Saturday, July 04, 2009

"Facts are stubborn things;"

"... and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."

-- John Adams, taken from his defense of the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre, 1770.

[Just as a heads-up: this entry is LONG. And opinionated. And might be controversial. And it's wordy. And it's LONG. But it was something I felt needed to be published by me, even if it's not needed to be read by you. Heh. :D ]

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I begin today's entry with a quotation from John Adams, because he tends to be remembered in association with the Fourth of July more than any other day. This is the fate of many of the Founding Fathers, who form a mythic cabal associated with the supernatural alchemy involved in the creation of what would eventually become the United States of America. It is a fashion observed in politics to proclaim oneself to be in line with the "intent" of the architects of our nation.

So important is this projected "approval" from figures of our collective American pantheon that people go to great lengths in the pursuit of establishing their "framer" bona fide. In recent history, we've all heard a lot about our (the citizens of the U.S.) collective Christian heritage, going so far as to refer to the U.S.A. as being founded as a "Christian nation", bemoaning the descent away from same. It often takes the form of ecstatic pointing of livid fingers to portions of the framing documents that refer to "God" or "religion".

While there may not have been any atheists at the Continental Congress, many of them held beliefs that don't even fit into the wide diversity of those who rally under today's "Christian" descriptor. A religious philosophy known as "deism" was popular around that time, and many of the Constitutional architects considered themselves to be deist. Deism was a product of the Enlightenment, steeped in the belief and support of the rational. They believed in a single god, but objected to the Trinity, the inerrant nature of the Bible and other holy books, and even the supernatural trappings of miracles. To a true deist, Jesus is possessed of many good ideas and we would all do well to follow his teachings and example, but he was not divine.

Indeed, the most outspoken of the deist Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, wrote "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth," which amounts to basically an extraction of the words of Jesus in chronological order. In this volume, Jefferson wanted to create a book emphasizing the morality of Jesus, free from all of the clutter of the supernatural. Pay attention to his title: the life and morals... Jefferson believed it was possible to extract morals without admitting the divinity of Jesus.

Needless to say, deists wouldn't be considered "Christian" by even the most liberal of today's denominations. Denying the divinity of Jesus is the antithesis of modern Christianity, which takes as a core principal that Jesus was the son of God. Perhaps the deists would be considered by the modern unlearned as more closely related to Judaism, though they certainly didn't think so in their own day.

I remain convinced that this country was not founded, in any sense, as a Christian nation. If anything, it was a Deist nation, embodying a belief in one blind watchmaker god, but a reverence for reason and knowledge, and a fervent desire to avoid the tradition of nations being devoted to a particular religion. Hence the First Amendment (adopted in 1791 and possibly the greatest of all American inventions) in part states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..." This certifies that the federal government is religion-neutral; each enjoys the same rights and restrictions as the others. It is also belief-neutral: neither the theists nor the atheists can use the government to proscribe each others' freedoms.

So.

I bring this up today because of the "Oklahoma Citizens Proclamation for Morality". It was signed at the Oklahoma capitol building on July 2, 2009. You may have heard about this paper. It's a non-binding proclamation which had the total signature support of 5 of Oklahoma's 149 state legislators. It is in no way a law or other compulsory document and it seemingly lacks hearty support of the populace at large. But they had a fancy signing ceremony anyway, which was alternately interrupted by crowds of protesters and supporters of the document.

[The complete text is available HERE in PDF form or OVER HERE as plain text on a "web petition" site. As of this entry's publishing, there are 440 signatures; comments can be attached along with any signature, and this makes plain that not all the signatories are in support.]

What does the proclamation state, I hear you ask? In essence, it wants the citizens of Oklahoma and the United States to return to the Bible. Specifically, it decries the recent state of affairs, identifying the current "economic woes" as a symptom of "our greater national moral crisis".

The proclamation begins with an exhortation for "fellow Patriots" to "acknowledge the need for a national awakening of righteousness in our land." It then continues with a surprising number of quotations from some of the Founding Fathers speaking in defense of America's long affiliation with God.

Interestingly, the first quotation is from John Adams. This same Adams was a confirmed deist, did not believe in the divinity of Jesus, and explicitly did not believe that God involved Himself with the lives of individuals. Further, one of his biographers concluded Adams believed that religion itself should alter over time as it accumulates knowledge in the pursuit of the perfect.

I can't think of any idea LESS moral to someone like Rep. Sandy Kern, author of the proclamation and wife of a Southern Baptist preacher. In fact, the website of her husband's church lists the inerrant nature of the Bible as its first belief on the "Doctrines We Love" page. Incidentally, I'm a big fan of the "What We Believe" page that every Christian church seems required to have; each slightly different. It's like the USDA Nutritional Label of Christians!

Further on down in the Oklahoma Proclamation, there's a quote from Patrick Henry. It's here I should confess that any research I do for this article comes completely from internet sources. As I'm not accessing primary materials or doing due diligence, nobody should take as ironclad anything I attributed to others.

But I'm not writing a scholarly paper. No, not even a government proclamation. Which is why I'm mystified why the "OK-proc" authors included a quotation from Patrick Henry that even my basic internet scholarship found cited as being usually mis-attributed, with the initial appearance coming in the 1950's. Oops? Shouldn't people have to work harder on their public governmental proclamations than a silly blogger typing in his underwear and eating Wheat Thins? [mmmm, Wheat Thins....]

Then we proceed to the heart of the matter. Sure, there's economic trouble, but people always complain about the econo-

WHEREAS, this nation has become a world leader in promoting abortion, pornography, same sex marriage, sex trafficking, divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse, and many other forms of debauchery;

...oh, I see! Hmmm.

World leader in promoting debauchery, eh? So where should I leave this research that shows that:

* the United States is below the global weighted average for abortions per capita?

* the divorce rate among Christians is significantly higher than other religious groups, and much higher than atheist and agnostic groups?

* homosexual legal frameworks (marriage, civil unions) are much more widespread and accepted on the European continent.

* pornographic consumption skews more towards "god-minded" red states (like Oklahoma!) than blue states.

* a 2007 survey in India found evidence that close to 50% of children faced abuse there. Data from the USA in 2006 found the rate of abused children was 12.6 per 1000 (approximately 1.3% of children).

* in Denmark (the first country in the world to legalize it), pornography is legal for anyone over age 15, available in most convenience stores and video stores (like Blockbuster), and hardcore porn is broadcast free every night on TV. In addition, bestiality is legal as long as no animals are harmed.

* in a 2006 report regarding treatment of victims of human trafficking ranked the United States' level as B+, while the United Kingdom was a D, and Canada received an F.

A single WHEREAS from the "OK-proc" is devoted to all manners of assorted licentiousness and sinful behavior, as listed above. Single WHEREAS points are also devoted to the government "forsaking the rich Christian heritage upon which this nation was built" and President Obama "[refusing] to uphold the long held tradition of past presidents in giving recognition to our National Day of Prayer". The National Day of Prayer floated around the calendar in the time between its presidential establishment in 1952 and its placement on the first Thursday in May, declared by President Reagan in 1988.

In what way did Obama refuse to give recognition? It might be because he had no specific event to mark the day. President George W. Bush held special events each year to mark the Day of Prayer. However, President Clinton held no such events, and President George H.W. Bush and even President Reagen held one such event in each of their respective terms. S0, if this is the "long held" tradition, it doesn't REALLY go back that far.

Did Obama even MENTION that it was the Day of Prayer? Perhaps he just gave it the outright snub! That would certainly be refusing to acknowledge it. That dirty bas-- oh, wait. HERE is his statement and declaration for 2009, direct from Whitehouse.gov. Err... ahem. But he didn't have a clockwork "formal event" like ONLY the guy right before him did, so that insults God, which causes economic collapse. Simple. Or something. Maybe he should burn a fatted calf next year; God likes that kind of stuff too, right?

But to return once more to the OK-proc: it's time for some wink wink euphemisms!

WHEREAS, deeply disturbed that the Office of the president of these United States disregards the biblical admonitions to live clean and pure lives by proclaiming an entire month to an immoral behavior;

In case you don't speak euphemism, the "entire month to an immoral behavior" refers to President Obama's declaration of June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride month. Strangely, there is no WHEREAS devoted to the scandalous ability of many politicians to "disregard biblical directives to live clean and pure lives" while soliciting sex in restrooms, jetting to their Argentinian mistresses, or hiring prostitutes.

The REAL problem is all of the president's "deeply disturbing" ideas, like when his LGBT declaration says "I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists." Whoa there, Big Brother. States' Rights, goddammit! And freedom of religion!

Commu-Nazi directives like this are why our economy is in trouble.

Here endeth the lesson.

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