Vail Daily letter to the editor was factually wanting
Vail, CO, Colorado
I am compelled to respond to James Shannon’s letter to the editor, “Bowing to the world.”
It is not his arrogance, his paranoia or his convoluted interpretations of Mr. Obama’s actions that I take issue with. He is entitled to his opinions. It is his distant relationship with facts I find problematic.
I do not know where he got his statistics about the religious makeup of this country, but they are dead wrong.
The majority of studies show that the percentage of the U.S. population that is Christian hovers in the 70-something percent range, not 88 percent, and his figure about 75 percent of Americans being born-again Christians is way out of left field. Further, he neglected to include the statistic that a full 15 percent of the population identifies itself as agnostic or atheistic. By current government population estimates, that comes out to more than 45 million people, not exactly a negligible figure.
Let us also remember that how a person identifies himself or herself on paper for census purposes and whether they actually practice their religion are two different things.
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I happen to be a Catholic, yet I always bristle when I hear the uninformed define the U.S. as a Christian nation. That’s not only pompous; it is bad history.
Despite what Mr. Shannon wishes the truth to be, the United States is not now and never was by definition a Christian nation. Mr. Obama was completely correct in that. You may not like it, but his statement was fact.
Our founding fathers created a new nation for many reasons, one of which was freedom of religion. As a result, the U.S. Constitution is absent any reference to religion, and the division of church and state is a vital part of our nation’s structure.
That our very existence is partly due to the desire to be free to practice any religion we choose or ” and make no mistake about this ” to practice no religion at all if we so choose is one of the foundations of our democracy.
The Declaration of Independence makes only passing, generic references to God, a creator and divine providence, none specifically Christian. There is no reference to Jesus Christ or the Holy Trinity in the work, which there arguably would have been had Mr. Jefferson’s intention been that we were being founded on Christian doctrines.
The association between America and God formulated over time and has always been nondenominational. It is a popular misconception that God, and specifically a Christian God, has ever been a part of our country’s founding or identity.
The phrase “In God we trust” was added to our currency during the Civil War, and the words “under God” were added to the Pledge of Allegiance during the McCarthy era. So, of the 233 years our country has existed, the pledge had no reference to God for almost 200 of those years.
In 1797, President John Adams and the entire Congress ratified the Treaty of Tripoli, which contains the words “the United States … is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
That no one objected to that definition says something about the true identity of our nation.
Again, I am a Christian. But I am also an American. And those are two different things, Mr. Shannon ” two very different things. The fact that I belong to both groups does not in any way mesh them into one.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the Jewish American, the Buddhist American, the atheist American and, yes, the Muslim American are just as American as you are, Mr. Shannon.
You can argue majority figures all you want, but they do not define a nation. The majority of Americans are Caucasian (for now), so would you also define the United States as a white nation?
There are people running around with white sheets and swastikas who would do just that.
Bigotry can exist in religion as well as race, Mr. Shannon, and I suggest that your words are a perfect example of the former.