/ Jimmy's Corner: Is America secular?

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Sunday, February 03, 2008 

Is America secular?

Is America a secular state? If you are going to answer with "Yes", reconsider it. If you question the extent to which America is secular you would find out that it is very insecure to call the United States a "secular state".

The question popped in my head when I heard one of the audience at last week's Oprah saying "We are a religious nation"... He demanded all religious books, specially the Bible, be taught in public schools so the students would know more about the religions of the world. Then, some of the audience, one is a public school headmaster, rejected the whole idea as it is going to cost the schools more money, and goes against the "secular" principles of America.

To what extent is America a secular country??
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, 'Secularization' is noun from the verb 'Secularize' which means:

To draw away from religious orientation; make worldly.

And if you look up the meaning of the word 'Secularism' in an encyclopedia you would find out that:
Secularism is generally the assertion that certain practices or institutions should exist separately from religion or religious belief. Alternatively, it is a principle of promoting secular ideas or values in either public or private settings. It may also be a synonym for "secularist movement". In the extreme, it is an ideology that holds that religion has no place in public life. (Free Online Dictionary by Farlex)
And with little research into the definition of "Separation of Church and State", the following is found:
In the United States, the "Separation of Church and State" is generally discussed as political and legal principle derived from the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . ." The concept of separation is commonly credited to the combination of the two clauses: the establishment clause, generally interpreted as preventing the government from establishing a national religion, providing tax money in support of religion, or otherwise favoring any single religion or religion generally, and the free exercise clause, ensuring that private religious practices not be restricted by the government. The effect of prohibiting direct connections between religious and governmental institutions while protecting private religious freedom and autonomy has been termed the "separation of church and state."
Looking at the definition, and the later facts, it would leave no doubt that the United States constitution is simply based on the soul and true meaning of secularism... right?

No, in fact IT IS NOT.
I am not the one saying so, this is not an Egyptian youngman's claim... It is what the US House Judiciary Committee Report concluded in 1853 as the basis of its decision to deny a request to separate Christianity from the ongoings of the government. Here I quote it to you:
At the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the amendments the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, not any one sect.... There can be no substitute for Christianity ... that was the religion of the founders of the republic, and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants. The great, vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Then in 1892, the United States Supreme Court stated that:
Our law and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind . . . it is impossible that it should be otherwise and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.
That is to say, in real life, the United States Supreme Court and US House Judiciary Committee have ruled out the establishment clause in the United States constitution and applied what they thought was right. But, what if the greatest presidents of the United States, who applied constitution themselves, are stating the same opinion as the US Supreme Court and the US House Judiciary Committee?? Read what James Madison (who took part in drafting the US Constitution) says:

We have staked the future of government not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions on the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the ten commandments of God.

Then comse George Washington:
It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.... No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency ... We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.
Then John Adams comes to state that the US Constitution is for religious people!!! Read:

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. So great is my veneration of the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it, the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectful members of society.
And John Jay's advice for the US citizens:

Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty of as well as the privilege and interest of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for its rulers.
Things will be even more interesting if you continue to read Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin or Andrew Jackson say about Christianity being the "rock on which our Republic rests". Check The Forerunner.

Can you see the contradiction at hand here?? The authors of the United States Constitution and, later, the presidents who apply this constitution are just stating the complete opposite of what they have authored. Then we move from words to reality.

Since 1957, each and every US banknote or coin bears the following statement: "In God we Trust"... Isn't this one a religious symbol that printed on the country's currency which is one of the US symbols? How secular is that?

Adding the statement: "Under one God" to the Pledge of Allegiance... How worldly and unreligious is that?

Using a Bible, or Quran in one case, for new congressmen to be sworn in; how secular and irreligiously oriented is that?
Blocking laws for homosexuality and abortion on religious basis since the Neo-cons are religious people and they are in power. To what extent is that secular of the United States?

Allowing schools and institutions to be built on religious basis (catholic schools... etc.), isn't this an unconstitutional act in light of the establishment act in the US Constitution?

To make myself clear here, I am not attacking the United States for being unsecular. On the contrary, I am against secularism at some great points. What I am saying here is that if America itself cannot separate politics and state from religion, why are you calling other countries to apply what you failed to apply.

I never stop reading remarks about the Muslim Brotherhood in US newspapers that they want to apply Sharia law. No one stops attacking Iran over mingling religion with politics.... The list is too long to mention....

The bottom line is, why are you attacking people for building their constitution on the basis of their national religion when you do the same yourselves? Why attack the Egyptian Constitutions second item that says: "Sharia Law is the conrner stone of legislation" when it is practically applied to the core, at the same time you put Christianity as the corner stone of your state?

How legitimate it is of America to make such demands when the American house has so much cleaning and tidying up to be done?

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Seems the Sphinx got all the comments :-)

"why are you attacking people for building their constitution on the basis of their national religion when you do the same yourselves?"

Not being American, not "attacking" other countries for organizing in their own way, but...

"Sharia Law is the conner stone of legislation" fair enough, but Egypt has a sizeable non-Muslim minority, that even "was there first"

How would you like it if, say, an European country made a constitution sating "this is white country. No non-whites can be president or hold office or whatever" apartheid, anyone.

Discriminating on religious grounds is, I dunno, just plain wrong.

"Secularism is generally the assertion that certain practices or institutions should exist separately from religion or religious belief." Do you have a problem with that ? I don't

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