Friday, March 25, 2011
Ignorant, Stupid and Dangerous
That's a fair description of Bryan Fischer, Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association.
His latest example (out of many, as documented by Joseph L. Conn at The Wall of Separation) is his claim that the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom applies only to Christians. Ed Brayton at Dispatches From the Culture Wars shows that Fischer can't even read.
Thomas Jefferson, responsible for the Declaration of Independence, and James Madison, responsible for the Bill of rights, are certainly more reliable sources on the intent of the Founders than a lunatic like Fischer.
Fischer claims that Jefferson was shocked to find out during the Barbary wars "that Islam requires Muslims to rob, kill and pillage infidel Christians wherever they find them." But Jefferson also wrote the Virginia Act For Establishing Religious Freedom, passed shortly before the Bill of Rights and certainly an inspiration for the freedom of religion clause of the First Amendment. In his autobiography, written long after the Barbary wars, Jefferson remembered with pride:
Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion." The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it's protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.
James Madison wrote his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments in opposition to a bill in the General Assembly of Virginia that would have levied a general assessment for the support of teachers of religions. That bill was tabled and a few months later the General Assembly passed Jefferson's religious freedom bill. Madison wrote in the Memorial and Remonstrance:
Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? that the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?
Only an idiot could think that the man who wrote those words could turn around and a few years later usher in a Bill of Rights, without a word of protest, that gave freedom of religion only to Christians.
Fischer is that idiot. But he spreads his ignorance to others and that makes him dangerous.
As a Canadian, I have US envy and enjoy seeing, once in a while, your nation's flaws. Still, the broadmindedness of your founders is indeed admirable.
I received an "open ID error" message -I am using the same pseudonym but with a link to a different blog - same guy though.
But the people who are considered the Founders were strongly in favor of keeping the government out of the business of religious conscience.
Anyone who imagines that any of the various Christian denominations would be content to see one of the others established as the state church is living in cloud-cuckoo land. When Southern Baptists talk about America being a Christian nation, they mean Southern Baptist Christian not Roman Catholic or Episcopalian or Mormon.
It was the same back in the Founding Fathers' day. Look at the way the Quakers were treated by the Puritans in New England. I'm betting the Founders were well aware of the potential for religious conflict in a state church and they didn't want a New World version of the Thirty Years War breaking out there.
-- pew sitter
But they probably didn't say ARRRR as much.