Sunday, April 12, 2015

Conflation Nation

To be honest, I'm not sure if John Reynolds is being intentionally deceitful or if he is just clueless. In either case his Eidos blog post on Patheos, "Did America become a Christian nation in the Fifties?", relies heavily on conflating two very different meanings for the term "Christian nation." In the very first sentence of this piece he states:
"My newsfeed has two kinds of common historically inaccurate stories. Members of my own Faith often exaggerate the Christian nature of the American Founding and experience while secularists keep writing that America was never a Christian nation."

I don't know what sources he uses but given that I read voraciously I have to assume he is either reading the most esoteric and extreme outlets possible or he is being disingenuous. Virtually every secularist, liberal, and atheist I know does refute the notion that our country was founded expressly on "Christian" values and doctrines. They do not deny that the majority of Americans at the time, including the "Founding Fathers", were themselves Christian. Those are two quite different things.

Even though Reynolds makes a few valid points in the piece most of it is degraded by this false premise that everyone using the term "Christian nation" is talking about the same thing. I got the impression that this was at least partially intentional. It seemed like he wanted to be able to criticize secularists without seeming unreasonable, petty, or preachy. Instead, I found him to be misleading and ignorant. I'm pretty sure that was not his goal but since he cannot make his case without logical fallacies or outright falsehoods it is hard not to view him in such a way.

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