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Not Just Christian: Fourth of July, Democracy, America for All

Hobby Lobby buys up the back page of my Fourth of July paper to remind me that they think America is only for people like them and not for people like me:

Hobby Lobby, full-page advertisement, Aberdeen American News, 2016.07.04, p. 8A.
Hobby Lobby, full-page advertisement, Aberdeen American News, 2016.07.04, p. 8A. (Click to embiggen!)

On behalf of the tens of millions of Americans who do not go to Christian church or trust in Hobby Lobby’s God—sigh.

Christianity is not the wellspring of democracy. The polytheist Greeks practiced democracy and gave us the word well before Jesus of Nazareth gave up carpentry. Christian peoples took their sweet time in implementing democratic principles in their churches and their nations. Martin Luther didn’t rise up to de-hierachialize the Church until the 1500s; Christian folks didn’t come up with the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution until 260 years later, after fighting a war with a bunch of other Christians who disagreed with the colonists’ democratic notions.

Russia has seen itself as a Christian nation since 988 (when Vladimir picked Orthodox Christianity over Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam because the churches and the Byzantine emperors’ sister were prettier), and they still haven’t gotten democracy right. Under Vladimir Putin’s deliberately mingled Orthodoxy and patriotism, Russia isn’t even trying to be democratic.

The first nation to recognize our democratic independence was Morocco, a Muslim nation.

The genius (and remember, that word comes from the Latin root for beget, give birth) of the Declaration of Independence is that its words are stronger than its authors imagined. The “men” those authors held self-evidently “created equal” were a northwestern European, male, property-holding subset of humanity. Over 240 years, their words have worked on us in ways they did not expect. We’ve come to realize that “all men are created equal” applies to the red men we used to dupe and shoot and the black men we used to buy and whip. It applies to the yellow and brown folks who’ve come from other points of the compass to help build America. In the plainest demonstration of how our words have evolved from our Founders’ thinking, we’ve decided that “men” means “women” too.

Those created equal in the eyes of our democracy include a far greater array of believers and non-believers than the almost exclusively Protestant signers of our founding documents and the owners of Hobby Lobby. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons (who didn’t even exist in 1776), atheists, and folks who hate scrapbooking can all vote, grill hot dogs, try water-skiing, and goose-bump up when the Boston Pops brass section stands for John Philip Sousa’s biggest finish. Everyone of every church—and just as “men” must include “women”, “every church” must include “no church”—gets to be an American.

That’s why E pluribus unum is a far better motto for the United States of America than the recent innovation of In God we trust. One, Latin is always cooler. Two, our original motto expresses our original intent to forge a new, united nation from many states and many people from many lands. We now have more states and more people from more lands than the thirteen colonies whose delegates worked out our national charter. Every one of our states and peoples could have trusted in God (as have many of the nations we have fought and beaten in war), but they would not have enjoyed the prosperity, the strength, and the global status of the United States of America if they had not committed to forging one great nation with one shared destiny: to make democracy work.

Go ahead, trust in God, if you want. But making democracy work means work, right here, on Earth, by us. Democracy isn’t easy: when we get done with our hot dogs and firecrackers today, we have lots of work to do. The endless work of democracy takes all comers, not just the folks who sit in your pew. The American unum comes from the pluribus, not just your church bus.

May each of us bless America with our faith in our ability to govern ourselves justly and with our commitment to do so, as one Union, for all and forever.


  1. grudznick 2016-07-04 15:39

    Indeed. Yes indeed, Mr. H.

    But can you imagine what the Hobby Lobby’s God must look like? All feathered and beaded with felt glued to a styrofoam body, I would imagine. $29.95.

  2. Donald Pay 2016-07-04 17:33

    Grudz is funny. I just finished “Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding” by Steven Keith Green. I found it to be a balanced historical analysis that talks about the centrality of religious thought, as well as Enlightenment thought, in explaining why we aren’t a Christian nation. What’s clear is that the religious thought at in the colonial period was subject to Enlightenment philosophy. Things are much more complicated than many think. There were religious reasons as well as secular reasons why we have “separation of Church and State.”

    Just think about this: at the time of writing the Constitution, some states had disestablished religion, other states had established different sects with various degrees of toleration (Catholics were least likely to be tolerated), and the Founders, who were of different religious beliefs, had to try to make sense of it. The historical trend, although with some deviations, through the colonial period was toward a lessening of religious establishments, greater toleration and finally complete agreement in the Constitution and First Amendment that government should not favor one religion or religious belief over another. The historical roots of that were many, including Enlightenment thought as well as Protestant belief in the primacy of individual conscience.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-04 18:18

    Fascinating: even within the seemingly undiverse white Christianity of the Revolutionary period, the new Americans were interpreting Christianity in so many different ways that the Founders had to ensure religious liberty and separation of church and state.

  4. Darin Larson 2016-07-04 18:25

    I appreciate the fact that Cory says we are not “just” a Christian nation, which is true. We need to be inclusive. I also appreciate the fact that he is not tearing down religion in pursuit of his own personal nonbelief system.

    However, I think Donald Pays’ reference claiming we are not a Christian nation is essentially incorrect and gives me pause. Up to 75% of Americans still identify themselves as Christians. “About 5% of Americans identify with a non-Christian religion, while 20% have no formal religious identification, which is up five percentage points since 2008.”

    We certainly have great diversity in this nation, but its people, by a large margin, still identify themselves as mainly Christians. I don’t think minimizing our religious identity serves any good purpose, just as overemphasizing or not separating church and state does not serve any good purpose.

  5. grudznick 2016-07-04 18:39

    There are many majorities in this nation, Mr. Larson, for which it serves no good purpose to minimize.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-04 18:43

    Oh, Darin, you’re getting to the heart of the impact of the words we use. Hobby Lobby wants to use the statement “We are a Christian nation” in an exclusive sense—i.e., excluding that 25% of Americans in the survey you cite identifying themselves as something else.

    I agree with the statement, “A lot of Christians founded this nation.” I agree with the statement, “There are lots of Christians in this nation.” But do those two factual statements allow us to say, descriptively, “We are a Christian nation” without including some qualifier—”We are largely a Christian nation”?—that acknowledges our diversity and takes the wind out of certain exclusionary propagandists’ sails?

  7. John 2016-07-04 18:47

    Darin, don’t take Cory’s word for it; don’t take Donald’s word for it; don’t take author Green’s word for it. But do take Founding Father John Adams word for it, written in the Treaty of Tripoli, 1797, and ratified by senate full of Founding Fathers:

    “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.”

    “Art. 11. 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 (Mohammedan) 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.”

  8. mike from iowa 2016-07-04 19:21

    We are a dogma-blind nation and when fauxknee kristian right wingers control stuff, we are a nation going to the dogs pretty pronto.

  9. mike from iowa 2016-07-04 19:25

    One of Hobby Knobby’s favorite Scotus gawdalmighties bit the big one and HL could be singing a vastly different tune with a fifth solid Lib on the Scotus.

  10. mikeyc, that's me! 2016-07-04 20:29

    Buy cheap Chinese crap at Hobby Lobby & Menards.

  11. Tina Rhea 2016-07-04 20:29

    I’d just like to add to John’s remarks on the Treaty with Tripoli that it was passed unanimously by the Senate in 1797, and was first drafted at the end of Washington’s administration. I don’t know if Washington saw and approved the US government “not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” wording, but the Senators certainly did.

  12. Steve Sibson 2016-07-04 20:34

    “Christianity is not the wellspring of democracy.”

    But communism is.

  13. jerry 2016-07-04 20:46

    Was that 75% zinger a 538 poll? I wonder how the question was asked. Me, I think that 75% is not accurate at all. I see way more people doing something else on Sunday rather than sitting in the amen corner. I do see a lot of folks going to funerals and weddings though, maybe mostly for the grub.

  14. Donald Pay 2016-07-04 21:28

    The Founders were, of course, all about compromise. Thomas Jefferson, for example, hated what Congress did to his draft of the Declaration of Independence. One of the things he hated about the changes was that they slipped in some phrases referring in an Enlightenment way to the Almighty. Jefferson groused about these changes his entire life, but he had no choice but to accept the final changed product.

    The Declaration, of course, was a document that was felt necessary to set forth to other nations the reasons why the states were taking such drastic action. It was thought that some Almighty references might be needed to gain more support in Europe. “Almighty,” Providence” and other such phraseology were generally acceptable in Enlightenment circles, even if Jefferson thought they went to far. However, there isn’t much evidence that after July 4, 1776, that anyone gave the Declaration a second thought until far after the Revolutionary War. Jefferson more or less abandoned it for many years.

    The Constitution, the founding document, is Godless. The whole idea of a “Christian nation” was pretty much an invention of the 2nd and 3rd generations following the Revolutionary War.

  15. Darin Larson 2016-07-04 21:45

    John- to be more precise, we are a predominately Christian nation with a sectarian government founded on the idea of separation of church and state. Even in these increasingly nonreligious times, when 3/4 of the population still self-identifies as a Christian, I think we have to recognize Christianity’s influence on our nation.

    I also recognize that this influence can be used for good or bad. For instance, discriminating on the basis of someone’s so-called Christian beliefs is unacceptable to me and demonstrates the perversion that can occur within any religion.

  16. grudznick 2016-07-04 21:55

    Mr. Pay, those are interesting observations I will have to research.

  17. jerry 2016-07-04 22:20

    Hobbies big draw is not christianity, it is poor folks who cannot afford to buy anything else but a cheap hunk of iron they can stick on their wall. They should be called All Things Cheap From China.

  18. Roger Cornelius 2016-07-04 22:57

    If God loves all things, he must love communists too.

  19. jerry 2016-07-04 23:29

    Hobbies just loves them some moolah.

  20. T 2016-07-05 07:32

    That poll @1825 sounds off. Bill maher specifically states it’s about 50-50 . I would trust his verbiage more than Gallup

  21. Stumcfar 2016-07-05 08:44

    If you don’t like Hobby Lobby’s beliefs don’t shop there. Scheels is another business that feels strongly about Christianity and typically takes out full page ads proclaiming it. They are entitled to advertise the way they want. You liberals take offense to everyone that does not fall in step with your beliefs. Go shop Target instead and then pee in the girl’s bathroom to make yourself feel better! By the way, over 58% of South Dakotans are Christians.

  22. Dicta 2016-07-05 08:47

    “Bill maher specifically states it’s about 50-50 . I would trust his verbiage more than Gallup”


  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-05 08:48

    Stu, you miss the point. I’m not talking about where people should shop. I’m not talking about something you can reduce to your usual oversimplified labeling (“You liberals” again—really?). I’m talking about the offense any American can rightly take at any speaker, individual or corporate, taking out a full-page ad to contend that people with religious beliefs different from the majority’s don’t belong here. (And remember, as Donald said, to say there is one religion that a majority of Americans share is a doubtful ecumenical claim, given the numerous theological differences we can find just among Protestants.)

    Only 58% of South Dakotans are Christians? 42% of South Dakotans believe in something else? Wow—that’s a lot of people to exclude by declaring that America is for Christians only.

  24. Stumcfar 2016-07-05 08:50

    58% is also a lot of people to exclude when one is running for a public office!

  25. Stumcfar 2016-07-05 09:01

    A quick change of gears as I probably missed your story on your outrage over a sitting Attorney General having a private meeting with the husband of a Presidential candidate who is being investigated by the FBI. Can you point me to that story please. Thanks much.

  26. mike from iowa 2016-07-05 09:26

    The story Stump seeks is over there. There are only 207 stories to check,Stumpy. Good hunting.

    (208 with the newest post that hadn’t been posted yet)

  27. Douglas Wiken 2016-07-05 09:40

    “A quick change of gears as I probably missed your story on your outrage over a sitting Attorney General having a private meeting with the husband of a Presidential candidate who is being investigated by the FBI. Can you point me to that story please. Thanks much.”

    This is another great GOP retrograde non-issue. Freedom of speech still exists…even for Bill Clinton and a Black Attorney General and family. I want all e-mail from every obviously corrupt GOP Congress critter released.

  28. Steve Sibson 2016-07-05 10:18

    “58% is also a lot of people to exclude when one is running for a public office!”

    The goal is to get that into the minority. The transgender agenda in our public schools is another example of how the atheistic/pagan worldview is being established as a religion. The long run objective is the destroy America. I say it is close, if not already done.

  29. Stumcfar 2016-07-05 10:19

    Another Clinton non-issue pushed by the GOP. Are you dense in the head? You see no problem with them meeting, even if it was for tea and to talk about silly stuff, you see no poor judgement?? Come on Doug, shake off the Democratic koolaid that you have ingested and tell me you have a little more scruples than that! Good morning Mike, thanks for another non-insightful bunch of blathering gobbligook that normally comes out of your computer. Good day for you, post office is open and your government check will be there!!

  30. Stumcfar 2016-07-05 11:05

    Dicta, Bill Maher?? You would trust him? Is that sarcasm or are you trying to be funny today, because I laughed out loud at that one!!

  31. Stumcfar 2016-07-05 11:07

    Douglas, what was the point of calling her a black attorney general?? What did that add or is that yet another liberal’s attempt at calling everything racist?? Seems like a racist post on your part.

  32. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-05 11:08

    Sibby, read more closely. I make no such claim about communism.

  33. T 2016-07-05 11:10

    Dicta @847 gallop under scrutiny for being republican biased. Wouldn’t trust anything they published therefor ya, would trust maher more..,,just sayin..,,,?

  34. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-05 11:11

    Stu, read more closely. As Darin recognizes in my use of the phrase “not just Christian,” My post seeks to exclude no one.

    And Stu, stop trying to change the topic to the usual pre-digested Rush Limbaugh stories you’d prefer we’d regurgitate. If you want a different topic, start your own blog.

  35. Don Coyote 2016-07-05 11:32

    @cah: “The first nation to recognize our democratic independence was Morocco, a Muslim nation.”

    Well … kind of. It was more akin to a shakedown for protection money than a formal recognition. The Sultan of Morocco offered the same safe port usage to several countries also not under treaty – Russia Malta, Sardinia, Prussia, Naples, Hungary, Leghorn, Genoa, and Germany – as well as the US in a bid to boost revenues. Great Britain, France and Spain, who had treaties with Morocco, paid yearly tributes amounting to thousands of dollars for the privilege of these admiralty passes to protect their merchant shipping from the Barbary pirates. The colonies had been protected by Great Britain’s admiralty passes until we declared our independence so the Sultan of Morocco saw an “economic opportunity”. This would be borne out for the US when we got around to negotiating the Treaty of Peace and Friendship signed in 1786. At the conclusion of negotiations when American Consul Thomas Barclay was asked about tribute, he replied he only “had to offer to His Majesty the friendship of the United States and to receive his in return, to form a treaty with him on liberal and equal terms. But if any engagements for future presents or tributes were necessary, I must return without any treaty.” The US eventually had to fight two separate wars with the Barbary Nations over piracy in 1801 and 1815.

  36. mike from iowa 2016-07-05 11:56

    Slick Willie met with Lynch to make wingnut heads explode with conspiracy theories. Looks like it has worked to perfection. Once again,the master cons the wiener waggers.

  37. mike from iowa 2016-07-05 11:59

    Willard Rmoney excluded 47% off the top.

  38. Roger Cornelius 2016-07-05 12:03

    The FBI said today that there will be no criminal charges against Hillary.
    Let the conspiracy theories began.

  39. Stumcfar 2016-07-05 12:50

    A little touchy caheidelberger! So if a GOP wrote a blog that was against homosexuality, which is the only topic important to homosexuals, do you believe they would still vote for the GOP, but you want Christians whom you laugh in the face of and snidely make fun of (Hobby Lobby’s God- Sigh) but you still want them to support your election bid? You are right, it is your blog, and you are free to push your liberal agenda while ignoring stories that make your party look bad. It is your koolaid, serve it the way you want! Most of South Dakota isn’t drinking, thank goodness!!

  40. Don Coyote 2016-07-05 13:15

    @John: “But do take Founding Father John Adams word for it, written in the Treaty of Tripoli, 1797″ “Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;”

    The story of the Treaty of Tripoli is mostly myth that’s bounced around the Internet for years. Supposedly the copy submitted to the Senate for ratification was an English translation by American Consul Barlow of an Arabic version of the Arabic original. Article 11 as found in the English version does not exist in the Arabic version and it’s not known for certain the identity of the person who was responsible for the insertion.

    The Treaty was passed by the Senate in a rush because of the toll the Barbary pirates were taking on the US merchant ships in the Mediterranean. Thousands were being paid in ransoms although Barlow had insisted in negotiations that no tribute was forthcoming.

    The takeaway is the Barbary pirates were preying on ships from Christian nations. The pirates were engaged in a holy war as much as the Crusaders had been. While the nascent US might claim not to be a Christian nation, the pirates weren’t fooled and eventually it took military action by the US to secure the sea lanes.

  41. Darin Larson 2016-07-05 13:22

    Hey Stumpy, Lynch isn’t the head of the FBI. Comey is. You know the guy that is a Republican and was the No. 2 in the DOJ in the George W. Bush administration.

    The FBI recommended no charges against Clinton. Do you think that the AG’s office should pursue charges that the FBI does not think are supported by the evidence? You probably do because the rule of law means nothing to you when it clashes with your ideology.

  42. Don Coyote 2016-07-05 13:39

    Best book on interpreting the Declaration is Garry Wills’s “Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence”. Wills analyzes the Declaration from three povs: Jefferson’s Declaration (philosophical), Continental Congress’s (political) and Our Declaration (how it has been reshaped it as it has shaped us). There is none better.

  43. Dicta 2016-07-05 13:44

    “So if a GOP wrote a blog that was against homosexuality, which is the only topic important to homosexuals…”

    Are you being facetious?

    “The FBI recommended no charges against Clinton.”

    True, but they also ripped her a new one. She came out of this looking like dogs—.

  44. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-05 13:51

    “Touchy”? No, Stu, there you go again, trying to make the argument about me personally rather than about the main point, which you keep missing, and about my easy refutation of your bunk. “Koolaid”, “liberal agenda”—blah blah blah. On top of repeating your bromides, you also make stuff up. Read again: I do not write blog posts against Christianity. This blog post challenges the notion that we are an exclusively Christian nation and asserts that there is a place for people of all faiths and no faith alongside Christians in America. That’s the very essence of America, e pluribus unum. That’s the point I’m trying to make.

    Those of you who would rather discuss Hillary Clinton and the FBI should take that discussion to another forum.

  45. mike from iowa 2016-07-05 15:17

    You are/have been “extremely careless” with Cory’s rules, Mr Stumpy. Should we execute you now?

  46. Stumcfar 2016-07-05 16:29

    Did I miss the rule that says you have to be in total agreement and sit around a campfire and sing songs with everyone else on here? If I did, I apologize!

  47. Donald Pay 2016-07-05 16:42

    I agree with Don Coyote about Gary Wills’ book on the Declaration. Some have questioned Wills’ emphasis on the intellectual influence on Jefferson of Frances Hutcheson and other “moral sense” Scottish philosophers, but it seems pretty obvious to me.

  48. mike from iowa 2016-07-05 16:53

    Stumpy missed the whole point again.

  49. Steve Sibson 2016-07-05 21:49

    “This blog post challenges the notion that we are an exclusively Christian nation and asserts that there is a place for people of all faiths and no faith alongside Christians in America.”

    Cory, not true. The Founders had issues with Catholics:

    In the immediate years before the outbreak of the Revolution, the Quebec Act served as a particular cause for concern. This Act of Parliament had allowed for the toleration of Catholicism in Quebec. It was listed among the “Intolerable Acts” that the First Continental Congress was called to address. In a famous letter to the British People, penned by John Jay, the Continental Congress wrote these words about the Quebec Act: “Nor can we suppress our astonishment that a British Parliament should ever consent to establish in that country [Quebec] a religion [Catholicism] that has deluged your island in blood, and dispersed impiety, bigotry, persecution, murder, and rebellion through every part of the world.”

    America was founded a French Templar nation that was trying to eliminate Monarchy and the Church of Rome. The Founders put on a Christian veneer in order to cater to those who came to America to escape the Church of Rome’s persecution of Bible reading Christians. So the early American Masons and the Christians had a common religious enemy.

  50. Annie 2016-07-05 22:35

    I agree with your post Cory. Thank you for representing those of us “who do not go to a Christian church or trust in Hobby Lobby’s God.” Much appreciated!

  51. Roger Cornelius 2016-07-05 22:41

    America was not founded for Christianity or any other such foolishness.
    It was founded on greed.
    Europeans knew of this vast new land and that by their sheer numbers they could conquer Native Tribes and get something for nothing

  52. grudznick 2016-07-05 23:02

    Mr. Sibby, do YOU have issues with Catholics? I get confused sometimes by the various overgodders and their stances and I forget where you and your gods stand.

  53. Joseph Nelson 2016-07-06 00:54

    Not looking to start a fight, or feed any trolls, but I read through the ad. It appears to be a collection of quotes, with the only original thoughts from Hobby Lobby being the invitation at the bottom inviting people to learn about Jesus.

    So why exactly do you infer that Hobby Lobby is trying to remind you “that they think America is only for people like them and not for people like me”? Where do you see them contending “that people with religious beliefs different from the majority’s don’t belong here.”? Was it one quote in particular, or the just a general semblance of all the quotes combined?

    I mean, there is the one from Justice Jay who basically says Christians should prefer and select Christians as their political leaders. But I would think that if any group of people wanted to be represented well in government, they would prefer and select someone from their group (pick an race/creed/sexual preference). I guess the other one where they say that the Founding Fathers expected Christianity to be the religion of their descendants. But, I suppose, wouldn’t anyone sort of expect that their descendants would share in the same religion as themselves? I am not seeing where any of the quotes say that America should only have Christians in it.

    To be fair, Hobby Lobby is a company made up largely of Christians, and in celebration of our nation, chose to use free speech to advocate their agreement with the various Founding Father’s, President’s, and Supreme Court Justices who spoke of how Christianity has shaped and made our country the place it is.

    I just am not seeing the boogie man that you are seeing in the advertisement. I understand that you didn’t like it, but I don’t interpret their ad as an attack against non-Christians (although they may want to convert non-Christians to Christianity, which makes sense since Jesus told his followers to go out and make disciples of the nations. I would honestly think it a bit of a shame if a Christian wasn’t living out the Great Commission in some fashion.)

    You go on a bit of a rant about how “Christianity is not the wellspring of democracy” an perhaps the ….foolishness?….of the “In God We Trust” motto. But I saw neither of those phrases in the advertisement. So maybe your blog post is really more than just “talking about the offense any American can rightly take at any speaker, individual or corporate, taking out a full-page ad to contend that people with religious beliefs different from the majority’s don’t belong here. ”

    I fail to see how the ad contends what you think it contends, and I am then confused, as you seem to be arguing against something the ad itself is not asserting (straw man!?!?!?).

    Are you really just frustrated with certain evangelical Christians, and this ad was the straw that broke the camel’s back?

    Your friend,
    Joe Nelson!

  54. Joseph Nelson 2016-07-06 00:57

    LOL, I was so focused on the words in the ad, I completely missed the big wax seal imprinted with “In God We Trust”. I can only blame myself for this faux pas, and retract my “strawman” comment. But the rest stands!

    That is what I get for reading too much, and not looking at the pictures.

  55. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-06 08:16

    [When Sibby starts talking about Masons, I stop listening. Same thing happened when I tried reading Malcolm X’s autobiography. He started talking about how Islam is superior to Freemasonry because Islam has 360 degrees of wisdom while Freemasonry teachers on 33 degrees. That and Malcolm X’s blatant misogyny—”a woman’s true nature is to be weak, and while a man must at all times respect his woman, at the same time he needs to understand that he must control her if he expects to get her respect”—tells me I don’t need to spend any time studying his thought.]

    But I’ll offer this response: Sibby misses the point I made about the Founders’ words being bigger than the Founders’ prejudices. The fact that the Founders were predominantly Christian or that many of them may have had a beef with Catholics is not normative. We don’t have to be just like the Founders. We don’t have to own slaves or poop in chamberpots or be ignorant of general relativity. We have to live up to the spirit of their words, “All men are created equal”, and keep expanding that mission to include everyone.

  56. Dicta 2016-07-06 09:10

    “America was not founded for Christianity or any other such foolishness. It was founded on greed.Europeans knew of this vast new land and that by their sheer numbers they could conquer Native Tribes and get something for nothing.”

    This post shows the same lack of nuance as the point you criticize. You can’t treat vast swaths of settlers as a monolithic entity with a singular goal and focus.

  57. mike from iowa 2016-07-06 10:12

    Stumpy= clueless.

  58. Steve Sibson 2016-07-06 10:23

    “they just don’t realize that their policies are doing exactly that”

    I completely agree with that assessment, and that is why I am blowing the trumpet to warn them. It is sad that the response from some is:

    “when these fever dream rants develop in your head, do they make sense?”

    But I do disagree with this assessment:

    “they will blame the GOP and most likely George Bush”

    Like Marx, they are correctly articulating the problems, but they don’t know that their solution is also part of the problem. In other words, politically, instead of picking a side and say the other side is wrong, I have come to the conclusion that both sides are wrong. Both sides are for big government, which is controlled by the economic elite.

  59. mike from iowa 2016-07-06 10:30

    Sibby- in the final analysis, you are a nut. And now you got a nutty clone to play with.

  60. Steve Sibson 2016-07-06 10:30

    Cory says, “When Sibby starts talking about Masons, I stop listening.”

    Stumcfar says, “they will blame the GOP and most likely George Bush”.

    Now this is for the social conservative so-called Christian Dominionists who supported GW and the liberal atheist who writes this blog and doesn’t listen and likes to blame the GOP:

  61. Bill Dithmer 2016-07-06 10:59


    Please excuse all the screwups, I had my second eye transplant this week and corrective lenses are some months away.

    Joe, it doesn’t really matter which religion a person chooses, they are pretty much the same. They all depend on the building block of religious mind control. They all depend on regurgitated nonvarrifyable many times translated stories slanted over time to reflect the leaders at that times personal beliefs.

    Religion isnt about saving peoples souls, its about putting butts in pews, or knees on mats. This in turn puts more money in the collection plate, and hopefully translates to more power at the poles, in a democracy. Dictators dont have these problems, they dicide.

    The morality written about in the books said to be the foundation of that religion all pretty much say the same things. If you break down the words and phraseology of these books they are all talking about The Golden Rule, or predating that The Silver Rule. Both predate most organized religions. It would seem that the only thing separating the different beliefs is the words they use to describe their interpretation of The Golden Rule.

    Just like you Joe, I have my own beliefs. Ive had my run in with Christianity, and while the book is fun to read, thats all it is for me.

    It wasn’t always this way. Early in life we didn’t go to church but church came to us in the form of a traveling preacher. Every week he would show up at one of several ranches in this part of the country and preach.

    I don’t remember much about the man while he was here except for one thing, he never told us how we should live our lives, he just gave us the word and let us figure it out for ourselves if we were right or wrong. He never got in anyone’s face and told them they were going to hell because they weren’t living the way he thought god thought they should live. His name was Reverend Bushnell and he was the last preacher that I ever respected. I knew him for almost my whole life and he never strayed from his path with god.

    From then on our church consisted of working cattle on Sunday mornings in the summer time and watching church on TV in the winter time. My Uncle Cars would say lets go to church when we were getting ready to ride on those Sundays. I guess in a way that’s what we were doing. There is nothing like nature to make you feel close to whoever or whatever is out there.

    Now I would like to talk to you about the reason that I don’t go to church anymore. TV preachers. From the beginning of TV history there have been preachers trying to separate you from your money. There I said it. They all had their little spiels that didn’t really have anything to do with religion but had everything to do with their pocket books. Lets talk about a couple of these that I have know through our TV set.

    Kenneth Copeland, Told amusing stories about the bible and tried to bring it up to todays standards. He’s still around and still asking for money.Self proclaimed Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Teacher, TV evangelist

    Jerry Falwell, a true pain in the ass until the day he died. He thought everything hinged on the problems that the gay people were causing in his world. Earthquakes, blame the gays, bad storms, blame the gays, economic collapse yup blame the gays. This mans only redeeming quality was his ability to raise money from those that loved him and his bullshit. He built a collage from that money. More on him in a little bit.

    Kathryn Kuhlman, This old girl was actually fun to watch. She knew how to get your attention with the fire she spat from the pulpit. She used to have these two bubbas that stood around until she wanted to heal someone. She would get in front of the sick or crippled and yell and scream and talk to god. Then she would reach out and touch um on the head. They would go down like a sack of rocks only to be caught by the two bubbas before they reach the ground. Then she would have them stand up and walk across the stage. To a person they all said thank you Jesus right along with Kate. Of course then she would ask for money to keep the good times rolling.

    Rex Humbard was another one of the miracle workers on TV. He was the first preacher on our TV that had first class entertainment. The place where he worked the most magic was taking money form people and depositing it in his bank account.

    Oral & Richard Roberts, the founder of Oral Roberts University, faith healer, shyster, and taker of money. Roberts claimed that Jesus told him God had chosen him to find an effective treatment for cancer. He was also the first preacher to play the “if you don’t send me a million dollars by such and such date god will take me” crap. He knew how to make money the old fashioned way he begged for it, and got it by the millions.

    Jimmy Swaggart, Robert Tilton, were two more of the first class faith healers. Tilton preached from somewhere down in Texas and wasn’t scared to ask for money. His main tactic was shaming you into sending him money because you were basically a sinner and well he was not.

    Then there was Jimmy Swaggart. Jimmy loved the whores, not once, not twice, but he was caught three times as he would say “counseling the ladies.” I might be wrong but I believe he had two famous cousins, Mickey Gilley and Jerry Lee Lewis. He would have been a great entertainer but chose to be a preacher. It was the worlds loss along with the worlds money.

    Pat Robertson, well what cant be said about old Pat that hasn’t been said before. He was for a short time in his own mind a Colonel in the armed forces until we found out that the closest he ever got to battle was pinching a Korean girls ass in the officers club. He still offers his advise on the 700 club if you care to stop and drop of some money. He had some interesting relationships with world leaders. He was into blood diamonds and gold bought with other peoples money dug out of the ground by slaves.What a piece of shit he still is.

    And last but not least are Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker. Now I loved these two. They were true showmen that knew how to work a crowd. Jim would preach, Tammy would croak out a tune, and they could both cry on cue. Sometimes you could see six or seven coats of war paint running down Tammys face while they were asking for more money. Back when I partied a lot late at night when there wasn’t anything else on TV you could count of the PTL to give great values for your buck, Of course it went down a lot better if you were a little drunk or stoned.

    JB also like the whores. He got into some trouble for his dalliances but until the government put him in jail for taking money that they though he got in an unlawful way he kept right on preaching. The two of them made a ministry of the PTL Club and turned it into a one hundred and fifty million dollar business, tax dodge, slush fund, and from the looks of things whore magnet. Then Jimmy went to jail, Tammy found another man, and our old friend Jerry Falwell took over the PTL Club so it wouldn’t go broke. Jerry knew a good thing when he saw it.

    These people all had a couple of things in common. They knew how to work a 501c to make money, and they were healing SOBs. In every show you would see the stage, then down in one corner there would be a pile of wheel chairs, crutches, canes, and oxygen tanks. I saw everything from brain cancer to hemorrhoids healed on these shows.

    Well there you have it. That’s why I don’t go to church anymore, or at least one of the reasons. It is also the reason I wrote the song below. If there is a god I think he would like my stuff as much as those people I talked about. One more thing here I’m not asking for any of your money.


    Aint been to church sinse I don’t know when
    Don’t think I’ll be going back again
    I’ve heard the rumors and I’ve seen the news
    These preachers are all insane

    I like the sound of a good blues band
    A glass of whiskey or a pipe in my hand
    If there’s a god and I’m not saying it’s true
    I think he’d like me when I’m high

    Don’t play me, betray me
    Don’t push me down unless you wanna go to
    We’re only different in your head
    Stop lying denying, don’t need the crap that your putting us through
    Wont make no difference if we’re dead

    Its the end of the old way
    Its the start of a new day
    Lets just forget where we came from
    We’ve all had some rough luck
    Some hard times and tough luck
    Lets hope for better things to come

    I sang the hymns and went to Sunday school
    But that’s not where I learned the golden rule
    I’ve seem people do some real bad things
    I’ll remember till I die

    We all do things, think no ones around
    But someone sees and tries to push us down
    The same people think they have not sinned
    But they all have things to hide

    Don’t play me, betray me
    Don’t push me down unless you wanna go to
    We’re only different in your head
    Stop lying denying, don’t need the crap that your putting us through
    Wont make no difference if we’re dead

    Its the end of the old way
    Its the start of a new day
    Lets just forget where we came from
    We’ve all had some rough luck
    Some hard times and tough luck
    Lets hope for better things to come

    Aint it enough to love your fellow man
    Treat those around you as good as you can
    We make mistakes and you know its true
    But that’s as perfect as we’ll ever be
    As perfect as we’ll ever be

    Its the end of the old way
    Its the start of a new day
    Lets just forget where we came from
    We’ve all had some rough luck
    Some hard times and tough luck
    Lets hope for better things to come

    Aint been to church sinse I don’t know when
    Aint never going back again
    I’ve heard the rumors and I’ve seen the news
    These preachers are all insane

    From THE CHURCH OF BILL and the pulpit of
    The Blindman

  62. Don Coyote 2016-07-06 11:27

    @cah: “Christianity is not the wellspring of democracy. The polytheist Greeks practiced democracy and gave us the word …”

    Greek democracy was pretty rudimentary and employed such non-democratic devices as elections by lot to select governing bodies and secret ballots for the ostracizing of citizens who had become too powerful/wealthy or were deemed a danger to the polis.

    Aristotle called democracy a perverted form of government. In actuality, Greek democracy was dominated by an elite making it more an oligarchy, another perverted form of government. The Greek (Athenian) democracy was also known for making remarkably bad decisions such as the execution of Socrates or the six Athenian generals after they had won the battle of Arginusae.

    The Founder’s feared democracy as they saw it for what it was … mob rule. This is why this country’s form of government was based on republicanism mirroring that of the Roman Republic.

  63. Don Coyote 2016-07-06 11:32

    “Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot. Religion is much more necessary in the republic which they set forth in glowing colors than in the monarchy which they attack; it is more needed in democratic republics than in any others. How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie is not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? And what can be done with a people who are their own masters if they are not submissive to the Deity?”

    Alexis de Tocqueville – “Democracy in America”

  64. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-06 14:18

    Don, the Greeks still beat us to it. Their system may have had flaws, but so did the rather exclusionary democracy that sprang from Philadelphia. We keep making it better by including more people. That’s not mob rule—that’s empowerment, maximizing liberty, and acknowledging the equal dignity of all mankind, regardless of race or creed.

    Does your de Tocqueville quote assume Christianity? Could not any decent religion step in and provide the moral tie he claims is more essential absent monarchs?

    And why don’t I need religion to keep my moral tie tight? I contend in this post that I’m more committed to true pluralistic democracy than Hobby Lobby’s Christian owners. Am I mistaken? Am I not at least as committed to keeping America great as my Christian neighbors? How much more commitment could I have to democracy and liberty than I have already demonstrated by writing this blog every day and running for political office? Would I write more blog posts or knock on more doors if I found Yahweh, Buddha, or Allah?

  65. Donald Pay 2016-07-06 22:19

    The travels of de Tocqueville that resulted in “Democracy in America” occurred at the height of the Second Great Awakening. He traveled in 1831. He was supposed to be on a trip to visit America’s prisons to report back to the French authorities. He didn’t publish “Democracy in America” until 1835.

    Most of de Tocqueville’s writing on America is derivative, and highly influenced by the specific time period (1831) in which he traveled America. He really had no idea about the history of the country except what he was told by people. He may have read a few books, but he did no historical research while in the US. This was in the period I noted above in which the myth of a Christian founding was being developed and spread among the population, so it is not surprising that he picked up much of that vibe.

  66. Don Coyote 2016-07-07 11:33

    @cah: The Convention in Philadelphia didn’t produce a democracy, exclusionary or otherwise, it produced a republic. Ben Franklin’s apocryphal answer at the conclusion of the Convention as to what type of government states it well, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

    Both Plato and Aristotle were critical of Greek democracy, both calling it mob rule. They both felt, and rightly so, that democracy pitted the poor against the rich and was the breeding ground for tyrants. Plato writes:

    “The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness. . . . This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears above ground he is a protector. . . . having a mob entirely at his disposal, he is not restrained from shedding the blood of kinsmen; . . . he brings them into court and murders them . . . at the same time hinting at the abolition of debts and partition of lands. . . . After a while he is driven out, but comes back, in spite of his enemies, a tyrant full grown.”

    It was no accident that the Framer’s final Constitution allowed for only the direct election of the House of Representatives, that the Senate was to be chosen by the States, that the President by an electoral college and that the Judges were to be appointed.

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