Friday, November 25, 2005

The Godless Constitution Chapter 2 - The Godless Constitution

Yes, the second chapter has the same name as the book. Deal with it.

To start out this discussion let's check out an Amazon Book Review, of the predecessor to this book.
Kramnick and Moore imply in this book that the founders intended to create a godless nation. Be assured, I am the last person in the world to claim that the United States is a "Christian Nation." If it was a "Christian Nation" I would burn my Bible and become an agnostic! But these authors ignore the deep history of faith that the framers had.
This is a misstatement of what this book (and this chapter in particular) is about. The founders most certainly did not want a Godless Nation; on the contrary many of them believed in the ennobling influence of religion. But they wanted a Constitution that did not reference any particular God.

I don't hold this reviewer all that guilty though; it was clearly a review of the book's title, rather than the book itself. Doing that, you can't help but make mistakes.

At any rate, despite claims to the contrary, the Constitution was clearly intended as a Godless document. This was seen in the debates and attacks on the constitution for failing to exalt the Christian religion into a special place in our society.

Most states at that time (save Virginia and New York) contained some kind of religious test. Deleware's struck me in particular.
. . . in Delaware all elected and appointed public officials were required to profess "faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God forevermore.
Mormons do not believe in the doctrine of the trinity, and so, I assume, would not have been able to take this oath.

Of course that's another dirty little secret about the desires of those who wanted to impose a religious test for holding office; there were lots of Christians they weren't very comfortable with either. Catholics, Quakers, and the like were not desirable in high office.

Those who opposed imposing a religious test for high office pointed out the seemingly insurmountable problem that there was no religious uniformity in the United States.

If that was a problem then, it is doubly a problem now.

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