Saturday, August 23, 2014
So after our TKD class recently, we went out for a "Staff Meeting," wherein the adult students/instructors get together at a local restaurant and chitchat about things while having drinks.
During our meeting, one of the guys mentions that our community has a Hindu temple in it and while mentioning it, he noticeably cringed. As he does this, I ask him, "And that is a problem?" He at first starts to say no, but in the middle of his sentence, changes course and then expresses to me that he does have a problem, because (and I'm abridging this quite a bit) in his mind, there are two religions in this world, one which believes you are imperfect and must atone for said imperfection, and one which says you can achieve perfection through good acts, and that is the wrong one. He then expresses to me that America was founded on religious principles, and cites, among others, "In God We Trust" on our currency as evidence. I pointed out that it was not put on our (paper) currency until 1955 (I was mistaken, it appears to have actually been 1957), to which another one of our colleagues said I was right, but that I was also wrong - he didn't expound on how I was wrong other than to agree that the United States was founded on Christian ideals.
The conversation then moved to the situation in Iraq and with ISIS/ISIL and why this is the end of days and why doomsday preppers are not all bad (I never said the preppers were bad, but I did say that ISIS could be compared to what might happen if our doomsday preppers decided to organize and try to push for what they believe is inevitable/right - mostly joking), but I digress.
The issue that this conversation brings for me is the notion, again, that this country is a Christian Nation, or that we exist based on Christian principles. As to the latter, we have plenty of evidence that this nation is not a Christian Nation based on the founder's acts - notably, the Constitution, our governing document, which in its corpus makes no reference to God whatsoever, and the only mention of religion is in Article VI, Paragraph 3, which recites that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." I've already written in the past regarding Thomas Jefferson and the Danbury Baptist Church as well as his Letter to Levi Lincoln regarding same, as well as a letter to the Methodist Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, PA. Further, we have the Treaty of Tripoli, which includes in its body the sentence "As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion, —as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of (Muslims) —and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any (Mohammedan) nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries." Unfortunately, I was unable to expound on my position, because explaining these facets requires far more time and effort that "we are a nation founded on Christian Principles" does, and it was time to get going...
I have stated before - the United States is a nation founded by Christians. It is not, however, a Christian Nation. This is an important distinction, and one which is lost on many people, including, perhaps, my dinner friends.