I ran across this poster while I was researching the public schools issue. While it is very obviously promoting a white male, Christian ideology, I am going to ignore the racist and sexist concerns, and go to the larger, more pervasive problem– the idea that this nation was founded for Christians by Christians. I grew up in this ideology, even though it was only subversively taught through the examples I saw around me, as those whom I was expected to look up to loudly lamented “what is this country coming to?” It happens all the time in highly conservative cultures, especially small-town America.
The very idea that a country, which values freedom from oppression above all, would be founded for the sake of Christianity is absurd. We have all been taught that the first settlers came to the New World in an effort to escape religious oppression. Assuming that is true, why would those same people want to establish a new oppressive society when they just left one? This poster makes the assumption that this is exactly what the first settlers did. Have the authors of this poster read the constitution? Do they teach it?
The purpose of our constitution for the colonies was to provide a foundation for which individuals could remain free to make reasonable choices within an organizational structure providing for that freedom. The constitution is the work of 55 men, including Thomas Jefferson. Many of these men, including Jefferson, subscribed to Deism; which is not Christianity.
Deism is a religious and philosophical belief that a supreme being created the universe, and that this (and religious truth in general) can be determined using reason and observation of the natural world alone, without a need for either faith or organized religion. (Wikipedia)
Other notable deists participating in the creation of this great country include Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Cornelius Harnett, Gouverneur Morris, Hugh Williamson, James Madison, John Adams, and possibly Alexander Hamilton and Ethan Allen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deists#Deism_in_the_United_States).
The constitution, written by these great, non-Christians, was completed in 1787. If you look closely at the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, you will find some very clear Deist statements including: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” This statement makes the assumption that there is a creator, but does not say that this is God or Jesus Christ.
It is interesting to note that while needing ratification by only 2/3 of the colonies, the Constitution was not ratified by all 13. Both Virginia and Massachusetts voted unanimously against it. Perhaps it was because the Constitution as it was, did not go far enough in providing for the basic freedoms mentioned in the Declaration of Independence (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness). Just one year after ratification was finalized, the Bill of Rights was added. The first amendment states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Thomas Jefferson called it “a wall of separation between church and state.” The reason for the bill of rights was to protect those basic freedoms which we consider to be God-given. Without this first amendment, not only would I not be practicing Mormonism but I would not be writing this blog.
The biggest fallacy with assuming that the Constitution is a Christian document for Christian people, is that to proclaim the U.S. public as such and requiring prayers in public schools, is to remove the “God-given” right of liberty, which, as we all know, is unconstitutional.
Another fallacy widely spread among good Christian people in this country implies that “under God” has always been a part of the pledge of allegiance. The truth is, that the pledge of allegiance did not include the two words, “under God” until 1954, and “In God we Trust” did not appear on paper currency until 1956. the reasoning behind adding these statements came as a result of the cold war. It was an attempt to distinguish democracy from communism.
So are the makers of this poster serious? At first I thought no way, but when I found the source (Sheldon-Clare Co.), and realized that it was produced in 1942 as propaganda supporting the war effort, it is obvious that they were deadly serious. The authors not only have read the constitution, but this is their way of teaching it. The popularity of these posters proved to be highly successful, proven by the general lamentation for the country’s loss of innocence, and the wide-spread support of Americans attempting to revive the “good old days.”
I like the fact that I live in a country where the right to pursue the religion of my choice is guaranteed by the Constitution.. I like that I still have the right to say this, and that others have the right to speak out against it. I don’t want to go back to the good old days when the good old boys ruled, when blacks went to separate schools, women stayed at home baking bread, and ignorance was promoted through the teaching of one culture supreme over all.
I am just sorry that the rhetoric of the many posters like this was so effective; that people not only have come to believe that the constitution guarantees freedom to Christian-only worship; and that we have somehow come to have the right assert religious dominion as well. It smacks of holy war to me, and I did not enroll in school for the sake of military duty.