Having dealt with Christ's adult life and death in his first two books, the pope tackles the birth of the son of God and puts paid to some myths surrounding the newly born Jesus's spell in a stable with Mary and Joseph.So even the Pope thinks your manger scene is bogus. But it's this time of year when we hear about the the biggest myth of them all - the United States was founded as a "Christian Nation" - simply not true.
"In the gospels there is no mention of animals," the pope states. He says references to the ox and the donkey in other parts of the Bible may have inspired Christians to include them in their nativity scenes.
The Vatican itself has included animals in the nativity scenes it sets up each year in St Peter's Square, and Benedict concedes that the tradition is here to stay. "No nativity scene will give up its ox and donkey," he says.
Showing his scholarly approach to the Bible, Benedict also analyses the moment angels descended to tell shepherds the son of God was lying in a manger nearby. In a blow to fans of the carol Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Benedict writes: "According to the evangelist, the angels 'said' this. But Christianity has always understood that the speech of angels is actually song, in which all the glory of the great joy that they proclaim becomes tangibly present."
The Declaration of Independence gives us important insight into the opinions of the Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson wrote that the power of the government is derived from the governed. Up until that time, it was claimed that kings ruled nations by the authority of God. The Declaration was a radical departure from the idea that the power to rule over other people comes from god. It was a letter from the Colonies to the English King, stating their intentions to seperate themselves. The Declaration is not a governing document. It mentions "Nature's God" and "Divine Providence"-- but as you will soon see, that's the language of Deism, not Christianity.The founding fathers were for the most part men of the enlightenment. Darwin had yet to be born and science was still in it's infancy so there was still a need for a "creator" of sorts but there is no way historical texts justify the revisionist history of some that the United States was founded as a Christian Nation.
None of the Founding Fathers were atheists. Most of the Founders were Deists, which is to say they thought the universe had a creator, but that he does not concern himself with the daily lives of humans, and does not directly communicate with humans, either by revelation or by sacred books. They spoke often of God, (Nature's God or the God of Nature), but this was not the God of the bible. They did not deny that there was a person called Jesus, and praised him for his benevolent teachings, but they flatly denied his divinity. Some people speculate that if Charles Darwin had lived a century earlier, the Founding Fatherswould have had a basis for accepting naturalistic origins of life, and they would have been atheists. We'll never know; but by reading their own writings, it's clear that most of them were opposed to the bible, and the teachings of Christianity in particular.
H/T to my friend Steve Hynd