For the United States it is voting day at last.
As early as tomorrow freedom will ring across the land as all the political ads will finally stop running. Yes, for once in my life, I’ll be happy to hear about side effects (up to and including death), how much money I won’t have in my retirement and garments specially designed for Americans and made in China so they can inhale whole containers of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (where a pint is still 16 ounces) and finger the remote control – all at the same time!
This day brings a lot of craziness.
I’m not going to miss the ads. Let’s take a look at Measure WTF. Ostensibly this measure was brought to the ballot via the citizen initiative process. What does that mean? Most likely that paid canvassers collected the signatures. What’s that? I love the smell of democracy in the morning.
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Glenn Beck says America should be about believing in God. Do you think he’s right about that?
What do you think was most important to the “founding fathers?” Freedom? Individual rights vs. the state? Or that we must have a belief in God and laws based on the same?
Which document, do you think, was intended to have more sway over our daily lives?
The other day I was flipping through channels and I saw television commentator Glenn Beck on the FOX News Channel hosting some kind of TV show. The studio audience seemed to be comprised mostly of young people. With Beck on stage was a man who would offer up comments regarding things that Beck said. I wish I could find a link to this show but I tried and was not successful.
I admit, I’m not a regular watcher of Beck. But I was momentarily curious. What were my impressions of the man? I have to admit the way he talked was really off-putting. His tone was histrionic and what he had to say seemed to me to be quite full of puffery. That’s just my opinion.
On this particular occasion he was frothing at the mouth about God and the Declaration of Independence. I’ll admit the obvious right up front. Beck is correct. That document clearly talks about a “creator” and so forth.
So what does that mean? That we’re supposed to be a “Christian nation?” That’s what Beck wants you to think. Be a critical thinker, though, and don’t take his word for it. Dig a little deeper.
The purpose of the Declaration of Independence: To announce and explain separation from Great Britain.
The purpose of the Constitution: A national constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation.
Again I ask, which document do you think is supposed to hold more sway over our laws and how we live our lives?
Beck is correct that the Declaration of Independence mentions a “creator.” But what is he leaving out? What you don’t hear him spouting off about all the time is that the Constitution is strangely silent on the subject of God.
The following words do not appear in the original United States Constitution: God, creator, maker, Christ, Christianity, and religion*. Search the text for yourself and see!
The word “religious” does show up one single time, but it’s not exactly a powerful statement that the founding fathers wanted religion entwined with government. In fact, it says the exact opposite:
From Article VI. “… no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
To my simple mind, this disconnect raises an immediate and important question: If the founding fathers were so concerned about God, why did they fail to broach the subject even a single time in the Constitution? The document that they intended to be the very foundation for our country?
I can see why Beck prefers to avoid bringing attention to this sort of thing. But that doesn’t stop him from appearing on stage with an “expert” and declaring that the word “creator” in a different document means that we’re supposed to be a Christian nation.
In fact, the only logical conclusion that can be drawn from the God disconnect between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution is that the authors of the Constitution deliberately went out of their way to keep God out. I mean, what else? You think they forgot? I don’t think so. They seemed to put an awful lot of thought into the Constitution. I find it hard to imagine that they would forget about God unless it was deliberate.
All the puffery and histrionics in the world can’t get around the fact that God is missing from the Constitution and that the founding fathers didn’t want religious beliefs to dictate who could hold office.
One last point: What is “freedom of religion?” That comes from the First Amendment which prohibits the federal government from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This was later expanded to state and local governments by the Fourteenth Amendment.
Now for a geometrical proof regarding the “free exercise” of religion:
- The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion in the United States.
- This guarantees every American the right to choose their own religious beliefs (or even have none at all).
- By definition and as required by the Constitution, therefore the United States is not a “Christian” nation.
If every American has the right to believe what they want about God and religion, how can there be any requirement that we are a Christian nation? Such a requirement, even if it did exist, would be a direct violation of the Constitution. We’re all free to worship trees or be atheists or be whatever we want to be. It just so happens that most of us are Christians, but that is not a requirement of being an American. According to the Constitution you don’t have to believe in God at all if you don’t want.
That’s not the way Beck wants it, though. Beck believes that a belief in God is a requirement to being a good American. If so, what happens then? Can religious beliefs other than the most popular be legally discriminated against? Can you be excluded from housing based on having the “wrong” belief? Turned away from a job? Jailed? Burned at the stake? Where are these lines, how are they drawn, and who is going to be deciding how every American’s beliefs will be evaluated and legally acted upon?
By the way, Thomas Jefferson was the first to advocate the concept of the separation of church and state in this letter.
Beck is wrong. God does not belong in politics. God has nothing to do with being an American.
Related reading: You don’t have the Constitution for that
* Except for the First Amendment. The word “religion” does appear there.