Thursday, May 27, 2010

Facebook Follies: Keep God in the Founding Documents of the USA

In the current installment of Facebook Follies, which documents my Facebook encounters with superstition and woo, I present the Facebook "cause": Keep God in the Founding Documents of the United States of America which I was invited by a friend to join.

The founder of this Facebook cause says, "My mission is to bring to the attention of the government that we want to keep this holy name in our country and its founding documents." 

That mission statement puzzled me, since I don't remember any "holy name" in what I consider this country's founding documents. The closest I can recall is the use of the word "Creator" in the Declaration of Independence. And that seems to be pretty vague to be considered a "holy name," being that there have been many gods with many names credited with being creators.

And, doesn't one of our most important founding documents say, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...."? Was that part of the First Amendment to our Constitution repealed, and I failed to notice? And, if it hasn't been repealed, what is "the government" supposed to do--constitutionally--once this cause's mission is brought to its attention?

So I tried to find out more, to learn about these "founding documents" that mention a "holy name" and what "the government" is supposed to do about keeping that "holy name" in them--and in the country.

The "About" section of the cause's description says:  "If we don't ban together, God could be forever removed from the United States of America and we as a whole would risk losing everything our fore-fathers established this country for."

That only confused me more. We're supposed to unite to "ban" something to keep God in America? And if we don't, we will no longer have independence from England, and the United States government our forefathers established will go *poof*? Sounds ominous. And I don't understand why England gets us back. Isn't there a time limit on returns? And do they really want us back, and what happens if they don't?

Too many unanswered questions!

Bottom line: I didn't find the "about" information very helpful in explaining what "holy name" was in what "founding documents" and what "the government" was supposed to do about keeping that holy name in them. And I was still unclear who was going to remove God from America, and what authority they might have to do that. (It's not like he's an undocumented he?) 

The only other clues on the cause's Facebook page were:
  • a close-up photo of a U.S. coin-- hardly a founding document--with "In God We Trust," a motto which can only be constitutional if it's secular and not religious; and,
That called for a trip to the ACLJ website which says:

American Center for Law and Justice is a d/b/a for Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, Inc., a tax-exempt, not-for-profit, religious corporation as defined under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, specifically dedicated to the ideal that religious freedom and freedom of speech are inalienable, God-given rights. 

A further look at the ACLJ site doesn't appear to explain who is going to remove what holy name from the U.S.'s "founding documents," how they'll do it, or what "the government" is supposed to do about it once this brazen act is brought to its attention. The closest match to the Facebook cause's cause was under the "Church/State issues" of concern to the ACLJ: National Motto; Patriotic Signs; Pledge of Allegiance; and Ten Commandments.

For the most part, ACLJ supports interjecting God--at least the Christian one--in government and keeping him there, and working to ensure that government provides a "Christian perspective." It also supports some other "Christian" causes including "border security" (God's apparent "for" it); "the war on terror" (for); and civilian trials for terrorist suspects (against); and offers its Christian perspective on political and judicial candidates (sometimes for, sometimes against, depending on how pro-Christ and Christian the candidate is.)

I will grant that a few of the causes supported by the ACLJ are unobjectionable, at least from a legal standpoint (but crazy from a rational one) such as support of the right of public school students to form extra-curricular Bible clubs.

But then there's "Christian"-based opposition to gay marriage, and support for banning abortions (i.e.--forced pregnancy continuation laws), abstinence only sex education, and school vouchers.

Not entirely surprisingly, the ACLJ supports teaching creationism in public school science classes as an alternative to evolution--with the understanding that legally, such teaching cannot "promote a religious purpose." So I guess that could/should amount to the teacher saying: "Now there are various crazy-assed creative mythologies which tried to explain how life developed..." and then giving examples from a variety of sources. But here's what evidence actually shows us...."

But the ACLJ's interest in course content goes beyond teaching Creationism as science: 

If your school introduces practices that appear related to the occult, such as visualizing conversations with dead historical figures, chanting a mantra-like slogan, practicing any form of meditation, and so on, then the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment works on your side. The Establishment Clause forbids the state from setting up one religion over and against other religions. Since these practices are religious and state-sponsored, they represent a violation of your rights.

So, apparently, no patriotic school plays about the U.S. founding fathers for Christian students since they'd need to imagine "conversations with dead historical figures"--perhaps talking to other dead historical figures. Eek! And chanting "Warthogs, warthogs, you're the best!" at school football games is arguable out too.

Suffice it to say that, being a godless, bleeding heart liberal, I will not be sending either financial, moral, or spiritual, prayerful support the ACLJ's way.

But I've digressed from the topic which started this post: stopping someone from ripping mention of a holy name, somehow, from the U.S. founding documents; deporting God from our country; and getting the government to do something about it. So back to it. 

Since my visit to the ACLJ web site didn't provide much enlightenment on who was doing what to what, and how, or which government was supposed to do what to what and how, I decided to ask the friend who asked me to join the cause for clarification. Because surely, she wouldn't support a cause she didn't fully understand, right?

I wrote to her: "I need more information before I can support your cause, and I can't find the answers on that cause's Facebook page. So, please, help me out. How many U.S. founding documents are at risk?! Which ones? What do they say about the holy name? Who is going to remove mention of the holy name from these documents and our country, what authority do they have to do that, and how will they do it?!! What government is supposed to do something about this removal, and what is it supposed to do about it?"

That message was sent several days ago, and I still haven't gotten a response. That's disappointing. I truly was anxiously awaiting an answer which I'm sure would have been enlightening for me.

And if you were wondering, surprisingly, she hasn't defriended me--yet. 

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