The Uninspired Manifesto
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Crazy Statistics from Stupid People
God and the Constitution
On Sept. 17, 1787, after a long summer of argument and compromise, the Founders completed and signed what would become the U.S. Constitution. And despite popular misconception, it didn't include a word about the USA being a "Christian nation."
In fact, the Constitution doesn't mention Christianity, or God, at all. It is a secular document outlining the structure of what would become the new government of this nation.
Likewise, the First Amendment to the Constitution, which protects every individual's right to practice his or her own religion — bans government "establishment" or direct support of religion — makes no mention of Christianity.
Yet, 220 years later, an astonishing 55% of respondents to a poll released last week said they believe the Constitution "establishes a Christian nation."
More disturbing than the mistaken assumption of special status for one religion is a broader pattern evident in this poll, taken by a respected survey research firm for the First Amendment Center. The poll shows widespread ignorance of basic freedoms and a belief that many of the Constitution's rights apply only to some Americans, not to all:
98% said the right to speak freely about whatever you want is essential or important. But 39% would muzzle public statements that might be offensive to religious groups, 42% would bar musicians from singing songs others might find offensive, 56% would outlaw public statements that might be offensive to racial groups, and 74% would prohibit public school students from wearing a T-shirt that others might find offensive. * 97% said the right to practice the religion of your choice is essential or important, but only 56% said freedom of religion applies to all religious groups. 93% said the right to be informed by a free press is essential or important. But 37% would not allow newspapers to freely criticize U.S. military strategy or performance; 61% would impose government requirements on balancing conservative and liberal commentary in newspapers.
Just as the Founding Fathers didn't apply freedom of religion just to Christians, neither did they limit freedom of speech, freedom of the press or freedom of assembly just to those who behave politely or avoid offense. How could it be otherwise? If freedom of religion means anything, it must apply equally to minority religions. And if freedoms of speech, press and assembly mean anything, they must apply to all — most particularly those whose views might not be in the current mainstream.
In a democracy, if freedom is not available to all, then no one is truly free.
This country wasn't founded as a christian nation, but we're well on our way to a theocracy.