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Simon
SFN Regular

USA
1992 Posts

Posted - 11/15/2008 :  16:50:23  Show Profile Send Simon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So; I just received that from a (very vague) acquaintance of mine.
The formatting of the original mail was atrocious enough to give my poor laptop a bound of diarrhoea so, I fixed it a bit.

Please, just take a moment and read this. Even if you don't agree from the beginning, just take time to read these facts. Then agree or delete. Thank you.

AGREE OR DELETE

Andy Rooney
DID YOU KNOW?
As you walk up the steps to the
Building which houses the U.S Supreme Court you can see near the top of the building a row of the world's law givers and each one is facing one in the middle who is facing forward with a full frontal view ... It is Moses and he is holding the Ten Commandments!

DID YOU KNOW?

As you enter the Supreme Court courtroom, the two huge oak doors have the Ten Commandments engraved on each lower portion of each door.

DID YOU KNOW?

As you sit inside the courtroom, you can see the wall, right above where the Supreme Court judges sit, a display of the Ten Commandments!

DID YOU KNOW?

There are Bible verses etched in stone all over the Federal Buildings and Monuments in Washington , D.C.

DID YOU KNOW?

James Madison, the fourth president, known as
'The Father of Our Constitution' made the
Following statement:
' We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.'

DID YOU KNOW?

Patrick Henry, that patriot and Founding father of our country said:

'It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ'.


DID YOU KNOW?

Every session of Congress begins with a prayer by a paid preacher, whose salary has been paid by the taxpayer since 1777.

DID YOU KNOW?

Fifty-two of the 55 founders of the constitution were members of the established orthodox churches in the colonies.

DID YOU KNOW?

Thomas Jefferson worried that the Courts would overstep their authority and instead of interpreting the law would begin making law an oligarchy
The rule of few over many.

DID YOU KNOW?

The very first Supreme Court Justice, John Jay, said:
'Americans should select and prefer Christians as their rulers.'

How then, have we gotten to the point that everything we have done for 220 years in this country is now suddenly wrong and unconstitutional?

Lets put it around the world and let the world see and remember what this great country was built on.

I was asked to send this on if I agreed or
Delete if I didn't. Now it is your turn

It is said that 86% of Americans believe in God.
Therefore, it is very hard to understand why there is such a mess about having the Ten Commandments on display or 'In God We Trust' on our money and having God in the Pledge of Allegiance. Why don't we just tell the other 14% to Sit Down and SHUT UP!!!
Makes you wonder why and how Judge Roy Moore was crucified in Alabama in 2003 for standing up for the Ten Commandments.

Please, just take a moment and read this. Even if you don't agree from the beginning, just take time to read these facts. Then agree or delete. Thank you.


Obviously, I am not very good with reading instruction, because after reading the stuff; not only did I not agree with it; but I did not delete it either.
Instead; I try to pen-up (key-up?) an answer to send back... He, if the dude feel like he can fill-up my mailbox with chain-mail; he should at least accept a carefully crafted personalized answer!



So... First of all; the original of the whole text is attributed to Andy Rooney but there is little evidence that he actually wrote it. Rather, it seems like the real author co-opted the name of the political sawy commentator to gain credence to the rest of the text.

Next; while it is true that Moses figure pre-eminently it must be noted that he is surrounded by the classical Greek lawmaker Solon and the traditional Chinese philosopher Confucius.
Obviously this selection is not based on religious ground but instead represent famous classical law givers.

As far as the representation of ten commandments is concerned; it is more difficult to say.
We know that, at least in some case, these sculpture actually represent the 10 amendments of the American Bill of Right.

Next are two citations from James Madison and Patrick Henri. Both of them appear made up and can not be found in any of the historical texts we have.
In fact, neither of these quotes can be found until fairly recently and the second one seems to use a definition for the world 'religionist' that would be different than the one a writer of that time would have used (languages evolve in 200 years).
John Jay's quote is genuine though... and would probably offend most of my Jewish friends.

The last part of your missive mentions the presence of the words 'in God we trust' in both the pledge of allegiance and the (not so recently) mighty dollar.
Of course, it fails to mention that the pledge of allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Julius Bellamy; who described his own philosophy as socialist.
Neither the pledge not the bill harboured any mention of 'God', trustworthy or not. This addition only dates back from the cold war (1954 for the pledge and 1957 for the banknote) and certainly does not tells us anything about the meaning of the original drafters of the constitution.


Rather, we can refer to the first amendments:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
.

The first part means that the Congress should not endorse any religion as the official religion of the United States.
The second part of the amendment means that, if no religions can be discriminated for none should be discriminated against either.
So; it does not use the term 'separation of Church and State'; its just state the Congress should not condone or hurts any religion...
Well; I guess that still leave some room for the congress to pass laws about religion; provided it does not neither help or hinder the religion... In other term, they can go for it; provided their action are useless; but then the Congress is very good at that.

But; if it is not clear for you; you can always refer to the treaty of Tripoli.
This treaty was initially written in Arabic in 1795 and its English version was ratified in 1796.
As a comparison; the US constitution itself was adopted by the individual 13 states between 1787 and 1790; only a short while before the treaty of Tripoli and most of the same politicians were still in function. George Washington himself resigned three months before the adoption of the treaty; but he was the one that appointed Joel Barlow as the writer of the treaty.
The treaty was introduced on the senate floor by John Adams himself and ratified unanimously by all senate members. By the way, this was only the third time such unanimous decision was reach in the short history of the US senate and this was significantly better than the constitution itself did.
So; this treaty is as much an insight into the founding father's mind than anything we have.

And article 11 of this treaty unambiguously state:
The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion.

It would be pretty difficult to make it any blandly clear.


Frankly, looking at the founding fathers religious view is both difficult and quite futile.
Attendance of a church was just as much a social requirement than a religious one. Furthermore; many pro-eminent among the founding fathers were not actually Christians; Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin, for example, did believe in God but rejected many of the specific of any religion. George Washington, was a well-known members of the freemasons, as were several founding fathers (between 13 and 33% of them ) which is often associated with deism of a looser version of Christianity.

More importantly, the ideals that guided the founding fathers in American Revolution and the writing of the constitution were very much a product of the enlightenment. Furthermore, it must be noted that the dominant powers at the times, England and France, mainly, were divine right monarchies. There, not only was the churches sponsored by the government, but the monarch was view as the representative of God on earth and any rebellion as an act of blasphemy. Obviously, the founding fathers wanted to avoid such a partisan religion to take hold into the US politic.


So, from an historical point of view, the separation of church and state was unambiguously a constant in the US policy right from the beginning.
This is a fact that can not be seriously argued.

But, ultimately, who cares? It is not like the modern United States have to abide by the spirit of the founding father on every point. Most people would be rather glad, indeed, that the US no longer do so as far as slavery is concerned.

I can not argue with you if you think that the United States should be guided by Christianity or that the constitution should be amended to confers a special place to this religion.
I can (and would) disagree with it; but I can not argue.
But where I will argue with you if you get the known objective historical facts wrong as the letter you forwarded to me did.


So; this is my answer, it is took me a long while to write it and most probably, was a waste of time (I don't think that the people campaigning for the Christian States of America actually care about facts) but, pig-headed stubbornness is what I live for.

So, if you guys have time to improve my missive and correct any mistake I might have made, please do so; I will wait a few days before actually sending it.

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Carl Sagan - 1996

Edited by - Simon on 11/15/2008 19:40:16

H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 11/15/2008 :  18:10:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
A family member sent me this exact same email. I too wrote up a response which I had thought about posting here. We're already onto round two, but my interest had flagged. I'll now resolve to post my response and follow up here once I get the time. I might even crib a few points from your email, if you don't mind.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25997 Posts

Posted - 11/15/2008 :  19:10:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
"Under God" made it into the pledge in 1954.

I'd do at least a paragraph on how the thing shows a massive fear of disagreement - that people must either accept these ideas or else shut the hell up - a position that the Founding Fathers would surely have repudiated. People who are actually interested in the truth don't say "AGREE OR DELETE," instead they are willing to be shown that they are wrong.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
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Simon
SFN Regular

USA
1992 Posts

Posted - 11/15/2008 :  19:48:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Simon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

"Under God" made it into the pledge in 1954.

I'd do at least a paragraph on how the thing shows a massive fear of disagreement - that people must either accept these ideas or else shut the hell up - a position that the Founding Fathers would surely have repudiated. People who are actually interested in the truth don't say "AGREE OR DELETE," instead they are willing to be shown that they are wrong.


Thanks; you are right, of course.
The banknote's addition is a tiny bit more recent, dating back from 1957. I clarified that bit...

You also are right about these people not actually trying to start a dialogue or even tell the truth.
Like so many 'liars for Christ'; they seem more interested in 'preach and run' hoping that the reader will accept them at face value rather than check the facts...

That's also why I wrote that stuff...


Humbert; I'd be interested in your letter.
Of course, you can pilfer from mine as much as you want; in fact; I would love nothing more than for people to contribute to my post until we can reach a very good answer that we can use as a systematic response to this kind of misleading preaching.

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Carl Sagan - 1996
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 11/15/2008 :  19:51:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Here was my first response to receiving that email. I tried to keep it relatively short (and polite):
I disagree.

In the sense that America was founded by people who were Christians, and that those people incorporated Christian imagery of Moses the lawgiver in some of their judicial architecture, of course I agree. But note that it is always part of a larger tapestry of secular imagery, including symbolism taken from pagan Greek and Roman traditions as well. People of many faiths and cultures have contributed to making America what it is today. It would be preposterous to argue that even all of the founding fathers were of the same faith, let alone all of America's early citizenry. For instance, Thomas Jefferson famously cut out all the miracles from his bible's New Testament: Jesus was a human philosopher, not a living god. Is Jefferson's faith the sort people mean when they proclaim America a "Christian" nation? Anyone who gives the matter even a passing thought must soon conclude that since there is no one universally accepted version of Christianity practiced in the world (there are upwards of 38,000 distinct denominations), it doesn't make much sense to call America monolithically anything. Americans come from a wide variety of backgrounds and faiths.

In our laws, America is a unarguably a secular nation. We do not imprison, fine, or punish citizens for failing to keep Sabbath holy, or for worshiping other gods, or for taking the Lord's name in vain. It is not illegal to dishonor your father and mother, or to have an adulterous affair. The prohibitions of religion are private and pertain only to those who are a part of that faith. The Treaty of Tripoli, signed in 1797 and unanimously approved for ratification in the Senate, states unequivocally "...the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." America was founded with a clear separation of church and state.

This separation is meant to protect people's individual faiths and should be supported by every person regardless of their faith. Just imagine if a Protestant had to recite a government mandated Catholic catechism, or if a Catholic was forced to denounce the Sacrament of Confession as unbiblical and the pope as a false prophet. The fact that our government is mandated by the Constitution to remain neutral in regards to religion guarantees that people can practice their religion as they choose. The fact that our government doesn't endorse a particular religious viewpoint benefits people of every faith and denomination, not just those without religious faith.

So the next time someone sends you an email that says anyone who doesn't hold that America is a Christian nation should "sit down and SHUT UP," realize this for the hateful ignorance that it is. This type of demagoguery is meant to portray anyone who isn't a Christian as unamerican. But actually America is a religious melting pot of many faiths, and we should all beware those who would try to steal our collective history by claiming ownership of it under their narrow religious views.


This was my family member's response:
I agree with almost everything you cited. I take exception with your opinion that this e-mail is 'hateful ignorance'. It does not infer that non-Christians are un-American. It does imply that believers in God are standing up to the organizations that want to divest America of any relation and reference to God when our origins so clearly speak otherwise. America is a secular nation and it was founded by Christian men on Christian principles, many who believed that Christ is God incarnate. Their faith in God strongly influenced the documents that they wrote.

One need not be Christian to recognize the relationship of the Founders' faith to their passionate political ideals. Believers and non-believers acknowledge this as history. Nietzsche saw the "necessity of Christendom in the formation of Western consciousness." The writers were careful to not promote any specific religion. However, they respected and feared their Creator and were unified by a common belief in a Christian God, supported by a Judaeo-Christian population. Our government was not formed devoid of reference to God and will not survive if we negate its origins.

JOHN ADAMS:
" The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God."
" We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Oct. 11, 1798
"I have examined all religions, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightforward means, and my busy life would allow, and the result is that the Bible is the best book in the world. It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen." Dec. 13, 1813

SAMUEL ADAMS:
"Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity....and leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system." Oct. 4, 1790

JOHN Q. ADAMS:
"The Law given from Sinai was a civil and a municipal as well as a moral and religious code."

It may not be codified in American law, but it is codified in the hearts of all human beings who believe that our freedoms are God-given rights.


I'm still working on my response to this. It's going to be much longer, because I can't let it go at that and I have a lot to say.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25997 Posts

Posted - 11/15/2008 :  20:48:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
H. quoted his relative:
Our government was not formed devoid of reference to God and will not survive if we negate its origins.
Our government was formed with a single reference to the Christian God:
Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independance of the United States of America the Twelfth.
In other words, the only reference there is to God in our Constitution is that Jesus' alleged birth was a common way to mark dates. If you really don't think our government can survive without that tidbit, then the critical importance of your God is as a timekeeper.

The rest of the document which formed our government is entirely secular. The only crime defined in the Constitution is treason. Which Commandment was that?

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Simon
SFN Regular

USA
1992 Posts

Posted - 11/15/2008 :  22:36:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Simon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
When I am satisfied with this paragraph; I will insert it between the parts about the "faith of (y)our (founding) fathers".

Ultimately, it is true that all founding fathers were at least exposed to Christianity and, certainly, the tenants of this religion was one of the influence in their thinking.
Of course, one can not state that and stop there. You must keep in mind that the Christianity they were exposed to was the 18th century christianity. One that looked very different than the one you know. Furthermore, if almost all founding fathers were Christians, the majority of them were anglicans; a religion that required an oath to the head of the Church; the king of England. Realize that; most than half of the founding fathers' religion stated the American Revolution to be blasphemy.

Probably; the most important words of the American Revolution; the first two ideas mentioned by the declaration of independence; were 'equality' and 'freedom'.
Neither of them are Christian concepts by any stretch; especially not of the 18th century Christianity that emphasize obedience and divine rights.

In fact, these two words are also present in the motto of the French Revolution. It is not a coincidence, the ideals behind both movements were born of the same philosophy; that of the enlightenment, an ideal that is best described by the unfairly maligned of 'secular humanism'.

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Carl Sagan - 1996
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25997 Posts

Posted - 11/15/2008 :  22:56:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Simon, you've got a semicolon fixation. The first step towards healing is admitting you've got a problem.

It would be interesting if we could put together a large, complete(ish) response to the original email, with input from lots of people. Anything I put in this thread should be considered "public domain" for such purposes. That said, I can only resist my editing urges for so long...

Simon wrote:
Ultimately, it is true that all founding fathers were at least exposed to Christianity and, certainly, the tenants of this religion was one of the influence in their thinking.
Of course, one can not state that and stop there. You must keep in mind that the Christianity they were exposed to was the 18th century christianity. One that looked very different than the one you know. Furthermore, if almost all founding fathers were Christians, the majority of them were anglicans; a religion that required an oath to the head of the Church; the king of England. Realize that; most than half of the founding fathers' religion stated the American Revolution to be blasphemy.

Probably; the most important words of the American Revolution; the first two ideas mentioned by the declaration of independence; were 'equality' and 'freedom'.
Neither of them are Christian concepts by any stretch; especially not of the 18th century Christianity that emphasize obedience and divine rights.

In fact, these two words are also present in the motto of the French Revolution. It is not a coincidence, the ideals behind both movements were born of the same philosophy; that of the enlightenment, an ideal that is best described by the unfairly maligned of 'secular humanism'.
My edited version:
Ultimately, it is true that all of the Founding Fathers were — at least — exposed to Christianity and, certainly, the tenets of this religion influenced their thinking. Of course, one cannot simply state that and stop there. You must keep in mind that the Christianity they were exposed to was the 18th century version. One that looked very different than the one you know. Furthermore, if almost all of the Founding Fathers were Christian, the majority of them were Anglican, a religion that required an oath to the head of the Church, the King of England. Realize then that more than half of the Founding Fathers held to a religion in which the American Revolution was blasphemy.

Probably the most important words of the American Revolution, the first two ideas mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, were ‘equality’ and ‘freedom.’ Neither of them are Christian concepts by any stretch, especially not the 18th-century Christianity that emphasize obedience and Divine Rights. In fact, those two words are also present in the motto of the French Revolution. It is not a coincidence, the ideals behind both movements were born of the same philosophy, that of the Enlightenment, ideals best described by the unfairly maligned philosophy of “secular humanism.”
Consider the above my resumé for the job of polishing the final copy.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 11/15/2008 :  23:57:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.
Consider the above my resumé for the job of polishing the final copy.
You're volunteering? I'll happily second that. Give me a few days to finish off my 2nd response, which I plan on posting here for feedback before actually sending on. While much of it is specific to points expressly raised in the 2nd email I received, I think a good deal of what I've written so far will be broadly applicable to the original. You (or anyone else) are free to use any portion of what I post in any fashion deemed fit.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Simon
SFN Regular

USA
1992 Posts

Posted - 11/16/2008 :  01:25:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Simon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks Dave; your version is indeed much better.
And, yes, I like me some punctuation; but then, I like me some parenthetical

Nowadays… A passage peppered with commas — which in the past would have indicated painstaking and authoritative editorial attention — smacks simply of no backbone. People who put in all the commas betray themselves as moral weaklings with empty lives and out-of-date reference books. (Truss, 2004, p. 97–98)


Pfeeew, what does Lynne Truss, this sad; wretched Londoner, knows of the, bitter; cold and desperate, emptiness of my life!

Also; did you know that, for the Greeks, the semi-colon is used in the stead of our interrogation mark? Surprising Helens...

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Carl Sagan - 1996
Edited by - Simon on 11/16/2008 01:28:30
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25997 Posts

Posted - 11/16/2008 :  02:20:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by H. Humbert

You're volunteering? I'll happily second that.
Only for a part of the work. I fully expect you to contribute to more general tasks and discussions, such as which ideas should go where in the overall "flow," for just one example.
Give me a few days to finish off my 2nd response, which I plan on posting here for feedback before actually sending on. While much of it is specific to points expressly raised in the 2nd email I received, I think a good deal of what I've written so far will be broadly applicable to the original. You (or anyone else) are free to use any portion of what I post in any fashion deemed fit.
Like that. You should be making suggestions as to which part of your own work are more broadly applicable.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25997 Posts

Posted - 11/16/2008 :  02:22:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Simon

Thanks Dave; your version is indeed much better.
But not perfect. I already see a few things that need to be re-worked again (for the fifth or sixth time). It's no wonder that people who do this editing stuff professionally still need to issue errata.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Hittman
Skeptic Friend

134 Posts

Posted - 11/18/2008 :  09:37:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Hittman's Homepage Send Hittman a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So... First of all; the original of the whole text is attributed to Andy Rooney but there is little evidence that he actually wrote it. Rather, it seems like the real author co-opted the name of the political sawy commentator to gain credence to the rest of the text.


There's a lot of that going around. I just got something that was attributed to Bill Cosby. It didn't sound in the least like Bill Cosby.

You can usually find the original on Snopes. I reply to such e-mails with a Snopes link, and leave it at that. It used to be slightly fun to debunk such nonsense point by point, but I've grown tired of it.

So; this is my answer, it is took me a long while to write it and most probably, was a waste of time (I don't think that the people campaigning for the Christian States of America actually care about facts) but, pig-headed stubbornness is what I live for.


Tilting at windmills is good for the soul.

The rest of the document which formed our government is entirely secular.


And if the FFs wanted to include God and Jesus in it, they could have, and would have.

And when god was referred to in the founding documents, it was a generic god. The Declaration of Independence referred to "Their Creator" and "Divine Providence."
And the best debunking of the "Christian nation" claim is the Treaty of Tripoli.

Art. 11. 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 Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan 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.

It was passed unanimously in the senate, in 1797.

When a vampire Jehovah's Witness knocks on your door, don't invite him in. Blood Witness: http://bloodwitness.com

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Simon
SFN Regular

USA
1992 Posts

Posted - 11/29/2008 :  14:47:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Simon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finally went back to editing my reply; here it is.


So... First of all; the original of the whole text is attributed to Andy Rooney but there is little evidence that he actually wrote it. Rather, it seems like the real author co-opted the name of the political sawy commentator to gain credence to the rest of the text.

Next; while it is true that Moses figure pre-eminently it must be noted that he is surrounded by the classical Greek lawmaker Solon and the traditional Chinese philosopher Confucius.
Obviously this selection is not based on religious ground but instead represent famous law givers from classical times.

As far as the representation of Ten Commandments is concerned; it is more difficult to say.
We know, from the author himself, that, at least in some case, these sculptures actually represent the 10 amendments of the American Bill of Right.

Next are two citations from James Madison and Patrick Henri. Both of them appear made up and can not be found in any of the historical texts we have.
In fact, neither of these quotes can be found until fairly recently and the second one seems to use a definition for the world 'religionist' that would be different than the one a writer of that time would have used (languages evolve in 200 years).
John Jay's quote is genuine though... and would probably offend most of my Jewish friends.

The last part of your missive mentions the presence of the words 'in God we trust' in both the pledge of allegiance and the mighty dollar.
Of course, it fails to mention that the pledge of allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Julius Bellamy; who described his own philosophy as socialist.
Neither the pledge not the bill harbored any mention of 'God', trustworthy or not. This addition only dates back from the cold war (1954 for the pledge and 1957 for the banknote) and certainly does not tell us anything about the meaning of the original drafters of the constitution.


Rather, we can refer to the first amendments:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


The first part means that the Congress should not endorse any religion as the official religion of the United States.
The second part of the amendment means that, if no religions can be discriminated for none should be discriminated against either.
So; it does not use the term 'separation of Church and State'; its just state the Congress should not condone or hurts any religion...
Well; I guess that still leave some room for the congress to pass laws about religion; provided it does not neither help or hinder the religion... In other term, they can go for it; provided their action are useless; but then the Congress is very good at that.

But; if it is not clear for you; you can always refer to the treaty of Tripoli.
This treaty was initially written in Arabic in 1795 and its English version was ratified in 1796.
As a comparison; the US constitution itself was adopted by the individual 13 states between 1787 and 1790; only a short while before the treaty of Tripoli and most of the same politicians were still in function. George Washington himself resigned three months before the adoption of the treaty; but he was the one that appointed Joel Barlow as the writer of the treaty.
The treaty was introduced on the senate floor by John Adams himself and ratified unanimously by all senate members. By the way, this was only the third time such unanimous decision was reach in the short history of the US senate and this was significantly better than the constitution itself did.
So; this treaty is as much an insight into the founding father's mind than anything we have.

And article 11 of this treaty unambiguously state:

The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion.

It would be pretty difficult to make it any blandly clear.

Looking at its laws, America was an unarguably always a secular nation. We do not imprison, fine, or punish citizens for failing to keep Sabbath holy, or for worshiping other gods, or for taking the Lord's name in vain. It is not illegal to dishonor your father and mother, or to have an adulterous affair. The prohibitions of religion are private and pertain only to those who are a part of that faith.


Ultimately, it is true that all founding fathers were at least exposed to Christianity and, certainly, the tenants of this religion was one of the influence in their thinking.
Of course, one can not state that and stop there. You must keep in mind that the Christianity they were exposed to was the 18th century Christianity. One that looked very different than the one you know and that emphasized obedience over freedom and love.

Furthermore, if almost all founding fathers were Christians, the majority of them were anglicans; a religion that required an oath to the head of the Church; the king of England.
Realize that; for most than half of the founding fathers, their religion stated the American Revolution to be blasphemy.

Frankly, looking at the founding fathers religious view is both difficult and quite futile.
Attendance of a church was just as much a social requirement than a religious one. Furthermore; many pro-eminent among the founding fathers were not actually Christians; Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin, for example, did believe in God but rejected many of the specific of any religion. George Washington, was a well-known members of the freemasons, as were several founding fathers (between 13 and 33% of them ) which is often associated with deism of a looser version of Christianity.

Probably; the most important words of the American Revolution; the first two ideas mentioned by the declaration of independence; were 'equality' and 'freedom'.
Neither of them are Christian concepts by any stretch; especially not of the 18th century Christianity that emphasize obedience and divine rights.

In fact, these two words are also present in the motto of the French Revolution. It is not a coincidence, the ideals behind both movements were born of the same philosophers; that of the enlightenment, an ideal that is best described by the unfairly maligned of 'secular humanism'.

It was a philosophy that rejected the dominant political system of the times that of divine right monarchies. There, not only was the churches sponsored by the government, but the monarch was view as the representative of God on earth and any rebellion as an act of blasphemy. Obviously, the founding fathers wanted to avoid such a partisan religion to take hold into the US politic.


So, from an historical point of view, the separation of church and state was unambiguously a constant in the US policy right from the beginning.
This is a fact that can not be seriously argued.

But, ultimately, who cares? It is not like the modern United States have to abide by the spirit of the founding father on every point. Most people would be rather glad, indeed, that the US no longer do so as far as slavery is concerned.

I can not argue with you if you think that the United States should be guided by Christianity or that the constitution should be amended to confers a special place to this religion.
I can (and would) disagree with it; but I can not argue.
But where I will argue with you if you get the known objective historical facts wrong as the letter you forwarded to me did.

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Carl Sagan - 1996
Edited by - Simon on 11/29/2008 14:49:02
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 11/29/2008 :  17:14:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
First, I agree that the original spam relied upon a combination of forged quotes, misstatements, and comments quote-mined out of context. The very idea that one is supposed to agree or shut up is an authoritarian command, an especially vile one since what we are supposed to consider is a pack of modern forged lies about the intentions and statements of the founding fathers.

Since this is apparently a wide-spread chain-letter type of spam, I agree with the idea of drafting a unified and well-drawn response. And it's great that Dave W. has volunteered to edit it. It's what he does, professionally, after all.

Speaking of punctuation, I used to read many nonfiction books on arcane subjects that were written in the late 19th Century, or the early 20th Century. Extremely dense prose was the standard. I recall that one of these books had sentences of incredible complexity, often with dozens of ideas held together by the dreaded semicolon. One sentence, I recall, ran for over one and a half pages. It was all a young kid could do to logically parse such a construct.

Much as I prefer simple declarative sentences, I still sometimes lapse into that sort of complexity. Whenever I find my finger reaching for that run-on enabler, the semicolon, I quickly reexamine what I've written, and break it into multiple sentences.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 11/29/2008 :  17:56:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, here is the response I had been working on. As time passes and my schedule is becoming increasingly hectic around the holidays, I have regretfully concluded that I probably will never get around to sending my response to my family member's email. Plus I think that window of opportunity has closed. It's getting to be a month since our last exchange, and I think for all intents and purposes the matter has been dropped.

For what it's worth, I'll post here what I have written so far. Sorry for the incompleteness. I've added notices where I intended to write more and ran out of steam. If it's of any value, great. If not, that's fine too.

Sorry I took so long in getting back to you, but your email raised several points which I wanted to take the time to address properly.

You wrote: “I agree with almost everything you cited. I take exception with your opinion that this e-mail is 'hateful ignorance'. It does not infer that non-Christians are un-American.”

Well, the email you forwarded did tell me to sit down and shut up. I didn't find that very nice. Also, the original message was titled “Agree or Delete,” clearly indicating that this was not an attempt at opening a dialogue and that the writers were not interested in hearing opposing opinions. At the very least we can call its tone hostile and close-minded. I think because you agreed with the basic thrust of the message it never occurred to you that it might be taken this way, and I want to you understand that I'm not accusing you personally of any ill intent.

However, I must take exception to this statement of yours: “The writers were careful to not promote any specific religion. However, they respected and feared their Creator and were unified by a common belief in a Christian God, supported by a Judaeo-Christian population.”

While some of the founding fathers were Christians, it is decidedly incorrect to say that they were all united by a common belief in a “Christian” god. While almost all were theists, or at least deists of the watch-maker god variety, many of them rejected Christianity outright. England was (and remains) officially Anglican and the King claimed to derive his authority directly from God. Some of the British colonies were basically theocracies, in which religious dissent was not tolerated and violating religious law could earn you time in the stockades or worse. The founding of America was an implicit rejection of this type of governance. While many, if not most, of our founding fathers still held a nominal belief in a deity of some sort, this was still a radical departure from any recognizable form of Christianity. Thomas Payne, the “firebrand of the Revolution,” was savagely outspoken against the Christian religion. For instance, he had this to say about the bible:

“Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half of the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind.”

Ethan Allen, Revolutionary War hero, was equally explicit in his rejection of Christianity:

"I have generally been denominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed, being conscious I am no Christian, except mere infant baptism makes me one; and as to being a Deist, I know not strictly speaking, whether I am one or not."

Thomas Jefferson, for his part, disbelieved anything in the bible smacking of divine intervention and considered himself a “materialist.” He stated at various times:

"We discover in the gospels a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstition, fanaticism and fabrication."

and

"I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.”

and


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 11/29/2008 17:59:17
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