Discovering Religion: Episode 19 – If America Became a Christian Nation
Imagine what would happen if Sarah Palin’s claim were true — that America is “such a great and exceptional nation because we do base our laws, our values, on the god of the Bible the old and the new Testament.”
However, before we explore the kinds of changes we might expect to see if America were to truly “…base our laws and values on the God of the Bible, the Old and New Testament”, it would be prudent to examine other modern-day theocracies whose governing principles closely parallel those found in the Old Testament.
Sharia law is believed by Muslims to be the sacred law of God as told in the Koran and hadith. Sharia law not only contains guidelines regarding morality, but instructs Muslims on many different topics, such as Fasting, Pilgrimage, Trade, Marriage, Divorce, Dietary Laws, Liquor and gambling, Dress codes, Taxes, Legal and court proceedings, Justice, and the Penalties for crime. As we have seen in the previous episode, the Bible outlines many of the same social and moral laws in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. Therefore, by comparing Mosaic and Sharia law we can get a good idea of what we might expect to see if Christians were to someday get their wish and “America truly became a Christian Nation”.
One of the first changes that might be implemented under the new system of Biblical law, would fittingly be, the abolishment of the first Amendment. The founding fathers gave us the Freedom of Religion, but according to the first commandment there is no other God than the God of the Bible. Therefore, why would Christian America tolerate the worship of any God other than Jesus Christ? Indeed, this exact sentiment is shared by many Christians throughout the United States.
Unsurprisingly, Sharia law adheres to a very similar doctrine. Muslims are strictly prohibited from believing in anything apart from the teachings of the prophet Muhammad. And the act of leaving one’s faith, known as apostasy, is equated to treason — a crime that carries the penalty of death.
The next freedoms we might loose if American became a Christian Nation are also contained in The first Amendment, the rights to Freedom of speech and Freedom of the press. The fourth commandment tells us to not to take the lords name in vain, and Exodus chapter 22 verse 28 also commands: “Do not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people.” Therefore, certain laws must be implemented in order to prevent Americans from cursing or criticizing the Creator God, Jesus Christ, and anyone in public office. Although members of the Tea Party and Birther movements would be jailed for claiming President Obama is not a America citizen, we would quickly find ourselves amidst of an intellectual lockdown, not unlike the current situation in many Islamic countries.
For example, on June 13th 2010 in Tehran, Iran what started as a peaceful demonstration over the disputed landslide reelection of President Ah-meh-den-ijad, ended in bloodshed as Iranian police attempted to quell the public outrage over the loss of the reform candidate Mousavi, who many believed would restore their personal rights and liberties.
The Islamic Republic of Iran also imposes widespread censorship on a variety of content throughout the internet. Internet Service Providers or ISPs face serious penalties if they do not comply with government filter lists, and before subscribers are even granted access to the internet through these ISPs, they must first promise, in writing, not to access non-Islamic websites. Since the first term of President Ah-meh-den-ijad, ISPs have been told to block political, human rights, and women’s websites expressing dissent, deemed pornographic or anti-Islamic. The ban also targets popular social networking sites like Facebook and Youtube, in addition to many news websites as well.
In response to “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day”, the internet movement calling for freedom from censorship, Pakistan temporarily banned facebook from almost 2 and a half million accounts located in the country. What slippery slope might America expect to travel down if we too place widespread limitations on our freedom of speech?
Perhaps some Christians might follow in the footsteps of Islamic fundamentalists, who violently suppresses any criticism of their faith, by developing a similar culture of violent Christian extremism that would target anyone attempting to speak out against their beliefs. Indeed, this would be no stretch of the imagination, for a such Christian extremists already exist, many of whom actively target and murder doctors that perform abortions.
The 13th amendment, which prohibits involuntary servitude, is another important piece of American legislation that might be repealed if America became a Christian nation. Colonial America, and then later the United States, engaged in the horrific practice of slavery for over 200 years. This shameful chapter in our national history was finally closed in 1864 when the 13th Amendment was ratified after a bloody civil war that resulted in nearly 700,000 deaths, a loss of life that surpasses the combined American military death tolls of all wars from the Revolution through Vietnam.
It is almost too much for our finite minds to comprehend the sheer amount of excruciating pain, suffering, and heartache that was released upon this Earth at the hands of the slave trade, and the overwhelming loss of life it took to finally put this unfathomable evil to rest. However, what is not beyond our comprehension is from where the European and American conspirators in the slave trade, a vast majority of whom belonged to the Christian faith, derived the justification to buy and sell other human beings.
“Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members from their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.”
The add instruction to NOT rule over the Israelites ruthlessly, appears to be a stipulation intended to counteract the ruthless nature in which we ARE allowed to treat slaves from other nations. Indeed, Exodus 21 instructs us on the proper way to beat our chattel:
“If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.”
Therefore, it is perfectly fine to viciously beat your slaves, so long as the beating they endure does cause them to die that same day, but rather, leaves them clinging to life for another, quote “day or two”. One can plainly see how the savage brutality of the slave trade derived justification through the Old Testament; however, contrary to Jesus Christ’s gospel of love and peace, the New Testament actually serves to re-enforce the Mosaic laws on slavery found in Exodus and Leviticus:
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.”
What is so amazing about the Bible’s depiction of slavery is at the very beginning of the Book of Exodus the Jewish people were themselves enslaved. In the twelfth chapter of Exodus, Moses leads the Jews out of bondage in Egypt and just 8 chapters later Moses provides his people with the 10 Commandants, in which, oddly, God fails to address the issue of slavery. What a momentous lost opportunity to prevent so much needless human suffering. But lets give God the benefit of the doubt, after all, he must have been awfully busy instructing Moses on, how there is only one god, how we shouldn’t have other Gods, how we shouldn’t make graven images of God, how not to blaspheme God, and exactly when we should worship God.
However, one would expect Moses to have at least tried squeezing an 11 commandment at the bottom, considering the Jewish people’s unique perspective on slavery, and dare I say, empathy for future groups of people that might one day suffer a similar, brutal enslavement as the Jews did under Pharaoh. Apparently being forced to work in such horrible conditions, enduring merciless beatings, and obliging Egyptian slave masters as they carelessly murdered the weakest among their people didn’t seem to leave much of an impression on the Jews. In fact, the VERY NEXT chapter after receiving the holy Laws of God, in Exodus 20, Moses actually condones the practice of enslaving other human beings and instructs us on the proper way to beat our slaves. Exodus 21 even claims we are allowed to sell our own daughter into bondage.
“If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go out as the male slaves do.”
Exodus 21: 7
In the United States the Death Penalty is usually sought for the most heinous of crimes, such as the murder of another human being. In contrast, the Bible doles out the Death Penalty for a myriad of trivial circumstances that our modern-day court system does not even recognize as being misdemeanors. However, if America became a Christian nation the courts would have the power to execute someone that shows disrespect to a priest or even someone that is found to be in contempt of the court itself. American courts would also be morally bound to execute:
“You should not let a sorceress live.”
Exodus 22:17 NAB
“A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortuneteller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death.”
“They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.”
2 Chronicles 15:12-13
“If a man still prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall say to him, “You shall not live, because you have spoken a lie in the name of the Lord.” When he prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall thrust him through.”
Anyone that works on Sunday:
“For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death.”
“If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death.”
A stubborn and disobedient child:
“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him… Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death…”
Anyone that blasphemes:
“anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death.”
Anyone that curses their parents:
“All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. They are guilty of a capital offense.”
In fact, in Mark chapter 7 verse 10, Jesus Christ himself reiterates the command against cursing one’s parents, including the punishment of death. But even with Jesus Christ’s seal of approval, you would be hard pressed to find a single Christian that takes seriously any of the crimes listed in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, especially Christ’s proclamation of death for those who would curse their parents, which gives new meaning to phrase “What Would Jesus Do.”
Although some Christians may feel tempted to distance themselves from this verses, what many of them do not realize is that in the Book of Leviticus, where Jesus Christ’s citation of this verse can be originally found, in the very same chapter, just 4 verses way, is located the passage that Christians constantly reference when attempting to justify legislation that vies to place limits on the freedoms and liberties of their fellow Americans.
Both the Bible and Koran believe Homosexuality is a crime. In fact, the following Islamic countries have been known to implement the death penalty for sodomy and other homosexual acts. Although a majority of Western countries no longer have laws against homosexuality, in 2008 Pope Benedict actually blocked legislation by the United Nations that would have decriminalized homosexuality in other parts of the world.
Many Christians place an overwhelming emphasis on this single passage, alluding to this supposed “command from God” when lobbying to prevent gay rights and anti-discrimination laws. Yet, they cherry pick from God’s other moral commands as it suits them — failing to persecute Fortunetellers, blasphemers, non-virginal brides, and anyone that works on Sunday with the same rabid, religious fervor.
Although many Christian denominations continue to perpetuate discrimination against gays and lesbians; the Old Testament go much further, by actually prescribing the death penalty for any homosexual act. But could you see Christian ministers condemning their fellow American citizens to death, solely on the basis of sexual orientation? Perhaps not, but that doesn’t stop Christian leaders from exporting their discriminatory hate speech to other parts of the world, like Uganda, whose governments ARE willing to follow God’s law to the letter.
It appears both the Bible and Koran are very preoccupied with the sexual actives of it followers. The Koran even forbids unmarried men and women from engaging in sex intercourse, a crime punishable with up to 100 lashes.
“The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication, flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment.”
A similar verse can also be found in the Bible, which commits the daughter of a holy man to be burnt at the stake for the crime of fornication.
“A priest’s daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death. “
But one of the most cruel and unusual applications of Sharia law is the stoning of married men and women who commit the crime of adultery. The Koran does not specifically prescribe stoning as the punishment for adultery. However, in the Hadith, which are the writings based on the sayings and activities of Muhammad and his companions, the beloved prophet personally handed down the death sentence for the crime of adultery on numerous occasions.
In one story, a pregnant woman confesses to Muhammad that she is guilty of adultery, and after some consideration, Muhammad commands her to bear her child and weaned him from her breast. Upon completion of this task, she returns to Muhammad, who removes the child from her and orders the woman berried up to her chest and the people to stone her to death. The hadith recounts this gruesome story with such detail, that one of Muhammad’s disciples (Khalid b Walid) flung a stone at the woman’s head with such force that blood spurted back onto his own face.
In fact, this man was so consumed by the ritualistic murder, the hadith claims he hurdled curses up on the woman and abused her to such an extent that even Muhammad himself had to reprimand his own disciple (Muslim 17:4206). Can anyone honestly defend Muhammad’s position, that allowing this woman to be so brutally punished for her crime was more important than a mother’s influence in life of her growing child? Indeed, Muhammad’s bloodlust far exceeds that of his Jewish and Christian contemporaries.
In another story from the hadith, it is told that Jews brought to the Prophet Muhammad a man and woman guilty of adultery. The Prophet said to them, “How do you usually punish the one amongst you who has committed illegal sexual intercourse?” However, the Jews were reluctant to give the answer Muhammad desired, instead claiming the Torah does not define a clear punishment. Muhammad then said to them, “You have told a lie! Bring here the Torah and recite it if you are truthful.”
So the Jews went to retrieve the Torah as well as a Rabbi, but when the rabbi began reading the instructed verse, he too failed to cite the punishment Muhammad desired, instead “reading what was written above and below the place hidden with his hand…” However, Muhammad’s disciple removed the rabbi’s hand and asked, “What is this?” To which the rabbi reluctantly acknowledged that it was the verse they had been looking for. Muhammad then “ordered the two adulterers to be stoned to death…” (Bukhari 6:60:79).
Many more such stories are documented in the hadith, including one of Muhammad’s farewell addresses to his people before his final pilgrimage to Mecca, where the prophet commands: “The adulterer must be stoned” (Ibn Ishaq 970).
However, the issue of adultery is dealt with much differently in the Christian faith. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ introduces the concept of “thought crime” as he expounds on the Mosaic laws of morality by claiming:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who look s at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
What is so interesting about the statement is that Jesus would make every single one of his followers into adulterers, for not a solitary human being could ever be innocent from lusting after another.
Although this can be seen a ploy to draw more repenters into the faith, such a loaded statement results in some very serious implications, as the punishment for adultery, which is prescribed in the Mosaic law that Jesus Christ cites in his sermon, is the penalty of death.
“If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death.”
Obviously, Jesus Christ does not mean to imply lusting after another person should result in them being stoned to death, and early Christian scribes were well aware of this conflict.Therefore, a parable was fashioned in order to rectify the inconsistency in the teachings of Christ.
In the book “Misquoting Jesus”, world-renowned New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman examines the famous story found in John Chapter 8, in which the Pharisees bring a woman accused of adultery before Jesus Christ.
‘”In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.”
In order for Jesus to keep with his message of love thy neighbor, while at the same time not appearing to contradict the law of Moses, John 8 portrays Jesus uses his wits to get out a difficult predicament, making the famous statement:
“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
However, this story is a complete fabrication, for this account does not appear in any of the earliest know Greek manuscripts, which have been personally examined by Bart Ear-mon himself. In fact, this story is well known among New Testament scholars and, other textual critics, to have been added many hundreds of years after the book of John was initially written in order to solve the conflict between Christ’s message of love and the penalties for death as prescribed by Moses.
Although this parable is a work of fiction, one has to at least acknowledge the attempt made by Christians to distance themselves from the horrific murders perpetrated in the Old Testament, something that cannot be said for the Prophet Muhammad, whose personal views on adultery were more akin to the bloodthirsty patriarchs of Biblical lore than to his progressive Jewish and Christian counterparts living in Muhammad’s own era.
But regardless of how one might try tip-toe around such passages, if a nation were to subscribe to Biblical or Koranic justice, such archaic punishment for crimes would never become institutionalize in the 21st century, or would it?
It is for this very reason the Found Fathers created a separation of Church and state, baring any possibility of a run-away theocracy from taking root and implementing archaic and sickening laws that would otherwise fail to thrive in a population that is NOT under the influence of religious superstitions. Although we have only examined the negative aspects of religious doctrine, it is well understood that most people of faith tend to focus on the inspirational message of their religion, despite what negativity can be found in their respective holy books. And although many people of faith study Scripture on a weekly or even daily basis, most of them they are instructed on what to read by their religious leaders, prayer groups, or study guides. Therefore, the faithful either rationalize the passages they don’t agree with, ignore them all together, or simply do not even know they exist.
But it’s a well-know fact both the Bible and Koran have been used as a tools for evil, both historically and in present day. Although moderate Muslims had nothing to do with 9/11 and modern-day Christians had nothing to do with the American slave trade, it does not excuse the fact they are participating in a belief system that still contains the Scriptural justification for incomprehensible evil. Indeed, we have investigated the enforcement of archaic laws that continue to take place in the Islamic world as well as the murderer of abortion doctors and the persecution of Homosexuality that continues to plague the United States.
But if American Christians are so adamant about what is told Leviticus 20:13 that they are willing to deny homosexuals the right to marry, then why don’t these same Christian lobby to instate the death penalty for those who would curse their parents? Furthermore, why don’t Christians protest TV stations for the promotion of blasphemy, or better yet, issue Wanted posters that target prominent blasphemers, like the creators of South Park? In fact, earlier this year Trey Parker and Matt Stone received death threats by Muslims for their attempt to depict Muhammad in their TV show. However, moderate Muslims get up in arms when a clear the distinction is not made between them and the extremists. But, it is the extremist view that most accurately reflects the true tenets of any faith.
Simply put, Extremism is pure, uncut religion that has not been diluted with the progressive views of secular logic and reason. Although most people of faith would agree that executing someone for the sin adultery to be an extremist view on religion, we must not fool ourselves as to where one might be inclined to believe this is how God actually wants us to behave.
A majority of the people that practice religion just want to adhere the good and ignore the bad, but this view of Scripture only serves to excuse those who would follow their religion to its fullest extent. It is true that many people find comfort in the Abrahamic faiths, and no one has right to take that away, but when you place belief in a religion that also promotes the abuse of human rights, you are aiding an abetting the quote unquote “extremists” of your religion, who do not stop to make the same distinction between which of God laws are good or bad. For in their eyes, there is only God’s law.
The aim of this episode has been to highlight some of the injustices promoted through Scripture and to show the true source morality is not handed down from upon high. In the next series of episodes, we will discover that our understanding of right and wrong is an ongoing human endeavor, the result of centuries of trial and error, social consensus, and millions of years of evolution. Science and logical thinking are the essential tools by which to achieve a sound moral philosophy, and its no coincidence that with the greater accumulation of knowledge about our origins and the nature of reality, the better we have started to treat one another.