Saturday, October 01, 2005
Smite the Theofascists with the Truth
A member of Salon's discussion forum Table Talk recently received "one of those 'did you know' e-mails citing all the religious things in D.C. as a case of support for the fact that 'this country was founded on Christianity'." She composed the following reply, and kindly gave me permission to post it here.
Did you know: The Declaration of Independence gives us important insight into the opinions of the Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson wrote that the power of the government is derived from the governed. Up until that time, it was claimed that kings ruled nations by the authority of God. The Declaration was a radical departure from the idea of divine authority. Did you know: The 1796 treaty with Tripoli states that the United States was "in no sense founded on the Christian religion." This treaty was written under the presidency of George Washington and signed under the presidency of John Adams. Did you know: Most of the Founders were deists, which is to say they thought the universe had a creator, but that he does not concern himself with the daily lives of humans, and does not directly communicate with humans, either by revelation or by sacred books. Most of them were stoutly opposed to the Bible, and the teachings of Christianity in particular. Did you know: Jesus is not mentioned even once in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the Declaration of Independence. Did you know: The Founders were students of the European Enlightenment. Half a century after the establishment of the United States, clergymen complained that no president up to that date had been a Christian. In a sermon that was reported in newspapers, Episcopal minister Bird Wilson of Albany, New York, protested in October 1831: "Among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism." QUOTES FROM OUR FOUNDING FATHERS: "Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced an inch towards 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." Thomas Jefferson -- "Notes on Virginia" "History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose." Thomas Jefferson, to Baron von Humboldt, 1813 "It is not to be understood that I am with him (Jesus Christ) in all his doctrines. I am a Materialist; he takes the side of Spiritualism, he preaches the efficacy of repentance toward forgiveness of sin; I require a counterpoise of good works to redeem it." Thomas Jefferson, to Carey, 1816 "Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the Common Law." Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, 1814 "I wish it (Christianity) were more productive of good works ... I mean real good works ... not holy-day keeping, sermon-hearing ... or making long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments despised by wise men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity." Benjamin Franklin -- Works, Vol. VII, p. 75 "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 cartloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity." John Quincy Adams "The question before the human race is, whether the God of Nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles?" John Quincy AdamsHere's a bonus quotation for the "keep God in the Pledge of Allegiance" crowd:
"Nothing has a greater tendency to lessen the reverence which mankind ought to have for the Supreme Being than a careless repetition of his name upon every trifling occasion." Noah Webster
I think what really differentiated the Founders from today's fundamentalists is that Founders for the most part weren't jerks.
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