U.S. Congress Moved to Import 20,000 Bibles

I initially posted this as a comment in the “Atheist Hitchens Wrong About Founders” post, but decided to break it out into its own post and expand on a few additional thoughts…

“September 11th”, for most people, brings memories of September 11th, 2001.

But there is something good and important to remember about September 11th, 1777. On that day, the Congress of the United States of America moved to import 20,000 copies of the most important book of the American Revolution… the Bible.

Initially, the U.S. Congress desired to have Bibles printed in the U.S.A. under their care and by their encouragement…

[ca. July 7, 1777] The Congress desire to have a bible printed under their care & by their encouragement

…but when it was determined that procuring the necessary materials would be extremely difficult, the U.S. Congress voted to import Bibles instead…

“That, your committee are of opinion, considerable difficulties will attend the procuring the types and paper; that, afterwards, the risque of importing them will considerably enhance the cost, and that the calculations are subject to such uncertainty in the present state of affairs, that Congress cannot much rely on them: that the use of the Bible is so universal, and its importance so great, that your committee refer the above to the consideration of Congress, and if Congress shall not think it expedient to order the importation of types and paper, your committee recommend that Congress will order the Committee of Commerce to import 20,000 Bibles from Holland, Scotland, or elsewhere, into the different ports of the states in the Union:”

Whereupon, the Congress was moved, to order the Committee of Commerce to import twenty thousand copies of the Bible;

The question being put, the house was divided:

{table}

So it was resolved in the affirmative.

See also: God, Moses, Crosses and the Bible in Our Capitol Building

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49 Responses to U.S. Congress Moved to Import 20,000 Bibles

  1. Jonah says:

    It should be noted that though Congress moved to purchase these bibles, it never actually happened. The final vote was delayed and never rescheduled.

    Instead, in 1981, publisher Robert Aitken took it upon himself to print his own Bibles in Pennsylvania. Congress endorsed his Bibles as accurate, but declined his request that Congress publish them or help pay for the printing.

  2. Jonah says:

    Oops. Failed to capitalize Bibles in the first sentence. My B.

  3. Jonah,
    I assume you meant 1781, not 1981. Also, please cite your source.

  4. Jonah says:

    Hah, yeah. 1781. Good catch.

    Well, if you looked forward a couple pages in the document you cited, you’d see that Congress indeed postponed the matter, and never got around to addressing it on the date they said they would. For more details including what happened with Aitken, this is pretty comprehensive, and you can check this Library of Congress document if you don’t mind the funny s’s.

    And, of course, there’s always the cursory Google search.

  5. Jonah,

    Thank you for following up with your sources.

    The first link goes to “Liars for Jesus”, which clearly has both an antagonistic bias and a financial motive (book sales).

    The second link is primary source material, which I like. I was starting down that path myself, and found that the primary source material actually proves one of your prior comments wrong (I’ll come back to that in a subsequent comment).

    The third link is fairly obnoxious. It’s not like I don’t know how to do a Google search, or need a “Let me Google that for you” video demonstration. Doing a Google search shows what’s available, and usually there are a variety of points of view, each with their own level of bias, and the Google search does nothing to indicate to which source you were actually referring.

  6. Primary source material:
    ——————————–

    Previously referenced:
    Journals of the Continental Congress, Volume 8, page 733
    Journals of the Continental Congress, Volume 8, page 734
    Journals of the Continental Congress, Volume 8, page 735

    New to this comment:
    Journals of the Continental Congress, Volume 23, page 572
    Journals of the Continental Congress, Volume 23, page 573
    Journals of the Continental Congress, Volume 23, page 574

  7. Jonah says:

    The first link goes to “Liars for Jesus”, which clearly has both an antagonistic bias and a financial motive (book sales).

    Therefore rendering all of its content invalid, despite the numerous references to primary sources? C’mon now. It’s not like I’m so dismissive when you link to outside sources antagonistic to my point of view. And the book sales motive is just preposterous. Is everything sold through Amazon an invalid source now?

    The third link is fairly obnoxious.

    Sorry, but it seemed like you were just asking for sources as a way to delay the actual conversation. I gave you the name Robert Aitken, and all you had to do was Google it and read his Wikipedia article (and click on the links there, since Wikipedia is so biased) to confirm exactly what I’d said. If this were an academic paper, sure, it would have been bad for me to not cite sources. But this is a conversation.

    (Plus, given the way you pulled this trick in the global warming thread, wherein you asked me to cite a source and, after I did, never bothered to respond to the point I had made, I assumed you were trying to do the same again here.)

  8. It’s not like I’m so dismissive when you link to outside sources antagonistic to my point of view.

    “Liars for Jesus” is about as offensive to me as the following would probably be to you… if I were to give you a link that argued that people who believe as you believe are “Liars for Satan”. Kind of makes you not interested a single word they have to say.

    you pulled this trick in the global warming thread

    I never intended to “pull a trick” on you. My apologies if I never responded to a point you made there.

  9. Jonah says:

    “Liars for Jesus” is about as offensive to me as the following would probably be to you… if I were to give you a link that argued that people who believe as you believe are “Liars for Satan”. Kind of makes you not interested a single word they have to say.

    Yeah, I understand that. But a statement’s offensiveness says nothing about its truth, and in this case it seems that you’re mostly offended because it so soundly rebuts your talking point. (I’m sure you felt the same way when you learned that the X in Xmas was a chi [as in Christ], not the 24th letter of the alphabet.) In this case I’d sincerely recommend that you refrain from (literally) judging a book by its cover. The article is, as I mentioned, extraordinarily well-documented.

    If I had been able to find another source which so thoroughly pours through the primary documents to give such a strong picture of the events, I would have linked it instead. Alas, I was left with an excellent article with an offensive title. I chose content over cover.

  10. The primary source material makes the following clear to me:

    1) The Congress carefully considered both the domestic printing of, and the importation of, Bibles. They had no concept that a “separation of church and state” should prevent them from doing so.

    2) The Congress intended that money advanced would be reimbursed by the sale of the Bibles.

    The committee appointed to consider the memorial of the Rev. Dr. Allison and others, report, “That they have conferred fully with the printers, &c. in this city,and are of opinion, that the proper types for printing the Bible are not to be had in this country, and that the paper cannot be procured, but with such difficulties and subject to such casualties, as render any dependence on it altogether improper: that to import types for the purpose of setting up an entire edition of the bible, and to strike off 30,000 copies, with paper, binding, &c. will cost £10,272 10, which must be advanced by Congress, to be reimbursed by the sale of the books

    3) After considering the cost and risk of procuring the materials to print 30,000 copies of the Bible domesticly, that Congress moved, and resolved in the affirmative, to order the Committee of Commerce to import 20,000 copies of the Bible.

    4) Due to “the circumstances of the war, an English edition of the Bible could not be imported”. (Volume 23, page 573)

    5) The United States in Congress assembled highly approved the pious and laudable undertaking of Mr. Aitken to finish an American edition of the holy scriptures in English, and they recommended this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States.

    The committee, consisting of Mr. [James] Duane, Mr. [Thomas] McKean and Mr. [John] Witherspoon, to whom was referred a petition memorial of Robert Aitken, printer, dated 21 January, 1781, respecting an edition of the holy scriptures, report,

    That Mr. Aitken has at a great expence now finished an American edition of the holy scriptures in English; that the committee have, from time to time, conferred with him

    ——————————————————————————–
    The committee, consisting of Mr. [James] Duane, Mr. [Thomas] McKean and Mr. [John] Witherspoon, to whom was referred a petition memorial of Robert Aitken, printer, dated 21 January, 1781, respecting an edition of the holy scriptures, report,

    That Mr. Aitken has at a great expence now finished an American edition of the holy scriptures in English; that the committee have, from time to time, conferred with him

    ——————————————————————————–

    Page 573

    attended to his progress in the work: that they also recommended it to the two chaplains of Congress to examine and give their opinion of the execution, who have accordingly reported thereon:

    The recommendation and report being as follows:

    Philadelphia, 1 September, 1782.

    Rev. Gentlemen, Our knowledge of your piety and public spirit leads us without apology to recommend to your particular attention the edition of the holy scriptures publishing by Mr. Aitken. He undertook this expensive work at a time, when from the circumstances of the war, an English edition of the Bible could not be imported, nor any opinion formed how long the obstruction might continue. On this account particularly he deserves applause and encouragement. We therefore wish you, reverend gentlemen, to examine the execution of the work, and if approved, to give it the sanction of your judgment and the weight of your recommendation. We are with very great respect, your most obedient humble servants,

    (Signed) James Duane, Chairman,

    In behalf of a committee of Congress on Mr. Aitken’s memorial.

    Rev. Dr. White and Rev. Mr. Duffield, chaplains of the United States in Congress assembled.

    REPORT.

    Gentlemen, Agreeably to your desire, we have paid attention to Mr. Robert Aitken’s impression of the holy scriptures, of the old and new testament. Having selected and examined a variety of passages throughout the work, we are of opinion, that it is executed with great accuracy as to the sense, and with as few grammatical and typographical errors as could be expected in an undertaking of such magnitude. Being ourselves witnesses of the demand for this invaluable book, we rejoice in the present prospect of a supply, hoping that it will prove as advantageous as it is honorable to the gentleman, who has exerted himself to furnish it at the evident risk of private fortune. We are, gentlemen, your very respectful and humble servants,

    (Signed) William White,
    George Duffield.

    Philadelphia, September 10, 1782.

    Hon. James Duane, esq. chairman, and the other hon. gentlemen of the committee of Congress on Mr. Aitken’s memorial.

    ——————————————————————————–
    Page 574

    Whereupon, Resolved, That the United States in Congress assembled, highly approve the pious and laudable undertaking of Mr. Aitken, as subservient to the interest of religion as well as an instance of the progress of arts in this country, and being satisfied from the above report, of his care and accuracy in the execution of the work, they recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States, and hereby authorise him to publish this recommendation in the manner he shall think proper.1

    [Note 1: 1 The Committee’s report, in the writing of John Witherspoon, is in the Papers of the Continental Congress, No. 19, I, folio 59. Duane’s letter is on folio 65. White and Duffield’s report on folio 63. Aitken’s letter of September 9 submitting the work to Congress is in No. 78, I, folio 421. His letter of September 25, sending one of the first copies to Congress, is on folio 425.]

    If the Congress today made a similar resolution, recommending an edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States, the ACLU would scream that that is unconstitutional.

  11. Jonah says:

    If the Congress today made a similar resolution, recommending an edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States, the ACLU would scream that that is unconstitutional.

    Eh, not really. As I said in the other thread, think of the Bible as a good that is in short supply. Congress tried to act to import more of that good, but ultimately failed. Then this guy in Philadelphia prints his own, and comes to Congress asking that they confirm its textual accuracy. Congress examines several passages and says, “Hey, no typos, looks pretty good to us,” and the printing proceeds.

    I honestly see no difference between this and federal approval of any product. The Bible is a “necessary good” in the sense that it enables the practicing of religion, a right protected under the Constitution. Why would it be out of character for the government to help guarantee availability of that good? Especially when, as per #2, it doesn’t even cost the government any money in the long run?

  12. Congress didn’t consider the Bible as a mere common good. Look at some of the things they said, such as:

    “its importance so great”
    “holy scriptures”
    “deserves applause and encouragement”
    “this invaluable book”
    “highly approve the pious and laudable undertaking”
    “recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States”

    Can you name a single other “good” for which these phrases would be said? No.

    To pass this off as just “Hey, no typos, looks pretty good to us,” is laughable.

    There can be no doubt as to the importance of the Bible to our founders and to the founding of this country.

  13. If the Congress today made a similar resolution, recommending an edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States, the ACLU would scream that that is unconstitutional.

    Eh, not really.

    Yes, they most certainly would. The ACLU is notorious for claiming that the 1st Amendment prohibits the “endorsement” of religion.

    They are wrong, of course, because it is not “endorsement” but rather “establishment” of religion that is prohibited. Our Congress has been endorsing the Bible and Christianity since the founding of this country.

  14. Jonah says:

    “its importance so great”

    That was from the recommendation of the subcommittee, not the actual resolution, but sure. I’ll give you that one.

    “holy scriptures”

    That was from Aitken’s letter (and some quoting thereof), not Congress’s resolution.

    “deserves applause and encouragement”

    I could see that being said today, of one who took it upon himself to help fulfill a demand for which the people had been asking in vain for years. If you can’t, you suffer from a paucity of imagination.

    “this invaluable book”

    Those are the words of chaplains White and Duffield, not Congress.

    “highly approve the pious and laudable undertaking”

    Again, this is about Aitken’s actions.

    “recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States”

    If they recommended the Bible itself, I’d think you had a point. But the specification of this edition implies that they are referring to the quality of this particular version of the text. In other words, that it’s a good translation and free of typos.

    I don’t seriously claim to know what the ACLU would say in response to this. I’ll try to find out (I have a few friends who work for them), but in the meantime I can only give my opinion as someone who often agrees with them. And in this case, I really see nothing remarkable about all of this, especially when the act in question was never even carried out.

  15. emphasis mine…

    The Gutenberg Bible and the Giant Bible of Mainz, two of the most popular and valuable items in the Library of Congress, have been returned to permanent display in refurbished cases in the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building, which is open to visitors 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday-Saturday.

    Both bibles were created in Mainz, Germany, during the same period in the 15th century. Published in 1453, the Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed with movable metal type. Named for Johann Gutenberg, who is credited with inventing movable metal type, the Library’s copy is one of only three perfect vellum copies known to exist. It was purchased from Dr. Otto Vollbehr in 1930 by an act of Congress.

    1) Two of the most popular and valuable items in the Library of Congress are Bibles.

    2) Almost everyone knows the importance of the Gutenberg printing press and how it changed the world of information. Many people don’t know that Gutenberg created the printing press in order to produce Bibles faster and in greater quantity than could be produced by hand.

    3) The Gutenberg Bible on display in a government building was purchased by an act of Congress in 1930.

    Again, I say that if today’s Congress tried to use government money to purchase even a single Bible, the ACLU would wrongly call that an unconstitutional “endorsement” of religion.

  16. Self-reference, to expand and clarify a point.

    Again, I say that if today’s Congress tried to use government money to purchase even a single Bible, the ACLU would wrongly call that an unconstitutional “endorsement” of religion.

    The Constitution does not prohibit “endorsement” of religion. It prohibits “establishment” of religion, a la the state-run Church of England. Our government has “endorsed” the Bible and Christianity since the founding of this country. Our Constituion, Bill of Rights, and laws are based on the Bible. That is what we mean when we say that the United States of America is a “Christian Nation”. That doesn’t mean that every citizen is a Christian. That doesn’t mean that non-Christians are pressured by the government to become Christians. It means that our system of government comes from Biblical principles, and that our people are and have historically been a majority Christian people. But every citizen has the Constitutionally protected freedom of religion – to worship any God they want, or no God at all.

  17. the act in question was never even carried out.

    What does “resolved” mean to you?

    Whereupon, the Congress was moved, to order the Committee of Commerce to import twenty thousand copies of the Bible… resolved in the affirmative.

    Now it appears true that this wasn’t “carried out”, but not because of a change of heart by the Congress, but rather due to the war: “from the circumstances of the war, an English edition of the Bible could not be imported”.

    And again, what does “resolved” mean to you?

    Whereupon, Resolved, That the United States in Congress assembled, highly approve the pious and laudable undertaking of Mr. Aitken

    It is clear from the primary source record that the United States in Congress assembled:

    1) Actively considered the advancement of money to print 30,000 Bibles in the U.S.

    2) Actively resolved to import 20,000 Bibles

    3) Actively resolved and “highly approved” Mr. Aitken’s “pious and laudable undertaking”, and resolved to “recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States”.

    You say

    But the specification of this edition implies that they are referring to the quality of this particular version of the text. In other words, that it’s a good translation and free of typos.

    Jonah, really, that is an epic fail. You totally miss the point. How many “versions of the text” were available? The point is that Congress had wanted to print 30,000 copies of the Bible and were not successful, then wanted to import 20,000 copies of the Bible and were not successful, and then Mr. Akin “exerted himself ” and undertook the task “of such magnitude” “at the evident risk of private fortune” to create the very first Bible printed in the U.S.A.

    The Chaplains and Congress “rejoiced in the present prospect of a supply”.

    If they recommended the Bible itself, I’d think you had a point.

    That is exactly the point. Congress was recommending the Bible itself, from the time they wanted to print 30,000, to the time they wanted to import 20,000, to the time they resolved that Akin’s version was good enough to be the first Congressionally recommended Bible in this country.

  18. It appears that the first complete Bible printed in this country was not printed in English, but rather in Algonquian in 1663.

    That tells a story in and of itself, and kind of reminds me of “Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith

  19. Aitken’s Bible, published under Congressional patronage, was the first English language Bible published on the North American continent.

    Aitken published Congress’s recommendation of September 1782 as an imprimatur on the two pages following his Bible’s title page.

    The Library of Congress has an image of the title page, but I have not yet found online images of the two pages which follow it.

  20. Jonah says:

    What does “resolved” mean to you?

    I think we both know what “resolved” means. My point was that we’re talking about an action that Congress authorized, but then delayed (“The consideration thereof be postponed to Saturday next, to be taken up after reading the public letters”) and never returned to until the Aitken’s situation years later. I don’t think that makes the discussion invalid, but it is worth taking all this with a grain of salt, especially since we don’t know why it so indefinitely postponed.

    Jonah, really, that is an epic fail.

    Are you sure? It seems to me that this is exactly as it went down. Let’s go to the play-by-play, starting a few years after the original resolution failed to result in any imports.

    First we have delegate James McLene, proposing a resolution (which in turn was resolved) about the accuracy of any newly printed Bibles:

    Resolved, That it be recommended to such of the States who may think it convenient for them that they take proper measures to procure one or more new and correct editions of the old and new testament to be printed and that such states regulate their printers by law so as to secure effectually the said books from being misprinted.

    Later, Aitken petitions Congress to have his version endorsed. Congress bunts, forwarding the issue to the aforementioned chaplains:

    Rev. Gentlemen, Our knowledge of your piety and public
    spirit leads us without apology to recommend to your particular attention the edition of the holy scriptures publishing by Mr. Aitken. He undertook this expensive work at a time, when from the circumstances of the war, an English edition of the Bible could not be imported, nor any opinion formed how long the obstruction might continue. On this account particularly he deserves applause and encouragement. We therefore wish you, reverend gentlemen, to examine the execution of the work, and if approved, to give it the sanction of your judgment, and the weight of your recommendation. We
    are with very great respect, your most obedient humble servants.

    And the chaplains, indeed, reply in the affirmative:

    Gentlemen, Agreeably to your desire, we have paid attention to Mr. Robert Aitken’s impression of the holy scriptures, of the old and new testament. Having selected and examined a variety of passages throughout the work, we are of opinion, that it is executed with great accuracy as to the sense, and with as few grammatical and typographical errors as could be expected in an undertaking of such magnitude. Being ourselves witnesses of the demand for this invaluable book, we rejoice in the present prospect of a supply, hoping that it will prove as advantageous as it is honorable to the gentleman, who has exerted himself to furnish it at the evident risk of private fortune. We are, gentlemen, your very respectful and humble servants.

    Which sounds exactly like what I said, that this entire exercise was simply to assess the validity of the edition as a legitimate Bible. How do you interpret it?

  21. Jonah says:

    [stuff about the historical importance of Bibles]

    No doubt. But as I was saying last week (perhaps we should renew that discussion?), what do we mean when we say that our laws are based on the Bible? We mean it historically, yes, but in what way are those laws different from what they would have been had they been based on some other reasonable set of moral axioms? I think the conclusion we came to is that they are no different at all.

  22. Jonah,

    I’ll come back to your two most recent comments, but want to post something interesting I just found…

    It’s not Earth-shattering, just interesting to me…

    James Billington took his oath of office as Librarian of Congress on Sept. 14, 1987, before President Ronald Reagan, who had nominated him; Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who administered the oath; and Marjorie Billington, who held the Library’s 1782 “Aitken” Bible for the Great Hall ceremony attended by more than 800 guests.

  23. what do we mean when we say that our laws are based on the Bible?

    I refer you again to the words of Democratic President Harry S. Truman:

    The fundamental basis of this Nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days.

    If we don’t have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.

    You ask:

    in what way are those laws different from what they would have been had they been based on some other reasonable set of moral axioms?

    I think it’s a moot question, frankly. This nation was founded by Christians, so what point is there in asking “in what way are those laws different from what they would have been had they been based on some other reasonable set of moral axioms”?

    Perhaps a more relevant question is what if our current laws were as severe in their punishment for Biblical violations as the 1672 General Laws and Liberties of the Massachusets Colony: Revised and Reprinted [page] – [page]?

  24. Jonah says:

    The issue is, to what extent should we care that it was founded by Christians? Does it really say something about our laws, or is it in some sense just a historical coincidence? I mean, our nation was also founded by white males, but you wouldn’t call it a “White Male Nation”, right? When you say that America is a Christian Nation, you’re suggesting that the Christianity of our Founding Fathers actually meant something. If the laws are no different than they would have been otherwise, how can that be the case?

  25. Which sounds exactly like what I said, that this entire exercise was simply to assess the validity of the edition as a legitimate Bible. How do you interpret it?

    “without apology to recommend to your particular attention the edition of the holy scriptures publishing by Mr. Aitken.”

    Congress wasn’t “bunting” as you suggest they were. They were actively, and without apology, recommending Aitken’s edition of the holy scriptures to the chaplains, with the “wish” that they would, upon examination, “give it the sanction of your judgment, and the weight of your recommendation”.

    They knew that these chaplains were highly respected, and that their recommendation, added to the recommendation already given “without apology” by the Congress (“without apology to recommend”), would be weighty and significant.

  26. When you say that America is a Christian Nation, you’re suggesting that the Christianity of our Founding Fathers actually meant something. If the laws are no different than they would have been otherwise, how can that be the case?

    Read what the Supreme Court said, in the days before “Progressive” judges started changing things…

    “This Is A Christian Nation”

  27. Jonah says:

    Thanks, Supreme Court. But you didn’t answer my question: why, if our laws are no different than they would have been otherwise, do we care that they happened to be influenced by the Bible? Why is our identity as a Christian nation something that matters today, rather than just a fact for the history books?

  28. Thanks, Supreme Court.

    Nice way to gloss over what the Supreme Court said. For those who didn’t follow the link, the Supreme Court said (emphasis mine):

    Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of The Redeemer of mankind. It’s impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian… This is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation… we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth… These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.

    Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States,
    The United States Supreme Court,
    143 U.S. 457, 12 S.Ct. 511, 36 L.Ed. 226 (1892)

    Jonah continues…

    Why is our identity as a Christian nation something that matters today, rather than just a fact for the history books?

    It is the very reason that our nation has been the most blessed nation on Earth.

    God Bless America, Land That I Love!
    Stand Beside Her, And Guide Her,
    Through The Night With The Light From Above.

    It is very foundation upon which our nation rests. If you remove the foundation, the nation falls, just as certainly as removing the foundation from a house (think beach house during a hurricane) causes the house to fall.

    For decades, there has been a very deliberate effort by the far left to remove the Biblical foundation of this nation. It is called “demoralization”, and it is the first step of a well-established Soviet process of “Ideological Subversion”.

  29. Jonah says:

    I still don’t think you’re understanding my question. I know it’s a bit difficult for you to convince me, an atheist, that Christianity is actually vital to the foundation of our society. It’s probably impossible. But that’s not what I’m asking you to do.

    What I am asking you to do is to explain to me what our identity as a Christian nation means, or perhaps what you think it should mean. Both you and Supreme Court quote above insist that the Bible is the foundation of our nation, and that it’s “impossible that it should be otherwise.” Well, why? All you’ve shown, repeatedly, is that the Founding Fathers were very devout. But is this manifested at all in our laws? As I’ve said before, the morality supported by our Constitution is very general, and is in no way unique to the Ten Commandments.

    Perhaps I’m being too abstract here. Let me repeat another question I asked previously, whose answers I don’t think we’ve finished exploring. You suggest that our Biblical foundations are being swept away by some sort of grand conspiracy. If you had your way, what would be different now, policy-wise? I believe the only specific instance we have so far is that the Ten Commandments (like Moore’s monument) would be allowed in courthouses. Presumably abortion law is another answer, albeit less obviously related to religion. Are there other current understandings of the law—not general philosophies like “separation of church and state”, but specific policies—that would be different in a perfect, Red-written America? Perhaps some concrete examples will help get this discussion back on track.

  30. I know it’s a bit difficult for you to convince me, an atheist, that Christianity is actually vital to the foundation of our society. It’s probably impossible.

    That’s probably right.

    But that’s not what I’m asking you to do.

    It seems like you are.

    Both you and Supreme Court quote above insist that the Bible is the foundation of our nation, and that it’s “impossible that it should be otherwise.” Well, why?

    Please study, really study, what Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov (also known as Tomas Schuman) said. He proabably explains it better than I do, and has the credibility of someone who used to be on the “other side”, actively trying to destablize governments. And he explains why faith in God is essential to preventing the destruction of our society.

    …would be different in a perfect, Red-written America?

    There can never be “perfect” because mankind is not “perfect”. But I would like to see the decay caused by “progressives” over the last century reversed, and the spiritual foundation of this country, its schools, and its government restored to the strength it had a century ago.

    And I believe that as the Internet exposes today’s youth to truth that was denied them in the public schools, those who seek the truth will find it and there will be revival in this country. It’s already starting.

  31. Jonah says:

    Please study, really study, what Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov (also known as Tomas Schuman) said.

    The fact that you think this answers my question tells me we’re not getting anywhere. Let’s move on.

    There can never be “perfect” because mankind is not “perfect”. But I would like to see the decay caused by “progressives” over the last century reversed, and the spiritual foundation of this country, its schools, and its government restored to the strength it had a century ago.

    Red, I’m begging you here, be specific! Just name some laws that you think are contrary to what should be on the books in a Christian nation. Feel free to even suggest new laws. Our ability to communicate in the abstract is clearly limited, so let’s get back to the details.

  32. The fact that you think this answers my question tells me we’re not getting anywhere.

    The fact that you think this doesn’t answer your question tells me we’re not getting anywhere.

    Let’s move on.

    I’m not sure I see the point in moving on.

    Red, I’m begging you here, be specific! Just name some laws that you think are contrary to what should be on the books in a Christian nation.

    For starters, LBJ’s Unconstitutional Amendment.

    Feel free to even suggest new laws.

    I don’t think we need a lot of new laws. I think if anything, we need to do away with some laws that have done more harm than good (like Sarbanes-Oxley).

    Rather than new laws, I think we need two new Constitutional Amendments:
    1) Protecting the sanctity of Life.
    2) Defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

    I believe Mike Huckabee is right on both of these issues:
    life and marriage.

  33. I’ll be offline tomorrow, and possibly through the weekend.

  34. Jonah says:

    Cool, specifics. Thanks.

    Defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

    As someone who lives in Massachusetts, I have to ask: how do you reconcile such an amendment with your belief in States’ rights?

  35. Frin says:

    Why should any government make laws relating to marriage? How do you justify that as something government, either state or federal, should be regulating?

  36. As someone who lives in Massachusetts, I have to ask: how do you reconcile such an amendment with your belief in States’ rights?

    1) As someone who lives in Massachusetts, are you aware that Massachusetts used to consider sodomy a Capital offense, punishable by death? (1672 General Laws and Liberties of the Massachusets Colony)

    2) I do not support the death penalty for any offense.

    3) I do support a Constitutional Amendment to ensure that marriage is not “redefined”, but rather keeps the same definition it has had since the founding of this country: marriage is between one man and one woman.

    4) States’ rights are repreresented by the states’ right to choose whether or not they ratify a Constitutional amendment. Once the amendment is ratified, however, states’ rights are subordinate to the Constitution of the United States, whether or not any individual state ratified that amendment.

    5) Whether you agree or not, “Gay marriage” isn’t about really about gaining rights for homosexuals. Civil unions give homosexuals rights. “Gay marriage” is about taking rights away from Christians. Once “Gay marriage” becomes legal in an area, it is not long afterward that Christians are targeted for “discrimination” cases. A church that won’t marry a gay couple is targeted with a lawsuit. A Christian photographer who won’t photograph a gay wedding is targeted with a lawsuit. “Gay marriage” is about forcing the gay agenda upon the Church, and turning Biblical morality upside down. What the Bible says is wrong is now claimed to be right, and what the Bible says is right is now claimed to be wrong and “hate speech”.

    But the true hate speech usually comes from the homosexuals:

    Gossip blogger/pageant judge calls contestant “dumb b*tch” over gay marriage question

    Trash blogger retracts apology to Miss California USA; invokes the “c-word”

    NYTimes finally acknowledges that anti-Prop. 8 mob is harassing traditional marriage supporters

    Anti-Prop. 8 mob rings in 2009 with more church vandalism

  37. Frin says:

    Mr Pill,

    I really struggle to understand your equation:

    Extending marriage to gays = less rights for Christians.

    Its a ridiculous concept. What you should be railing against is anti-discrimination laws, not gay marriage.

    And since when is calling someone a “dumb b*tch” hate speech? Now who is being overly PC?

    And as for true hate speech usually coming from homosexuals, hey look I just googled the Westboro Baptist Church…

  38. Ryan says:

    Mr. Pill, No gay couple wants to be married in a church that believes they are abominations. Churches already discriminate anyway. The Catholic church across the street from me will not marry anyone who has been divorced. It’s been there about a hundred years without any lawsuits. As for the photographer, they are free under the law to turn down any job, for any reason they like.

    Things in the world are changing, and we all need to change as well. You keep comparing today’s issues with decisions made hundreds of years ago. Back then anyone with dark skin could be property, and surgery was performed with rusty hand saws. Things can lose relevance over time, and the definition of marriage is one of them.

    You have already shown your ability to use reason by choosing not to support capital punishment – something that is also a big part of our history. That is progress.

  39. Jonah says:

    1) As someone who lives in Massachusetts, are you aware that Massachusetts used to consider sodomy a Capital offense, punishable by death? (1672 General Laws and Liberties of the Massachusets Colony)

    Perhaps we can learn a lesson from this. I don’t think the pilgrims were bad people, but we can all agree that this practice was absolutely barbaric. So understand that when I’m telling you that right now, your position is immoral and discriminatory, understand that I’m not saying you’re a bad person, nor that you are immoral or discriminatory. I’m just saying you have some growing to do.

    2) I do not support the death penalty for any offense.

    Hey, me neither! I like it when we agree on stuff.

    3) I do support a Constitutional Amendment to ensure that marriage is not “redefined”, but rather keeps the same definition it has had since the founding of this country: marriage is between one man and one woman.

    Argument by precedent is not a valid one here, because the exact same argument could have been made about interracial marriage.

    4) States’ rights are repreresented by the states’ right to choose whether or not they ratify a Constitutional amendment. Once the amendment is ratified, however, states’ rights are subordinate to the Constitution of the United States, whether or not any individual state ratified that amendment.

    True. But usually this process is done so that no state can deny someone a right which is considered fundamental. Here, you’re pushing for an amendment to deny rights, even to those in states that don’t support it. Even if you don’t believe in gay marriage, I hope you appreciate the symbolic damage this does to the Constitution, turning it into a guide for what citizens CAN’T do instead of what they can.

    5) Whether you agree or not, “Gay marriage” isn’t about really about gaining rights for homosexuals. Civil unions give homosexuals rights. “Gay marriage” is about taking rights away from Christians. Once “Gay marriage” becomes legal in an area, it is not long afterward that Christians are targeted for “discrimination” cases.

    First of all, I’m glad to see you support civil unions. That’s great. And you’re correct, the distinction between that and marriage is not one of rights per se, but one of dignity. Whereas heterosexual couples are allowed to get both married and, uh, “civilly united”, homosexual couples are barred from the former. This is the government specifically saying “Hey, this word here, about whose importance we often talk at great length, and which is the foundation of society? Not for you guys. Sorry!” Even if there’s no particular right involved, it’s a slap in the face. That’s why it’s wrong.

    As for your fears of discrimination lawsuits, Ryan is absolutely right. Churches are already free to turn down any couple they wish, even for reasons that others might find bizarre. Some won’t marry interracial couples, some won’t marry interreligious couples, and some won’t even marry couples with a large age difference. None of this would change when gay marriage is legalized. It would only allow those churches who do wish to perform gay weddings to do so.

    [I assume that your fears on this matter are caused by the Ocean Grove case. But (a) that was about civil unions anyway, and (b) the argument by the plaintiffs is that the location in question wasn’t church property, but rather public property. It’s all a little complicated, and the matter hasn’t even been resolved yet.]

    The complaint about photographers is more bizarre. Do you think that under civil unions, gay couples don’t have celebrations to commemorate their relationship? I don’t possibly see how changing the name to marriage would affect something as nonsecular as a photographer.

    But even if you don’t believe me, and you think that such discrimination cases will happen anyway, let’s flesh out the question Frin was alluding to earlier: why should the government be involved in the marriage business at all? Why not just have the government grant civil unions to couples of any sex, and give religious groups the ability to confer the term “marriage”? Not only does this guarantee a church’s right to choose who it marries, it also gives the nonreligious or the nonobservant an incentive to become closer to religion.

    You often talk about churches’ rights being infringed upon by gay marriage, but what about the ones who do wish to marry gays? As I’ve said before, I’ve been to a gay wedding, at a conservative synagogue. The couple in question had been together 40 years, and it was a beautiful experience for all of us to see them finally be able to declare their commitment to each other before God. Why would you want to take away the right of that synagogue to perform a ceremony like that?

  40. As for the photographer, they are free under the law to turn down any job, for any reason they like.

    A same-sex couple asked Elaine Huguenin, co-owner with her husband of Elane Photography, to photograph a “commitment ceremony” that the two women wanted to hold. Huguenin declined because her Christian beliefs are in conflict with the message communicated by the ceremony.

    Even though neither marriage nor civil unions are legal between members of the same sex in New Mexico, the same-sex couple filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, accusing Elane Photography of discrimination based on sexual orientation. The commission held a one-day trial and issued an order finding that Elane Photography engaged in “sexual orientation” discrimination prohibited under state law and ordered it to pay $6,637.94 in attorneys’ fees to the two women who filed the complaint.

  41. Things can lose relevance over time, and the definition of marriage is one of them.

    God, and His Word, do not lose relevance over time.

    Neither His definition of marriage (“let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband”), nor His rebuke of homosexuality (“If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination”), change over time.

  42. Jonah says:

    Even though neither marriage nor civil unions are legal between members of the same sex in New Mexico, the same-sex couple filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, accusing Elane Photography of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

    First off, we should note that this once again has nothing to do with whether or not gay marriage is legal, since this all occurred in a state where neither gay marriage nor civil unions was an option.

    But I do agree with you that the result was wrong. I agree that many trials and lawsuits end in the wrong way, but that does not mean their decisions are incorrect, per se. Go read the findings by the NMHRC in the Huguenin case: they’re very detailed, and they’ll give you a very clear picture of why the law fell in the plaintiffs’ favor. A big part of it is the way that Elane Photography advertised its services, in particular wedding photography, as available to all people. It’s unfortunate, and I’m interested to hear how the appeal goes. (I can’t find any record of what happened with the appeal after it was filed in July of last year. Maybe someone else can help me.)

    The lesson here is that loopholes exist. People can always twist the law into doing things it shouldn’t. (Just look at the torture memos released this past weekend.) Our job as concerned citizens, and Congress’s job as lawmakers, is to try to make our laws as precise as possible so that they cannot be used in this manner.

    The loopholes will always be there, but this doesn’t mean the principles behind them are wrong, or should be abandoned. We shouldn’t take cases like this and decide that anti-discrimination laws are invalid; for each Willock, I’m sure you can find dozens of Ledbetters. Rather, we should try to figure out how to more precisely word those laws so that cases like this happen less.

  43. The topic of this post is:

    U.S. Congress Moved to Import 20,000 Bibles

    While what the Bible has to say about marriage and homosexuality is important and relevant, the main topic of this post was intended to be discussion of activities by our United States Congress to pursue printing, importing, and endorsing the Bible.

    At this point, the original post consumes 1 printed page, while the subsequent comments consume an additional 16 pages, and it has digressed away from the original topic. I’d like to limit additional comments in this thread to discussion of the original topic.

    To continue the discussion regarding gay marriage, please submit comments to the new post:

    Biblically Correct, Not Politically Correct

  44. Igotnews says:

    who gives a rat’s ass?

  45. Pingback: God, the Bible, and Our Founders « I Took The Red Pill (and escaped the Matrix)

  46. Pingback: The First Amendment Turned Upside-Down « I Took The Red Pill (and escaped the Matrix)

  47. Pingback: God, Moses, Crosses and the Bible in Our Capitol Building « I Took The Red Pill (and escaped the Matrix)

  48. When it comes to the Founders and the Constitution, David Barton knows orders of magnitude more than Jon Stewart.

    Jon Stewart threw every straw man (that his staff gave him on note cards) that he could at David Barton, and Barton knocked every single one of those straw men down. Barton has spent decades studying thousands of primary source documents. Stewart has spent minutes, possibly hours, studying the note cards his staff gave him. It was no contest. Every time Stewart threw a false accusation at Barton, Barton countered with the truth. And every time, Stewart would interrupt Barton’s answer. Stewart could only crack a joke or change the subject; he couldn’t have a straight-up discussion of the truth.

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-may-4-2011/david-barton-pt–1

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-may-4-2011/david-barton-pt–2

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-may-4-2011/exclusive—david-barton-extended-interview-pt–1

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-may-4-2011/exclusive—david-barton-extended-interview-pt–2

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-may-4-2011/exclusive—david-barton-extended-interview-pt–3

    I would love to see a similar discussion between David Barton and “Constitutional Law” lecturer Barack Obama.

    When it comes to the Founders and the Constitution, David Barton knows orders of magnitude more than Barack Obama.

  49. From WallBuilders

    As Discussed with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show: John Adams 1809 Letter
    A December 21, 1809 letter by John Adams to Benjamin Rush.
    Read Letter »»

    As Discussed with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show: Treaty of Tripoli
    The 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, specifically article XI, is commonly misused in editorial columns, articles, as well as in other areas of the media, both Christian and secular.
    Read Article »»

    As Discussed with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show: The Aitken Bible
    Robert Aitken’s Bible was the first known English-language Bible to be printed in America, and also the only Bible to receive Congressional approval.
    Read Article »»

    As Discussed with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show: The Separation of Church and State
    In 1947, in the case Everson v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court declared, “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.”
    Read Article »»

    Letters Between the Danbury Baptists and Thomas Jefferson
    An 1801 letter from the Danbury Baptists and President Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 response in which he used the famous phrase “a wall of separation between Church and State.”
    Read Letters »»

    The Founders And Public Religious Expressions
    An article with quotes by various Founding Fathers on pubic religious expression.
    Read Article »»

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