Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Joe Farah Commits the Christian Nation Error

In this article here. John Hagee commits the error too. Indeed, it's evangelical megachurches and homeschoolers who are likeliest to fall into this trap. I'm going to skirt the issue of whether atheists can be good Americans (I think they can), and rather focus on the problems with Farah's thesis.  As he argues:
America was founded on a creedal statement. It can be found in the Declaration of Independence: 
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
Thus, America was founded on the principle that the Creator God endowed men with certain unalienable rights. This statement formed the basis of self-governance in a world ruled by kings and tyrants. It is the principle that set America apart from the rest of the world. 
It’s important to note that the founders – and most of the 2 million people living in America at the time of the founding – were Christians who believed in the One True God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They weren’t referring to any other god. They rejected Allah. They rejected paganism in all its forms. They rejected atheism.
America was thus founded as a Judeo-Christian nation, tolerant of other views, but with the understanding that only a moral people governing themselves to the best of their ability under God’s eternal laws were capable of maintaining the liberty established uniquely under this covenant.
The problems with Farah's argument are manifold.  Let's dig in.  Farah connects the DOI with his understanding of biblical Christianity which then slips into "Judeo-Christian." I'm not exactly sure what the modernish term "Judeo-Christian" means. As fundamentalists like Farah use it, apparently it means the orthodox Christian God where Jews get to tag along because of the special place they have as antecedents to Christians. Indeed, evangelicals like Farah, John Hagee, and Hal Lindsey who interpret biblical prophesy as demanding a pro-Israel stance (not all of them do) are, I observe, especially likely to parrot "Jews and Christians worship the same God, and Muslims (and apparently everyone else) do not."

Farah then quotes from Founders John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin to support his case.  The problem is these Founders were not "Christians" according to his understanding of the faith.  They all rejected the Trinity.  Farah didn't have to reference those Founders.  But given they wrote the DOI it's understandable that he did.

It's simply not true that those Founders "rejected Allah."  To the contrary, they rejected Joe Farah's exclusivist understanding of the faith.  I have evidence from each of those three Founders AND from George Washington claiming that Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God.  AND I have evidence from Presidents Washington, Jefferson and Madison claiming unconverted Great Spirit worshipping Indians worship the same God they did.

Moreover, Farah wrongly claims the Founders rejected "paganism in all its forms."  They actually held the noble pagans of Ancient Greece and Rome (whose surnames they adopted) in very high regard.

Finally, the DOI is not a "biblical covenant."  Rather it's a social contract that references a generic monotheistic God as the guarantor of unalienable natural rights.

No comments: