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Dec 29 2011

Pat Buchanan’s Christian Nation

“Whose country is it, anyway?” asks Pat Buchanan in his latest column. His answer, of course: It belongs to Christians like him — and to no one else. Or at least that’s how it used to be and how he wants it to be again.

What brings the fable to mind is this year’s crop of Christmas-haters, whose numbers have grown since the days when it was only the village atheist or the ACLU pest who sought to kill Christmas.

The problem with these folks is not simply that they detest Christmas and what it represents, but that they must do their best, or worst, to ensure Christians do not enjoy the season and holy day they love.

Riiiiight. Because we think that Christians shouldn’t have exclusive access to government property, we’re trying to “kill Christmas” and to make sure Christians don’t have any fun or happiness. Must Christians be miserable if they can’t put a nativity scene on public property — or more accurately, prevent everyone else from having access to that property? Why would this in any way affect whether they can find joy in the Christmas season? It shouldn’t, of course, and the only reason it might is because it violates their sense of Christian privilege. Which is exactly what Pat Buchanan is trying to reassert.

As a Washington Times editorial relates, the number of anti-Christian bigots is growing, and their malevolence is out of the closet:

“In Leesburg, Va., a Santa-suit-clad skeleton was nailed to a cross. … In Santa Monica, atheists were granted 18 of 21 plots in a public park allotted for holiday displays and … erected signs mocking religion. In the Wisconsin statehouse, a sign informs visitors, ‘Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.’ A video that has gone viral on YouTube shows denizens of Occupy D.C. spewing gratuitous hatred of a couple who dared to appropriate a small patch of McPherson Square to set up a living Nativity scene.”

People who indulge in such conduct invariably claim to be champions of the First Amendment, exercising their right of free speech to maintain a separation of church and state.

They are partly right. The First Amendment does protect what they are doing. But what they are doing is engaging in hate speech and anti-Christian bigotry. For what is the purpose of what they are about, if not to wound, offend, insult and mock fellow Americans celebrating the happiest day of their calendar year?

Maybe they think that the public square should not be reserved exclusively for Christians. That’s a perfectly reasonable position. But even after admitting that this is protected by the First Amendment, Pat still thinks that is proof that Christians have lost their country.

Not long ago, the Supreme Court (1892) and three U.S. presidents – Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter – all declared America to be a “Christian nation.”

They did not mean that any particular denomination had been declared America’s national religion – indeed, that was ruled out in the Constitution – but that we were predominantly a Christian people.

And so we were born.

Around 1790, America was 99 percent Protestant, 1 percent Catholic, with a few thousands Jews. The Irish immigration from 1845 to 1850 brought hundreds of thousands more Catholics to America. The Great Wave of immigration from 1890 to 1920 brought millions of Southern and Eastern Europeans, mostly Catholic and Jews. As late as 1990, 85 percent of all Americans described themselves as Christians.

And here one must pose a question.

How did America’s Christians allow themselves to be dispossessed of a country their fathers had built for them? …

What are these Christmas-bashers, though still a nominal minority, saying to Christians with their mockery and ridicule of the celebration of the birth of Christ?

“This isn’t your country anymore. It is our country now.”

The question for Christians is a simple one: Do they have what it takes to take America back?

In Pat’s world, non-Christians asserting their rights is proof that Christians have lost their country. Because in Pat’s world, non-Christians would not have any rights beyond those that the Christian majority magnanimously allows them.

35 comments

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  1. 1
    d cwilson

    One day, Crazy Uncle Pat will reach his breaking point. At that point, an MSNBC producer will find him in the green room, curled up in the fetal position muttering, “White Christian men are still in charge, White Christian men are still in charge, White Christian men are still in charge, White Christian men are still in charge”.

  2. 2
    imrryr

    But what they are doing is engaging in hate speech and anti-Christian bigotry.

    It is hilarious to hear Buchanan complain about hate speech and bigotry.

  3. 3
    phrankeaufyl

    “This isn’t just your country anymore. It is our country now too.”

    Fixed.

  4. 4
    RW Ahrens

    Funny how that skeleton in Alexandria keeps popping up, while the truth is that it was erected by a christian! His message was a common christian one, that commercialism is ruining christmas!

    More proof that these people are morons.

  5. 5
    tommykey

    If Pat Buchanan had been a pagan in the Roman Empire in the late 4th century, he would be ranting that the Roman Empire is a pagan empire and that the Christians were ruining the empire he loved. Well, guess what, people change over time. People like Buchanan seem to view the United States like some fly in the amber, to be perfectly preserved in its ancient state in perpetuity.

    Technology and advances in transportation have shrunk the world, and it is ridiculous to think that the United States can become some Fortress America for White Christians with a few Jews thrown in as a token nod to diversity.

  6. 6
    carolw

    Not long ago, in 1892? I knew he was old, but damn!
    In Pat’s mind, is the “village atheist” like the “village idiot”? S/he walks down the lane as the children point and laugh and throw dirt clods? I’m getting some very Monty Python mental images…

  7. 7
    Sastra

    He doesn’t really want Americans to celebrate Christmas: he wants Americans to keep the Christ in Christmas. See what happens when we don’t.

    In Pat’s mind, is the “village atheist” like the “village idiot”? S/he walks down the lane as the children point and laugh and throw dirt clods? I’m getting some very Monty Python mental images…

    In Pat’s mind (and yes, I use the term loosely), the “village atheist” is a crabby, humorless, bitter old person for whom people should “make allowances.”

  8. 8
    anandine

    Yesterday I heard someone on NPR, of all places, say it has gotten so bad that kids aren’t allowed to celebrate Christmas without someone abusing them.

    I guess we make everybody take two weeks or more off from school )Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and even atheists), just so they can’t celebrate Christmas.

    I guess they need to come to an atheist household like mine, where we celebrate Christmas (all the pagan parts, but we do put a small, gorgeous wood-cut block creche on the mantel) without any hinderence at all.

    I guess they figure that, just as gays getting married ruins their straight marriages, the fact that someone doesn’t celebrate Christmas the way they do means they can’t celebrate it at all.

  9. 9
    d cwilson

    Not long ago, in 1892? I knew he was old, but damn!

    Yep. Now remind Crazy Uncle Pat who someone like him, an Irish Catholic, would have been treated in what he considers the Christian Gold Age of American history. You know, when “No Irish Need Apply” was a common sign hung around places of employment.

  10. 10
    d cwilson

    In Pat’s mind (and yes, I use the term loosely), the “village atheist” is a crabby, humorless, bitter old person for whom people should “make allowances.”

    So, Pat is the village atheist?

  11. 11
    John Hinkle

    How did America’s Christians allow themselves to be dispossessed of a country their fathers had built for them?

    Pull up a chair kids, and let me regale you with an old favorite: how Christians lost their country. Not long ago, back in 1789, the Constitution took effect. It said nothing about the United States being a Christian nation. The end.

  12. 12
    d cwilson

    Not long ago, back in 1789, the Constitution took effect. It said nothing about the United States being a Christian nation. The end.

    It’s written on the back of the document. Just a little lemon juice and a hair dryer will reveal it. Just like the treasure map the Founding Fathers put on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

    I’m sure Jerry Bruckheimer will cover all this in his next movie documentary collaboration with Nicholas Cage.

  13. 13
    organon

    ‘Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.’

    He posts this while being high-grade living proof of it?

    “The question for Christians is a simple one: Do they have what it takes to take America back?”

    Of course when he says Christians, only those with hardened hearts and enslaved minds qualify, and he wishes them to do what?

    “Around 1790, America was 99 percent Protestant, 1 percent Catholic, with a few thousands Jews.”

    He proudly displays being history challenged.

    Read the comments to what he wrote to see how well one diseased mind draws in other diseased minds.

  14. 14
    John Hinkle

    It’s written on the back of the document. Just a little lemon juice and a hair dryer will reveal it. Just like the treasure map the Founding Fathers put on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

    That’s bunk. My numerologist told me.

  15. 15
    raven

    Not that long ago, Catholics like Buchanan were considered unAmerican and a huge threat.

    There were lots of Pat Buchanan wannabes ranting and raving about the Catholic menace and how they were going to take over and ruin the USA. You could take his writing and substitute Catholic for xian and it would read exactly the same.

    To this day, there still are. On the church website of Michele Bachmann’s sect, it flat out states that the pope is the antichrist. Although the antichrist must timeshare between the pope and Obama these days.

    Hard to imagien anyone takes Pat B. seriously.

  16. 16
    cptdoom

    Around 1790, America was 99 percent Protestant, 1 percent Catholic, with a few thousands Jews. The Irish immigration from 1845 to 1850 brought hundreds of thousands more Catholics to America. The Great Wave of immigration from 1890 to 1920 brought millions of Southern and Eastern Europeans, mostly Catholic and Jews. As late as 1990, 85 percent of all Americans described themselves as Christians.

    Let’s see Pat, for decades after your ancestors, and mine, fled here to escape the Irish famine, our religion was not considered part of “Christianity” and the Irish were considered a different (and of course lesser) race. Do we need to remind you about “Irish Need Not Apply”? And for decades longer, the Jews were not considered as good as “Christians” – have you forgotten that it took the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to eliminate things like “restricted” hotels?

    This idea of America as a “Christian” nation – as if there is anything even remotely definable as a “Christian” – disregards the centuries of distrust and occassional violence against anyone who did not subscribe to majority religious views – even if they were still part of a Christian denomination. Hell in the 1980s the family of a college friend of mine had to lie about their religion to gain the approval of a NYC Co-op board – their Park Avenue building had never had a “papist” family before.

    And just to scare Pat even more, a whole heck of a lot of those of us who no longer call ourselves “Christian” (but who would have been counted as such in 1990) still celebrated Christmas this year, but without any reference to a long-dead rabbi from Nazareth. That’s right, my contribution to “attacking” Christmas was to give my Dad some new bath towels wrapped in a delightful Santa paper – then we watched basketball and football while drinking beer without a church or a prayer in site. It was a brief down period from my normal job of attacking “traditional marriage,” but I needed the rest.

  17. 17
    organon

    Perhaps if Pat would go back and learn actual history, there are some things he might learn that might change his perspective.

    ““Anti-Catholicism was certainly one of the first religious prejudices brought to the New World, and it became widespread” in the 19th century, Schultz told CNA in a May 10 interview.

    “Catholics had difficulty getting a fair trial in New England during the nineteenth century.”

    Schultz is an authority in English and American Literature and is author of several books on historical religious discrimination in America.

    Her new book, “Mrs. Mattingly’s Miracle,” (Yale, $30) traces how the more tolerant Maryland tradition in the nation’s capital of accepting Catholicism during the 1820s began to decline into “full-fledged, New England-style anti-Catholicism.”

    She said that from 1830 to 1860 in particular, movements such as the “Protestant Crusade” attempted to stop the spread of Catholicism in the United States.

    Schultz pointed to examples of public discrimination against Catholics such as the case involving arsonists who burned down a Massachusetts convent in 1834. The trials, she said, “were an occasion for anti-Catholic mockery.”

    When the mob leaders who destroyed the Charlestown convent were acquitted, there was “great rejoicing in the streets of Boston.””

  18. 18
    organon

    “Schultz also noted that Gordon’s hanging in 1845 came just nine years before a gift of a block of marble from Pope Pius IX for the construction of the Washington Monument “was thrown into the Potomac River” by members of the anti-Catholic “Know-Nothing” party.

    She explained that “large numbers of Irish fleeing economic turmoil in nineteenth-century Ireland and immigrating to America” helped give rise to the nativist, or “Know-Nothing” party, which rose to national prominence in the mid-19th century.

    The name came from the response of members of this anti-Catholic secret society. When asked about their activities, they would say, “I know nothing.”

    According to Schultz, the roots of anti-Catholicism in the U.S. can be traced back to the Puritans, who came to New England several centuries ago.”

  19. 19
    organon

    The things quoted below too seem lost on Mr. Buchanan. While he so vehemently opposes separation of church and state in general, he might want to reconsider given the protections this separation brought, including allowing him to follow his religion without ‘real’ persecution, such as existed before the separation being established.
    “Most American Catholics are aware that the spirit of New England’s North American settlements was hostile to Catholicism. But few are aware of the vigor and persistence with which that spirit was cultivated throughout the entire colonial period. Few Catholics realize that in all but three of the 13 original colonies, Catholics were the subject of penal measures of one kind or another during the colonial period. In most cases, the Catholic Church had been proscribed at an early date, as in Virginia where the act of 1642 proscribing Catholics and their priests set the tone for the remainder of the colonial period.

    Even in the supposedly tolerant Maryland, the tables had turned against Catholics by the 1700s. By this time the penal code against Catholics included test oaths administered to keep Catholics out of office, legislation that barred Catholics from entering certain professions (such as Law), and measures had been enacted to make them incapable of inheriting or purchasing land. By 1718 the ballot had been denied to Catholics in Maryland, following the example of the other colonies, and parents could even be fined for sending children abroad to be educated as Catholics.”

    “Evidence of this anti-Catholic attitude can be found in laws passed by colonial legislatures, sermons preached by colonial ministers, and various books and pamphlets published in the colonies or imported from England.
    For example, even though no Catholic was known to have lived in Massachusetts Bay in the first 20 years or more of the colony’s life, this did not deter the Puritan government from enacting an anti-priest law in May of 1647, which threatened with death “all and every Jesuit, seminary priest, missionary or other spiritual or ecclesiastical person made or ordained by any authority, power or jurisdiction, derived, challenged or pretended, from the Pope or See of Rome.””

  20. 20
    jnorris

    Like Raven said at #15, does Buchanan really believe the Christians in an American Theocracy will allow Catholics, especially him and Bill Donahue, anything close to civil liberty?

    Buchanan wouldn’t be the first against the wall but I bet Catholics will be third or fourth.

  21. 21
    slavdude

    Adding to the comments about anti-Catholic bigotry in America, let’s not forget colonists’ reactions to the Quebec Act, which was Britain’s attempt to accommodate its new French-speaking Catholic subjects (thanks, French and Indian War and George Washington! /sarcasm).

  22. 22
    jimmiraybob

    Just watched Cromwell; God’s Executioner (airing on Smithsonian Channel but can also be found by Googling).

    It’s about the Catholic Christian Oliver Cromwell’s 17th century romp through Ireland spreading Christian love among the Protestant Christians. It’s estimated that he dispatched 15-25% of the Irish population to celebrate Christmas in Hell. Probably one of Uncle Pat’s favorite bedtime tales.

    Or not.

  23. 23
    dougindeap

    The obvious answer to Buchanan’s silly question is that it is OUR country–our, as in all of us–and the irony is that that answer also reveals why we have and value separation of church and state, i.e., so we won’t have supporters of this or that religion claiming our government for their own.

  24. 24
    lofgren

    Around 1790, America was 99 percent Protestant, 1 percent Catholic, with a few thousands Jews. The Irish immigration from 1845 to 1850 brought hundreds of thousands more Catholics to America.

    Slaves and Native Americans.

    Anytime some asshole tries to say anything about the cultural makeup of this country in the 18th or 19th century, he needs to be reminded that half of those 99 percent were only Christian because it was beaten into them, or because a still-recent genocide had eliminated the many pagan religions that were just here a minute ago. I suppose I could see an argument for not counting the Native Americans – the only debate at the time of this countries inception was whether we should break our treaties and slaughter them fast or slowly – but there is no way that figure either doesn’t include millions of people or counts them as Christian because they had no choice. And if it’s census data, only counts them as 3/5 of a Christian at that.

    And I love how immigration is a good and great thing right up until 1920. Of course he neglects to mention that along with those Catholic and Jewish immigrants there were also as many Chinese and Japanese as we would allow through the gates.

    the days when it was only the village atheist

    This line reminds me of something an older southern gay man once told me about being a gay man in the south in the ’50s. It was actually quite acceptable to be an openly gay man in small southern towns, as long as you were a tailor, a hair dresser, or a writer and as long as there is only one. When there is just one gay man in town, it’s a harmless oddity. A curiosity. A gentleman of peculiar tastes. If another one moves in, then it’s a homofest freakout and everything is burning crosses and gaybashing.

    I suspect this is the attitude that allows many obviously homophobic or racist or otherwise bigoted people to convince themselves that they are not bigots. Pat has no problem with atheists as long as they are disconnected individuals spread evenly throughout the country. As long as they remain relatively powerless and isolated, he might even convince himself that he respects them for their stubborn contrarianism (which is synonymous with critical thinking in his view). After all, their faithlessness allows him to feel so smug and superior. But let them start to organize and communicate and advocate for their rights, and suddenly they are threatening the very foundation this great nation was built upon! Which is apparently Christmas. Or something.

  25. 25
    dingojack

    Uh Lofgern just a point on which I’d appreciate a little clarification:
    I suppose I could see an argument for not counting the Native Americans – the only debate at the time of this countries inception was whether we should break our treaties and slaughter them fast or slowly…
    What, nothing else? Nothing else at all? All across the newly minted US this was the only thing people were arguing about? Not household finances, not matters of religion or politics? Just this?
    (Nothing sinks an argument faster than careless hyperbole, believe me).
    Dingo

  26. 26
    dingojack

    Just to clarify my request for clarification.
    I tend to read things n a very logically literal way, so while half my brain is going: “he means about the ‘Native Problem’ (as it would have been called then) this was the only debate”, the other half is going: “what? This was the only debate in the whole US? Really? The only one?”
    Which is, in itself, strange, based on my usual melodramatic and sloppy posting. (This is how I know of the deleterious effects of careless hyperbole).
    So, in short, please don’t be offended by my clumsy attempts to sharpen your argument to cause the deepest possible cut.
    Dingo

  27. 27
    slc1

    Re jimmiraybob @ #22

    It’s about the Catholic Christian Oliver Cromwell’s 17th century romp through Ireland spreading Christian love among the Protestant Christians.

    This is ass backwards. Cromwell was a vigorous anti-Catholic who killed thousands of Catholics in Ireland.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_cromwell

  28. 28
    matty1

    It was actually quite acceptable to be an openly gay man in small southern towns, as long as you were a tailor, a hair dresser, or a writer and as long as there is only one.

    Did anyone else think of this?

  29. 29
    Aquaria

    Yep. Now remind Crazy Uncle Pat who someone like him, an Irish Catholic, would have been treated in what he considers the Christian Gold Age of American history. You know, when “No Irish Need Apply” was a common sign hung around places of employment.

    NINA signs weren’t common. That was a myth after a song came out that said it was going on–even though it wasn’t:

    http://tigger.uic.edu/~rjensen/no-irish.htm

  30. 30
    lmccarty

    The theocracy crowd’s two favorite words must be: mandatory & exclusive. Mandatory – as in you WILL partake of my religion – ala praying in schools. Exclusive – as in you WILL NOT allow any other religions this same level of mandatory compliance.

    Privileged little whiners are beginning to see their privilege ebb away and it galls them. How can they convince others of the truth of their religion without the two powerful tools of mandatory & exclusive?

    Shame they have neither evidence nor self-evident working-in-the-world-to-erase-hunger-and-ignorance love going for them.

  31. 31
    lofgren

    What, nothing else? Nothing else at all?

    Sigh. The only debate over how to treat the Native Americans was between breaking our treaties and killing them fast or killing them slow. Honestly, I thought it was pretty clear in context. I think you are being a pedantic ass. (From one to another, well done!)

  32. 32
    tommykey

    the days when it was only the village atheist

    Yeah Pat, now you have to deal with the atheist village!

  33. 33
    twincats

    This really interested me:

    For what is the purpose of what they are about, if not to wound, offend, insult and mock fellow Americans celebrating the happiest day of their calendar year?

    Because while I was a Lutheran, they (pastors, teachers, sunday school teachers, music director, parents) were always pounding it into our prepubescent heads that the happiest day of our calendar year was Easter. EASTER EASTER EASTER!!!!eleventy1!

    I guess Lutheranism must be another one of those wrong flavors of Christianity.

  34. 34
    wheatdogg

    In fact, Easter WAS the biggest Christian feast-day, traditionally, for without the resurrection, there was essentially no reason for the church. Christmas was less important, though one could argue that without Jesus’ birth, there would also be no church.

    I’m not sure when the birth-day began to outshine the resurrection-day, despite the best efforts of church authorities.

  35. 35
    patsure

    Very Intresting post!
    cheers!
    pat testing

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