Subject: The Founding Fathers and A Question of Faith: American History 101
Date: Feb 02 02:58 2003
Author: steve benson

INTRODUCTION

In the wake of the shuttle Columbia tragedy and President Bush’s subsequent religious sermonizing on the subject, some have advocated the historically untenable position that, as a general rule, this nation was founded on the principle of an overarching belief in god.

The inexhaustible “beaglie” claimed, for example:

“You can believe in whatever you want but this country was founded on a belief in God.”

In a more benign vein, "utem" observed:

“Regardless of your belief in God, it is important to note that the Founders of this great nation clearly recognized and acknowledged a ‘Supreme Creator’ whoever or whatever that force might be defined as.”

May I suggest it’s time for a much-needed history lesson on the founding document of this country--the United States Constitution--and the religious beliefs of those who framed it.

At the risk of offending those who wish to believe the carefully crafted myth of "one nation founded under god," I quote that spawn of Satan, Madalyn O’Hair:

“. . . I am stunned by just how successfully the Christian advocates have rewritten our nation’s history . . .

“The myth of a Christian nation has brought to us in our times a [Christian] church which feels that it owns the country . . . The churches now, indeed, overtly and covertly, receive more money per year from the taxpayers than does the military.”

Whether or not you like the views of Ms. O’Hair, there are clearly some out there chatting up this exmo board who admire the Founding Fathers.

In many respects, count me among them.

In the name of historical accuracy, I thought it would be appropriate to cite actual statements by key Founding Fathers, pertaining to their personal views on deity, on the relationship between church and state, on the sect of Christianity, and on religion in general.

Among the Founders were Deists, Unitarians and those who merely hoped for a life after death, the latter admitting that no physical evidence existed to prove eternal perpetuity.

Many of the Founders were religiously unorthodox. Some had religious views that were doubtful or ambiguous. Others detested organized religion.

Some hated Christianity.

Read on.

**********

GEORGE WASHINGTON

Episcopalian minister Bird Wilson remarked in 1831 that “Washington is no more than a Unitarian, if anything.”

Washington was, by his own admission, an irregular church-goer, although he was a vestryman. When he did attend services, he studiously avoided taking Communion. Wrote his adopted daughter of him, “My father was not one of those to act or pray so that he ‘might be seen by men.’ He communed with his own God in secret.”

In his lifetime, Washington never gave personal affirmation that Jesus was the Son of God. There is no evidence that he ever encouraged his children to read the Bible, attend church, believe in Christ or practice religion in any manner whatsoever.

As he approached death, the Father of Our Country never mentioned religion or an afterlife. There are no religious references in his last will and testament.

In reality, George Washington expressed little religious sentiment at all and, in fact, never told anyone what his personal religious beliefs were. His life seemed to indicate, as writer W.E. Woodward noted, that he “had no instinct or feeling for religion.”

Historian Franklin Steiner summed up Washington on the subject of religion this way: “He died like an ancient pagan Greek or Roman.”

***

WASHINGTON QUOTES

In looking for good servants, Washington declared that any would be acceptable, "be they Mohamamedan, Jew, Christian, or atheist."

***

“Religious controversies are always productive of more irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause.”

***

“Every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinion, ought to be protected in worshipping th Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.”

***

The Treaty of Tripoli, drafted while Washington was still the nation's chief executive, was unanimously ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1797. Article Eleven of that treaty states:

“As the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself not character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musslemen [Muslims] . . . it is declared . . . that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

Author William Edelen makes the following observation about the Treaty of Tripoli:

“Let me make this very clear, underlined, in five colors, with a spotlight bathing it in light: The United States of America, according to the founders, was not in any sense founded upon the Christian religion, and this fact is in the Constitution . . . Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution made this treaty doubly binding by saying this: ‘All treaties made, ,or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States shall be bound thereby, anything in the laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.’

"Thus was Article Eleven [of the Treaty of Tripoli] made valid for the United States. It should today be treasured as the supreme document for the American doctrine of the absolute separation of church and state."

***

THOMAS JEFFERSON

Jefferson was a Renaissance man, a freethinker who was interested in a broad range of topics, including science, philosophy, government and politics. He bitterly opposed orthodox religion and regarded Christianity as nothing but a crude fable. He is best described as a Rationalist.

***

JEFFERSON QUOTES

"It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg . . .

"Millions of men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth."

***

"I am a Christian in the only sense in which he [Jesus] wished any one to be; sincerely attached to the doctrine in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; and believing he never claimed any other."

***

"Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one he must more approve of the homage of Reason than of blindfolded fear . . . [N]aturally examine, first the religion of your own country. Read the Bible . . . For example, in the book of Joshua we are told the sun stood for several hours . . . it is said that the writer of that book was inspired.

"Examine, therefore, candidly, what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to . . . inquiry, because millions believe it.

"On the other hand . . . it is contrary to the laws of Nature . . . [R]ead the New Testament. It is the history of a personage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions: 1, Of those who say he was begotten of God, born of a virgin, suspended and reversed the laws of Nature at will, and ascended bodily into heaven; and 2, Of those who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who wet out with pretensions to divinity; ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition, by being gibbeted, according to the Roman law . . .

"Do not be frightened from this inquiry by an fear of consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you will feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you.

"If you find reason to believe there is a God, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye, and that he approves you, will be a vast additional incitement; if that Jesus was also a God, you will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love. Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven; and you are answerable, not for the rightness, but uprightness, of the decision."

***

"The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ leveled to every understanding, and too plain to need explanation, saw in the mysticisms of Plato materials with which they might build up an artificial system, which might, from its indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order and introduce it to profit, power and preeminence."

***

“The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man.”

***

"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 Mineva in the brain of Jupiter."

***

“The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God, like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, has its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs.”

***

“It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticism that three are one, and one is three, and yet, that the one is not three, and the three are not one. But this constitutes the craft, the power, and the profits of the priest. Sweep away their gossamer fabrics of fictitious religion, and they would catch no more flies.”

***

"If we could believe that he [Jesus] really countenanced the follies, the falsehoods, and the charlatanisms which his biographers [Matthew, Mark, Luke and John] father on him, and admit the misconstructions, interpolations, and theorizations of the fathers of the early, and the fanatics of the latter, ages, the conclusion would be irresistible by every sound mind that he was an imposter."

***

"Question with boldness the existence of God. I do not believe any of the Christian doctrines. The greatest enemies of Jesus are the doctrines and creeds of the church. It would be more pardonable to believe in no God at all then to blaspheme him by the atrocious writings of the theologians. John Calvin was a demon and malignant spirit."

***

"I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition [Christianity] one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythology."

***

“We have most unwisely committed to the Hierophants [a priest in ancient Greece] of our particular superstition the direction of public opinion—that lord of the universe. We have given them stated and privileged days to collect and cataechise us, opportunities of delivering their oracles to the people in mass, and of molding their minds as wax in the hollow of their hands.”

***

“If anybody thinks that kings, nobles and priests are good conservators of the public happiness, send him here [Paris]. It is the best school in the universe to cure him of that folly. He will see here with his own eyes that these descriptions of men are in abandoned confederacy against the happiness of the mass of people.”

***

“The Presbyterian clergy are the loudest, the most intolerant, of all sects; the most tyrannical and ambitious, ready at the word of the law-giver, if such a word could not be obtained, to put their torch to the pile, and to rekindle in this virgin hemisphere the flame in which their oracle Calvin consumed the poor Servetus, because he could not subscribe to the proposition of Calvin, that magistrates have a right to exterminate all heretics to the Calvinistic creed! They pant to reestablish by law that holy inquisition which they can now only infuse into public opinion.”

***

“I know it will give great offense to the clergy; but the advocate of religious freedom is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from them.”

***

“In our Richmond there is much fanaticism, but chiefly among the women. They have their night meetings and praying parties, where, attended by their priests, and sometimes by a hen-pecked husband, they pour forth the effusions of their love to Jesus, in terms as amatory and carnal, as their modesty will permit to a merely earthly lover.”

***

"Of this band of dupes and apostles, [the Apostle] Paul was the great Corypheus, the first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus."

***

In refusing to issue a Thanksgiving proclamation during his eight years as U.S. President, Jefferson declared:

"I consider the Government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution of the United States from meddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises . . . But it is only proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe, a day of fasting and praying. That is, I should indirectly assume to the United States an authority over religious exercises, which the Constitution has directly precluded them from . . . Every one must act according to the dictates of his own reason and mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercise of his constituents."

***

“Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the General Government.”

***

“Believing . . . that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”

***

"[W]e may safely affirm (though contradicted by all the judges and writers on earth) that Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law."

***

“I rejoice that in this blessed country of free inquiry and belief, which has surrendered its creed and conscience neither to kings nor priests, the genuine doctrine of the only true God is reviving; and I trust there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die a Unitarian.”

***

“To talk of immaterial existences, is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, God, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no God, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise. But I believe that I am supported in my creed of Materialism by the Lockes, the Tracys, and the Stewarts.”

***

“All eyes are opened, opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind have not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately by the grace of God.”

***

“In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection of his own.”

***

“Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a ‘censor morum’ over each other.”

***

“I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.”

***

In composing his own “Jeffersonian Bible,” he gave his reasons for eliminating the entire Old Testament, calling it “disgusting” and “degrading.”

In eliminating from his revised scriptures the writings of Paul and the New Testament not directly attributable to Jesus, Jefferson described its authors as “ignorant men.”

In assembling the few remaining teachings of Jesus, he wrote to a friend that he had extracted a few “diamonds [from the] dunghill.”

***

THOMAS PAINE

Paine was described by Thomas Edison as “the founder of the great American Republic.”

Paine’s work, “The Rights of Man,” was praised by James Madison as “the clearest written exposition of the principles on which the United States of America is founded."

Jefferson said of Paine, “[He was] alike in making bitter enemies of the priests and Pharisees of [his] day. {He was an] honest [man]; [an] advocate for human liberty.”

Paine was an outspoken and relentless antagonist of Christianity. Historian Steiner observed that if Paine were alive today, he would probably be “a Unitarian of the most conservative kind.”

***

PAINE QUOTES

"Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind."

***

“The character of Moses is the most horrid tale that can be imagined. Moses was a wretch that committed the most horrible atrocities that can be found in the literature of any nation. ‘For Moses said unto them (according to the Bible), kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him, but al the women that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.’

“Among the most detestable villains in history, you could not find one worse than Moses. Here is an order, attributed to ‘God’ to butcher the boys, to massacre the mothers and to debauch and rape the daughters. I would not dare to dishonor my Creator’s name by [attaching] it to this filthy book. Men and books lie. Only nature does not lie.”

***

"I believe in one God and no more! And I hope for happiness beyond this life. I believe in the equality of man, and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow creatures happy.

"Nothing that is here said can apply, even with the most distant disrespect, to the real character of Jesus Christ. He was a virtuous and amiable man. The morality he preached and practiced was of the most benevolent kind; and though similar systems of morality have been preached by Confucius, and by some of the Greek philosophies, many years before, and by Quakers since, and by many good men i n all ages, it has not been excelled by any."

***

"Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system."

***

"Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all law-religion, or religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity."

***

“As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of all government to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith.”

***

JAMES MADISON

Madison’s early ambition in life was to become a minister. There is no indication, however, that as he grew older, he continued down the road of religious belief.

If anything, it appears that Madison jettisoned orthodox religious commimttment after entering public service. As President, for instance, he refused the offer of a free pew in St John’s Episcopal Church in Washington.

Moreover, in direct contrast to the popular tradition of his day, he refused to discuss religion at all, unless the subject involved a matter of public policy. (However, in the face of reports that he had given up reading the Bible while Secretary of State, Madison did insist that he studied it regularly as President).

***

MADISON QUOTES

"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."

***

“The diabolical, hell-conceived, principle of persecution rages; and to their eternal infamy, the clergy can furnish their quota of imps for such a business.”

***

“Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”

***

"Will religion, the only remaining motive, be a restraint? . . . [A]s religion in its coolest state is not infallible, it may become a motive of oppression as well as a restraint from injustice."

***

“Every new and successful example of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of importance.”

***

"If the Church of England had been the established and general religion in all the northern colonies as it has been among us here, and uninterrupted tranquility had prevailed throughout the continent, it is clear to me that slavery and subjection might and could have been so gradually insinuated among us. Union of religious sentiment begets a surprising confidence, and ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption; all of which facilitates the execution of mischievous projects."

***

“Besides the danger of a direct mixture of religion and civil government, there is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by ecclesiastical corporations.

“The establishment of the chaplainship in Congress is a palpable violation of equal rights as well as of Constitutional principles.

“The danger of silent accumulations and encroachments by ecclesiastical bodies has not sufficiently engaged attention in the U.S.”

***

“Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principles of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the United States forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them, and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does this not involve the principle of a national establishment . . . ?”

***

In vetoing a bill granting public lands to a Baptist Church in the Mississippi Territory, Madison gave his reasons as follows:

“Because the bill in reserving a certain parcel of land in the United States for the use of said Baptist church comprises a principle and a precedent for the appropriation of funds of the United States for the use and support of religious societies, contrary to the article of the Constitution which declares that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment.

"Because the bill exceeds the rightful authority to which governments are limited by the essential distinction between civil and religious functions, and violates, in particular, the article of the Constitution of the United States, which declares that 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.'

"Because the bill vests in said incorporated church as authority to provide for the support o the poor, and the education of poor children of the same; an authority which, being altogether superfluous, if the provision is to be the result of pious charity, would be a precedent for giving to religious societies, as such, a legal agency, in carrying into effect a public and civil duty."

***

“Freedom arises from a multiplicity of sects, which pervades America, and which is the best and only security for religious liberty in any society.”

***

JOHN ADAMS

Adams was a Unitarian, who gave up early studies in the orthodox ministry to pursue a career in law. He did not admire the Jesuits and as a member of the Massachusetts constitutional conventions in 1789 and 1820, was a vigorous advocate for the separation of church and state.

His grandson, Charles Francis Adams, described his grandfather’s religious views this way:

“Rejecting, with the independent spirit which in early life had driven him from the ministry, the prominent doctrines of Calvinism, the trinity, the atonement and election, he was content to settle down upon the Sermon on the Mount as a perfect code presented to men by a more than mortal teacher.”

According to Steiner, Adams “believed all good men are Christians, regardless of their theological belief.”

Jefferson said of Adams, “A man more perfectly honest never issued from the hands of his Creator."

***

ADAMS QUOTES

“Twenty times in the course of my late readings, have I been on the point of breaking out, 'This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it!' But . . .[w]ithout religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company--I mean hell. So far from believing in the total and universal depravity of human nature, I believe there is no individual totally depraved. The most abandoned scoundrel that ever existed never wholly extinguished his conscience, and while conscience remains there is some religion. Popes, Jesuits, Sarbonnists, and Inquisitors have some religion. Fears and terrors appear to have produced a universal credulity--but fears of pain and death here do not seem so unconquerable as fears of what is to come hereafter."

***

"The human understanding is a revelation from its maker and can never be disputed or doubted . . . No miracles, no prophecies are necessary to prove celestial communication."

***

"I believe in no such thing [eternal damnation]. My adoration of the author of the Universe is too profound and too sincere. The love of God and his creation--delight, joy, triumph, exultation in my own existence--though but an atom, a molecule organique, in the Universe--these are my religion."

***

"Howl, snarl, bite, ye Calvinistic, ye Athanasian divines, if ye will. Ye will say I am no Christian. I say ye are not Christians, and there the account is balanced. Yet I believe all the honest men among you are Christians in my sense of the word."

***

"I do not know how to prove physically, that we [Adams and Jefferson] shall meet and know each other in a future state; nor does Revelation, as I can find, give us any positive assurance of such a felicity. My reasons for believing it, as I do most undoubtedly, are that I cannot conceive such a being could make such a species as the human, merely to live and die on this earth. If I did not believe in a future state, I should believe in no God. This Universe, this all would appear, with all of its swelling pomp, a boyish firework. And if there be a future state, why should the Almighty dissolve forever all the tender ties which untie us so delightfully in this world, and forbid us to see each other in the next?"

Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli which in Article II begins]: “As the Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion . . .”

***

"I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved--the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of greed has produced!"

***

"The 'divinity' of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines and whole carloads of other foolish trumpery that we find Christianity encumbered with."

“The priesthood have, in all nations, monopolized learning, and ever since the Reformation where or when has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate a free inquiry or free thought. The most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahoooish brutality, is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will soon find that you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your eyes and hands, and fly into your face and eyes.”

***

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

Franklin, according to Steiner--along with Washington, John Adams and Jefferson—“held substantially [Thomas Paine’s] religious views, though [Franklin and the others] did not shout them from the house top, as did Paine.”

***

FRANKLIN QUOTE

"When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, i apprehend, of its being a bad one."

***

A FINAL THOUGHT FROM AUTHOR WILLIAM EDELEN

“Our first six presidents must be crying in their graves today. Our society is saturated with the lethal disease that they fought so hard against. I speak of the obscene wedding today between many politicians and orthodox Christianity . . .

“[This] would be repugnant to our founders, whether Republican or Democrat. By stark contrast, our first six presidents refused all invitations for church membership. The Constitutional Convention would not even allow a prayer to open the meeting, they so wanted to keep religion out of it. There is no reference to God or Jesus in the Constitution of this country . . .

"Many of those doing all the bellowing today claim that 'humanists' include all those who don't want prayer in public schools, who don't believe that the Bible is the 'word of God,' who don't believe that Jesus was the 'son of God,' and who don't believe that Christianity is the one 'true' religion . . .

"My Webster's 'New Collegiate Dictionary' defines 'humanism' and 'humanist' very simply as: 'The study of the humanities, an attitude of thought entering upon human interests or ideals' . . .

"Now, for those wanting other definitions: If--and I repeat IF--they claim that 'humanists' are those human beings who do not believe in the doctrines and dogmas of orthodox Christianity, and who do not believe that prayer should be in public schools, then it is quite obvious that our great nation was founded by brilliant humanists--and our legacy is humanism."


CONCLUSION

This country founded on the notion of god? You won't find any such notion in America's founding document, the Constitution.

And you'll understand why when you carefully read the views of the Founders themselves.

[Sources: Franklin Steiner, "The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents: From Washington to F.D.R" (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 1995); William Edelen, "Spirit" (Boise, Idaho: Joslyn-Morris, Publishers, 1988); "What They Said About Religion," nontract no. 4, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Incorporated, 1988; Albert J. Menendez and Edd Doerr, “Great Quotations on Religious Freedom" (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 2002); and Madalyn O’Hair, “Our Constitution: The Way It Was: From the American Athiest Radio Series," (Austin, Texas: American Atheist Press, 1988)]


Subject: WOW! That just got saved to my hard drive
Date: Feb 02 03:22
Author: Robear

I mentioned the Treaty of Tripoli in the thread Utem started below. But it's nice to see all the big guns in one place.

Thanks for the ammo next time I'm besieged by the "Christian Nation"

Other interesting reading, an op-ed piece printed in the Salt Lake Tribune last September and written by the director of communications of the Utah Episcopal Diocese, Daniel J. Webster.

http://www.sltrib.com/2002/sep/09012002/commenta/766776.htm

Robear


Subject: Re: The Founding Fathers and A Question of Faith: American History 101
Date: Feb 02 03:38
Author: utem
Mail Address:

steve, i never said the founding fathers advocated organized religion, most know this is not the case, however, there is clear evidence in the language of the constitution itself, that these persons acknowledged a "creator" or "supreme being" whatever you call it. That much is indisputable regardless of each of their personal views


Subject: Very well, then, utem. Please quote the "Belief Section" of the Constitution
Date: Feb 02 03:46
Author: steve benson

Except for the First Amendment dealing with the free exercise of religion and the constitutional provision wherein the Founders proscribed religious tests for holding public office, where is the language in the U.S. Constitution that specifically indicates belief in, or devotion to, a Supreme Being, or that this nation is to be governed by such?


Subject: I think... (clarification)
Date: Feb 02 04:02
Author: A Voie from the Past

Utem was refering rather to the Declaration of Independance.

"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness -"

The Constitution does not include any such phrasing. I do not have a copy of the Articles of the Confederation, and therefore cannot speak to that document. Although I do doubt that they will contain such language, as both the Constitution and the Confederation were designed as documents of "incorporation", while the Declaration of Independence was more a document of "dissolution".

The 'creator given rights' would be required to demonstrate authority greater than that of the King and Parliment as justification for such bold action. Those rights, while generally assumed and fought for, would not have to be stated in the construction of a new government system.


However, there were many who considered the Declaration of Independance the state date for the founding off the United states. Note the Gettysburg address:

"Four score and seven years ago..." This was a reference to 1776 (87 year to the battle of Gettysburg - 1863), not the signing of the Constitution 1787-1789)

Just some clarification...


Subject: Re: I think... (clarification)
Date: Feb 02 04:13
Author: utem

very good post and thanks for that clarification


Subject: Careful, before you go quoting ol' Abe . . .
Date: Feb 02 05:07
Author: steve benson

What he uttered at Gettysburg was most likely designed for public consumption and not a personal statement of belief. Besides, he never made such explicit public utterances on his religious views, having learned that they could cost him politically.

In 1846, when Lincoln was running for Congress, he was accused by his opponent (a Methodist minister named Peter Cartwright) of being an unbeliever. Lincoln never refuted the charge.

Lincoln ackcnowledged, however, that he belonged to no church and privately worried that people might not vote for him because they suspected him of being a Deist.

In 1872, Colonel Ward H. Lamon, a personal friend of the slain president, published a book entitled, "Life of Abraham Lincoln," in which he stated:

"Mr. Lincoln was never a member of any Church, nor did he believe in the divinity of Christ, or the inspiration of the Scriptures in the sense understood by evangelical Christians.

"When a boy, he showed no sign of that piety which his many biogfaphers ascribe to his manhood. When he went to church at all, he went to mock, and came away to mimic.

"When he came to New Salem, he consorted with Freethinkers, joined with them in deriding the gospel story of Jesus, read Volney and Paine, and then wrote a deliberate and labored essay, wherein he reached conclusions similar to theirs. The essay was burned, but he never regretted nor denied its composition. On the contrary, he made it the subject of free and frequent conversations with his friends at Springfield, and stated, with much particularity and precision, the origin, arguments, and objects of the work.

"The community in which he lived was preeminently a community of Freethinkers in matters of religion; and it was no secret, nor has it been a secret since, that Mr. Lincoln agreed with the majority of his associates in denying the authority of divine revelation. It was his honest belief, a belief which it was no repraoch to hold in New Salem . . .

"[H]e had made himself thoroughly familiar with the writings of Paine and Volney--the 'Reins' by the one, and 'The Age of Reason' by the other. His mind was full of the subject, and he felt an itching to wrote. He did write, and the result was a little book . . . In this work he intended to demonstrate: 'First, that the Bible is not God's revelation. Second, that Jesus was not the son of God.'

"No leaf of this volume has survived. Mr. Lincoln carried it in manuscript to the store of Samuel Hill, where it was read and discussed. Hill was himself an unbeliever, but his son considered his book 'infamous,' It is more than probable that Hill, being a warm personal friend of Lincoln, feared that the publication of the essay would some day interfere with the political advancement of his favorits. At all events, he snatched it out of his hand, and threw it into the fire, from which not a shred escaped.

"As he grew older, he grew more cautious . . . The imputation of Infidellity had seriously injured him in several of his earlier political contests; and sobered by age and experience, he was resolved that the same imputation should injure him not more. Aspiring to lead religious communities, he foresaw that he must not appear an an enemy withing their gates; aspiring to public honors under the auspices of a political party which persistently summoned religioius people to assist in the extirpation of that which it denounced as the 'nation's sin,' he foresaw that he could not ask their suffrages whilst aspersing their faith. He perceived no reason for changing his convictions, but he did not perceive many good and cogent reasons for not making them public.

"But he never told anyone that he accepted Jesus as the Christ or performed a single one of the acts which necessarily follow uupon such a conviction . . .

"If ever there was a moment when Mr. Lincoln might have been expected to express his faith in the Atonement, his trust in the merits of a Living Redeemer, it was when he undertook to send a composing and comforting message to a dying man [that man being Lincoln's own father]. He did not even metion the name of Jesus, or intimate the most distant suspicion of the exitence of a Christ."

A former member of Congress from Illinois, John T. Stuart, is also quoted by Lamon on Lincoln's lack of religious conviction:

"Lincoln went further against Christian beliefs and doctrines and principles than any man I ever heard; he shocked me . . . it was against the inherent defects, so- called, of the Bible, and on grounds of reason. Lincoln always denied that Jesus was the Christ of God, as understood by the Christian Church."

Lamon also quotes William H. Hannah, a member of the Illinois bar at Bloomington, on Lincoln's religious views:

"Since 1856, Mr. Lincoln told me that he was a kind of an immortalist; but that he could never bring himself to believe in eternal punishment; that men lived but a little while here, and that, if eternal punishment were man's doom, he should spend that little life in vigilant and ceaseless prepartion by never-ending prayer."

Lincoln, like Washington, never went on the record himself as to his personal religious beliefs.

Contrary to sanitizing myths and distortions attempted by Christian biographers who have desperately wanted to make a believer out of him, Lincoln was not an orthodox man of faith.

His profession of faith was, in fact, a very simple, humanistic one. "When I do good," he often told his law partner W.H. Herndon, "I feel good, and when I do bad I feel bad; and that's my religion."

(For a fuller examination of Lincoln's non-beliefs, see Franklin Steiner, "The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents: From Washington to F.D.R." (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 1995), pp. 110-146)


Subject: That was pretty interesting
Date: Feb 02 03:42
Author: Adrienne

Actually, when you think about it, many of the original colonies were formed by people escaping religious persecution. The New England area was settled by Puritans, and Rhode Island was formed by those fleeing Puritan persecution of other religions. The first synagogue was in Newport, Rhode Island sometime in the late 1600's. Maryland was settled by Catholics who left England when Cromwell and his guys took over. Virginia, named for Elizabeth I, the "Virgin Queen" was settled for financial gains for England, and Georgia was actually a penal colony.

What's interesting is that my ex-husband's family is descended from John Adams. I think it may have been a pioneer ancestor who did the temple stuff for them or some other Mormon relative since my ex hasn't earned the Mechelzdick Penishood yet.


Subject: first the declaration of independence
Date: Feb 02 03:58
Author: utem

"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"

Notice this is perhaps one of the most important tenets of the entire statement.. endowed by their creator..with certain rights


Subject: Sorry, doesn't count, not this country's birth certificate, not a legal document . . ..
Date: Feb 02 04:00
Author: steve benson

Stick with the Constitution. After all, it was you who claimed, and I quote:

"I never said the Founding Fathers advocated organized religion, most know this is not the case, however, there is clear evidence in the language of the Constitution itself, that these persons acknowledged a 'Creator' or 'Supreme Being.' whatever you call it. That much is indisputable, regardless of each of their personal views."

Show me the language in the Constitution to which you refer, please.


Subject: amen and amen.....; )
Date: Feb 02 04:02
Author: cheesegrater

what you say is all very true, though not nearly as widely recognized as it should be (not least due to the tragedy of democratic public "education").

much of the confusion comes from the many references of the founders to "providence" and "god" as the source of the cherished "inalienable rights" (actually just old traditional english ones) that americans and thereafter much of the rest of the world came to regard as universal and self-evident. of course, as the source of these rights the founders generally had in mind an unspecified non-sectarian "grand architect" of the universe, rather than a christian god, influenced as they were by science, enlightenment rationalism, and freemasonry.

it is a bit odd that the vaguely and sometimes not so vaguely anti-christian tenor of the founder's thought is not common knowledge in this country. on second thought, it's not since democrats have controlled public education for the last several generations, and, as a species they seem more concerned with their own power and with propoganda than with truth.

however, you are only presenting a part of the picture.

while the founders of the united states, strictly speaking, were 18th century men, many americans regard as the true founders of our nation (though not me) the devout separatists (mayflower) and puritans (massachusetts bay colony, including the bensons) who founded a new england on our shores and who after defeating their chivalrous cavalier cousins in the south, set the cultural tone for the antebellum era.

this tone, once episcopalian and restrained became unitariangoofyprotocaliforniasocialistreformfadist but
still has a bit of the old puritan fire when self-righteous over-sexed left-wing starlets make pompous uninformed pronoucements on US foreign policy.

while it is true that the cavalier had a religion that was more of a cultural veneer (god, king and country!), it is not true that the winners of the war between the states did not have deep roots in the christian tradition. the puritan roots of many americans are not to be despised, as they at least contained the zealous love of (english) liberty and freedom that once made america great.

c


Subject: Well said, but . .
Date: Feb 02 04:09
Author: steve benson

the actual Founders themselves, not the Puritans or other early American settlers, had a deep suspicion of orthodox religion (including Christianity), firmly advocated for keeping religious activity out of governmental spheres of influence and did not allow any "belief talk" to seep into the Constitution itself.


Subject: i couldn't agree more...
Date: Feb 02 04:23
Author: cheesegrater

i was just hoping to further isolate the source of the confusion in this debate. some of the "first comers" as our ancestors once called them, were christian religious fanatics (especially in the north), and their atavistic counterparts today seem to tap into this knowledge.

it is so very important to understand that their descendants in new england and in the south who ended up breaking with england to found the secular united states were unanimous in rejecting a religious, much less a christian foundation for the country.

masonry appears to have been a far greater influence (thank god!).

c


Subject: now the constitution
Date: Feb 02 04:08
Author: utem

Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the states present the seventeenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven and of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth.


In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,


G. Washington-Presidt. and deputy from Virginia


New Hampshire: John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman


Massachusetts: Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King


Connecticut: Wm: Saml. Johnson, Roger Sherman


New York: Alexander Hamilton


New Jersey: Wil: Livingston, David Brearly, Wm. Paterson, Jona: Dayton


Pennsylvania: B. Franklin, Thomas Mifflin, Robt. Morris, Geo. Clymer, Thos. FitzSimons, Jared Ingersoll, James Wilson, Gouv Morris


Delaware: Geo: Read, Gunning Bedford jun, John Dickinson, Richard Bassett, Jaco: Broom


Maryland: James McHenry, Dan of St Thos. Jenifer, Danl Carroll


Virginia: John Blair--, James Madison Jr.


North Carolina: Wm. Blount, Richd. Dobbs Spaight, Hu Williamson


South Carolina: J. Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles Pinckney, Pierce Butler


Georgia: William Few, Abr Baldwin


Note the phrase "in the year of our lord" Now I am not advocating anything here, however, your premise that the founding fathers did not believe in a supreme being is not accurate, if memory serves me all but six of the signers were practicing free masons, a group which clearly advocates a belief in a supreme being. That being said, clearly, the founders did not want the country entangled in religios opinion as had been the problem in England. Additionally the preamble of the constitution itself mentions blessings, ordination and the usual bible speak


Subject: That's it? Talk about a thin reed . . .
Date: Feb 02 04:14
Author: steve benson

Quoting as proof the date the signatories penned their name in "the year of our Lord"? And, as you well know, the Preamble doesn't quote Biblical scripture. A vague reference to blessings is hardly a resounding roar for belief in a Supreme Being.

How about actual language from the sections and articles of the Constitution professing belief in god, and allegiance thereto?

You won't find them.


Subject: Re: That's it? Talk about a thin reed . . .
Date: Feb 02 04:17
Author: utem

yes steve, you won't find inflammatory religious language in the document, and I'm sure thats by design..as I stated the fathers did not want the nation encumbered with religious dogma..however, to say they did not believe in a supreme being is inaccurate, the vast majority did


Subject: I'll go you one better . . .
Date: Feb 02 04:20
Author: steve benson

You won't find ANY religious talk--inflammatory or otherwise--in the text of the document and if you carefully examine the personal beliefs of the Founders, you'll understand why.

And whether they did or did not believe in god, they did not found our country on their personal religious beliefs. If they had, you would have discovered those beliefs, clearly spelled out,in the actual wording of the Constitution.

Like god hisself, it simply ain't there.


Subject: Re: I'll go you one better . . .
Date: Feb 02 04:24
Author: utem

I just cited you one small portion, "in the year of "our" lord" now if these persons were such avid atheists why whould they sign there names directly below such a statement. The constitution is primarily a secular document, however, I understand this, the intent of the founders was not to replicate church of england problems, to say they wer largely atheists is not accurate, however I will grant you that of all of them Jefferson may have been the most prone to such a belief, but then again he predicted that our society would be purely agrarian, he did have some interesting notions


Subject: OK, so Jefferson was wrong that we'd all be farmers shoveling cow manure . . .
Date: Feb 02 05:26
Author: steve benson

but he wasn't wrong about all the believers doing the same.


Subject: Wow, talk about grasping at straws...
Date: Feb 02 04:29
Author: DeafGuy

So, you're suggesting that anytime someone references the year in the form "2000 A.D.", they're indicating belief in god? Because that's what A.D means--it's Latin for "Year of our Lord".

That the founders used the English form rather than the Latin hardly indicates a definite belief in the divinity of Christ, you'd think. Maybe you might want to go back and read the actual quotes Steve gave--they give it to you straight, no need to guess where they might be standing, and much, MUCH more clear than an oblique reference to the customary way of stating the date.


Personally, I view this debate as academic. I mean, certainly I'm happy that there is a precedent for religious freedom (including freedom from religion) in our country.

But really, if the founders were devout christians, would that change the reality of how things should be? What if they were devout muslims? Or supposed they were actively practicing Wiccans?

Are we bound, either way, by what they decided 200+ years ago, or can we learn, grow, improve, and do even better?

And it seems clear that in the disparity and arbitrariness of religious beliefs, that government needs to stay out of religion and vice versa, so that everyone truly has the freedom to practice whatever religious belief they want or not (so long as they're not harming others, of course).

It's merely fortunate that this is what the founders wanted in the first place, too. Let's not reverse that wise decision--let's improve on it.


Subject: My husband and I read your post with great interest....
Date: Feb 02 04:16
Author: stringbean

I have certainly been educated about a few things. I will know what to say the next time I hear some ruckus about how the country was founded on Christianity. Thanks!

That said, I have largely avoided this topic. Personally, it doesn't bother me if a person mentions God so long as I am not expected to participate in their belief. Still, I can see how an individual who serves the people would need to keep his personal religious beliefs out of government.


Subject: You still fail to disprove Beaglie's point
Date: Feb 02 04:32
Author: mag

The evidence you present supports Beaglie. From the passages you quoted it looks like the founding fathers still believed in God, although many had serious doubts about Christianity and organized religion. Beaglie says,
"You can believe in whatever you want but this country was founded on a belief in God." Notice, he didn't say that this country was founded on a belief in a Christian God.

For example, Thomas Paine said:
Among the most detestable villains in history, you could not find one worse than Moses. Here is an order, attributed to ‘God’ to butcher the boys, to massacre the mothers and to debauch and rape the daughters. I would not dare to dishonor my Creator’s name by [attaching] it to this filthy book. Men and books lie. Only nature does not lie.

Notice that even Thomas Paine still recognized the existence of a Creator although he didn't believe in the Bible.


Subject: Beaglie says the country was founded on a belief in God . . .
Date: Feb 02 05:12
Author: steve benson

The U.S. Constitution is the nation's founding document. Where does it say that this nation is founded on God?


Subject: Lots of great research. (f words and anger inside.) Looooong
Date: Feb 02 04:32
Author: sg

I've been following the debate today (yesterday) with interest. I'm glad to see these quotes, because it's bugged me for years (and I grew up on the stuff) to hear this claim that the US was founded on christian belief. I don't think that's ture.

I have trouble personally with bush's appealing to right wing/christian fundies in general. I didn't hear what he had to say. I think the Isaiah quote was in part an acknowledgment to the Israelis that one of theirs had been lost too.

Where he took it from there, I don't know. I do believe that this administration has shamelessly tried to break down the wall of church and state. This is ON TOPIC because this is what the morg does in Utah and Arizona everyone knows it. And every time the morg or the attorney general or the president promotes the christian right viewpoint, it is a violation of the right of others -- atheist and believer alike -- to his/her own conception of the divine.

I think Steve Benson -- like Tedd and others who get flamed for their vivid language and strong opinions -- has a right to be really pissed off at religionists. I find it interesting that beaglie and CTK, two of the most persistent proponents of the "how could you not believe" point of view, who feel they have to jump in and defend christian belief, have had limited involvement in the morg. I realize Beaglie is married to an exmo and attended byu and has morgbot inlaws. I realize CTK claims to have been briefly mormon because he was in love with a morgbot. Okay. So you know mormonism.

I suggest that while you have seen the damage this cult inflicts on people, and have experienced it firsthand, you cannot know the anger arising from the realization of the betrayal perpetrated against you. You cannot know what it feels like to deny year after year after fucking endless year what it is to be yourself. To own your own body. To experience your sexuality. To own your own thoughts. To express your intelligence. Deny it. Deny it. Deny it. Squish yourself into this box or we will reject. I -- your mother -- will reject you. I -- your father -- will reject you UNLESS you conform to this limited model of what a child must be.

How the hell can one believe in in a loving god when one's model for god -- one's parents -- have actively, daily, told you that you are unlovable unless you fit neatly into this preconceived box?

Some arrive at faith after leaving mormonism. Some don't. Whatever. But YEARS OF ANGER ARE FUCKING NORMAL.

Leave off, would ya!!!! Let them be angry. Let them be outrageous.

I don't always agree with what they say. But why are you arguing with them? What do you hope to accomplish, Beaglie?

Are you going to convert them? No. Are you going to make them stop saying things about god/christianity/the bible you don't like? No.

Let them recover. I'm not saying I don't see why you're here, but for god's sake, try to put yourself in their shoes for awhile. You didn't have to live inside of that box. I did. It stinks.

What I wonder is what believers hope to accomplish by this. Someone posted something about her sister's near death experience, an experience that changed her sister's life. Questioned over whether the experience had been a brain thing instead of a spiritual thing, the sister laughed and said "you'll see."

If you're right, "they'll see." Okay. You're not going to prove it to them. I know you think you're only defending yourself, but where does this defensiveness come from? I mean, I can understand Steve attacking christian thought more than I can understand why you feel compelled to defend it.


Subject: Re: Lots of great research. (f words and anger inside.) Looooong
Date: Feb 02 04:42
Author: utem

I hope you don't think I'm beaglie cause I'm not. I believe in a creator but not in organized religion, the point of this debate is not to antagonize steve but merely to point out that Bush has a historical basis, as president of the United States, to invoke the name of god, on behalf of the nation, I am not an atheist but I am sure there are many atheists who have twice my IQ. The point is that what Bush did was not wrong


Subject: i agree...
Date: Feb 02 04:50
Author: cheesegrater

that what bush did was not wrong, when he appealed to common (and suitably vague) religious sentiments in consoling the bereaved (even though i personally don't share those sentiments).

while i believe we certainly live in a secular nation, i am certain the founders would be equally horrified by the thought of anyone trying to bar any mention of divine providence, etc. from public discourse. that is just as repressive as a state religion. why is it so hard for people to see it?

FREEDOM is the name of the game, people!

c


Subject: Re: i agree...
Date: Feb 02 04:53
Author: utem

you hit it on the head cheesegrater, your post was my the whole point i was attempting to make, whether i be right or wrong


Subject: i'm glad (+gratuitous discourse on freedom). extreme opinions seem to flourish...
Date: Feb 02 05:37
Author: cheesegrater

in this country and i blame the appalling "analysis" in the mainstream american press.

absolute rubbish. i don't even look at the stuff anymore except for local news. quite appalling really.

the radicals on the left think there is no basis for any religious language or discourse in american public life: an utterly baseless contention.

in fact, if the california legislature should vote that the state religion should be islam, shinto, or classical paganism that would be completely constitutional (whatever rights are not specifically reserved to the federal government are reserved to the states).

of course anyone with a passing familiarity with american history will know that various u.s. states HAD "official" religions of their own under the protection of the us constitution.

equally absurd is the right-wing idea that the united states is in any way shape or form a christian nation. absolutely false. patent rubbish. nothing could be further from the truth, although the people themselves DID come from within the christian fold and certainly did not give up their right to express their christian sentiments when they became americans (as leftists radicals would have it).

even though i am fairly anti-christian myself i will defend to the death the right of christians or anyone to express their views freely in all areas of american public life.

c


Subject: The courts of this land define what is and is not constitutional . . .
Date: Feb 02 05:46
Author: steve benson

that is the name of the checks and balance system--and it is no game.

I'm referring to court opinions here, not the press reports you apparently despise.

When you start calling your opponents names, like "radicals on the left" and dismissing the opinions of the federal courts as "rubbish," then, well, OK, you've shown that you 've lost the intellectual argument.

Too bad, you seemed pretty serious there for a minute.


Subject: Re: The courts of this land define what is and is not constitutional . . .
Date: Feb 02 05:51
Author: utem

i happen to be an attorney, please don't ask me to look up all the case law either (too time consuming) however, decisions are appealed, overruled, remanded for correction etc. just because a decision has been handed down does not mean that decision will not be challenged in the future. The constitution was intended to be a secular document, that fact has no bearing on the individual beliefs of the founders, which was that they believed in a supreme entity of some kind. The constitution is somewhat amorphous, which is the beauty of it of course


Subject: the constitution is more than amorphous on god . . .
Date: Feb 02 06:01
Author: steve benson

it is stone silent. So much for the founding statement of American religious belief. And the private beliefs of the Founders on matters of religion speak volumes as to why it is appropriately silent.

As to case law:

Flag salute case? Not overturned.

School prayer case? Not overturned.

Prayers at high school football games? Not overturned.

Erecting Ten Commandments statues on government property? Pending.

The Pledge? Pending.


Subject: Re: the constitution is more than amorphous on god . . .
Date: Feb 02 06:10
Author: utem

for the last time, the founders wrote a secular document in the constitution, it was intended to be that way, just like I might write a secular document for a company i might found, my religious views certainly might not be found in that document and an intelligent person would avoid such conflicts for it makes no difference what one's religious persuasion is as to the potential success of the company, that being said there is plenty of evidence that the framers of the constitution believed in a supreme being, your own original post corroborates what I have said as well as your post on Lincoln


Subject: For the last time, utem, what YOU fail to admit is . . .
Date: Feb 02 06:26
Author: steve benson

that the personal concern about the excesses of religion as expressed by the Founders is precisely WHY the Constitution is not a founding document of religious belief.

They were smart enough to keep religion and a supreme being OUT of that blessed document--despite your desperate appeal to "year of our lord" signatures and Preamble "blessings."


Subject: Re: For the last time, utem, what YOU fail to admit is . . .
Date: Feb 02 06:33
Author: utem

i have already stated the same at least five times in previous posts regarding the church of england. I have stated to you time and again that that was their intent, they did not want entanglement with church and state..that being said and stipulated to between you and I, you still have not demonstrated that the framers of the constitution did not believe in a supreme being, they clearly did
I'm going back to lurking as this has proved a monumental waste of time


Subject: Your "last times" are dragging on and on . . .
Date: Feb 02 06:42
Author: steve benson

I did not claim that the Founders had no beliefs in a supreme being.

You miss the point.

Their religious beliefs did not translate into a founding document based upon those beliefs. They were scared enough of the abusives of religion to avoid that pitfall.

I asked you to produce the solid evidence of belief in a supreme being, as contained in the Constitutuional text to represent a document based on belief and adherence to god--and you couldn't.

Now, are you going to again "last time" me?


Subject: Re: The courts of this land define what is and is not constitutional . . .
Date: Feb 02 06:24
Author: cheesegrater

you are right. the courts do define what is constitutional
in this country, and the definition can be rather fluid over time as i discovered in my contemporary legal theory course.

but then (for no apparent reason) you temporarily take leave of your senses when you suggest i call opinions of the federal courts "rubbish." i know it is late but it was the analysis in the american popular press i called rubbish, not court opinions.

as the careful reader you are i'm sure you noticed that after criticizing the radicals of the american left, i criticized radicals of the american right.

but if you question that there are radicals of the left and right in any given political system i will question your seriousness, and rightly so.

c


Subject: You were aiming flak in so many directions at once . . .
Date: Feb 02 06:54
Author: steve benson

it was hard to tell just who or what you thought was rubbish.

And flying off the handle, like you suddenly did, in an explosion of wrath against the whole system, made me question your seriousness.



Subject: If freedom were the name of the game . . .
Date: Feb 02 05:20
Author: steve benson

then the U.S. Supreme Court would not have ruled that Jehovah Witnesses do not have to salute the flag because it violates their personal beliefs.

If freedom were the name of the game, then prayer would still be led by teachers in public schools.

If freedom were the name of the game, then high schools could still broadcast sectarian prayers over public loudspeakers at football games.

If freedom were the name of the game, then erecting statues to the Ten Commandments on public property would not have been declared unconstitutional.

If freedom were the name of the game, then the national prayer, euphemistically disguised as the "Pledge of Allegiance," would not have been found to be in violation of the separation clause of the First Amendment.

Now, should Bush be gagged and told he can't utter the "g-word" in public? No, but he's enough of a politician to know that god means votes, so he'll continue to preach--damn the non-believers out there.

Yessir, by god, he'll use his freedom of speech to offend the millions of unorthodox in this country, as he goes around arrogantly invoking the Judeo-Christian god for his own purposes.


Subject: if freedom WERE the name of the game...
Date: Feb 02 06:07
Author: cheesegrater

(remember the subjunctive) then religious objectors would not have to conform to majority opinions or state edicts, precisely as you state (you seem to have gotten it backward).

as freedom is the name of the game, no particular religious views are proffered in the federally-funded school system.

as freedom is the name of the game, erecting statues to the "ten commandments" on federal land, at least, should be declared unconstitutional, simply because it is. on state land it should be allowed (as utterly opposed to it in sentiment as i am) because law and precedent allow for it! it IS constitutional whether you or i like it or not.

the "under god" part of the pledge of allegiance was rightly removed, precisely because freedom is the name of the game.

you are incorrect in stating that president bush specifically invoked the judeo-christian god (although a case can be built for this). if he did, that would be within his rights.

is christianity the only religion now off limits in america?

and i'm personally anti-christian for christ's sake! don't you see the point? freedom of expression, including religious expression you disapprove of is to be tolerated.

as a descendant of the founders and a member of the society of the cincinnati i have taken a solemn oath to defend the principles of the founders against all comers.

i am finding this has come to be a full time job.

c


Subject: And so have the courts, likewise, vowed to protect the Constitution . . .
Date: Feb 02 06:14
Author: steve benson

against violations of the wall between church and state.

With all due respect, I tend to go with the Courts, not the Cincinnati Bengals.

Bush quoted from Isaiah, in reference to god's powers to bring us all home. The last time I checked, that book was a Judeo-Christian one.

P.S.--and thanks for the grammar lesson. :)


Subject: with all due respect it was not lawyers but cincinnati....
Date: Feb 02 06:51
Author: cheesegrater

such as washington, lafayette, de grasse, de kalb, hamilton, franklin, greene, pinckney, warren etc. that founded our country.

the only "wall" between church and state was that there should be no state (federal) religion in america, as you well know and anything beyond has been due to extra-constitutional judicial activism, in other words, lawyers acting as legislators which is strictly forbidden by the constitution and the principle of separation of powers (and thus illegal). the people get to legislate through their elected representatives in a constitutional republic, not unelected lawyers whether or not they sit on the supreme court.

c


Subject: Ain't gonna take your bait, pal . . .
Date: Feb 02 07:02
Author: steve benson

I'll stick with the original intent of this post--and that of the Founders--on the question of whether the U.S. Constitution is a founding document of religious belief.

I'll let you wrassle in your own corner with all those hated lawyers.

Subject: Thank you, Steve
Date: Feb 02 06:20
Author: Nick

After only spending a few minutes reading and participating on the board in the last few days (I seem to be leaving one of my more prolific posting phases), it did my heart and head good to see this lovely piece of research here this morning.

It's been a sad day indeed. But I can't help but believe that those who look - after this and other tragedies - to a deity to make sense of it all, to balance the accounts (so to speak), are diminishing their own capacity to move forward and make whatever difference they can in the world.



Recovery from Mormonism - www.exmormon.org   

Listing of additional short Topics  |  Main Page