McCain’s American History 101

Oh, this is frightening. I get that it’s been a while since McCain’s picked up a history book, but he is either seriously mistaken about the history of our country, its founders, and its constitution, or he is pathetically pandering to the enormous number of Christian voters. Either way, any modicum of respect I might have mustered for my home-state’s senator (not much to begin with) flew out the window when I saw this video.

Some of the more disturbing quotes from this two-and-a-half minute spiel (for a real party, read the full transcript):

I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.

Um, hi. Yes, Senator McCain – did you ever pick up a copy of the Constitution? Would you mind pointing out the section that declares our nation to be Christian? They seem to have left that out of the history books I read when I went to school… (Incidentally, the question posed was: “A recent poll found that 55 percent of Americans believe the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation. What do you think?”)

We welcome the poor, the tired, the huddled masses. But when they come here they know that they are in a nation founded on Christian principles.

If so, then someone has been severely misinforming our immigrants. If that’s the case, why don’t we send them to Christian-principles training, rather than taking the time to deal with all the cultural-sensitivity nonsense, huh?

From the transcript (didn’t make the cut in this particular video version):

We were founded as a nation on Judeo-Christian principles. There’s very little debate about that.

Way to keep your finger on the pulse of the nation, there, Senator. I thought I’d been hearing quite a bit of rumbling about that, but it must not be coming from anyone important or any voters that matter. After all, if it’s in the Constitution, what debate can there be? So, where is that article again?

Also from the transcript:

Our Founding Fathers believed in separation of church and state and they stated it unequivocally. But, they also continued to emphasize the Christian principle. In God We Trust or [all men are] created equal—every statement that they made had to do with the belief in a Divine Creator

First of all, Thomas Jefferson – and many of the founding fathers – was a deist. Deists were not – and are not – Christians. Deists believe in a God or Creator, but they do not believe that this Being has any oversight in human lives. Something like how a mansion’s architect will probably never have to deal with the broken-down dishwasher twenty years after the house is erected, but still has appreciable skills visible in the design of the house nonetheless.

Second, “In God We Trust” never even showed up on our currency until after our Founding Fathers were in the ground. This is according to the U.S. Mint’s History of “In God We Trust” page:

The Congress passed the Act of April 22, 1864. This legislation changed the composition of the one-cent coin and authorized the minting of the two-cent coin. The Mint Director was directed to develop the designs for these coins for final approval of the Secretary. IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin.

It didn’t even show up on paper money until nearly a century later:

The first paper currency bearing the motto entered circulation on October 1, 1957.

This was in response to the phrase being [regrettably] made our nation’s official motto in 1956. Until then, the de facto motto (which also appears on most currency, and on the nation’s official seal) was E Pluribus Unum, Latin for From Many, One. Isn’t it sad how contradictory those to statements are?

Anyway… moving on. A little more from McCain:

But I think the number one issue people should make [in the] selection of the President of the United States is, ‘Will this person carry on in the Judeo Christian principled tradition that has made this nation the greatest experiment in the history of mankind?

Shouldn’t the number one question be, “Will this person make the best decisions for America’s residents and future, regardless of the person’s faith?” I can think of a few people who profess to live by Judeo-Christian principles that I would most certainly not ever want to see leading this country.

I am concerned that McCain will only be making decisions for the population that worships his God, and has little interest in the cultural and religious melting pot that is America.

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4 Comments

  1. waltersdimention said,

    July 17, 2008 at 8:15 am

    From an ex atheist and now a Christian by the grace of God. I believe that i will have to agree with you on that issue that this country is not to be called a “christian” nation and it is a dialoge that i have had with some of my Christian friends. Now to the issue, it is critical to understand that the founders based our government and its morality on God, not on religion. But how could they invoke God without invoking religion? Easy. They (the framers) believed that since all people, regardless of culture, have this same “Moral” Law imposed on their minds, someone had to impose it, and no it was not Darwin and evolution. And since every effect has a cause, the Moral Law must have a moral Lawgiver. Remember we are talking about religious men not athiests, and even Deists believe in a God. This is a nation founded on the Moral Law of God not the moral law of men or kings or popes or religious figures (i.e. Mohammed, Islam). But you also have to notice that the moral law of God is found in the Judeo-Christian bible, not the Koran not the communist manifesto, and surely not atheism. You are wright about John Mcain though, he should inform himself just a little bit more. One more thing I am probably one of those people that although a Christian you wouln’t want to trust in leading this country some Christians are just not very good leaders. Hope to talk to you at another time. God bless you err I mean may atheism bless you. Just kidding trying to be funny.

  2. kemist said,

    July 18, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    It’s really weird that a nation founded on secularism threatens to turn into a theocracy while I have two examples of former theocracies that are today ardent defenders of the church-state separation, namely, my own canadian province (formerly a catholic theocracy) and UK, with the queen at the head of the anglican chruch.

    It’s as if living in a theocracy vaccinates citizens for generations against it ever occuring again. In the case of my place, with very good reason : the catholic clergy abused the people in many ways with the complicity of the government. One of the most disgusting ways has to do with the sexual abuse of children by priests that is now in the news in the U.S.. In my place, this took place with government complicity, and in the particular case of orphanages, the children were not only submitted to sex abuse but also to electrochocs, isolation, beatings, and sometimes even unethical experimental treatments such as frontal lobotomies (as they were declared insane to the state so the church could get more government money). Many of the survivors were understandably rendered crazy and are to this day incapable of having a normal life. There have been token reparations to them from the government, but nothing from the church. If you are interested, you can google up Duplessis Orphans.

    Walter: if you are interested, there are some very good (and fascinating if you’re interested by biology;)) darwinian explanations for moral/altruistic behavior. One very good book on the subject is Steven Pinker’s The Moral Instinct.

  3. November 3, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    […] we had a brief discussion about the history of “In God We Trust,” which I had written about before. I was actually able to sit back and watch – the SIL who will be voting for Obama pretty much […]

  4. October 30, 2010 at 11:09 am

    […] we had a brief discussion about the history of “In God We Trust,” which I had written about before. I was actually able to sit back and watch – the SIL who will be voting for Obama pretty much […]


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