In a recent interview with Bill O’Reilly, Sarah Palin made a statement that it is “quite clear” that the founding fathers intended our government to make laws based on the Bible [http://is.gd/c0c3F].
In addition, she stated that the Constitution acknowledges that our inalienable rights come from God, not man:
I have said all along that America is based on Judeo-Christian beliefs and, you know, nobody has to believe me though. You can just go to our Founding Fathers’ early documents and see how they crafted a Declaration of Independence and a Constitution that allows that Judeo-Christian belief to be the foundation of our lives. And our Constitution, of course, essentially acknowledging that our unalienable rights don’t come from man; they come from God. So this document is set up to protect us from a government that would ever infringe upon our rights to have freedom of religion and to be able to express our faith freely.
Let ME be “quite clear”.
Sarah Palin is an idiot.
The Day of Prayer aside, there are several fallacies in her statement – she obviously (again), doesn’t remotely understand the point of a secular society.
1) Those with this secular “worldview” want to remove any discussion of god from the public sector.
No. I do not want to prevent people from discussing god in the public sector. They can discuss all they want. They can pray, observe, meditate, worship, holy roll or be as spiritual as they please – no mandate should be in place that prevents that. However, my view of an ideal government is one that neither promotes nor prohibits any form of religious expression, as long as such expression does not cause harm to others or violate current law. For instance, if a religion has a tenant stating they are to sacrifice their firstborn, that shouldn’t be tolerated and any practitioners should be jailed.
2) The Constitution is based on Judeo-Christian values.
Some of our founding fathers may have been Christians, yes. Some may have been Deists, Unitarians, Atheists – especially in the case of Thomas Jefferson, there are conflicting reports. Their personal correspondence, however, was not law. The Constitution says nothing about a god – the Declaration of Independence states only the term “Creator”. This creator wasn’t given a name, or even if said creator was considered a deity, a “prime mover”, etc. Thus, it is NOT clear that the founding fathers, by the actual law-giving document, intended all laws to be based on the Bible. Even if they were intended to be so, as O’Reilly stated, we are becoming an increasingly secular nation. Palin either made the mistake of stating that the Constitution says this, or she is lying to make the point.
As I stated in my comment to Jerry Murphy concerning the Wilderness Outcry on the SE Missourian:
What are the Judeo-Christian “values” you are promoting? I need to confirm that said values match a common sense of decency and human rights, without any subjugation of women, condemnation of homosexuality, exclusion of religions other than Christianity or belief in magical or mystical cures for society’s woes. If any of the above are included or promoted, or books which include/promote the above, then said values are to be considered antiquated and NOT something the populace of our country needs to be exposed to [on a legislative level].
3) Those with a secular “worldview” are afraid of those without one.
Yes and no. For the exceedingly fanatical religious people who want to push our country toward a theocracy, who laud war and human suffering as an indication that their “messiah” is soon to return and thus as a good thing, or otherwise wield their faith as a means to mold others into submission of their own views – yes, there is fear. Fear that our country will be injected with laws based on a specific religious sect without any neutral, secular application. Fear that we will start taking steps backward into intolerance, bigotry and persecution of those who do not adhere or support a religious mindset or other deviations from Bible based societal norms. It’s a fear that spurs us to take steps in order to insure a secular (neutral society), and to minimize the influence of those who truly believe that to be non-religious is to be evil, to be savage or to be unacceptable in society.
Palin’s comments echo the same arguments I’ve heard many times about the role of religion in society. Even though I don’t think O’Reilly really disagreed with Palin’s statements, I do think he spoke the truth about an evolving society. We should evolve. Expand our knowledge as much as possible, recognize and acknowledge our past with its mistakes and its victories, but be willing to discard that which no longer works, while strengthening that which does. We’ve evolved in so many ways since 1776 – our medicine, or technology – even how we treat one another. As with civil rights, equality for women, and more recently, same sex marriage, as we see areas that can use improvement, we should be willing to progress as individuals and as a society. This is where a humanistic approach to morality and the concepts of right and wrong are superior to those based on religion in many cases.
I assert that we should only follow any writ of morality such as that found in the Bible, as long as it aligns with our common sense of decency and human values (as stated above). For instance, when we as a society realized that enslaving other humans was indecent, we amended that practice, in spite of those who used their interpretation of the scriptures to justify continuing the atrocity.
If you choose, follow the Bible, the Koran or any other philosophy that helps you interact in a fair and decent manner with your fellow man. However, if what you read in that book does not resonate with you own empathy/education, if it encourages you to infringe on another’s right to happiness and wellbeing, and finally, what allows us to operate and evolve as society – ignore those portions of the book.
We will all be better off if we take what is good from our religions and philosophies and discard the bad, harmful and illogical.