Observations on the world today.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

And I Want to Make This Absolutely Clear... 

Several months ago, I published this challenge:
I have a free gmail account to award to the first person who can give me one Christian principal upon which this nation or it's government is founded. The rules are simple. The principal must be biblical. It must be uniquely Christian. And it must be actually encoded in US law.
Recently, I posted the same challenge on a message board I frequent, and somebody posted the following response which he found here but which originated here:
That is why blasphemy** was a crime under common law when it was codified. A law which US law-makers recognised...

“Following the ratification of the Constitution in 1788, the First Amendment and most state constitutions prohibited the establishment of an official religion. Nevertheless, states still occasionally prosecuted persons for blasphemy against Christianity!

In a typical 19th-century blasphemy case, a man called Ruggles made highly insulting remarks about Jesus Christ and his mother, Mary. The state of New York tried and convicted Ruggles and sentenced him to jail for three months plus a $500 fine. Appealing his case, Ruggles' attorney argued that his client could not be prosecuted for blasphemy since there was no state law against it.

In 1811, New York's highest appeals court unanimously rejected Ruggles' arguments. The court said that New York did not need a blasphemy statute. Ruggles' words violated the common law inherited from England, which made blasphemy against Christianity the law of the land. Based on this interpretation of the law, the New York court stated that reviling Jesus was a crime since it “tends to corrupt the morals of the people, and to destroy good order.”

The court seemingly ignored that New York's state constitution prohibited the establishment of any government-sponsored religion. Nevertheless, most other states adopted this legal opinion. Although very few persons were prosecuted, blasphemy remained a crime in several states well into the 20th century.”
Now, the first problem with this is that blasphemy as a crime exists in Jewish law as well as Muslim and Christian law, so it fails to meet the "uniquely Christian" requirement of the challenge. However, since it can be argued that in practice this law was only ever meant to be applied to those who blaspheme against the Christian God, it must be acknowledged that this was only meant to be applied as a state sponsored defense of Christianity, and therefore is a Christian law codified. The argument is valid so far as it goes. It doesn't specifically meet the challenge, but it does demonstrate a state sponsored defense of Christianity over other religions.

Which leads me to this question. Throwing otherwise law abiding citizens in jail for having an unpopular opinion of the majority's diety: is this really what the right-wing advocates of the idea that this is a Christian nation mean when they argue that this land was founded on "Christian principles?"

The whole thing reminds me of a scene from Life of Brian:
Matthias: Look, I don't think it should be a sin, just for saying "Jehovah".
[Everyone gasps]
Jewish Official: You're only making it worse for yourself!
Matthias: Making it worse? How can it be worse? Jehovah! Jehovah! Jehovah!
Jewish Official: I'm warning you! If you say "Jehovah" one more time (gets hit with rock) RIGHT! Who did that? Come on, who did it?
Stoners: She did! She did! (suddenly speaking as men) He! He did! He!
Jewish Official: Was it you?
Stoner: Yes.
Jewish Official: Right...
Stoner: Well you did say "Jehovah. "
[Crowd throws rocks at the stoner]
Jewish Official: STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT RIGHT NOW! STOP IT! All right, no one is to stone _anyone_ until I blow this whistle. Even... and I want to make this absolutely clear... even if they do say, "Jehovah. "
[Crowd stones the Jewish Official to death]
Did you give him his free email account? He proved you wrong.
Reading comprehension is not one of your strong points, is it? BLasphemy is NOT a uniquely Christian idea, and punishing people for blasphemy is not even a true Christian principle. True, it is something that Christians have done, but I believe if you read your bible you will find that Christ was agin' it.
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