Monday, June 23, 2014

Self-Evident Explained

Today, a friend asked me “[I]f it's self-evident, why write a book explaining it?”  I surmise that he was joking, but I replied that it is like "The Emperor's New Clothes." There are those who are in deep denial. See also "the elephant in the living room." Pointing out the obvious is an important profession.

Here is another example. Georgia GOP candidate Jody Hince claims that Islam is not protected by the first Amendment because it is not really a religion:

Most people think Islam is a religion, it’s not. It’s a totalitarian way of life with a religious component. But it’s much larger. It’s a geo-political system that has governmental, financial, military, legal and religious components. And it’s a totalitarian system that encompasses every aspect of life and it should not be protected (under U.S. law).

Yeah, that's what happens when there is no separation between church and state. He might want to think on that. He also might want to consider the implications of his argument. Beyond saying a spade is not a spade, is he saying that the First Amendment does not protect advocating a particular way of life? I'm sure that, if he was asked, his mind would snap to gay marriage and he would quickly say "Yes!" But, he would be putting his own way of life at risk as well.

It’s an interesting variant to Bill O’Reilly’s argument that Christmas is a secular holiday because Christianity is not really a religion but a philosophy – a claim that I would imagine most devout Christians would find offensive and dispute. It's kind of interesting how he throws his religion under a bus to advance his religion. He really does believe in the resurrection!

But, to be clear, our founders were a pretty secular bunch. As Thomas Jefferson wrote about the passage of Virginia’s Act for Religious Freedom:

Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo [sic] and Infidel of every denomination.

In Article 11 of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the U.S. and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary (1797), The administration of John Adams had explicitly stated, “As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Musselmen [sic]."

And, in his “Memorial and Remonstrance,” James Madison asked, “Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity in exclusion of all other religions may establish, with the same ease, any particular sect of Christians in exclusion to all other sects?”

Who indeed. That is why the self-evident requires explanation.

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