Sunday, July 5, 2009

This Land is My Land

Independence Day has come and gone and the smell of gun powder has dissipated in the wind that swept over the purple mountains majesty and across the fruited plains.

As my family and I made preparations to celebrate the 4th, the slight, hot wind that was sweeping through the desert carried refrains of "God bless America." I heard it everywhere and listened as a choir of voices, not heard so loudly since the presidential campaign, screeched wildly, "We are one nation, under God!"

The craft store chain, Hobby Lobby, carried a full one-page ad in a local paper. It was a scroll meant to look like the Constitution and on it were several quotes from many of our founding fathers and framers of the Constitution and of The Declaration of Independence. By reading these short quotes, one would most certainly say, "Why, yes! We ARE one nation under God!" But, as I read each of those quotes, I became increasingly angry.

Several of the quotes in that advertisement were said by some of our founding fathers who were self-proclaimed Deists and Secularists. I know those quotes because I have read not only the founding documents of this country, but biographies, autobiographies and books of letters written by or about these men. You can take words out of context or take small excerpts from public speeches and come up with just about anything you want to in order to make an argument that someone is in agreement with you. But, history is history and I'm quite fed up with those who seek to revise it to suit their own self-indulgent purposes.

I am not a person who believes everything she is told. I do not believe just because my parents told me I should believe. I do not believe because the majority tells me I should believe. I do not believe because a trusted news anchor tells me I should believe. My beliefs are based on research and study and on common sense and discernment. Although not an expert in history, I have read and studied enough about it to know certain truths. When I read a letter written in the hand of our 27th president, William H. Taft that says: "I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe," I know from this letter and others that he wrote, that he was a Deist, not a Christian.
Thomas Paine was probably one of the most outspoken of our founding fathers. He made few bones about the fact that he was most definitely not a Christian. There is an immense amount of documentation on the subject, the bulk of which comes from his own writings. "The Christian system of religion is an outrage on common sense." Sound like a Christian to you?

Benjamin Franklin: "I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies."

This country, very contrary to the current clamoring and hollering about it, was not founded as a Christian nation. In fact, if you'd care to pick up some books written by our founding fathers, you'll find quite the opposite.

The framers of our great Constitution took great pains to draft a document which made clear that there was to be a wall that separated "church and state." They were adamant that our country was to be governed free from religious influence. The proof of this is in the documents themselves. The Constitution contains not one single word about Christianity, the Bible or Jesus Christ. Nor does it contain any reference to the United States being founded on Christianity or Christian principles. The Ten Commandments are mentioned exactly zero times. The Preamble contains the phrase, "...they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights," and is the one and only reference with any sort of possible religious undertone. In writings of the men who wrote these words, it is made clear that the reference was to the Deist creator and not the God of Christianity.

In 1797 the United States ratified the Treaty of Tripoli. The treaty was negotiated by George Washington and signed by John Adams, his successor. In the treaty, it was declared that, "The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion." The treaty was read aloud before Congress and was unanimously approved.

Those who seek to revise history will loudly proclaim that our currency is printed with, "In God We Trust." Yes. It is. Those words were added in 1956, 180 years after the founding of our nation. And, what of our Pledge of Allegiance which states, "One nation, under God?" The phrase, "Under God" was added in 1954.

George Bush Sr. was once asked by a reporter about how he planned on getting the atheist vote. There was a brief exchange and this is part of what was said:*

Bush: No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.
Reporter: (somewhat taken aback): Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?
Bush: Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I'm just not very high on atheists.

I am an atheist. I also consider myself a patriot. I am not the kind of gun-toting, flag waving, "you're either with us or against us," proclaiming American who we've all been told are the "real Americans." But, I am most certainly a proud, law abiding citizen who has such love of country that I'm willing to yell and scream and fight and vote for it to return to its origins. It's origins are plain and clear. They are pure and not open for interpretation. They hold a promise for each and every legal citizen of this country.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

The same group of Americans who have tried to hijack patriotism and who are trying to revise our history to make it conform to their own belief systems seem to also be the same group who constantly and consistently attempt to deny the inalienable rights of those citizens who do not subscribe to the same dogma as they do. These Americans have never learned, or forgotten or just flat out refuse to accept that our brilliant founding fathers believed in not only freedom OF religion, but freedom FROM religion and that they steadfastly believed that our country should and must be governed free from religious influence.

I am an atheist and I am a patriot. This is my country too.

*Some have disputed that this exchange took place. I have read the chain of correspondence between the American Atheists and the White House regarding this exchange. The correspondence consists of eleven pages and is stored in the Bush Library in Texas and available to the public upon inquiry. Although Mr. Bush's White House counsel does not directly confirm the exchange, he also does not deny it. The video of this exchange seems to have disappeared.


stuart said...

Wow! I just read the greatest atheist manifesto ever written. Seriously. It's called the Real Messiah:

It's written by a Jewish writer who found proof in a number of ancient sources that Jesus never claimed to be the messiah. It was all made up by later Christians in Rome to distract from the truth that threatened to overtake the whole Empire.

You see there was this Jewish king named Marcus Julius Agrippa. He was the St. Mark who wrote the gospel. He wrote the gospel secretly to have Jesus announce HIM as the messiah. Then the Roman authorities caught wind of what was going on and then cut Agrippa out of the gospel.

Don't you see!!! It's all a big lie - even the biggest lie in history. Jesus never claimed to be what all these people now say he was. They have been fooled by a second century editorial effort that still goes undetected.

How is Huller so sure of this conspiracy? He found an ancient throne in Venice which Italian sailors stole from the most ancient Church of St. Mark in Alexandria in the ninth century. The author proves that the throne goes back much further than that - i.e. all the way to the beginning of Christianity in Egypt.

In any event the throne has Hebrew letters and symbols which prove the real story of Christianity and how the modern Church is one big fake.

The throne is real. Here are pictures of the throne:
You can look it up with Google. It's a real object. But now the game is up. Christianity is proved to be a big lie and the world will never be the same again.

It's so great to be on the winning side at last! I've got to tell everyone.

All I got to say is that you got to read this book. This is the straw that breaks the back of the Church.

Maithri said...

What a great blog!

I'm here by way of our mutual friend Tessa,

She shared with me your generous gift to the people of Swaziland and I wanted to come by and thank you personally for the light which you are bringing into the lives of these wonderful people.

Peace and light to you friend,


Kathy G said...

Well-researched post.

Tessa said...

Very well said - and researched, Amy. I wonder if you've read Richard Dawkins 'The God Delusion'?

PS Your picture is on its way across the pond!

ellen abbott said...

Amy, this is excellent. I've been telling people the same thing but it doesn't really matter because those who want to believe the opposite will no matter how much proof you offer. I was raised a Christian but even my earliest memories are of unacceptance of the dogma. I formally walked away as a teenager. It would be interesting to know why this country took such a fundamentalist turn back in the 50s. Oh, probably the rise of communism. Never mind. Anyway, I was so angry with Bush and his phony 'holier than thou' attitude and so totally excluding anyone who did not subscribe to his beliefs (religious, patriotic, governmental, etc)...well, it just sickened me. My signature on the BBs I frequent during that time was this...'Dissent is the highest form of patriotism' - Thomas Jefferson.

Angie said...

Great post. I find the "We were founded as a Christian nation" argument even more annoying than my other pet peeve the "Women were never working mothers until the women's movement" argument. I've always said that if you have to rewrite several hundred years of history in order to make your point then maybe your point isn't valid after all.

Cubil said...

Nicely done Amy. I've had organized religion on my mind too. One thing that won't leave my head is how we have this rather large group of "believers" in the Bible as God's Holy Word, while as a culture, we (the west) tend to scoff at most of what comes out of the middle east as the primative nonsense that it is. It's a Mad World after all.

Cubil said...

One other thing, I heard a great presentation years ago from a scientist that argued The United States was founded on Greek principals, not christian.

Amy said...

Stuart: Thank you for stopping by the blog and for leaving a comment! I'll most certainly look up the book, and thank you for the reccommendation. I enjoyed your comment very much.

Maithri: Thank you, thank you, but it is really Tessa who is the one with the giant heart that never seems to stop giving! And the work you do is amazing and touches me deeply. I hope to learn more from Tessa about how to help.

Thank you so much for stopping by to leave a note. It is greatly appreciated. And, for the wish for peace and light, I'm deeply gratetful.

Kathy G.: Thank you. I always appreciate that you take the time to leave a comment.

Tessa: Why, yes! The God Delusion began my collection of similarly themed books and remains one of my favorites. I'm a big fan of Dawkins' writings. Sometimes (more often than I'd like) my intellect won't keep up with his so I have to do a lot of back tracking an re-reading to understand.

Really, Tessa...a bucket load of thanks for the donation to Dr. Maithri's work and for the painting. You are a real inspiration and have such a beautiful and generous heart.

Ellen: Recently, a guy I went to high school with 23 years ago and with whom I communicate fairly regularly on Facebook, found out I was an atheist. He deleted me from his Facebook page. (Not very Christian-like I say!) There are people who have told me that I CAN'T be an atheist because I'm "too nice." Mostly when people find out, they appear as though they just stuck their finger in a light socket.

That's one of my favorite quotes from Jefferson! Our country was founded after all, by a group of dissenters, not lambs who just followed blindly what they were told for generations. They were the minority but decided to take their rag tag little group and stand up and have a voice. And now, here we are today. Thank goodness for the dissenters! (And, thank YOU for your comment!)

Amy said...

Angie: Nicely said. I love that statement about working mothers as well. What a crock. And, how mightily some tried to keep the women's movement from moving forward!

Thanks so much for your comment. {fist bump}

Cubil: Interesting how westerners don't see that similarity isn't it?! An absolutely fabulous book on the subject is The End of Faith, by Sam Harris.

Thanks so much for the comment. Very insightful. Oh...and...the Greeks. We've stolen a whole pile of stuff from those people, haven't we?! Many of the stories from the Bible are re-worked stories from Greek mythology. (They also make killer souvlaki!)

ellen abbott said...

As long as you mentioned stealing from another culture, the whole dead and risen god is ANCIENT and shows up throughout the ages!! Back to the Mesopotamians and before. Christianity (Judaism too for that matter) is nothing but reworked myths and religious (mostly pagan) stories. That's how invading armies conquered the local populations.

Amy said...

Ellen: True. One doesn't have to dig very deep into their pile of books on world cultures and religions in order to quickly realize that Christianity seriously lacks originality. The names have changed but the stories remain the same. They may believe as they choose, but I must insist that they not try to change history to suit their desires!

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

Amen, Sister. It's too bad that religious extremists don't use their power for good.

Amy said...

Margaret: Lady, don't even get me started! (Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I see we're also Tweeting together!)

Anonymous said...

Girl...I stumbled upon your blog and I must say, I can't stop reading and laughing!!! It's like crack, and I can't get enough! (I've never actually done crack, I'm just saying your addictive.)'re awesome! Or should I're crack-a-lackin!

Laura in SC

Amy said...

Anonymous: I think a "thank you" is in order here! Although, I AM assuming that you're laughing at the posts I intended to be humorous and not actually at my pain and angst?! In either case, thanks very much for dropping by the blog and for taking the time to comment. Come laugh at me again sometime, will you?

Anonymous said...

I assure you, I am laughing at the points that you intended to be hilarious. =D Your blog makes my day!

Laura in SC

Tonjia said...

As far as I can tell, the constitution of these great United States was taken almost word for word from the writings of Enlightenment philosopher, John Locke. If you haven't read him, I hope you get the chance. You will see the words of the constitution opened up and explained in plain language. His works were based on eastern enlightenment philosophies, taoism, buddhism, hinduism, etc. He remained a professing Christian his entire life, because to renounce it was deadly.
It just makes me laugh. Equality is not now, and never has been a Christian value. They are elitists who believe that some are more chosen than others.

Mommy With a Penis said...

Never read the Bush quote before. In my humble opinion, I believe it quite true.

Amy said...

Hutchins: Before I respond, would you mind clarifying? Do you believe the Bush quote to be true in the sense that you believe he actually said it, or true in content?

Reya Mellicker said...

America was supposedly a free country, including the freedom to worship whatever you want, or to not worship as you choose.

But at some point in time, it did become a Christian country. How did it happen? Christmas and Easter are every bit as important as national holidays as the 4th of July or Thanksgiving.

It makes me angry, too, since I am a Jewish Buddhist Shaman, but definitely NOT Christian. And a patriot, ohyeah.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Great post!