It is not uncommon to hear in typical right-wing commentary (read: obnoxious, illogical banter) phrases alluding to our founding fathers and their approval or disapproval of modern policy. In fact, it is practically a genuine last ditch, cop-out strategy. It's like they all sit in a room with a checklist of issues and the only criterium to be reviewed is "Would our founding fathers approve?" These people are exactly who we should look to today to form our country's modern, political agenda: old, white, DEAD guys from the 18th century.
If there is one strategy that is pulled more than the "FF Argument" however, it's the Christian Card. And when the two combine powers, it's like Batman and Robin, peanut butter and jelly, Justin Timberlake and SNL - a winning combination - for the right wing folk.
The religious right have (time and time and TIME again!) said that they want our country to "return to the Christian principles on which it was founded."
One problem: our country wasn't founded on Christian principles. Our founding fathers were not Christians. They were DEISTS, meaning that while they believed in God, they did not necessarily believe in the Bible or Christianity. Thomas Jefferson, for instance, respected Jesus' moral lessons (in fact, he was pretty much a full-fledged Jesus scholar), but didn't subscribe to the belief that he was the son of God.
Let them speak for themselves.
Abraham Lincoln said, "The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma."
Yet, President Obama, who is often likened to Lincoln, must for some reason constantly reassure us he's a Christian in order to scrub the Hussein out of him to appease the American people. Further, if he wasn't a Christian, there's no way he would have been elected.
Thomas Jefferson's diss might be my favorite. It's so sassy! In my head, I see him snapping and turning on his heels after his impeccable delivery of "I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature. The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his Father, in the womb of a virgin will be classified with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."
Mystical? Fable? Nowadays, any US president would be called sacreligious, satanic and likely impeached for such words.
And there's more:
John Adams: "The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and... foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity."
This was our President! Somehow, when I make these points today, people stare at me with a look that shows me they're doing everything in their power to refrain from running to grab the rope.
James Madison: "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and severity in the laity; in both superstition, bigotry, and persecution."
Makes us recall that America was founded by a bunch of people seeking freedom from religious persecution. Yet more than 200 years later, that idea has flipped and now we deny people rights based on what the Bible supposedly labels as sin.
And in case none of this was clear enough, I think George Washington (you know, the "father" of our country?) said it best: "The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine."
The problem here seems to just be simple miscommunication. The right has somehow equated belief in God as being Christian. The founding fathers did believe in God. In fact, you will find many references to God in many of their writings and speeches. However, while they may have believed in God, as stated earlier, they were also Deists and believed the Bible NOT to be true and certainly never intended for it to govern our country.
So what does this all mean? To be frank, any argument against modern values that uses the founding fathers is flawed, God or no God. It's also important to remember that many of our founding fathers were also racist, elitist bastards. I guess the whole point of this is don't believe everything you hear. We get told things in school, on TV, from our parents, and too often we automatically just believe them to be true. That's how things get out of hand and lies become truth. So listen and do your own damn research... and if you're going to use the founding fathers as a beacon for what's right and good about America, at least know what you're talking about.