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Word of the Day: Public Square

Remember John F. Kennedy’s famous speech assuring the public that his Catholicism would not affect his decisions as president? While Rick Santorum was still a candidate for president, he said about Kennedy’s speech:

Earlier in my political career, I had the opportunity to read the [Kennedy] speech, and I almost threw up. You should read the speech.

Hold on to your lunch, because we’re going to do just that. Here’s the central theme in what JFK said to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in 1960:

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute—where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote—where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference—and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

Santorum, who, like JFK, is Catholic, critiques this thinking as follows:

Kennedy for the first time articulated the vision saying, “No, faith is not allowed in the public square. I will keep it separate.” Go on and read the speech.

When asked about the throwing up bit, he elaborated:

To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case? That makes me throw up.

Huh? The guy is a lawyer, a two-time U.S. Representative, and a two-time U.S. Senator. Does he really not get it? I suppose the most charitable assumption is that he’s just playing to his electorate.

There are two meanings to “public square,” and Santorum confuses (or deliberately conflates) them here. The First Amendment establishes our free speech rights and, with some exceptions, we can say whatever we want in the literal public square. Hand out religious leaflets on a street corner. Stand on a soap box and preach like they do in Hyde Park. Wear a sign proclaiming the end of the world. Everyone agrees that the right that allows people of faith to speak in the public square is important. It is not under attack, and atheists defend Christians’ right to speak as strongly as Christians do.

The other public square is the government-supported public square—schools, courthouses, government buildings. The rules are different here. The First Amendment constrains government when it says, in part, “Congress [that is: government] shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

Government must stay out of religion. No prayers or religiously motivated science in public schools. No Moses holding the Ten Commandments glaring down at you in a courtroom (as a collection of historic lawmakers, this is okay). No “In God We Trust” as a motto behind the city council (yeah, I know that we have that, but it’s still unconstitutional).

And isn’t this best for the Christian as well? No Wiccan or Satanist prayers in public schools. No Hindu god of jurisprudence glaring down from the courtroom wall. No “Allahu Akbar” in Arabic script behind the city council.

Keeping government out of the public square helps the Christian as much as it does the atheist.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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About Bob Seidensticker
  • Rick Townsend

    Bob,

    I agree that Santorum was inartful in his comments. I also would observe that Kennedy was probably overly generalizing in an attempt to persuade folks that the Vatican wasn’t going to drive US policy nor Presidential prerogative. But the simple (and in your case inconvenient) truth is that in the case of US law, the ten commandments and Biblical morality had a major influence. The fact that you wish it were otherwise or want it to go away doesn’t change that fact.

    It is for this reason, (the fact that the ten commandments and Biblical prescriptions had a major influence on US law development, just so you don’t ask me as you usually do) that it is appropriate to have Moses, the Ten Commandments and other Biblical references in the public square, and NOT to have Wiccan or Satanist prayers in public schools, to NOT have the Hindu god of jurisprudence glaring down from the courtroom wall (if there actually is one) and to NOT have “Allahu Akbar” in Arabic script written in legal public square locations. None of these influenced US law. A Google search, “biblical influence on US law,” brings up numerous articles backing this point. A similar search on any of these other potential influences brings up lots of hits, but few actual influences.

    And that is the inconvenient truth in this matter.

    Rick

    • Bob Seidensticker

      the simple (and in your case inconvenient) truth is that in the case of US law, the ten commandments and Biblical morality had a major influence. The fact that you wish it were otherwise or want it to go away doesn’t change that fact.

      Truth doesn’t inconvenience me. I’m happy to accept it.

      We could argue for hours about what “US law was greatly influenced by the Bible” means and how accurate the claim is, but I don’t much care. This is how David Barton sinks his argument–by focusing on the personal feelings of the founding fathers (as documented in letters, for example) while hoping that no one notices the elephant in the room, the fact that the Constitution doesn’t base anything on Yahweh, Jesus, or in fact anything supernatural.

      And that is the inconvenient truth in this matter.

      • Rick Townsend

        So if the founding fathers said they were basing their decisions on the Bible, and the documents they produced (the Constitution and Declaration) reflect standards found in the sources they cited, let’s just ignore the evidence. Nice clear thinking. Just wipe out the Federalist Papers, other writings of the founders, and all other supporting data. Cool. Blank slate. Just like you’d like to imagine it. But it isn’t reality.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          You’ve heard the story of the structure of benzene? The discoverer was wrestling with the odd properties of the molecule, thinking of linear forms like other molecules. As he daydreamed, he imagined a snake biting its tail and turning from a string into a ring. With this new insight, he went back to the lab and soon discovered that it was correct.

          It can be fun to learn the stories behind the discoveries, but they have limits. The snake is part of the story, but it has absolutely nothing to do with benzene itself.

          I see as much Christianity within the Constitution as snakes in benzene.

          For better or worse, we’re stuck with the Constitution. You seem to imagine it a palimpsest, with the skeleton of the Ten Commandments (or whatever) still faintly visible in our current copy. But this is nonsense. The Constitution is secular.

          Let me step back for a second to see what it is we’re actually arguing about. If you’re simply saying that Christianity (among other influences) was in the air during the early days of the republic, I’m happy to accept that. But you seem to be saying that Christianity is privileged somehow, that a Christian prayer in a public school would be a very different (and more acceptable) thing than a Wiccan prayer. This is where I object. Christianity shines through the Constitution no more strongly than, say, Islam.

  • Orbital Teapot

    To all,

    I heard that the Ten commandments were influenced by Egyptian wisdom literature. Maybe Americans need to have animal-gods in their courtrooms?

    • Rick Townsend

      Source?

  • Rick Townsend

    Christianity shines through the Constitution no more strongly than, say, Islam.

    We agree we can find Christianity influencing the thinkers of the time. Even you begrudgingly admit above that is the case (it was in the air…). Where is the evidence of Islam doing the same? I don’t know why you are so stuck on this point, in which the documentation is simply not on your side.

    Thanks for your use or a new term (palimpsest) and expanding our vocabulary. But there is no evidence the Bible came about through this means, nor the ten commandments, nor the snake that didn’t make benzene. You can make up stuff, but you demand evidence from your participants.

    Show me the evidence of Islam influencing the Constitution, of its emphasis on life and liberty being sacred. In Islam, only the furtherance of the kingdom of Islam matters. Individuals are expendable. That is the key difference that Christian thinking brings over all other religions. If Christ died for each of us, then life is sacred and individuals matter.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Even you begrudgingly admit above that is the case

      Why twist things this way? I have no problem with facts. Seriously.

      Where is the evidence of Islam doing the same?

      There is none. But why ask this, since this isn’t the question?

      But there is no evidence the Bible came about through this means, nor the ten commandments

      You’re missing my point. The Bible isn’t a palimpsest (at least not in this context); the point is that the Constitution isn’t one.

      You claim that Christianity influenced the founding fathers. OK, so what? If they scrubbed out any overt Christianity from the rules they installed for the country so thoroughly (or there was nothing there to begin with), this point becomes historical trivia. If Christianity is as apparent and important within the Constitution as Islam is (that is, not at all), then let’s just put the religion thing aside and see the Constitution as a plainly secular document.

      It’s not like the question of putting overt Christianity into the Constitution wasn’t considered. Patrick Henry was part of a group that was pushing for this as an amendment. They lost.

      You can make up stuff, but you demand evidence from your participants.

      Just a random charge thrown in just for the fun of it?

      If Christ died for each of us, then life is sacred and individuals matter.

      That’s not the lesson I get from the OT, but I think we’ve gone off on a tangent.

  • Rick Townsend

    So you now readily admit that Christianity influenced the thinking of the writers of the founding documents, and that Islam did not. Then you state that Christianity had no influence on the documents because it isn’t mentioned in them. Interesting logic that I am too unsophisticated to follow.

    Just a random charge thrown in just for the fun of it?

    Yes. It is the way I roll. Way to make a charge without substantiation. I clearly responded to your claim that you see “… as much Christianity within the Constitution as snakes in benzene,” and pointed out the influence to Christianity. You then say I made up a random charge? And I’m making up a random charge? Whatever.

    If Christ died for each of us, then life is sacred and individuals matter…. That’s not the lesson I get from the OT, but I think we’ve gone off on a tangent.”

    You just went off on a new tangent, not me. Christianity is found in its full description in the New Testament. The OT in isolation is Judaism, not Christianity.

    Your blog claims to do clear thinking about Christianity. It doesn’t do that very well, but there is actually a distinction between NT and OT. I referenced NT Christianity. God is unchanged, but the focal points of the two eras was different.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      So you now readily admit that Christianity influenced the thinking of the writers of the founding documents, and that Islam did not.

      Just like the concept of omnivorism influenced their thinking and vegetarianism did not. Unimportant.

      Then you state that Christianity had no influence on the documents because it isn’t mentioned in them.

      I’m still trying to get an answer to “So what?” The so-what seems to be for you: So we can therefore allow Christian prayers while disallow Wiccan prayers. If not, correct me. If so, justify.

      I clearly responded to your claim that you see “… as much Christianity within the Constitution as snakes in benzene,” and pointed out the influence to Christianity.

      If you explained this influence, I completely missed it. Where did you point this out?

      I see no such influence within the Constitution. Now’s your chance—show me.

      You just went off on a new tangent

      I’m pretty sure it was you who brought up the idea that Christ died for each of us.

      Christianity is found in its full description in the New Testament. The OT in isolation is Judaism, not Christianity.

      You’re the one who has to cobble together some sort of harmony between the OT and NT. They don’t look compatible to me, and I have no similar obligation. I’m quite free to take the OT in isolation and show how it conflicts with modern moral sensibilities.

      You said that life is sacred, and you implied that this isn’t a tribal thing (only Jews’ lives are sacred, for example) but everyone’s life is equally sacred. And yet the OT shows Israel’s God-directed rampage through Canaan, during which genocide was the order of the day. And, by one estimate, the deaths surpassed those during the Holocaust (nonsensical, I admit, but that’s the calculation that comes from the Bible).

      God is unchanged, but the focal points of the two eras was different.

      Then you presumably have no problems answering for the nutty stuff he does in the OT.

      • Rick T

        OK, let’s review the bidding.

        1. You agree that by the written records left by the founders, Christianity influenced their society and their thinking.

        2. The Constitution and Declaration have elements that many scholars and experts have tied to Christian principles of individual liberty, sanctity of life, rule of law, and many other issues. *

        3. Generations of Americans closer to the time of the events chose to honor those Christian influences by commissioning statues, plaques and paintings, some of which honored Biblical figures such as Moses while others focusing on the ten commandments or other Biblical scenes. (I happen to agree with these earlier generations. You do not.)

        4. These previous generations of Americans must have thought enough of these influences to try to memorialize them to remind future generations of their importance.

        5. Now, generations later, you choose like a Bob-come-lately to try to rewrite these events and obscure the Christian influence, effectively attempting to rewrite the record left by these earlier generations who clearly spoke a different message than yours.

        What in the world makes you think you are the least bit qualified to do so?

        Finally, you remember the old Whack a Mole games? Commenting on this site is frequently kind of like that. Comments are made, and every time I think all the moles are whacked, you pop up two more new ones. Feel free to keep popping up moles, but on this topic, I’m done whacking.

        _______________________________________
        * I’m not going to provide you with a bibliography on this because you know as well as I do that it is true. You even readily admitted it above before you decided to say there was no influence even though Christianity was a common influence during the time of the founding, but you divert to eating meat and vegetables. See what I mean?? You have similar sources showing that vegetarians or omnivores had influence? No. But you do have plenty of evidence concerning Christianity.

        Providing you with sources will help you to keep arguing, which seems to be your real goal. You will simply cherry pick sources and take pot shots at them, commit ad hominem undercutting attacks and use other of your typical distraction methods. Enjoy yourself on this one.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Why not just directly confront the argument that I make?

          As I’ve said many times, letters, statues, plaques, paintings, etc. aren’t the point. The Constitution is the point.

          When we want to weigh the ideas of a Christian prayer or a Wiccan prayer in a public school, we look at the Constitution … and that’s it. We don’t look at letters, statues, and so on to figure out if this fits with the framework defined by the founding fathers. Seems like a pretty simple matter to me.

          generations later, you choose like a Bob-come-lately to try to rewrite these events and obscure the Christian influence

          Don’t accuse me of rewriting history, please! The Constitution is the issue. That’s it. Real simple.

          The person who throws chaff into the air with moving passages from letters or plaques is at the very least diverting attention from the real issue. (David Barton comes to mind.)

          every time I think all the moles are whacked, you pop up two more new ones.

          Join the club.

          you do have plenty of evidence concerning Christianity.

          Do you see my point now? In the Constitution, which is all that matters, there is no justification for favoring Christianity over any other religion. This is why I reject your claim that, “it is appropriate to have Moses, the Ten Commandments and other Biblical references in the public square, and NOT to have Wiccan or Satanist prayers in public schools, to NOT have the Hindu god of jurisprudence glaring down from the courtroom wall (if there actually is one) and to NOT have “Allahu Akbar” in Arabic script written in legal public square locations.”

          How do you favor Christianity over other religions based on the Constitution??

          commit ad hominem undercutting attacks

          Your favorite charge!

          I really don’t think you’re using “ad hominem” correctly. Show me the last time that I made the ad hominem fallacy.

        • Retro

          I’ve posted this video before, but I’ll post it here again:

          Our founders were influenced by many previous civilizations and religions. Why are you cherry picking just the Jewish and Christian influences?

  • Bob Calvan

    And keep in mind Bob. You may hear two different views on some points of theology. As we hear different views on Atheism. Two Christians can share the same faith and the same salvation in Jesus Christ on the essentials of the faith. ( Like the Trinity). Yet may have different views on ” in house” theology. Like should we baptize babies? Does man co-operate in his salvation? Can a Chrsitian loose his salvation? Did Chrsit die for every man or just His elect? Rick T holds to Christ died for everyone, where I would hold to Christ died only for those the Father gave Him. Which would change the argument Rick would give you and an argument I would give you. But at the same time Rick and I hold to only salvation in Jesus Christ alone. And Are dear brothers in the Lord. Hope that helps.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Yes, that’s why I’m a little puzzled when some Christians push back by saying that my critique isn’t against Christianity or is against some strawman of Christianity. I think the more accurate response would be to say, “Well, that’s not my view of Christianity,” which I could easily accept.

      Are the differences between you and Rick enough that he risks his salvation? If not, then how important are the points on which you disagree?

  • Bob Calvan

    Are the differences between you and Rick enough that he risks his salvation? If not, then how important are the points on which you disagree?

    That is a good question. Which I mentioned in my first response. I said:
    ” Two Christians can share the same faith and the same salvation in Jesus Christ on the essentials of the faith. ( Like the Trinity). Yet may have different views on ” in house” theology. Like should we baptize babies? Does man co-operate in his salvation? Can a Chrsitian loose his salvation? Did Chrsit die for every man or just His elect?
    Rick and I and all true Christians hold to the essentials of the Christian faith. So our salvation is secure in the blood of Chrsit. The little in house debates on baptism, end times, loosing ones salvation, etc. Have nothing to do with our being justified in Christ. They are just doctrines we discuss with different views.
    I think we ( Rick and I) have problems when you bring people under the ” Chrsitian umbrella” that can no way be Christians. There are essentails, and fruits that define a true believer, and when someone includes the opposite of Chrisitianity, and puts it in the Christian worldview we get upset.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Get upset all you want, but I have no place deciding who’s a Christian and who’s not.

      I tend to go with how people identify. If a Mormon says that he worships the same Jesus Christ that you do, then I guess he’s a Christian. I realize, of course, that you’ll have your own definitions.

    • Retro

      Rick and I and all true Christians hold to the essentials of the Christian faith. So our salvation is secure in the blood of Chrsit. The little in house debates on baptism, end times, loosing ones salvation, etc. Have nothing to do with our being justified in Christ. They are just doctrines we discuss with different views.

      So you don’t necessarily agree on baptism, whether one co-operates in his/her salvation, whether Jesus died for all people or just the elect, whether one can lose his/her salvation, or the end times?

      Bob Calvan, didn’t you just say: “The Bible is very exclusive on what a Chrsitian is, and who are Christians. It is very black and white on these issues.”?

      If the Bible is “very black and white”, and it’s all so clear, then why would you and Rick disagree on any issues? How is it possible that you could disagree on issues as important baptism, salvation?

  • Bob Calvan

    Yes, that’s why I’m a little puzzled when some Christians push back by saying that my critique isn’t against Christianity or is against some strawman of Christianity. I think the more accurate response would be to say, “Well, that’s not my view of Christianity,” which I could easily accept.

    That is the problem there are not views of Christianity in the sense of what is Biblical orthodox Christianity. And who are real Christians. The Bible is very exclusive on what a Chrsitian is, and who are Christians. It is very black and white on these issues. Jesus defines that He knows His sheep and they know Him and follow Him. And as Paul said of a group of so called Christians. That they are no longer with us because they were never of us. And if they were of us they would have never left. Showing they were never Christians in the first place. Same thing in John 6. When Jesus started talking to the Jewish leaders many believed , but at the end of the chapter after Jesus told them what believing really meant they all left as unbelievers . Except for the Apostles.
    So at times you do introduce a strawman of Christianity. Hope that helps.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Biblical orthodoxy is a determination that I’m not capable of or interested in making. When some fringe group says that, no, their views are actually the correct Christian views, I won’t argue.

      So at times you do introduce a strawman of Christianity.

      From your perspective, perhaps. But being faithful to your view of Christianity has never been a goal of mine.

      You know about the radically different kinds of Christianity that were popular in the first and second centuries, I imagine. I’m thinking of the Ebionites, Marcionites, and Gnostics. Comparing these to today’s orthodox Christianity isn’t like comparing Lutheranism and Presbyterianism. It’s like Lutheranism and Mormonism. Radically different.

      Why should your flavor of Christianity be the correct one? Sure, that’s what you think, but someone else with a very different kind of Christianity might have just as strong a case.

  • Bob Calvan

    “You know about the radically different kinds of Christianity that were popular in the first and second centuries, I imagine. I’m thinking of the Ebionites, Marcionites, and Gnostics….”

    That is exactly what I am talking about. And again you make the same mistake. You automatically include the “Gnostics” in the Christian umbrella. They are not Christian. They deny the Physical nature of Christ. they hold to dualism , etc. Paul letters battle against this, and warn true Christians to refute these false teaching using scripture. So you include ” Gnosticism under Christianity when it is the antithesis of Christianity. There is your mistake.

    “…Comparing these to today’s orthodox Christianity isn’t like comparing Lutheranism and Presbyterianism. It’s like Lutheranism and Mormonism. Radically different..”

    Yes, Lutheranism and Presbyterianism fall under the umbrella of Christianity as they hold to the Biblical essentials as a group of Christianity. Also keep in mind Is every Lutheran or Presbyterian a true Christian? Of course not.

    But when Mormonism is introduced as a “Christian religion” it like Gnosticism fails the test. As Christianity is monotheistic, Mormonism is the opposite as it is Polytheistic, again the opposite of Christianity. So by Biblical definition ( not our own personal opinions) Gnostics, and Mormons are not Christian.

    “Why should your flavor of Christianity be the correct one? Sure, that’s what you think, but someone else with a very different kind of Christianity might have just as strong a case…”

    So it is not “My Flavor” of Christianity. The Bible is very clear on what is and what is not Christianity. And who is and who is not a Christian. I hope you can respect that. At least represent our faith correctly.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      again you make the same mistake. You automatically include the “Gnostics” in the Christian umbrella.

      It’s a mistake from your perspective. They worship some dude called “Jesus Christ,” so they call themselves “Christians” as a result.

      Wait a minute … isn’t that the same guy you worship??

      (Hard to get away from the problem of relativism, eh?)

      Is every Lutheran or Presbyterian a true Christian? Of course not.

      Then why call them Lutherans and Presbyterians?

      As Christianity is monotheistic, Mormonism is the opposite as it is Polytheistic, again the opposite of Christianity.

      Well, you’ve got that whole Trinity thing going on, which makes things problematic from your standpoint too, I’m afraid. Yes, I realize that you want to pretend that you’re polytheistic but really aren’t, but I don’t find the argument compelling or even logical.

      The Bible is very clear on what is and what is not Christianity. And who is and who is not a Christian. I hope you can respect that. At least represent our faith correctly.

      I can respect that you have strong views about what Christianity is. But you simply have no platform from which to argue that your sect’s interpretation of the Bible is any better than any other’s.

      • Retro

        I can respect that you have strong views about what Christianity is. But you simply have no platform from which to argue that your sect’s interpretation of the Bible is any better than any other’s.

        Bob Calvan seems to think the Bible only supports his sect. Truth is, almost EVERY sect of Christianity backs up
        their beliefs with the Bible. (The average Jehovah’s Witness knows the Bible better, and can back up their doctrine better than the average “true” Christian can.)

        There’s not much point in Bob Calvan arguing about any of this, because according to him, God is the only one who decides whom He’ll save. Unless you’re one of the Elect, you’re not saved, and what you may choose to believe really doesn’t matter.

        According to Bob Calvan, only “true” Christians can understand the Bible properly, and anyone who understands the Bible properly will agree with Bob Calvan. You just can’t go wrong with this kind of circular reasoning…

        • Orbital Teapot

          To Retro,

          I would say that any reasonable Christian cannot dispense with objective methods of interpretation of the Bible, like critical history or semiotics. The Bible, like any other serious text, cannot be used to support everything, but has some limits which cannot be gone beyond.

          What is true is that the Bible does not speak with a single voice. There are a few theologies in it, which does not always agree, and the believer needs to choose which theological strand makes most sense for his/her needs and for reason.

          For instance Paul speaking of women says both egalitarian and sexist things. Skeptics tend to quote the sexist verses while apologists quote egalitarian verses. But both are in the text. We need to make a choice about what theology suits best our needs.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, we need to make the choice. But you’ve turned the Bible into simply a book of wisdom written by humans. Sure, we can mine it for the good stuff it contains, but the supernatural elements have been removed. It’s now just a book

        • Orbital Teapot

          To Bob S,

          Believers (those who are not fundamentalists) don’t read the Bible because it is supposed to be a flawless masterpiece. They read it because they think that the people who wrote it experienced, somehow, a decisive encounter with God. Which does not mean they were turned into flawless and all-knowing people themselves. They were still conditioned by their cultures and their personalities.

          The problem with atheists is that they read the Bible in the same way fundamentalists do, as if there were no other way (liberal theology?) Which means that atheists are closer to fundamentalists in their interpretations than both are to liberal theologians or to Bible scholars.

          In fact, in the Anglo-American world, nearly all the room is taken up by fierce debates between atheists (like Dawkins or Dennett) and fundamentalists. The two groups are at the same level of interpretation, so to speak. Atheists desperately need theological literacy.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          And the problem with liberal Christians is that they give the book a pass. The wisdom in the Bible is not particularly valuable if you need your own innate wisdom to pick and choose the good stuff out of the chaff. The hypothesis that there were godly experiences behind the writing of the Bible looks pretty well defeated to me.

        • Retro

          What is true is that the Bible does not speak with a single voice.

          Then what good is it? I’m done with all this foolishness.

          Whatever will be will be, my life has been nothing but hell anyways, so if there is a hell, what’s the difference?

          I’m tired, and all I want is to be at peace.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          (Hey, bro–I hope you were just lashing out at Christian idiocy. But if life’s got you down and you need to talk to someone, contact me privately.)

  • Rick Townsend

    You stated,

    As I’ve said many times, letters, statues, plaques, paintings, etc. aren’t the point. The Constitution is the point.

    You then stated:

    Government must stay out of religion. No prayers or religiously motivated science in public schools. No Moses holding the Ten Commandments glaring down at you in a courtroom (as a collection of historic lawmakers, this is okay). No “In God We Trust” as a motto behind the city council (yeah, I know that we have that, but it’s still unconstitutional).

    I don’t see any references to the Constitution in your response. Just all the things you say you aren’t making a point about—paintings, plaques, etc. And your consistency on this would be?

    Recognizing the influence of Christianity is not the same as establishing it as a state religion. I don’t know why you can’t get that.

    As for ad hominem attack, what do you want me to call it when you attack the source, but don’t deal with the evidence? I will use that term of choice in the future.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      I don’t see any references to the Constitution in your response.

      But you can’t miss the indirect reference. What are the constraints on government? At bottom, it’s the Constitution. And, obviously, the support for my claim “Government must stay out of religion” is the Constitution.

      Recognizing the influence of Christianity is not the same as establishing it as a state religion. I don’t know why you can’t get that.

      Probably because I’m stupid.

      Let’s consider the topics we’re juggling here.

      (1) The influence of Christianity: we agree that Christianity has had an influence on American history and (as well as many other influences—the Enlightenment being a biggie) was an influence on the founding fathers.

      (2) Establishing a state religion. Sounds like we’re on the same page that we don’t want this.

      (3) Favoring Christian prayers over others. This is the idea that you introduced in your first comment on this post, and this is what I’ve struggled to make progress on ever since. This is where we have the disagreement.

      I don’t know what there is to get. We could focus on 1 and 2, but I’m not sure why we would want to since there’s little to talk about. You raised a meaty topic in #3, so I vote we stay there.

      As for ad hominem attack, what do you want me to call it when you attack the source, but don’t deal with the evidence?

      “Rick eats puppies, so you can’t trust anything he says!” would be an ad hominem.

      I need an example. This doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever written.


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