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Constitution

Swearing on the Bible

Steve Wells over at Dwindling in Unbelief has a great post about Obama’s second round swearing in.

During “Take Two” of the Oath of Office, there was no Bible used for the ceremony. “So help me God” was still tacked on the end, despite the words’ glaring absence in the Constitution, but the lack of a Bible was a step in the right direction.

As Steve puts it…

The Bible, of course, is worse than useless when it comes to consistent advice on morality. But the New Testament (to avoid confusion, ignore the Old Testament on this one) is pretty clear about one thing: Christians shouldn’t swear. Not to God and not on the Bible or on anything else.

He then quotes Matthew 5:34-37

34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

…and James 5:12

12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.

…to back up his argument. That seems pretty clear to me. Not only shouldn’t the Bible be used (according to the Bible itself), but the swearing in shouldn’t happen at all! Evidently, it’s a pretty UN-Christian thing to do.

So if our Constitution requires our President to take an oath of office, which is contrary to what the Christian religion allows, does that mean that our country isn’t a Christian nation?

I love irony.

Bunk

I’ve been following the John Freshwater trial, mostly via the write-ups by Richard B. Hoppe over at The Panda’s Thumb, but also through following some other articles on the case. For those of you unfamiliar, John Freshwater is a 8th grade science teacher in Mount Vernon who is accused of teaching Creationism and burning crosses on students using a Tesla Coil. I’m a bit skeptical about the crosses after seeing pictures and reading about the trial, but the “teaching Creationism” accusation seems to be spot on based on the evidence so far. The trial isn’t over, though, so no jumping to conclusions.

What I found blog-worthy tonight was a writeup by Lee Duigon on The Chalcedon Foundation’s website. Mr. Duigon focuses mostly on the branding issue, which is fair since that is one of the accusations levied against Freshwater. He starts by showing some early reactions from a number of sources about the branding issue and they (as one would expect, sadly) over-react in a grand fashion based on little evidence. Assuming Mr. Duigon is disgusted by this type of “string him up” reaction, I share his disgust.

I don’t have all the facts of the case. Nobody does at this point and the case is still ongoing. However, based on Freshwater’s reputation, my guess would be that he’s a good guy and probably a good teacher and there isn’t really any kind of underhanded conspiracy that he’s heading up to delude students. I don’t agree with teaching creationism (or intelligent design… same thing) in a science class, but I doubt Freshwater is any kind of monster.

However, there is some side commentary in Mr. Duigon’s article that shows a lack of understanding about science and the scientific process.

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More on the Foundations of the US Government

I read this article today giving more detail on the secular foundations of the US Government. There’s some great information here that continues to help dismiss the absurd claim by the religious right that the USA was founded as a Christian nation. Sadly, facts don’t seem to persuade the anti-intellectuals who cannot manage a simple grasp of US history and who refuse to actually read the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Here’s the article by Carol V. Hamilton on the History News Network of George Mason’s University.

http://hnn.us/articles/47323.html

Attempted “Logic” Fails

On the website CantonRep.com, Ron L. Dalpiaz wrote a letter to the editor about the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s “Imagine No Religion” billboard in Canton, Ohio. The letter appeared on December 18th, 2008.

Mr. Dalpiaz evidently does not approve of the billboard, nor does he approve or agree with the FFRF’s Annie Laurie Gaylor’s comments about religion. That’s understandable. I don’t always agree with everything she says, either, even though I’m a FFRF member. One of the wonderful things about this country (the USA) is our freedom to disagree and express our disagreement. The First Amendment of our Constitution guarantees that.

In that light, I would like to point out the logical failings of Mr. Dalpiaz’s statements and show that, in numerous cases, his statements are the exact opposite of what is actually true. Sadly, I see this kind of illogical rhetoric all the time and it’s frustrating to say the least.

Here’s the letter (quoted) along with my comments.

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Founded as a Christian Nation? No.

One of the common claims that tends to irk me more than some others is the claim that the United States was founded as a Christian nation or based on Christian principles. This misconception has been refuted a multitude of times, but the refutations always seem to fall on the deaf ears of self-righteous, Christian ignorance.

The claim is usually made during political discussions, but the intellectual morose of the argument is evident regardless of context. I most frequently hear the statement from people who don’t have the information required to back up the claim and who refuse to acknowledge any evidence that threatens to penetrate their self-imposed cocoon of ignorance. For good reason, it seems, since if they did choose to acknowledge the evidence, their claim would be simply invalidated.

Looking at the text that the Founding Fathers of the United States of America used makes it unquestionably evident that a “Christian Nation” was not what they intended to create.

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