Lauren Green, former Miss America turned religion correspondent for Fox News, wrote an article claiming that Griffin's remarks and her winning of the award were only possible because of Jesus. Some bloggers are jumping to agree with her, without recognizing how off-base her historical argument is.
Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars points out the historical inaccuracies in Green's article, such as this one:
The See for Yourself blog responds to Green by taking her argument a step further:Ninety-four percent of America's founding era documents mention the Bible; 34 percent quote the Bible directly.
Ah yes, that old canard, which has been debunked time and time again. The phrase "founding era documents" is quite slippery; she doesn't bother to say, doubtless because she has never read Lutz' study and hasn't a clue what it actually says, is that most of the documents in his study had nothing at all to do with the founding of the country and were in fact reprinted sermons. Small wonder that sermons contained Biblical references.
In fact, Lutz' study notes that at the time of the drafting and ratification of the constitution, 1787 and 1788, there were precious few references to the Bible or to Christianity and none at all in the public writings of any of the Federalists who were explaining and defending the Constitution to the citizens. Lutz wrote of this period in his study:The Bible's prominence disappears, which is not surprising since the debate centered upon specific institutions about which the Bible has little to say. The Anti-Federalists do drag it in with respect to basic principles of government, but the Federalists' inclination to Enlightenment rationalism is most evident here in their failure to consider the Bible relevant.
Lutz' study clearly argues against the notion that the Bible influenced the Constitution, not for it. If Green had bothered to actually read the study, she would know that. But instead, she credulously repeats religious right talking points. Then again, she does work for Fox News, so this is hardly a surprise.
If Jesus really did have everything to do with Kathy Griffin's award, and think Lauren Green has undoubtedly shown that to be true, then that means Jesus had everything to do with Kathy Griffin saying "Suck it Jesus! This award is my God now!" And since Lauren Green makes it clear that she finds self-effacing humor to be amusing, why is it that Lauren Green is unamused by Kathy Griffin's remarks, which is essentially Jesus' own self-effacement? Jesus is Lord of Comedy, but Lauren Green is won't scarf down his tasty communion wafer.Ed Brayton concludes his piece with the point that Christians should be offended when people make claims to the media that God or Jesus was responsible for their winning a sports event or prize--as if God plays favorites in such events--and that this is what Griffin was making fun of.
Now, I very much believe that Lauren Green and Bill Donahue and Fox News would never have said anything if Kathy Griffin had only disavowed the involvement of a 2,000 year old fictional Jewish zombie. They would have gladly ignored that, and nobody would have censored remarks on the broadcast, and Lauren Green never would have written her well-reasoned column.
But why turn the other cheek if you won't accept the inevitable re-slap? Why doesn't Lauren Green have a sense of humor when Jesus uses an irreverent comedian to make a little fun of himself?
UPDATE (September 27, 2007): Bob McCarty has been claiming that the Founding Fathers made the U.S. a Christian nation at his blog in the comments, and has not approved my comments responding to some of his bogus claims. Here's the text of my second attempts to post a rejoinder:
Bob: You didn't approve/publish my previous comment responding to your Sep. 15 comment. I'll try again.and, in a separate comment, after I remembered that I had also made this point in my first attempt:
Your citation of "In God We Trust" and "One Nation Under God" as evidence of the U.S. being founded on Christian principles shows your lack of research--the former did not appear on coins until 1854 and on currency until 1957. The phrase "under God" wasn't added to the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954.
I also suggested you read more of the writings of Thomas Jefferson, including his letter to his nephew Peter Carr on August 10, 1787, in which he wrote "Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear."
Oh, and I also recommended that you check out the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, which was ratified by the Congress and signed by President John Adams, which contains the statement that "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." Tripoli violated the treaty and a new treaty was negotiated in 1805 without that language, but it is significant that both the Senate and President approved that language.