Treaty of Tripoli, November 4, 1796

Time to publicize this again. It keeps coming up because Christians don’t like to to believe it. Treaty of Peace and Friendship, Signed at Tripoli November 4, 1796.

Surely this is a country founded on Christian principles. Well, the founders didn’t think so.

ARTICLE 11.

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

This treaty was negotiated during the end of George Washington’s administration and ratified by the Senate in 1797 – shortly after Washington retired from office.

There was disagreement then (and later) about the translation, but this was the language the Senate voted on.

It has been upsetting to Christians for 200 years, but there it is.

This country is founded on Enlightenment Principles. That and Democracy, which hails from ancient Greece. Oh, and the Representative form of government – where the smaller jurisdictions send representatives to the larger jurisdictions’ assemblies was mostly borrowed from one of the Native American nations. (Cherokee, I believe, but my memory isn’t what it used to be.)

If you doubt the Enlightenment connection, well all I can do is point you at the important documents. There is Locke, who wrote several treatises that outlined a just government. And I like to include De Tocqueville, who chronicled American Democracy in action in the 19th Century. (This obviously wasn’t the “basis” of anything, but it showed the results.) Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations should be included on the free market front. (“Capitalism” is a term coined by Karl Marx, in an effort to say that free markets are bad. He advocated dictatorship of the proletariat. “Capitalism” = Bad, “Communism” = Good. That is a term also coined by Marx and/or Engels.) You could also read Hobbes’ Leviathan, as that had some impact on the thinking of the time. He started the West thinking about individual rights, the “social contract” being the reason that we cooperate with one another, and the idea that people should be free to do what the law does not forbid.

If you are looking for a general introduction to Western thought, I like Six Great Ideas by Mortimer Adler. The six ideas are Truth, Goodness, Beauty, Liberty Equality and Justice. Seems like 6 things worth thinking about – the 3 ideas we judge by, and the 3 ideas we govern by.

Christianity, on the other hand, is bound up with stuff like “the divine right of kings,” and the like. The best thing the Founders did for us was to keep religion out of government. The zealots have been trying to put it back in ever since.

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This is Why Religion Has No Place in Government

Bigotry is an ugly thing. Even when Christians practice it. Silent protest, boycott greet Wiccan priestess at Iowa House.

The Christians expect everyone to be civil and accepting when a Christian invocation is performed. But they can’t even show up or show a modicum of respect. Because you know, they are right and everyone else is wrong. (It says so in their book.)

If he were a member of the Iowa Legislature, Rep. Rob Taylor believes he would peacefully protest the morning prayer by a Wiccan priestess.

So the West Des Moines Republican turned his back Thursday and prayed silently as Cedar Rapids Cabot witch Deborah Maynard appealed to “god, goddess, universe, that which is greater than ourselves.”

He considers any religion he doesn’t know about/approve of a “demonic influence.” Way to promote tolerance in a diverse society Mr. Taylor.

About half the legislature just didn’t show.

So if they are so upset when a non-Christian gives a prayer, why don’t they just cancel the whole thing? Anyone could say their own prayers to their own gods on the way to the chamber and be done with it. But no, they wouldn’t go that far.

And just standing quietly by respecting other peoples’ beliefs is not what the Levant does.

A Musical Interlude in Honor of the Asatruar Building a Hof in Iceland

Odin with Hugin and Munin (the ravens) and Freki and Geri (the wolves)You may have heard earlier in the week that the pagans in Iceland are building their first temple in 1000 years. I don’t know why journalists can’t be bothered to get the names right, but it seems they can’t. And a Hof is more meeting house than temple, but I guess we have to let them slide.

Asatru (which probably should have an accent mark somewhere) is the religion of the Vikings, mostly. The Vikings were not the only ones who followed the Æsir.

The news coverage would have you believe that 1000 years ago, Iceland decided that it would be a good idea – from a business point of view – if they all became Christian. That is a comforting story, for the Christians, but the truth is a bit more complicated. They basically got a message, “Convert or Die,” from the Scandinavians. I must admit that my command of European history from that era is a bit lacking, but at a guess I would say that message came either form Olaf the First of Norway, or his son, Olaf Olafson, later Saint Olaf. (St. Olaf was known for cutting the tongues out of people who dared to sing the old songs.)

Anyway, religious freedom is the order of the day, and Asatru has come back to Iceland. So let’s enjoy a song by Krauka, a Danish folk/rock band with a Viking attitude. (It always makes me smile that while singing about Odin, they spend most of their time standing in front of a statue of Thor.)

Krauka – “Óðinn”

This song is a recitation of some of the many names (kennings) for Odin, lifted mostly from Snorri’s Edda. (A kenning is a descriptor used in place of a name, so Helblindi is Hel Blinder – Hel being both the name of a woman and the domain she rules.) Lyrics are after the break
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The Air Force Recognizes the Asatruar

You can be excused for missing this story, since I can’t find a single article in the mainstream press about it. (I certainly missed it!) I can’t even find a conservative Christian rant on the subject, which is pretty amazing really. Guest Post: Air Force Adds Asatru and Heathen to Religious Preference List.

I used to cover minority religions quite a bit on this blog, because I think it says a lot about how the country views “the other.” (Icht Bien Ein Auslander!) The last time I covered the topic regularly was a few years back when the Wiccans were suing the Department of Veterans Affairs for the right to have the pentacle placed on grave markers and on cenotaphs. Well, that seems like it wasn’t the end of the story.

It seems that none of the regular services would recognize Asatru or Heathen members. As of July 29, 2014, the US Air Force does recognize them. And the amazing thing is, they were able to move that mountain without resorting to a law suit. (The Humanists had just sued the Air Force – and won.)

HammerOfThorThe Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard still do not recognize Asatru. The VA apparently already recognizes Heathen beliefs, as the Hammer of Thor (the most-used symbol) is available to be ordered on a grave marker.

The Air Force has been sued in recent years for making cadets attend Christian programs. Then they got beat up by the Christians when they designated an area for the Wiccans and other nature religions. (The Asatruar will have to speak for themselves, but my understanding is that although a lot of ceremonies happen outdoors, they do not practice a nature religion.)

Religious Freedom is supposed to be a cornerstone of our republic. But a lot of people only want that freedom for themselves and their friends. (They like to discount things like The Treaty of Tripoli – and in particular article 11 of that treaty – which was negotiated under George Washington’s administration, and sent to the Senate by John Adams’ administration. It was ratified by the Senate on the tenth of June 1797.)

If you don’t support freedom of speech for everyone, even the people who upset you, then you don’t support free speech. If you don’t support freedom of religion for all religions, then who is it that you want to suppress?

In an interesting coincidence, there is an article in Der Spiegle about why Germany has been (and remains) utterly incapable of prosecuting Nazi war criminals.

According to historian Andreas Eichmüller, of the 6,500 members of the SS who served in Auschwitz and survived the war, only 29 were convicted in West Germany and reunified Germany, while about 20 were convicted in East Germany.

How you treat people who are not exactly like you, matters. Maybe more than you think.

The State of Our Educational Institutions, or WTF?

This is the kind of thing you expect to see in the Onion. Student expelled for casting a spell | firstcoastnews.com.

An Oklahoma high school suspended a 15-year-old student after accusing her of casting a magic spell that caused a teacher to become sick, lawyers for the student said on Friday.

Aside from questions of freedom of religion – if the student was Wiccan (she isn’t, she’s Catholic) – what the F were these “professionals” thinking?

“I, for one, would like to see the so-called evidence this school has that a 15-year-old girl made a grown man sick by casting a magic spell,” [Joann Bell, executive director of the ACLU’s Oklahoma chapter] said.

And if the administration of that “school” really believes she can cast a spell and make someone sick, exactly how is sending her home going to make anyone safe? Is there a range on magic spells I am unaware of?”

I am not Wiccan, but tracking how Wicca and Wiccans are viewed in the culture is a pretty good indication of cultural tolerance. Or intolerance. Not to mention the general level of insanity in the culture. And in this part of Oklahoma, I would say that the level of tolerance is low, and the level of insanity is off the charts.

That’s Gonna Leave a Mark – A Politician Gets Schooled on the Origins of Christmas Customs

Evergreens and holly and mistletoe don’t have squat to do with Christianity. Here is a history lesson in the form of a smack-down. The Tyee – An 'Infidel' Writes: Dear Mr. Pallister, Since You Asked.

For example, when some ill-informed zealot tells me Jesus is “the reason for the season” it’s only generations of WASP-y repression preventing me from launching into a history lecture on the spot.

Sure it’s Canada, but it’s still fun.

Creationism Still an Issue – School in Ohio Considering It

Never underestimate the power of human stupidity. Americans United Warns Ohio School Board To Keep Creationism Out Of Science Classes | Americans United.

Any public school contemplating teaching creationism might as well just hang up a giant banner that reads “Sue Us Now,’”said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United [for the Separation of Church and State].

The last school district to go up against Americans United. Lost. Had to pay Americans United 1 million dollars (attorneys fees), and everyone on the school board who voted for the Creationism insanity was voted out of office. (That last is actually surprising, but it seems Americans are finally starting to pay attention to how tax money is spent.)