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Guest Thinkers

Great Moments in Religious Confusion

We couldn’t let July 4, 2009 fade into history without a quick glance at the imbroglio over the values on which the United States was founded.

Woven into the conversation on our core beliefs is the perennial debate over what role Christianity played when the forefathers drafted their Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

When asked “Was America founded on Christian values?” and an overwhelming majority of figures who have weighed in on this head-scratcher were found to have answered ‘yes.’

This not only includes the usual suspects, like John McCain and Pat Buchanan, but also Americans like Chuck Norris who wagered “the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain was truly a declaration of dependence upon God.”

But those answering in the affirmative are actually at odds with the founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, who said:

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.

John Adams agreed with TJ, writing in the Treaty of Tripoli “the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion…”

Another “gotcha” issue on which the Christian values camp is often nailed is over whether the Pledge of Allegiance should include the phrase “under God.”

Ex-Governor Sarah Palin made one of her many gaffes on the campaign trail last year when, referring to the under God part, she responded, “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me.”

Just who Palin considered a founding father is unclear, but either way she probably didn’t realize that the line was added to the pledge in the 1950s.

If you or someone you know attempted to associate religion with the country’s independence from Great Britain this weekend, think of these famous public figures and remember that our country was founded on the separation of Church and State, not their marriage.

Hope everyone had a great Fourth!

Geoffrey Decker is an editor for the social media start-up


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