FFRF to Calif. county: Rescind fake Christian history proclamation

A national state/church watchdog group is chastising a California county board for adopting an un-American resolution designating July as “American Christian History Month.”

Not only did the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors, based in Placerville, Calif., declare the past month as “American Christian History Month,” but “July each year” will now be so designated. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is demanding that the county board rescind the perennial “American Christian History Month” proclamation and refrain from issuing similar proclamations in the future.

“The proclamation twists American history to paint a false narrative perpetuating the myth that we are a Christian nation,” writes FFRF Attorney Christopher Line. The proclamation attributes any generic reference to religion as supporting the nation’s supposed “Christian heritage.” Line adds that it would be more appropriately called “Historical Revisionism Month.”

For example, the proclamation claims that George Washington added the phrase, “So help me, God” when taking the oath of office for president. This is unfounded, as Professor of History Peter R. Henriques has shown, even though the myth has been disseminated widely. Henriques writes, “There is absolutely no extant contemporary evidence that President Washington altered the language of the oath as laid down in Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution,” which makes no reference to swearing to a deity. Not until 65 years after the event did anyone claim Washington added this phrase. As Henriques points out, it would have been “completely out of character for George Washington to have tampered with the constitutional text in this way.”

The proclamation also references that the first Congress opened with prayer and reading of the bible, without noting that this occurred under the failed Articles of Confederation, which lasted barely eight years and which was supplanted by the living document that governs the United States today: the godless and entirely secular Constitution, which bars any religious test for public office and whose only references to religion are exclusionary.

Among the other lame claims for “Christian History Month” in the proclamation is a religious line from President Kennedy’s inaugural speech. The proclamation ignores Kennedy’s stout support for separation of church and state, including his ringing words to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in 1960 as candidate that proclaimed: “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”

In the early 1990s, about 90 percent of adult Americans were Christians, but those numbers have dropped to about 63 percent today, according to Pew Research Center. The religiously unaffiliated are the fastest growing segment by religious identification, at 29 percent of adult Americans. In El Dorado County itself, 31 percent of the residents are religiously unaffiliated.

“The United States is not a Christian nation, and El Dorado County is not a Christian county,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “It is rude, ignorant and unwelcoming for county board members to adopt a bogus and exclusionary proclamation that contends otherwise.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with over 40,000 members and several chapters across the country, including more than 5,000 members and two chapters in California. Its purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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