Skip to comments.Katherine Harris: God Didn't Want Secular U.S.
Posted on 08/27/2006 7:01:21 AM PDT by Aussie Dasher
U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris told a religious journal that separation of church and state is "a lie" and God and the nation's founding fathers did not intend the country be "a nation of secular laws."
The Florida Republican candidate for U.S. Senate also said that if Christians are not elected, politicians will "legislate sin," including abortion and gay marriage.
Harris made the comments - which she clarified Saturday - in the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention, which interviewed political candidates and asked them about religion and their positions on issues.
Separation of church and state is "a lie we have been told," Harris said in the interview, published Thursday, saying separating religion and politics is "wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers."
"If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," Harris said.
Her comments drew criticism, including some from fellow Republicans who called them offensive and not representative of the party.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who is Jewish, told the Orlando Sentinel that she was "disgusted" by the comments.
Harris' campaign released a statement Saturday saying she had been "speaking to a Christian audience, addressing a common misperception that people of faith should not be actively involved in government."
The comments reflected "her deep grounding in Judeo-Christian values," the statement said, adding that Harris had previously supported pro-Israel legislation and legislation recognizing the Holocaust.
Harris' opponents in the GOP primary also gave interviews to the Florida Baptist Witness but made more general statements on their faith.
Harris, 49, faced widespread criticism for her role overseeing the 2000 presidential recount as Florida's secretary of state.
State GOP leaders - including Gov. Jeb Bush - don't think she can win against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in November. Fundraising has lagged, frustrated campaign workers have defected in droves and the issues have been overshadowed by news of her dealings with a corrupt defense contractor who gave her $32,000 in illegal campaign contributions.
This is from the Annals of Congress and is where Madison himself explains the Amendment.
Not exactly very limiting on religious activity by the government...only prohibits a forced religion according to Madison:
"He apprehended the meaning of the words to be, that Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience.
Nothing in this explanation supports a contention that the federal government could not pass bills supporting religion in general, even perhaps generally the Christian religion.
It was a state church or forced worship that was the problem.
It is mean to ask atheist such questions. Equally mean is to ask self-avowed materialist what matter is.
You said that "The Declaration of Independence is of no legal value", which of course is true in relationship to our present legal system, but it is the very foundation of the Constitution.
Your statement about the Declaration is a mere lawyer's trick to neutralize a very important part of the discussion, for of course without the Declaration, there would be no Constitution. The Founders never repudiated their words acknowledging the grantor of Natural Rights, the Creator.
It is only such as you who can come along 200 years later and say 'no, it ain't so'. It is attitudes such as yours that lead to people believing that the Constitution, an interesting antique rag of paper without its buddy the Declaration, grants them their Rights.
I believe that rwfromkansas's post #144 is an excellent summation, and one that I can agree with:
To: gcruse; All
While anybody who says you can't legislate morality is a pure idiot and should be banned from voting since they don't have the IQ of a pile of poop, the best way to change society is by CONVERSION, not government.
I agree with Harris that the current view of church and state is not what the founders intended. Anybody who bothers to read the Annals of Congress....in which the debates on the first amendment are recorded....will see people were concerned the Amendment could be read to be for a strict separation. Madison spoke up to assure them that that was not the amendment's intent, and the assembly was satisfied and adopted it.
But, while I agree with her there, she was a bit over the top otherwise.
We were not intended to be a theocracy, but a balanced government primarily secular in nature but with some religious influence.
A strict separation is not what was intended.
As for Jefferson, he wrote a letter in which he said that the state had the right to deal extensively with religion, just not Congress.
"...No power over the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, or freedom of the press being delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, all lawful powers respecting the same did of right remain, and were reserved to the states or the people...Libels, falsehood, and defamation, equally with heresy and false religion, are withheld from the cognizance of federal tribunals." --- Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress. Kentucky Resolution (may have just been a draft, or left in the final version...can't remember)
Some more quotes from Jefferson and others:
"I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another." --Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, Jan. 26, 1799 (source: Library of Congress online)
"I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling in religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in religious discipline has been delegated to the General Government. It must rest with the States, as far as it can be in any human authority (Jefferson letter to Samuel Miller, Jan. 23, 1808)."
"The Whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the state governments." --Commentaries on the Constitution by early SCOTUS Chief Justice Joseph Story
"[T]he clause of the Constitution which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity through the United States; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, ever one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians and Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes and they believe that any portion of power confided to me will be exerted in opposition to their schemes." -- Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, Sept. 23, 1800
"Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, Schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged." ---Northwest Ordinance
They make and enforce rules don't they?
It's interesting that Kant and his writings were coeval with the Founders. I'm wondering if the solution to the posit of FreedomFighter78 about the Founders being able to defend the Rights without the Creator lies here.
Hard to say how long it took to digest and interpolate the main writings of Kant. I'll have to look into the matter.
The idea of natural rights/natural law emerged out of Enlightenment thinking, and, though many Enlightenment thinkers were religious, Reason/rationality was at the center of Enlightenment thought. Look at Hobbes, one of the early Enlightenment thinkers (and also one of the first to spell out the idea of natural rights). According to Hobbes, there are certain things that all humans do: they seek out their own self-interest and contentment (i.e. they pursue happiness), they seek to amass whatever items/land/etc they can (i.e. property), and they seek self-preservation (i.e. life). Hobbes argued that since such activities are universal, they must be inherent human traits, and so to deny them would be to deny one's right to be human. Since all humans necessarily have a right to be human (it would be absurd to argue that a human does not have the right to be human), and since these other things (life, liberty, property, pursuit of happiness) are an inherent part of being "human," it follows that all humans have a right to life, liberty, etc.
That is, of course, an oversimplification of Hobbes' argument (read Leviathan sometime, it's long but worthwhile), and of course, Hobbes wasn't nearly as "liberal" (old-meaning...the good one) as later Enlightenment thinkers (his ideas on how government should protect "natural rights" were decidedly illiberal). But, it demonstrates, at the very least, that there can be an argument for natural rights that does not depend on a Creator. For more, check out Locke's (the Second Treatise on Government is most applicable, though you should also probably read his Letter Concerning Toleration)
From the American Heritage Dictionary:
"One, such as a monarch or dictator, that rules or governs. 2. A straightedged strip, as of wood or metal, for drawing straight lines and measuring lengths."
You can grant legislators the status of rulers if you like, but I know that they are public servants, which can be changed by the will of people.
Resident atheists? You mean, of course, atheist American citizens.
Problem solved. Just wanted to make sure you weren't using a religious test to confer constitutional rights.
"Equally mean is to ask self-avowed materialist what matter is"
Well, that's not difficult -- matter is anything that exists in spacetime. The set of material objects includes everything from Mars to the humblest photon.
The challenge for the materialist is to reduce entities that are not in spacetime to those that are. For example, beliefs, sensations, numbers, inferences and so forth are not logically or causally reducible to observable behavior and material objects in any obvious way. Dualism may be the solution to the mind-body "problem," which means we don't have a problem at all.
"It's interesting that Kant and his writings were coeval with the Founders. I'm wondering if the solution to the posit of FreedomFighter78 about the Founders being able to defend the Rights without the Creator lies here.
Hard to say how long it took to digest and interpolate the main writings of Kant. I'll have to look into the matter."
I wasn't really thinking of Kant - he didn't really gain much of a following until the mid-late 1780s (I believe his 'Critique of Pure Reason' was published in 1780 or 1781) - but he certainly provides another basis for natural rights that is not dependent on a Creator.
I was thinking of Hobbes, Locke, and (to a lesser extent) Rousseau - the social contract thinkers.
Yes, atheist American citizens. You caught me cheating on the side of the posit "what if atheists formed their own country in the late 1700s". I admit to the slyness. :-)
Apparently not to you.
Your arrogant, superior tone simply cements my point.
All State sponsored religions disappeared from the country in the Founder's time.
Amazingly enough, that concept began to die with the borth of the United States.
As far as an atheist's unalienable rights, they are based on the fact that no one has a right to take their life or their liberty under any circumstance, regardless of religious belief.
If such attitudes persisted so long after the Enlightenment, I wonder how the argument of non-religious Rights would have been received by the majority in those times. It's a moot point in this Age.
FreedomFighter78 already pointed this out. The current discussion revolves around an atheist's Natural Rights, and how he would have asserted them at the time of the Founding.
Well, you say where matter exists. I asked what matter is.
In April 2005, in Windsor Castle, prince Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles. We have the time and space location. Is their marriage made of matter?
Not true. The Congregationalist Church remained the state church of Massachusetts well into XIX century.
This is a nice tricky "reasoning" worthy for a good lawyer. Unfortunately it does not hold water.
It is a inherent part of being alligator to eat other living beings which are passing by. And since it is absurd to deny the right to be alligator for a alligator it follows that the alligator in zoo has the right to eat the human visitors instead of being fed with some dog food.
But what a right is? This context defines a right to be derived from natural tendency and not as a moral or legal category. We can agree that humans want some things because they are human. It does not mean that it gives them any rights. This that your desire or need is natural does not mean that you are untitled to follow it.
And yet... that's what the founding fathers created.
This loonie-toonie mouth-running gives ammunition to the "Bush Stole The Election" crowd -- now they can say that Harris rigged it because she thinks God told her to.
Religious rights are protected by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
HAHAHAHA!! Yeah, like the abolute monarch Louis XVI "raised his hand" against those radicals who were trying to establish a republic in rebellion against his brother Christian king.
Nonsense. Tycho Brahe's observational tables of planetary positions were crafted under the premise that the planets moved in circular cycles and epicycles around the Earth. By your "reasoning", that renders them valueless.
What they implied in reason was the awareness of Divine source for the universe called sometimes the natural religion (as opposed to the revealed one). Atheism was for them foolish and not reasonable.
That is why the rationalistic Deists can see the natural rights as self-evident.
They will say that moral sense arrose because a person with moral sense is more likely to get along with others in his community, and is thus more likely to survive and pass on his genes.
The problem with such a position, of course, is that falls victim to the naturalist fallacy: just because a moral sense evolved (and it probably did, BTW) does not mean that one ought to follow it. Their explanation is descriptive but not prescriptive. But the atheists I know don't really worry about this and treat their moral sense as if it were prescriptive anyway.
If you are not electing Christians, tried and true, under public scrutiny and pressure, if youre not electing Christians then in essence you are going to legislate sin.Can she get any weirder? Since Harris was in the middle of a media storm in 2000, she knows better than making such "quotable" statements.
A few months ago, my local Republican heavy hitters told me that Harris was weird, unstable, unable to conduct a decent campaign for a US Senate seat. Everything they told me about Harris has been proven correct.
So sad. I've gone through all the stages of grief, from denial to depression to anger to acceptance.
We had such a good chance to get rid of the weird astronaut. Unfortunately, our Republican candidate is a card-carrying member of the weirdo society.
And so they prove that they are foolish. The right is a moral or legal or cultural category, not scientific one.
Objective and unalienable rights have to derive from the absolute source.
Sophistry is an interesting subject. Can you point out exactly where it is in the post you've replied to, and why it sophistry?
Well, now you're simply playing with language, claiming all substantives are substances, when they can be events also.
So basically Jews and other people of other faiths have no rights since they are not Christian???
It pi$$es off the conservative Jews, too.
So Jews and other people of faith have no Creator?
The question that arose through the thread was how would an atheist go about securing his/her Natural Rights in the climate of late 1700s America and Europe, since the Founders referred to the Creator as the source of Natural Rights, which the Constitution secures in various places (aka Constitutional rights).
My point is that they WEREN'T atheists. It is, of course, problematic that the Founders were declared against the Divine Right of kings - but on the other hand, English Christianity and French Christianity were not one and the same - there MANY issues between the two faiths.
The long rivalry between the nations probably weighed in the balance - but it still took Benjamin Franklin's thumb on the scales to tip them our way.
LOL! Why, yes, they are! :-)
Apples and oranges.
Or, rather - physics and metaphysics.
OK, let us not play games. I asked about definition of matter and you said that "matter is anything that exists in space-time". This is not a definition of matter.
It is a claim that only matter exists in space-time and that no matter exists outside of space-time. But what is matter? And what is space-time?
In ancient times one sophist defined human being as featherless biped. So one guy brought him a plucked chicken and said: "here is your human being".
"If you are not electing Christians, tried and true, under public scrutiny and pressure, if youre not electing Christians then in essence you are going to legislate sin."
GO KATHERINE! Right on, wish I could throw my vote your way!
We had a running "conversation" before that post, and LG made several posts disparaging Harris' positions - misrepresenting them for effect.
Here's one sample:
"So, the Founders, a group of individuals fighting to throw off the idea of a man who ruled by divine wish, wanted to create a nation ruled by divine wish?"
I usually try to include a poster's entire conversation in my deliberations on how to reply - not just a cherry-picked version.
Christian God sees ALL people as His children, whether they are atheist, Shinto, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish or Christian. And He judges those who know Him better more strictly.
But I would rather say that what He grants every creature are PRIVILEGES and not rights. He alone has the rights as He is the Absolute Sovereign over all as His is the Kingdom and Power and Glory.
You're response seemed directed to his comments on the Constitution, which I didn't find particularly sophistic.
Was Article VI amended out while my back was turned?
You pretty much got your ass kicked on the "atheists have no unalienable rights" thingy, didn't you?
Maybe, you need to read up on the subject a bit.
In your dreams, LG. The question of whether atheists would have been able to write a Declaration of Independence and a Constitution remains open.
BTW, what about that Massachusetts thingy that you stepped in? I notice that you didn't have the b*lls to answer A. Pole's smackdown of your Sophistry on that point. ;-)
Maybe, you need to read up on the subject a bit.
LOL! After you get done reading up on Massachusetts history, maybe we'll talk.
I won't hold my breath. :-)