from Falcon - Sunday, March 04, 2007
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Christians love claiming that America is a Christian Nation, but nothing can be further from the truth.
Below is an essay that any person in possession of logic and reason can understand.
No one disputes the faith of the Founding Fathers. To speak of unalienable Rights being endowed by a Creator certainly shows a sensitivity to our spiritual selves. What is surprising is when fundamentalist Christians think the Founding Fathers' faith had anything to do with the Bible. Without exception, the faith of our Founding Fathers was deist, not theist. It was best expressed earlier in the Declaration of Independence, when they spoke of "the Laws of Nature" and of "Nature's God."
In a sermon of October 1831, Episcopalian minister Bird Wilson said, "Among all of our Presidents, from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism."
The Bible? Here is what our Founding Fathers wrote about Bible-based Christianity:
Thomas Jefferson: "I have examined all the known superstitions of the word, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth." -- Six Historic Americans by John E. Remsburg, letter to William Short
Jefferson again: "Christianity...(has become) the most perverted system that ever shone on man. ...Rogueries, absurdities and untruths were perpetrated upon the teachings of Jesus by a large band of dupes and importers led by Paul, the first great corrupter of the teaching of Jesus."
More Jefferson: "The clergy converted the simple teachings of Jesus into an engine for enslaving mankind and adulterated by artificial constructions into a contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves...these clergy, in fact, constitute the real Anti-Christ.
Jefferson's word for the Bible? "Dunghill."
John Adams: "Where do we find a precept in the Bible for Creeds, Confessions, Doctrines and Oaths, and whole carloads of other trumpery that we find religion encumbered with in these days?"
Also Adams: "The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity." Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11 states: "The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion."
Here's Thomas Paine: "I would not dare to so dishonor my Creator God by attaching His name to that book (the Bible)." "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 so dishonor my Creator's name by (attaching) it to this filthy book (the Bible)." "It is the duty of every true Deist to vindicate the moral justice of God against the evils of the Bible." "Accustom a people to believe that priests and clergy can forgive sins...and you will have sins in abundance." And; "The Christian church has set up a religion of pomp and revenue in pretended imitation of a person (Jesus) who lived a life of poverty."
Finally let's hear from James Madison: "What influence in fact have Christian ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In many instances they have been upholding the thrones of political tyranny. In no instance have they been seen as the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty have found in the clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate liberty, does not need the clergy." Madison objected to state-supported chaplains in Congress and to the exemption of churches from taxation. He wrote: "Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."
These founding fathers were a reflection of the American population. Having escaped from the state-established religions of Europe, only 7f the people in the 13 colonies belonged to a church when the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Among those who confuse Christianity with the founding of America, the rise of conservative Baptists is one of the more interesting developments. The Baptists believed God's authority came from the people, not the priesthood, and they had been persecuted for this belief. It was they -- the Baptists -- who were instrumental in securing the separation of church and state. They knew you can not have a "one-way wall" that lets religion into government but that does not let it out. They knew no religion is capable of handling political power without becoming corrupted by it. And, perhaps, they knew it was Christ himself who first proposed the separation of church and state: "Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto the Lord that which is the Lord's."
In the last five years the Baptists have been taken over by a fundamentalist faction that insists authority comes from the Bible and that the individual must accept the interpretation of the Bible from a higher authority. These usurpers of the Baptist faith are those who insist they should meddle in the affairs of the government and it is they who insist the government should meddle in the beliefs of individuals.
The price of Liberty is constant vigilance, folks. Religious fundamentalism and zealous patriotism have always been the forces which require the greatest attention.
by Dean Worbois
© 1994 Worbois
The writings of Thomas Jefferson exist in 25 volumes. The references for this article were found in the book, Six Historic Americans by John E. Remsburg (who interviewed many of Lincoln's associates). Much of his work on Jefferson came from The Memoirs, Correspondence and Miscellanies from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 4 volumes ed. by Thomas Jefferson Randolph (the grandson of Thomas Jefferson).
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. -- letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780
If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Roman Church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. These found it wrong in the bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England. -- An Essay on Toleration
Truth, in matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived. -- Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist, (1891)
Self-denial is the shining sore on the leprous body of Christianity. -- Oscar Wilde. from Frank Harris, Oscar Wilde, (1918)
Medievalism, with its saints and martyrs, its love of self-torture, its wild passion for wounding itself, its gashing with knives, and its whipping with rods -- Medievalism is real Christianity, and the medieval Christ is the real Christ. -- Oscar Wilde, "The Soul of Man under Socialism," in the Fortnightly Review, (1891), from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief
Thomas A. Wiseman, Jr. U.S. District Judge
Use of the mechanism of government to enforce momentary majoritarian morality upon which there is no real consensus, creates greater divisiveness in society, disrespect for law and disrespect for the moral authority of the particular religion. -- Thomas A. Wiseman, Jr., Address, Pulaski, Tennessee, December 29, 1985, from Albert J. Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW
The early Christian rules of life were not made to last, because the early Christians did not believe that the world itself was going to last. -- George Bernard Shaw. Hotchkiss, in Getting Married.
RABBI DANILE POLISH
The public schools of this country serve the admirable function of bringing together on common ground students from a diversity of cultural and religious backgrounds. The introduction of public prayer into such a setting jeopardizes the sense of community and unnecessarily intrudes an emotional and divisive factor.
-- Testimony on behalf of the Synagogue Council of America September 8, 1980, U.S. House of Representatives. Quoted from Albert J. Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom
JAMES KNOX POLK (1795-1849) The 11th president of the United States (1845-1849)
Thank God, under our Constitution there was no connection between Church and State, and that in my action as President of the United States I recognized no distinction of creeds in my appointments to office. -- from George Seldes, The Great Quotations (1067) P. 169, from Albert J. Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom
Sadly, religious extremism will not go away any time soon, so we must stringently strive to maintain the wall between church and state.
However, there is a way to combat religious extremism. It starts with a simple change in mindset. Currently, we are all force-fed the nonsense that we must respect other peoples beliefs, especially when it comes to religious beliefs. Not only is this nonsense, but also it is one of the reasons religious fanaticism flourishes in the US.
Understand that there is a huge difference between respecting ones right to believe (which I do), and respecting what they actually believe (which I must not).
If someone were to say that they believe that a pink elephant hides in their back yard, and comes out on evenings when summoned to provide them with its wisdom, I respect their right to believe that. However, I obviously do not respect their actual belief. Moreover, I would be absolutely terrified if a person holding such a belief could somehow attain any position of power, especially a powerful governmental position. I would venture a guess that most people would feel the same way.
You know as well as I do that this person would be ridiculed, and they would be deserving of that ridicule, Yet, when we change the belief in question (a hidden pink elephant) to the belief in god (a very primitive way of thinking and equally ridiculous belief), we are suddenly no longer able to question their belief. It is off-limits; it is not PC; it is disrespectful, etc. Why the double standard?
According to Sam Harris (The End of Faith) approximately 22 percent of the US population literally and emphatically believes that Christ will descend from the skies along with the whole Armageddon thing. Another 22 percent believe that this will probably come to pass. That is a whopping 44 percent of the country! Worse still, these are the very people that are leading this county now, and they will continue to get into office if we do not make a change.
Do you want these religious extremist nutballs in office creating policies, many of which strip away your civil liberties? (See resources below)
I do not!
It is time to put an end to all of this. If a belief is ridiculous, the person holding the belief should be ridiculed. By doing so it would make it infinitely more difficult for the people in question to ascend to positions of power. But like I said, it all begins with a change of perception.