It informs the mind, sweetens the temper, cheers our spirits, and promotes health.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, February 20, 1784
Yes, its going to be a quote war, but these illustrate the folly of injecting the recognition of the Christian God into the business of government.
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Old 12-04-2008, 07:57 AM   #112
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And it must be reinforced that religious people can be secularists, they can support a wall of separation, to borrow a phrase from Mr. Jefferson, between Church and State.
Yeah! Like me for example. I'm religious and I am also a secularist.

I still want to know why the "tip of the hat" is so important. And I'd appreciate some Biblical support for the position. (apologies to those who don't consider the Bible authority. Just let us conservative Christians hash things out for minute here, folks).
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Old 12-04-2008, 08:07 AM   #113
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Careful now, I have to maintain my supposed narrow mindedness and bigotry, I'm one of those fundamentalist atheists, as opposed to the people who just believe God doesn't exist Monday to Saturday.
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Old 12-04-2008, 03:55 PM   #114
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In God We Trust has been on the penny since 1909 and dime since 1916 and all U.S. coins since 1938. Its use goes back further to the post-Civil War era and older coins no longer in circulation.
It wasn't official until 1956. But either way, it wasn't originally intended to be on the money. It was added later, by activists. Sort of like your whacky license plate.
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Old 12-04-2008, 04:50 PM   #115
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It wasn't official until 1956. But either way, it wasn't originally intended to be on the money. It was added later, by activists. Sort of like your whacky license plate.


activists? judicial activists!?!?!?! were they imposing their will on the people!?!?!! was there a vote on this!?!?!
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Old 12-04-2008, 05:33 PM   #116
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I guess I just wonder why it's so important to you to have the shout-outs to God. That's all they are--lip service to the Lord. "Yeah, yeah, God we trust you and all that." In practice we put way much more faith in the money with His name on it.

Certainly the Bible makes it clear that He didn't put much value in this kind of deference.

The time of the founding fathers was also a time of slavery and a time when we were stealing the Indians' land. Do we really want God all wrapped up in that business?

What evidence do you see from the teachings of Jesus that indicate this kind of aggressive appropriation of a nation as "ours" is what He wants?
God has chosen His nation already so there's little use in trying to steal that mantle. But interestingly, John Winthrop and the early Puritans did see America as the New Israel. And, AND, no less than Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin proposed Promised Land imagery for our first U.S. Seal. Call it Providence, Manifest Destiny or American Exceptionalism, but our country was formed with an eye towards the heavens.

The Declaration, Constitution, Bill of Rights and those quotes I listed earlier, while not derived from scripture, really do presuppose a decent and moral citizenry, which at that time and continuing until the present has largely in this country been supplied by Judeo-Christian teachings. That's the self-governing part. And of course the Founders appealed to an authority above the state as the source of unalienable rights.

As for the "tip of the hat." Two things. Having a civil religion with occasional Christian language or references is not in any way the same as establishing a national Christian religion. Would we really be better off as a nation if the great speeches of Lincoln, Washington, Reagan, FDR and MLK were stripped of their biblical touchstones? Should Barack Obama cut out that "I am my brother's keeper" rhetoric? Is nothing gained when a president ends a speech with "God Bless America" or begins his term with "So help me, God"?

Two. I have no idea how often God intervenes into the affairs of man or nations. But don't you want leaders that ask for guidance from this great source of wisdom we believe in? Shouldn't our country have a day of Thanksgiving and acknowledge our many blessings? No one believes public faith should replace private faith but shouldn't we encourage policies and language that fosters the second?

Freedom and religion flourish in this country because we draw from both secular and religious traditions but never rely wholly on either.
What other country can you say that about?
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Old 12-04-2008, 05:41 PM   #117
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Oh, so that's why God was on tour with the Enola Gay?
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Old 12-04-2008, 05:51 PM   #118
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It wasn't official until 1956. But either way, it wasn't originally intended to be on the money. It was added later, by activists. Sort of like your whacky license plate.
Wrong, the national mints couldn't make any changes to U.S. coins without congressional approval. In God We Trust was added to coins only after congressional acts in 1864, 1865, 1873 and has been on all coins since 1938 !!!

It was added to U.S. notes in 1957. In God We Trust became our national motto in 1956 when the President approved a Joint Resolution of the 84th Congress.

Is that what you mean by activists?
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Old 12-04-2008, 06:01 PM   #119
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God has chosen His nation already so there's little use in trying to steal that mantle. But interestingly, John Winthrop and the early Puritans did see America as the New Israel. And, AND, no less than Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin proposed Promised Land imagery for our first U.S. Seal. Call it Providence, Manifest Destiny or American Exceptionalism, but our country was formed with an eye towards the heavens.
In the context of a literary allusion, resistance to tyrants is obedience to God, it also wasn't accepted for a reason.
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The Declaration, Constitution, Bill of Rights and those quotes I listed earlier, while not derived from scripture, really do presuppose a decent and moral citizenry, which at that at that time and continuing until the present has largely in this country been supplied by Judeo-Christian teachings. That's the self-governing part. And of course the Founders appealed to an authority above the state as the source of unalienable rights.
An authority above the state is natural law, not a theistic God, and Jefferson explicitly made the point that the origin of rights was in a pre-Christian environment. The idea that Christianity is by definition, moral, is an unfounded statement and the idea that practicing Christians supply are more decent and moral than other people is both false. Deists, agnostics and atheists have all made tremendous contributions to America, and a lot of good has been justified on principled philosophical, rather than religious, grounds.
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As for the "tip of the hat." Two things. Having a civil religion with occasional Christian language or references is not in any way the same as establishing a national Christian religion. Would we really be better off as a nation if the great speeches of Lincoln, Washington, Reagan, FDR and MLK were stripped of their biblical touchstones? Should Barack Obama cut out that "I am my brothers keeper" rhetoric? Is nothing gained when a president ends a speech with "God Bless America" or begins his term with "So help me, God"?
I have no problem with biblical allusions, or teaching the bible in public schools with a secular context, the stories it contains have had an important influence on Western culture, but this is different than governing as a Christian nation and supporting particular sects, for instance giving public funds to the Congregationalists but not the Satanists.
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Two. I have no idea how often God intervenes into the affairs of man or nations. But don't you want leaders that ask for guidance from this great source of wisdom we believe in? Shouldn't our country have a day of Thanksgiving and acknowledge our many blessings? No one believes public faith should replace private faith but shouldn't we encourage policies and language that fosters the second?
Your rhetorical question about "leaders that ask for guidance from this great source of wisdom we believe in" is problematic, it assumes that there is a great source of wisdom, I would be worried if a politician was to pray for policy and heard a voice in his head, I don't think that it is wise to confuse contemplation with revealed truth, and the assumption that it is good.

The role of the American government isn't to foster private faith, only to preserve an unrestricted marketplace of ideas, your rhetoric is geared towards your ilk, mainstream Christians who feel that religion improves their lives and makes them better people, but that isn't a universal opinion and dissenters shouldn't have it imposed on them, even with a smile.
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Freedom and religion flourish in this country because we draw from both but never rely wholly on either.

What other country can you say that about?
You are gauging two separate things, liberty and religiosity, I will say that there are more free countries that have low rates of religious belief, and many autocratic nations with very high levels of religious belief.

I think that genuine freedom starts when one faces reality and begins to look at religious institutions as man-made, it is a good starting point to honestly think about what is right and wrong, without deferring to scripture (even if there is a God and he sent his one son to be slaughtered on behalf of people who never asked for a scapegoat, it says nothing about the inherent goodness or evil of the deity, you can only charge atheists with a lack objective moral justification because of their honesty, God is only good to a higher moral standard, which diminishes his glory or the word good becomes meaningless).

We can freely choose to do the right thing, without fear or hope for reward, and that choice can be more justified than doing it in the name of God. We don't loose our capacity for empathy and compassion when we abandon supernaturalism, we can retain moral principles (such as reciprocal altruism) without religion, those moral instincts are evolved characters, ones which we can trace in other animals. Now giving our behavior objective justification demands philosophy, and asking if there is in fact objective morality.
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Old 12-04-2008, 06:03 PM   #120
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Oh, so that's why God was on tour with the Enola Gay?

Was He with Joshua when he brought down the walls of Jericho?
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