I was reading an account of a John McCain town hall meeting in Racine, WI in which, among other things, John McCain said that America was founded as a Judeo-Christian nation. Not the first time he's said this, and to his credit, the person asking the question asked McCain to explain that further. He didn't.
That's just nonsense. First of all, America was around with native Indians on it before white settlers arrived. They weren't Judeo-Christian, whatever that is. (Because, I think we need to get precise about what exactly ARE Jewish and Christian values that all agree upon- is it not eating pork? Is it not divorcing your mate except on grounds of adultery? Is it not keeping slaves, even though Jesus was fine with it?) I read a book earlier this year called "Savage Kingdom" which is about the true story of Jamestown in 1607 and the settlement of America. One would assume that America might be considered a *nation* then, although the English wanted it for their own mercantile purposes, as a colonial venture.
... the motion they intended to be set before the Houses of Parliament. It proposed setting up a large fleet of modern, well-armed and well-equipped ships manned by *able Mariners and worthy chieftains* which would be sent across the Atlantic to conquer North America in the King's name..... Cope proposed that a select group of trusted merchants and nobles be approached to fund a small, secret exploratory mission to America to rade with the Indians and search for valuable commodities.
Is going to another country in order to exploit it a Judeo-Christian value? Did Jesus teach that?
William Symonds, in the early 1600,s, a lector from Christ Church in London wrote about how to displace the Indians. p 198
A theme that surfaced repeatedly was how to treat the Indians. "The country, they say, is possessed by owners, that rule and govern it in their own right. ... Then with what conscience and equity can we offer to thrust them, by violence, out of their inheritance?" His answer was pugnaciously imperialist, suited to a sermon that had as its title "Virginea Brittania". The destiny of a reborn "Great Britain" was to project civilization and Protestant Christianity through the world, if necessary with military power.
oh. Okay. It was alright to diplace the people who were already living there because of not Jewish values, but Christian values that were out to convert the world and if need be do it through military and violent means. That's a value?
p 406- The defining moment of the colonists act of possession was the "Indian massacre". Throgh their response to it, they crafted and honed their American identity. ... "Whereas we are advised by you to observe rules of justice with these barbarous, perfidious enemies, we hold nothing unjust that may tend to their ruin" (this after killing 40 or 50 more Indians.) There followed a series of coordinated assaults aimed at clearing the Indians off their land surrounding that 'goodliest river' the James.
I can't find the place in the book right now that talks about how the expedition, under famine, actually resorted to cannibalism. But it's there in the book and historically accurate.
What about religion? From p 82 (This is in 1607.)
Religion remained a point of contention. On arrival, the settlement chaplain Robert Hunt had implemented a puritanical regime of daily common prayer and lengthy sermons on Sunday mornings. Wingfield made his dislike of such pious earnestness known and on several occasions to miss, and even to cancel, the sermons.
In fact, according to their accusers, Wingfield and Newport had no interest in the venture's spiritual mission, even if it featured prominently in the Royal Charter. They were merely 'making Religion their colour, when all their aim was nothing but present profit".
What did Captain John Smith say?
What can he do less hurtful to say, or more agreeable to God, thatn to seek to convert those poor Savages to know Christ and humanity, whose labours with discretion will triple requite they charge and pain? What so truly suits with honour and honesty, as the discovering things unknown, erecting Towns, peopling Countries, informing the ignorant, reforming things unjust, teaching virtue and gain to our native mother country?
A side note in the book which also talks about the English actions with regards to the Irish. p 146
When QUeen Elizabeth's government tried imposing English government and a Protestant Church, it provoked outright rebellion, led by Catholic factions of the Old English in the south (Fitzmaurice's Rebellion) and Gaelic chieftains in the north.
The Englishmen sent in to quell the insurgency were those who launched England's first attempts at American colonization. .. Their efforst led to some of hte most brutal episodes in British military history, Gilbert famously lining the path to his military tent with the heads of the day's enemy casualties, freshly decapitated. (Sir Henry Sidney) ... backed schemes to develop the large tracts of land confiscated in Ulster and Munster as English "plantations" as a means to reduce the Realm of Ireland to civility and obedience. ... With hindsight, such ventures appear indistinguishable from occupation, using force of arms to throw indigenous people off their land and take it over- a policy not yet officially embraced in Ameria. At the time, however, English actions in Ireland were rationalized, if not justified, by their apologists as part of a noble enterprise. The *native" Gaelic Irish were trapped in a primitive social and spiritual state and it was up to the English to "bring them from the delight of licentioius barbaraism unto the love of goodness and civility"...
So, let's go back to my original premise of asking McCain just what he meant, exactly (We already know that John Adams says that in no wise is the United States founded as a Christian nation). If it's a matter of values, let's get explicit about exactly what those values are, are they only, say PROTESTANT values, do they excuse killing people in the name of occupation? Or really, is McCain just trying to pander to religious extremists and fundamentalists?