The number of myths now masquerading as fact are very tiring to refute, so I am glad when other people help to do it. Right now I am glad the NYT has refuted a few myths about religion, the Founders, and the Framers. The article refers to Mitt Romney’s speech on the matter earlier this month. Now I quote and excerpt:
1. Mr. Romney filled his speech with the first myth — that the nation’s founders, rather than seeking to protect all faiths, sought to imbue the United States with Christian orthodoxy. He cited the Declaration of Independence’s reference to “the creator” endowing all men with unalienable rights and the founders’ proclaiming not just their belief in God, but their belief that God’s hand guided the American revolutionaries.
Mr. Romney dragged out the old chestnuts about “In God We Trust” on the nation’s currency, and the inclusion of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance — conveniently omitting that those weren’t the founders’ handiwork, but were adopted in the 1950s at the height of McCarthyism. He managed to find a few quotes from John Adams to support his argument about America’s Christian foundation, but overlooked George Washington’s letter of reassurance to the Jews in Newport, R.I., that they would be full members of the new nation.
2. The other myth permeating the debate over religion is that it is a dispute between those who believe religion has a place in public life and those who advocate, as Mr. Romney put it, “the elimination of religion from the public square.” That same nonsense is trotted out every time a court rules that the Ten Commandments may not be displayed in a government building.
We believe democracy cannot exist without separation of church and state, not that public displays of faith are anathema. We believe, as did the founding fathers, that no specific religion should be elevated above all others by the government.
The authors of the Constitution knew that requiring specific declarations of religious belief (like Mr. Romney saying he believes Jesus was the son of God) is a step toward imposing that belief on all Americans. That is why they wrote in Article VI that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
I am posting this not because it is new news but to help people think on their feet in case members of the Christian Right try to say that it is their First Amendment right to require a religious test of candidates for office. Via Perverse Egalitarianism.