Those godless heathens

There's an article in The Nation today titled "Our Godless Constitution" making the very salient point that not only did the framers intend for there to be a separation between church and state, they -- and the rest of the country -- they emphatically affirmed this concept later on:

In 1797 our government concluded a 'Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli, or Barbary,' now known simply as the Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11 of the treaty contains these words:

"As the Government of the United States...is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion--as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity of Musselmen--and as the said States never have 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."

This document was endorsed by Secretary of State Timothy Pickering and President John Adams. It was then sent to the Senate for ratification; the vote was unanimous. It is worth pointing out that although this was the 339th time a recorded vote had been required by the Senate, it was only the third unanimous vote in the Senate's history. There is no record of debate or dissent. The text of the treaty was printed in full in the Philadelphia Gazette and in two New York papers, but there were no screams of outrage, as one might expect today.

The next time your favorite winger starts bloviating about the Christian foundation of this country, tell 'em to put the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli in their pipe and smoke it.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Well said.