Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Christian Nation?

A couple of years ago, I wrote about the relation of government and religion, but I didn't have as much support for my claims as I might have liked. In particular I could have better supported this paragraph:
The point is that government and religion need to be separate. Why? Because the framers of the constitution feared tyranny. If those who have the power of the sword can also invoke God's will as justification for the use of the sword, then there will be no way to prevent tyranny. We would in effect have a king chosen by divine right. All of this had happened again and again in Europe, and the framers were afraid it could happen here too if they did not prevent it. So they made sure that the government which has the power of the sword was not permitted to invoke religious authority as justification for its decisions.
In reading Al Gore's The Assault on Reason, I came across some passages by those framers that might do the trick:

1. Thomas Jefferson: "Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because if there be one, He must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear."

2. Thomas Jefferson redux: A political leader with religious sanctioning "has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection of his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them."

3. John Adams: "The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or Mohammedan Nation."


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