stephen-fincher

Christian politician’s resolution attempts to make U.S. into religious state

Sep 26, 2012

On September 19, Tennessee Representative Stephen Fincher introduced a resolution, H.R.789, which would officially recognize the “importance of religion” in America and its history. Currently it is in committee.

That this sort of resolution could be seriously taken up in the U.S. House of Representatives is primary evidence that the Christian forces within this country will stop at nothing to turn it into a theocracy. Nevermind that many of the Founding Fathers were deists (no belief in the Judeo-Christian god), or that the First Amendment’s freedom from religious language should prevent this resolution from even hitting the congressional floor. Or that there is no mention of “God” in the U.S. Constitution and that “we the people” is made the founding power of the document, not any deity. Yet, it happened, and the media is silent.

Perhaps the left is quiet so as to avoid wading into a cultural war as the election approaches. Indeed, maybe Fincher himself was banking on such a resolution attracting the ire of free thinkers, secularists, atheists and anyone else who does not like religion forced upon them; creating the conditions for an increased conservative religious voter turnout.

“A resolution that ‘reaffirms the importance of religion’—specifically a Judeo-Christian religion—in the lives of Americans excludes the many Americans for whom religion is not important, or those who do not identify with a Judeo-Christian religion. This only serves to divide rather than unite Americans,” said Edwina Rogers, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. “This resolution insinuates that because Christianity is the majority religion in the United States, the religion and its followers should be privileged by our government, but this logic is problematic – our Constitution is secular precisely to protect all Americans regardless of their religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs.”

The resolution is cloaked in innocuous language, such as the first line, which reads: “Reaffirming the importance of religion in the lives of United States citizens and their freedom to exercise those beliefs peacefully.” If it is a right, why reaffirm it? It is first principle of the U.S. Constitution. In other words, it is granted. No need to restate the obvious.

As if that weren’t astonishing enough, Fincher unleashes a laundry list of evidence for reaffirming religion’s role in America, including the very obvious transgressive line “Whereas the Bible is the best-selling book of all time.” Transgressive in that it singles out Christianity as pre-eminent.

Apparently Fincher, and much of the Christian nation, haven’t read their Thomas Paine, whose incredible book “The Age of Reason” criticized dogmatic, organized religion, especially Christianity. Paine instead preferred a deist approach like many Founding Fathers—the idea that some vague creative force lit the fuse of the universe. Or perhaps Fincher never encountered the following Thomas Jefferson statement:

I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

Then, of course, there is Article II of the Treaty of Tripoli, which reads:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Rep. Fincher comes as close as possible to making a law to establish a state religion, especially since there’s no mention of the hundreds of other religions and religious sects in the world, only references to the Bible, congressional prayers and the faith of past presidents.

Fincher points out that 32% of charitable donations went to religious organizations, clearly de-emphasizing the fact that 68% of all charitable donations were given to secular organizations. Those organizations range from international affairs and health to education, human services, the environment and arts, according to the Secular Coalition for America.

Mr. Fincher asks Congress to recognize “that Judeo-Christian heritage has played a strong role in the development of the United States and in the lives of many of the Nation’s citizens”; but if he were being fair and not so religiously biased, he would note that enlightenment, deism, atheism and secular ethics and morality were incredibly pivotal in American history.

Fincher, of course, was elected on a wave of Tea Party support, reminding us that their platform isn’t so much about taxes and spending, but about making America a theocracy.

This, like much of the GOP’s absurdist, infantile strategies, should do wonders for the economy.

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