Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Still An Atheist, Thank God

Great article by Lenni Brenner at Counterpunch on Obama's Bible-beating. Among numerous other goodies, he points out Obama's strange remark in his anti-Wright speech, that the framers of the Constitution had fled "tyranny and persecution," even though 32 of 39 were native-born, all were prosperous, and quite a few owned slaves. Of course it was a political speech intended to drape Obama in the flag ("the greatness and the goodness of our nation") and Jesus; I didn't expect it to be true, and I'm sure you didn't either.

Brenner also mentions Benjamin Franklin's appeal, during the Constitutional Convention, for a big old prayer and group hug of the Deity:
[T]he longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth -- that God governs in the affairs of men.... I therefore beg leave to move -- that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city requested to officiate in that service."
American would-be theocrats love to quote this bit. They tend to omit the fact that Franklin's motion was resoundingly rejected by his fellow delegates. "Hamilton and several others" warned that, while it might have been appropriate at the beginning of the Convention, to up and have a revival at that point might suggest to the public that "the embarrassments and dissentions within the convention, had suggested this measure," as indeed they had. "Adjournment was at length carried, without any vote on the motion." Not quite two months later, the Constitution passed Article VI, which forbade any religious tests for American office-holders.

The rest of Brenner's piece is entertaining and pointed. At last, a fellow atheist I can relate to. Thanks to Lenni Brenner and to Counterpunch.