Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How the Christian Nation Thesis Hurts Religious Conservatives...Again:

Ed Brayton notes an op-ed article by Idaho Rep. Bill Sali who stated how terrible it was to have a Muslim Congressman and a Hindu prayer in Washington DC. If that's what he wants to believe, fine; but he makes a fool out of himself when he tries to invoke the Founding Fathers on his behalf.

And again, to those who criticize me on my focusing on certain "key Founders" look at the men whom he invokes: Washington, Adams, Madison, and Franklin. These, along with Jefferson, are the names of the figures who invariably will be cited in appeals to the Founders.

Sali starts off his op-ed with quoting one of David Barton's phony quotations.

The Founders recognized that “it is impossible to rightly govern the without God and the Bible.” It is unfortunate those words, which come directly from George Washington, would be deemed narrow-minded or bigoted if they were spoken today.

Sorry, Washington didn't say it. And David Barton, the one most responsible for spreading the quotation, admitted it was "unconfirmed" and admonished followers not to spread it. But, alas, most of them haven't gotten the message (Sali is not an exception, do a google search on the Internet of that and the other "unconfirmed" quotations and they are presently constantly spread by the Christian Nation crowd).

All of the Founders Sali invokes were syncretic universalists who believed most or all world religions were valid ways to God. Franklin and Adams both explicitly identified Islam as a sound religion. And I've noted Adams claimed Hindus worship the same "Providence" Jews and Christians do. Washington and Madison, likewise, referred to God as "The Great Spirit" when speaking to unconverted Indians.

It's not Christianity, or even "Judeo-Christianity" that is America's implicit public religion. Rather America's Founding political theology is theistic rationalism which prefers to speak of God in generic philosophical terms and encompasses religions outside of the "Judeo-Christian" tradition like Islam, Hinduism, Native American and pagan Greco-Roman spirituality.

The Hindu prayer in Congress and Muslim Congressman swearing on the Koran, plain and simple, reap what the key Founders sowed.


Jim Babka said...

"syncretic universalists" -- I love it! How about Theistic Syncretic Universalists?

Anonymous said...