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Evangelical Christianity is Provably Not A Religion; So Should it Enjoy Constitutional Protection?

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posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 09:02 AM
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American Evangelical Christians frequently like to site the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to rally support of and to defend its actions. Here is the relevant excerpt:



Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;


So "religion" is clearly given Constitutional protection in any reasonable interpretation of this sentence. Are we all in agreement? Liberal, conservative, libertarian, anarchist -- we can all at least agree on what's been said in this clause. Good, let's move on.

So what is a "religion"? The answer to this question is vital, would you not agree? Here is what Webster has to say:



Definition of RELIGION (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance 2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices 3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness 4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith


So religion is a belief system in God or the supernatural held together by FAITH. That's the key here: FAITH. Religion does not exist in the absence of faith. Faith is the central element to all religion.

So why then is evangelical Christianity NOT a religion? Because it is not based on faith. Every evangelical will tell you their God is fact and the Bible is the infallible (factual and true) word of God. Evangelicals hold this up as complete and total truth, the only truth. In other words, they have NO faith, only truth as they see it.

Why, because FAITH, by definition, is a belief based on lack of proof. Here is the relevant Webster definition:



firm belief in something for which there is no proof


Here is dictionary.com:



Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.


Not only are evangelicals vociferous that they hold the only truth, they claim with great passion that their knowledge is based on fact, not faith. So much so they even have created their own "science" of Creationism in an attempt to make their case. What is a science but a fact-based exercise in pursuit of truth.

In other words, evangelical Christianity -- because its adherents purport their beliefs are based on facts -- cannot by definition be called a "faith" or a religion. It is the very literal opposite of faith-based. No evangelical will dare say his belief is based on faith alone, none will acknowledge the complete lack that proof for his belief exists or can exist. To admit such would by definition be an evangelical heresy since acceptance of Faith (unprovable) necessarily denies Truth (provable)

Because of this, evangelicals grow to feel entitled as the lone keepers of the "Truth". This attitude fosters their sense of moral superiority and is central to their compulsion to legislate their beliefs upon everyone else. After all, they alone are keepers of the truth and is not the truth the only just basis of the Law?

Due to this simple reasoning, the argument can be made that evangelical Christianity is NOT protected under the Constitutional freedom of religion clause. Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, etc. are fine because they embrace the concept of faith, as they know that is the real beauty and power behind their beliefs -- the courage of faith, to bravely walk a path fearlessly with only their faith. Those who believe based on faith also by definition do not and cannot force their beliefs and will upon others because such is anathema to the concept of faith.

Since evangelical Christianity is not a religion, we do not have to grant it quarter in the public sphere. We are free to reject its influence in politics. We are free to tax it as the business it is. We are free to regulate it as it seeks to subjugate us. We are free to ignore its whining about Constitutional protection.

By the way, mods, if this is not in the right forum, please re-direct it.
edit on 9-8-2012 by pajoly because: note to mods




posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 09:20 AM
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I question our educational system when I read posts like this. The logic seems just a tad fallible. You quote a definition of religion which (a) is not the definition when the Constitution was written and (b) included 4 alternates including one that stated a 'personal set of beliefs' without the word faith. You then chose one of the four and then went on to assert that belief in God being infallible is truth and not faith.

If I were you I'd not go see an attorney just yet. Best save the money.
edit on 8/9/2012 by ararisq because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 09:24 AM
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reply to post by ararisq
 


So what's your opinion, is evangelical Christianity based on faith or not?



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 09:25 AM
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I'm going to go ahead and agree with ararisq on this. You're pouring on logical fallacies in order to make a case, but it doesn't work.

Nobody would believe that evangelicals aren't faith based, even if they believe themselves that it's the undisputed truth. To them, it's still truth based on faith.



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 09:30 AM
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By the way, you seem confused on the Constitution. The statement that Congress shall make no law is in reference to England having a state religion and forcing people in to the religion under penalty. The Constitution declares that the government shall never be permitted to do this. It shall also not restrict the free exercise of religion which would be the same as supporting a singular state religion.

This was significant given that most of the people involved had a strong affinity to Christianity and knew that there were other non-Christian religions. In essence they opened their country up to everyone regardless of faith. This is something often overlooked by people such as yourself that would seek to restrict religion and enforce a singular belief system (atheism I'm guessing).



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 09:31 AM
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Originally posted by pajoly
reply to post by ararisq
 


So what's your opinion, is evangelical Christianity based on faith or not?


My opinion is irrelevant on that. It is a religion even by the definition you provided.



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 09:43 AM
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reply to post by pajoly
 


Here are some quotes by Jefferson on religion you might enjoy since you seem to reject Webster's definition in terms of Constitutional meaning:



Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

What is it men cannot be made to believe! -Thomas Jefferson to Richard Henry Lee, April 22, 1786. (on the British regarding America, but quoted here for its universal appeal.)

Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination. -Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

I concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshipped by many who think themselves Christians. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Price, Jan. 8, 1789 (Richard Price had written to TJ on Oct. 26. about the harm done by religion and wrote "Would not Society be better without Such religions? Is Atheism less pernicious than Demonism?")

I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Hopkinson, March 13, 1789

They [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion. -Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Sept. 23, 1800

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes. -Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814

Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814

If we did a good act merely from love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? ...Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than the love of God. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Law, June 13, 1814

Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus." -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp, 30 July, 1816

My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest. The artificial structures they have built on the purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolts those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Mrs. Samuel H. Smith, August, 6, 1816

You say you are a Calvinist. I am not. I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Ezra Stiles Ely, June 25, 1819

As you say of yourself, I too am an Epicurian. I consider the genuine (not the imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Short, Oct. 31, 1819

Priests...dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions of the duperies on which they live. -Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Correa de Serra, April 11, 1820

Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him [Jesus] by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others again of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism, and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Short, April 13, 1820

To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise: but I believe I am supported in my creed of materialism by Locke, Tracy, and Stewart. At what age of the Christian church this heresy of immaterialism, this masked atheism, crept in, I do not know. But heresy it certainly is. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, Aug. 15, 1820

Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. -Thomas Jefferson to James Smith, 1822.

I can never join Calvin in addressing his god. He was indeed an Atheist, which I can never be; or rather his religion was Daemonism. If ever man worshipped a false god, he did. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors. -Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

It is between fifty and sixty years since I read it [the Apocalypse], and I then considered it merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to General Alexander Smyth, Jan. 17, 1825

May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826 (in the last letter he penned)

edit on 9-8-2012 by pajoly because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 09:50 AM
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reply to post by pajoly
 
I'm not sure if we have any of these ACC churches around here? maybe someone could compile a list of AECC churches. I attend a United Methodist Church out of RESPECT for elderly family members, I don't always agree with the sermons, but I respect my Grandmother, and quietly escort her to the services on Sunday.



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 09:50 AM
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reply to post by pajoly
 
I'm not sure if we have any of these ACC churches around here? maybe someone could compile a list of AECC churches. I attend a United Methodist Church out of RESPECT for elderly family members, I don't always agree with the sermons, but I respect my Grandmother, and quietly escort her to the services on Sunday.



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 09:51 AM
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Is there some part of that in particular that you want to use to eradicate the other three alternatives in the Webster definition? I'm not rejecting them, even those conflict with your logic.

I do like this one though - seems quite appropriate:


Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them.


Back to work...



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 09:53 AM
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Originally posted by ararisq

Originally posted by pajoly
reply to post by ararisq
 


So what's your opinion, is evangelical Christianity based on faith or not?


My opinion is irrelevant on that. It is a religion even by the definition you provided.


Simply not true. Faith and fact are mutually exclusive. One cannot have "faith in the facts" anymore than saying "I believe in the fact..." A fact requires no belief, as it is true whether or not a man is there to believe it.

I know I am being a stickler in terms of word meaning, but definition is everything. People today commonly say nonsensical phrases and try to turn fact into opinion; we just accept them as part of the vernacular, but it does not make them correct.



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 10:00 AM
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reply to post by ararisq
 


In truth, underlying my post is my looming dread that as a nation we are being held hostage by evangelicals and that we are on a steady march towards some sort of oligarchical theocracy. My thread is a "devils advocate" sort of piece and the reasoning is sound assuming one accepts the central thought of the definition of religion being a belief system based upon faith. If you are asserting that religion is merely a set of beliefs, then you are opening the aperture very wide as to what is a religion, namely adding all philosophy, economics, political thought, all psychology, etc. If you really are fair, you'd admit the concept of faith is central to religion and that's its distinctiveness from things like philosophy.
edit on 9-8-2012 by pajoly because: (no reason given)

edit on 9-8-2012 by pajoly because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 10:10 AM
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reply to post by SmikeS
 


Not sure what you mean by an ACC church or AECC. My thread is not a disrespect of religion at large, but rather a rejection of the tyranny of a group who hides behind a Constitutional clause of protection in order to subjugate me and everyone else using the political system. I've no beef with athiests, agnostics or any real religion (meaning faith-based). I do have a problem with theofascists who threaten my liberty.



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 10:15 AM
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reply to post by WickettheRabbit
 


"To them, it's still truth based on faith."

I disagree. To them, it is truth based on facts. Let's see if we can find any evangelical here who will say his or her belief system is NOT based on fact, but rather unprovable faith.



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 10:58 AM
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reply to post by pajoly
 

Yes, it does seem like we might be marching in that direction, a little. But, I don't feel like a hostage in this area, I only found two AECC churches in okc; LifeChurchTV, and Crossroads, Both churches have large congregations, but they are small compared to the Baptist / Southern Baptist churches in Oklahoma.
What group of AECC are you worried about, can you catalog the churches that fall into the AECC realm? AECC is pretty vague, what organizations are you thinking of?



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 11:13 AM
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reply to post by pajoly
 





Here are some quotes by Jefferson on religion you might enjoy since you seem to reject Webster's definition in terms of Constitutional meaning:


Please provide me with websters definition on terms of the constitution.......

Oh wait, theres not any........

Do you always just fly by the seat of your pants and make things up and spin them as fact?\

You must work for the white house press corps



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 11:17 AM
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never mind.
edit on 9-8-2012 by NewAgeMan because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 11:22 AM
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reply to post by pajoly
 


Even more than "Evangelical" Christianity, is Christianity per se. Many Christians claim that Christianity is not a religion, and then they always talk about "Freedom of Religion", that is a contradiction.



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 11:30 AM
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reply to post by pajoly
 



In truth, underlying my post is my looming dread that as a nation we are being held hostage by evangelicals and that we are on a steady march towards some sort of oligarchical theocracy.

it used to be like this .....the nation was basically built on many of the founding members having been raised catholic/christian or some other denomination that's related. All of that is slowly changing as the churches aren't as full as they used to be and atheism is on the rise. The Bible even says in the last days Christianity not only will be dying, but that Christians will be killed for their beliefs.

Your reasoning however is flawed. The Evangelicals claim that the Bible is factual, and its up to each individual to believe that it is factual. There is belief all over the place in Evangelicalism.


If you really are fair, you'd admit the concept of faith is central to religion and that's its distinctiveness from things like philosophy.

There are more concepts to a religion then just "Faith." The definition of religion isn't defined by just faith. There has to be or can be belief, God, origins, afterlife, and many other factors that are involved. So your trying to get by on a technicality of, "there is no faith/belief, because they say Bible is factual". Yet, at the end of they day, they believe that the Bible is factual.

Then you have to realize that you have 2000 years of the entire fabric of the world's culture being intertwined with Christianity. So your whole technicality argument would do zilch to bring down evangelicals. They're in the US Gov, some bankers, cops, mayors, and all over society.

The only way Evangelicals will die out, is when more and more of the population becomes atheists, and the old status quo dies out from old age, and their positions are replaced with that of atheism.

Its like for me I grew up around alot of hip hop music and people smoking green. Both of them were considered underground fads. I never thought in a million years that I would see the genre as mainstream, let alone the Potus saying he likes certain groups, nor would I ever see many states decriminalizing greenery and all this talk of legalizing.

However when I did notice that, I saw that it was a case of the old generations dying out, an the the new ones with newer looser views taking over.
edit on 9-8-2012 by dominicus because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 9 2012 @ 11:55 AM
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Originally posted by arpgme
reply to post by pajoly
 


Even more than "Evangelical" Christianity, is Christianity per se. Many Christians claim that Christianity is not a religion, and then they always talk about "Freedom of Religion", that is a contradiction.


Who are these "many" who claim that Christianity is not a religion? Provide some sources, please, because they are most likely confusing "religion" with "sect/denomination".

To the OP: congratulations on one of the most poorly thought out hypothesis that I've seen in a long time. Fortunately, the law under the Constitution doesn't hinge on dictionary definitions and the claims of some subset of people in a large group.

I don't know what the point of posting the Jefferson quotes was, but he was a Deist, and hung the whole premise of the Declaration of Independence on the existence of God.



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