Received in email:
We are all familiar with the claim that the United States was founded on "Judeo-Christian" principles.
I supopose this is true, if you are talking about slavery, genocide (vs. Native Americans), and subordination of women. All have deep Judeo-Christian roots and were instrumental in the development of the USA.
However, it is not true if you are talking about democracy, philosophy, geometry, the stage drama, the field of history, the alphabet, concrete, and the architecture found in so many of our government buildings, museums and universities (e.g., the Capitol, Supreme Court, University of Virginia, Metropolitan Museum of Art, etc). These were all developed in pagan Greece and Rome centurires before Christianity displaced the deities of Mount Olympus.
It is not true if you consider the powerful influence of pagan Roman Law on Western jurisprudence, including that of the USA, to this very day.
It is not true if you consider the existence of a body called the Senate, which does not come from the Bible but from pagan Rome, which borrowed the idea from the pagan Etruscans.
It is not true if you consider that in the early years of the USA, it was common to immortalize prominent men like Washington with Roman style busts replete with laurels.
It is not true if you consider the immense influence of non-Christian Enlightenment thinkers such as Locke, Montesquieu, Paine, Hume and Diderot on many of the Founders, especially Jefferson, Franklin and Madison.
It is not true if you consider that complete absence of democratic governments in Europe in the 1,500 years that elapsed between the establishment of Christianity as the official religon of the Roman Empire and the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.
It is not true if you consider that Great Britain, the nation we fought for eight long years to achieve independence, rightly considered its monarchical and aristocratic form of government to be based on bliblical principles.
It is not true if you consider the harsh criticism of Christianity and the "Holy Bible" by so many of the Founders, including the author of the Declaration of Independence and "The Father of the Constitution".
It is not true when you consider that that The Treaty of Tripoli, signed in 1797 by John Adams and passed unanimously by the Senate, explicity states that the government of the United States "is in no sense founded on the Christian religion".
It is not true if you consider that there were no references to a deity on our national currency until the 20th Century.
It is not true if you consider that the harshest critics of the Founding Fathers and the constitutional government they created were not atheists, but prominent members of the Christian clergy, who rightly pointed out that the foundation of our national government was "unChristian" and provided no privileged place for the Protestant churches.
It is not true if you consider that when the Constitution of the Confederate States of America was drafted in 1861, the Southern delegates placed "God" in their preamble to contrast it with the "godless" U.S. Constitution. That godly preamble was immediately followed by the clauses protecting the holy institution of slavery in pertuity.
The roots of our country are Greco-Roman and European Enlightenment. What we have achieved in in spite of "Judeo-Christian" civilization, and not because of it.
Let's not be afraid to point this out.
-- Dennis Middlebrooks
FANNY (Freethinking Activist Non-Believing New Yorkers