The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American (with Andrew Seidel)

The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American (with Andrew Seidel)



the thinking atheist it's not a person the population of atheists in this country is going through the roof rejecting faith challenging the sacred if I tell the truth it's because I tell the truth not because I put my hand on a book and made a wish and working together for a more rational world take the risk of thinking for yourself much more happiness confusion wisdom will come to you that way assume nothing and start thinking this is the thinking atheist podcast hosted by Sanders Andrew sidled is a constitutional attorney he is a dear friend he has been on the front lines of sort of the fight for protection of church-state separation and he joins me here for a conversation about a book that he has that is just released now I want to stop and say I'm not just here to hawk his book I want you to buy his book okay but I'm here because this is a critical fight what he is doing what he has written what he is endeavoring to accomplish as an attorney and an activist and an author and all these things are part of what you and I are trying to do as well which is to keep religion from owning the discourse from dominating from monopolizing what is supposed to be a church state separated operation and recital it's good to have you on the show my friend I appreciate you being a part of it oh it is always a pleasure to join you Seth thank you for having me let's talk about the founding myth just set it up for me okay the book and its purpose are what so the founding myth why Christian nationalism is unamerican the purpose of this is to utterly destroy the lies and myths that underlie the Christian nationalist identity so Christian nationalism for those who don't know is the idea that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and that it was founded on judeo-christian principles and that it needs to return to those principles so it's kind of this idea that America has strayed away from its godly origins and if only we could get back to those godly origins everything would be fixed it is not based in history or fact it's revisionist and it is infecting our politics and our government and even our courts today what are you talking about wait wait this is just about Trump right now or is it about a lot more we're talking I mean it's certainly about from the Trump Trump is a prime example of Christian nationalisms power so before the 2016 election really Christian nationalism was was on the fringes of the conservative political movement and on the fringes of the conservative Christian movement it hadn't really gained any political power that changed in the 2016 election Donald Trump rode a wave of Christian nationalism into the highest office in the land if you look at what the number one factor indicating somebody who would be a trump what was the best predictor of a trump thora most people would say it was religion you know why evangelicals voted for Trump in droves most people would say it was political party Republicans voted for Trump overwhelmingly neither of those was the best indicator the best indicator was whether or not somebody thought that the United States was founded as a Christian nation the solid research done on that point but this is this idea now is really infecting everything these lines are driving public policy we've seen it in education policy with Betsy DeVos trying to dismantle public schools in an immigration policy with the Muslim ban civil rights LGBTQ rights women's rights minority rights are foreign policy the move of the embassy to Jerusalem was done for on the basis of Christian nationalism the attempt to redefine religious freedom as a license to discriminate also a stress strain of Christian nationalism we are seeing this now working its way into decisions that justices in the Supreme Court and other federal courts are making we include simply these these lies really are they're destroying our country and they're gnawing away at our Liberty and I think we have a duty to stand up to those lines and to the bullies who are promoting them I had Todd in the chat who is asking about Trump and pence and the impact coming on those leaving the church could a wave of secular not necessarily atheist political and legal activism undo Christian nationalism I know it's a broad question but I mean as Trump pence driving the fundamentalist in or its at pushing people away or both I think it's polarizing absolutely and I we certainly tend undo it but we we have to number one recognize it for the threat that it is and there are signs that that is happening there morning console poll that came out just last month where 47% of the country said that Christian nationalism was a threat or a serious threat to America which is a huge jump and massive progress but we also have to have tools to refute Christian nationalism and the ideas and the identity that is Christian nationalism and that's really what I try to do in the founding myth I all line all of the different lies and myths and I don't just refute them with facts which is important but that's been done by other books I also give the reader a ton of new arguments that they can use to completely undercut these lies and myths you get into patriotism I mean I say I like I like to think you know I'm a picture I mean I love my country I loved oh yeah it stands for I love it in sometimes in the abstract not so much in practice depending on what endeavors it's that you in the middle of at that time but you know if you say patriotism some people I've noticed in the Atheist movement tend to wig out a little bit and they're like you know why would you be why would you love one country and then they usually jump into over another or why would you be a nationally under why would you be an isolationist or whatever and I don't necessarily conflate those terms talk to me about patriotism and recital so I don't think patriotism and nationalism are the same thing at all and and I you've kind of honed in on really one of the central aspects here you know patriotism has no religion and the Christian nationalist seeks to change that that I mean really at its most basic that is what this is a fight this fight is about it is about what it is to be an American and they are seeking to define an American as a Christian and a Christian as an American the vice versa and then once they successfully redefine that they are going to change the laws and our public policy accordingly and you can already see the change happen and I think that some people's distaste to the patriotic is actually a symptom that they have been successful right by a lot of people we may think of patriotism they associate it with you know American flag shorts and sandals and tattoos and Christian nationalism and to me that is that successfully that shows that the Christian Nationals have been successful in starting to redefine what it is to be an American and to be a patriot and that is not a fight that we can afford to lose and that's one of the reasons that I wrote this book you say patriotism and somebody says oh yeah they're in the mag AHA that's patriotism in the 21st century no and it's tough because you can love your country but also support and even love other country slash cultures slash people all around the world you can source want to see your own nation elevated while we elevates everybody else I mean I don't think it's an exclusive thing right I traveled all around the world you know many different countries Cuba Brazil South Africa Tanzania India Japan and we live in a fairy tale here we are incredibly incredibly lucky to live in the United States but I don't think I don't think because the manga hats are are popular and are are patriotic that we should cede that ground I don't think that that's something that we should agree to I think we ought to push back against that narrative and that's to me that is absolutely critical looks like I have an international call I'm just gonna jump into this real quick and let's see what we can come up with it looks like an area code for for you're on the thinking atheist podcast with an bruce idol who's this hello it's like my rosemary it's so nice to speak with you what do you have for the show a question or comment and a question and what do you think of this new Georgia law that allows them willing to be jailed for you know having an abortion it's a draconian law it's deliberately draconian it is layered for those who might be interested let me sound good but who may be looking at context here go ahead well it's essentially it's I saw a Ossie was saying it was de facto six-week abort ban and I think that's pretty accurate it is it is putting into place I like the word draconian measures which really play into the religious narrative that life begins at the moment of conception and therefore that's the elimination of those cells is a is murder and it has been banned this is indicative of the thinking in southern states and I believe it's hugely anti human rights anti women's rights and unconstitutional and yet it's been held up in in Georgia I don't know you're the attorney elaborate on that for me and let me know what it almost I think you I think you hit the nail on is actually having a few conversations on Twitter about this very law just before we started here and the last point that you made I think is one of the most poignant that maybe hasn't been covered quite as much it is unconstitutional and and may know it's unconstitutional and in fact they passed the law because it's unconstitutional they believe that they have the votes on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe versus Wade so what you're seeing happening is these conservative legislators across the country passing laws that roll back women's rights in accordance with their religious beliefs mind you so that eventually those laws get challenged in courts struck down in court and those challenges work their way up to the US Supreme Court which then in turn strikes down Roe vs. Wade which guaranteed a woman's right to choose that is why they are doing this I see a comment from will stick with me rosemarys that did our does our guest think this issue might have something to do with the Leave It to Beaver white picket fence post world war two economic boom and the general impression I'm sorry it's moving quickly and the general impression that this was a church-going era I don't know if that I mean it's the Norman Rockwell painting which is our supposed squeaky clean safe and amazingly pure past right well I mean it's Golden Age thinking to a certain extent for sure but there is you know I have a whole chapter in the book on the 1950s because this was an era where not only we were going through the Red Scare and the nation was was really afraid but where religion was deliberately being sold to the public as a way to push back against the New Deal and this is built on the work that Kevin Cruz the Princeton historian has done in his book one nation under God and I put into the context of a chapter where I'm looking at the phrase under God being added to the pledge this was also the time period when the National Day of Prayer statute was passed it was when In God We Trust was added to our paper money it was when the prayer room was built in the US Capitol so it's it's a time where we saw a lot of these incursions of religion and really Christian nationalism into the US government and I used sort of a metaphor throughout the book about Christian nationalism and fighting back against these violations of the separation of state in church one of the problems we face is that they act like a ratchet or a noose so once you lose one of these violations and it happens it's really really difficult to win that ground back it the ratchet tightens one click the news tightens a little bit and it's very very difficult to get things going back in the other direction rosemary where do you hail from were you calling in from North East of England so when you look across the on did all of us Americans what do you think what's going on in your head behind the Evangel well the easy here even evangelical right I just saw 18 or all the biobus the Bible that said that it's you know abortion forced abortions annoying numbers when God told Moses the if a man suspects his wife of having affair disrespects it takes it down to the priests and they will even give her some you know water some magic whatever it is ingredient and if she bought then obviously she become barren and she was you know guilty both and you know I mean only older like God being biggest abortionist you know with this the flawed and he III just wait for you Americans America say I told that story we did was it Seth Andrews teaches Sunday School it was a podcast we did where we talked about the edict about how she had to be dragged down before the council then the woman drinks the bitter water and then if she's been an adulteress that they the baby spills out of her it's just a horrifying set of verses and then I you know in my own life have brought this to the attention of believers and they're like well that's not in the Bible and for this is another great example where we know the Bible better than they do and then if I show them it's like they just flip a switch they they don't they still won't accept that it's there it's usually like you took it out of context or its metaphor or it was a different time or there's a there's a reason why this is moral I just can't think of what it is yeah and you're absolutely right God's the abortion doctor right how many clusters of cells have been essentially discharged or aborted out of a woman's body well before they you know whatever took hold and I think well that God is the biggest abortion doctor of all time so it's hugely hypocritical for people in the faith to a chide Yahweh or rather chide the rest of us for doing what you always spend tween for you know since recorded history of Yahweh had existed rosemary thanks for the call and be safe out there we'll talk soon okay okay thank you okay let's see on the switchboard four four zero hey Seth who's this this is Lauren Lauren we met at northern Ohio freethought a year ago oh yeah that was uh was that Akron that was wild north of Akron Cuyahoga Falls are fair Ilona wherever it was Lauren what's going on you want to say you got a comment or question yeah well I mean first of all regarding the whole business in Georgia I mean we just went through the same thing here in Ohio which I find extremely disturbing I mean because you and I both know that the primary focus of these bills is to go up to the Supreme Court and see whether or not they can get five votes to rule against roe v– wade now I've got an interesting point of view on this in that as it comes to the whole abortion thing if you want to turn the whole business on its head interesting story my mom had a miscarriage between when I showed up and when my sister showed up and the reason why she had a miscarriage is because my dad is blood type a positive my mom is a negative and there's a phenomenon known as Rh mismatch that is problematic and has probably given rise to more miscarriages throughout history than anything I can hope to think of sometime between the time when that happened and now something was invented called rogue and and rhogam stops the process whereby those miscarriages happen question where those miscarriages owing to God's will or were they simply a physiological phenomenon that yet that just happens yeah but because if it's the first then we're frustrating God oh my goodness well these are this is a philosophical question I guess as we talk but it's like the thing is it plays to the whole place to the whole business of you know God you know basically legislating God and that's what they're looking to do and you're absolutely right about that and that is one of the central Creed's of the Christian nationalists is I get to legislate my religion my judeo-christian principles and use the machinery of the state to impose them on everybody else and so you know one of the primary things that I really looked at in this book the central question that I asked was did you do Christian principles positively influence the founding of the United States and the answer to that is no they did not know America was not founded on judeo-christian principles and it's a good thing it wasn't and especially when we're talking about those principles that are central to the Christian nationalist identity and I go I take it one step further which is to say that not only was America not founded on the judeo-christian values but that those values and principles are so closed to the values that America was founded on that it's fair to say that you know Christianity is on American and that's the kind of a central point that I really try to make in the book and it's the point that I think that makes this book different than some other Christian nation books because I'm not just trotting out facts I'm also going after their identity and giving you new arguments to use against the people who would impose their religion using our state houses and our US Capitol and the courts etc Lauren I appreciate you anything else my friend well just the point that I mean just as surely as reading the Bible tends to make people into atheists why not read the Constitution and racism anything but the Constitution has nothing to do with God I really come is article 6 paragraph 3 no religious test the the first amendment and you know getting outside the Constitution the you know article article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli you know the good Unitas being that the United States is in no way founded on the Christian religion blah blah blah blah blah this is established law hello all right all right all right breathe Lamaze aligned your chakras of you to vibrate in the positive appreciate your new thank you alright thicker it's funny as he was speaking I pulled up the meme about Christian marriage and it says those I'm not going to pull it up on man plus woman man plus wives plus concubines and of course there are accompanying scriptures references man + woman + woman's property man + woman + woman + woman man + brother's widow a rapist in his victim male soldier + a prisoner of war male slave + female slave biblical marriages very very dark whenever we actually look at the literal words of the Bible so let's talk about this biblical values Christian morality I've heard this argument before I think I most recently heard it when they were talking about I think it was rapert in Arkansas is talking about how Christianity provides the moral framework for the United States can we speak about that absolutely and I have a couple of chapters in the book on this so I mean well more broadly it might help for people to understand sort of a structure of the book so you know in investigating that claim did judeo-christian principles positively influenced the founding I broke it down into sort of US history that happened before the Constitution so things like the Puritan and pilgrim settlements the Mayflower Compact stuff like that the Declaration of Independence gets a couple chapters the religion or lack thereof of the founding fathers gets a couple chapters including a big emphasis on their views about religion and morality and how they may or may not have impacted the founding I think those are that particular chapter on morality is probably one of the most important ones because that moment that you just made that that raper I didn't see him doing that but I have no doubt that he was is one of the hardest things for people to push back against and it's really critical to be able to do that that's why I included it in the book and then I have a whole section on actual biblical principles like hell and vicarious Redemption and obedience and the golden rule which you know whether or not that's a damn Christian principle we can talk about more and then the whole section on the Ten Commandments I go through each of the Ten Commandments and talk about what they examine them to see if they conflict or includes the American Foundation and then finally what I call American verbiage or argument by idiom in Gumby trust god Bless America all those fun ones to end the book it's a full man it was a long time I took like 10 years to write this guy you know I know you more working on in a while because we've been talking about it a while no I mean you know I was a kid and private Christian school and I look back at it and the level of revisionist history that took place is its cult ish no it's it's just a cult I mean it was you know George Washington never told a lie he was a saint right yeah I chopped down the cherry tree I'm a very very very young child being for the first time introduced to one of our founding fathers what you have is this sort of sainthood anointed to a man a good Christian man who was our first president and who upheld the righteousness that God wanted for an American leader and then you have all of the others and of course all of our founders were believers in the Christian God and held to the Christian Bible and they founded this nation as a Christian nation I remember you when I was much younger and stupid I remember saying that you know you can't separate church and state because without the church there is no state that's how heavily brainwashed I was as a Christian youth and I think to myself I knew nothing about the founding fathers and yet when I go and have conversations now with people who talk about you know Thomas paint at John Adams Jefferson whoever they remain number one ignorant of the facts but to hugely convinced that these were not just deistic God believers but Christian theists correct yes I mean there's a huge threat of that running around and there are there are tons and tons of books written on this and like I said I devote a couple chapters to George Washington's a great example you know and in fact the myth about him not being able to tell a lie after he chopped down the cherry tree that comes from a book written by a guy named Mason weebs who was a parson actually he was a religious leader and he wrote his book on Washington specifically to sell he did not care about historical truth at all we know the story about the cherry tree is made up and this is the same guy who gave us the myth about Washington praying in the snow at Valley Forge which now hangs in the capitol prayer room in the United States Capitol building which is kind of amazing didn't happen just like the cherry tree thing didn't happen we in Washington is his great example you know he didn't take when he did go to church he didn't take communion he went to church rarely he rarely maybe once or twice referenced Jesus in his personal letters and the thousands and thousands of pages of personal letters that we have he was on his deathbed for quite a while could have easily called for some religious solace could have had taken last rites specifically did not want to do that I mean and generally didn't talk about religion publicly at all certainly not his personal religion so this is this is a guy where by all intents and purposes if he is religious is very very private about it certainly never used his religion as a political weapon have you gotten it all into the Jefferson Bible yeah yeah yeah yeah I mean I and so I the main point that I try to make though is that this is a fascinating question and it's really interesting and I love having that argument but that it actually doesn't matter right there personal religious beliefs do not matter you to show that they are relevant to the argument the Christian nationalist is making the Christian nationalists still has to do two things one they have that bad to prove first that they are Christians which is very very difficult to do second they have to prove that that religion then influenced the founding of the United States which none of them try to connect those dots and three they have to go to great lengths to show that they didn't want state and church separate and that is simply not possible I mean the founders were very clear they were more unified on this subject than they were on others that religion and government would be better off not mixed together and and to me that is the central argument that we need to be having when we're talking about the founders we shouldn't be engaging on that yeah they were they were deists they were they would have been atheists today as a fighting back against the idea that they were Christians we should not be engaging on that it really doesn't matter to the central point that we are in the central fight that we are trying to have does it not those speak to intent I mean the intent of the founders was this it was driven by personal Tealeaf if you are if you're a list I use a couple example in the book that religious ideas don't claim ownership over every other idea generated by that particular money right the guys who invented blue jeans were Jewish but we don't go around calling them Jewish gluttonous right it makes it makes no sense to do that and the same thing with vaccines you know we don't go calling them Jewish vaccines you know they're just vaccines you have baby we still would have to prove that those principles the judeo-christian principles or Christian principles influenced the founding of the United States which is though the argument that this book takes on and disproves and you simply can't successfully make that argument because judeo-christian principles are so fundamentally opposed to the Enlightenment principles on which the United States was built that it's fair to say that you do Christianity is on American so the founders come here to escape the overreach of a church state government right the Church of England they come here and in the Declaration of Independence they do mention God yes I mean some people bring that up as an argument hey look they invoke God in their declaration of independence from the Church of England the declaration is a really popular argument for the Christian nationalism so I devoted two chapters in the book to that there are a couple things to note there are four basic references that people use Christian nationalists use to try to make this argument the laws of nature and of nature's God their creator divine providence and the supreme judge of the world first thing we should note is none of those is Christian the laws of nature and of nature's God if anything to me that sounds pagan but not Christian the only one of those that is in the Bible is creator which is also something that's unique to are not unique to any religion every religion pretty much centers around this creator belief so these are not we can't call them even judeo-christian references at best they are they are very very idea stick at best there's another thing to note which is that two of those were only added later at the very end of the drafting process but to me that the bigger question here is i they're the bigger point is that I try to make is that the Declaration of Independence anti-biblical document no it is specifically rebelling against a government and dissolving the political ties against the government magic king George was the the defender of the faith in the head of the Anglican Church – and you couldn't do that and be a devout Bible believing Christian at the same time you know the Bible says that in Romans 13 it says that the rulers here on earth were ordained by God and if the founders had believed that they would not have rebelled against King George in the first place the declaration the fact that it is a document that repels makes it inherently anti-biblical the again we see this fundamental conflict between the values of the United States and the values of judeo-christianity quick break when I come right back with attorney and author Andrew Seidel we're going to talk about the Red Scare and how our leaders back in the 1950s we're using the threat quote/unquote threat of communism to help sell Christianity and Christian privilege here in the USA it's the Red Scare and it's coming up next hang on Mother's Day 2019 is in the can Father's Day next month and I have so got you covered because I am one of the ten million people who have tried Harry's I talked about him on the broadcast I love the Harry shaving experience and I've given Harry shave sets as gifts to the people in my own life because they're awesome now if you're not familiar with Harry's we are talking about a company that bought a world-class blade Factory in Germany and streamline they often over priced and over designed model for a close comfortable shave Harry's skips the gimmicks stuff like the flex balls and the vibrating heads and that stuff and they've made a quality shave cost-efficient in fact Harry's replacement blades are just two dollars each that is half the price of the gillette fusion pro series blades have a 100% quality guarantee and whether you're buying for yourself or for Father's Day or birthday or anniversary or whatever day you can get a $13 value trial set that comes with everything you need for a close comfortable shave a weighted economic handle a five blade razor with lubricating strip and trimmer blade rich lathering shave gel a travel blade cover listeners of my show can redeem their trial set with this URL go to harrys.com slash the thinking atheist make sure you go to harrys.com slash the thinking atheist to redeem your offer and let him know that I sent you to help support the show harrys.com slash the thinking atheist my patrons get this show early they get a commercial freak and if you're not a patron I would encourage you to consider becoming one your supports always appreciated patreon.com slash Seth Andrews talking here with Andrew sidled of the Freedom From Religion Foundation he is a constitutional attorney I mean is that how I say it I are you're an obviously you do a lot of work in that specific area how do i frame that constitutional attorney yes that's fine constitutional attorney civil rights attorney yeah the author of the Founding Smith so I'm watching this documentary by Ken Burns called the Vietnam War and they get into the fear of communism spreading across Asia and the implications and so they conflate communism with Satan or Satanism the Great Satan is coming you know and so therefore we must go out and have 50 plus thousand American lives lost and I think a million plus Vietnamese live lost in a war that accomplished pretty much nothing and you see a prime example of how this sort of fear of a supernatural agent which they really did they thought communism was part of the great evil that was coming to encroach upon us and we saw then the rise of under God in the pledge and on paper money I don't know talk to me about that you get into that in the book I do so I have a whole chapter on the 1950s it's in that final section of the book that looks at god bless america elimination under God and we trust all that and you know I think probably especially a lot of your listeners and viewers probably feel pretty good about pushing back against that narrative that we are one nation under God or that we do trust in God they probably can even cite the years that those phrases entered or put on our money or were added to the pledge it's me again that's not enough you know it's not enough present us to just restate the facts and push back on the facts if that were enough Donald Trump wouldn't have written this wave of Christian nationalism into the Oval Office the I earn enough we have to push back with stronger arguments than we've used in the past and that's what I tried to do in this book so I made kind of two big broad points that sort of apply to all of those different phrases and I tease this out certainly more carefully in the book but the first point is that a lot of those phrases that we see added these religious phrases were replaced or modified unifying phrases so one nation indivisible it's a beautiful sentiment it really is you know we are this one nation you cannot divide us especially when you think that this was this idea was drafted you know it with a few decades after the Civil War you're taking that religion which is historically the most divisive force in human history and literally dividing being divisible with religion one nation indivisible becomes one nation under God indivisible you see the same thing happening with adding in god we trust' of the money in during the height of the civil war it's not just that they were using the machinery of the state to push their own religion it's that they were deliberately erasing unifying sentiments to promote their personal God so the de facto u.s. motto which was a clear abyss through them from many one from many people one country and from many states one nation you see that being erased in favor of this very exclusionary motto In God We Trust so that's I think one of the big points that we need to be doing a better job of pushing back on say showing that this was an attempt to it was an attempt to divide using religion now I see that whenever I see the when I'm watching down in Florida and they have been God We Trust displayed in schools as a response to the shootings I'm not sure if it's supposed to protect them or bring them back to God which is sort of a de facto blaming of the school system for the violence it carried out against students but mostly I just see exclusion and god we trust' a student looks up and sees those four words and if they don't worship a specific God or they are a non-believer in gods they are automatically then sort of communicated – that it you're sort of not part of the in-group you're not part of the a team yeah it is literally you are a second class that is meant it is meant to favor Christianity and make everybody else second-class citizens and that's what I mean when I say that Christian nationalism is trying to redefine what it is to be an American that is that is exactly the kind of thing that I'm talking about and it's not just that they deliberately wiped out these unifying models in favor of these exclusionary and alienating mottos they also did it during times of national fear and strength when nobody could fight back you know you mentioned in the 1950s and we've been talking about that that was a time during the Red Scare where it would have been it would have been career suicide for a lot of people to say hey we actually shouldn't have under God and the pledge and forced kids to say this we actually shouldn't be using the government to promote Christianity because you I mean you had been hauled up in front of Congress to answer questions about godless communism but he has not and it's also not just about godless communism this was also a time when the big business in the country at the time was deliberately trying to sell religion to the nation which is another part of the narrative that our movement has not been a good job done a good job of describing I've got on the switchboard a collar area code nine three seven you're on the thinking atheist podcast who's this just call me Mitch I'm from Ohio and a big friend of the show so I thought the US Constitution was got the ideals from the ideals of the Enlightenment mm-hmm yes you're correct absolutely I mean the Constitution is is a perfect example of kind of what I'm talking about throughout the whole book it is an entirely godless document you know Lauren the earlier call your caller mentioned that two times it discusses religion articles six where it bans religious tests from Pope for public office in the First Amendment where it says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof which effectively keeps state Church separate keeps religion out of government and government out of religion those are the only times their religion are mentioned God does not get a mention this is a deliberately godless document it was criticized at the time for being a deliberately godless document there have been a number of attempts to amend it throughout the years to include God in the preamble so instead of saying we the people it would say we the people believing that Jesus is Lord or something along those lines all those attempts have been shot down there was a big attempt in the 1950s actually some we were just talking about that as well yeah the Constitution is this godless document and it is it talks about the American experiment you know that when the founders got together and they passed this they were talked about it as they were taking political science and they were putting it into practice in the American experiment which is about as far from religion as you can get all right my friend anything else thanks so much exactly another great example of religion borrowing the good stuff and then stamping the brand of ownership on it yeah we've taught that yeah I haven't so much doesn't it I was talking we were talking with Gayle Jordan about community and how you know anytime you gather together as any group but especially is non believers in God atheist rationalist whatever humanists they say oh you're just doing Church and you know she's like well actually I think Church sort of was mimicking our tribes our natural tendency to to have tribes I've done a whole speech called the copycats that talked about how Christianity likes to find out what's popular or what's relevant it grabs it stamps its own brand on it sometimes it's a cheap copy sometimes not and then says we now own this and it's done the same with patriotism it's done the same with our founding documents it's done the same with our own national history saying that has ours it is not yours absolutely number one I love Taylor she's just legendary the woman is legendary yeah I am I would her campaign was it was inspiring at truly inspiring she's she's just an amazing woman amazing human period and but you've really struck on something that it was a theme that I noticed in the book it was something that I kept coming back to you know I have a whole chapter devoted to the golden rule in the book because you'll see a lot of claims that well the Golden Rule the United States was founded on the golden rule which is very clearly a judeo-christian principle and it's not this is this is a universal human principle that we've seen in just about every successful society the idea of reciprocity reciprocity chol there it is reciprocal morality is it's a universal human impulse and to claim it for religion is to rubber-stamp something that belongs to all of us for their religion and it simply can't be done I also close out the book with with another kind of example of this but that's exactly what Christian nationalism is doing you're right they they are trying to take credit for enlightenment success and for the success of the American experiment and claim it for judeo-christianity when really their principles are fundamentally opposed to those on which this nation was founded I'm gonna put the book link in the description box and I'm going to ask everybody support the book read the book there's an audio book coming out in the summer is that right sir I mean the summer and sadly neither you know that's married right I was happy I'm like I'm game you don't call me have your people call me but you know they've got their own people at the publishing house and that's totally cool but what it does is it sort of encapsulates and then expounds upon the the basic stuff that you and I can then use in our conversations with the theocrats with the apologist with our next-door neighbors or co-workers who are all married to this narrative that's been sold so effectively by Christian culture that they own it it's theirs it's founded on their stuff they get a little extra measure of privilege everywhere they go you and I are just sick of it and you know we're not we're not gonna stand for it because number one it's I mean think it's morally wrong but two it's simply against the intent of the founders and the framework of the Constitution let me ask how much do the like the religious politicians and that group how much do they hate you right now because you're always out there you know you're always sort of pawing at the camera hey I'm over here don't forget me yes I've got a copy of the constitute I would like to read it to you're that guy and I wonder how much hate mail do you gets how much pushback are you getting what's the temperature right there we get we get a lot of heat especially you know at the FFRF office we get a lot of hate mail we do get a surprising amount of pushback from the government's themselves and I will say this you're seeing it we're seeing it more and more there is since the coming of Trump and since the rise of Christian nationalism is it really into the mainstream we have seen these politicians emboldened in a way and not just the politicians but the people on the other side of our cases so the groups that are not like the Freedom From Religion Foundation or American atheists or the American Humanist Association but the groups that we litigate against all the time they are emboldened and I've never seen it like this before they they feel entitled to win they feel entitled to impose their religion on anybody else and they are they're angry when that gets pushed back on in a way that we haven't seen before news it's truly alarming and not to interrupt forgive me I'll go ahead now is the I mean do you feel like that there's scrambling like there's a rush our guy is he's in the top seat so we gotta go go go as quickly as we can to try to get all this to gain as much ground as we can because we're watching statistically the rise of the non-religious right I mean you and I both seen the same stats was a twenty three point something percent of polled Americans about a quarter of polled Americans don't affiliate with any religion doesn't make him a theists but we're seeing the statistic continuing to rise and the evangelicals are starting to to drift you can feel them begin to panic does that drive much of what you're saying absolutely there's sort of two things that are happening there there's one there they were surprised when 2016 went the way it did nobody was expecting Christian nationalism to just break onto the mainstream the way that it did and they kind of had to rush to catch up to that and now there's been you know over trying to make up for that that one year of lost time when from the beginning of 2016 until whenever they started project blitz and now because the demographics changing so rapidly I call it they're raging against the dodging against the dying of the light they're raging against the dying of their privilege base the end is in sight for them and they are desperately trying to cling to that little bit of privilege that they have and to the extent that they can to augment it and the amazing thing about that is that it's in at least I think it is creating this feedback loop where those actions these ridiculous bills in Ohio and Georgia you know they're trying to impose and God We Trust on every school student in Florida and things like that they are driving young people away from the church which is then feeding the demographics which is then feeding the fear and getting them to do these stupid things and so you're seeing is kind of ridiculous feedback loop that's actually gonna push more and more people away from religion I love it I know the 30 inators you're like we don't need it you know I mean yeah even the ones who say well I'm spiritual but not religious I'm not bothered by any of that I mean you know I wish they were more rational but it it's the fundamentalist it's the people who were trying to change our laws and strip the rights away from people and exercise privilege those are the people my fights against yeah the spiritual not religious people are not trying to use their lies to drive public policy litigating cases work so I baited they don't worry the slightest but the Christian nationalists terrify the hell out of me well you have a prediction for 2020 I mean like if I if I'm seeking the rational candidate Dale Jordan 2012 I I agree totally you know you'd mentioned she had was it a forgive me was it a state election she was running for US Senate seat or remind me I don't remember whether it was a Senate or assembly a seat but it was in 10 it was in Tennessee and it was she was running as now atheist as a liberal in this stage she just read it was just a beautiful campaign he's talked about Christian privilege what was used against her in the campaign was almost party-line Christian rhetoric she's trying to kill God she's trying to kill our value she is you know she holds some frightening I mean the language used I guess strategically obviously strategically against her was that that promoted the fear of the other in the fear of Satan or evil the non-christian it was Christian privilege that informed and permeated the campaign's against her they didn't even bother to try to represent her accurately oh no no and why do that when you can fear monger and make them the other which is something that religion itself excels at if you are afraid of Gail Jordan you got you need to you need to see someone you know you need to go and reprioritize your life alright my friend well just in a nutshell put a you know an exclamation point on our conversation about the book I'd like to just push people in that direction to support it read it listen to it promote it just get it out there and then use it as a resource and a tool in our discussions with people who have bought the lie about the founding of America as a Christian nation I mean I think that's I think that's really kind of what I'm trying to do is I'm not it's very unlikely that I'm gonna convince any Christian nationalist with this book but well I'm seeking to do two things I'm one I'm hoping to arm our side with the arguments they need to defeat and shout down the Christian nationalist and then to hoping to wake up that big chunk of the middle that it doesn't really understand how serious a threat Christian nationalist it the Christian nationalism is but I mean the political theology of Christian nationalism the very identity of the Christian nationalist depends on the myths that I expose in this book the idea that we are founded as a Christian nation is central to their hold on political power in America and without the historical support many of their policy justifications are gonna crumble without their common well of myths many their identity is going to wither their entire political and ideological reality is incredibly weak and vulnerable but because it's based on these lies and my goal the purpose of this book the simple purpose its lofty but simple is to utterly destroy the myths that underlie this unamerican political ideology she's a mythbuster-y sidled of the FFRF and he is I'm glad you're on our side glad you're on the side reason and the Constitution and all that good stuff I'm gonna link the book in the description box or you can find it on Amazon in all the usual places support it get it Sandra I will see you out there on the road my friend all my best with the book and with the fight okay thank you very much that I truly appreciate that I really do follow the thinking atheist on Facebook and Twitter for a complete archive of podcasts and videos products like mugs and t-shirts featuring the thinking atheist logo links to atheist pages and resources and details on upcoming free thought events and conventions log on to our website the thinking atheist com

28 thoughts on “The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American (with Andrew Seidel)

  1. Ask Thomas Jefferson about Religious radicals… Back in the days when Humboldt was the hero of the people… Christianity is nothing but Islam that has been beaten multiple times by Science even thru the Christian's tried everything to stop Science with all available ways – burned Bruno, house arrest for Galileo, Copernicus – they even had Darwin afraid to release his Origin of species…

  2. The statement about "In God We Trust" vs. "E Pluribus Unum" is so important. I read a biography of Albert Gallatin who was Jefferson's Secretary of the Treasury, and it was the first place that explained what E Pluribus Unum meant. I studied Latin for 5 years and I didn't understand it. In high school my social studies teachers always explained that it represented federalism, that the United States was one country made up of several states. And that IS NOT WHAT IT MEANS. E pluribus unum means out of many one, but it (fittingly) has multiple meanings. Yes, we are one nation of many different states. But more importantly Americans may be of many races from many parts of the world, but we are all equally Americans (diversity / immigrant heritage). We have individual faiths and beliefs, but we have a common creed (pluralism). To me it means federalism, diversity and pluralism, but I was only ever taught the first one. And that was in a public school in a major (albeit Midwestern) city.

  3. The statement about "In God We Trust" vs. "E Pluribus Unum" is so important. I read a biography of Albert Gallatin who was Jefferson's Secretary of the Treasury, and it was the first place that explained what E Pluribus Unum meant. I studied Latin for 5 years and I didn't understand it. In high school my social studies teachers always explained that it represented federalism, that the United States was one country made up of several states. And that IS NOT WHAT IT MEANS. E pluribus unum means out of many one, but it (fittingly) has multiple meanings. Yes, we are one nation of many different states. But more importantly Americans may be of many races from many parts of the world, but we are all equally Americans (diversity / immigrant heritage). We have individual faiths and beliefs, but we have a common creed (pluralism). To me it means federalism, diversity and pluralism, but I was only ever taught the first one. And that was in a public school in a major (albeit Midwestern) city.

  4. The statement about "In God We Trust" vs. "E Pluribus Unum" is so important. I read a biography of Albert Gallatin who was Jefferson's Secretary of the Treasury, and it was the first place that explained what E Pluribus Unum meant. I studied Latin for 5 years and I didn't understand it. In high school my social studies teachers always explained that it represented federalism, that the United States was one country made up of several states. And that IS NOT WHAT IT MEANS. E pluribus unum means out of many one, but it (fittingly) has multiple meanings. Yes, we are one nation of many different states. But more importantly Americans may be of many races from many parts of the world, but we are all equally Americans (diversity / immigrant heritage). We have individual faiths and beliefs, but we have a common creed (pluralism). To me it means federalism, diversity and pluralism, but I was only ever taught the first one. And that was in a public school in a major (albeit Midwestern) city.

  5. I find it so sad that we have to find bible verse's that show "The LORD" supports abortion to prove that this view of it as being murder is not biblical at all. Because people take the bible seriously here. For me the bible isn't even relevant. I'm pro choice.

  6. This is why I'm willing to be arrogant enough to tell people I openly believe their opinions are invalid and that I know better than them because so many people believe america is a christian nation and believe if they believe hard enough ignore all the reasons it's not true and bigotedly vote their values they can reshape reality according to their will.
    So Some people have invalid opinions and I do know better than them!!! it's true!

  7. It may sound a little conspiracy but on the abortion thing I think that conservatives are looking to shrink down the opposing voting population by creating felons. I could be wrong and would be interested to see numbers and stats on this.

  8. Another point, most efforts to legislate " morality" have been failures to one extent or another. Look at prohibition and the rise of criminality as a result. The "red scare" and the lives ruined. The hippocrasy of the political "believers" us going to ruin this country if they go unchallenged and unchecked.

  9. The odd thing to me is Trump seems to be anything BUT a christian.

    A point about the Declaration and the Constitution. The wording needs to be viewed in the culture of the time. Many people went to church more as a social exercise rather than a religious one. It was expected of them and references to a "creator" or "nature's God" were more the phrasing of the time than a reflection of conviction of the author.

  10. Religion: the vermiform appendix of the human mind. It's largely without function, it occasionally inflames and causes distress, and you can get along just fine without it. It's a pointless evolutionary holdover.

  11. I don't consider a political party item, made in China, to be patriotic. The GOP is trying to redefine patriotism as ONLY what they say

  12. Thank you #TheThinkingAtheist! Love your work! This episode in particular is so crucial for people to consider.

  13. It's the latest fad for Americans to accuse their opponents of being "un-American". The latest fad for 200 years, of course, it never goes out of fashion. And it never fails to make you guys sound just like race supremacist competing for who is the most pure blood, which you also are and always have been. It's all part of the same pathology.

  14. 1st amendment to the US constitution guarantees freedom of and from religion. In Thomas Jefferson's words, it had created a high and impregnable wall of separation between church and state. I John Adams' words "United States of America is not in any sense, a Christian nation".

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