July 21, 2009

Defrauding Voters For Jehovah

A campaign of revisionists is attempting to persuade residents of Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida that there is no such thing as separation of church and state, paid for by self-styled "activist" Terry Kemple.

By the way, of course there is such a thing and Kemple is simply wrong. He and his fellow revisionists pounce on the fact that the exact, particular words "separation of church and state" are not in the Constitution. But neither are exact words like federalism, individual rights to own handguns, the right to travel freely from one state to another, or the requirement that a person charged with a crime be arraigned. The concept is quite obviously there, even if those exact, particular words are not. To say the concept is not there because the words are not there is to willfully blind yourself to both the words, intent, and goal of the First Amendment under the doctrine of "textualism" taken to a degree that not even Antonin Scalia could endorse.

But I digress.

Now, here's the thing. The only substantial, direct support that non-separationists can claim for the proposition that America was explicitly founded as a Christian nation is stuff that they either materially misrepresent, or stuff they just make up out of whole cloth. Take, for instance, the claim by Congressman Randy Forbes of Virginia that every state in the nation includes an acknowledgement of God's authority in their constitution. One claim is made that Alabama's original constitution contains this language: "We the people of the State of Alabama ... invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution ..."

Thing is, this language is not found in Alabama's original Constitution, written on its admission to the Union in 1819. In fact, that language is found in the constitution of the state of Alabama enacted in 1861 -- upon Alabama's secession from the United States of America and entrance into the Confederacy.

Religiosity, not patriotism, may well be the actual last refuge of scoundrels. The state of Alabama did not invoke God as authority for its Constitution until it had already committed treason -- treason motivated to its fundament by the desire to preserve its morally abhorrent "peculiar institution" as an "economic liberty" of its people.

Another systematic debunking of the lies, misrepresentations, and deceptions relied upon by "Christian nation" advocates to back up their spurious, groundless, contralibertarian, and potentially dangerous claims, can be found here.

So what about these folks in Tampa? Well, here's the money quote from deep down in the article:
The billboards showcase quotes from early American leaders like John Adams, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin. Most of the quotes portray a national need for Christian governance.
Others carry the same message but with fictional attribution, as with one billboard citing George Washington for the quote, "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible."
"I don't believe there's a document in Washington's handwriting that has those words in that specific form," Kemple said. "However, if you look at Washington's quotes, including his farewell address, about the place of religion in the political sphere, there's no question he could have said those exact words."
LIAR! And you admit it!

Mr. Kemple, what would Jehovah think of that (that is, if He really existed)? I say, the fire-god in the sky would point you to one of those ten injunctions -- you know, the ones that people like you are so intensely fond of posting in governmental buildings with public money -- you'll recall, I hope, the particulare the one about "bearing false witness."

Or is it okay to tell a lie as long as the lie you tell is in God's favor? See, not being a Christian, this sort of theological hair-splitting is confusing to me. Maybe you can educate me about that. Of course, you won't ever convince me of the morality of lying to the public to get them to change their political behavior -- and if you convince me that Jehovah would sanction this sort of thing, I'll use it as a further indictment of the moral bankruptcy of that version of the religion you claim to espouse.*

Either Washington said those words, or he didn't, and putting them in quotes is a claim by you that he said those words. If he didn't say them but he meant them then you need to do some scholarship, citing actual things he did say, to back up the proposition that his intention was congruent with what you say he said. But do not put something in quotes and say it's what someone really said when it isn't and especially not when you know it isn't.

It's one thing to bad a bad scholar and get a quote wrong through an honest mistake, inadvertence, or excusable neglect. That's called "bad scholarship."

It's another thing to have reasonably relied on bad scholarship. That's called "being misled."

But when you say something that you know is not true and you intend that people believe and act as though it were true that's something else entirely.

We in the law business call that sort of thing fraud.

Your pants, Mr. Kemper, are on fire. This is not and was never intended to be a "Christian nation." It is a nation, a majority of whose citizens happen to be Christians, in which individual people are free to be whatever they want, including atheists. The fact that you need to lie to justify a contrary proposition is proof of your claim's vapidity.Stumble Upon Toolbar

* Many Christians are very honest, good people. Certainly, not all Christians feel the impulse to lie as a means of currying God's favor, or if they do, they don't act on that impulse. But this guy apparently does, and he therefore richly deserves to be criticized for it.

No comments: