The Instigator
Oxymoron
Pro (for)
Losing
13 Points
The Contender
Magicr
Con (against)
Winning
27 Points

The United States Is A Christian Nation

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 9 votes the winner is...
Magicr
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/29/2012 Category: Society
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,337 times Debate No: 28743
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (59)
Votes (9)

 

Oxymoron

Pro

Thesis:

The United States was heavily influenced by Christianity and its basic tenets and are thus a Christian Nation. As Pro, I will defend the resolution by making it clear that the Founders explicitly state that they and the United States were molded by Christianity.

First Round Is For Acceptance

What I Mean By Christian Nation:

Contrary to what critics imply, a Christian Nation is not a Theocracy, or the laws require everyone to adhere to Christianity, or all leaders are Christians, or any other such superficial measurement.

As Supreme Court Justice David Brewer (1837-1910) explained: "[I]n what sense can [America] be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that the people are in any manner compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Neither is it Christian in the sense that all its citizens are either in fact or name Christians. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact, the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions. Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation – in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world. " [1]

According to Justice Brewer, America was “of all the nations in the world . . . most justly called a Christian nation” because Christianity “has so largely shaped and molded it.” [1]


Sources: [1] David J. Brewer, The United States: A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), p. 13
Magicr

Con

I accept. As he is the instigator and challenger to the standard strain of thought that denotes the US as a secular nation, Pro ought to bear the BoP.

Good luck to my opponent and I await his arguments affirming the resolution.
Debate Round No. 1
Oxymoron

Pro


The Declaration Of Independence:

The Declaration of Independence is the starting point of the United States , our birth certificate.

As the well-known, but ever powerful preamble goes: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The philosophy of the Declaration of Independence obviously supports my thesis. Our birth certificate clearly calls upon a Creator. What kind of Creator? One that is intimately endowing us with powerful, unalienable rights. Sounds personal to me, definitely not Deistic. "But wait!," one might say, "Jefferson was a Deist! Wouldn't that contradict what you're saying?"


Thomas Jefferson And The No True Scotsman:


The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man. [2]

The practice of morality being necessary for the well being of society, He [God] has taken care to impress its precepts so indelibly on our hearts that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain. We all agree in the obligation of the moral principles of Jesus and nowhere will they be found delivered in greater purity than in His discourses. [2]

I am a Christian in the only sense in which He wished anyone to be: sincerely attached to His doctrines in preference to all others.[3]

I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ. [2]


The last quote is the one I want to focus on. Thomas Jefferson is a self-described Christian. To say that he isn't a Christian because he didn't believe in certain doctrines (like the Virgin Birth), is arbitrary and smacks of a No True Scotsman fallacy. The Revisionists need to stop trying to proselytizing him into a Deist and leave the poor man alone. Nevertheless, Jefferson's belief in Christ obviously affirms my point that the preamble of the Declaration is in direct reference to the Christian God. As John Quincy Adams supports my view: "In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior. The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity." [5] Anybody that says otherwise on this particular point carries the burden of proof.

The Vast Majority Of The Founders Were Christians:

It stands to reason that the Founder's religion plays a large part in the formation of the Country. Don't believe me? Skip down to the next section. The list is too large to record in less than 8,000 characters, so I will shorten it to the figures who's religion is falsely contended:


John Adams," I have examined all religions, and the result is that the Bible is the best book
in the world." [13]

Benjamin Franklin, "As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the
system of morals and His religion as He left them to us, the best the world ever
saw or is likely to see." [14]

Patrick Henry, "Being a Christian… is a character which I prize far above all this world has or
can boast." [8]

James Madison, "I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of
religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than
for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are
rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by
becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in
your evidence in this way." [15]

Gouverneur Morris, " More especially is it necessary in your profession firmly to rely upon the God
of Battles for His guardianship and protection in the dreadful hour of trial.
But of all these things you will and I hope in the merciful Lord."

George Washington, "You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the
religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than
you are." [17]


It Was Generally Held By The Founders That The U.S. Is A Christian Nation:


John Adams, "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God." [4]

Congress, 1854 "The great, vital, and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and the divine truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." [6]

Congress, U. S. House Judiciary Committee, 1854 "Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle... In this age, there can be no substitute for Christianity... That was the religion of the founders of the republic and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants." [6]

John Dickinson, "[Governments] could not give the rights essential to happiness… We claim them from a higher source: from the King of kings, and Lord of all the earth." [7]

Daniel Webster, "[T]he Christian religion – its general principles – must ever be regarded among
us as the foundation of civil society" [12]

"[T]o the free and universal reading of the Bible… men [are] much indebted for
right views of civil liberty." [12]



The Importance Of Religion In America:


Patrick Henry, "The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible." [8]

In 1787, the very year the Constitution was written by the Convention and approved by Congress, that same Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance (N.O.). In the N.O. they outlawed slavery and reaffirmed the basic rights of citizens in language similar to that which was later to become the Bill of Rights. In the N.O. the Founders emphasizes the essential role of religion in schools:

"Article 3: Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged." [9]

They continue, "[The teaching of Religion being] a fundamental system of beliefs concerning man's origin and relationship to the Creator, the cosmic universe, and his relationship to man." Religion was not a mere intellectual exercise, but a basic ingredient of "good government and the happiness of mankind." In other words, Religion, to the Founders, was one of the ingredients that brings about Liberty, Happiness and an era of Prosperity.


Thomas Jefferson called these basic beliefs the principles "in which God has united us all." [10]

Alexis de Tocqueville Affirms The Molding Power Of Christianity:

Alexis de Tocqueville famously stated that he was "certain that [Americans] hold [religion] to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions" [11] The religion Alexis is referring to is the Christian religion. He later goes on, "Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power." To the great de Tocqueville, America's pulpit were the seat of America's success.




Sources:
[2] The Writings of Thomas Jefferson,
[3] Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson
[4] The Writings of Thomas Jefferson.
[5] Town of Newburyport at Their Request on the Sixty-First Anniversary of the Declaration
[6] Journal of the House of the Representatives
[7] The Writings of John Dickinson
[8] Patrick Henry: Life, Correspondence and Speeches,
[9] The Annals of America
[10] Ibid.
[11] Democracy in America
[12] Address Delivered at Bunker Hill, June 17, 1843
[13] Adams, Works
[14] Works of Benjamin Franklin,
[15] The Papers of James Madison, William T. Hutchinson,
[16] Letters of Delegates to Congress: February 1, 1778-May 31, 1778,
[17] George Washington, The Writings of Washington, John C. Fitzpatrick,
Magicr

Con

Thank you, Oxymoron.

INTRODUCTION

To say that the US is a Christian nation or to say that the values which our nation was founded are Christian is to say that these things are Christian to a much greater than they are of another religion or of a secular nature. If these things are not uniquely Christian in nature, then it is not as correct to say that they are Christian as it is to say that they are of a monotheistic religious nature, of a religious nature, or of a secular nature. As Pro has taken the position that this is a Christian nation, he must prove that is is uniquely Christian. I may challenge the accuracy of his arguments by arguing that the US and its values are anything other than uniquely Christian i.e. religious but not just Christian, secular, etc. I contend that Pro has not met his BoP to prove the uniquely Christian nature of the country and its founding values.

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

The reference to an endowing creator in the Declaration of Independence is not the explicit affirmation of the Christian God that Pro claims it is. Judaism and Islam also include such a creator. Expanding farther: Seeing as Jefferson took the liberty to edit the New Testament himself, a process through which he removed supernatural occurrences and claims to Jesus' divinity [1], it is permissible to look outside of the literal reading of the word creator as a singular being, thus including polytheistic religions. In fact, given Jefferson's prior use of the phrase "Nature's God" in the Declaration, a more naturalistic interpretation is plausible.

I doubt that Pro would claim that other religions do not have endowing creators, so he justifies his claim that the preamble is an affirmation of the Christian God by claiming that Jefferson's concession of Christianity confirms that it is a Christian reference:"Nevertheless, Jefferson's belief in Christ obviously affirms my point that the preamble of the Declaration is in direct reference to the Christian God."

Pro provides no warrant to link the ideas that Jefferson's religion affects his use of the word creator to exclude other religions.

Also, it is through equivocation that Pro is able to make his claim that Jefferson was not a deist. His support is a quote in which Jefferson says he is a true Christian, a true follower of the teachings of Christ. Yet, as evidenced by Jefferson's editing of the Bible, it is clear that Jefferson was not of the Christian religion in the same sense as most Christians, so the definitions that apply to most Christians such as their belief in a personal God, do not necessarily apply to Jefferson's beliefs. Jefferson's statement as quoted by Pro merely say that he admires Jesus as a moral teacher, not as a divine God, therefore, it is entirely possible and, based on other statements by the man, quite likely that Jefferson was a deist who admired the moral teachings of Christ.

The most important point to be made here is that Jefferson did choose "creator," a word that is open to multiple faiths, perhaps even open to non-faith. If he'd wanted to invoke Christianity or its values over those of another religion, Jefferson most likely would have said God. In fact, the only time God is specifically mentioned is in another phrase open to interpretation, the previously mentioned "Nature's God" [2]. Because he chose phrases such as "Creator" and "Nature's God," this point actually works against Pro's claims and should be seen as an attempt to keep the new nation open to many religious views.

THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE FOUNDERS WERE CHRISTIAN

While the subject of the religious views of the founders is a fascinating one, it is irrelevant to this debate. The founder's choices in religion are no more important to the status of the nation than their choices on any other matter. A good analogy to illustrate this point is slavery: A good number of the founders owned slaves [3], but this has no bearing on whether the US is a slave nation or whether it is inspired by the values related to slavery. Jefferson's choice of religion no more affects the values of this country through the Declaration of Independence, than his choice to own slaves.

IT WAS GENERALLY HELD BY THE FOUNDERS THAT THE US IS A CHRISTIAN NATION

Here, Pro presents six quotes that he claims support the heading, and by extension the resolution. Yet, only two of these quotes actually come from Founders, the other four are modern reflections on the Founding (modern meaning since the time of the Founders). These modern opinions are from more than 50 years after the fact are not relevant to Pro's argument about the Founder's opinions, and therefore it is not necessary for me to respond to the two Congressional quotes of 1854 or the two Daniel Webster quotes which, according to Pro's source list, are from 1843. If in the next round Pro wishes to use these quotes to make a point about the Founding from a more recent, secondary perspective, there are numerous quotes that I can submit with a different viewpoint, removing any proving power from such quotes.

Now: the Adams and Dickinson quotes.

Like a great deal of Pro's R2 case, the quote by John Dickinson does not actually provide evidence for the point made in the heading under which it appears. In this case, as in the previous section, one Founder's personal beliefs regarding the nature of rights, happiness, and religion in no way show the general opinion of the Founders. In fact, this quote does not even make it clear that Dickinson himself felt that the US is a Christian nation. If Pro wishes to make this connection, further explanation is needed..

It appears that Pro has taken a lot of liberty with the quote by John Adams, both in accurately communicating the quote, and in providing the all-important context from which the quote was taken. The quote comes from a letter to Jefferson in which Adams uses the phrase "principles of Christianity" to refer to the principles that united the Founders, not the principles that the Founders used to create the nation. In the letter, Adams leaves what he means be "principles of Christianity" up to interpretation as he does not really expand upon the meaning of it. We can be fairly sure, however, that Adams did not consider the US to have been founded on principles of Christianity based on his approval of the Treaty of Tripoli, which in Article 11 states that the US was not "in any sense" founded on Christianity [5]. I plan to revisit the treaty in detail in future rounds.

Not only is the context of the quote missing, but, and perhaps more importantly from an ethical point of view, Pro has taken several phrases from two paragraphs and put them together without an ellipsis or any other signifying marks. Due to space constraints, I am unable to present the full quote, but it can be viewed at my Source #4.

THE IMPORTANCE OF RELIGION IN AMERICA

Patrick Henry Quote:
The Henry quote presented by Pro makes no mention of Christianity, only religion, and is therefore irrelevant.

The Northwest Ordinance:
Again, only general mentions of religion and a Creator, not Christianity, ergo not relevant.

ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE AFFIRMS THE MOLDING POWER OF CHRISTIANITY

Just as other outside opinions from the 19th century cannot be said to affirm the resolution through the standard laid out in the Pro's thesis, de Tocqueville's opinion is not an exception. While his viewpoint is interesting and worthy of discussion, it does not affirm the Christianity of the United States through the eyes of the Founder's or her founding values, Pro's standard.

CONCLUSION

I have shown how all of Pro's quotes and arguments are lacking in clarity and/or are irrelevant to the debate. Also, it should be noted that not once has Pro specified what uniquely Christian values he claims are involved in our founding and how they manifest themselves. I look forward to future rounds.

Sources in comments.
Debate Round No. 2
Oxymoron

Pro

The Declaration of Independence Is Linked To The Christian God:

Con has made the case that the Creator invoked in Declaration is not explicitly Christian. He said "If he'd wanted to invoke Christianity or its values over those of another religion, Jefferson most likely would have said God." Let me make it obvious that Jefferson is, indeed, referencing the Christian God -- even by Con's own criteria:

In A Summary View of The Rights of British America, Jefferson states that the encroachments of the British Crown were encroachments "upon those rights which God and the laws have given equally and independently to all." And that "the God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the [British] hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them."

To Jefferson, God is the source of our inalienable rights. He is the giver of Life and Liberty. Staying in line with traditional literary criticism, The Creator in The Rights of British America is the same Creator in the Declaration of Independence. All of this supposed ambiguity as to what "Creator" meant has just been slain. The Declaration is, indeed, invoking the Christian God as the basis of our most precious, inalienable rights.


The Christian Influences On America Are Not Necessarily Uniquely Christian:
"As Pro has taken the position that this is a Christian nation, he must prove that is is uniquely Christian."

This is an arbitrary declaration of criteria. There are many foundational Christian doctrines that are not uniquely Christian viz.: Monotheism, prophecy, sin, etc. This debate is not here to determine the uniqueness of the Christian doctrines that have influenced America, rather it is here to determine if the Founders indirectly (or directly) cite Judeo-Christian values as the source of influence. Therefore, the idea of a Creator in the Declaration, though not uniquely Christian, is Christian influence yet because Thomas Jefferson directly cites the Creator as the Christian God.


In Defense Of My John Adams Quote:

It is true I had forgotten the ellipses in the notes on the quote, however the meaning remains intact:

"The general Principles, on which the Fathers Atchieved Independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite . . . . And what were these general Principles?
I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all those Sects were United..." [1]

In other words:


"The [general Principles of Christianity], on which the Fathers Achieved Independence, were the only principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite...."

The weight of this quote, as it relates to my thesis, is Adam's affirmation that the general principles of Christianity were the principles through which the Fathers achieved independence.

Religious Freedom Finds Its Source In "Almighty God"

In his Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, Jefferson states the primary reason for establishing religious freedom is the fact "that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested His supreme will that free it shall remain..." And that a departure of religious freedom would be a departure "from the plan of the holy author of our religion..." More evidence that the basic American philosophy of unalienable rights stem from Almighty God.

The "Duty Of Nations":

George Washington, acting as President of the United States, proclaimed, "WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour;" [2]

Following Washington's example in "[acknowledging] the providence of Almighty God," John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens begin the document that made us a recognized country before the world "in the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity." [3]

Doctor Benjamin Rush, also following Washington, declaring "the origin of the proposed system, and fairly deduced it from heaven," It is then recorded that "he as much believed the hand of God was employed in this work." [4]

Indeed, many others including: James Madison, Jedidiah Morse, Joseph Story, Benjamin Franklin, Charles Carroll, John Adams, Elias Boudinot, and John Dickinson all recognized the importance of the Christian Religion and Christian morality as it relates to government. [5]


State Constitutions That Were Influenced By Christianity:

1. The Founding Fathers of Pennsylvania, including Benjamin Franklin said this in the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776:

"And each member, before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz:
I do believe in one God, the creator and governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration.And no further or other religious test shall ever hereafter be required of any civil officer or magistrate in this State."


I
n light of the explicit acknowledgment of the Christian God, they stated this:
"
We, the representatives of the freemen of Pennsylvania, in general convention met, for the express purpose of framing such a government, confessing the goodness of the great Governor of the universe (who alone knows to what degree of earthly happiness mankind mav attain, by perfecting the arts of government)"

To deny that this "Governor of the universe"
is in reference to anything but the Christian God, acknowledged elsewhere in the Penn. Constitution, is to deny the obvious.

2. The Founders of Rhode Island allowed their constitution to remain the Royal Charter, in which it states:

"...t
o secure them in the free exercise and enjoyment of all their civil and religious rights, appertaining to them, as our loving subjects and to preserve unto them that liberty, in the true Christian faith and worship of God..."

3. The Delaware constitution of 1776 declares that:
"Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust, before taking his seat, or entering upon the execution of his office, shall take the following oath...to wit: 'I, A B. do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration."


4. The South Carolina Constitution of 1778,

"The qualification of electors shall be that every free white man, and no other person, who acknowledges the being of a God, and believes in a future state of rewards and punishments,"

The Primary Doctrines of South Carolina's State Religion:

1st. That there is one eternal God, and a future state of rewards and punishments.
2d. That God is publicly to be worshipped.
3d. That the Christian religion is the true religion
4th. That the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are of divine inspiration, and are the rule of faith and practice.
5th. That it is lawful and the duty of every man being thereunto called by those that govern, to bear witness to the truth.


5. Vermont's Constitution declares:

"And each member, before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz. You do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the Universe, the rewarder of the good, and punisher of the wicked. And you do acknowledge the scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration; and own and profess the Protestant religion."


Sources Will Be Posted In Comments
Magicr

Con

Before I begin it should be noted that many of my rebuttals from R2 were dropped by Pro in R3.

DEFENSE OF MY R2 INTRODUCTION

Pro wants to disagree with the conclusion that I made, but not the logic that I used to get there. I argued that if the US was founded on values that are shared by multiple faiths, it is more correct to argue that than to argue that the US is a Christian nation. As Con, my BoP is to demonstrate why Pro's claims are not correct compared with the alternatives. Thus, if I can show that the values are not uniquely Christian, then I have fulfilled my BoP in demonstrating that Pro's claims are not as correct as the alternatives. What Pro claims is an "arbitrary standard" stands, as he has not offered a true rebuttal of my reasoning. Therefore, any reference to a Creator or a God, unless specifically the Christian God, does not build Pro's case.

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

As I just explained, a reference to God or a Creator does not affirm Pro's case. Pro tries to explain that the Creator referenced in the Declaration is the Christian God by citing an earlier draft if you will of the document in which Jefferson actually uses the word God. Not only does the word God refer uniquely to Christianity as opposed to other monotheistic religions, but Pro's claim that this Creator of the Declaration is the same God that is in A Summary View of The Rights of British America has not been proven. Pro has offered no reason to believe that the change in diction from "God," to "Creator" is not intentionally and demonstrates that Jefferson wanted the final version to be more inclusive. As he is the one making the claim that the Declaration signifies Christianity, it is up to him to prove that Jefferson's intention was to invoke the Christian God. I find it highly unlikely that Jefferson would be referencing the Christian God, however, given that he had this to say about Christianity and the United States: "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors" [1].

ADAMS QUOTE

Once again, Pro fails to address the means through which I drew my conclusion, and here inuits upon basically repeating the exact same thing he said in R2, ignoring my arguments. I pointed out that not only was the quote from different parts of a letter and awkwardly sewn together to fit Pro's desired meaning, a charge which Pro conceded, but the quote was taken out of context, a point which Pro ignored. Instead of addressing this fact, Pro merely puts in the ellipsis and then carries on as if his quote were the full version.Another ignored argument concerned the Treaty of Tripoli, a document signed by Adams that declared the US was not founded on Christian principles. This clarifies Adam's that Adams would not agree with Pro's claims, even though Pro would have us believe that to be true. I'll talk more about the Treaty at the end the round.
FREEDOM OF RELIGION

While Pro does an adequate job of demonstrating that Jefferson stating that Freedom of Religion is God's will, he does not at all demonstrate how this principle is a Christian principle as well as a Jeffersonian one. It is clear based on evidence that I have already presented, that Jefferson thought differently about Christianity than many people of his time. Therefore, he may have seen freedom of religion to be a principle from a God, but Pro has not shown that Christianity feels the same way. In fact, freedom of religion is hardly a Christian principle given Jesus" promises of hell for unbelievers, etc. Hardly a tolerant viewpoint.

THE DUTY OF NATIONS

I have two main points to raise in this section. The first deals with context and the importance of making the clarification between a statement concerning the religious nature of the country and what is merely an ornament regarding some other topic. The second point deals with the relationship between a quote and its application to the US system of government. Both points arise in analysis of Pro"s Washington quote. First, this quote is not directed at confirming the US"s Christianity, but rather deals with Thanksgiving and is explaining why it is import to celebrate the holiday.

Additionally, and more importantly here, Pro makes no attempt to connect Washington"s philosophy on the "Duty of all nations" to the way in which our government is organized. Obviously if he wants to show that the country was influenced by Christian principles, Pro must demonstrate how these principles are worked into the nation"s foundation, something which he has not done.

An example of context analysis comes from Pro"s reference to the Treaty of Paris. It appears that this opening statement invoking the Trinity is more of a ceremonial invocation than a true reflection of our founding principles. How can I be so sure of this? One only has to read a little further into the Treaty to see another statement which is in direct contrast to the ideals of the Revolution, the statement that "It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the hearts of the most serene and most potent Prince George the Third, by the grace of God, king of Great Britain, France and Ireland..." [2]. Obviously this part of the Treaty that grants George III divine right to the throne is in opposition to the values that defined our Founding. Pro presents no reason to believe that the first part of the Treaty referring to the Trinity and to God bear any more significance upon our values than does the praise of George.

STATE CONSTITUTIONS

This point is completely irrelevant to the debate, as the topic is whether or not we are a Christian Nation, not whether the states are individually Christian, therefore, it needn"t be addressed.

TREATY OF TRIPOLI

Throughout the debate, Pro has given numorous quotes, a few of which can be seen as references to Christian values with some stretching of the imagination. However, as I previously mentioned, there exists a document that plainly denies the resolution. I now quote from Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli of 1796.

"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." [3]

Here's the statement that President Adams issued regarding his approval of the Treaty:

"Now be it known, That I John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen
and considered the said Treaty do, by and with the advice consent of the Senate, accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof. And to the End that the said Treaty may be observed and performed with good Faith on the part of the United States, I have ordered the premises to be made public; And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office civil or military within the United States, and all others citizens or inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfil the said Treaty and every clause and article thereof." [3]

None of Pro"s evidence comes close to the level of clarity in affirming the Christianity of the US as the beginning of Article 11 and Adams" clear endorsement of "every clause and article thereof" in denying it.

Sources
1.http://www.nobeliefs.com...
2.http://www.earlyamerica.com...
3.http://candst.tripod.com...
Debate Round No. 3
Oxymoron

Pro

Primary Concession of Con: Con has shrugged of my state constitution argument with the idea that my thesis equates “nation” or the “United States’’ to the federal government.

Let me set this straight, I have made no declaration in any round. In fact, this would contradict my own beliefs, as I affirm the separation of Church and State on a federal level (see my Brewer quote). However, the states do retain this right and have exercised it from the beginning. What I have meant from the very beginning by Christian Nation is this: that all levels of government have been influenced by Christianity; the Declaration of Independence for the general philosophy of American government; the state constitutions for the state level.

On this point alone, Con has not fulfilled his burden and has lost the debate.

Hitchslapping Con: Con, in response to my Declaration argument, says that I have “offered no reason to believe that the change in diction from "God," to "Creator" is not intentional and demonstrates that Jefferson wanted the final version to be more inclusive.”

Neither have I given reason that the change from “God” to “Creator” was not to demonstrate that Jefferson wanted the final version to be more inclusive of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Claims that are given without evidence, will be ignored without evidence. As with most of Con’s arguments, he has given absolutely no proof that Jefferson wanted to be more inclusive of religions when writing the Declaration, all he has given is the possibility.

So, the question remains: What did Jefferson mean by “Creator”?

Historians are faced with questions like these all the time. What did the Founder’s mean by the “no establishment” clause? To fully understand the true intention, the courts and historians look towards the writings of the Founders. For the First Amendment, we often turn to a very clear letter by Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist association, in which the intentions of the separation of Church and State are authoritatively made clear.

Let’s turn back to the Declaration. In Jefferson’s view, where do our rights come from? To get a better idea, I did what historians do and looked at other documents that Jefferson authored on the same subject. In the same way as the Danbury Baptist letter, documents like A Summary View of The Rights of British America give us a clear understanding on Jefferson’s views on the rights of man as a gift from God. I have proved what Jefferson believed, now it’s Con’s turn to prove that Jefferson changed his beliefs on the subject, and wanted to include multiple religions with the use of “Creator”. Let’s see how Con has handled this:

In response, Con gives measly, irrelevant quotes on Jefferson’s personal views on the miracles and deity of Christ (including the “Jefferson Bible”). Notice how irrelevant quotes have nothing to do with the content of the Declaration of Independence, the origin of rights, or even the existence of God.

In Defense of My Quotes... Again:

Con says I have ignored the context of my Adams quote. He asserted that, “Adams uses the phrase ‘principles of Christianity’ to refer to the principles that united the Founders, not the principles that the Founders used to create the nation.”

Obviously the quoted paragraph that I gave in R3 disproves this interpretation. I have re-read the entire letter, just to make Con happy, and noticed that the general principles of Christianity are both the principles that united the Founders and the principles that the Founders used to “[achieve] Independence”. I invite Con to tell us how I have distorted the context.


Con says that my Washington quote is not “confirming the US's Christianity, but rather deals with Thanksgiving and is explaining why it is import to celebrate the holiday.” His unspoken conclusion: Therefore when Washington says "it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour;”, it means we all ought to eat a lot of turkey.

I suppose I’ll take this seriously. Con says this quote explains “why we celebrate [Thanksgiving]” Correct! We celebrate Thanksgiving because it is the duty of nations to acknowledge the providence, benefits, of the Almighty God and plead for His protection and favor. Since Washington was acting as President of the United States when he made this proclamation, his affirmation of the importance of the “Almighty God” affects the general American philosophy of government.

A Tale of Two Treaties: How Con Destroys His Only Positive Proof

Con has articulated his argument in syllogism form in the comments. I will use this as the base of my argument here.

Using Con’s own logic in his syllogism, the Treaty of Tripoli doesn’t apply anymore because it invokes the “year the Hegira”, an important religious year for Muslims, chock full of religious implications and is exclusively Islamic:

P1: If no reason is given why a part of a document should be considered to be indicative of our values when another part of the document is clearly not reflective of our values, then the argument concerning the first part has no standing.
P2: No reason was given as to why article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli should be considered to be indicative of our values when the religious implication of the exclusive Islamic month of Hegira is clearly not reflective of our values.
C: Therefore, the argument concerning the article 11 of the Treaty has no standing.

To parallel Con again: “[Con] presents no reason to believe that the [eleventh] part of the Treaty referring to the [supposed secularism of American government] bear[s] any more significance upon our values than does the [invocation of the religious month of Hegira].

Con's response would be that Adams upheld every clause of the treaty. My response is that U.S. Congress "approve[d], [ratified], and confirm[ed]" every clause of the Treaty of Paris [1].

The Treaty of Tripoli:

1.) The government mentioned in article eleven of the treaty is the Federal government (note the capital "G" in the original document); therefore, the treaty is merely affirming that the Federal government is not founded on the Christian religion in any sense. While the founders affirmed the influence of Christianity (established in my “Duty of Nations” argument), they also created a constitutional wall for the Federal government against the establishment of religion.
Therefore, the affirmation that the federal government of the United States was not in any sense established on the Christian religion, is not a repudiation of the fact that America was influenced by the Christian religion. Influence and establishment are two different things. In conclusion, the Treaty of Tripoli is merely an interesting factoid and remains completely benign to my thesis; as I am
not upholding the theory that the Federal government has established the Christian religion above all others, thus it is a Christian Nation.

2.) It would be absurd to suggest that President Adams (under whom the treaty was ratified in 1797) would have endorsed any provision which repudiated the influence of Christianity on America (I refer you back to my Adams quote in R3). In fact, while discussing the Barbary conflict with Jefferson, Adams declared:

The policy of Christendom has made cowards of all their sailors before the standard of Mahomet. It would be heroical and glorious in us to restore courage to ours. [2]

3.) There was more than just one treaty with the Barbary powers. The 1786 Treaty of Morocco, which Adams signed and endorsed, invokes "God" a total of 4 times. In fact it ends with this: “this Treaty shall continue in full Force, with the help of God for Fifty Years.” This gives more evidence that the Treaty of Tripoli does not deny Christian influence, only Christian establishment on the Federal level.

Sources in comments
Magicr

Con

Pro dropped my argument that in claiming that the US is a Christian nation, he is claiming that it is a uniquely Christian nation. This drop should be kept in mind when viewing the remainder of my rebuttals.


“PRIMARY CONCESSION OF CON” OR MAYBE NOT

In the final round, we are faced with a new challenge upon what this debate is truly about: Are we discussing the United States of America as a country at the federal level, or are we discussing the way the country at all levels? It is unfortunate that this key dispute is only truly occurring in the final round, so Pro will not have a chance to respond to my arguments, and so the voters will be forced to judge which side has better justified their point on this matter. Pro has offered no other justification for his contention other than the fact that he meant this latter interpretation from the beginning and therefore it is correct.

I contend that the invocation of discussing the union of the states as a nation necessarily refers to the federal government. My support for this contention is the following: The federal government (a product of the union made by the states) is what allows the United States to be a nation. If this union was not in place, we would have a group of states of various natures, not one united nation. Thus, in discussing whether or not the nation is Christian, we are discussing the union of the states, which manifests itself as the federal government.

HITCHSLAPPING THE SELF-PROCLAIMED HITCHSLAPPER

As Hitchens would probably point out in a much more interesting fashion than me, Pro now commits the fallacy of Shifting the Burden of Proof. It is he, not I, that is making the claim that the Declaration is evidence of a Christian nation.

I am not making any positive claims about the Declaration with regard to the resolution. I am arguing that as the maker of the claims, Pro has not proven that the Declaration has any significance with regard to the resolution. Thus, my argument that “Pro has offered no reason to believe that the change in diction from ‘God,’ to ‘Creator is not intentionally and demonstrates that Jefferson wanted the final version to be more inclusive” is not a positive claim attempting to negate the resolution, but rather a notice that Pro has not demonstrated that Jefferson’s intention is what he claims that it is. I don’t have to make the claim that the Declaration negates the resolution, just that Pro has not shown it to affirm the resolution.

Regarding my quote of Jefferson: Pro pointed out that historians often look at several writings by a historical figure to figure out exactly what he or she meant and I did just that. My quote is useful in evaluating whether or not a God that Jefferson referred to was or was not the Christian God. In the quote, Jefferson clearly says that the story of Jesus that is central to the Christian religion should be classified as a fable along with ancient mythology. Thus, it is clear that Jefferson was not referring to the Christian God any more than he would have been referring to the god Jupiter. The quote is not irrelevant and specifically addresses whether or not Jefferson would have been likely claim that a “fable” God was the giver of rights.

ON THE ATTACK OF PRO’S QUOTES... AGAIN

I don’t know what else there is to say on the John Adams quote as I’ve already explained how the quote was taken out of context. I guess I’ll just say it all one more time.

Pro claims: “Obviously the quoted paragraph that I gave in R3 disproves this interpretation,” referring to my argument that the Principles that are referred to are the principles that brought the founders together, not the principles used in designing the nation. The quoted paragraph given in R3 did not prove this, as all Pro presented were stuck together pieces of the quote that show nothing about the context or the words that were eliminated.

He also says: “I have re-read the entire letter, just to make Con happy, and noticed that the general principles of Christianity are both the principles that united the Founders and the principles that the Founders used to “[achieve] Independence.” Once again, Pro just grabs a snippet from the letter. First, these are the principles on which the Founders came together to achieve Independence, not necessarily the principles the Founders used to achieve Independence. The difference is subtle but important, and it can be verified in the quote below.

Also, before this part of the letter, Adams talks about how difficult it could have been to unite the different sects of Christianity that the various founders subscribed to, and so he says that the general Principles of Christianity united these various sects, and more importantly, it was the principles of Liberty that United them all:

“The general Principles, on which the Fathers Atchieved Independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite, and these Principles only could be intended by them in their Address, or by me in my Answer. And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all those Sects were united: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young Men United, and which had United all Parties in America, in Majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence” [1].

Additionally, the source Pro cites for this quote in a previous round does not contain the entire quote in context, so I can understand why his rereading may not have yielded understanding.

Regarding the Washington quote: Con addresses the part of my claim that the occasion was rather informal. He explains that this does not completely disqualify the point that Washington makes and I concede this. Nevertheless, the occasion is important when weighing conflicting evidences, for example this quote vs. the Treaty of Tripoli. The formal occasion for the Treaty gives it higher standing than this quote, assuming they are equal in other regards (which they are not).

A TALE OF TWO TREATIES

First, it should be noted that here Pro is using a syllogism that was not actually part of my arguments, but what I posted in the Comments upon his request, as, what I thought, was a means of clarification. I did give the disclaimer that this was just a summary from “the top of my head.” Therefore, it is not entirely fair for Pro to use this syllogism rather than the actual arguments I made in my speech.

But not considering this fact, Pro does a poor job of turning this syllogism against my argument, given that he in no way proves P2. In my R3, I clearly explained why parts of the Treaty of Paris are in direct opposition to our founding values, thus confirming P2. Pro’s only argument to affirm this premise is that the Treaty references a Muslim date. This is absolutely ridiculous as the reference does not invoke Islam and serves an absolutely secular purpose: To identify the date that the Treaty was signed: “Signed and sealed at Tripoli of Barbary the 3d day of Jumad in the year of the Higera 1211-corresponding with the 4th day of Novr 1796” [2]. It is absolutely obvious that Pro’s argument here fails completely.

TREATY OF TRIPOLI

Response to Pro’s numbered arguments:

1. Already addressed this.
2. Already addressed the R3 Adams quote. The additional Adams quote in no way proves the Christianity of the US.
3. The word God does not signify Christianity.

All three of Pro’s rebuttals are incredibly weak and mostly go back to points I’ve already addressed.

CONCLUSION

Thanks to Pro for this debate.

Throughout the debate, Pro has given very little valid evidence that the Founders concerned the US a Christian Nation. Even more importantly, he has not shown how Christian values manifest themselves in the way our nation was set up. It is clear that Pro did not fulfilled his BoP. Therefore, I strongly encourage:

VOTE CON!!

Sources

[1]-http://www.constitution.org...
[2]- http://candst.tripod.com...

Debate Round No. 4
59 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by cbcullen84 8 months ago
cbcullen84
I agree with Pro in this matter. I would state the Pro's arguments aren't as solid as he makes them out to be, I believe logical deduction and process of elimination would have helped supplement his facts, evidence and proof. The tide turner in this debate is the simple fact that Con has chosen to argue against Pro by offering solidified proof of possibilities...which serves as a weak opposition at best. When an argument is presented with supporting quotes, facts, logic and evidence...one cannot hope to oppose the other with mere suggestions of possibilities. It's ALWAYS possible that someone is wrong no matter how irrefutable their argument may seem, circumstances and situational dependence will always be the immeasurable variables that pull down upon reason and logic...but that's not an excuse for discrediting logical debate tactics.

In this debate, Con loses a great deal of creditability through his constant reliance upon the idea that suggesting the possibility that Pro is wrong somehow invalidates his argument. Bad form.
Posted by BrooklynHaze 1 year ago
BrooklynHaze
How can it be a Christian nation if the nation is supported by immigrants with various beliefs?
Posted by andrewkletzien 1 year ago
andrewkletzien
@Roy, you have moved from "Deists believed that morality comes from God, just as Christians do" to "To behave morally, people must therefore discern morality from the natural world." It's a welcomed change, but a turnabout that the readers and hopefully you can see has happened. You said originally that deists claim morality is "self-evident" but then moved to say that it must be "discerned," which is yet another welcomed and observable change. Deists (and atheists) properly posit that morality is much more of a sticky and challenging issue than theists, who simply believe it has been "provided" to us from up above, a convenience that I don't think can be so easily afforded our imperfect species.
Posted by RoyLatham 1 year ago
RoyLatham
@andrew, I don't know what modern Deists posit, but the Deists at the time of Jefferson believed that God created the universe and would one day return in judgement. They believed that God does not answer prayers, make revelations, or perform miracles. To behave morally, people must therefore discern morality from the natural world.

The Deist belief system of the times is well documented in Gustaud's "Faith of the Founders." It gives quotations from letters written by the founders that reveal their thinking about religion. Jefferson believed in the teachings of Christ as a philosophy, so was a Christian in the sense that someone might proclaim to be a Kantian. Obviously, Jefferson had problems with Christianity as a religion of revelation. Keep in mind the founders were also politicians, so they had varying limits on what they would publicly say about Christianity. Washington said very little, though the minister at the church Washington attended flatly said Washington was a Deist.

Franklin is an interesting case. He went back and forth on religious questions during his life. One question he puzzled over was why God would want prayers. Where Franklin ended up is not entirely clear.
Posted by andrewkletzien 1 year ago
andrewkletzien
@RoyLatham: That is not at ALL what deism is, and any true deist would scoff at your categorization. All deists posit is that it may by unwise to assert that the immense grandeur and complexity of life arose solely by natural processes. That is all the doctrine proclaims: nothing more, nothing less. Benjamin Franklin said "Lighthouses are more useful than churches" and Jefferson said "Christianity is the most perverted system on earth." Anyways, your comment makes it quite clear you were telling the truth when you said that you didn't read the debate.
Posted by RoyLatham 1 year ago
RoyLatham
I didn't see the debate in time to vote on it. I would have probably voted Pro -- didn't read the whole thing. "Christian nation" means it has a "predominately Christian culture."

The Declaration of Independence is clearly Deist. Deists believed that morality comes from God, just as Christians do. The difference is that Christians believe that morality is revealed in scripture, whereas Deists believe it is "self-evident." "Self-evident" means derived from observing the nature of mankind, independent of the Bible. Nonetheless, the Deist founders would have endorsed the notion of a Christian nation, as determined by the cultural heritage. The were pro Christian philosophical teachings.
Posted by Crito 1 year ago
Crito
You have to hand it to Magicr.

Nobody could of taken a giant sh1t on the face of Historical method and still win.
Posted by Crito 1 year ago
Crito
If pro would have made this debate with a shared B.O.P, he would of won.

The claim that America is a Christian Nation, is far superior to any other claim that Con brought up.
Posted by Crito 1 year ago
Crito
Magicr,

No. It becomes hiding when your opponent uses the burden of proof to justify mere possibilities and masks them as an actual rebuttal. It becomes hiding when you can say "Jefferson could of meant Flying Spaghetti Monster by Creator" in the face of contrary textual sources...and win.
Posted by GarretKadeDupre 1 year ago
GarretKadeDupre
@Grantmac18

"This topic was doomed since inception, founding fathers were not Christian and, intentionally so, the US Constitution is a secular document."

Just because something isn't Christian doesn't mean it's secular. There is Deism, Islam, Hinduism, etc.
9 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Vote Placed by Grantmac18 1 year ago
Grantmac18
OxymoronMagicrTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro misrepresented Adams' quote, distorting the message to better suit his position. Con refuted all of Pro's arguments, simply by stating historical facts; whereas Pro relied on selective interpretation of quotes taken out of context or entirely rearranged. S&G tie, sources to Con for accurately referencing, and arguments to Con for Pro's failure to prove topic. As a side note, the arrogance of claiming a "Hitchslap", even if one had occurred, was in poor taste to the community aspect of DDO; this was terribly unprofessional. This topic was doomed since inception, founding fathers were not Christian and, intentionally so, the US Constitution is a secular document.
Vote Placed by Stupidwalrus 1 year ago
Stupidwalrus
OxymoronMagicrTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Removing my counter, as Garret changed his vote enough to satisfy.
Vote Placed by GarretKadeDupre 1 year ago
GarretKadeDupre
OxymoronMagicrTied
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Reasons for voting decision: The status quo says that the United States Is A Christian Nation. This means that Con has the burden of proof. conduct to pro beause VOTE ME! wasnt shoved into my face. Pro offered conclusive evidence that our nation was founded mostly on Christian principles, and the writings and laws and speeches of lawmakers and judges for years after the fact confirm this. At a certain point, as Con, I would have conceded. This would have preserved his dignity. But in the face of obvious, hard evidence, he keeps digging his hole deeper and deeper until it's absolutely silly. SUMMARY: Pro steamrolled Con in this debate. I enjoyed it however, and it was very educational.
Vote Placed by andrewkletzien 1 year ago
andrewkletzien
OxymoronMagicrTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Call me bias... but this entire debate is supplemental to our Constitution which reads "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." The rest is just white noise. It doesn't just establish freedom of religion, but says that the government need not even consider RESPECT for your faith tradition. It shall be uninhibited, but shall be entirely DISREGARDED elsewhere.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 1 year ago
bladerunner060
OxymoronMagicrTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct to Con for Pro's misrepresented quote, misrepresentation of Con's syllogism, and the tone of his completely incorrect "hitchslap". Arguments to Con as being FAR more convincing; Oxymoron also attempts to say "All levels", then leave out the Federal Government entirely from the argument because it was so clearly a losing battle. Tempted to give sources to Con, since the source isn't "reliable" if you've misrepresented it, but that seems a double penalization, since it's already handled by conduct. At least both sides were even on S&G, so it wasn't painful to read (well, for me at least...I'm sure some folks hate walls-o-text)
Vote Placed by miketheman1200 1 year ago
miketheman1200
OxymoronMagicrTied
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Reasons for voting decision: on multiple accounts con bashes and dismissed pros qoutes and examples even when some were legitimate and backed his case. an attempt to make the voter dislike the argument regardless of the fact that it may have been valid which some were. Pros arguments were overall more believable consiering the time period and the backround of the people drafting the constitutio. Pro left out many arguments but adequetly defended his claim. conduct to pro beause VOTE ME! wasnt shoved into my face.
Vote Placed by MacGruber 1 year ago
MacGruber
OxymoronMagicrTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Oxymoron used irrelevant quotes and citations which were either not from the founding fathers, or from a different time period, not pertaining to the foundation of our country.
Vote Placed by threenorns 1 year ago
threenorns
OxymoronMagicrTied
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Reasons for voting decision: all this focus on the declaration of independence and nobody mentions the pilgrims? they left england for holland in search of religious freedom and then went to america in search of religious freedom and the means to make a living. strikes me that that's what america's supposed to be all about: freedom and capitalism. my impression is that pro tried to change his main point late in the game when he said "What I have meant from the very beginning by Christian Nation is this: that all levels of government have been influenced by Christianity; the Declaration of Independence for the general philosophy of American government; the state constitutions for the state level." if that is what he meant from the beginning then he should've said it at the beginning bec that was news to me!
Vote Placed by Cobo 1 year ago
Cobo
OxymoronMagicrTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro had some epic as hell quotes, in order to back up his case. But I do feel Con argued the point about the creator better. Con also gets conduct points, for pro debating in comments. While this was amazing to read, I felt Pro could have worded the resolution better and I wish Con pointed out the fatal flaw better, but nonetheless good job to both sides.