July 4, 2010

Worth remembering on this July 4th

From Greg, a great post on the false Christian heritage that so many claim. My favorite line:
"The richest irony is that the plight of all the minority groups in the United States has improved as America has become less Christian. The secularization of government has actually advanced the cause of women, African Americans, and other minorities."
To be fair, there were a lot of Christians also working for those rights and causes. But those Christians are not the ones trumpeting their ownership of America.


Smitty said...

I know the article you linked didn't touch on this, but it woke the thought up in me again: Christians, most especially the group we (probably somewhat mistakenly and hastily) refer to as evangelicals, believe in the absoluteness of the bible. It is a divine document, written directly from God. It is correct and holy and infallible in every sense.

The problem is they believe that America's founding documents are exactly the same. The the Constitution isn't a living document to them, meant to be changed and adapted and indeed having within it the methods one uses to modify it. It is perfect in and of itself. It is to them, in a sense, biblical.

That, to me, is horrifyingly dangerous.

Smitty said...

This is weird; I posted a comment this morning, and it's as if I never posted anything. Not that you deleted it!

Anway, I said something to this effect:

The article you linked to got me thinking. Most evangelicals (as we probably hastily and somewhat incorrectly refer to this Christian sect) view the bible as a perfect and finished document. It is infallible, perfect, and representative of the divine Word.

Unfortunately, I think those same people view our constitution as exactly the same document; infallible, perfect, complete. Despite having within it a method to amend it as needed, these folks cling to this strict almost literalist (like biblical literalist) point of view. Seeing the constitution as some sort of divine document is inherently dangerous.

Streak said...

No editing on my part! And I see both comments. But both are good.

And I agree, this emphasis on inerrant is problematic, whether we are talking about the Bible or the constitution. Perhaps worse when talking about the Constitution.

In both cases, btw, most people who believe in inerrancy do in fact make allowances for the text that they don't admit. Christians ignore the huge amount of criticism for wealth, and many of those same ignore the ways that the constitution has been read to help them today.

Bob said...

I have been having comment problems today too. Its a blogger thing.

Smitty said...

whether we are talking about the Bible or the constitution. Perhaps worse when talking about the Constitution.

Seeing the bible as inerrant has its problems for sure. Just look at the Texas school board.

Seeing the constitution as inerrant is equally limiting of a viewpoint. It is built to be a living document.

But what worries me the most is that the two points of view are becoming increasingly linked as virtually the same. The two points of view - inerrant bible and inerrant constitution - go hand-in-hand among the furthest right of the right wing. God brought certain people here and blessed them to fight tyranny and write a document that creates a nation that He specifically willed to be created. The bible, the people who wrote the constitution and the constitution itself are inextricably linked in this point of view. This holds real danger to me for the survival of our nation. Not only does it make me concerned about a religious state, it makes me concerned about things that make us great like "dissent" and "diversity." When our leaders claim divine rite and draw their opinions from documents they see as equally divine, what room is there for disagreement?

Monk-in-Training said...

I agree with this line of thought, the Bible and Constitution are conflated in fundamentalist minds when it comes to Politics.

A good example is in the last post where someone accuses Streak of not being a Christian because of assumed political position.

This is a VERY common position here in Oklahoma. If you think Pres. Obama is the Christian he says he is (and his baptism affirms) and that he might actually be trying to help our country, then you are a God accursed Liberal and condemned to the fires of hell!

In my mind this is a terrible mistake for people of faith. Sort term political gain is NOT what the Faith given to us by the Apostles!

Smitty said...

Combat Bibles???

steves said...

Having spent a great deal of time and money studying the Constitution, I don't think I am close to figuring it out. At best, I change my interpretation with study and knowledge. At worst, I am just wishy washy.

I have no problem with adaptation and change. The Constitution is full of language like 'reasonable' that allows for changes over time. That being said, I do have a problem with straying too far. Subsequent courts have greatly eroded the 4th amendment so that there are dozens of exceptions. If we continue on this path, it becomes meaningless.

The other danger is when we get things like the "penumbra of rights" and manufacture (to some extent) certain rights. Setting aside my personal feelings regarding abortion, I don't think our society would benefit from a ban. Unfortunately, I have a hard time with the tortured legal logic of Roe v. Wade and thought that was not a good decision.

As for the secularization of gov't, I am skeptical of any connection between the advancements of rights and secularization. It seems that Greg is implying a causal relationship where there may be none. As one learns in any basic stats class, relation does not imply causation.

Smitty said...

Steve: I am skeptical of any connection between the advancements of rights and secularization

I assume you mean NON-secular. Secularization of government is exactly what I want. I want a giant chasm of separation between church and state, not a narrow one.

Streak said...

Correlation certainly doesn't prove causation. As I noted in my post, there are a great many Christians who worked for those positive changes. But I also think that it is not out of reason to suggest that the people who most proclaim our Christian heritage are the ones who have consistently and vehemently opposed every expansion of freedom over the last 150+ years.

steves said...

I think you are right Streak.

Smitty, I did mean what I said. I tend to agree that a secular government is what is best for us, but I am skeptical of the idea that secularization, in and of itself, is what causes justice and liberty. History is full of secular tyrants.