Giles’s Guile

Doug Giles’s latest article arguing that America is a Christian nation consists mostly of cribbing quotes from an overtly biased organization that wishes to impose Christian dogma by force of law in such areas as “marriage, abortion, education, public morality, gambling, [and] parental rights.”

The rest of his article consists of snarky, juvenile commentary. I wonder only why Town Hall, a “conservative” outfit, sees fit to publish such claptrap.

Giles establishes that many of America’s founders were Christian and promoted religion. But nobody doubts that fact. Nor does it make America a “Christian nation” in any non-trivial sense of the term. Like fellow columnist David Limbaugh, Giles makes no effort to show how the Bible supposedly laid the groundwork for the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution — because the Bible does no such thing.

Giles conveniently omits the fact that John Adams’s signature appears beneath the claim, “The Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” Giles skips the fact that both Jefferson and Madison took pains to separate church and state, that Jefferson advocated a “wall of separation between church and state,” and that Jefferson wrote his own Bible that omitted the miraculous birth and resurrection of Jesus.

There is no Easter, by Jefferson’s account. Instead, his Gospel ends, “There laid they Jesus, And rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.”

5 thoughts on “Giles’s Guile”

  1. I think what is significant here is that Jefferson and most of the founders did not seek to prevent states from having their own established churches or supporting religion through tax money.

    Even as president Jefferson advocated some tax support for religion (such as giving money to Indians in Illinois to build a church).

    As I recall, the treaties that ended the War of Independence and the Mexican American War invoke the Trinity. Since no one (I hope) would claim that these demonstrate that America is officially Trinitarian, why do the opinions of Jefferson and Adams prove that America is officially secular?

  2. It doesn’t get much more official than this: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

    Mentioning some religious belief in a speech is hardly the same thing as enforcing religious dogma by law.

  3. Ari is right. Indeed, the founders could have built a theocracy but did not.

    About the detailed American history claims of the “Christian Nation” movement, there is a book titled “Liars For Jesus” that presents a very detailed, point by point, rebuttal. Some of the book is available online, so I can provide a link to a piece about the Indians and Jefferson as well as a link to the book’s web page. In addition to the book, the page contains many links to articles written by Rodda.

    Indian Treaties and Indian Schools
    Liars For Jesus by Chris Rodda

  4. Ari,

    But does the federal government giving money to Indians to build a church or employ Congressional or military chaplans violate either of these provisions? Apparenly even the more strict church/state separationists (such as Jefferson) at the time didn’t think so.

    I don’t support such funding for the most part (I might make an exception for military chaplains if the military were strictly limited to defending the US borders) but I find it hard to claim that the Constitution prohibits it.

  5. We can interpret the Bill of Rights according to the logic of the language or according to its historical inconsistent application. Do the Alien and Sedition Acts prove the First Amendment doesn’t mean what it says? Did slavery disprove the Declaration’s premise that “all men are created equal?” Neil’s argument seems to be that any inconsistent application of a legal premise disproves the legal premise, an argument I find tedious enough that I don’t care to post additional replies.

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