Talking Turkey: A Holiday Guide for Responding to Your Uncle Who Loves Fox News
In case you want to refute that kultur Warryur for Jaysus! relative after the plates are cleared and the pie eaten, here are some easily remembered talking points.
Myth 1: The United States was founded to be a “Christian nation.” The United States was most certainly not founded to be an officially Christian nation. The U.S. Senate and President John Adams said as much in the Treaty of Tripoli (1797): “As the Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion….” There is also the fact that Jesus (and God for that matter) is not mentioned even once in the body of the Constitution. Many of the Founding Fathers were Deists who were familiar with the bloody religious wars to which Europe had been subjected for hundreds of years. They had no interest in recreating religious strife in a new nation by forcing an official religion on citizens.
Myth 2: Church-state separation is not found in the U.S. Constitution. As famed church-state lawyer Leo Pfeffer once explained: “It is true, of course, that the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ does not appear in the Constitution. But it was inevitable that some convenient term should come into existence to verbalize a principle so widely held by the American people….” In other words, church-state separation is a summary of the Constitution’s religion clauses. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. James Madison is widely considered to be the “father of the Constitution,” and he was a primary drafter of the First Amendment. In a document known as the “Detached Memoranda,” Madison wrote, “Strongly guarded…is the separation between religion and & Gov’t in the Constitution of the United States….” Your Pat Robertson-loving relatives may disagree, but their beef is with Madison, not you.