US Constitution

As some of you may know, I have been reading through the Bible and commenting. I haven't even finish Genesis yet, but I'm in no rush. I am also going to start reading through the US Constitution commenting on that.

Something I saw on YouTube last week got me interested in reading the Constitution again. It was a clip from MSNBC in which they compared statements from Sarah Palin regarding the United States and Christianity with quotations from the Constitution and from our Founding Fathers.

The point they were trying to make was that although Palin and others consider America a "Chistian nation" the Founding Fathers did not. In fact, they envisioned the exact opposite. They had seen the effects of religion on the nations of Europe and elsewhere, and did not want the same for their new nation.

I started to skim through the Constitution on my computer, but shortly it was bedtime. Wanting to keep reading, but not having a computer in my bed, I did the next best thing - downloaded a US Consitution app on my iPhone. I read most of it that night and finished it the next day (it really isn't that long).

The thing I found most interesting was the comment section in the app store. At least 50% of the comments went something like this: "This is a great app! Everyone should read this amazing document! If only Bush/Obama would read it."

I thought comments were a little ridiculous but I couldn't stop reading them. When I finally tore myself away from them and delved into the Constitution itself, I realized just how ridiculous those comments were.

The authors were very specific in some parts, but those passages are all about procedures (ie. how the president is elected). The majority of the document is quite vague and unspecific. That is why we have a Supreme Court, whose duty it is to interpret the Constitution and rule whether or not the acts of Congress and the President are constitutional.

Let's start with the Preamble, shall we?

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Damn those guys were ambitious. They also had a great understanding of what aspects of society should be the domain of the national government – the big ones: Justice, Domestic Peace, Defense, Welfare, and Liberty.

I can see where Libertarians get the idea of minimal government (federal, at least) interference. But those categories are pretty vague. For instance, “promote the general welfare” could mean a lot of things. The government has fulfilled this obligation by creating agencies such as the FDA and the CDC and programs like Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.

Is this what the founding fathers had in mind? Honestly, does it matter if this is what the founding fathers had in mind? I don’t know on either account.

We’ll find out as we examine this document that a lot of the language is vague, which leads me to believe that the founding fathers expected that the Constitution would be interpreted differently by the generations and would need to be placed in the context of the times.

(Maybe people would disagree with me, and I encourage you to do so in the comments!)


FVThinker said...

An excellent book on the religious beliefs of our Founding Fathers is Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America

It is a very even handed accounting positions of the various notables contributing to our Constitution. There were certainly argent Christians, but there were deists and non-believers also. It also recounts how the various colonies became, in a sense, mini-theocracies of various denominations. They saw how badly that was working out and wisely decided to divorce religion from governance. ...and the rest is history.

Mike said...

Yes that book does do a fair job of looking at the positions everyone held. However interpretations from both of you that they wanted it completely divorced and that they didn't want the country to be a Christian country are inaccurate. They wanted to avoid the theocracies that they saw happening but they wanted to base the morals of the government on the "pure" Christian ideals before men started making a religion out of the Faith. They saw the Theocracies form from those religions and instead stuck to the True Ideals. Like taking Judaism back to just the 12 commandments. They saw that the True Ideals would not only be acceptable to all the Christian denominations but also to other religions. They, of course, not knowing what Darwinism would do to the world and how it would change the morals and personal accountability of civilizations decades after their deaths.

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