The Declaration of Independence: Founded on Judeo-Christian Principles? Book Review (Part II): Thomas Jefferson: Roots of Religious Freedom by John Harding Peach

The Declaration of Independence has become a sacred document for the Religious Right because they believe that it supports their claim that the United States is a Christian nation. John Harding Peach is no exception. In Thomas Jefferson: Roots of Religious Freedom, Peach claims that the Declaration is an expression of Judeo-Christian principles. The only evidence Peach provides for this assertion is an excerpt from an online essay written by Bo Perrin. Who is Bo Perrin? He is a minister and conservative blogger. Who needs an expert when you can find a random blogger to support your desired conclusion! The fact that Peach relies on a person with no expertise on the subject is enough to make his claim dubious, but just for fun let’s see what Bo has to say.

Bo makes his argument in a commentary for the American Heritage Project, a blog site run by Bo and created for the purpose of “Defending the Biblical Foundation of the Declaration,” to celebrate the Declaration on the Fourth of July 2011. It is a brief hagiographic piece touting the Judeo-Christian foundations of the revered document. There are many historical inaccuracies in his narrative, which is clearly ideologically driven. While there are many factual errors in the posting, I’ll focus solely on the claims related to the religious implications of the Declaration.

The first piece of evidence that Bo finds in the Declaration to support his claim comes from the statement: “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

Declaration of Independence

Claim: Bo insists that the “Creator” mentioned in the Declaration “is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” and that “[t]he only possible way to make the term Creator mean anything other than the God of the Bible is to rip the Declaration from its historical moorings.”

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History News Network | This Thanksgiving Let’s Finally Stop the Nonsense About the Puritans and Pilgrims

Malcolm Gaskill discusses the myths about the Puritans and Thanksgiving that have become so much a part of our national identity. He writes: “I’d like to think that things have improved in US schools since Loewen [author of Lies My Teacher Told Me] was writing. But the myths he describes thrive elsewhere, perhaps because previous generations have cherished them into adulthood. Liberty and democracy are historical tripwires. Pilgrim ‘liberty’ was not something we would much fancy today. New Plymouth’s government was more like an oligarchy than a democracy, and the idea of freedom of speech was anathema. Passengers on the Mayflower drew up a compact, often painted as an egalitarian proto-Constitution whereas in reality it was just a socially-exclusive old world company agreement. ‘In their pious treatment of the Pilgrims,’ Loewen argues, ‘history textbooks introduce the archetype of American exceptionalism.’” It is difficult to challenge cherished myths, but I hope Gaskill is successful because we can learn more from the truth!

History News Network | This Thanksgiving Let’s Finally Stop the Nonsense About the Puritans and Pilgrims.

Between Two Worlds Gasgill

Is Obama’s Pending Executive Order on Immigration Impeachable?

Two articles published today argue that Obama’s pending Executive Order on immigration is no different than what previous presidents have done:

“If Obama Faces Impeachment over Immigration, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy Should Have as Well” by John Dickson at the History News Network.

“Reagan, Bush Also Acted Without Congress To Shield Immigrants From Deportation,” by Andrew Taylor at the Huffington Post.

 

History News Network | Foreign Policy: Can’t Anybody Play this Game Better?

William R. Polk argues for a different kind of foreign policy: “The bottom line is avoiding aggression.  Of course, we must defend ourselves.  But, as recent history makes clear, defense and aggression often are hard to distinguish.  What is defense to one is often aggression to the other.  Mutual respect and mutual forbearance should be our objective.  This is not, as Mrs. Thatcher would have said, to “go wobbly,” to appease,  to pussyfoot or to be just weak-willed liberals.  It may be a matter of life or death and certainly can help us avoid catastrophes.   But, we should realize that adopting a strategy of avoiding conflict will often be difficult.  Public angers are far easier to whip up than to dispel.  Demagogues multiply like rabbits and sometimes we follow them like lemmings.  All the polls tell us how ignorant we are as a people.  And, looking around us,  we must ask ourselves where we can find today the wise leaders we need to guide our actions.  I confess that I cannot identify them.” I agree with Polk’s conclusion even though I come to it from a different historical perspective. Polk’s article is long but worth reading. We need to abandon our short-sighted, knee-jerk, punitive approach to foreign policy.

History News Network | Foreign Policy: Can’t Anybody Play this Game Better?.

terrorism

The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth – NYTimes.com

Mindy Kotler in today’s New York Times wrote: “The United States, in particular, has a responsibility to remind Japan, its ally, that human rights and women’s rights are pillars of American foreign policy. If we do not speak out, we will be complicit not only in Japanese denialism, but also in undermining today’s international efforts to end war crimes involving sexual violence.”

The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth – NYTimes.com.

Japanese comfort women

NOVA | Emperor’s Ghost Army

NOVA is always great but this program about the Terracotta warriors of the First Emperor should be especially interesting. It’s amazing that the Chinese were able to make this terracotta army, thousands strong, each one unique, in the third century B.C.E.!! And that’s just the beginning!

NOVA | Emperor’s Ghost Army.

terracotta warriors