Monday, May 24, 2010

The Constitution and Mrs. Palin - Part 3

The First Amendment - Establishment Clause

Amendment I of the Constitution begins, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." This says to me that no single religious dogma trumps any other in our country.  Yet Mrs. Palin has been going around the country espousing and promoting the notion that the United States is a Christian country, founded on the Judeo-Christian belief set.

In an appearance on Fox channel with Bill O'Reilly (VIDEO), while discussing a court's recent finding that it is unconstitutional for the Federal government to declare a "National Day of Prayer," Mrs. Palin affirms, "I have said all along that America is based on Judeo-Christian beliefs and, uh you know, nobody has to believe me though, uh, you can just go to our Founding Fathers’ early documents and see how they crafted a Declaration of Independence and a Constitution that um allows that Judeo-Christian belief to be the foundation of our laws and our Constitution, of course, uh, essentially acknowledging that our unalienable rights don’t come from man. They come from God."

The term "Judeo-Christian" first came into use during the Second World War. It was not part of the settlers' or the founders' vocabulary when the Declaration of Independence was written. Basically, Judeo-Christian necessarily refers to the tiny intersection of beliefs held in common by adherents of Christianity and those of Judaism.  In an article titled The Judeo-Christian Oxymoron, author David E. Ross notes wisely, "Actually, an appeal to Judeo-Christian values usually reflects an attempt to generate Jewish support for a political agenda that many Jews who are well educated in their religion would reject."

Further in Mrs. Palin's session with O'Reilly, she goes on to say, "I think we should just kinda keep this clean, keep it simple. Go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant -- they're quite clear -- that um we would uh create law based on the God of the bible and the ten commandments. It's pretty simple."

If our founders truly desired that laws reflect the ten commandments, why did they not legislate against carving statues of anything in the heavens, on the earth or under the seas? Why is there no punishment when people take God's name in vain? Where is the law that says you can't go to movies or mow lawns on Sunday? And oh dear, of course, why did the founders fail to demand that husbands or wives who cheat on each other be stoned to death?

To which God, and to whose bible does Mrs. Palin refer?  The vengeful Old Testament God who forbids us to eat shellfish and despises homosexual behavior, or the New Testament God that claims Jesus as his Son, the same Christ who is every Mark Souder's refuge when he gets caught committing adultery?  But wouldn't either of these be a God firmly identified with a particular religion?

President John Adams, our 4th President, signed the Treaty of Tripoli that was passed unanimously in 1797: "The United States government is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion."

John F. Kennedy, a Catholic (like Mrs. Palin was before switching to Pentecostalism) and our 35th President said, "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute."

Thomas Paine, founding father, wrote, "My country is the world, and my religion is to do good."

If our country truly was founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs, I find it odd that Article 6, Section 3 of our Constitution says, "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

James Madison, another founding father, said, "Religion and Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."

And Thomas Jefferson, rascally founding father that he was, said, "Question with boldness even the existence of a God."  No wonder Texas wants to remove him from their history textbooks.
I wonder what Mrs. Palin and friends would say if our Congress ordained a "National Week of the Hajj," or a "National Day of Tantric Sex," or a "National Month of Meditation and Silence."
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