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 Was America founded as a Deocracy?

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Aaron
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PostSubject: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Tue Apr 17, 2007 11:37 am

I believe Scott brought this up at PD. The idea that America was neither intended to be a Theocracy or an Atheocracy but infact a Deocracy.

What are your thoughts on this?

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Travis Clementsmith
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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Tue Apr 17, 2007 1:52 pm

I'll have to read his thoughts on it. Should be interesting.

-TC

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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Wed Apr 18, 2007 12:07 am

I can't find his post on the subject, do you know where it is or what the gist of it was?

-TC

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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Wed Apr 18, 2007 10:49 am

It was an old post. I'll try and see if I can find it.

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Sam Borchon



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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Tue Apr 24, 2007 12:27 am

Aaron wrote:
I believe Scott brought this up at PD. The idea that America was neither intended to be a Theocracy or an Atheocracy but infact a Deocracy.

What are your thoughts on this?

I disagree, actually. While many of the Founding Fathers were deists (or, attended Christian --including Unitarian -- churches but held beliefs we now think of as deist) many others were Christian. I believe as a group they wanted the USA to be a secular nation, with the separation of church and state that they clearly outlined in the constitution and elsewhere. To call their intention a "Deocracy" implies they thought they were imposing their religion on the nation, which I don't think they were.

My two cents,
Sam
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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:30 am

Yeah, I think I agree with you Sam but just to play devil's advocate. Deism isn't a religion or a church, it's just a reasoned belief in God.

I think that the founding fathers wanted to keep the church's authority out of the governing process but they didn't necessarily want the United States to be what would in effect be an Atheocracy. They took the existence of some sort of God as a given and kept a lot of deistic language in their writings. I don't know if this made early America a Deocracy or not but I definitely don't think it was a Theocracy or Atheocracy like many theists and atheists like to claim.

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Sam Borchon



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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:36 am

Aaron wrote:
Yeah, I think I agree with you Sam but just to play devil's advocate. Deism isn't a religion or a church, it's just a reasoned belief in God.

I think that the founding fathers wanted to keep the church's authority out of the governing process but they didn't necessarily want the United States to be what would in effect be an Atheocracy. They took the existence of some sort of God as a given and kept a lot of deistic language in their writings. I don't know if this made early America a Deocracy or not but I definitely don't think it was a Theocracy or Atheocracy like many theists and atheists like to claim.

I have a reputation for playing Devil's Advocate myself, so let's run with this! I guess the question is also whether atheism was even an option at the time, given who these men were (social position, class, etc) and the religious culture of the moment. Religion was not just about belief, but about place in society (still is, to a large extent). Would they have been able to claim to be atheists, even if they were?

Of course, you know my perspective: "A Deist is an Atheist who believes in God." :-) As two freethinking ideologies, I'm not sure the Constitution would be very different in terms of content (certainly in terms of language...).

Sam
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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:55 am

You're right, even if they were Atheists I don't think that they would have been able to state so (at least openly). In fact I think it was difficult for some of them to even come out as deists (George Washington for example).

Having said that, I think a large part of their claim that "all men are created equal" and entitled to "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" comes from the idea of "Nature's God" being the one who "endowed" us with these entitlements. In other words our right to freedom is based on the authority of a deistic god.

Here's the first section of the Declaration of Independence...

Quote :
The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world...

Jeez, I think I'm starting to convince my self... Wink Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:12 am

I think one of the biggest political hurdles of today is that people confuse secular with atheist.
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Sam Borchon



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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:39 am

native_son wrote:
I think one of the biggest political hurdles of today is that people confuse secular with atheist.

Fair enough!

I guess what I am saying is this: sure, there is Deist language in these documents, no doubt. They are setting up a secular state, not an atheist one. But would the substance be different if there were no mention of God at all?

Obviously the US is not an atheist state. I would view that as similar to a theocracy -- the government imposing belief on citizens. "Secular" means we all have the freedom to believe what we want. (Thank God for that!)

Sam
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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Wed Apr 25, 2007 3:20 pm

Sam Borchon wrote:
native_son wrote:
I think one of the biggest political hurdles of today is that people confuse secular with atheist.

Fair enough!

That statement wasn't a criticism of any post here. I brought it up because the moment that you or I (or Newdow in court) says that the U.S. is a secular nation, lots of ignorant people interpret that as a claim that the U.S. is atheist. Religious fundies encourage this and use the fear of atheism to riot against secularism. It's just yet another challenge he (and we) have to face.
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Sam Borchon



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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:36 pm

native_son wrote:
That statement wasn't a criticism of any post here. I brought it up because the moment that you or I (or Newdow in court) says that the U.S. is a secular nation, lots of ignorant people interpret that as a claim that the U.S. is atheist. Religious fundies encourage this and use the fear of atheism to riot against secularism. It's just yet another challenge he (and we) have to face.

You make an excellent point. I don't think the lack of an established religion is atheism -- I think of atheism as a religion onto itself. To me, an "atheist" state is not one where no religion is promoted (that would be secular) but one where other religions are prohibited or punished. But I agree with you about the public perception among certain groups.

Sam
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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Mon Apr 30, 2007 6:13 am

I think the Deistic perspective on government is secular. If we take integral terminology, Deism (theology) would transcend but include democracy (psychology). Since government is not a theological system, the operations of such should not have reference to theological terms and associations.

So, a deocracy violates how a Deist would envision a government. Sort of like my argument in the Esatblishment Clause being about "a State Church". If you insert the phrase "a State Church" for "religion", the whole phrase doesn't make sense because one can't freely exercise "a State Church" if you just prohibited yourself from creating such.

It should also be noted the Declaration of Independence is just that, a declaration. It has no legal standing in the United States. So, that document can be seen as Deistic while the actual structure of the State is simply secular.

-TC

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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Sat May 19, 2007 4:15 pm

I recall Thomas Jefferson saying "it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

So, from that perspective, government should be something like an apatheocracy -- it does not care whether there is a God (or twenty of them, or none) and therefore does not care what kind of God there might be if we presume there is one....
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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Sat May 19, 2007 8:27 pm

"apatheocracy"... I've never heard that term before. I like it. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Fri May 25, 2007 9:56 pm

Recently here in NZ, Brian Tamaki, leader of the Destiny Church made the following comments;

"...restrictions should be placed on the religious practices of non-Christian faiths..."

"... Tamaki says Christian-based countries need to unashamedly declare their religious identity or risk losing it forever and while other religions shouldn't be excluded, they shouldn't be given equal status and should be subject to certain restrictions..."

Now NZ has been proudly secular for decades, while a number of folk identify as Christian, they are mostly, baptised as babies and rarely set foot in a church.

I am truly proud of the condmnation Tamaki has faced from the Prime Minister on down.

kiwimac
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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Fri May 25, 2007 10:54 pm

Hi Kiwi. Smile Yes Hitler started off that way with the Jews.

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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Sun Jun 03, 2007 12:51 am

Here in the U.S., Bill O'Reilly recently said that those on the political left "want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure that we have".... tssk, tssk.
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PostSubject: Re: Was America founded as a Deocracy?   Fri Oct 26, 2007 2:33 am

In a way our once secular state was a deocracy because it was created by deists using their reason instead of tradition. Deism is a free religion for free thinkers and our nation was once a free country for free people. A deist religion lacks dogma and a deist state lacks mandatory religion. Deism doesn't need forced upon people like other religions. Deism just needs open debate about religion and if people are free to think critically they will be able to see the falsehoods of their religions. Theism needs tyranny to spread and deism needs freedom to spread. As far as I know deism is the only religion that not only accepts free thought but requires it. I believe the founding fathers understood this.
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