The PJ Tatler

Fox News: America Not a 'Christian Nation'

I’ll let you stop laughing… okay, now you can go ahead and read Peter Manseau’s opinion piece on the Fox News site:

Within the last few days, we’ve seen protestors holding crosses shout “go home!” at Muslims in front of the Oklahoma State Capitol, several Idaho state senators refuse to listen to a Hindu invocation, and new poll numbers suggesting that a majority of Republicans — 57 percent — “support establishing Christianity as the national religion.” In a year already filled with attacks and harassment of religious minorities across the country, the rise of such “Christian nation” rhetoric is troubling. But it’s not new.

No mere assessment of the religious affiliations of population, the argument that America was at its founding and remains a nation Christian in character has served as cover for a variety of racist and nativist sentiments for generations. It can be found in the writings of those who warned that Catholics threatened the nation’s “free institutions” and fanned the flames of a mob’s destruction of a New England convent in 1834, just as it can been seen decades later in newspaper reports warning that non-Christian Asian immigrants would cause the West Coast to be “swamped, inundated, despiritualized, and un-Americanized.”

The insistence that the United States is explicitly Christian arises from the assumption that a majority of citizens have been members of one church or another since the nation’s founding. Yet historians have estimated the number of American church-goers in 1776 to be only around 350,000 — less than a fifth of the population.

Okay, that’s enough. There’s always some wisenheimer intent on “proving” that black is really white, up is really down and in is really out, when you stop to think about it. It’s a kind of sophomoric lawyerism gone wild, the notion that “we could make the argument that,” no matter how risible. (Very akin to the obvious fraud of “man-made climate change,” in fact.)

Conveniently, Manseau ignores the difference between Protestant denominations and the establishment of a state religion. When Massachusetts and Connecticut established Congregationalism as their established churches, they weren’t choosing between Islam and Christianity, or even between Catholicism and Protestantism. The idea of an established religion was exclusively Protestant, and they were simply choosing among sects, which they called “religions.” Nor does “church-going” equate to being Christian; if it does, Barry Hussein is in big trouble.

Even as a matter of demographics, “Christian nation” raises questions. A large number of the people whom we now acknowledge as Americans often go uncounted when we look back at our country’s earliest days. More than a hundred thousand Native Americans, mostly unconverted before the Trail of Tears, were pushed beyond the borders of the United States with the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

That same year, the enslaved population numbered in the millions—in much of the South, they made up half the population. Given that only a tiny percentage of the enslaved were Christians when they arrived, early America likely included more men and women with connections to African beliefs than members of many Protestant denominations. What do these uncounted non-Christians do to the idea that America began as a “Christian nation”?

The answer is: absolutely nothing. Neither the Indians nor the black slaves of the period were citizens of the new nation. Blacks only became full citizens during Reconstruction, and the Indians were not given citizenship until 1924, under the Republican president Calvin Coolidge.

In the end, this piece of drivel turns out to be — surprise! — an apologia for Islam, as you’ll see on the next page…

Just two months into 2015, vandalism has been directed at mosques and temples in Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington. Anti-Muslim rhetoric has grown particularly loud, and has been heard in places as geographically and politically distant as California and North Dakota.

While some of the incidents making up this trend may be bald racism dressed up in religious garb, and others may have grown out of misdirected responses to news of atrocities committed by ISIS and other extremist groups, they all are now part of a more complicated history: Islam today plays a role in American culture previously occupied by other supposedly foreign beliefs.

Every generation finds its own religious bogeyman — strange ways from afar that seem to threaten safety and stability at home. It might be said that the widespread fear now seen as a response to Islam has been with us all along. Fear is the constant; the beliefs that inspire it change over time.

Yeah, well maybe if 19 Arab Muslims hadn’t attacked America on 9/11 things might be different. Maybe if millions of Muslims around the world didn’t launch themselves into the streets at the slightest provocation to scream “Death to America,” folks might be a little less suspicious of them. Finally, Manseau’s error is to conflate Islam the “religion” with Islam the supremacist idelogy, which has no place in America, not in the past, not now, not ever.

Moments of heightened collective anxiety through much of the nation’s history could be presented as a progression of religiously-fueled hysterias. From rampant anti-Catholicism and “Yellow Peril” suspicion of Chinese temples in the nineteenth century, to the twentieth century’s open anti-Semitism, forgotten anti-Hindu and Sikh obsession, and World War II-era targeting of Japanese Buddhists by the FBI, as a people we have been repeatedly convulsed by the notion that spiritual differences might be our undoing.

Each of these spasms of violence and suspicion was shaped by the particular era of American history in which it occurred, but they all had one thing in common: the stubborn idea that the United States is a “Christian nation.”

No matter how many Christians live here, we are not a Christian nation. For the sake of people of all faiths and of no faith, we should hope we never become one.

An intellectually and morally dishonest disgrace to the Fox News site.