Comment on "Christian Nation" doesn't add up
I recently read the letter ‘Country was founded as Christian’ by JP Melchionne and quietly followed the comments. Now, I am not going to delve into such an obviously contemptuous subject, but I would like to address the extremes that some will go to in order to ‘prove’ their arguments.
One comment that jumped out at me was by Tom Kelly, who made the claim that America was legally codified as a “Christian Nation” as a direct result of the ruling in the 1892 Supreme Court case ‘Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457’. Mr. Kelly has brought this ‘argument’ up several different times in the past. Mr. Kelly’s argument seems simple enough at first glance, but the more you look into his reasoning, the more ridiculous it ultimately becomes.
The Holy Trinity case was a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States regarding an employment contract between The Church of the Holy Trinity (New York) and an English Anglican priest. The government argued that the Holy Trinity church violated the ‘Alien Contract Labor law’ that was passed by Congress in 1885 which prohibited "the importation and migration of foreigners and aliens under contract or agreement to perform labor or service of any kind in the United States, its territories, and the District of Columbia."
The Supreme Court ruled on the case (rightly) in favor of the Holy Trinity church, with the unanimous decision of the court authored by Justice David Brewer, under the ‘opinion’ that Congress would not have intended for this law to apply to a member of the clergy because Congress cannot make any laws either restricting or supporting religion. The court’s ‘reasoning’ for this decision (which, unlike the ‘opinion’, does not hold any legal application) was a 16-page ‘history lesson’ as to America’s religious heritage.
What Mr. Kelly pulls from this ‘reasoning’, that he vehemently insists ‘proves’ his argument for the “legal codification of the U.S. as a Christian Nation”, is the following statement from Justice Brewer: “These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation”.
The problem with Mr. Kelly’s argument is quite simple: the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. When asked how he reconciles his opinion on the ‘legal Christian Nation status’ with the 1st Amendment test, Mr. Kelly either flatly refuses to address the question, claims that it is a “straw man argument,” or just unleashes a tirade of insults and derogatory personal comments aimed at the individual asking the question apparently in hopes that they will tire of his shenanigans and move on.
I understand that the “Christian Nation” argument is both a contemptuous one and a deeply heartfelt one, but when a person goes to such ridiculous lengths to ‘prove’ their argument, it does little more than make a mockery of the entire discussion and everyone involved in it. If I were a Christian, and someone were making such an argument on behalf of both myself and my fellow Christians, I’d be both embarrassed and upset that they were making such a joke of my deeply personal faith and beliefs.