Tag Archives: US Senate

Wall Street Journal tries to spin Barbary Treaties to support religious right

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One item of evidence used to support the separation of church and state is the text of a treaty signed in 1796 that states “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion…”. The Wall Street Journal, in a blog post on Thursday tried to spin that fact to cheerlead for Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, who got the concept of the separation of church and state wrong in a recent debate. Too bad the WSJ spin doesn’t work.

The text of the treaty in question is:

ARTICLE 11.

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Treaty of Peace and Friendship, Signed at Tripoli November 4, 1796

The Journal writes:

The language isn’t in either the original, Arabic-language version of the treaty or the contemporaneous, Italian-language translation. It only appears in the English-language translation made by U.S. consul-general Joel Barlow, a translation so shoddy fellow diplomats at the time described it as “extremely erroneous.”

But then they undercut their spin with:

Nevertheless, that English-language version, complete with the mysterious Article XI, is what the Senate ratified and what President Adams publicly cheered: “And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office civil or military within the United States, and all others citizens or inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfill the said Treaty and every clause and article thereof.”

Obscure Treaty Is Cited in Church-State Separation Debate

There has been a long running campaign by those on the religious right to rewrite history and prescribe values to the founders that just didn’t exist in their time – like the founders didn’t want a separation of church and state.

The paragraph noted above is true, even if the text in Article 11 was added by Joel Barlow, the Senate ratified the treaty unanimously on June 10, 1797 and no one, not even the public, complained about the text.

Why? Because they believed in the words in that treaty and had no problem signing it and ratifying it. They agreed with the text and it became the law of the land.

The Wall Street Journal blog post doesn’t change the facts or change that United States said in public it “is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.”

Secular lobby opposes Kagan for court

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Secular Coalition for America released a statement today opposing the nomination of Elena Kagan to the US Supreme Court. It says her previous legal views give concern that she may not strongly defend church state separation as the Justice she is suppose to replace. Their reasons are sound.

President Obama’s choice to replace him, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, does not appear to embrace the fundamental American principle of church-state separation with the vigor and force of Justice John Paul Stevens. This conclusion is based on the evidence that has come to light since her nomination to the United States Supreme Court.

Indeed, in at least one instance, Ms. Kagan appears to directly rebuff the church-state jurisprudence of Justice Stevens.

Thus, Secular Coalition for America opposes Ms. Kagan’s nomination until she makes her support for church-state separation much more clear and emphatic. Five instances raise grave concern that Ms. Kagan does not share the judicial philosophy of Justice Stevens:

Secular Coalition for America Opposes Elena Kagan for Supreme Court

These points the Secular Coalition make concern me as well. I don’t believe, in these days of extreme politics, she will clarify her stance on church and state to the satisfaction of seculars. Today a court nominee has to be passed off as moderate – middle of the road – and I don’t think she will risk taking our side on these issues during her confirmation.

Hindu prayer in US Senate draws protesters

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For some reason this didn’t surprise me. Some Christians talk a good game about religious tolerance until they are asked to do it for other beliefs:

Hindu prayer in the Senate draws protesters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Three protesters disrupted a prayer by a Hindu chaplain Thursday at the opening of a Senate hearing, calling it an abomination and shouting slogans about Jesus Christ.

It was the first time the daily prayer that opens Senate proceedings was said by a Hindu chaplain.

Capitol police said two women and one man were arrested and charged with causing a disruption in the public gallery of the Senate. The three started shouting when guest Chaplain Rajan Zed, a Hindu from Nevada, began his prayer.

They shouted “No Lord but Jesus Christ” and “There’s only one true God,” and used the term “abomination.”

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/07/12/prayer.protest.reut/index.html

That’s why religious and government entanglement is a bad road to go down. Religion is divisive.