Not so polite dinner conversation – Saccone is at it again

As one can see from my post below, I have little patience for Pennsylvanialegislators wasting time lying about how “Christian” the US is.  Representative Saccone saw fit to be “shocked, shocked” that anyone took issue with his bill, and made even more poor arguments.  You can see his further claims that were published here

and with no further ado, my review of these new claims.

A simple resolution passed the House unanimously on Jan. 24. It recognizes the significant impact the Bible has had on our country. It in no way inhibits anyone from believing in any faith or no faith.

 No, it doesn’t but, it does make false claims like if only we’d follow the bible the US would become some magical land with milk and honey flowing and God smiling from above like some Teletubbies show.  It’s a shame that you’ve had to resort to that, Representative Saccone.
Most citizens don’t remember that a joint session of Congress passed a similar resolution signed by President Ronald Reagan on Feb. 3, 1983, declaring that year as the “Year of the Bible” in America.

Yes, and that was a mistake also.  Rep. Saccone, do you really think that two wrongs make a right?  People spoke out against this pandering to certain sects of  Christianity then too.  

Of course, after our resolution, a few complained and aired the same false arguments that God was never a part of our founding and we should not include God in government, but that is easily refuted.

 A few, Rep. Saccone?  18,000 and growing? Including your fellow Christians?  Considering how quiet you and your fellow were about passing this, it seems that you were aware of doing something wrong and you tried to sneak it through because I know that earlier attempts at similar nonsense were widely advertised.  Usually, one would hear about such resolutions being crowed about by the Christians who wish to pass them but this time, only dead silence.  This seems intentional. And unfortunately for you, your “refutation” is easily shown to be flawed.

In fact, I just want to offer a few quotes from the Founding Fathers and past presidents on the importance of the Bible inAmerica. President George Washington spoke frequently of the Bible, and in his first act, emblematic of the office he was about to take, he chose to lay his hand on the Bible to take that oath. That tradition has been carried on by every president after him, swearing their oath of office on the Bible, frequently choosing, asWashington did, a specific verse within that they believe has special meaning.

I see that you’ve avoided using any quotes here from President Washington.  Let me give some: “The Citizens of theUnited States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.” – letter to the congregation of Touro Synagogue,Newport,Rhode Island, August, 1790

“Among many other weighty objections to the Measure, it has been suggested, that it has a tendency to introduce religious disputes into the Army, which above all things should be avoided, and in many instances would compel men to a mode of Worship which they do not profess.”
— George Washington, to John Hancock, then president of Congress, expressing opposition to a congressional plan to appoint brigade chaplains in the Continental Army.

“If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”
— George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789  To familiarize yourself with whatWashington did say (and yes, there are some bits about God), I suggest doing some research of your own, rather than relying on revisionists. 

Using a bible to be sworn in was not some symbolic “first act” as you would try to make it.  Robert Livingston brought it, from the Mason hall in NYC, and it was randomly opened to Genesis 49.  Not exactly the pious intent you seem to be trying to indicate that there was.  As for the use of “So help me God” by Washington, it is currently a debated topic since no contemporary sources record this being said (Peter Henriques, George Mason University) and that President Washington was quite aware of the provision in the Constitution ““No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”  The presidential oath, as it appears in the US Constitution also does not have it.  Did the founders just forget, Rep. Saccone?   It seems that this claim might be just as mythic asWashingtonchopping down a cherry tree.   A personal choice of saying bible verses at an inauguration also does not demonstrate the importance of the bible in American government, only to the person saying it.   I would also remind you that how you define yourself as a Christian and how these men did appears to be quite different.  You seem intent on ignoring that many of these men were Deists and did not mean “God” as you do.  I rather doubt you would consider them fellow Christians except when trying to falsely claim your religion’s primacy in theUnited States.   

Benjamin Franklin, a noted Founding Father, but also the 23rd speaker of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and former governor of the commonwealth, reminded us: “A Bible in every home is the principle support of virtue, morality and civil liberty.”

and again, this shows nothing of what was claimed in the resolution, that the bible had huge effect on theUSfounding documents.   Benjamin Franklin also supposedly said “God created beer because he wants us to be happy.” and “God helps those who help themselves”, a quote that goes against the bible’s promise that one doesn’t have to do anything but trust in God.  Not the modern evangelical Christian as you would try to portray him as.  Franklinalso doubted the divinity of Jesus Christ (letter to Ezra Stiles, President of Yale University on March 9, 1790) and thus would doubt what the bible claims and again had reason not to refer to it in the foundational documents of theUnited States. 

John Adams noted in his diary on Feb. 22, 1756: “Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. … What a Utopia — what a Paradisewould this region be!”

 A paradise, Rep. Saccone?  By your claiming this as evidence that the Bible supposedly influenced the founding documents, I am guessing you would support these laws:  killing anyone who worked on the “Sabbath” (and when it is that, Representative? Sunday? Saturday?);  forcing a woman to marry her rapist; allowing slavery; killing homosexuals, killing blasphemers,  etc.  All of these laws are in the Bible and Jesus Christ repeatedly said that all of his father’s laws were to be followed until the earth and heavens pass away.  Since they are still here, one would presume that the laws are still in force.  There are people who think that enforcing religious laws on everyone indeed would be a paradise.  They are the imams who enforce Sharia law inIranand Saudia Arabia.  Happily, the founders of theUnited Statesdid not advocate that at all and no biblical laws like these can be found in the US Constitution. 

John Jay, president of the Continental Congress and first chief justice of theUnited States, said: “The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.”

And that was his personal opinion. Again, this says nothing about how the laws of the US were created.  As noted above, the bible does not teach us how to be happy in this world, but teaches how to be obedient and unquestioning.  Any good verses in it, ‘love your neighbor’, are not limited to Christian teachings.  Now John Jay did say, in a private letter, that Christians should prefer Chrsitians as our rulers, based on his assumption that Christians are pacifists and would not violate the rights of others.  Alas, Judge Jay was wrong and Christians are not what he assumed.   

Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence, participant in the Continental Congress and vice president of the Philadelphia Bible Society, wrote: “The Bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state than any other book in the world. The only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government is the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible.” 

 Unfortunately, Mr. Rush was wrong.  The bible is not a font of knowledge.  It contradicts itself, gets simple facts wrong, etc.  Mr. Rush was from a time where he did not know any better, where disease was thought to be God’s wrath among other misapprehensions.  And again, there is nothing in the Bible about republican forms of government.  If you think it does, Rep. Saccone, please do point out where.  There is nothing about inalienable rights, that people should be able to govern themselves, etc.  All we have is the bible again, saying that God appoints all leaders and that people should obey them no matter what since to obey them is to obey God.  Even Jesus Christ has no representation or democracy when dealing with his followers, only a communism where all shared equally.  That’s definitely not how the USworks. 

Andrew Jackson, our seventh president, insisted: “The Bible is the rock on which this Republic rests.” One of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, stated “I believe the Bible is the best book God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book.”

Jacksoncan insist all that he wanted abut again, there is no evidence of this at all considering how there is nothing about the bible or its laws in the founding documents. I can claim that the founding documents were influenced by the golden plaques ofMoronibut until I can show that, there is no reason to believe me. And the quote from Lincoln, one of his close associates, Hon. William H. Herndon, “insisted” thatLincolnwould never have said such a thing. So much for how much insisting is worth. People from all sides love to call any famous person one of their own. 

Finally, one of our most beloved presidents, Ronald Reagan, reminded us that: “Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.” He also stated “Of the many influences that have shaped theUnited Statesinto a distinctive nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible.” 

And more baseless claims from a president (and no he was not “our most beloved” at all).  I wonder where these answers were when he was supplying guns to various groups. So much for turning the other cheek, eh?  As noted earlier, anyone can say anything but until evidence is provided, the claims are nothing more than fantasy.  Americans do not follow the laws presented in the bible; they do not give up all they have and depend on some god to provide for them as the lilies of the fields or the birds of the air.  They do not meekly accept those in power as divinely decreed leaders.  If so, one would expect more acceptance of President Obama, rather than the lies being spread that he is a Muslim, he is not a citizen, etc. 

Our founders and great leaders throughout our history have turned to the Bible for wisdom, inspiration and solace. The notion that God or the Bible was ever separate from government in this regard is a denial of history. “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?” Those aren’t my words, they are the words of Thomas Jefferson, chiseled in granite at the Jefferson Memorial inWashington,D.C.More than a hundred such references are proudly displayed around our capital there and our beautiful Capitol inHarrisburg. 

No one has said that the leaders didn’t turn to the bible.  The only denial of history here is in your resolution, Rep. Saccone, when it states: “Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States”  That’s false, Representative. There is absolutely no evidence for this.  This is false too: “Renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through holy scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people”.  No evidence of this and plenty that ignoring the primitive laws and words of the bible have lead to theUSbeing a much more humane and tolerant country.  The bible has no god giving liberty or equality, but only a god that enforced the status quo.   Jeffersondid invoke God but it was not your god, see his version of the bible.  He also invoked this God in a document, A summary view of the rights ofBritish America” as a plea for King George to grant rights, and to avoid a revolution.  If this had stood, we would be part of theBritish Empireright now.  So much for our “god given rights and freedoms” as we have them now.   As so many do, Representative Saccone, you pick your quotes and have no idea of their context. 

Opponents grind their teeth when they walk past the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, the very icon of our heritage and independence, which sports a quotation from Leviticus 25:10 on it.

Oh I don’t grind my teeth at all, Rep. Saccone, sorry to disappoint you.  Let’s look at that verse and other ones: 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. 11 The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. 12 For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.

So, we should be celebrating a Jewish holiday?  Sure, let’s *everyone* do that!  But I see that the jubilee is only celebrated when the 12 tribes are united inIsrael, at least that’s what the rabbis say.  So, essentially this verse means very little to Christians and is a bastardization of the actual verse ignoring its actual meaning.  It was also not made to commemorate the founding of the US but 50-year anniversary of William Penn’s 1701 Charter of Privileges in 1751, rights given by the King of England, that says that there is religious freedom but *only* for those who worship a monotheistic god.  I suppose it doesn’t do to be a Hindu, or Shinto, pagan, etc.  Happily, we’ve gone beyond limiting rights to white monotheistic men. 

Visit the Lincoln Memorial and inspect the wall where the Gettysburg Address is inscribed reminding us “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.” By the way, Lincoln’s second inaugural address referred to God 12 times and quoted the Bible three times, defying and obliterating any notion that he felt God and government should be separate.

It’s interesting that you think that one  man’s opinion should rule over everyones, Rep. Saccone.  Happily, the US isn’t built on such nonsense.  This nation had both the pro-slavery people and the pro-abolition people citing the bible to support their claims of divine “truth”.  I’m sure both sides prayed.   Hundreds of thousands of men died brutally, and no god to be found.

And remember the Bible was a textbook in our public schools for 150 years. I could supply hundreds more examples. The bottom line remains, when you look at the facts, there is no denying the influence of this great book on our nation and its most respected leaders.

Why yes it was and slavery was legal for a good part of that too, as was denying people of color and women rights.  The bible was certainly influential but for all of the wrong reasons.  No “great book”, it was used as a excuse to keep people as slaves and second class citizens because of their skin color, sex, sexuality, etc.  Religion has always had to catch up to the morals of people who realize that the bad old days don’t need to be followed. 

It is time well spent for all our leaders to acknowledge and reflect upon this book in times of trouble in our country or is it as Ben Franklin once asked, “All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor.

Nice quote but again, no evidence of this to be the case.  It took hard work by Americans, of all faiths and none, to get where we are.  There was no magical god that waved its hand and things changed.  People bled and died for all we have.  Theist of all religions make similar claims, Rep. Saccone.  They all want to see the hand of their god in their success, since that supports their belief that they are somehow special.  Football teams claim that God is on their side; armies do too.  And none of them has any evidence of this. 

“To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Do we imagine we no longer need him?”

We never needed him nor has this god done anything.  Your claims, Rep. Saccone, would place the blame for every horror this country has had to endure, on the back of not worshipping this god in the “right” way, that it was this god’s right to kill everyone in the WTC towers since someone wasn’t praying and worshipping facing toward the “right” city, praying the correct formula.  But no theist can show that they are better than the next, that their magic spells aka prayers, get any response.  They only cherry-pick events and ignore those that don’t fit their delusion.  The years when the bible was taught in school, when prayers were said in school, etc, were *no* better than the years when they were not. 

I think the unanimous vote in the state House last week suggests that although it might not be politically correct to admit, our leaders certainly do recognize the value of God’s word in government. We will all be better off for it

All the unanimous vote suggests is that political leaders pander to small intolerant sects of one religion.  The problem inherent in this is which version of God’s word, Rep. Saccone?  The Roman Catholics?  The Orthodox?  Quakers?  Jehovah’s Witnesses?  Mormons? Jews? Muslims? I still see religious sects sure that the “others” are going to some hell, sending missionaries to each others believers to get more for their side.  I see some of these people, just as good Christians as you, claiming that people who don’t agree with them are deserving of death, that they should be converted on the end of a sword.  This is Pennsylvania, part of the United States, Rep. Saccone, and we don’t need your false claims or your theocracy.

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