Class Warfare Blog

August 10, 2019

Book Report—The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American

I am trying to catch up on reporting on books I have read and can recommend to you. The latest is The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American by Andrew L Seidel.

I highlighted all kinds of paragraphs to use in this review, but there were just too many of them. I’d end up quoting the entire book. So, I decided to offer you just a bit of the concluding chapter. The author starts by explaining that he had taken an elderly relative to a Catholic mass. The quote beings with some ruminations on that event.

“The last mass I witnessed was during a full Catholic wedding. The priest mentioned the happy couple about sixty times—a respectable number, given that we had gathered together to celebrate them. But the priest was also able to mention his church and god more than 235 times. This four-to-one ratio of church over couple has held at the two other Catholic weddings I’ve attended. The Catholic Church is co-opting the prestige of more illustrious events, people, and moments for itself. Two people dedicate their lives to each other, and religion injects itself in the middle. Christian nationalism excels at this type of piracy and imposition. It attempts, like the Catholic priest at those weddings, to bask in unwarranted glory. It seeks to co-opt undeserved greatness, accolades, and credit. It claims a nation dedicated to the freedom of and from religion, for one particular religion. It insists that a nation with a godless Constitution is dedicated to one particular god. A religion that demands fearful, unwavering obedience takes credit for a rebellion and revolution in self-government. It declares that that revolution was the brainchild of a few Christians rather than of a group of unorthodox thinkers testing Enlightenment principles. It even claims universal human morality as its own invention. Christian nationalism also contends that the United States of America is exceptional because the nation was chosen by a god, not because the founders’ enlightened experiment was successful. Christian nationalists sometimes misconstrue a 1983 Newsweek quote: ‘Historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution, is our founding document.’ Ken Woodward and David Gates’s full quote is more interesting, and, as one would imagine, more reflective of reality: “Now historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution, is our founding document: the source of a powerful myth of the United States as a special, sacred nation, a people called by God to establish a model society, a beacon to the world. Biblical America is indeed a myth, a powerful one (emphasis mine SR).

“The sad irony of the myths of the Christian nation, biblical America, and Judeo-Christian principles is that they are born out of a misplaced zeal to revive or extend American exceptionalism. Trump and his Christian nationalist brethren want a return to a Christian nation; they want to “make America great again.” But religion did not make the United States, let alone make it great. ‘We the People’ make America exceptional. Religion is the millstone around the neck of American exceptionalism because religious faith denies experience and observation to preserve a belief. It is for this reason that it is unlikely to contribute to progress, though it will take credit for what science, rationality, experience, and observation have accomplished. America succeeded as an experiment because it was based on reason. If we abandon reason in favor of faith—or if our elected leaders commit this sin—we are asking to regress. Not to some golden age, but to a time ‘when religion ruled the world . . . called the Dark Ages . . .’”

It is abundantly clear that the idea of a Christian Nation is a power play, an attempt to grasp power for a “special” group of people. Unfortunately, the thinking behind this movement is roughly: Christianity good, America good. Christian America . . . double good. Christianity has no elements in it that are at all democratic. If you believe that it does, please explain that to the Pope. Declaring this nation to have an official religion would gut the Constitution and create religious strife like no attack from our enemies could conceive.

This book dismantles all such claims and efforts in this vein and is high recommended to those of you who wish to preserve the Constitution and the Grand American Experiment in self-governance.

23 Comments »

  1. You’d see more of the same injection of the Church at a Mormon funeral.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Bruce — August 10, 2019 @ 10:16 am | Reply

    • I’m shocked, shocked I tell you. It seems the same playbook is involved in all of these religions.

      On Sat, Aug 10, 2019 at 10:16 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 3 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 10, 2019 @ 11:40 am | Reply

  2. “Anyone, theist or atheist, who thinks that “purposes” exist anywhere but in our imaginations is sadly poorly informed.” – Steve Ruis

    Your previously stated philosophy leaves you no basis for condemning anyone’s attempt to grasp power for a “special” group of people. There is no purpose other than that which we make for ourselves. Your purpose is no more correct or noble than the Christian Nationalists. Welcome to relative morality, Steve! It’s a steaming pile of self-contradiction.

    To escape it, you’ll first need to admit that you believe your point of view is better than the Christian Nationalists. Then, you’ll need to explain why. As it stand right now, you’re talking out both sides of your mouth.

    Like

    Comment by John Branyan — August 10, 2019 @ 4:24 pm | Reply

    • Again, you are being deliberate obtuse. The basis for the existence of the US government is the Constitution. The Christian Nationalists are undermining the constitution and sowing strife thereby. That is a reason to oppose them, not a purpose. And all morality is relative. Absolute morality is so flawed as to not be worth considering. The Christian nationalists prefer Christian morality. many claim that to not to be relative, or “subjective” but “objective”. Unfortunately, the Bible undermines their position over and over. All kinds of things the Bible tells us are punishable by death are not longer considered to be so … by a vast majority of Christians (owning slaves, stoning disobedient children, stoning non virgin brides, etc.)

      On Sat, Aug 10, 2019 at 4:24 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 11, 2019 @ 9:34 am | Reply

      • If morality is relative, there’s nothing wrong with slavery, stoning non virgin brides, or killing disobedient children. I’m not the one who’s being obtuse.

        You undermine your own position every time you criticize religious people.

        Like

        Comment by John Branyan — August 11, 2019 @ 9:44 am | Reply

        • Okay, now you are being stupid. “If morality is relative, there’s nothing wrong with slavery,” is ridiculous. Slavery is universally wrong, not objectively wrong, not subjectively wrong, it is wrong because of empathy, sympathy and you would not like it if it were happening to you. Period. Interestingly, the Constitution allows slavery … as a punishment for a crime. So, officially, in the US, the morality of slavery is relative. And it is still wrong.

          On Sun, Aug 11, 2019 at 9:44 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — August 11, 2019 @ 9:48 am | Reply

          • “Relative morality” and “universally wrong” are mutually exclusive terms. You need to pick one or the other.

            Like

            Comment by John Branyan — August 11, 2019 @ 10:03 am | Reply

            • Again you are being stupid. Think about it. If you think morality is absolute or given by a god, how can all peoples come to the same conclusion that slavery is wrong, when they worship either no god or many different gods. (If you claim they are all worshiping the same god, that idea would be deeply offensive to most believers and could get you killed were you present.) People come to the same conclusion because we are all endowed, by biology, with the same emotions. This is not only the simplest answer, it doesn’t require the invention of a preposterous deity to make it make sense.

              On Sun, Aug 11, 2019 at 10:04 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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              Liked by 1 person

              Comment by Steve Ruis — August 11, 2019 @ 10:10 am | Reply

              • Slavery is still practiced today. It hasn’t been concluded to be wrong by “all peoples”.

                Regardless of your belief in God, you can’t say morality is relative and condemn slavery simultaneously. You need to pick one or the other.

                Like

                Comment by John Branyan — August 11, 2019 @ 10:17 am | Reply

                • Look if you are going to deliberately act like you don’t have the sense to come in out of the rain, I am just going to stop responding. Just because people do something, doesn’t make it moral or legal. Your argument is the equivalent that because people drive over the speed limit that people believe that driving over the speed limit is perfectly okay, that there will be no consequences.

                  On Sun, Aug 11, 2019 at 10:17 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                  Liked by 1 person

                  Comment by Steve Ruis — August 11, 2019 @ 10:21 am | Reply

                  • No. That is not my argument.

                    My argument is that the speed limit exists and it is wrong to break it regardless of the consequences.

                    Your argument is that everyone makes up their own speed limit.

                    Like

                    Comment by John Branyan — August 11, 2019 @ 10:24 am | Reply

                    • No, my argument is that we *agree *on what the speed limit will be (we elect legislators, who supervise bureaus, who set the standards). remember when we dropped all of the speed limits in the US to 55 mph (the “double nickel”) to save gas? Relative speed limits, baby!

                      On Sun, Aug 11, 2019 at 10:24 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                      Liked by 1 person

                      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 11, 2019 @ 10:29 am

                    • Right. When we agree about the speed limit, it is no longer relative to individuals. It is now universally wrong to break the speed limit.

                      The speed limit is not an example of relative morality.

                      Like

                      Comment by John Branyan — August 11, 2019 @ 10:33 am

                    • To Steve only —

                      So Steve, let me get this straight. After saying twice “your being stupid” and imply it again several times… what you are REALLY saying is that John BrainYawn is stupid? Is that what you’re saying and he is repeatedly proving? 😉

                      Like

                      Comment by Professor Taboo — August 11, 2019 @ 1:28 pm

                    • Behaving stupidly is a description. Being stupid is a characterization and I’d have to examine him closeup to come to that conclusion … and I do not have the stomach for that. He would say t was not part of my purpose in life … .

                      I spent over 40 years of my life preparing for and practicing the profession of teaching. I though that was a worthy way, a worthwhile way to earn a living (modest though it was). I felt good about helping others. But when someone doesn’t want help, and deliberately rejects it, I also believe in self-determination, so they get what they want. And I get what I want, which is not having to help them or interact in any other way.

                      On Sun, Aug 11, 2019 at 1:28 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                      Liked by 1 person

                      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 11, 2019 @ 1:46 pm

                    • Very well said. Unfortunately, their creed and New Testament directly commissions them, commands them to go out into the world and invade non-Believer’s privacy, intrude upon their lives, get all up in their business, especially everything they’re wrong about and doing as they approach a fiery Hell! Then try, try, try HARD to sell them your elixir and magic potions!

                      Like

                      Comment by Professor Taboo — August 11, 2019 @ 2:07 pm

                    • We agree on this point too. When someone doesn’t want help, and deliberately rejects it, I also believe in self-determination. You get what you want.

                      I will wear the label of stupid. I’ve been demonstrably stupid on many occasions. If you’re still interested in helping people, you could explain which of my comments is stupid and why. But if you’d rather not, I understand. You don’t owe me anything.

                      Like

                      Comment by John Branyan — August 11, 2019 @ 2:08 pm

  3. Ah yes, religion, holding back (or trying very hard to) keep humanity ignorant for thousands of years.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Walter Kronkat — August 11, 2019 @ 2:18 am | Reply

  4. Well great Steve. Now you’ve gone an added another book onto my LONG Wishlist. (glaring stare) But it seems it might be well worth it.

    If you subscribe to Netflix Steve, have you stumbled across their new airing on there called “The Family”? It is a 5-part series examining the Washington D.C. Conservative Christian group called The Family (also The Fellowship) residing on C Street there and heavily influencing politics, legislation, Congressmen and women thru events like the Prayer Breakfast and other “banquets, parties, etc.” when our Constitution clearly states by law our governing of 50 states is to be done by a Separation of Church and State. But that is NOT what The Family/Fellowship want or covertly work toward as you can imagine.

    Familiar with the series?

    Like

    Comment by Professor Taboo — August 11, 2019 @ 1:22 pm | Reply

    • I just saw a mention of it today and am planning to start viewing it tonight. You can’t exterminate the vermin until you can find them. Well, not exterminate, maybe expunge from history is more appropriate.

      On Sun, Aug 11, 2019 at 1:22 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 11, 2019 @ 1:41 pm | Reply

      • Perhaps you can give us a brief synopsis of the series after you’ve had a look. I’m quite sure I’d be unable to stomach watching it.

        Like

        Comment by Nan — August 11, 2019 @ 1:55 pm | Reply

        • If I don’t upchuck I’ll try.

          On Sun, Aug 11, 2019 at 1:55 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — August 11, 2019 @ 1:58 pm | Reply

      • Well, “The Family” intentionally try to stay secret, underground, and covert — almost identically like the Knights Templar or more modern Freemasons. They often boast about the strength and power historical icons wielded with their secret forces, like Hitler, Stalin, Putin today, and a whole list of other personality types to effect (at whatever cost) God’s work/sword. The ends justifies ANY means, whether it’s Constitutional or not.

        Like

        Comment by Professor Taboo — August 11, 2019 @ 1:59 pm | Reply


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