Oppose H. Res. 397: Affirming the “Religious History” of our Nation

Yesterday, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), the Founder and Chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, sponsored House Resolution 397:

Affirming the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation’s founding and subsequent history and expressing support for designation of the first week in May as “America’s Spiritual Heritage Week” for the appreciation of and education on America’s history of religious faith.

He has 24 other co-sponsors in the House.

When a similar bill was introduced last year, it had 93 co-sponsors.

What does this bill have to say about out religious history?

Just look at some of the 75 “Whereas” statements:

Whereas in 1853, the United States Senate declared that the Founding Fathers ‘had no fear or jealousy of religion itself, nor did they wish to see us an irreligious people . . . they did not intend to spread over all the public authorities and the whole public action of the nation the dead and revolting spectacle of atheistical apathy’;

Whereas in 1954, Congress by law added the phrase ‘one nation under God’ to the Pledge of Allegiance;

Whereas in 1954, a special Congressional Prayer Room was added to the Capitol with a kneeling bench, an altar, an open Bible, an inspiring stained-glass window with George Washington kneeling in prayer, the declaration of Psalm 16:1: ‘Preserve me, O God, for in Thee do I put my trust,’ and the phrase ‘This Nation Under God’ displayed above the kneeling, prayerful Washington;

Whereas in 1956, Congress by law made ‘In God We Trust’ the National Motto, and added the phrase to American currency;

Many of the statements just give an indication of the deep political pressure to mention religious faith. Some, like the 1950s alterations mentioned above were part of a political ploy to “combat atheistic Communism.”

We certainly don’t need a week to “affirming the rich spiritual and religious history” of our country when Christianists try to do that year-round, anyway.

If you’d like to do your part in putting a stop to this, let your representative know how you feel. Just click here to go to the Secular Coalition for America’s action alert.

  • Jason

    Oh goddamnit, atheistical apathy? Are all Republicans rednecks?

  • Matto the Hun

    @ Jason, yeah that really pissed me off.

    What a jerk.

  • Luther Weeks

    Sadly, we do have a “Religious History”. We can face up to it. Congress should also affirm the torture history of our nation.

    In fitting honor of our history of bouts with torture and religion, Congress should designate a “Decade of Reason and Responsible Action”.

    If it works then designate another decade, if not, designate a century or millennium of reason.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Whereas Justice John Jay, an author of the Federalist Papers and original Justice of the United States Supreme Court, urged ‘The most effectual means of securing the continuance of our civil and religious liberties is always to remember with reverence and gratitude the Source from which they flow’;

    Oddly, he doesn’t name the source. I think it’s spelled out adequately in the preamble to the constitution:

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

  • Larry Huffman

    To me…the ‘whereases’ all point not to our religious roots…but to an effort by religious people in congress over the years to try to steer our nation towards religion.

    Notice, they said or added these things AFTER. The author of the pledge did not include ‘under god’…religious people in congress did it later (at a time when communisim had everyone spooked and misled about atheism).

    They stated in 1853…long after the last founding father was dead…so they could not speak on this for themselves…that our founders did not have a fear of religion. And yet…reading the statements of our founders shows they DID have a fear of religion. Note…the inquisition’s last deaths occured in 1824 in Mexico City…our founders were alive during the inquisition…many saw religious persecutions in Europe first-hand…and they were fearful of religion having any sway in this nation.

    Of course our nation has a reliigous history. All nations do. Even if we were a nation of atheists with but small pockets of religion…this nation would have a religious history. It is a totally unecessary statement to make…and is filled with falsehood. Lying seems to be the only way religion can forward itself, though.

    What I would say is that once again religion in government is doing harm. How? Well…it is simple…pick up a newspaper. There are far more important things for these religious fools to be doing as representatives in congress. Forcing their religious views down our throats is NOT what they were elected to do. They have much higher priorities right now.

  • Justin jm

    Roughly half of the “whereas” basically question the patriotism of the nonreligious. Even if this bill doesn’t make policy, it would enshrine prejudice into law.

  • http://blaghag.blogspot.com/ Jennifurret

    “revolting spectacle of atheistical apathy”

    …Wow. I mean, the resolution would be bad enough without this line, since you can find a number of quotes by the founding fathers dissing religion and Christianity…but really? What if you replaced that with “Jewish greed” or “Islamic violence”?

    …full rant at my blog.

  • Jason

    We should affirm the use of slavery as being a critical foundation for our country. I’m just as proud of that as I am of this “Christian heritage”.

  • Reginald Selkirk
  • http://blaghag.blogspot.com/ Jennifurret

    @ Reginald:

    I <3 American Atheists

  • Jason

    Whereas the European settlers committed genocide against the Native Americans in true Old Testament tradition.

    Whereas indentured servants we were just peachy with the Christians.

    Whereas slavery was an excellent source of Christian approved cheap labor.

  • cathy

    1853-love a declaration made about what people intended after all of those people are dead. Why don’t they look at James Madison’s statements about religion?

  • Siamang

    Whereas in 1853, the United States Senate declared that the Founding Fathers ‘had no fear or jealousy of religion itself, nor did they wish to see us an irreligious people . . . they did not intend to spread over all the public authorities and the whole public action of the nation the dead and revolting spectacle of atheistical apathy’;

    So let me get this straight. In 1853, the Senate decried “atheistical apathy”, and therefore it needs to be put in this house bill in 2009?

    I’m no history buff, but seems to me the Senate of eighteen-fucking-fifty-three has got a whole hell of a lot more to answer to than this bullshit.

  • Lambert

    Both my senators and my congresswoman have been informed of my displeasure at this resolution. 22 ‘bibles’ and 9 ‘christ’ references. Makes me sick.

  • anothermike

    This stuff really burns me. Taxpayers dollars used to debate and consider such self-righteous drivel. It is amazing how much pressure is put on elected public officials by religious zealots to take positions on matters that are essentially religious; they ask you to attend “prayer breakfasts”, ask you to go along with their public prayers when there is some tragedy in your community, and so forth. Then the the politicians go right out and encourage special interest groups to jack them around in exchange for political contributions. And the hell of it is that elected officials that are not zealots more or less go along with it in order to avoid getting burned by these true believers and self-promoters. Where is that “wall of separation” between church and state?

  • http://notapottedplant.blogspot.com Transplanted Lawyer

    Whereas, the Americas were colonized by people seeking freedom from a government imposing religious choices upon them rather than allowing them to exercise their natural rights to follow the dictates of their own consciences, AND

    Whereas, Baptist Christianity in America was founded by Rev. Roger Williams, who advocated the building of a “hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world” to protect the ability of religion to guide men’s souls to salvation, AND

    Whereas, upon the founding of the colony that later became the state of Rhode Island, Roger Williams set the example of religious tolerance in the social sphere and civic government untainted by the influence of clergy in the political sphere, AND

    Whereas, William Penn, the founder of the colony that later became the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, decreed as Governor of that colony that “perfect religious tolerance of all” be extended even to atheists, AND

    Whereas, the Declaration of Independence makes no reference to the Christian diety, AND

    Whereas, Thomas Jefferson authored the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which enacted as law the decree that “…no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities,” AND

    Whereas, our political forefathers including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and John Hancock all went to great pains to obscure from posterity and history their personal religious beliefs in the interest of promoting national unity and individual freedom with repsect to matters of religion, AND

    Whereas, the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides that Congress shall make no law respecting the Establishment of a religion, thereby prohibiting Congress or any branch thereof from adopting H. Res. 397, AND

    Whereas, James Madison, the author of the First Amendment, stated that “I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together,” and “Religion flourishes in greater purity without than with the aid of government,” and “The civil government functions with complete success by the total separation of the Church from the State,” AND

    Whereas, the Supreme Court of the United States has consistently stricken down government subsidies for religious institutions, prayer in schools, the teaching of Biblically-inspired “alternatives” to science in public schools, and the use of religion as a shield against laws of general application,

    THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED that we here today condemn crass and craven attempts of certain politicians to use the power and majesty of the United States Government to curry political favor as contrary to the letter, spirit, and intent of the cumulated weight of three hundred and fifty years of American history and Constitutional law, AND

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we affirm our belief that the religious convictions and institutions of theistic Americans are surely strong and worthwhile enough to survive on their own merits, without the needless efforts of certain politicians to “support” the same, AND

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we affirm, respect, and urge Americans of all religious beliefs, including a lack of religious belief, to resolve issues of faith and divinity for themselves on an individual basis using their reason, life experiences, and personal consciences, and thus exercise their rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution as intended by our Founding Fathers.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFTLSCJHZ5XVBATEOH3YTNXQVU Brandon

      Read the Treaty of Tripoli 1796.  It specifically says we are not a christian nation.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFTLSCJHZ5XVBATEOH3YTNXQVU Brandon

      Read the Treaty of Tripoli 1796.  It specifically says we are not a christian nation.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFTLSCJHZ5XVBATEOH3YTNXQVU Brandon

      Read the Treaty of Tripoli 1796.  It specifically says we are not a christian nation.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFTLSCJHZ5XVBATEOH3YTNXQVU Brandon

      Read the Treaty of Tripoli 1796.  It specifically says we are not a christian nation.

  • JSug

    Transplanted Lawyer, that was awesome.

    Just shot an email off to my rep. The whole thing is just silly.

  • Welkie

    Yeah, it’s those pinko atheist commies who are trying to take away everyone’s rights and make the US population conform with their evil ways! Yeeaahh . . . *shiver*
    How can we celebrate the force behind the most immoral BS that’s ever happened in this country? Can we have a week of celebration for, oh, I don’t know, LOGIC or ETHICS instead?

  • http://sapphicowl.blogspot.com Sapphic Owl

    I can’t believe this is what our elected officials are worry about, what with the economy what it is.

  • Catherine

    I sent the email expressing my displeasure. The unfortunate part is that my congressman is a Virgina Republican (I sure as hell didn’t vote for him) who will probably join the measure anyway.

  • Steve

    Is there no one here that can reason?
    What are you afraid of?
    That people may learn how this country was founded and why people emigrated here is not a reason for worry; unless you are also opposed to freedom and safety of the American People.

  • Concerned for You

    It is really alarming to see our nation deviating from God. We think we have all of the answers. There are many paths to heaven; we’re all good people; there are many truths yet no authority. This country was founded on these principles outlined in this resolution and that is undeniable. Were they perfect? No, not by a long shot.

    Let’s see. What are we doing these days? We murder 50 million babies through abortion, greed is running rampant, people are killing their families; divorce is an epidemic; love is physical and not spiritual; as long as it is consensual it is OK?

    Wow…we’ve got it figured out. We do not need Him. No, we don’t. There really is no difference between America now and Israel during the time of the Judges.

    Blinded by the world we are unable to see the forest for the trees. Maybe, he has it right. Maybe the point of the resolution is to remind us that in our own self-defined delusion of absolute clear and mindful intellect and thinking we’ve lost our way as a nation.

    I choose to pray for you. There is a creator and He gave us a way back to Him. Jesus Christ, He is the path to salvation. He is and will be and will come again. Think about it, many truths or I am a good person? What an absurdity. By who’s authority? Ours?

    This nation has been blessed and God has blessed it. But that will not continue if we continue to reject Him. There will be a time where we will all have to give an account for the life and time that God has given us. Be prepared. Find Jesus Christ.

    I used to see the world through these same lenses. But He found me and has revealed truth to me as He has for countless others. It is not about religion. It is about a relationship with the creator of the Universe. The living God. Jesus Christ has bridged the gap between us and the Father. Find Him before it is too late.

    Our forefathers gave their lives to defend the very principles that are spelled out in this resolution. Spend some time and read the Bible and the story of Jesus and Moses and see the context in which our early leaders built the underpinnings of this government.

    This country in its current state and with this current apathy is not what they died for. They were not perfect but nor are we. That is why we need Jesus Christ. To be made one with God through Him.

  • Rob Allen

    There is no denying both the good and bad that our contry has done through its history but weighing it all out and looking at our overall principals I’d say that we are a nathion of Christian values whether you like it or not. Further we should acknowledge and affirm the values in which the country was founded.

    Bottomw line, If you don’t like it, the leave the USA line isn’t that long.

  • BG

    I recently discovered that my congressman is one of the cosponsors of this resolution and I sent him this email…Any comments?

    Dear Congressman Latta,

    It has recently come to my attention that you are one of the co-sponsors of House Resolution 397 concerning the “rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation…” As a nontheistic American I am ashamed that the House feels the need to make such a declaration.

    I feel that this resolution is a step backward from recent quotes from our President on religion, such as his acknowledgment of atheistic Americans in his inaugural address and his more recent quote that “we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation.”

    My biggest objection to this resolution is that it flies in the face of the First Amendment . “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” With its many references to the Bible, this resolution clearly shows respect toward one religion: Christianity.

    I therefore urge you to reconsider your position on support of this resolution. Possible options could be removing your name as a cosponsor for the bill or amending it to include provisions for recognizing Americans of other religions or none at all.

    Furthermore, I realize that I am part of a minority in this country and especially your congressional district. However, one of the most noble purposes of a republic is to protect the minority from the oppression of the majority. Also, there may be more of us in your district than you realize and even theistic residents of this district may be opposed to this breach of the establishment clause of the first amendment.

    I would like to reiterate that I strongly oppose this resolution and your decision to sign on as a cosponsor.

    Respectfully,

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFTLSCJHZ5XVBATEOH3YTNXQVU Brandon

      You are right to oppose that house bill.  America is not a christian nation according to the treaty or Tripoli 1796 Article 11.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFTLSCJHZ5XVBATEOH3YTNXQVU Brandon

      You are right to oppose that house bill.  America is not a christian nation according to the treaty or Tripoli 1796 Article 11.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFTLSCJHZ5XVBATEOH3YTNXQVU Brandon

      You are right to oppose that house bill.  America is not a christian nation according to the treaty or Tripoli 1796 Article 11.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFTLSCJHZ5XVBATEOH3YTNXQVU Brandon

      You are right to oppose that house bill.  America is not a christian nation according to the treaty or Tripoli 1796 Article 11.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFTLSCJHZ5XVBATEOH3YTNXQVU Brandon

    Read the treaty of tripoli 1796 Article 11. It says we are not a christian nation.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFTLSCJHZ5XVBATEOH3YTNXQVU Brandon

    Read the treaty of tripoli 1796 Article 11. It says we are not a christian nation.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFTLSCJHZ5XVBATEOH3YTNXQVU Brandon

    Read the treaty of tripoli 1796 Article 11. It says we are not a christian nation.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFTLSCJHZ5XVBATEOH3YTNXQVU Brandon

    Read the treaty of tripoli 1796 Article 11. It says we are not a christian nation.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFTLSCJHZ5XVBATEOH3YTNXQVU Brandon

    Read the treaty of tripoli 1796 Article 11. It says we are not a christian nation.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFTLSCJHZ5XVBATEOH3YTNXQVU Brandon

    Read the treaty of tripoli 1796 Article 11. It says we are not a christian nation.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFTLSCJHZ5XVBATEOH3YTNXQVU Brandon

    Read the treaty of tripoli 1796 Article 11. It says we are not a christian nation.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFTLSCJHZ5XVBATEOH3YTNXQVU Brandon

    Read the treaty of tripoli 1796 Article 11. It says we are not a christian nation.


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