The Dumbest Christian Nation Argument Ever?

I’d never heard of Bethany Blankley before, but she’s “a conservative political analyst and columnist who regularly appears on Fox News Radio.” She has a new article at the Christian Post that makes arguments so stupid that David Barton himself might find them embarrassing (though she borrows a lot from him). Like this take on the Ten Commandments, which is hilarious:

Six of the Ten Commandments specifically define civil law. The western concept and definition of murder, manslaughter, theft, assault, marriage, birth, and other civil and criminal matters are defined and ascribed judicial punishment by Mosaic law. Religious freedom and self-governance are defined in the First Commandment, family governance in the Second, private property rights in the Fifth, and having a fair trial with witnesses in the Sixth.

Say what? The first comment defines “religious freedom and self-governance”? Well yes, it says there is no religious freedom, for fuck’s sake. It forbids the worshiping of other gods or “false idols.” That’s the opposite of the First Amendment, which says people are free to worship any god they like. The second is about “family governance”? There are different numbering schemes for the rest of them, of course, but none of them fit this nonsense.

The second commandment defines “family governance”? Depending on which numbering scheme you use, that’s either the prohibition on making idols or on taking the lord’s name in vain, neither of which have anything even remotely to do with “family governance.” Private property rights in the 5th commandment? That’s either the command to keep the sabbath holy or to honor your mother and father, neither of which has anything to do with property rights. And the 6th commandment, either thou shall not kill or thou shall not commit adultery, has nothing to do with a fair trial.

And remember, most of these laws are unconstitutional under our system. The government cannot force anyone to worship the Biblical god, to keep the sabbath holy, to not make idols or graven images, or to honor their parents. It can’t punish them for adultery or coveting. The only ones that are constitutional are the bans on murder and theft, which are illegal in every country regardless of religion (for the obvious reason that you just could not sustain a society if you allowed those things). And the ban on bearing false witness is enforceable only in limited circumstances (libel and perjury). And yet these are the basis of our laws? That’s just stupid.

The founding fathers knew this, recalling Exodus 18 and 21, Leviticus 18, Ezekiel 3, and Isaiah 33:22, among others, understanding the Judeo-Christian God, the Lord, as lawgiver, judge, and king. Following this model, they devised three branches of government. Congress, the legislative branch—represents the lawgiver; the judicial branch—the judge, and the executive branch—the king, primary ruler, head of government.

They read the Bible, saw that it established a theocracy where all power resided in one person, then went and devised a system that did the exact opposite and this proves that the Bible was the basis of our government. That’s fucking brilliant.

Then she gives us this very strange passage about the Puritans and Roger Williams. Most fake fundie historians claim that the Puritans were the real founding fathers and they cite the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies as proof of our Christian heritage. Not Blankley. She goes in the opposite direction:

The First Amendment, for example, was designed to prevent a theocracy and protect people from totalitarianism. It wasn’t written because the 17th Century New England settlers, as Puritan separatists, opposed British kings’ laws and wanted religious freedom. The First Amendment was written because when the Puritans established laws in their new colonies they imposed authoritarian rule that they had just rejected in England as non-conformists.

John Winthrop, a Puritan attorney and Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, helped implement a largely Puritan-controlled magisterial government that prohibited anyone from voting unless the magistrate approved the Christian men who fit its criteria. Winthrop opposed codifying laws, believing that democracy was “the meanest and worst of all forms of government.” The “City on a Hill” to which he referred in an often-quoted sermon, ended up being a place that excluded anyone who disagreed with magisterial rule. His colony effectively illustrated the very non-Biblical values that restrain freedom and liberty—and the opposite of the Bible verse’s intended meaning, which he referenced.

The First Amendment exists because of Roger Williams, a Christian minister and perhaps the greatest political philosopher who shaped nearly four centuries of political thought. Upon arrival to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1630s, Williams opposed Winthrop’s form of government. Rejecting his freedom of conscience and ideas, the magistrates first placed Williams under house arrest, then banished him from the colony, and then sought to kill him.

This is a lot like the way the Christian right claims credit for every social advance that they worked valiantly to oppose initially. The Puritans who opposed religious freedom weren’t the real Christians, the real Christians were the Baptists like Roger Williams who were persecuted by all those fake Christians in all the other colonies. She ignores, of course, the fact that religious freedom was crushed not only in Puritan Massachusetts but in every single Christian country up to that point. Not a single Christian theologian, king or pope discovered the idea of religious freedom in the Bible for more than 1600 year, not until Enlightenment humanism came along.

Seriously, this woman makes Barton seem almost rational.

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  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    Seriously, this woman makes Barton seem almost rational.

    Impressive. That’s a seriously high (or low, depending on your perspective) bar. Shall we propose a “Barton” as a measure of historical ignorance in pursuit of Christian hegemony? What is she, 1.5 Bartons?

  • U Frood

    It’s funny when people claim the 10 Commandments are the basis of our laws, because the Commandments that we do enshrine in our laws predate the 10 Commandments even in the Biblical account.

    If “Thou shalt not kill” was the first prohibition of murder, why did Moses have to flee Egypt after killing a slaveowner?

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    If “Thou shalt not kill” was the first prohibition of murder, why did Moses have to flee Egypt after killing a slaveowner?

    Because God said it was ok. Moses lost the footnote in the trip down the mountain — the one that said “All of these are valid unless I (or my ordained representative) say different.” Genocide is ducky fine if God says to do it. So is rape and selling people into slavery. Heck, even God sells his own people into slavery — then has them rise up and kill the guy he sold them to. This is the source of morality that these morons want us to follow. Their “morality” boils down to “It’s ok if I do it to you, but not ok if you do it to me.”

  • http://howlandbolton.com richardelguru

    “They read the Bible, saw that it established a theocracy where all power resided in one person, then went and devised a system that did the exact opposite and this proves that the Bible was the basis of our government. That’s fucking brilliant.”

     

    I suspect that, at least in part, they did see that and reacted against it. And it was fucking brilliant of them.

     

    :-)

  • otrame

    You know, that city on a hill thing was grossly misinterpreted by modern speechmakers. The concept is not just that the city is up there on the hill, all glorious and everything. It is up there where everyone can see it, so it had better do the right things because if it doesn’t everyone will know. It is more admonishment than bragging, and Winthrop knew that, even though Reagan’s speechwriters apparently didn’t.

    Speaking of Winthrop, Sarah Vowel wrote a fascinating examination of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and Winthrop and Roger Williams called The Wordy Shipmates that I cannot recommend enough. She has a strange love/hate reaction to Winthrop that I find appealing. Vowell is a little weird, but she is an excellence social historian and I find her books enormously compelling.

  • Nemo

    Regardless of numbering, I’m pretty sure she was going for “Honor thy father and thy mother” = “Family governance”, and “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s X” = “Private property rights”.

    But yeah, it’s silly.

  • U Frood

    Covetting thy neighbor’s goods is highly encouraged in this country.

    Property rights is “Though shalt not steal.”

    The best example of the Commandments in US law is “Honor the Sabbath and keep it Holy”, which resulted in a wide range of laws (state and local laws, though, not federal) about what you’re allowed to sell on Sunday (particulalry wrt alcohol). But then, Sunday isn’t the Sabbath…

  • bmiller

    Roger Williams the GREATEST POLITICAL PHILSOPHER IN FOUR CENTURIES? Really?

  • caseloweraz

    Blankley: Six of the Ten Commandments specifically define civil law. The western concept and definition of murder, manslaughter, theft, assault, marriage, birth, and other civil and criminal matters are defined and ascribed judicial punishment by Mosaic law.

    So is birth a civil or criminal matter? And what’s the punishment prescribed for it by Mosaic law?

    I suspect that if I asked her these questions to her face, she would look at me, um, blankly.

  • JustaTech

    I’m sorry, but what the heck is “The western concept and definition of … birth…”? I’m fairly certain that birth is pretty darn self-explanatory after you see it once. And it’s not like it only exists in “the West”. And how does the bible define “birth”? “Head pops out, rest follows”?

  • Crimson Clupeidae

    The Dumbest Christian Nation Argument Ever?

    Until next week you mean?

  • Sastra

    I enjoy reading these “dumbest argument ever” excerpts because they help give insight into how the average person thinks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=730511544 billdaniels

    I covet some of my neighbors’ asses every day, especially the cute Mormon guy across the hall. None of them seem to mind. Am I still going to hell? Can they come with me?

  • pixiedust

    FWIW, an atheist friend of mine keeps a Roger Williams quote prominently displayed on her profile: “Ignorance is the mother of devotion.”

  • had3

    Sadly, my state of Virginia still sees fit to deem adultery as a criminal offense, albeit very rarely prosecuted.

  • forestdragon

    Billdaniels @13 – I probably giggled a lot more at that than I really should’ve. Still…[snerk] XD