Friday, March 26, 2010

Immanent Frame's Claude S. Fischer writes about Christian America

Over at Immanent Frame, Claude S. Fisher, a Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, has written a small post claiming, "American was not born Christian, but grew to be very Christian centuries later."[bold face mine]

Why a liberal, sociology professor would dare write about our founding is beyond me. It's easy pickins even by a cursory examination of this blog. Immanent Frame, do yourself a favor, employ persons who understand the Founding Fathers. I've read some of your posts on Christianity in relation to our nation, and it's less than satisfactory. Let's get something clear right now. When the framers spoke of Protestant religion, they are referring to the Protestant Reformation, and they knew exactly what the Reformers preached. They did not preach heterodoxy. The Protestant Religion did not include unitarianism, or any other pelagianism; all of that heresy was kicked to the curb at the Synod of Dort in 1618-1619.

Politically speaking, some forms of pelagianism was allowed, and considered Christian, although it carried little weight, as unitarians needed to keep their views secret; heretical pastors hid their views. Theologically speaking, the majority understood orthodoxy from the Reformers, and by reading the Scriptures themselves.

Returning to Mr. Fischer, listing the State Constitutions is enough to keep Mr. Fischer in his day job:

Constitution of the State of North Carolina (1776), stated: There shall be no establishment of any one religious church or denomination in this State in preference to any other. Article XXXII That no person who shall deny the being of God, or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the civil department within this State. (until 1876)[bold face mine]

Constitution of the State of Maryland (August 14, 1776), stated: Article XXXV That no other test or qualification ought to be required, on admission to any office of trust or profit, than such oath of support and fidelity to this State and such oath of office, as shall be directed by this Convention, or the Legislature of this State, and a declaration of a belief in the Christian religion.” That, as it is the duty of every man to worship God is such a manner as he thinks most acceptable to him; all persons professing the Christian religion, are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore no person ought by any law to be molested… on account of his religious practice; unless, under the color [pretense] of religion, any man shall disturb the good order, peace or safety of the State, or shall infringe the laws of morality… yet the Legislature may, in their discretion, lay a general and equal tax, for the support of the Christian religion.(until 1851)[bold face mine]

Constitution of the State of New Hampshire (1784,1792), required senators and representatives to be of the: Protestant religion. (in force until 1877)The Constitution stipulated: Article I, Section VI. And every denomination of Christians demeaning themselves quietly, and as good citizens of the state, shall be equally under the protection of the laws. And no subordination of any one sect of denomination to another, shall ever be established by law.[bold face mine]

Constitution of the State of Delaware (until 1792) stated: Article XXII Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust… shall… make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit:“I, _______, do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed forevermore; I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.”

Constitution of the State of Connecticut (until 1818), contained the wording: The People of this State… by the Providence of God… hath the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent State… and forasmuch as the free fruition of such liberties and privileges as humanity, civility, and Christianity call for, as is due to every man in his place and proportion… hath ever been, and will be the tranquility and stability of Churches and Commonwealth; and the denial thereof, the disturbances, if not the ruin of both.[bold face mine]

NEW YORK 1777 (until 1821) That all such parts of the said common law, and all such of the said statutes and acts aforesaid, or parts thereof, as may be construed to establish or maintain any particular denomination of Christians or their ministers, or concern the allegiance heretofore yielded to, and the supremacy, sovereignty, government, or prerogatives claimed or exercised by, the King of Great Britain and his predecessors, over the colony of New York and its inhabitants, or are repugnant to this constitution, be, and they hereby are, abrogated and rejected.[bold face mine]

NEW JERSEY 1776 (until 1844) XIX. That there shall be no establishment of any one religious sect in this Province, in preference to another; and that no Protestant inhabitant of this Colony shall be denied the enjoyment of any civil right, merely on account of his religious principles; but that all persons, professing a belief in the faith of any Protestant sect, who shall demean themselves peaceably under the government, as hereby established, shall be capable of being elected into any office of profit or trust, or being a member of either branch of the Legislature, and shall fully and freely enjoy every privilege and immunity, enjoyed by others their fellow subjects.[bold face mine]

Here is more of a taste of Mr. Fischer:
Over the wider American landscape, however, colonists were notably “unchurched” and “un-Christian.” Scattered around in separate households (unlike the Puritans who concentrated in villages), most Americans had no church to go to and little connection to what we would call organized religion. Even where there were churches to attend, many went either irregularly or simply because the church was one of the rare places—along with the tavern—to see people in a sparsely-developed society.
Then why do all the states mandate Christianity, and why did nearly every state mandate the death penalty for homosexuality? The people obviously understood their faith from the Bible. Here is more:
Such waves of enthusiasm (“Awakenings”) in some places and at some times rallied some people to faith, but the clergy generally despaired of the heathens who had settled the new continent.
The Great Awakening went from New Hampshire to Georgia! It went not into some places, it went everywhere, and entire communities were affected.
Most early Americans were not believers in the sense that affirming Christians are today. They were likelier to understand spells, potions, and omens than theological doctrines.
Spells? Potions? Omens? If they weren't Christians as today, why did the vast majority take communion in the Church to identify with Christ?
The colonial elites, some of whom became Founding Fathers, themselves tended to be vaguely Christian. Even John Adams, a cultural conservative who struggled against the radical Thomas Jefferson, was “only” a Unitarian.
Only a small minority were Unitarians; this is why Adams and others kept their views secret.

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