The foundering of America
Complaints from the wingnut brigade about the "war on Christmas" (how these followers of an archetypal peacenik love to talk in terms of battle!) are part of a greater ethos that posits that the United States is a country "founded on Christian principles." They claim that its laws, traditions and moral codes are rooted solidly in devotion to Christ, with the founding fathers leading the charge on behalf of Jesus. They point to this claim whenever a redneck judge insists on displaying the Ten Commandments at a courthouse or when controversies regarding the Pledge of Allegiance arise. They say that church-state separation is an outcropping of "revisionist history."
As usual, their ignorance is as astounding as it is unyielding. Also as usual, the irony is thick enough to eat with a trowel: Those bitching loudest about the supposed rewriting of U.S. history haven't a clue about the very annals they themselves are desperately ignoring in their attempts to modify the record books to their liking.
Although Christianity -- in its various guises and with its battling subgroups -- is and always has been the predominant stateside religious affiliation, this is not tantamount to either a constitutional endorsement of same or a reflection of the founding fathers' personal beliefs. Ardent Christians often invoke the names Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Henry and Paine when advancing the idea that the kick-starters of America really -- no, really, it's true, look into it -- intended for the U.S. to be a Christian nation, despite no mention of Jesus or Christianity in the U.S. Constitution. In doing so, they're only beshitting the very case they are trying to make. These men were men of faith, but were largely Deist and, more to the point, vehemently anti-sectarian and anti-Christian. (Had they not lived before the advent of molecular genetics, microbiology, geoscience and other helpful disciplines, they likely would have would have questioned even their vague ideas about a Creator, but that's a side issue.)
References are legion, and although a thorough understanding of history is always preferable to following a few Internet links, here's an excerpt from a concise summary of the founders' documented attitudes about Bible-based Christianity.
I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth.
Christianity...(has become) the most perverted system that ever shone on man. ...Rogueries, absurdities and untruths were perpetrated upon the teachings of Jesus by a large band of dupes and importers led by Paul, the first great corrupter of the teaching of Jesus.
The clergy converted the simple teachings of Jesus into an engine for enslaving mankind and adulterated by artificial constructions into a contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves...these clergy, in fact, constitute the real Anti-Christ.
Jefferson's word for the Bible? Dunghill.
Where do we find a precept in the Bible for Creeds, Confessions, Doctrines and Oaths, and whole carloads of other trumpery that we find religion encumbered with in these days?
The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity.
Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11 states:
The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.
I would not dare to so dishonor my Creator God by attaching His name to that book (the Bible).
Among the most detestable villains in history, you could not find one worse than Moses. Here is an order, attributed to 'God' to butcher the boys, to massacre the mothers and to debauch and rape the daughters. I would not dare so dishonor my Creator's name by (attaching) it to this filthy book (the Bible).
It is the duty of every true Deist to vindicate the moral justice of God against the evils of the Bible.
Accustom a people to believe that priests and clergy can forgive sins...and you will have sins in abundance.
The Christian church has set up a religion of pomp and revenue in pretended imitation of a person (Jesus) who lived a life of poverty.
(Paine's notable work The Age of Reason is as hilarious as it is instructive.)
What influence in fact have Christian ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In many instances they have been upholding the thrones of political tyranny. In no instance have they been seen as the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty have found in the clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate liberty, does not need the clergy.
Madison objected to state-supported chaplains in Congress and to the exemption of churches from taxation. He wrote:
Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.
So, as loudly as the Christians demanding special dispensation screech, historical evidence firmly relegates their entreaties about the founders to la-la land along with too many other insane ideas to count.
The strangest and saddest part? Christians, even when history texts are flung open beneath their noses, have no qualms about simply squeezing their eyes shut, jamming their fingers in their ears and bellowing "KWISTIUN NASHUN! KWISTIUN NASHUN!" over and over until their challengers give up and move on, thereby preserving the Christians' perverse espirit de corps until they produce their next complaint about the commies at the ACLU and the librul America-haters who abet them. It's one thing for backwater Bible-beaters to deny the scientific reality of evolution; after all, it takes a modicum of study for even an open-minded and scholarly person to appreciate the various precise ways in which anti-evolutionists reveal themselves to be as off the beam with respect to biology as they are in other areas. But even an idiot can appreciate the gravity and meaning of Thomas Jefferson referring to the Bible as a pile of shit. Yet such references don't sway them or slow them down in the least.
As with all godidiotic undertakings, this would be funny (albeit in the discomfiting way that stumbling upon fornicating senior citizens is amusing) were it not so ominous. that wingnuts can continue screeching that America is a nation founded on Christianity when all historical evidence demonstrates otherwise.
Thomas Jefferson et al. would certainly find the modern-day manifestation of "Christianity," with its grisly infestation of top-level goverment affairs and decisions, especially abhorrent. They would find it abominable that highly visible assclown Christian individuals and groups shrug off hurricane destruction and death on the basis of natural disasters' origins in divine punishment, and they would cringe at seeing a large fraction of the populace justifying America's involvement in a futile war by pointing directly or indirectly at the Christian Bible. They would rail against the hamstringing of scientific progress by people who, motivated by vague and misguided notions of God's will, believe that the "life" of a corpse that has spent years on a ventilator or a newly formed morula is more valuable than that of a fully sentient ALS sufferer.
Which is exactly why people like me, who are anything but anti-American, are pointing fingers today.