Sunday, May 15, 2011

Christian nation?

You've probably heard it before. "This nation was founded as a Christian nation." "We need to return to our Christian roots." "All the Founding Fathers were Christian." Now, while this is rather unlikely to be true, I'm willing to temporarily grant the point for the sake of argument. I'm willing to do this for one simple reason: I don't think it matters.

Oh sure, it matters from the position of having an accurate history. I would never advocate ignoring or covering up any part of history. When I say it doesn't matter, I mean that it doesn't matter in terms of how we determine our public policy and legislative goals. Even granting (for argument's sake) that the Founders were Christian and wanted a Christian nation, that is in no way binding on us in the here and now.

When people say things like "This nation was founded as a Christian nation," they're essentially making the mistake of thinking that just because an idea is old, it should be given more weight. False. The age of an idea is no indicator of it's value. An idea must stand on it's own, regardless of it's age or who says it. Slavery is a very old idea, thousands of years old, but that doesn't make it a good idea. Likewise, mere age doesn't make the "Christian roots" argument a good one.

When considering our policies of today, the laws we wish to adopt, the freedoms we wish to grant, we should only consider whether they are good ones. Do they improve our country in some way, whether by increasing justice, freedom, or some other good? Do they protect us, without infringing on us? There's a distinct possibility that trying to answer these questions by solely referencing our Founding Fathers's views on an issue would not lead us to improvement, but may even cause us to slide backward. Remember, women didn't get to vote under the system set up by the Founders.

Just as a son is not obligated to follow in his father's footsteps, we as Americans are not obligated to follow in the footsteps of America's fathers. They were kind enough and wise enough to include within the Constitution a means of altering what they had written, in the form of making Amendments, should their descendants determine that an alteration is necessary. We should be wise enough to recognize the general principle embodied in that rule, and stop acting as if the Founding views are the views that matter most, whether those views were Christian, secular, Jewish, Humanist, or those of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Comments? Thoughts? Ideas? Start the discussion below.

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