Looks like our buddy Bill O’Reilly has been at it again. (That “it” would be ACLU-bashing. He does it enough that I’ve considered modeling a campaign after Planned Parenthood’s “Pledge a Picketer” campaign. People could pledge a dollar to the ACLU for each lie O’Reilly spouts about us. But I digress.)
This time he’s got the help of Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham, who is apparently hawking his new book, American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation. I know you will be shocked to find out the arguments used were anything but fair and balanced.
From a transcript of the interview as posted on Media Matters:
O’REILLY: All right. So you’re firmly convinced, based upon your research, that the founders would not approve of the ACLU jihad, pardon the pun, against Judeo-Christian tradition in this country?
MEACHAM: No, I don’t think so at all. I think that what they wanted was religion in the country. They didn’t want it coercive. They did not want it forced on people, because largely for religious reasons. The religious argument for religious freedom is that if God himself did not compel obedience, then no man should try.
O’REILLY: OK, Why did they want religion in the country in the public square, not just the synagogues, and churches?
MEACHAM: Because, as John Adams said, man is by nature a religious creature. Homer said — they were following Homer — that all men need the gods. George Washington clearly understood that the victory in the revolution — he said, “I can only attribute it to the hand of providence.” These were men of intense, private, often complicated faith. Not simple Christianity in many cases.
The funny thing is that Meacham is right about some things: They [the founding fathers] did not want [religion] forced on people….” Exactly. That’s why we do what we do. And we strongly support the right of religion in the public arena – just not religion paid for or sponsored by the government. It’s amazing how difficult this concept seems to be for some people to grasp.
For those of you who’ve had to fight against this straw man, here’s a helpful list of cases the ACLU has taken to defend religious people put together a year or so ago. It’s by no means exhaustive. (Warning: May cause grossly misinformed individuals’ heads to explode.)