Monday, March 29, 2010

Treaty Of Tripoli Of 1797

I was never aware of the contents of the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797 - I had heard of the treaty and was familiar with the conflict it ended, but was oblivious to the provisions within - until recently.

The reason why I mention this treaty now is because of the recent arrest of the right wing militia group, known as Hutaree, which planned on waging war with America in an attempt to return the nation to it's Christian roots.

Also consider the rising influence of Christianity among the Republican party, with many among the conservative media elite promoting the notions that America was founded on Christian beliefs and that the founding fathers never intended for there to be a separation of church and state.

Consider Glenn Beck's comments on the matter from October 29, 2008.  Titled "The Argument Against Idiots: Separation of Church and State," Beck claims "liberal whiners" will make the following argument:
Like it or not religious zealots, there is a Constitutional separation of church and state in this country!
Beck's response to these "idiots" is the following:
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. No mention of a "separation of church and state". That came in an 1803 letter from Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist minister to assure him that the United States would never declare a state religion.
Beck has a long history of talking about Christianity and the government, and each time, he attempts to rewrite this nation as one founded on Christian principles, citing the religion of the founding fathers and fathers and claiming that we are fathers and claiming that we are "one nation under God," after all, references to God can be found on our currency and in governmental proceedings, but Beck fails to mention the facts regarding our nation's history, opting to make his own historical account, and using his highly rated show on Fox, Beck misinforms Americans every day, so, every time I find something that further discredits theologian and historian Beck, I feel compelled to post it, and the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797 happens to be one of them.

Consider Article 11 of the treaty:
As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
I think it is easily understood, and since the treaty was signed by President John Adams, a founding father, I would have to say that Beck's argument is baseless. While conservatives can argue circles about what is and is not "separation of church and state," as well as the absence of certain language in the nation's founding documents, I would think that the treaty should lay to rest any doubts about whether or not this nation was founded on the Christian religion, which it was not, and considering that fact, then there would obviously be a boundary between the government and any religion - after all, if it wasn't founded on the Christian religion, then what religion was it founded on, or, why should Christianity take a front seat to a nation founded on secularism?

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