11 responses to “Additional Thoughts on the Cranston Prayer Banner”

  1. Frymaster

    *sigh* You actually apologize for being longwinded in a piece that would count for short in my catalog. 

    I’d like to add that it really doesn’t matter what those people thought. They’re dead. This is our problem, and we need to find our way through it. WHICH IS THE POINT OF THE CONSTITUTION!

    One question: does your conclusion not beg the question, posed in the other comments, that this ruling promotes atheism over theism and is equally in violation? How should/could the court strike a balance?

    One bit of house-keeping: could you please click a category in the column a left in the editing screen? Also, add a couple of tags. That’s how we’re trying to be more search engine friendly.  

    But, by all means, man, WRITE! 

  2. Brian Hull

    Oswald,
    I cleaned up your post, added some tags, categories, a title, and a pretty image!
     

  3. Brian Hull

    Here are some other thought I has about the Founding Fathers as Christians fallacy, taken from the post about the new Freedom from Religion Billboard in RI.
    www.rifuture.org//have-you-seen-the-new-freedom-from-religion-foundation-billboard.html 

    The Treaty of Tripoli, signed by John Adams in 1797 reads:

    …the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…

    In Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists (1802), he wrote:

    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. “

    Another stellar example was James Madison’s response to Jasper Adams’ pamphlet (a graduate of Brown University), The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United Statesin which he wrote:

    In the Papal System, Government and Religion are in a manner consolidated, & that is found to be the worst of Govts.

    In most of the Govt of the old world, the legal establishment of a particular religion and without or with very little toleration of others makes a part of the Political and Civil organization and there are few of the most enlightened judges who will maintain that the system has been favorable either to Religion or to Govt.


    While I agree that the men who were the leading figures in creating the United States may have been (in varying degrees) religion, they were not necessarily Christians.  So thank you Oswald.

  4. donroach

    How about these:
    John Adams -
    The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.
     
    Gunning Bedford (signer of the Constitution) -
    To the triune God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost – be ascribed all honor and dominion, forevermore – Amen
     
    The oft mention Thomas Jefferson -
    I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.
     
    I could go on to say that at least 24 of the 56 signers had theological/seminary degrees, but I doubt any of you would actually find that of merit. The preponderance of evidence is on the side that the signers of the Constitution were Christian men.
     

    1. Frymaster

      Don, let me put this in plain, simple terms: So what? These guys were whatever they were. Why do I care?

  5. donroach

    Frymaster -I teach my kids not to lie. I find that telling the truth is of value in and of itself. I see what’s being purported here, that the founding fathers were not Christians, as to be blunt a lie.
    Thus, in my opinion it’s important to tell the truth about them. Our document has changed a lot since they signed it, but I think the better question is why is there a need to paint them in a light that they weren’t?
    What’s the goal in saying they weren’t Christian? Does it somehow validate today’s political ethos? Does is undermine Christianity itself? In other words, what’s the point of lying when the truth is out there in plain view?
    That’s a very pointed question but it seems that many here are going through a lot of trouble and frequently citing the treaty of tripoli to say that these dudes weren’t Christians. Most were.
    Did they create a theocracy? No. Were most Christians? Yes.

    1. Frymaster

      In your original comment, you assert that, because the Framers (hate that Fathers rhetoric) wrote this or that, said this or that or were this or that, that should have an impact on 1st Amendment jurisprudence.

      THAT is “a lie”.

      In fact, they went out of their way to use completely secular language in the Constitution. And the one reference to God in the Declaration was a giant battle in which “Nature and Nature’s God” served to subdue any sense of religiosity but mollify the ultra-religious that they got their magic word into the document. Even though, for the sake of argument, most of the Framers were some sort of “Christian”, it seems clear that they viewed religion as a danger to be limited and managed. 

      Counter-intuitive? Not my problem.

      So to hear self-professed Christians claiming that the Framers personal beliefs, which they took so much trouble to keep OUT of the Constitution, should be reason to overturn two centuries of jurisprudence on the matter is the kind of thing that makes people, well, scared that religious zealots are out to undo that very jurisprudence and force their faith on people that could take it or leave it on their own. 

      As to the “lies”, all is fair in love and war. And blogging.

      Per Oswald’s reply to my direct question on the subject, supporting atheism requires a positive act, like hanging a banner that says “There is no god.” So, no, this ruling neither enforces atheism nor denies any other faith. In reality, it’s a no-brainer, as simple as the 10 Commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court. 

      You have failed to sway me. Let’s say the Framers were Christians. I still don’t care.

  6. donroach

    You’re missing the context. The framers purposely did not establish a religion not because they did not believe in God but that their Protestant sects weren’t uniform. indeed most Americans were religious refugees. 
    I believe it’s clear they felt and understood that a federal religion would cause problems. It’s funny their historical memory doesn’t seem to be as shortsighted as hours. About the same distance existed between their regime and Henry VIIIs withdrawal from the Catholic church and today to them. Still, as Oswald pointed out, many states had their own established churches and such a practice would probably not have been unconstitutional until the 1947 decision.
    You’re also joining two different arguments. I’m making the point that the Framers/Fathers (name is a semantic exercise to me) were Christians. That’s all. Thus, it should come as no surprise that their Christianity was a mere reflection of the populous of which they served. Ergo, you see religious under/overtones in many of the institutions/mores extant in 21st century America. 
    In this thread, I wasn’t trying to answer your question regarding the support of atheism over every other religion by disallowing religious epiteths in the public sphere.
    On a slightly unrelated note, I’m curious why you don’t like Fathers and prefer Framers?
     

  7. Some Historical Context on the Prayer Banner Controversy | Kmareka.com

    [...] banner controversy does define an important distinction about what government can and cannot do. The thoughts of Oswald Krell also serve to give more historical context to the discussion: [...]To begin: any sentence that contains “the founding fathers [...]

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