Archive for Saturday, February 11, 2006

Religious leaders

February 11, 2006


To the editor:

I have recently heard from some authorities that the Founding Fathers consisted primarily of atheists, agnostics and deists. So let us look at what a few of these men said for themselves.

First, let's start with George Washington who said, "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible." That doesn't sound like an atheist to me.

What about our third president, Thomas Jefferson? "I concur with the author in considering the moral precepts of Jesus as more pure, correct and sublime than those of ancient philosophers."

And what about a signer of the Declaration of Independence? Charles Carroll said: "Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure, and which denounces against the wicked eternal misery, and (which) insured to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments."

Even Benjamin Franklin, a man considered by many historians to be a deist, said, "I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men."

As American citizens, it is essential that we be informed about how our Founding Fathers thought if we are to be responsible in our civic duty.


Mark Stone 12 years, 4 months ago

It should also be noted that when it came to creating the actual framework for governing our country (the Constitution) the Founding Fathers saw the importance of separating their personal religious beliefs from the mechanism of governance.

It is abundantly evident that the Founding Fathers believed that secular government was the best way of preserving and protecting every person's alienable freedom to exercise religion in accordance to their own conviction and conscience.

Clearly when Thomas Jefferson wrote of "a wall of separation between church and state..." he had in mind his words "the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time."

Certainly every person should be guided by the moral precepts they hold to be true. While simultaneously recognizing the role of secular government in protecting their freedom to do exactly that. Allowing the state to prescribe a preferance for one religion or sect of a religion is "a double-edged sword, one that can cut against that faith as easily as for it as past advocates of established religions have discovered when the policitcal circumstances on which they relied changed."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

As long as those expressions are of the proper Christian variety, eh, Pilgrim?

Brian Laird 12 years, 4 months ago

To say that the Christian religion is under "severe attack" in the US is about the stupidest thing I have ever heard. 85% of the people in this country are Christian as are the vast, overwhelming majority of its leaders. For some reason, people like mr "rightthinker" feel attacked when people object to his (and others of his ilk) seek to use the power of law and the state to indocternate others with their religious beliefs. This is very sad and very strange. At best it is irrational - at worst it is a calculated and cynical ploy.

The Christian right seems to have taken a lesson from the "victimization cult" of the 60's left and extended it to laughable extremes.

"Under attack"? I don't think so.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

But you are all too happy to institute tests anyway you can, and using the institutions of government, local, state and federal, to promote a particular religion accomplishes exactly that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

It'd be all right with me if those were removed, but you'd howl at the dis-establishment of your religion as the state religion.

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 4 months ago

"In God We Trust" was added to our currency during the civil war, 100 years after the Declaration.

Mark Stone 12 years, 4 months ago

"I agree with your posts, separation of church and state, but why does our currency have "In God we Trust" then?"

I imagine it was a concession to the increased religious sentiment during the civil war, a time of great uncertainty as to the fate of our nation. Then, in least in part, was intended as a "thumbing of the nose" at the "godless soviets" during the cold war when the motto first appeared on our paper money. In both cases there were political considerations that helped get these measures passed.

"Why is it o.k. for my 6th grade son to have Buddhism philosophy and readings forced into his curriculum?"

You did not addressed the context in which the Buddhist philosophy was discussed. Was it as part of a social studies course looking at different societies around the world? If so, don't you think it is important that our children understand that the majority of the world's population do have different belief systems than the majority of people in our country. That is not only an interesting question to explore, it is just a fact. Why would it be better to keep our children ignorant of this. In a global economy the more our children understand of the different cultures of the world the better they will be able to adapt and compete.

"This is the most diverse country in the world from a religious standpoint. There are mosques, synagogues, temples and every nutso religion ever invented by man in the US. No doubt it' s a money maker."

No doubt, but when was the last time you saw a rabbi or an imam on television asking viewers to send in their money for yamulkes that have been specially blessed in the holy land or the newest prayer rug.

I also think that most Americans are proud that they live in a country that can sustain such religious diversity even in the face of some in our society refering to their beliefs as "nutso".

"But there is only one under severe attack, any Christian. So, is a devout Catholic the religious Right or a fundamentalist Christian?"

No I would not consider every devout Catholic part of the religious right or a fundamentalist. It depends on your definition of a devout Catholic.

I do disagree with you that all Christians feel that they are being attacked.
Certainly the "religious right" or fundamentalist sects of Christianity that have misinterpeted efforts to preserve and protect the "wall of separation between church and state" as an attack on their personal freedom to practice their religion. It is just a mistaken viewpoint.

I believe the vast majority of Christians think that secular government, one that protects religious freedom not only for themselves but also their nieghbors, is a good thing.

"The hard left liberal element seems to have waged war only on Christians. Every other religion (especially Islam) is getting a pass."

See above.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

I guess that means we agree-- let's both write Moore, Brownback and Roberts to get them to get rid of those references from your religion, OK?

Jamesaust 12 years, 4 months ago

I suppose since most of the day has gone by and no one has said anything, the task falls to me.

"George Washington ... said, "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible."

While often attributed to GW, there is no evidence that he ever said such a thing. There is no speech, letter, etc. stating such, despite every scrap of utterance by GW having been carefully preserved from the beginning of the Republic.

The quote from Jefferson is taken out of context. Jefferson's point is that he considers the moral teachings of Jesus as superior to that of the ancient Greeks on the subject of one's moral duties to others. It is not a statement of religious affiliation.

Carroll may have signed the Declaration but he arrived only after all the work was complete. The Jesuit-educated lawyer is famous for two things: (1) the only Catholic signing the Declaration, and (2) being the wealthist man in America at the time.

Why would historians consider Franklin a deist? Perhaps because Franklin said that he was in his Autobiography.

As to the "strawman" foundation of this letter - some people say the founding fathers were primarily atheists...who says? (Why deists would be lumped in with this, I don't know. To oversimply, Deists believe that when you pray to God to let you win the lottery or get that new job, God never - ever - considers involving Himself with such matters; having set the world on its course, he does not interfere with the course of events.)

The gold standard as to how the Founders viewed religion, in public at least, can be found in the Constitution. In short: nowhere. I await the day, however, when "Senator" James Dobson introduces his Constitutional Amendment to incorporate the Bible (his version) directly into the Constitution.

J Good Good 12 years, 4 months ago

It is really hard to understand how Christians can think they are under attack. Give me a freaking break! Someone tried to be sensitive that 15% of the country is not Christian and they said "Happy Holidays"instead of merry christmas. OH THE HORROR OF IT! WWWWWWWAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!

Try being a minority religion and worrying about how to deal with your child being told he's going to hell for his beliefs.

Newsflash:MANY GOOD PEOPLE ARE NOT CHRISTIAN - YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE CHRISTIAN TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG. The founding fathers were pretty smart guys, I think they understood this concept and I think they would be pretty comfortable with the religious diversity in this country today.

J Good Good 12 years, 4 months ago

Gee I wonder how on earth someone of a minority religion would get a "complex", when Christians are the ones sooooo discriminated against? Too funny.

The real enemies of most "real" Christians are the fanatic Christians who can't see anything besides their own agenda of hate. You would kick me out of "your" country if you could, even though I am a good and giving and generous person.

Kelly Powell 12 years, 4 months ago

who cares if they swear on a bible? they would sacrifice oxen in front of a temple of Zeus if it got them into office, and it would mean the same thing ....NOTHING! an oath sworn by a liar is worth the air it was uttered with. you would think more christians would be appalled at the cheapening of what should be a very serious ritual(you are basically calling down gods wrath if you are lying) making children mouth the pledge of allegience with no real understanding of what they are saying is just going through the motions as is the same when swearing in someone in court.....bob the serial murderer is reallygoing to tell the truth because you swore him in/ Oaths are from the days when your word was the contract...You lived and died by your word........sadly there are very few people that honorable left in this world of ours......And very,very few of them in any position of power.

EvaTrujillo 12 years, 4 months ago

I read this letter. The statements don't seem to support the conclusion - although I agree with the conclusion.

Fundamental christians give all christians a bad name just like the warriors who took down the twin towers -they gave their religion a bad rap. In the history of christianity, persecution was something that christians always had to endure - that's why sainthood was such a cool thing.

However, now that persecution has all been but eradicated here in the U.S.A. against christians, it appears fundamentalist christians wish to continue the tradition. We hear complaints that store help say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". What's there to complain about, Christmas is a holiday. In all fairness, perhaps the complainers never learned of other cultures or traditions (such as the comment about a child having to learn Buddahism above) - to understand that there are other holidays besides the christian holidays.

Fundamental christians should be careful of what they wish for because the more you inject god or your religious way of thinking in to every day life, then it erodes the sacredness. Case in point, the pledge of allegience never had god in its orginal form and now it does. As a result, the mindless chant every morning at school is just that and it took god with it.

mefirst 12 years, 4 months ago

No matter what, I think it's clear the Founding Fathers did NOT intend this country to be a THEOCRACY. If you want religion intertwined with your politics...Move to Saudi Arabia.

I find it so ironic that the most religious countries on this planet are the ones ALWAYS at war...U.S. being Numero Uno.

Religion in the wrong hands breeds justifies divisions among people...Christianity as Jesus Christ intended is a utopian ideal. It cannot be achieved by human beings, at least not the ones who are attracted to the brand of Christianity that dominates this country today.

These neo-con Christians are fundamentally self-absorbed...they're interests lie only with themselves. They want to be comforted and comfortable, and even the tiniest threat to their total domination sends them into fits (e.g. Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas).

As I flipped through the channels this morning, I saw so many "false prophets" all claiming God's on their side, while all their parishoners sat, entranced, numb, taking it all in believing that THEY held the key to the "kingdom of heaven."

mefirst 12 years, 4 months ago

I wonder...what are the neo-conservative Christians in this country sacrificing for their religion? My interpretation of Christianity is that the denomination DEMANDS humility and sacrifice. How are the neo-conservative brand of Christians sacrificing for their God and country?

I ask because they know NO humility...claiming to be morally superior, clearly a rejection of their true status as Christians...children before God, a work in progress, striving constantly toward moral superiority, all the while knowing they'll never achieve it. Yet, rather than focus on the authority they have over their own lives...they wish to focus on the lives of others.

Neo-con Christians LOATH paying taxes. They do not feel they should have to contribute to the society in which they live...especially not when it comes to supporting the poor. Yet their churches enjoy the same access to the political process as individual tax payers...WITHOUT THE BURDEN OF TAXATION!

They worship in the most opulent, multi-million dollar structures, complete with playgrounds, libraries, coffee shops, gymnasiums, day care centers. Where's the humility? They know they must cater to the average American, otherwise, they'd have no congregation.

They participate in pop culture...their children go to movies, buy expensive video games, DvDs, computers, cell phones, CDs. They listen to Christian rock and play Christian videogames. Their they teach their children that they don't have to sacrifice anything and are ENTITLED to EVERYTHING.

They refuse to conserve...demanding their right to drive SUVs, live in HUGE homes, suck up resources as GOd-given and in the name of family values.

They support the wars that are necessary to uphold this gluttonous way of life...because they shouldn't have to sacrifice ANYTHING.

How these people claim moral authority is beyond my comprehension. Even further beyond my comprehension is that people buy into this...but then again, they get the best of both worlds...with no sacrifice WHATSOEVER!

Alyosha 12 years, 4 months ago

It's easy:

Sure, the Founding Fathers evidence some belief in the Supernatural.

They put none of that -- not a single word -- into the Constitution.

Be like the founders, then: use your religion for your own personal morals.

Like the founders also, don't encode that personal religion into law.

It's very simply.

I know it's hard to understand, especially given what passes for civic education these days.

But it's very simple: your personal beliefs have nothing to do with civic Constitutional law.

Just as the Founders did not encode their religious beliefs into the Constitution, so should you not agitate to encode your religious beliefs into American law.

Simple. Next issue?

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