Independence day was not just the greatest cinematic achievement of all time, with Will Smith & the lesser known of the two Quaid brothers – Randy. The film also boasted a VHS box with a corrugated plastic effect, meaning with the tilt of your hand you could blow up the white house in an instant. Crazy as it sounds, July 4th was much more than this; it was also the birth of a secular hypothesis. Please read on.
I am British and proud of it, yet since my birth a real magnetism towards everything state-side has undoubtedly shaped my life. From music to films, TV shows to clothing. At age 18 just before I set off alone to live in Texas, my father asked me if I was going to “stay”, meaning never come back. I said “of course not,” I lied. In truth I had no intention of ever seeing the shores of Great Britain again. My life was in a shit state to say the least – which clouded my judgement – the youthful foolishness that penetrated my mind told me the only solution was a new start, elsewhere. It only took 2 months away to notice my life would not be fought on the fields of a foreign land, but in an English country garden like my kin. Nevertheless what struck me as odd was my father’s reasoning, “Well, you always wanted to live in America, even as a kid,” he said. How odd! I often question how a child can show such an objective, or how my father could pick up on the little nuances that created this hypothesis. (Which was in fact true, he’s not often wrong); did he also know my political leaning? Could he tell at age 6 if I would grow to be a sports fan? A tits or an ass man? Who knows, but it had confirmed something I never knew of myself until that moment. I not only enjoyed American culture, I was surely a part of it.
I know it is a vulgar statement but whatever I lost at home, I found in Spofford, Texas. (Yes I am saying I found myself, use the paper bags provided if you must vomit)
I admit since Texas my life has been a struggle, one that I would only wish upon the most evil of people (Jedward, the pope & the guy from those old ‘go compare’ adverts – truly disturbing) But even with the pain I went through at the time, the health scares I had due to the trip, and the horrid state of my health since the trip, I would not change a thing. Something subtle and freeing happened to me in the USA, and I will be forever changed because of it.
You may find it odd someone as left wing as I chose to find himself in the Southern Baptist central of the Bible belt, instead of the free-wheeling San Francisco; I agree it is rather ironic (maybe it was god’s will?) Either way I loved the place, and gladly my atheism and political stance hardly ever came up in conversation, something I grant would never happen now; I simply would not allow to sideline myself in silence as bigotry and racism tiptoed in front of me, like I may well have done as a teenager.
I love America, the land – not a metaphor or cheap statement – I actually love the landscape; the soil is different. The blades of grass are thicker; in the UK there may well be a hypodermic needle on the footy pitch in Fazakerley, or a broken bottle you would have to kick away before playing, In Texas there may be a giant snake or tarantula sneaking towards you – both horrifying but the differences make me smile.
I love not what the country is, but what it could be; imagine if the promise of George Washington and John Adams was still alive today? If the intentions of such men still had the political zeal it used to? If any of the founding fathers came back to life, they would weep – just as Alexander the Great did once he noticed there was no more world left to conquer. Welcome to your US history lesson folks, strap yourselves in tight.
“The US is a Christian Nation!” Nope, the constitution never mentions the words “Jesus Christ”, “Christianity”, “Bible”, “Creator”, “Divine” or “God”. In fact the founding fathers specify their exclusion of faith from politics… “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust in the United States.” (Article 6, section 3)
The treaty of Tripoli (1796) states that the United States was “not in any sense founded on the Christian religion” this was written under the presidency of G. Washington and signed under the presidency of J. Adams. The founding fathers were at best deists, meaning they believed in some all powerful creative force, maybe an atom, maybe a god, but not a human like figure, they didn’t believe in any religious God or doctrine. Most of them agreed with the historicity of a man called Jesus, but none worshipped him, nor did they believe in the magical divinity of such a man, they believed he was not the son of God – but just a man. Some historians have said that due to the reasonable nature of the founding fathers, and their seemingly logical stance on scientific and religious matters, that if Charles Darwin had lived one century earlier they would have accepted the naturalistic origins of life – even become atheists.
I don’t doubt that for a second.
Out of the founding fathers Thomas Jefferson was the most poignant in my opinion, he was after-all a scientist and an “Anti-Clerical Christian” – he created the “Jefferson Bible” were he literally used a knife to remove all the miracles and supernatural nonsense, and leave the morality and niceties of the doctrine of Jesus Christ; as one would expect – the resulting bible had a thin spine.
Founding father Thomas Paine authored “The Age of Reason” imploring Americans to challenge the Bible’s validity. It became a best seller and caused a short-lived revival of deism. I can go through each founding father and give 10 quotes against organised religion, but you get my drift. These men had lived in, and loved a country that was specifically inhabited for the freedom from religion. The persecuted fled from England to a free land, where they could pray or choose not to, and not live in fear of the King or Queen suddenly changing the religion midweek – resulting in countless murders and trials if anyone defied them. A place where, let us say, hypothetically, a King’s first marriage failed, he wanted to marry a second wife, but the pope would not let him, so he created his own religion to do so, only to kill this wife and remarry, she would then die, he would remarry again, she bore no children, so he would remarry again and then kill that wife also! No wonder these people wanted to leave England, our system was fucking nuts.
Is it not ironic that the land those men were against (England – super religious) and the land they built (America – non-religious) ended up reversing entirely? The US is arguably as religious as Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, whilst still technically being “secular” it is religious in all but terminology; and England, a country still ruled by the monarchy and the Church of England, has now turned into one of the freest and most irreligious societies on earth. Here a politician would be ousted out of his own party for clinging to a God, in America a politician could not even run for office if he didn’t worship a God, and not any God, the real one, the Christian one.
Sarah Palin said it was “mind boggling” to suggest that the US was not founded on the principles of the Christian Bible and that “our founding fathers were believers!” I would like to know what else Sarah (Asking me what books I read is a trick question) Palin finds mind boggling: Where does the sun go at night? Is the country Turkey named after the food, or the food named after the country? Does “no shit Sherlock” mean he never really shat? Does Sex Panther really work 60% of the time every time? I Digress.
Her ignorance is painful but it does not change the facts. I love America for what it was, what it was intended for, and one day still could be. A secular nation with a secular constitution, a country with a separation between church and state; where legislation and religion does not share a mantle.
I pra…I hope this day will come.
July 4th was not just the birth of a nation; it was the birth of an idea in history that is as pure and beautiful today as it ever was. You don’t have to be American to celebrate the warmth of its original core value, but as an honorary and self adopted Anglo-American I give to all the following;
John Adams, a founding father and a personal hero of mine once wrote “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.”
Hear, hear I say; Happy 4th of July.