The Puritans Were Not The Founding Fathers

This is cross posted at Huffington Post:

We’re doing well as a country when the Religious Right is unhappy. When James Dobson and Pat Robertson are upset, the canary is alive in the coal mine!

It’s like – look at us, we’re still a democratic nation! The Ten Commandments haven’t replaced the Bill of Rights. Evolution is still being mentioned in schools. Planned Parenthoods haven’t been completely outlawed. And it’s STILL against the law to stone homosexuals, pornographers and uppity women (pending a two-thirds majority vote in Congress).

I’m no pollster – but I am willing to bet that there is a big chunk of folks who think that the Puritans and the Founding Fathers were the same people. Yes, they argue, the group of people that branded a ‘H’ on the cheeks of accused heretics were the same people responsible for the phrase ‘freedom of speech’.

But that’s what the Religious Right wants us to believe. It gives them a sense of entitlement. They’d have us assume a bunch of pious, simple folks clad in wool and buckles made their way across the Atlantic – plagiarized the chapter in the Bible about forming a republic, called it The U.S. Constitution and then had July 4th fireworks.

The Puritan rule – early 1600’s, the Founding of the United States of America – late 1700’s. There is less time between the Lewis and Clark expedition and Sputnik.

John McCain now famously told Beliefnet that the United States is a Christian nation. Pundits and preachers alike parrot that this country was founded in religion. It’s a nifty little sound bite.

The politically ravenous use it as a ruse. The tale is that in the ‘olden days’ things were somehow better than they are now. More innocent. Free of New Ageism’s tolerance and dreaded hate crime bills. If we can just go back to that time – if we can just get back to the time when we were more devout – then we’ll all be better off. It’s elusive, but just around the corner.

It’s a fabrication that an exclusively religious – peaceful and ultimately blissful era ever existed. It can’t happen ‘again’, because it never happened in the first place. The Puritans came to this land to practice THEIR religion without being persecuted and (at least in the Boston colony) quickly persecuted those who didn’t practice their religion. Quakers were hanged and tortured for blasphemy. Native Americans were killed for being heathens. And sassers, gossipers and adulterers got their ears cropped or their noses split.

Looking back to colonial days for religious precedent is like looking back at the Black Plague for health care reform.

But for the politically ravenous, selling the idea that a Christian state is a birthright and a good idea – gets the untaxed revenue flowing. Revising history and bleaching out some of the objectionable stains makes a new sense of purpose by making, well – ‘new sense‘!

There is the idea that American Christian’s are right and entitled “because we were here first!”

Long SIGH.

So when Christian Conservative leaders threaten to support a third-party candidate because they don’t like Republican frontrunner Rudy Giuliani, it’s a relief.

It’s like when Rick Santorum failed to get re-elected; it proved that we can come back from the brink of theocracy. And yes, we are having an ‘ideological struggle’ in the Middle East and that kind of seems like a different way of saying ‘holy war’, but if James Dobson doesn’t see any of the GOP candidates as being his future lap dog – there’s hope.

2 Comments The Puritans Were Not The Founding Fathers

  1. timeteo

    I am from the Mennonite /Anabaptist tradition.
    The Mennonites are heirs of the Anabaptist Reformers (including Menno Simons, from whom they derive their name) in the 16th century. One core aspect of their faith is the conviction that the Kingdom of God is radically different from all versions of the Kingdom of the World. The Kingdom of God is about sacrificially serving others while the Kingdom of the World is always about lording over others. They have held that citizens of the Kingdom of God must be wary of participating too much in, or trusting in, any government or nation. Traditionally Mennonites have refused to say the pledge of the allegiance, since their only allegiance is to Christ. Another core aspect of their faith has been the conviction that followers of Jesus are called to love, bless, pray for, and do good toward their enemies (Lk. 6:27-35). They have thus refused to fight in wars or kill for any reason.

    The Anabaptists were the one group everybody loved to hate during the Reformation period. The Anabaptists wouldn’t recognize a State Church and would not baptize infants (which was understood to be an initiation into both the Church and State). Consequently, Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, Melancthon and many other Protestant Reformers as well as most Catholic leaders believed they should be imprisoned and executed. Almost all Anabaptist leaders, including Menno Simons, were executed within a decade of when the movement began (roughly 1520). But, to their credit, the Anabaptists never fought back (with the exception of one messianic looney tune who thought he was ushering in the end of the world in Munster, Germany.)

    These people of true faith and conviction were people of whom this world was not worthy. There only hope was in Christ and not in the politics of man which is filled with big promises of how they are going to save the world with endless and nauseating campaign cycles.

  2. Ayoola Oke

    Your thoughts are excellent. I have tried let a few Nigerian American citizens realise that the political christain right is a grand deception. This illusion of a christian right has arisen because of the bankruptcy of thought in the Republican party. They ran out of ideas and could find not basis for a solid manifesto and then viola! They find a cause in injecting half baked Chritian ideas into politics.

    Basically I believe in God and the Bible as a wholesome document. The perspective which the Bible projects about itself is that the New Testament is the key to the Old Testament and clearly the New Testament does not prescribe state religion or religion dabbling into politics. One of the main misunderstanding of Christ by his kinsmen was that those who believed him expected him to be political and bring about a political salvation. Many did not believe he was the Christ because he did not propose or proactively seek a political solution.

    His thought on Church and state was simply give on to Ceasar (the state) what is Ceasar’s and give unto God what is God’s. He did not say give Ceasar to God, niether can you because God owns and controls the state anyway and you cannot fight to give the state to God!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *