October 1, 2013 by David K. Sutton
Apparently America Is A Christian Nation Because The Founders Said Things Like ‘In The Year Of Our Lord’
When debating right-wing hacks, remember, they do not operate within the same framework that you and I call reality. But even though they are disconnected from facts and evidence, don’t underestimate their ability to use half-truths, canards and misdirection in a failed effort to avow their firm beliefs.
So with that in mind, beware when you assert the lack of religion and God in the United States Constitution like this:
Me: If you read the document which is the foundation of U.S. government, the constitution, nowhere will you find the word God, and the only mention of religion is to say “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
Because if you do, you might get a response like this:
KevinVA: Incorrect: “done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independance of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,” appears prior to the Founder’s signatures at the end of the Constitution.
Well, slap my ass and call me Sally. Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit. Well, buy me slippers and call me Dorothy. Well, wet my feet and call me Ducky. — OK, I’ve had just about enough of that!
First, the word “Lord” is not the word “God,” but okay, I guess I shouldn’t play the same game of technicalities that KevinVA is playing. Second, this pre-signatory line is not part of the official U.S. constitution as ratified, and even if it was, it has no power, it is simply a preface to the signatures, the constitutional equivalent of a message forum signature or email sign-off. It has no binding power or enforceable meaning. It simply exists.
Constitutional Scholar, Akhil Reed Amar: [T]he “our Lord” clause is not part of the official legal Constitution. The official Constitution’s text ends just before these extra words of attestation—extra words that in fact were not ratified by various state conventions in 1787-88.
What, then, are we to make of these words? Just this: The words “our Lord” are much like the words “so help me God” in presidential inaugurations. No president can be obliged to utter these words in his inauguration ceremony, but presidents may choose to add them, if they wish. Over the course of American history, most presidents have in fact chosen to add these words. Similarly, the Constitution nowhere requires a president to swear his oath of office on a Bible, but a president can choose to do so—and almost all presidents, beginning with George Washington, have in fact done so. Similarly, the thirty-nine framers at Philadelphia were allowed to profess their faith even in the public square. Some signers with quill in hand likely gave no thought to the “Year of our Lord” language and its theological overtones. But other signers may well have mused on things eternal, and on their personal relationships to God, at the precise instant when they added their names to a plan that they hoped would sharply bend the arc of human history toward justice.
By presenting the “our Lord” clause as their rebuttal, shows what lengths right-wing hacks are willing to go in lieu of admitting the fallacy of their assertion that America is a Christian nation.
Oh, and if you don’t recite the entire First Amendment (when only a partial recital is needed to make your point) you will be called out like this:
KevinVA: The correct quote for the 1st Amendment is: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
Well, rub my belly and call me Buddha. — Okay, let’s not start that again.
But here I go again playing the game of technicalities by pointing out that the entire First Amendment reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
But you know why KevinVA felt the need to “correct” the first phrase of the First Amendment, because he had to make it clear that congress also wouldn’t prohibit the free exercise of religion, which essentially is implied by the first part, but I applaud those darn Founders and their thoroughness with that phrase. If only I could say the same when it comes to the Second Amendment.