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posted on 10 February 2016

The Bible vs. the Constitution

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Here are three recent news stories:

  1. Ben Carson: Follow the Bible or Constitution? It Depends.
  2. Watch What Happens When Atheist Confronts Marco Rubio about Religious Freedom.
  3. Ted Cruz Sticks with Religion.

The fact that our Presidential candidates use religion to their advantage speaks loudly about our political system: it encourages pandering at any expense, even if it obviously goes against a founding principle of America: church and state do not mix! Therefore, I feel necessary to address the issue of "the Bible vs. the Constitution", holistically.

1. The correct answer

Here is the correct answer: between the Bible and the Constitution, the American President must choose the Constitution!

This is actually a litmus test for the U.S. citizenship. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia - Oath of Allegiance (United States):

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.[2]

End of discussion? Yes, but what about the word "God" at the end of the Oath? I believe, or at least hope, that today the word "God" refers to a general God, not that of a particular religion, even if the founders were referring only to their god. More on this in Section 3 ...

2. Freedom of religion in the U.S.

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia - Freedom of religion in the United States:

In the United States, freedom of religion is a constitutionally protected right provided in the religion clauses of the First Amendment. Freedom of religion is also closely associated with separation of church and state, a concept advocated by Colonial founders such as Roger Williams, William Penn and later founding fathers such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.[1][2].

In short, church and state do not mix!

3. Public references to God

There are many public references to God in America, from the one Dollar bill (shown below) to many examples listed in this article: God in Our Nation's Capital.

Once again, my interpretation of the use of "God" refers to a general God, not that of a particular religion, including atheists who believe in no god.

On the other hand, if all the public references to God refer to a particular God of a particular religion (e.g. Christianity), they are an anachronism, perhaps acceptable at the time, but not so today, just like slavery and "We the People" in the Constitution. Specifically,

  1. America, at its birth, embraced slavery, despite all the wisdom and good intentions of our Founding Fathers. It took the Civil War to finally seriously address the issue, ultimately costing the lives of more than 620,000 American soldiers!
  2. "We the People" in the Constitution refers to a few rich white men only, as women and minorities had no rights of voting (or serving in office) for a long time. It took several Constitutional Amendments to rectify that "mistake"!

4. Working towards a more perfect union

As a nation, we have come a long way to make our union more perfect. We must continue to do so, while resisting any attempt to curtail religious freedom in America!

Today, there is too much Islam bashing in America, which is not only totally wrong, but also utterly dangerous! Do we really want to turn the world’s Muslim population against America? To understand a vast subject like Islam, you need to read from both sides, the West and the East. Unfortunately, most Americans read from the West only, resulting in a hugely distorted view of the world, including the understanding of Islam (as well as Christianity)!

Bottom line: we must do everything possible to avoid a religious war in America!

5. Discussion

Now, back to Dr. Ben Carson ... Why did he fail the litmus test? I guess he was trying to please his core constituency: the evangelicals! More profoundly, it's democracy, stupid!

Throughout human civilization, it has been a constant power struggle between two authorities: king and religion. Religious power tends to get stronger with a weak king, while a strong king often means weaker religious power.

The power struggle remains little changed after a monarchy is replaced by a republic. The same can be said about the power dynamics between the two authorities: government and religion.

Unfortunately, most democratically elected governments have proven to be untrustworthy, with ridiculously low approval ratings! As a result, people turn more to religion, which is true today not only in the Middle East, but also in America! For more, read:

  1. Religions
  2. The Middle East ABC for Americans
  3. Diagnosis for America (Version 3).

For some religious Americans, the image below may be very helpful …

Here are two recent news stories:

  1. In Historic Move, Pope to Meet with Leader of Russian Orthodox Church. If Christianity is so purely great, how could have these two major branches of Christianity split some 1,000 years ago? Yet, they have recently agreed to meet and talk!
  2. Pope Francis Welcomes Iran President to the Vatican. If Islam or Christianity should view each other as evil, how could these two men have recently met and talked, laughingly?

Are these just more examples of America vs. the World?

Finally, for those Americans (e.g. Donald Trump) who think "Muslims hate us", here is a simple question: why do not they hate the Chinese (as much)? The answer is also very simple: it has a lot to do with the key difference in foreign policies between America and China – intervention vs. non-intervention! Overall, China’s non-intervention policy will prove, if not already has proven to be, far superior to America’s intervention policy!

6. Closing

Church and state must not mix!

For all public officials, the Constitution must top any religion, including the Bible (or Koran)! This, I believe, is a key aspect of true American exceptionalism!

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