C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Treaty of Tripoli: Article 11

I recently read an article entitled, “America is NOT a Christian Nation”, whereby the author quotes John Adams as they put it, “He didn't seem content just to point out problems with theism but attacked Christianity itself”:

“As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?--John Adams, letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, 1816”

I returned the favor with another quote of John Adams:

“The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity…I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and the attributes of God.” [June 28, 1813; Letter to Thomas Jefferson]

Interestingly a commenter suggested that they were less worried about the letters (whether pro/anti of religion) of the “major founding fathers” as they were the “agreed upon language of the documents that actually establish and speak for our government, such as our noticeably godless Constitution and the Treaty of Tripoli.”

Please do not take this as a personal attack of the author or commenter, for I only wish to ponder the thoughts (not the individuals) for a moment.

1] If there is no desire to ponder the thoughts/quotes of the founding fathers as to their letters, then why is so much emphasis placed on the LETTER that the familiar phrase “separation between Church & State” arises, for it is nowhere written in the Constitution or Treaty of Tripoli?

Constitution, Bill of Rights, Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

2] Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli appears to be an interesting topic indeed. I will quote from an article:

America did not stop paying tribute to all of the pirates completely until 1815. But it is clear enough that by this time, where Tripoli was concerned, they had the upper hand that they did not have years earlier. This suggests that the reworking of the treaty without Article 11 should be regarded as better reflecting American sentiments than the earlier version, regardless of who wrote or negotiated it. It may be further noted that no such verbiage as Article 11 is found in any of the treaties with the other Muslim pirate states -- which throws a wrench into the idea offered by the above skeptical site that it belonged in the text and would have been welcomed by Muslims.

A word to begin, for poor-reading skeptics: We do not argue that eliminating Article 11 is the same as proving that America was indeed "founded on the Christian religion" -- whatever that may mean. To what extent that may or may not be so is something we plan to look into in future essays. For the present, please note that:

The article as it stands merely says that the government of America is not founded on the Christian religion. This does not mean that the American social/political network was not founded with Christian principles of mind, or that the peoples of America were not Christian to some degree; it merely addresses the government of America. Why?

It may occur to critics that the phrase "founded on the Christian religion" would have a certain meaning to those whose state were "founded on" the Islamic religion -- a "Mehomitan nation". The essential message would be that America was not a Christian theocracy, or a state where the church had political power, as the religious authorities in Muslim nations had power -- which is something no one argues for America.

Our conclusion: Article 11 is a skeptical dud that proves nothing about the founding principles of this nation and says nothing about to what extent Christian influence has shaped us or our government.


BEAST said...

The Treaty of Tripoli speaks for itself. Clear and unambiguous.

There is no need for me to add anything.

Ronnie Owens said...

I know of this "document", I haven't read your article yet, but I believe it was directed and intended for the "The Barbrary (spelling)Coast" and was to squell some false believe on their part that we were a threat to them. The document, I believe, states the the people of America, but, the government was not Christian. Great blog. Ronnie Owens (Fellowship)

The Alpha said...

The phrase "Holy Trinity" does not appear in the Bible, yet people seem to believe the concept is explained within the Bible. The phrase separation of church and state does not appear in the Constitution, but that does not mean the concept isn't explained within the framework of the Constitution.

Some may argue one way or another based upon the faith, or lack thereof, of our founding fathers and/or citizens of that era. I, personally, see little reason to.

The fact that some of our founding fathers were religious and still established a secular government speaks volumes to me. Our founding fathers had unprecedented freedom in their hands when it came to establishing our government.

The English language was not foreign to them. They could have drafted language that would explain in no uncertain terms that the United States was founded upon the principles of Christianity, but they didn’t.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

“Hindsight is 20/20”, as they say. I am sure there are lots of things they would have written differently, added, or taken away if they could have seen the way people and such try to use the Constitution for and against things today.

So they did not want Congress to establish a State Religion that would control and govern the United States of Amercia, that doesn't mean they wanted "a wall of eternal separation between Church & State" as Jefferson put it (which was not a signer of the Constitution).

Like you said, if they had wanted to ensure a "a wall of eternal separation between Church & State" they could have easily drafted this into the language of the Constitution. But they chose to only limit Congress from establishing or prohibiting religion.

BEAST said...

"Article 11 is a skeptical dud that proves nothing about the founding principles of this nation and says nothing about to what extent Christian influence has shaped us or our government."

You are clearly the dud of duds.

By not establishing an official religion, the Constitution is as clear as day with regards to religion: It should not interfere with the affairs of the state.

Tim: You can't read, you can't write, and you obviously are not very smart. What sort of rubbish are you imparting to the kids under your tutelage? A lesson full of hot air?


Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Please note the quote that you are attributing to me is acutally a quote from the cited article.


John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.