Thursday, October 7, 2010

Christian Nation

Sometimes I think that we've really lost touch with American history. Whether its the tea Partiers brand of "patriotism" or conservative "family values" politicians, there is a pervading Idea that America was founded on their particular religious ideals. Take for example these comments made by Senator Jim DeMint at a church rally in South Carolina:
“Hopefully in 2012, we'll make headway to repeal some of the things we've done, because politics only works when we're realigned with our Savior.”...

....DeMint said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn't be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who's sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn't be in the classroom."
As homophobic and discriminatory as these comments are, they are not unique to Senator DeMint....Its not even the most troubling part of his quote. Whats more alarming is the idea behind his statement and the sharp uprise of religion in American politics. Were it not for Christine O'Donnells pronouncements of faith would she have won the Republican nomination being that the rest of her background is so littered with inconsistencies?...Or Sara Palin, who also makes no bones that she would bring her religious beliefs into the oval office, were she ever to be elected.

Ever growing is the number of politicians who find traction with the voters by ignoring the foundational Idea of the separation of church and state. The idea has been repeatedly put forth that America is a "Christian nation" and that Christians need to hold the reigns of government  and to enforce morality legislatively. This is has been created and Fueled by evangelical Preachers  like Lou Engle, Janet porter, and many others who view polotics as fair game for the pulpit. It is been echoed again by main stream Republican candidates and tea partiers alike. You can also commonly here it fall off the lips of average Americans who believe that America was founded with a musket in one hand...and a bible in the other.

Yet my problem with all this is not one of religion...but more a question....Where were all these people in elementary school when American history was taught?

Now..I went to school at the tale end of a generation that got a boilerplate version of history. Then, it was Christopher Columbus that discovered America..not Amerigo Vespucci...or even Viking explorers. I understand that now we know alot of new things that inform our view of American history and thats all to the good. However, I got the standard curriculum that most of the people preaching Christian dominionism would have received, so I believe that they can...and should, know the freedom from religious coercion, which is also a founding doctrine of our nation.

Jim DeMint is a United States Senator bound by the oaths of that office. He is also a man using his religious views to discriminate against gays, unmarried women, and anyone else he disapproves of. Clearly he feels secure in his discriminatory remarks by virtue of his secret backslapping supporters. However, I wonder what these people have to say about the first colonists to America...the pilgrims.

Some of the first people ever to bring a form of Christianity to North America did so fleeing the same type of religious intolerance that politicians and religious leaders seek to recreate today. History is rife with the violence of competing Christian factions and it was just that circumstance that led English Protestants to flee England and the control of the Anglican church. They first settled in Holland in 1607. Then, fearing that they were losing their English identity to dutch influence, boarded the Mayflower in 1620 for a horrific voyage that would launch their names into history forever as some of the first colonists to America. They fled their homeland From religious order to worship as they chose, in freedom.

My own ancestors come from a very obscure group of french protestants called Huguenots. These were french protestants fleeing persecution by the Catholic church who practiced bloody massacres in an effort to wipe out protestant heresy in France. Among the many nations that the Huguenots fled to was America...where in 1562 they founded Fort Caroline in what would become Jacksonville, Florida. Indeed the first record of the name Leffew in America was an Isaac Le ffeure who came to America with his family in family and an entire shipload of huguenots in 1700....again, fleeing from religious persecution to a land where they could live and worship in freedom.

If America was founded on Christian principles alone, then why are Bible passages not enshrined in our constitution? Perhaps because even in the days of our nations founders, it was known that people frequently disagree when it comes to religion. Therefore, one of the first amendments to the bill of rights in the U.S. Constitution was created to establish a separation between the church and the civil authority in order to prevent such abuses from happening again.

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 men who wrote this had their own deeply held beliefs and spirituality...not to abolish it. It was written to ensure that everyone was allowed to practice their religion(or lack there of) without having to stand in opposition to a state sponsored religion and suffer the violence that so many had already endured. This was a bill meant to protect the religious rights of all...including modern day Dominionists like Lou Engle and Janet porter...or politicians like Senator DeMint. In establishing that gays and unmarried women should be denied due protection of the law and fair workplace protections, they break the fundamental line between religion and government that actually protects their ability to believe we are sinners in the first place. They weaken their own ability to freely practice their own religion. How would these people feel if Dominionist Catholics were on the rise? Terrified I imagine.

The whole thing is like an episode of survivor. Right now, the major religions stand in alliance against gay marriage..or anything gay oriented for that matter. We stand on the outside trying to make the social plays that will keep us alive that much longer....and save out butts from being voted off the island. Without us..that religious alliance has little else to look to but themselves for the next victim. The Evangelicals and Tea Party crowd against the Catholics...against the  Mormons....against Jewish people....and all of them eyeing the Muslims.

This is elementary school logic. I am not a historian. However, I draw this opinion from the understanding of these issues that my own school teachers imparted to me. I don't think there was a single fourth grade elementary student who didn't walk away from  lesson about the Pilgrims or the bill of rights without understanding that government and religion stand apart for very important reasons. Its just sad that our elected officials don't remember that history lesson themselves as they seek to enforce their brand of morality on the world. Maybe its time for them to go back to school....for those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it.

The notion that America is a Christian nation, and that Christians must battle to take it back is the very basis for their culture war. And I fully believe that culture war is an idea who's fifteen minutes of fame should have been up fifteen minutes ago. Otherwise, we will tear ourselves apart...and where do we flee then?

Until next time dear readers...


  1. Great article! The culture war should have been over yesterday. lolz.
    I'm curious, which last name (and hence has Huguenot ancestry) did you guys take, Jay's or Bryan's? I know it can vary in male same-sex marriages. Thanks!

  2. I think that in difficult times, like our own people want something stable to cling to and use as a basis or foundation in an ever changing world. For a lot of folks that is a large part of what religion represents. I'm glad there are religious people like Jay and Bryan who are smart enough to realize the dangers of theocracy and the importance for everyone of the separation of religion and the state.

  3. Great artical, I hope that the "culter" war stops soon because it's getting to the point that if the Culter worries get control this nation is going to becoem and unlivable land of discremination for all those that opose them, including the fair minded of their own denominations as well as the few fair minded national denominations (like the american branch of the anglican chruch, the Episcopale church with is in hot water for being to gay freindly)

  4. OMG you watch Survivor Bryan!? I love you even more! I learned SO much about the nature of politics by being a Survivor fan lol.

    Seeing all those political voting reality tv shows like Survivor, Big Brother, etc. you would think people would learn by now that shunning a political minority is one of the fastest ways to screw not only them but themselves as well. At the end of the game the jury votes on the winner in those games, and sure the final 2 or final 3 may have eliminated its opposition and destroyed their chances of a million dollars, but they still have to suck up and try getting the approval of those they voted out to get the million dollar themselves. It's a great analogy with real life, because just like in reality, we live in an interdependent society. People can't just stay in their sheltered bubbles and ostracize those who aren't like them and get away with it. Or worse expect help from them when they inevitably need assistance in some fashion. Whether that be consumer support in the form of paying for goods at like say Best Buy or Target or politicians looking to gain the votes of its constituency.

    And even if I'm not making an analogy to the end of the game of Survivor, the best players are those who integrate their minority or at least don't piss them off outright. The more you make it obvious that you are an enemy to your own tribemates, the more likely that minority will just flip at the first chance they get and join another tribe or alliance just to screw you over. Why help out a known enemy right? Even if those you join are also enemies, if your original tribe makes it clear that they don't care about you, then the minority really has nothing to lose anyways.

    The lesson? Causing unnecessary internecine drama hurts EVERYBODY involved. People are so busy creating boundaries and starting wars off minor differences, they lose sight of the big picture. They'd rather try to be at the top of the food chain of their own tribe and be part of the majority than realize that fracturing their own tribe numbers only hurts them in the long run, especially if other opposing tribes are staying united. It pisses me off that to this day there are still lots of ignorant individuals in this country who are homophobic, sexist, racist, etc. and so bent on dividing our country instead of uniting and/or loving one each other that they'd rather let the U.S. go to shit and let China and the European Union pass us up (let alone other prospective Super Powers like Brazil, Russia, and India).

    Do these people remember that the U.S. got into an entire Civil War over slavery? Do they really just think a minority is going to let themselves be oppressed by a political majority? Are they TRYING to turn the U.S. into the war torn Middle East divided by religious and political issues? It's like great, go ahead assholes and start an unnecessary war where we are ALL going to end up losing because you couldn't tolerate somebody different from you and/or wanted to feel like you were part of the cool kids club like this was high school.

    There's definitely a lot of folks who are just plain ignorant and don't mean to be evil. However, there's PLENTY of people who do KNOW and REALIZE they are being selfish. In debating with various internet trolls I've discovered there are LOTS of people who CONSCIOUSLY realize that they are using religion, ethnicity, bad logic, etc. as political tools to further their own agendas. A lot of people don't even believe what they're saying themselves but they use for their own nefarious purposes. It's quite disgusting

    Again, as I've said before, my main issue with religion is not when it's used for positive things or if somebody wants to believe whatever they want to believe. I hate it when it's used as a political vehicle. And a simple look at history shows that religion is often used to create POWERFUL political alliances. Heck just look at the Holy Roman Empire and Islamic Caliphates.

  5. I was listening to Janet Mefferd on the radio the other day, and she was expressing shock and outrage that Druids are now a recognized religion in the UK. She (and the callers they allowed to speak) then went on-and-on about the rise of Paganism in this country, and how absurd it is. I called in but was not granted air time; I guess because I wanted to talk about the 1st Amendment.

    It was frightening, really, how Hell-bent she was against non-Christian religions being officially recognized as religions. I wouldn't've been surprised if she said Judaism shouldn't be allowed (Islam is a given, I think). I should've kept count of how many times she used words like "absurd" and "stupid" to describe non-Christian faiths.

  6. @ted rodriguez

    Sorry Ted I didnt get back to your question sooner. Leffew is my name Foxworthy is Jays. Even though Jay wanted to take my name at marriage, work concerns made that kinda difficult. For now we continue to use our original names or occasionally hyphenate the two.

  7. You know very well that the lesson of Sodom and Gomora teaches us that God is against homosexuality, and yet you parade it. Shame on you!

    1. If it teaches us that God is against homosexuality, then it also teaches us that:

      1. God is neither omniscient nor omnipresent, as he had to send two angels to Sodom to find out how many righteous men lived there.

      2. God disapproves of homosexuality, yet considers a man who offers up his little girls for gang rape to be a righteous man.

    2. It also teaches us that God will punish the child for the sins of the father, as shown by his eagerness to kill every citizen of Sodom, even the innocent children.