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July 04, 2010

Comments

Streak

The richest irony is that the plight of all the minority groups in the United States has improved as America has become less Christian. The secularization of government has actually advanced the cause of women, African Americans, and other minorities.

This is a great point, Greg. Those who claim our heritage is purely Christian seem to forget just how poorly they dealt with those groups.

Leighton

I really hope there's some context of good natured, borderline hostile banter that would allow some interpretation of that quote other than "Be grateful we let you live, you damn ingrates." Removed from context, it is graceless and classless.

Greg Horton


There was no previous banter and I found it strangely out of character for Charles

Sent from my iPhone

Michael Laprarie

"The richest irony is that the plight of all the minority groups in the United States has improved as America has become less Christian. The secularization of government has actually advanced the cause of women, African Americans, and other minorities."

I'm not sure how to reconcile that statement with the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's, which was led by an ordained Baptist minister and rallied on a regular basis from the pulpits of African-American churches.

Greg Horton

Mike, it's easily reconciled. Black churches were certainly involved, but what percentage of American Christianity did they represent? There were white churches involved as well, mainly Mainstream, Liberal, and Quaker. That's at the point of activism though. Legislation, especially those crazy "activist judges," got the thing rolling in some landmark decisions and bills. At each critical point for minorities, women, and gays, it's been an entrenched church that has fought hardest to deny them rights, not secularists, humanists, atheists, etc. The fight was always a "moral" or "Biblical" one, and the last remaining argument against full GLBT rights is the biblical one. There is literally no other argument remaining, and Christians can't seem to reconcile themselves to the idea that citizenship brings rights, even where those rights conflict with your deep theological convictions. It's why secularism has been good for minorities and women, whereas Southern evangelical piety has been a disaster for minority rights.

Charles

Well, do I address each of those points or try to use more of a buckshot approach? LOL.

Europe and Canada are from a Christian consensus. History based on state sponsored churches or church sponsored states. We share a common bond in the religion department. We just decided that the state need not sponsor any church nor should any church sponsor the state. An idea that came from many, including devout Baptists, encouraging an environment safe for secularism and oxygen bars. Besides, not many indigenous Jainists in Germany or Manitoba.

Also, point out that the abolitionist movement and women's sufferage movement were not secular-based movements. They were heavily based on a Christian consensus. The Declaration of Independence refers to a natural law explained as a Creator who endowed us with certain unalienable rights, etc, etc, as the basis for our concept of self-government. Not really atheistic or secularist sounding at all. Probably would instigate a law suit or 12 if it were proposed by anyone associated in government these days.

Christianity does have a sad history. However, the idea conveyed in Scripture is that human beings are sinful. Seems to be a valid concept, across the board. In fact, I would go as far to say that the Crusades were an abuse of, rather than the ideal, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Killing Fields were a logical outworking of atheistic first principles of nothing but matter, energy, time. Christians can be cruel and atheists can be linguists, but people can and usually do act inconsistently to the principles they hold.

My main point is this. Secularism has been able to live and thrive on the host of a Judeo-Christian consensus. The very enemy of the ACLU has made the ACLU possible. When Sharia Law (usually referred to in this redundant manner) flexes its muscle, secular authority buckles. After all the big talk about a very steralized separation of church and state, as soon as a religion decides to use the threat of violence or even the possible threat of force, bravado turns to compliance without much thought. And in the case of places like Dearborn, secularism cowars when pressed. I am sure the City of Dearborn isn't anti-CHristian or pro-Muslim...they just don't want any trouble and will cave their deepest convictions to avoid it. That's what seems almost causal when you don't believe anything except the strange and unexplained devout right to not believe anything.

BTW, no offense, but wasn't expecting USAF Russian Linguist. More than I've done, in terms of military service, but wasn't exactly what I expected.

Leighton

Charles, I'm not following your angle in Dearborn. What specifically are the events you're referring to? Is it the missionaries being arrested for trying to proselytize people at the Arab International festival, or is there more to the story?

dr dobson

Charles, let's not forget that the Shari'a is the law of God (at least according to those espousing to the Qur'an). In other words, it is as much the law of God to Arab Muslims as the Holy Bible is the law of God to Christians. Also, don't assume that the civil codes of the Arab Gulf States (such codes being derived from the laws of Egypt, France and other established European legal codes) are not in profound conflict to the Shari'a because they are--on a daily basis.

cheek

Charles,
Could you maybe define what constitutes a nation formed from a 'Christian consensus'? There's a way of understanding that statement which I think is true, another which I think is false. The sense with which I agree is that many of the founders were devout Christians and most used Christian symbols in their rhetoric. That those two modest statements are true seems utterly clear. However, the claim is false when it is parsed as meaning that the principles used to establish our system of government and the rights of our citizenry were derived or inspired by the Judeo-Christian scriptures. The great minds behind the Declaration of Independence were Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams. Of the three, only Adams would qualify as a Christian by any evangelical standard I've encountered, and even he would have been left out by the more fundamentalist conditions. The principles cited in the document itself are taken largely (and often verbatim) from the works of John Locke, and the Creator cited in the text was not the God of Genesis, but the clockwinder deity of the deists Jefferson and Franklin. If you want evidence that Christian principles were expressly excluded from the framing of the Constitution, look at the issue of slavery. The most devout Christians in the Continental Congress opposed legalizing slavery, but they recognized that without Virginia there would be no nation. The values given priority in that equation are clearly the areligious principles of political expediency.

The two senses of 'Christian consensus' are often conflated by Christian historians (e.g. Barton) in that they give evidence for the former and, having thus established it, claim that it has the significance of the latter. It's clever rhetoric but clearly equivocal. I don't mean, by the way, to say that's what you are doing here, just trying to clarify what you mean by the terms you use since they carry so much semantic baggage.

Zossima

Cheek, I think there's another level in which it's untrue: The founders weren't fundamentalists. They would not have understood Southern Baptists. When today's fundagelicals claim America as a Christian nation, they mean that in their (the Barna) understanding of the word "Christian". That wouldn't have been the understanding of the Christian founders.

There is a lot of silliness to this whole argument that America is a Christian nation. One of the bigger ones to me is the disconnect between Enlightenment thinking and Christianity. The Enlightenment was a belief in rationality and science, something which fundagelicals eschew.

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