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Letter: Is the U.S. a secular nation or a theocracy?

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Posted: Saturday, August 31, 2013 12:00 am

F.W. “Bill” Stamos’ letter Aug. 10 refuting atheist David Diskin’s attempt on Aug. 3 to revise U.S. history included a passing reference to an important but long-forgotten unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision that supports Stamos and Pastor Frank Nolton (letter Aug. 20) in their conclusion: “This is a Christian nation,” because America was founded upon the Christian principles Diskin dogmatically rejects.

That Supreme Court dedicated seven pages to exhaustively discussing the overwhelming evidence that America was founded by Christians expressing their worldview when formulating our country. After referencing all 44 state constitutions in 1892 and discussing several of them, that court said on Page 470:

“There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning. They affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons. They are organic utterances. They speak the voice of the entire people.

While, because of a general recognition of this truth, the question has seldom been presented to the courts, we find that in Updegraph v. Commonwealth, 11 S. & R. 394, 400, it was decided that “Christianity, general Christianity, is, and always has been, a part of the common law of Pennsylvania ... not Christianity with an established church and tithes and spiritual courts, but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.”

That unanimous court presented its evidence-based conclusion on Page 471: “These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.” (emphasis added) Church of the Holy Trinity v. U.S., 143 U.S. 457 (1892) supreme.justia.com/ us/143/457/case.html.

The wise founders of this great nation, and all Americans for the first 150 years, understood that the government of this Christian nation was neither secular nor theocratic. They understood that the Constitution struck a unique and God-blessed “happy medium” founded upon “Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.”

Why wouldn’t every American reading this say Amen?

Shawnte Figueroa


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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Michael Nedderman posted at 1:20 am on Fri, Sep 20, 2013.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    Hi Mr. Diskin. The LNS's webmaster removed the comment I mistakenly posted last week, and this is the comment that I should have posted then:

    While there is much to debate I your most recent comment, we must begin with your incredible prophecy that I will insult you:

    “For no matter what evidence I offer that this country has secular origins, you're just going to...insult me...”

    What, Mr. Diskin, leads you to believe that I'm going to insult you? Have I already done that? Can you explain that accusation? If not, please withdraw it.

    Are you aware that one of the most offensive insults IS the false accusation? It is the worst kind of lie, and so bad that God included it in his “Top Ten.”

    Additionally, your prediction that I will abuse you by one or another method “...no matter what evidence I offer...,” indicates that you have a defensive and closed mind that manufactures false accusations. Debating a worthy adversary is one thing, but…

    I sincerely hope you can see the problem your closed mind presents for me. I will really appreciate it if you can do something to mitigate the problem.

    . . . . .In the same post, you asserted that you have not conceded on “the founding of our country.” However, you have, in fact, conceded with regard to your opposition to Pastor Nolton’s position that the “United States was founded upon Christian principles” (see his letter of July 20th). This debate, including in the comments section of several other letters, is all about the question: “was America founded upon Christian principles?”

    Please explain why the following quote from you doesn’t explicitly agree with Pastor Nolton and is, therefore, a concession/confession that you were wrong in your August 2nd letter. From you most recent comment in this thread:

    “It's true, and I don't doubt that...this a "Christian Nation" in the sense that our daily lives, our traditions, and our culture has a tremendous influence from Christianity.”

    It sounds like you’re describing “Christian principles” to me. Can you admit that you were wrong, or are you arguing just to be a contrarian?

    Of course, to arrive at the contrarian position you took in your August 2nd letter, you had to mischaracterize Pastor Nolton's position (a strawman tactic) by stating that “this nation wasn't founded upon Christ.” Can you admit that Pastor Nolton didn’t make the false assertion you presented?

    . . . . .Mr. Diskin: have you read Church of the Holy Trinity v. US? I have. That decision authoritatively destroys your position by overwhelmingly examining the evidence for its conclusion with which you now appear to agree—that “this is a Christian nation.”

    Have you read the book you quoted by Justice David Brewer, “The United States: A Christian Nation”? I have, and I can't find your (mis)characterization of the good Justice's work. You stated:

    “ He did so (penned the words you quoted from his book) because he was concerned that his ruling could be misconstrued as defining the Unites States as having Christianity as the official religion.”

    I think it is simply silly, that anyone, and I mean ANYONE, would believe that the USA had an official religion. I especially think it silly that any American would believe such a fairy tale—but who knows with public education what it has become. I, therefore, believe you are mischaracterizing Justice Brewer, but maybe not. Can you can help me out here by giving me the exact page where I can find the reference you're (mis)characterizing.

    I’m actually intrigued by the similarity between your strawman mischaracterization of Pastor Nolton in your August 2nd letter, “this nation wasn't founded upon Christ,” and what I believe is a mischaracterization of Justice Brewer, that he wrote his book so that “…his ruling could be misconstrued as defining the Unites States as having Christianity as the official religion.”

  • David Diskin posted at 1:10 am on Sat, Sep 14, 2013.

    David Diskin Posts: 185

    Michael, I'm glad to hear that you concede and admit that I am right.

    It's also great to hear that you'll never claim the Founders to be Christian again.

    I'll be watching. Whatever that means.

    Good times.

  • Michael Nedderman posted at 10:42 pm on Fri, Sep 13, 2013.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    Ms. Tygert, you misunderstanding will resolve if you read the pages cited in the unanimous US Supreme Court case "Church of the Holy Trinity vs. Us." The letter writer kindly provided the link, but I suppose you could just Google the case name and find it that way. The pertinent part of the decision begins in the last paragraph on page 465 (the page numbers appear in the middle of the text like this: Page 143 U. S. 465).

  • Sarah Elizabeth Tygert posted at 6:32 pm on Tue, Sep 10, 2013.

    Sarah Tygert Posts: 53

    "They understood that the Constitution struck a unique and God-blessed “happy medium” founded upon “Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.”"

    How is founded upon Christianity a happy-medium? To who? Christians, naturally. Nevermind the hundreds of other groups, ideas, philosophies, and religions represented in the country. None of which would find Christianity with anything to be a happy-medium.

    No Amen from this citizen. Keep your religion, and every other religion, out of the laws telling me and my neighbors what to do, and I will do the same.

  • David Diskin posted at 8:55 pm on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    David Diskin Posts: 185

    > "Can we get an “amen” from you ... ?"

    No. And please understand that my lack of reply is not a concession.

    Brewer declared this a "Christian Nation" in the sense that our daily lives, our traditions, and our culture has a tremendous influence from Christianity. It's true, and I don't doubt that.

    But when we're talking about the *founding of our country*, I do not concede.

    I quoted Brewer earlier, showing that he was not saying that this country is founded upon Christianity. He further says that e tend to classify countries, sometimes by their geography, by their size, or by their majority religions. And in his example, he cites the United States as a Christian nation. And I agree with him in this context.

    I'm more than happy to review evidence, but it seems that all you've told me is that I'm wrong, in 500 ways, going so far as to give me a definition of a type of fallacy. Really?

    It's clear we're going to disagree, so why should I bother?

    For no matter what evidence I offer that this country has secular origins, you're just going to tell me I'm wrong, insult me, misrepresent history, and throw some fallacies in the mix.

  • Michael Nedderman posted at 11:44 am on Sun, Sep 8, 2013.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    Hello again Mr. Diskin,

    I apologize that I didn't review the comment below before posting. I didn't realize that I had lost my spaces between paragraphs. What I do when that happens to someone else's writing I want to read is to copy and past into a word document and make the paragraph breaks there. I hope that helps alleviate the problem.

  • Michael Nedderman posted at 11:27 am on Sun, Sep 8, 2013.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    Hello Mr. Diskin.
    I really appreciate your interest in these important matters, and truly hope that you don’t take personally my spirited criticisms of your position. I also hope that you take a positive view of the avalanche of replies to your August 2nd letter. You certainly are a motivator!
    And, I wholeheartedly agree with you about the constraints of LNS's 350 word limit (the Sacto Bee's limit is 150), so I know you will understand and excuse my in-depth and comprehensive exploration of the issue below.
    Now, on with my spirited, if wordy, criticisms: I find it incredible, and hope you can help me understand, why you seem to make it a practice to mischaracterize the clearly expressed positions of others—and not just those with whom you disagree in this debate, but I've also caught you “red handed” mischaracterizing Justice Brewer in his book commenting upon the fact that this is, unarguably, a Christian nation (and yet, you continue to argue).
    My concern, and it is truly sincere, Mr. Diskin, is that you have so blinded yourself with your radical worldview that you literally can't read a contrary opinion without twisting it into a strawman so you can knock it down. People like you use the logical fallacy of the strawman argument because you can't confront the issue with facts or logic—in other words, you are actually admitting that you are wrong when you default to such a tactic.
    In case you don’t know what the logical fallacy of a strawman argument is, read this: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/what-straw-man-argument?page=all

    An interesting note: The LNS editor changed my original title of my August 10th letter, and for the better I believe because it was a bit too acerbic. I referred to you as a general because of the vast number of strawmen in your August 2nd letter. The title was: “General Diskin's army of biblical strawmen.” I sincerely hope that when you're finished reading this comment, you understand what is wrong with using strawmen.
    First example: I, and quite a few others, have taken you to task about the errors and misrepresentations in your August 2nd letter and, with the exception of the letters from Ms. Figueroa (above) and Mr. Strelow (on September 7th), you haven’t challenged those corrections and criticisms.
    My letter of August 10th provided you with clear specifics, demonstrating your contention wrong with regard to the Treaty of Tripoli, but also, and more to the point of this debat, explicitly providing you with the Christian principles that are the “fabric” from which the Constitution was literally “woven.”
    Since more than a month has passed since your letter without a reply to mine (also a month ago) on the pages of LNS or in the comment section, and because you have utterly failed to address the clear, cogent, and concisely expressed points I made in that letter, I can only assume that you concede the correctness of my position.
    Second: while you assert that Ms. Figueroa “cherry pick[ed] [her] quotes” in her letter above, her quotes were exactly on point and disproved the claim you made in your letter that the “United States was not founded on Christian principles.” Her point couldn't have been made more strongly or more clearly.
    AND, your comment on Ms. Figueroa’s letter, quite strangely, did not rebut her overwhelmingly persuasive evidence that “this is a Christian nation.” All you did was falsely accuse her of doing what you actually did in response to her: you cherry picked the quote you provided…to prove what exactly? You had to create another strawman to make your erroneous point:
    You concluded your comment by creating yet another strawman when you, and I find this so very incredible, mischaracterized Justice Brewer from his own book which is readily available on amazon Quoting your mischaracterization of Justice Brewer's position:

    “He (Justice Brewer) did so (penned the words you quoted from his book, “The United States: a Christian Nation”) because he was concerned that his ruling could be misconstrued as defining the Unites States as having Christianity as the official religion.”

    Where to begin with the myriad of errors? The very title of Justice Brewer's book slaps you down; next, are the very words with which Justice Brewer follows the paragraph you quote which can be read in the Amazon “look inside” in the corner of the picture of the book:

    “Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation—in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world.

    “This popular use of the term certainly has significance. It is not a mere creation of the imagination. It is not a term of derision, but has a substantial basis—one which justifies its use. Let us analysis a little and see what is the basis.”

    And THEN Justice Brewer dedicates and entire book to exhaustively elaborating on the conclusion made in the unanimous Holy Trinity case that “this is a Christian nation.”

    That “this is a Christian nation” is an unarguable fact...and yet you continue to argue. But will you continue after this mammoth correction of your obsessive/compulsive habit of mischaracterizing the opinions of others (your reliance upon your army of strawmen).

    Mr. Diskin, “what we have here is [not] a failure to communicate” (a paraphrase from “Cool Hand Luke”). What we have here is a lack of humility on your part to admit, in the face of overwhelming evidence, that you are wrong—just admit it man—you're wrong! Of course, that must be expected because a lack of humility is the primary attribute of atheism.

    However, let's set aside your intentional misrepresentation of Justice Brewer's position in both the Holy Trinity case and in his book—please, please, please, Mr. Diskin, who in this debate has “…defin[ed] the United States as having Christianity as the official religion”? If you can’t provide the exact reference, then your assertion is just another of your many, many, many strawmen who constitute the army you lead as its general.

    Ms. Figueroa's letter, and the Holy Trinity Supreme Court case she quoted, are crystal clear:

    “They [the wise Christian Founders and all Americans for the first 150 years] understood that the Constitution struck a unique and God-blessed “happy medium” founded upon “Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.” ”

    And, what was meant by “Christianity” as used by Justice Brewer, Ms. Figeuroa, and me, is the Christian principles that Pastor Nolton wrote about, and about which you erroneously disputed.

    Do you have the humility to admit that error Mr. Diskin?

    Can we get an “amen” from you Mr. Diskin for the “liberty of conscience to all men” that our mostly Christian Founders so wisely provided you and me, and for which millions of Americans (some atheists) fought, bleed, and died to preserve?

  • David Diskin posted at 9:04 pm on Mon, Sep 2, 2013.

    David Diskin Posts: 185

    How quick people are to cherry-pick their quotes.

    For the very same justice who wrote the words you quoted, later wrote this:

    "But in what sense can it be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that people are in any matter compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.' Neither is it Christian in the sense that all of its citizens are either in fact or name Christian. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact, the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions."

    Source: Demar, Gary (1905). The United States A Christian Nation. American Vision Pr. p. 11-13. ISBN 0915815206

    He did so because he was concerned that his ruling could be misconstrued as defining the Unites States as having Christianity as the official religion.

    Way to go.


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