Friday, September 24, 2010

America - Founded As A Christian Nation?

"The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion ..."
--from the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by John Adams, June 10, 1797

This is particularly of interest because it was drafted while George Washington was president. It was ratified while John Adams was president and it was signed into law with a unanimous vote. Let me reiterate that...a unanimous vote.
Not one single legislator said "nay". We need not point out that the founders were still active in government at this time, Washington and Adams both presided over the development of this treaty, that if they had any notions of this country being founded as a "Christian Nation" I think they would have objected to at least the language of this treaty. So America is not a Christian nation and that is historical fact. It became a point of law in 1797. End of story.
Read the treaty here.

In this cartoon in the Political Register, September, 1769, an indignant New England mob pushes a bishop's boat back towards England, frightening the prelate into praying, "Lord, now lettest thou thy Servant depart in Peace." The mob flings a volume of Calvin's Works at the bishop, while brandishing copies of John Locke and Algernon Sydney on government. The crowd shouts slogans: "Liberty & Freedom of Conscience"; "No Lords Spiritual or Temporal in New England"
Ah, the age of reason! Sure there were the Puritans and that ilk too but don't imagine for a moment that they were a majority. Escape from tyranical religions in their home countries was a popular reason to throw caution to the wind and venture to the new unknown wild frontier outpost.

Glancing at some websites that claim the U.S. WAS founded as a Christian nation, I came across these arguments and I'd like to address them:

Emblazoned over the Speaker of the House in the US Capitol are the words "In God
We Trust."

Well, yes but it was stuck there in 1962, pretty safe to assume the founders had nothing to do with that... and the concept of god is not unique to Christianity now is it? This was the cold war era, the anti communist hysteria was in full bloom and one of the slogans of the time in propaganda dispersion was "God is on the side of capitalists" this is the same reason it appeared on currency. Again no founding fathers were involved having long been dead.

The Supreme Court building built in the 1930's has carvings of
Moses and the Ten Commandments.

Um, how many framers of the constitution were involved in the 1930s? None. Many of these buildings were raised in Washington as part of FDR's New Deal to get people back to work, artists and indeed musicians were employed by this forward thinking program...I wonder if any musicians played Via Con Dios or some other tune that referenced a deity? I wonder if this doesn't indicate we are founded as a Jewish nation since it's Moses in the statue? Maybe it means Sandra Day O'Conner has a burning bush? Or is it likely the story of the 10 commandments is a mythology that relates to "laws" which is the primary concern of the SCOTUS?

You never know.

God is mentioned in stone all over
Washington D.C., on its monuments and buildings.

(See Above.)

The word GOD is not limited to Christianity, Deists believed in a god of nature, but dismissed all supernatural concepts of god. God is a very general term, Jupiter is a is is the very popular entity Mammon. Phsicists regularly refer metaphorically to God. Yet largely this is not the Hairy Thunderer...perhaps the Cosmic Muffin?

As a nation, we have
celebrated Christmas to commemorate the Savior's birth for centuries.

Really? Did you know From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident. So back around the time of the founding of the nation Christmas wasn't really celebrated by the entire nation. After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America’s new constitution. Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870. Christmas was a rather "adult" holiday in the old world with much drinking and revelry...the Puritan elements didn't celebrate it at all.

Oaths in courtrooms have invoked God from the beginning.
Well no, not from the beginning.
Text of the Oaths of Office for Supreme Court Justices...

Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States are required to take two oaths before they may execute the duties of their appointed office.
The Constitutional Oath:
As noted below in Article VI, all federal officials must take an oath in support of the Constitution:
"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." The Constitution does not provide the wording for this oath, leaving that to the determination of Congress. From 1789 until 1861, this oath was, "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States." During the 1860s, this oath was altered several times before Congress settled on the text used today, which is set out at 5 U. S. C. § 3331. This oath is now taken by all federal employees, other than the President. State level oaths are a matter of states and not the nation.

The founding fathers often quoted the Bible in their writings.

Well, yes but not as an authoritative religious book, often they were questioning passages. Of the most active and well known "founders" most were subscribers to of the age of reason philosophies and did not embrace superstitions or the supernatural at all. I am speaking of the principal architects of the constitution which includes Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Franklin, Adams, Hamilton, and Hancock. Even Hamilton, who was known to bitterly disagree with Jefferson on some matters was influenced by John Locke, an enlightenment author.
The bible as literature is one thing. As literally true unquestionable doctrine it is something else. I often quote the bible yet don't believe it is supernatural or literally true in any sense. Most of the well known Founders were Deists, which is to say they thought the universe had a creator, but that he does not concern himself with the daily lives of humans, and does not directly communicate with humans, either by revelation or by sacred books. They spoke often of God, (Nature's God or the God of Nature), but this was not the God of the bible. They did not deny that there was a person called Jesus, and praised him for his benevolent teachings, but they flatly denied his divinity. Now if we are speaking of the 250 men who were involved in the government in some way through the first couple presidencies we might be able to say generally they were Christians, but it's a guess as there simply not enough data on all of their beliefs...Madison, Jefferson, & Franklin wrote a great deal about their personal beliefs and their private thoughts are well documented. We must remember that yes many came to the remote colonies to escape religious persecution (From Christians incidentally) but many more came for the same reasons people go to any look for a better life, or in the case of the merchants; to seek fortune, or to escape something . There were an equal number of merchants on the Mayflower who could care less about Calvinism, Puritanism, or any other "isms: that you never hear anything about, but the Pilgrims could not finance the trip themselves, the merchants had the means.

The national anthem mentions God.

Was Francis Scott Key a founder? No. The Star Spangled Banner became the national anthem under the Herbert Hoover Administration...long after the founding fathers died. (And how many have ever heard that 4th stanza that mentions God? If we were trying to discover whether Key was a Theist this might be clue. But has nothing to do with the forging of the Constitution) This has no bearing whatsoever on whether the founders created the nation as a Christian nation.

The Declaration of Independence mentions God.

Yet Jefferson's words were originally "All men are created equal and independent. From that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable." The words were changed in the final draft to appease some members of congress who probably were in fact theists. Again, God is not limited to the Christian idea of God. Oh and incidentally we are not governed by the Declaration of Independence-- it is a historical document, not a constitutional one. God is not mentioned in the Constitution, and Jesus appears nowhere in any official government historical documents.

The Bible was used as a textbook in the schools.
So was the "Grapes Of Wrath" and "Green Eggs and Ham".
Doesn't make it a true story. Or demonstrate any evidence that the founders sought a Christian nation.

The Founders were students of the European Enlightenment. Half a
century after the establishment of the United States, clergymen complained that
no president up to that date had been a Christian. In a sermon that was reported
in newspapers, Episcopal minister Bird Wilson of Albany, New York, protested in
October 1831: "Among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than
Unitarianism." The attitude of
the age was one of enlightened reason, tolerance, and free thought. The Founding
Fathers would turn in their graves if the Christian Extremists had their way
with this country.

Consider this: IF indeed the members of the First
Continental Congress were all bible-believing, "God-fearing" men, would there ever have been a revolution at all?

"For rebellion as is the sin of witchcraft." 1 Samuel, 15:23

Would they have initiated a rebellion if
indeed they thought it was equal to witchcraft (a crime punishable by death in Christian circles at that time)?
But that's only the tip of the iceberg.

The New Testament gives clear
instructions to Christians on how to behave when ruled under a monarchy, as were the Founders.

1 Peter 2:13: "For the Lord's sake accept the authority of
every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right."

Paul wrote in Romans 13:1:

"Let every person be subject to the governing
authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities
that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resist authority
resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment."

The Founders clearly did not heed what was written in the bible. If they
were in fact "good" Christians, there would never have been an American
Revolution. Compare the above passages with the Declaration of Independence:

"...when a long train of abuses and usurpation... evinces a design to
reduce (the people) under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their
duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future

A thinking person can judge for themselves.

Was The U.S. founded as a Christian state?

You know the answer.

And it was written into law in 1797.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Insufferable Arrogance And The "Plutonomy"

From Without Shoes
“This is an impressive crowd: the Have's and Have-more's. Some people call you the elites.
I call you my base.” --George W. Bush to his supporters at a campaign rally.

The leaked 2005 internal Citigroup “Plutonomy” memo describes how the richest 1% of the population has replaced the democracies of the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia; with a form of government they have coined “Plutonomy.” This relatively newly coined term combines plutocracy and economy, where only the wealthiest few rule and everyone else are essentially irrelevant slaves.

Citigroup was likely not alone in having this malevolent attitude towards the people and democracy. In fact in a sense, though I am very angry about this phenomenon, Citibank itself was merely observing what is so, and attempting to profit from it. Of course whether through irony or strategy, Citibank was one of the recipients of the great "bailout" in which John Q. Publics assets were simply seized by the AIG, Goldman Sachs, and the wealthiest firms on Wall Street.

If your not familiar with the memo, here is a link to it. Citibank has been actively removing this document from websites claiming it is a copyright infringement. (The truth is it is very unwelcome bad publicity). Again, this is not to single out one corporate entity. By observation it is glaringly apparent that we have allowed democracy, as minimally as it was practiced to be completely subverted. The one thing the plutocrats fear is democracy, the idea that their vote is no more important than another voter horrifies them. Of course they get around this two ways.
By turning all political debate into a meaningless clown show, and by using the vast wealth at their disposal to simply buy off the political process. The fact is even if a candidate starts off wishing to work for the will of the people, they will corrupt or extort them. They will smother them with disinformation, and threats of fearsome consequences if anything is done to make their game less prone to cheating.

In this game in which 99% of us are unwilling pawns, Bankrobber #1 has $500 billion in assets, Bankrobber#2 has $250 billion, and John-Q-Public (owner of the gameboard) has $500 billion. The banksters agree to pay $100 billion to the winner, (but good old John-Q-Public is not even informed of the game). The Banksters also agree that for each piece captured, $25 billion will be stolen from the owner’s assets and given to the player who lost the piece. The game is played and Bankster-1 wins. He receives $100 billion from Bankster-2, and $150 billion for the six pieces he lost, increasing his assets to $750 billion. Banker-2 pays $100 billion to Banker-1, but receives $250 billion for the ten pieces he lost, increasing his assets to $400 billion. John-Q-Public’s assets are reduced to $100 billion, and he has no idea what the hell happened.

There IS a class war, but it is the wealthiest 1% who are attacking everyone else and frankly winning every single battle handily. Other than obscene greed what is the motivation? The fact is, the gap between the rich and the poor is a better measure of the health of our economy than the S&P 500 or the Dow. Today, the concentration of privately held wealth at the top is at its highest peak since 1929, the year the financial markets crashed and gave rise to the Great Depression of the 1930s. At that time, 25% of the population was out of work. Despite our economy being mired in the deepest recession since the 1930s, people in the top 1% continue to prosper and own as much wealth as those in the bottom 90%. This is all well and good for the extremely wealthy, but a disaster for the vast majority. Of course there is a plan, and it was set in motion in 1980 and continues to drain the wealth of the middle class today - Trickle Down Economics, the idea that letting the greediest and most morally bankrupt among us do whatever the hell they please will somehow benefit all eventually. History demonstrates this scheme cooked up by Donald Regan (Goldman-Sachs), who hired Ronald Reagan as their spokesperson simply concentrates wealth at the very top while removing it from the vast majority of people. The economy is great for a handful of billionaires who know the best way to rob banks is to own them. After the great depression, the economy grew and prosperity was shared, the middle class grew and so did the fortunes of the wealthy.
But a different course was set in the 1980s and has been adhered to ever hell with the peasants in the middle class, make the aristocracy richer. And they certainly did just that. The disparity between the haves and have nots grew algorithmically. The top 1 percent incomes captured half of the all economic growth over the period 1993-2007 while household incomes for non billionaires shrunk dramatically due to outsourcing, layoffs, and closings. The "globalization" plan is simply a scheme to turn the American workforce into a cheap workforce able to compete with a Vietnamese sweatshop.

Government is FOR-SALE, 99.7% of all 200 million eligible voters are vastly out-spent by a tiny 0.3% of all 200 million voters who make 83% of all federal campaign donations (of $200 or more). How can the remaining 99.7% of all 200 Million eligible voters hope to out-spend the vastly wealthy who abuse their wealth to control and influence government? The bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians are merely carrying the water for their wealthy donors. As a result, corruption, gross hypocrisy, corporate welfare, graft, pork-barrel spending, subsidies for activities contrary to the public interest, waste, and other manifestations of unchecked greed are rampant. We now have a government of, by, and for those that abuse vast wealth to control and influence government.

And while many voters know this, the voters do a very strange thing. They complain about corruption, give the President and Congress dismally low approval ratings, but then still reward incumbent politicians within Congress with a 85% to 90% re-election rates which empowers and rewards corrupt incumbent politicians to grow more corrupt and irresponsible. It also saddles the President with a dysfunctional Congress. It is no mystery that things continue to deteriorate, and the nation's problems continue to grow in number and severity.

What can we do to stop this downward spiral? Demand democracy. Democracy is the greatest fear of the plutocrats. They are after all small in number, there are 99 of us for every one of them. We must demand politicians act on our behalf. We must NOT reward them with votes when they don't. We MUST change the SCOTUS decisions that have declared money is free speech, and the recent decision that as free speech the amount of influence that can be bought has no bounds. Frankly, before the rise of the robber barons, corporations were not permitted to influence elections under threat of having their charters revoked. K street and lobbyist peddling must be shut down entirely. The vulture capitalists need to be brought to justice, and their ventures once more regulated. The middle class needs to stand up for itself.
No we will not be serfs, we will not be indentured slaves, our work is valuable and we should be paid fairly in exchange for it. The alternative is too bleak to consider.