In a bizarre bit of Orwellian double speak, Christian conservatives argue that “religion,” when used by the founding fathers, really means “Christianity,” and thus the First Amendment only applies to Christians.
Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association said Tuesday that the founding fathers intended the First Amendment to only protect Christianity, not Islam or any other religions.
Arguing that authorities in Oklahoma have every right to reject an effort by Satanists to erect a monument outside the Oklahoma Capitol building next to a monument of the Ten Commandments, Fischer said:
If by 'religion,’ the founders, and the founders of the state of Oklahoma, meant Christianity, then you can ban a monument to Satan because that's not Christianity ... You can say 'no, we're not going to let you do it. Our Constitution protects the free exercise of the Christian religion; yours is not a Christian expression, we're not going to have that monument.'
Fischer went on:
If we don't understand the word 'religion' to mean Christianity as the founders intended it, then we have no way to stop Islam, we have no way to stop Satanism, we have no way to stop any other sort of sinister religion practice that might creep onto the fruited plains.
Fischer, blinded by a cynical and intellectually crippling religious fundamentalism, is playing semantic games, and doing it quite poorly. In point of fact, there is no mention of Christianity or a "God" anywhere in the Constitution.
Indeed, many of the founding fathers were not Christians, but Deists. And as children of the enlightenment, the founding fathers would probably be surprised by the number of Americans still clinging to a literal interpretation of the Bible, something their educated contemporaries had for the most part abandoned as religious superstition and ignorance.
And then there is this rather elegant refutation of Fischer’s ignoble thesis, an excerpt from the Treaty of Tripoli, a treaty ratified unanimously by Congress and signed by then President John Adams:
As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion...
The Treaty states clearly that America was not founded upon the Christian religion, a treaty having the unanimous endorsement of the U.S. congress, a congress literally filled with the founding fathers.
Simply quoting the relevant clause from the Treaty of Tripoli should silence all those Christian conservatives like Fischer who attempt to pervert U.S. history and the clear intent of the founding fathers, but that would be to assume such Christian conservatives are reasonable, rational individuals, which they obviously are not.
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