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Letter: Yes, the U.S. was founded on Christian principles

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Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2013 12:00 am

David Diskin begins his Aug. 2 letter accurately: “Pastor Frank Nolton recently suggested that our country was founded on Christian principles.” However, Diskin concludes his atheistic epistle with this amazing affirmation clearly intended to imply opposition to Pastor Nolton’s position: “This is not a nation founded upon Christ.”

Oh, how atheists love to worship the Divine Strawman.

To say this country was founded upon “Christian principles” and “biblical truth” is not to say it was founded upon Christ or “the Christian religion.” Diskin and his band of merry atheists (who helped prepare his letter) have to know that.

Furthermore, to say that the overwhelming number of founders were Christian (affirmed by Pastor Nolton — denied by Mr. Diskin) and that they, quite naturally, used their Christian mores and worldview when creating our unique form of government, is not to say that America was founded upon Christ.

In the body of his letter, Mr. Diskin ostensibly sets out to falsify Pastor Nolton’s premise but does so by misrepresenting the (1) teachings of Jesus Christ, (2) Declaration of Independence, (3) the Constitution, (4) the Treaty of Tripoli (see Nedderman’s Aug. 10 letter), (5) the founders in general, (6) most of today’s Christian leaders, (7) U.S. history and (8) Pastor Nolton’s position with a volley of acerbically delivered, off-point, biblical references. Can it get any worse?

Within the context of his letter, Diskin’s final sentence (“Ours (America) was founded upon ‘We the People’) provides an excellent example of how a statement can be both true and highly misleading:

First, the “We the People” upon whom the Constitution is founded are those from the Declaration of Independence who “ ... are created equal ... (and) ... endowed by their Creator ...” Of course, Diskin must reject that essential self-evident American truth.

Second, the God of the Declaration is explicitly identified in its last paragraph as “the Supreme Judge of the world” — the providential God who endowed every American (even Diskin) with the unalienable rights the Constitution protects. Clearly, that is not Jefferson’s indifferent Deist god — it’s the Christian God of the majority of the Founders.

Jefferson wasn’t writing for himself — and he knew it.

Raymund Strelow

Acampo

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Welcome to the discussion.

14 comments:

  • Michael Nedderman posted at 1:38 am on Fri, Sep 20, 2013.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    Hi Mr. Diskin. In addition to this and the comment on Shawnte Figueroa's letter (“Is US a secular nation or a theocracy?” 8/31/13), I also posted a comment to yours on my August 10th letter which seems to have moved into the archives. You can find it by searching on my name.

    Regarding your comment in this thread on 9/9/13: Please help me understand why you feel insulted by my statement, “...maybe you will have a change of heart.” Doesn't every participant in a debate have that desire/hope/expectation whether he prays for it or not?

    Why are you expressing your opinion here if you don't intend to persuade those who disagree to “have a change of heart”? Isn't the summation of all YOUR writing (quoting you referring to me), “...telling me that I'm wrong and you're right”?

    Don't you think you are being waaaay too sensitive, feeling insulted that Christians do what Christians do: praying for unbelievers to “have a change of heart”?

    Rather than being angry at Christians, maybe a better way to view Christians praying for you is in a positive light because, obviously, Christians don't hate you.

    I'm willing to overlook the fact that you believe I am wrong, and not to take offense, if you will do the same—Deal?

    . . . . .Regarding your comments about Jefferson's two reference to God not being Christian references: please read my forthcoming letter (hopefully on Saturday the 21st) in conjunction with rereading the end of this writer's letter (Raymond Strelow):

    “First, the “We the People” upon whom the Constitution is founded are those from the Declaration of Independence who “ ... are created equal ... (and) ... endowed by their Creator ...” Of course, Diskin must reject that essential self-evident American truth.

    “Second, the God of the Declaration is explicitly identified in its last paragraph as “the Supreme Judge of the world” — the providential God who endowed every American (even Diskin) with the unalienable rights the Constitution protects. Clearly, that is not Jefferson’s indifferent Deist god — it’s the Christian God of the majority of the Founders.

    “Jefferson wasn’t writing for himself — and he knew it.”

    First, I thoroughly addressed the various aspects of the question we're debating in my 9/8/13 comment. However, I'm willing to review.

    First, let me ask you a couple of questions:

    (1) Since there are four references to God in the Declaration of Independence (D of I), do you think it makes sense that the Founders intended to identify one specific Deity (either Jefferson's Deist god or the Christian God), several (both Jefferson's god and the Christian God), or that the god in question could be subjectively determined by the reader?

    (2) Do you think that Deists believed in a providential God who would interfere with humanity in the most final of ways and judge “the world” (clearly a reference to the people in the world)?

    (3) Who would you suppose the Founders were identifying when they used the term “the Supreme Judge of the world” in the D of I's concluding paragraph?

    I'm really interested in getting your take on those questions especially since you seem to never before to have heard of the defining 3rd and 4th references to God in the D of I.

    Why do I say that the last two “God” references are “defining”? The reason is that those two references were added by the Christians in the Second Continental Congress AFTER Jefferson and his Committee of Five submitted their draft, and the crystal clear inference is that they intended to clarify the identity of the God being referenced.

    . . . . . Regarding your multi-part statement:

    “Inalienable because these rights are ones that all Humans have granted each other, and shall not be revoked, for the purpose of having a peaceful society. Do you really posit that an external source is required for morality? That is an entirely different debate.”

    First, that is exactly what this debate is about: did the Founders define an objective moral standard when they referred to “the laws of Nature and of Nature's God,” and then identified and acknowledged Jesus Christ (the “Supreme Judge of the world”) as that Creator-God in the Declaration of Independence who endowed each of us with the political autonomy and individual sovereignty from which our government, via the Constitution, (quoting the D of I) “derives its just powers”?

    Your position, that our unalienable rights and individual sovereignty come from human consensus, means that those rights and that sovereignty are subject to and alienable by any government that can acquire enough power to impose its will upon you. Can you see that?

    Second, that quoted statement of yours above was made in response to my statement that our rights are “unalienable because they come from a power higher than government.” You may believe what you wrote about our rights being based in human consensus, but your belief is contrary to what another writer (Gary Bardon, “Blinded by the Self-evident,” 9/14/13) termed the “American Theory of Government” (working on a response to you there).

    The following is probably the most critical question for you to answer, Mr. Diskin: Can you see that your statement quoted above is contrary to the theory of government stated in the D of I, that our rights and individual sovereignty are endowed upon us by THE Creator (debating the identity of that Creator is a separate question)?

    Have you ever considered why the Founders used the term “self-evident” when defining the American theory of government (that we were created by God and endowed with certain unalienable rights)? It is because they were politely saying that ANY disagreement with those self-evident truths (that there is a Creator-God who is the author of our liberty) is objectively wrong.

     
  • Sarah Elizabeth Tygert posted at 6:16 pm on Tue, Sep 10, 2013.

    Sarah Tygert Posts: 53

    Not sure why there is such a distasteful tone in this letter... Let's discuss facts and history.

    The only fact brought that's new was the Declaration of Independence point that David already excellently addressed in the comments. The rest of the above article is more of a scoff, than an argument.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 8:58 pm on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Historically, the Hebrew god, "Yahweh" was promoted from a polytheistic panoply of gods by his cult followers. Yahweh gained popularity and became the god we know today, the "God" of the Hebrews, Christians, and Muslims - all the same "God."

    This "God" was considered "perfect." Humans were not perfect and are therefore the cause of all human suffering.

    Whether the historic Jesus was or was not the "son" of "God" is not proven. He was considered a prophet by the Hebrews, and he spread a new covenant, but unless one believes in the supernatural, which Thomas Jefferson, for one, did NOT, Jesus did not die and rise to the right hand of the father. He did not die for our sins, and even Cardinal Dolan stated recently that one CAN be admitted to the kingdom of heaven without benefit of belief that Jesus is the only path to salvation.

    But then, Fundamentalist Christians also believe that Catholics are not Christians and actually teach that in their Christian schools.

    If Christians cannot agree on Christian doctrine, what makes them think that the "founding fathers" were of the same mind, or of any mind, theologically?

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 8:41 pm on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    [sleeping]

     
  • David Diskin posted at 8:33 pm on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    David Diskin Posts: 184

    Brian, I am happy to admit there is a possibility of a being that created the Earth, and everything else you said.

    In fact, I would be hard-pressed among my circle of atheist friends, to find any that fit your incorrect view of what an atheist is.

    But again, this is far off-topic.

     
  • David Diskin posted at 8:32 pm on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    David Diskin Posts: 184

    Michael, why are you derailing the conversation into the evidence for a deity? Can't we stay on topic? Was the country founded on Christian principles, or not?

    Maybe someone will start by telling me exactly what "Christian principles" are, a question I asked a month ago when this flood of letters-to-the-editor started.

    And besides, when did Randy ever assert that there is no "creator-God". I sure haven't.

     
  • Brian Dockter posted at 7:42 pm on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2857

    What's most interesting is Atheists acknowkedge all the time about humans creating things but one would be hard pressed to get them to admit there is a possibility a
    being(s) in a higher dimension created the Heavens and the Earth. Yet they admit there must be more out there than what we comprehend. Except a God(s) of course.

     
  • Michael Nedderman posted at 3:15 pm on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    Hi Randy,

    Regarding your quotation of the Treaty of Tripoli, did you read my letter published by LNS on August 10th? I'd be interested in your reaction to it. And it would probably be best to comment there.

    Regarding your comments on this page, I'm really interested in what evidence you find to support your conclusion that there is no Creator-God.

     
  • Randy Hall posted at 11:06 am on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    rlee Posts: 7

    “Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind.” - Thomas Jefferson to James Smith, 1822.

    "In the Papal System, Government and religion are in a manner consolidated, and that is found to be the worst of Government." – James Madison

    "The way to see by Faith, is to shut the eye of Reason." - Benjamin Franklin

    "But there is not a passage in the Old Testament that speaks of a person, who, after being crucified, dead, and buried, should rise from the dead, and ascend into heaven" - Thomas Paine

     
  • Randy Hall posted at 10:47 am on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    rlee Posts: 7

    Religion: An implement applied in the farming of the exploitable.
    . . . a haven for charlatans, and a pheromone to the gullible.

     
  • Randy Hall posted at 10:37 am on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    rlee Posts: 7

    "As the Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.." - The Treaty of Tripoli - Article 11 - Ratified by a full congress, with no dissenting votes, with no objections, penned by, and then signed into law on June 10, 1779 by President John Adams.

     
  • David Diskin posted at 9:56 am on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    David Diskin Posts: 184

    > “Most people wouldn't take the time.”

    Actually, many atheists would love to take the time but they are fearful of “coming out” in the community. I have friends in Lodi and Stockton who were fired when their boss learned of their non-religious beliefs.

    > “[I] am grateful for the motivation it provided to get me to put these ideas into my letter of August 10th, the forthcoming letter.”

    I’m looking forward to it, though I must say I cannot be expected to write back to every letter. It seems that when I reply to someone’s LTE, my response is met with a half-dozen others. Each one brings up new ideas (and often new fallacies) and rarely addresses my concerns. I often wish the original authors would reply, but that doesn’t seem to happen.

    > “… maybe you will have a change of heart.”

    Please understand that, while I know you mean well, this is insulting. Praying for an atheist to have a “change of heart” is telling me that I’m wrong and you’re right. I think you feel the same way when I assert that there is no evidence for god. You could imagine how you might feel if a community that is 80% Scientologists is telling you they are praying for you to find Xenu. It’s a little off-putting, kinda creepy, and not welcome. That being said, I appreciate the sincerity and intent.

    > “Thomas Jefferson, in fact, wrote the first two “God” references”

    According to the original draft, and you can find it online, he mentioned “nature’s god” (lowercase G). Connecting that vague reference to Christianity, especially when Jefferson was so critical of Christianity, is a stretch only David Barton can make.

    > “The Creator Jefferson defines is clearly not the aloof god of the deist's belief”

    Then we agree to disagree, but I urge you to review his words and other secular works of that time.

    > “My understanding is that most atheists today actually believe that the Revolutionary era deists were closeted atheists.”

    Wow. No, most atheists today do not believe that, and neither do I. The word “atheist” was barely in wide circulation then, and there was no scientific alternative to a god-belief back in the 1700s. They were deists.

    > “the two “God” references in that document's final paragraph, one of which is, in fact, a literal prayer to Jesus Christ!”

    You’re going to have to educate me on this one. Which two references?
    > “unalienable because they come from a power higher than government.”
    Inalienable because these rights are ones that all Humans have granted each other, and shall not be revoked, for the purpose of having a peaceful society. Do you really posit that an external source is required for morality? That is an entirely different debate.

    > “Because if you did change that … (your) rights would become alienable.”

    You mean how religious conservatives have revoked the rights of others in the name of their religion over and over again?

    > “Didn't you read my letter of 8/10/13 where, in a veritable coup, I slew a few of your strawmen?”

    I likely didn’t read this, or didn’t have the time to respond. As I stated earlier, I don’t have time to respond to every single comment or LTE. Especially when the common response to my rebuttals is not to say “oh, you’re right on that one”, but just to fire back more tired, often tangential, usually vague fallacies.

    > “the Declaration of Independence”

    Is not a legal document, it is a declaration of war. If Christianity were so important to this nation, they would have put it front-and-center in the Constitution. Our country was not founded on the DOI.

    > “The Constitution is founded upon the most empirical of Christian doctrines — that people are innately inclined toward sin”

    And this is where I lose all respect for your argument. Good day.

     
  • Michael Nedderman posted at 11:54 am on Sun, Sep 8, 2013.

    Mike Nedderman Posts: 63

    Let me first say, Mr. Diskin, that I am encouraged by your effort reading and commenting in the Religion Section. Most people wouldn't take the time. Thank you for joining us here for this debate on what has to be the most important question any human ever pondered.

    While many, including me, have been quite critical of what you wrote, I want you to know that I thoroughly enjoyed your letter, and am grateful for the motivation it provided to get me to put these ideas into my letter of August 10th, the forthcoming letter, and for whatever other benefits may result from this exchange with you here in the comments section. I sincerely hope you are enjoying the interchange with those of us who believe that Jesus “is the way, the truth, and the life...[and that] no one comes to the Father except by [him]” John 14:6.

    I would like to think the other letter writers believe as I do: that religion section would be much less interesting if only believers “played” here. And, who knows Mr. Diskin, maybe you will have a change of heart. I know that some of us are praying for that result, led by Audrey Boyd in her touching letter of 8/17/13.

    Now, about your comment on Mr. Strelow's letter: Actually, Mr. Diskin, Thomas Jefferson, in fact, wrote the first two “God” references in the Declaration of Independence, to “Nature's God” and to the self-evident truth that “all men are endowed by their Creator...” with all that makes life meaningful. As Mr. Strelow so correctly pointed out, “Jefferson wasn’t writing for himself — and he knew it.” The Creator Jefferson defines is clearly not the aloof god of the deist's belief (my understanding is that most atheists today actually believe that the Revolutionary era deists were closeted atheists—is that what you believe?).

    As you suspected, the many, many, many Christians in the Second Continental Congress wrote and endorsed (by signing) the two “God” references in that document's final paragraph, one of which is, in fact, a literal prayer to Jesus Christ! Those last two references were clearly intended by the Christians in Congress to clarify the identity of the Creator who endowed each of us with free will, political autonomy, individual sovereignty, and “certain unalienable rights”—unalienable because they come from a power higher than government. Would you really change that if you could, Mr. Diskin? Because if you did change that aspect of our form of government, the government would take the place of God and our (your) rights would become alienable.

    But that is the subject of the letter I will submit this week which you can read on one of the next Saturdays. And that forthcoming letter is an excerpt of an extensive article that is almost finished which will further enlighten on this most interesting subject.

    Regarding your comment “that the Constitution (the document our country actually IS based on) doesn't mention a god (in any form)...”. Didn't you read my letter of 8/10/13 where, in a veritable coup, I slew a few of your strawmen? I wondered why you didn't comment upon it.

    I hope you go back and read the entire letter, but let me just quote the end of it:

    “That sentence [the one you quoted from the Treaty of Tripoli] did not say — and it would be a lie if it did — that the Christian God wasn’t mentioned four times in the Declaration of Independence, at least one of which is an explicit prayer to Jesus Christ “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world (John 5:22-23).” (the prayer to Jesus is the subject of my previously mentioned forthcoming letter).

    “It [the sentence from the Tof T] didn’t say that the Christian doctrines of free will and original sin weren’t, respectively, the basis of each American’s (even atheists) individual sovereignty and the “founding fear” of sinful people in power; which fear is the premise of the Constitution’s doctrine of republican government that is delegated only enumerated powers that are limited by being divided and “checked and balanced.”

    “The Constitution is founded upon the most empirical of Christian doctrines — that people are innately inclined toward sin, a doctrine explicitly rejected by atheists who believe that people are born “basically good” (least morally neutral).”

    Mr. Diskin, do you believe people are “basically good” (or at least morally neutral), or do you believe we are innately inclined toward corruption (sin)?

    On a related matter: I just registered at LNS, so I have some catching up to do: after sharing your reaction here, I also hope you will go to Shawnte Figueroa's 8/31/13 letter and read my response to your comment there on her letter: “Is the U.S. a secular nation or a theocracy?”

     
  • David Diskin posted at 9:18 am on Sat, Sep 7, 2013.

    David Diskin Posts: 184

    I regret that the LNS only allows letters to the editor to be 350 words, or I would have enjoyed learning how I have allegedly misrepresented every piece of evidence I set forth in the letter you're contesting.

    You only had room to bring up a new argument: the Declaration of Independence.

    It may interest you to know that the first draft of the DOI, written by Thomas Jefferson, contained no reference to a "Creator". It was later added by presumably someone else in the Committee or Congress.

    But surely you understand that even a reference to a "Creator" is not a Christian reference. In lieu of a creator, Jefferson says "nature's god".

    And please, please tell me how I'm so wrong about the faith of the Founding Fathers. That would be interesting to hear. Bonus Points if you don't quote David Barton, who I'm assuming you've done most of your reading from.

    Finally, does it not strike you as odd that the Constitution (the document our country actually IS based on) doesn't mention a god (in any form) except in the negative giving protection to those who do not believe or want to practice a plurality of religions?

    You're welcome to you opinions, but not your own facts.

     

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