Opponents attack the president of the United States for not being a real Christian. Bitter arguments erupt over whether the United States is or should be a Christian nation. Sound familiar? These contentious issues are not just recent developments but were also the topics of fierce debate in the late eighteenth century. Like President Obama today, President Thomas Jefferson had to contend with accusations that his religious convictions were questionable. Against complaints that the writers of the Constitution did not invoke God, John Adams replied, "It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods." This book covers these and other related issues from the two-centuries-long debate over religion and secularism in America. Taking an unabashedly atheistic point of view, the father-and-son authors argue that everyone-from evangelical Christian to ardent atheist-needs a secular America and separation of church and state. They examine the decidedly unchristian roots of the Fourth of July, the important difference between "tolerance" and "toleration," the misleading confusions related to the difference between "public" and "governmental," the value of secular schooling, the erroneous contention that atheism is equivalent to immorality and therefore dangerous, and a host of other contemporary and historical topics. With a list of key dates related to the history of secular America, notes, bibliography, and glossary, In Freedom We Trust offers important facts and arguments for secular humanists and anyone with an interest in freedom of conscience.
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|Title of Religion eBook: In Freedom We Trust|
|Release Date: 12-11-2012|
|Publisher: Prometheus Books|
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In Freedom We Trust
Chapter OneWhy Secularism? The Basic Logical and Philosophical Argument
The United States is and ought to be a free country, not a Christian nation. Whatever anyone says or thinks, it cannot be both. Nations, including the United States, have to choose either to endorse and support a religion or to be free. We are going to explain here exactly why the choice is necessary and why the only defensible choice is to be free. Everyone, including deeply religious Christians, should agree with us. And that is not arrogance on our part, nor is it foolish onesidedness—so let us first explain our optimism: Why should readers— some of you are probably Christians, maybe even fundamentalists—why should you listen to a pair of atheists, much less decide that we are right? (After all, there are far more Christians in the United States than there are atheists.) You should agree with us on this for two reasons: first, you rightly pride yourselves, we are sure, on being bright and open-minded, sincere searchers for the truth, as well as strong, freedom-loving, patriotic Americans (readers from Canada and elsewhere are hereby invited to be patriotic to their own "exceptional" nation); and second, we really are right about this.
American history supports this view (see next chapters) and shows conclusively that we are not a Christian nation. And, as many well-documented quotations demonstrate, America's founders supported religious liberty and understood that government support of any religion undermines religious freedom.
There are many "myths"—false things many people think they know about separation of religion and go...