Sunday, June 15, 2008

McCain: America Was Established As A Christian Nation

I don't want transform parshablog into a political blog. But to be fair, just as I posted an Obama clip, I will post this McCain clip, in which he says that America was established as a Christian nation:

However, I will lay out why this does not disturb me as much.
  1. Whereas the Obama clip was a straight, uninterrupted clip of Obama making a speech, this clip consists of snippets of a much longer interview. They do not show the questions which prompted these responses. And they keep cutting at places where a bit of context would mitigate the view. The full interview is available here at beliefnet, as a video and as a transcript. Thus, for example:
    I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation. But I say that in the broadest sense. The lady that holds her lamp beside the golden door doesn't say, “I only welcome Christians.” We welcome the poor, the tired, the huddled masses. But when they come here they know that they are in a nation founded on Christian principles.
    The above video clip makes sure to discard the part in which he says
    But I say that in the broadest sense. The lady that holds her lamp beside the golden door doesn't say, “I only welcome Christians.”
    I feel that is dishonest.

    Another example:

    A lot of Republican activists say the separation of church and state is a myth. What do you think?

    Our Founding Fathers believed in separation of church and state and they stated it unequivocally. But, they also continued to emphasize the Christian principle. In God We Trust or [all men are] created equal—every statement that they made had to do with the belief in a Divine Creator… They sought guidance from their Creator. So, when some people interpret their desire for separation of church and state as a failure to acknowledge the importance and influence of our Creator, I think that they have a different view of history than I do.

    So he does hold that there is, unequivocally, a separation of church and state, though there is a balance to be had. The clip makes sure to weed out "Our Founding Fathers believed in separation of church and state and they stated it unequivocally." And this is once again dishonest. I also agree that people sometimes overapply the separation of church and state to a degree that it was not intended, to the extent that they discriminate against (Christian or Jewish) religious organizations. For example, I am against certain steps taken against the Boy Scouts.

    As it stands, the quotes taken out of context provide a caricature. He has real positions, and one can agree or disagree with them, after consideration of what he actually says.

  2. The intent of this seems to be that there is a shared sense of American values which is based on certain Christian, or Western sensibilities. This means that when one becomes an American, he subscribes to some of these basic values. For example, polygamy is out. So is the idea of honor killings. And so on and so forth. What McCain exactly means needs some definition.

  3. This is pandering in an interview to beliefnet, in which he is courting Christian voters. This does not mean that he totally believes this, or will take concrete steps to establish America as a Christian nation once in office. It is pandering, and all politicians do it to some degree. This doesn't scare me.

  4. On a similar note, I would not be voting for McCain as chief historian. What is the concrete fallout of such a belief? These clips, taken out of context, do not provide any intended course of action. There may indeed be some fallout, but explain it to me and then I can decide whether I should be concerned. Whether Obama meant what he said or not, or whether they were better understood in context of a much broader political plan, at the least he was outlining a course of actions he would take if elected.

  5. And on a similar note, I am not voting for president based on mistaken religious beliefs. Bush, Obama, and McCain are all Christians. I think that such beliefs are nonsense and possible idolatry. But the fact that they hold silly beliefs does not bother me, unless it leads to specific unfortunate policy. Such is not evident in this clip, or interview. But I could be wrong.
We now return to the main focus of this blog. :)

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