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Author Topic:   Is America a Christian Nation?
Member (Idle past 39 days)
Posts: 3966
Joined: 07-01-2005

Message 24 of 206 (546972)
02-15-2010 12:14 PM

Freedom of Religion
This is really a rather simple topic to address.
Whether the Founding Fathers were Christian or not is irrelevant. The Fathers are not America. They wrote the documents that form the cornerstone of our legal system, they were responsible for the nations existence, etc., but the personal opinions of each of them are completely irrelevant as to whether or not the US is a "Christian Nation."
Christians make up the majority of the population of the United States, and always have. Being a Representative Constitutional Republic, this means that various Christian values have had an influence on the character of our laws and our culture.
However, to paraphrase the current President's inauguration speech, America is a nation of Christians and Jews, of Muslims and Hindus, of believers of every faith and of nonbelievers.
The fact is, despite the personal opinions of our leaders and representatives, we are a Constitutional Republic. Our Constitution includes the following words:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
Whatever else the Founding Fathers were, they certainly understood one simple thing: the only way to guarantee that every citizen is free to worship (or not) according only to the dictates of his own conscience is to exclude government from religion altogether.
Some people misinterpret this Amendment. Some believe that "freedom of religion" means that you're free to worship Jesus however you'd like. Some fear it, and think that it means that the government can restrict public religious displays.
Both of these are wrong. Only government needs to stay out of the business of religion. That means that official government channels can neither advocate nor denigrate any faith or faith in general.
Public schools run by government money cannot in any way endorse religion. This means that teachers are prohibited from leading the classroom in prayer; the reasoning for this should be readily apparent: a Jewish parent will not appreciate her child being led in a Muslim prayer by their teacher at school. A Christian parent would not appreciate her child being led in a Hindu prayer. A Baptist parent would not appreciate their child being led in the Hail Mary by a Catholic teacher. An Atheist parent would, obviously, like none of these, any more than the religious parents would appreciate their child being told that God does not exist in school.
But this absolutely does not mean that prayer cannot happen on school grounds! A commonly quoted sentence carries significant truth: "Kids will always pray in school so long as there are pop quizzes." Contrary to what some believe, the abolition of school prayer does not abolish prayer in schools - it only restricts what the teacher, an authority working as a representative of the government (and this a representative of all of us, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, and everyone else), cannot influence the children in her care with her own religious beliefs. That is all.
As individuals, it's impossible to escape the beliefs of others. There is no "freedom from religion" in the sense that we will always come into contact with people of faiths different from out own. But our legal system is structured such that no faith (or the lack of it) is given preferential treatment. No specific belief system is given acknowledgment by our government, so that all of us retain the freedom to make that choice for ourselves.
It doesn't matter how many Americans are Catholic, Baptist, Adventist, Congregational, Reformed, Presbyterian, Orthodox, Mormon, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Wiccan, Atheist, Agnostic, Gnostic, Deist, Scientologist, or any other religion (or lack of religion). It doesn't matter how many of the Founding Fathers were any of these, either - and that's the point of the freedom of religion.
What matters is that the United States has been, since the moment it was founded, a nation of all religions and of none, and equally friendly and open to all. In America, you have the freedom to worship Yahweh, Jesus, the pope, Vishnu, Allah, Xenu, Quetzalcoatl, Zeus, Thor, or anything else you can think of or nothing at all without fear of persecution from the government. You will be able to raise your children in your beliefs without having the schools undermine your faith (or lack thereof). You will not be put in prison or unequally taxed or otherwise penalized regardless of what you choose to worship, or if you worship nothing at all.
In this way, the United States is a Christian Nation. It is also a Jewish Nation. A Muslim Nation. A Mormon Nation. An Atheist Nation.
After all, you can't possibly have the freedom of religion if you are not free to make that choice for yourself.

Member (Idle past 39 days)
Posts: 3966
Joined: 07-01-2005

Message 28 of 206 (546994)
02-15-2010 4:42 PM
Reply to: Message 27 by New Cat's Eye
02-15-2010 4:18 PM

Re: Representative Leadership
except in our country issues relating to human rights a barred from being voted on and left to courts.
Not in California...
The process is no different in California.
Rights enumerated by the COnstitution are not subject for a simple vote - you can't make a law that strips the freedom of speach from a group, for example.
However, the Constitution itself can always be changed. In California's case, the unfortunate truth is that the requirement to modify the Constitution and thereby alter the Constitutionally guaranteed rights is actually lower than the majority required to pass a budget in the state.
It's perhaps California's biggest underlying problem - popular vote, where 50%+1 in a popular vote can make anything the highest law in the land.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 27 by New Cat's Eye, posted 02-15-2010 4:18 PM New Cat's Eye has not replied

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