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"But this started as a Christian country!"

Hoplite

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This is a statement I've never really understood from a contextual standpoint.

Even if we suppose this is true...so what?

Why does it matter? It's an appeal to tradition and utterly meaningless.

We also started as a country where only wealthy, land-owning, males could vote. We also didn't allow blacks to be citizens and shot "injuns" on sight while referring to anyone with eye sockets less round than a marble as "Chinamen".

Our origins are not chains, we ARE allowed to move past and beyond our beginnings. We are not doomed to be what our parents and grandparents were.
 

hallam

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Does this thread have a point?
 

lizzie

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It didn't start as a specifically Christian country, but it did start with a documented understanding that we have inalienable rights as citizens, and those rights are granted by the creator as opposed to the state or man.
 

Geo Patric

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pretty good answer lizzie. even so, the 'creator' was jammed in as a sop to religionists who would not sign on with out it. and ... one other slight adjustment, i think, valid.

the DoI states that we have inalienable rights as people, not citizens. all people have these 'human rights', even when they are not recognized. the 'Creator' can be credited with those 'human rights', but not specifically the 'civil rights' of being a U.S. citizens, as such. as citizens, we are defined in the Constitution wherein god failed to make an appearance.

we were intended as a secular nation. it was central to enlightenment thinking.

geo.
 
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Hoplite

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It didn't start as a specifically Christian country, but it did start with a documented understanding that we have inalienable rights as citizens, and those rights are granted by the creator as opposed to the state or man.
Then with modern understanding, cant we then set aside the creator aspect? We are not a theocratic society and is it right for us to base our system on an idea that not even a majority of the people in the US agree on?
 

hallam

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The problem is is not a matter of setting it a side. The problem, IMO, is that if we were to set it a side, if we were to reject this based on current understand, then we would be basing these rights on man. We would be saying man is the what created these rights. We don't want to do this as it kind of negates the whole rationale as to why we started our nation. We could possibly move to a nebulous concept but it would have to be outside of ourselves.

Another issue is that moving away from this would have to be a group decision so to speak. This was not simply tacked on to the Constitution where many people disagreed. So people moving way from this have the same problem. The people who "stuck" it in are still here and those who want it are still vocal. There is not enough pressure to motivate those who don't care to move to the removal side.
 

lizzie

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Then with modern understanding, cant we then set aside the creator aspect?
Not without setting aside the inability of man or the state to grant citizens' rights. And no, we aren't in a theocracy.
 

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We would be saying man is the what created these rights. We don't want to do this as it kind of negates the whole rationale as to why we started our nation. We could possibly move to a nebulous concept but it would have to be outside of ourselves.
Exactly.:)
 

Hoplite

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The problem is is not a matter of setting it a side. The problem, IMO, is that if we were to set it a side, if we were to reject this based on current understand, then we would be basing these rights on man. We would be saying man is the what created these rights. We don't want to do this as it kind of negates the whole rationale as to why we started our nation. We could possibly move to a nebulous concept but it would have to be outside of ourselves.
Considering we cant really prove that rights come from ANYWHERE concrete, arent we just substituting one agreed upon source for our rights for another?

We agreed in the beginning that our rights came from a god. How is it any different now to say that our rights come from ourselves?

Another issue is that moving away from this would have to be a group decision so to speak. This was not simply tacked on to the Constitution where many people disagreed. So people moving way from this have the same problem. The people who "stuck" it in are still here and those who want it are still vocal. There is not enough pressure to motivate those who don't care to move to the removal side.
True, but what would shifting our source of rights from a god to ourselves really change?
 

TacticalEvilDan

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Considering we cant really prove that rights come from ANYWHERE concrete, arent we just substituting one agreed upon source for our rights for another?
The idea, I think, is that god (being an eternal non-changing entity) granted us certain basic human rights, which because they came from god should not be subject to change.

If we admit we granted those rights to ourselves, we admit that those rights come from a source which has changed a great deal over the millennia (and yet, in many unfortunate ways, stayed the same).

I think it's less about a belief in god than it is the idea that the rights we have came down from a higher power and thus cannot be taken away no matter what revisions the founding documents undergo.
 

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This started as a secular country created by predominantly Christian people that recognized the need to separate religious control from governance and to allow the free practice of any religion. However, they wrote many religious ideals into the documents that form the basis of our government and nation. Being a secular nation ruled by a government for the people by the people does not automatically dismiss any notion that may be percieved as religious or inspired by religion. Who we the people are are people who are a product of all our influences, none of
which can or should be ignored by a government of those very people.

Disclaimer.

Posted from my phone...please excuse typos.
 

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There were nations here before the European diaspora.
 

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We agreed in the beginning that our rights came from a god. How is it any different now to say that our rights come from ourselves?

True, but what would shifting our source of rights from a god to ourselves really change?
Because God is a conceptual symbol, implying that inalienable rights come from God, they cannot be taken away. If we shift the source of our inalienable citizens' rights to a human, a group of humans, or a government entity, that can change at the whim of those in power.
 

hallam

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Considering we cant really prove that rights come from ANYWHERE concrete, arent we just substituting one agreed upon source for our rights for another?

We agreed in the beginning that our rights came from a god. How is it any different now to say that our rights come from ourselves?

True, but what would shifting our source of rights from a god to ourselves really change?
Rights based on man are subject to change. Any group could, based on popular vote, change the rights to whatever they want. I for one don't want my rights based on votes especially since vote tallies can be rigged. So yes moving from a creator or even a nebulous concept as the source is a massive change that I would reject.
 

Hoplite

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Rights based on man are subject to change. Any group could, based on popular vote, change the rights to whatever they want. I for one don't want my rights based on votes especially since vote tallies can be rigged. So yes moving from a creator or even a nebulous concept as the source is a massive change that I would reject.
But since we cant even agree on who or what that creator, or even if there was a creator or a moment of creation, doesnt that mean we have a mobile concept anyways?
 

Geo Patric

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The problem, IMO, is that if we were to set it a side, if we were to reject this based on current understand, then we would be basing these rights on man. We would be saying man is the what created these rights. We don't want to do this as it kind of negates the whole rationale as to why we started our nation.
??? where the hell do you get THAT? there is s significant difference between the reasons many came here, which was often religious freedom, and the reasons the state was created, which was NOT specifically religious freedom. In fact, most of the seriously religious people at the time were opposed to separation from England. Most belonged to the Church Of England.

and No, if we omit your god from the equation we secularists do not necessarily transfer all of what religionists have attributed to him to ourselves. we did not create the universe, we cannot condemn you to eternal torment for having sex and we did not manufacture the Rights Of Man, we just wrote it.

the ratioanale for starting the nation was liberty, not GOD. yes, part of liberty was freedom to worship, but also freedom to NOT worship.
This was not simply tacked on to the Constitution where many people disagreed.
emmm... 'fraid yer mistaken about that, friend.
There is not enough pressure to motivate those who don't care to move to the removal side.
the united states is a secular nation. there is no need to remove anything from anywhere (well, aside from the 10 commandments from the courthouse).

geo.
 

hallam

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But since we cant even agree on who or what that creator, or even if there was a creator or a moment of creation, doesnt that mean we have a mobile concept anyways?
No, it still means that something outside of us sets these rights. Are rights have remained stable simply because these rights are not based on man.




Geo,

you need to go back to history class if you think this was tacked on the DoI or a some type of national high-jacking. The vast majority of signers were religious in some way or another. The vast majority of people in the country at that time and now were/are religious in some way or another. The vast majority felt some type of creator existed at the time and felt that a creator gave us these rights, their day to day practices aside. The rationale for starting the nation was liberty and freedom yes. However, you totally misinterpreted my last sentence. If we based our rights on man, then these rights are based on the vote. They could be changed by popular vote. Basing our rights on a creator, God, or some other outside rationale, whether you believe in God/creator or not, means that these things are not subject to change at all. We were given them; we didn't make them. We didn't create these rights so we have no right to change these rights. So although you are right that liberty and freedom was the motivation, I wasn't disagreeing with anyway so this is simply a strawman argument.

So to get "...and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them..." and "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..." (etc...) out of the DoI or creator/God removed from any mention from government, (which is basiclly what this topic is about) then you have a vast mountain to climb cause this isn't happening in this country any time soon.
 
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Hoplite

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No, it still means that something outside of us sets these rights. Are rights have remained stable simply because these rights are not based on man.
Yes but we cant agree on what that something is or is not, so we have an unstable source anyways
 

hallam

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Yes but we cant agree on what that something is or is not, so we have an unstable source anyways
Actually quite the opposite. We may not agree on what that something is but because that something is not man we know that we can't change those rights. This is like a minimum condition scenario. It doesn't really matter who sets the rights as long as whoever is setting them is, one, superior and, two, not us. If either of these conditions are tampered with, rights then become unstable. I believe our rights are stable now and basically have been because we didn't base them on man's wants.
 
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Hoplite

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Actually quite the opposite. We may not agree on what that something is but because that something is not man we know that we can't change those rights. This is like a minimum condition scenario. It doesn't really matter who sets the rights as long as whoever is setting them is, one, superior and, two, not us. If either of these conditions are tampered with, rights then become unstable. I believe our rights are stable now and basically have been because we didn't base them on man's wants.
Except we kinda have. A lot of what we consider rights today isnt covered in any religious text I'm familiar with.
 

Geo Patric

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you need to go back to history class if you think this was tacked on the DoI or a some type of national high-jacking.
history class? yes... it might do to revisit some of these issues. but... that can wait a bit. first, a lil confusion here. i meant that the Bill Of Rights was tacked onto the Constitution. it was. But.. i llove refuting this "christian nation' baloney. so... let's go. first a response...
The vast majority of signers were religious in some way or another.
again with the word "vast". would you like to qualify that? or do you think that you can?

but, let us take the argument at face value, as wrong as it may be... that they were religious means, well, nothing. they were also of european descent, most were farmers, ALL were men. so, we are a nation of religious european male farmers?

your reasoning has a few holes in it.
If we based our rights on man, then these rights are based on the vote.
no, i misinterpreted nothing and i am beginning to resent the implication that i do not understand what i read. the phrase "base our rights on man" means nothing. in any event, we base our 'civil rights' on LAW, democratically formed. if that is what you mean, and you have a problem with that, you might want to move to a country that IS subject to a specific religious doctrine.

Our human rights are INHERENT. THIS is what those old white men meant. I say that because JEFFERSON said that. see part 2.
They could be changed by popular vote.
yes, in part. and civil rights ARE in fact, changed by vote. that is why women can vote. sometimes it is changed by fighting. that is why black folks can vote. and it is sometimes determined through legal jurisprudence. that is why gays can marry (in Ca.). Our human rights are different. we do not get them from the state and we do not get them from other folks we are born with them. they are inherent.
Basing our rights on a creator, God, or some other outside rationale, whether you believe in God/creator or not,
i love that... i really, really do.
means that these things are not subject to change at all.
riiiiight... cast in concrete. and only apply to those whom they applied then?
We were given them; we didn't make them.
this is not an exhaustive list of the alternatives
So to get "...and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them..." and "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,
yup, see part 2.

geo.
 

Geo Patric

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PART 2

let us begin where i began. an invocation to the deity was inserted as a sop to religionists of the time. in fact, they fought over it. Jefferson (a deist) was given the job, by the members of the Continental Congress, of writing the document, Frankin (a deist) and Admas (a Unitarian) we given the job of editing it. Not a christian in the lot. THIS was no accident. And... what did they produce?
We hold these Truths to be self evident; that all Men are created equal and independent; that from that equal Creation they derive Rights inherent and unalienable; among which are the Preservation of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
No creator... except implicitly. This is how the document was submitted to the CC. THIS, btw, is classical Enlightenment writing. You might note a similarity between this and my responses elsewhere (the human rights thread). our rights are inherent in our being. The document went through at least two revisions. Here is the first.
We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with inherent & inalienable rights
please note the lower case "C". it was NOT accidental. STILL the religionists in the CC were not happy. Jefferson et al were WERE NOT going to invoke any one's god. It was a pluralist, secular, humanist nation they were attempting to found, not a religious state. "Creator" (capital "c") was a compromise.

the Declaration refers to “Nature’s God,”, NOT christianity's or judaism's or hinduism's or ANYbody's God. it refers to the “Creator,” and “Divine Providence.”

all of these terms were humanist/Deist terms. Deists believe in a force, not an entity. Jefferson insisted that reason, not revelation, inform his world view; "I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in it's parts general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of it's composition. . . it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe that there is . . . a fabricator of all things." - Thomas Jefferson).

Bernard Shaw (a contemporary) wrote of the Life Force, Spinoza of the "God Idea".It is easy to insert YOUR beliefs into their writings, but that does not actually change THEIR beliefs. Like Shaw and Spinoza and Einstein, Jefferson accepted the idea of God as a force, NOT an entity "Of the nature of this being [God] we know nothing.".

yeah, you are fee to take Jefferson's Creator and name Him Jesus or YHWH, but that is NOT what Jefferson thought. Jefferson in particular, revered Jesus Of Nazareth and honored his teachings ("the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man") but thought religion and christianity in particular, a perversion; ""They [the teachings of Jesus] have been still more disfigured by the corruptions of schismatizing followers, who have found an interest in sophisticating and perverting the simple doctrines he taught."

the United States is not, by design, a "christian nation".

geo.
 

Geo Patric

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part 3

on the matter of God and the formation of our nation, you might want to hear from someone who thinks we went wrong somewhere along the way. He thinks we were DUPED!
The ratification of the United States Constitution in 1787–88 was not an act of covenant renewal.It was an act of covenant-breaking: the substitution of a new covenant in the name of a new god. . . . The spiritual heirs of the original victims of this decep-tion remain unaware of the deception’s origins. Most of the heirs go about their business as if nothing unique had happened, just as the original victims did after 1788. But a few of the heirs rail against the humanistic historians who have told the story of the new American nation: a “grand experiment” in which the God of the Bible was first formally and publicly abandoned by any Western nation. They have argued that there was no deception, that America is still a Christian nation, that the Constitution “in principle” was and remains a Christian document, and it is only the nefarious work of the U.S. Supreme Court and the American Civil Liberties Union that has stripped the Constitution of its original Christian character. There is no greater deception than one which continues to deceive the victims, over two centuries after the deed was done. Political conservatives call for a return to the “original intent” of the Framers of the Constitution. If only, they say, we could just get back to original intent, things would be good once again. America would be restored. Christian conservatives follow close behind,affirming this recommendation. Problem: political conservatives are deceived theologically because they do not recognize the implications of the intellectual shift from the deistic unitarian god of Sir Isaac Newton to the purposeless universe of Charles Darwin. They do not comprehend that the Darwinian god of man-controlled organic evolution has replaced Newton’s god of the balanced machine. Process philosophy has replaced natural law theory. The conservatives’ allies, the Christian conservatives, also do not see this.
- Conspiracy in Philadelphia: Origins of the US Constitution by Dr. Gary North

i think he puts it rather nicely, don't you? I didn't do it! Blame Jefferson, et al

geo.
 

hallam

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Geo, I am going to address all of your points here. First,Adams was a congregationalist which is on par with the methodists and a Unitarian so there was an editor who was a Christian. But that is moot. Further, if you don't believe that the majority of people in this country were not religious at the signing of the DoI and the Constitution, then it is you who need to prove this false as it is a common point which is accepted almost ubiquitously. I am not saying that their religiosity means anything to the rationale to keeping the reference is though. No, that is you reading into to my statements. My point to this part of the conversation was strict. Those who wanted it in are still here and the same type who still wanted it in will be vocal. Further, there is no motivation others to remove the references.

And to think that laws are not based on votes is silly. All laws are voted on. Our rights are not based on laws; they are based on an immutable contract with something else which we are then forced to accept. This is what "our rights are not based on man" means. Our rights were not voted on, people just signed the document as accepting the reality that these rights are immutable and given to us by something other than ourselves. Our rights have never been subject to the vote as all laws are. These rights are not civil rights by the way. Civil rights are there to clarify that these inherent rights translate to other Americans whom some didn't count as citizens or even people.

And one last misunderstand you seem to have, my argument has never stated that this was a Christian nation. My point has always been that this is a religious country. This thread is based on a simple statement but what it is basically asking is if any reference to God is allowable. My response is, yes, it is allowable as that reference to God/Creator/natural force/nebulous concept is where we get our rights in the first place

Now to change the topic to point 2, yes the BoR as a document was a late addition; but the rights themselves were not. A. Hamilton, one of the biggest opponents to the BoR, believed in all these rights; he simply didn't think that we need a extra document to expressly state them because he though they were inherent and that the Constitution already covered them. Federalist paper 84 outlines his point. So in a way you are correct with the actual Bill, but overall you are wrong as the rights were always there.

Further, this was a national dialogue, not a dialogue of 3 people. Others get a right to speak and to modify what the writers of the DoI wanted so that it fit the entire country, not just their three points of view. So drafts and Dr. Norths opinion are not relevant. Only what was accepted as the contract should be addressed. Further, I have made no statement even suggesting that the Christian God was being expressly stated. Again this is you reading into my statements. Most people in the country were Christian but I was referring to a vague creator, not Jesus. I never used Jesus or YHWH. I have only said God and religiousness. I am been vague for a reason. I could careless if people take Creator as Jesus or any other God or what Jefferson wanted it to mean just so long as that person doesn't think creator means man. The vagueness is actually needed so that we, as a people, can think that any God (Shiva, Amaterasu, Jesus, etc) could be plugged into it so that the person knows that he or she didn't create these rights. It is the fact that we, humans, didn't create the rights that is important; not who created them specifically.

So, I maintain my point that
1. a Creator/something else has always been the giver of these rights as so to remove references to the Creator is silly.
2. moving these rights to be based off a man makes them changeable and subject to a vote which is not something anyone should want since that means rights can be taken away. And that rights have not been subject to the vote before.

Am I being clear now?
 

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A combination of church and state is the surest way to tyranny. Our founding fathers may have been Christians, or at least some of them were, but combining the power of state with the power of religion was the last thing on their minds.

It should be the last thing on ours, too, but this notion of the US as a "Christian nation" does keep cropping up.
 
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