Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Obama: U.S. "Not A Christian Nation Or A Jewish Nation Or A Muslim Nation"

From the Huffington Post news wire:

At a press conference in Turkey, President Obama casually rebuked the old chestnut that the United States is a Judeo-Christian nation.

"One of the great strengths of the United States," the President said, "is ... we have a very large Christian population -- we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."

Click here to see a quickie CNN debate on the President's statement.

Of course, I agree entirely with the President's assertion: the United States is a secular nation, ideologically driven by a commitment to democracy and freedom. But seeing as how some sectors within our great country, most notably the right-wing fundamentalist Christian koo-koo sector, see such a notion as "controversial," it's worth a couple of words.

This all depends on what one means by the phrase "Christian nation." I mean, sure, most Americans self-identify as Christian, and in that sense, even though the word "Christian" means many different things to many different people, it is fair to say that America is a "Christian nation." On the other hand, for the time being, and historically, most Americans are white. Does that make America a "white nation"? If you use the same reasoning, the answer has to be yes, but I'd hate to be told such a thing if I was an American of color. Actually, I'd hate it in any case.

But the real problem here is that the "Christian nation" people play fast and loose with these ideas. They think religious popularity means religious governance. Yes, America is Christian if you're looking at religious demographics, but in no way does that mean the Bible is an authoritative document in terms of running the country. I mean, setting aside the idea that there are as many interpretations of the Bible as there are Christians, and the practical impediment to democracy such multiple theologies-as-civics would present, the US Constitution, our actual authoritative document, mandates a clear distinction between government and religion.

That is, true American values, found in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and other writings by our Founding Fathers, and the Enlightenment Era philosophers who inspired them, utterly reject the idea that a democracy ought to be religious at all.

Seems obvious to me. Why are these "Christian nation" people so fucking stupid?