Saturday, March 04, 2006

Missouri re-writes history; declares this is a Christian nation. Gevalt!

Nobody knows for sure why Missouri, which was named after the Missouri Indians, is sometimes called the Puke State. What we do know is that yesterday, the Missouri House of Representatives passed House Concurrent Resolution No. 13:


Whereas, our forefathers of this great nation of the United States recognized a Christian God and used the principles afforded to us by Him as the founding principles of our nation; and

Whereas, as citizens of this great nation, we the majority also wish to exercise our constitutional right to acknowledge our Creator and give thanks for the many gifts provided by Him; and

Whereas, as elected officials we should protect the majority's right to express their religious beliefs while showing respect for those who object; and

Whereas, we wish to continue the wisdom imparted in the Constitution of the United States of America by the founding fathers; and

Whereas, we as elected officials recognize that a Greater Power exists above and beyond the institutions of mankind:

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the members of the House of Representatives of the Ninety-third General Assembly, Second Regular Session, the Senate concurring therein, that we stand with the majority of our constituents and exercise the common sense that voluntary prayer in public schools and religious displays on public property are not a coalition of church and state, but rather the justified recognition of the positive role that Christianity has played in this great nation of ours, the United States of America.

First of all, “The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” You can look it up. It’s in the Treaty of Tripoli, which was negotiated in the Washington administration, and unanimously approved by the Senate. Here’s how Stephan Jay Gould described what happened next:
President Adams signed the treaty and proclaimed it to the nation on 10 June 1797. His statement on it was a bit unusual: “Now be it known, That I John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said Treaty do, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof. And to the End that the said Treaty may be observed and performed with good Faith on the part of the United States, I have ordered the premises to be made public; And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office civil or military within the United States, and all other citizens or inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfill the said Treaty and every clause and article thereof.” ...

Did our heroes pay a heavy price? Skeptical that the public even knew about the treaty, I went to the periodicals reading room of the Library of Congress in, appropriately enough, the Madison Building. After some poking about I found out how to get access to newspapers of the 1790s, mostly on microfilm, but in a few cases I saw the actual papers of the day.

I found the treaty and Adams' statement reprinted in full in three newspapers, two in Philadelphia and one in New York City and, in one case, held the actual newspaper (the Philadelphia Gazette and Universal Daily Advertiser for Saturday, 17 June 1797) in my hands. There is no record of any public outcry or complaint in subsequent editions of the papers.

And what of our heroes? Well, none suffered any known negative consequences, and I've read biographies of each. ...

From our perspective these men may be heroes, but in truth the vote they cast was ordinary, routine, normal. It was, in other words, quite well accepted, only a few years after first the Constitution and then the First Amendment were ratified, that “the Government of the United States of America was not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” After a bloody and costly civil war and the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment determined that citizens of the United States cannot have their rights abridged by state or local governments either, religious liberty for all was established. Governmental neutrality in matters of religion remains the enduring basis for that liberty.
Thomas Jefferson, who knew a thing or two about the principles upon which our country was founded gave this short history of Jesus’ ministry in a letter to Samuel Kercheval, January 19, 1810:
“But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State.”
I suppose that view of history contributed to Thom’s opinion, expressed in a letter to John Adams, dated April 11, 1823:
“One day the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in the United States will tear down the artificial scaffolding of Christianity. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”
What ever became of Thomas Jefferson? Well, for one thing, they named the capital of Missouri after him.

This intrusion of the reality-based community on the historical-revisionists of the Missouri State House is dedicated to the 17% of Missourians who do not count themselves as Christians, who send their state representatives to Jefferson City, MO, to pass laws for them, and who might demand more from their representatives. For example, when told that the country was founded on Christian principles, they might say, "Show me."

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

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