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The Myth of a Christian Nation, Part I

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posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 03:45 PM
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With the rise of the Religious Right in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the idea of the United States founded as a Christian nation took hold in the minds of many conservative Christians. Though many of the founding fathers were Deists, and some were Christians, the idea that the nation was founded as a Christian nation could not be further from the truth. In fact, pains were taken by the founding fathers to ensure that the United States would be the first nation to ever be founded as a secular democratic republic. I would like to present some evidence to support the fact that the United States was founded as a secular rather than a Christian nation.

Quotes of Founding Fathers

There are many quotes from the founding fathers supporting the notion of a secular United States. These quotes are not taken out of context, and can be found in their complete contexts by anyone willing to take the time. Let me say at the beginning that George Washington, though a church attendee, rarely spoke of Jesus Christ. Most of his writings contain the phrase "Providence," a well-known Deist conception of God. Though he attended church, his bishop never witnessed him taking communion and stated after Washington's death that Washington himself said so little about religion during his lifetime that it was impossible to know his true feelings on the matter.

"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion, as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitian nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of harmony between the two countries." -Treaty of Tripoli

"The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning. And ever since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate A FREE INQUIRY? The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality, is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your eyes and hand, and fly into your face and eyes." - John Adams, letter to John Taylor

"The Christian God is a being of terrific character- cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust." -Thomas Jefferson

"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, Aug. 10, 1787

"This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it." - John Adams

"What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not." - James Madison, "A Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785

"...the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the State." - James Madison

"Lighthouses are more useful than churches." - Benjamin Franklin

______________________________

Continued Below.....




posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 03:53 PM
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Part II

The 1st Amendment and Clarifications

The 1st Amendment of the US Constitution is first ever of its kind, most spectacularly because of the inclusion of the 1st Amendment. This amendment established a secular state supporting disestablishment and freedom of conscience.

:Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." - 1st Amendment of the US Constitution

There has been controversy over the meaning of the 1st Amendment, so I would like to present some quotes clarifying the true intentions of the authors and other early Americans.

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & 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 & State." - Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists, 1802

Following are three phrases used by Madison:

"total separation of the church from the state." – James Madison, 1819 letter to Robert Walsh

"Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion & Govt in the Constitution of the United States," – James Madison, Monopolies Perpetuities Corporations—Ecclesiastical Endowments

"practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government is essential to the purity of both, and as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States." – Madison, 1811 letter to Baptist Churches

Again, from Jefferson:

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."
– Jefferson, Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

And, from President John Tyler:

"The United States have adventured upon a great and noble experiment, which is believed to have been hazarded in the absence of all previous precedent-that of total separation of Church and State. No religious establishment by law exists among us. The conscience is left free from all restraint and each is permitted to worship his Maker after his own judgement. The offices of the Government are open alike to all. No tithes are levied to support an established Hierarchy, nor is the fallible judgement of man set up as the sure and infallible creed of faith. The Mahommedan, if he will to come among us would have the privilege guaranteed to him by the constitution to worship according to the Koran; and the East Indian might erect a shrine to Brahma if it so pleased him. Such is the spirit of toleration inculcated by our political Institutions . . . . The Hebrew persecuted and down trodden in other regions cakes up his abode among us with none to make him afraid . . . . and the Aegis of the Government is over him to defend and protect him. Such is the great experiment which we have cried, and such are the happy fruits which have resulted from it; our system of free government would be imperfect without it." – President John Tyler, July 10, 1843, Correspondence of President Tyler

___________________________

Continued Below



posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 03:59 PM
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Part III

Early Baptists, even up through the early 1900s, were staunch supporters of the separation of church and state - a far cry from the position taken by many Baptists today.

"[A] hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world" – Roger Williams, 1644, The Bloody Tenent of Persecution

"church and state are separate, the effects are happy, and they do not at all interfere with each other: but where they have been confounded together, no tongue nor pen can fully describe the mischiefs that have ensued." – Isaac Backus, Baptist Minister 1773

Even the famous more recent Baptist minister, Charles Spurgeon, said the following:

"Which shall we wonder at most, the endurance of the faithful or the cruelty of their tormentors? Is it not proven beyond all dispute that there is no limit to the enormities which men will commit when they are once persuaded that they are keepers of other men's consciences? To spread religion by any means, and to crush heresy by all means is the practical inference from the doctrine that one man may control another's religion. Given the duty of a state to foster some one form of faith, and by the sure inductions of our nature slowly but certainly persecution will occur. To prevent for ever the possibility of Papists roasting Protestants, Anglicans hanging Romish priests, and Puritans flogging Quakers, let every form of state-churchism be utterly abolished, and the remembrance of the long curse which it has cast upon the world be blotted out for ever." – Charles Spurgeon, The Inquisition

Finally, the statistics relating to church attendance throughout the early years of the nation's founding to the present show a very different picture of religious devotion than those on the Religious Right would have us believe:

Rates of religious adherence from The Churching of America, 1776 – 2005 by Roger Finke and Rodney Stark

1776 – 17%
1850 – 34%
1879 – 35%
1906 – 51%
1952 – 59%
2000 – 62%

_____________________________

My question is this: is the modern Religious Right simply ignorant of the facts, or are they fudging the facts in their portrayal of the founding fathers and the secular foundation of the US?

Peace,
Daniel


[edit on 23-8-2009 by pdpayne0418]



posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 04:52 PM
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Star and Flag for bringing this up. I've always thought about this subject, but I could only theorize. I don't have time right now, but I will be back later.



posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 05:16 PM
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Originally posted by Trams
Star and Flag for bringing this up. I've always thought about this subject, but I could only theorize. I don't have time right now, but I will be back later.


Thanks for the star & flag, and I look forward to your comments when you have time to post.

Peace,
Daniel



posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 05:45 PM
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Originally posted by pdpayne0418
My question is this: is the modern Religious Right simply ignorant of the facts, or are they fudging the facts in their portrayal of the founding fathers and the secular foundation of the US?


In my opinion, it's the 'Pu-pu platter'. The leaders know full well that this nation was founded upon secular principles, but are just trying to gain control and power. Their followers, on the other hand, are ignorant of the facts and just regurgitating what the leadership is telling them. When they were the minority, they enjoyed the protections put in place to protect the minority, but now that they are the majority, they are engaged in total control of the minority.



posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 05:50 PM
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My question is this: is the modern Religious Right simply ignorant of the facts, or are they fudging the facts in their portrayal of the founding fathers and the secular foundation of the US?

Both sides cherry pick, take what they like, and leave the rest.

The founding arrangement was that the federal government would refrain from establishing religion, hindering its free exercise, or requiring any religious test for public office. The states, however, had a free hand in all those matters, before and after the adoption of the Constitution.

That the states differed greatly among themselves in how much the state involved itself in religion helps to explain why the federal government swore hands off in order to get the states to join the original union.

So, those living people who like a religiously libertarian founder set trot out the Virginians. Why not? Jefferson was a great writer and a champion of liberty, a rare achievement for a slaver.

But John Adams was a founder, too. It is generally agreed that he is the principal author of the Constitution of Massachusetts. You can read that online, if you like.

www.mass.gov...

Article III may be an eye-opener:


As the happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality; and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community, but by the institution of the public worship of God, and of public instructions in piety, religion and morality: Therefore, to promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies politic, or religious societies, to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.

And the people of this commonwealth have also a right to, and do, invest their legislature with authority to enjoin upon all the subjects an attendance upon the instructions of the public teachers aforesaid, at stated times and seasons, if there be any on whose instructions they can conscientiously and conveniently attend.

...

An[d] every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves peaceably, and as good subjects of the commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law: and no subordination of any one sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law.


So, the United States may have been a secular republic, but Massachusetts sure wasn't. It established compulsory tax supported Protestant Christianity as black letter law.

All that ended in America after the Civil War, when the postwar amendments bound each of the states to respect the same personal liberties that the federal government did.

Personally, I like Jefferson on religious liberty and Adams on slavery. The problem with fantasy founder fluff is that the real United States was founded by both of them (among many others, of course).



posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 06:10 PM
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reply to post by eight bits
 


I think your post goes in a little different direction than my OP. I never said that the founders were inherently irreligious, simply that they intended to found a secular republic.

You're right that the states were slow to follow in their own disestablishment clauses, but all did before the Civil War. It is clear that however much the founders may have thought religion to be morally necessary in the private sphere, they stressed the absolute need to separate religion from the state.

Peace,
Daniel



posted on Aug, 24 2009 @ 02:04 PM
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You are right, and yet you are also wrong.

It is not founded on the church. Generally those who say it's a "Christian Nation" do so in order to try and found the "church" and "religion" itself as being somekind of offside "authority". And in that case, they are wrong and you are right.

However, it was founded on the principles of Jesus and things of that nature. So in that respect, you are wrong.

Remember that many of those who came to America did so to escape the Catholic church, to get religious freedom. They did not like the church, or having the church in authority at all. So that is what you are picking up on, and so in that case you are right.

They realized that if you founded a religion, as what they had escaped from, then you are denying religious freedom to everyone. Even if it was your religion that was instated, you just lost your religious freedom - which would become clear if you ever changed your mind.

They cared more about the principles than any church or religion. Just check out Jefferson's bible for example.

Basically, it was founded by people like me.


I think the church and religion is all kinds of evil. But I still love me some Jesus and think he speaks the truth.



Matthew 7

28And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:

29For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.


The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth

You remind me of me. As I use to make the same arguments you did back a few years ago. I sometimes feel like I'm reaping what I've sowed when I see my old arguments being put up. But at the same time, it's somewhat cool because I can show the things that made me change my mind etc.


[edit on 8/24/2009 by badmedia]



posted on Aug, 24 2009 @ 04:10 PM
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reply to post by pdpayne0418
 



I never said that the founders were inherently irreligious

Quite so. I think we're on the same page that the questions here concern the founders' views about governments and religion, rather than their personal religious beliefs and practices.


the states were slow to follow in their own disestablishment clauses, but all did before the Civil War.

Sort of.

Staying with the Massachusetts example, Article III was replaced in 1833. There weren't many founders around and active in public life then (for instance, Adams died in 1826).

What replaced Article III (Article XI of the Amendments, available on the link given in my earlier post) was far short of "Congress shall make no law..." Relaxing establishment is not the same as disestablishment.

It was not until the Civil War amendments that the federal standard of secular governance became mandatory for all of the states. That this continued a trend toward secularization after the founding of the country is not in dispute.

It is the Founders, more so than their children and grandchildren, whom both sides seek to enlist in our living controversies about the role of religion in public life.

And yes, Peace. I don't sense that you and I are in desperate disagreement about this.

[edit on 24-8-2009 by eight bits]



posted on Aug, 24 2009 @ 05:00 PM
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Originally posted by badmedia
...it was founded on the principles of Jesus and things of that nature. So in that respect, you are wrong.


In this case, you are wrong. It was founded on a principle not seen since the ancient Greece and Rome (which is the model that the Founding Fathers used), that every citizen should have a voice in the government. It was founded on the rights and freedoms of the individual. Individual rights and freedoms were not principles that Jesus preached.


Remember that many of those who came to America did so to escape the Catholic church, to get religious freedom. They did not like the church, or having the church in authority at all.


You are right, and yet you are also wrong. At the time of the founding of this country, and before, it was mostly populated by those who had fled England for religious freedom. Thus, they were trying to escape the Church of England (Episcopal Church), not the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was replaced in England by King Henry VIII, in 1534 so that he could divorce his wife.

The establishment of this country, however, had little to do with the Church, and more to do with the lack of representation of the Colonies in respect to laws and taxes. It was "taxation without representation" that was the inspiration for the founding of an independent republic.



posted on Aug, 24 2009 @ 05:58 PM
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reply to post by badmedia
 


I don't think it was founded on the teachings and morals of Jesus at all. At most, we can say that it was founded because of a belief in inalienable rights of conscience and liberty (at least for white men) rooted in God, not in Jesus. The founder's personal beliefs about Jesus did not come into play in any of the founding documents. Making the jump from the Deist God to the Christian Jesus only gives fuel to the irrational Religious Right in their weak defense of the idea of a Christian nation.

Peace,
Daniel



posted on Aug, 24 2009 @ 06:00 PM
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reply to post by eight bits
 


You are certainly right that we agree much more than we disagree, and where we disagree, it is a matter of degree rather than substantive difference. Thank you for your insight into the evolution of disestablishment in the states, particularly in Massachusetts.

Peace,
Daniel



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 12:08 AM
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Originally posted by JaxonRoberts
In this case, you are wrong. It was founded on a principle not seen since the ancient Greece and Rome (which is the model that the Founding Fathers used), that every citizen should have a voice in the government. It was founded on the rights and freedoms of the individual. Individual rights and freedoms were not principles that Jesus preached.


That is just the idea of a republic. But they limited the function of government in a much larger fashion, as well as not having royalty/kings.

Jesus taught that the people themselves were the authority.




You are right, and yet you are also wrong. At the time of the founding of this country, and before, it was mostly populated by those who had fled England for religious freedom. Thus, they were trying to escape the Church of England (Episcopal Church), not the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was replaced in England by King Henry VIII, in 1534 so that he could divorce his wife.


They wanted to get away from the church being the authority and for religious freedom. So I mostly think of them as being the same. King Henry only changed and left the RCC so he could get that divorce, but kept the rest in tact.



The establishment of this country, however, had little to do with the Church, and more to do with the lack of representation of the Colonies in respect to laws and taxes. It was "taxation without representation" that was the inspiration for the founding of an independent republic.


If you read Franklin autobiography, the main cause of the revolutionary war was the central bank of England, and it's scam in fractional banking. The extra taxes and such were imposed because England didn't at all care for the colonies having their own form of money(colonial scripts). The colonies flourished under them, and so they started to impose all those taxes as a result, since they weren't paying the silent inflation tax of the central bank.

But the reason the people came here for the years before the country was created was for religious freedom, and that is carried on with great importance in the 1st amendment. Protected by the 2nd amendment btw, because the order of the amendments is important(9th amendment).



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 12:14 AM
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reply to post by pdpayne0418
 


Well those things are the things Jesus and the bible are all about in reality, if you leave the things the church does and says out of it.

But I do agree that basic understanding is available to all, and it is certainly not a "Jesus" only thing. Obviously Jesus still played a large influence on them, as Jefferson even went so far as to write his own bible.

I don't really care if that fact gives them fuel. It's not going to take them very far, because to establish laws based on religion only is wrong and against the constitution, and those who try to do those things are just trying to setup a national religion and that is in no way what this country was founded upon.

Because on the flip side, there is an element which tries to remove all religion from the people and those in government. And that was not intended as that is an infringement on religious freedom. It is make no laws, not hold no beliefs and such.

So like if a judge wanted to put the 10 commandments in their office, then that is fine. But if it is put up using tax payer money, that is wrong, or if put up in an "official" capacity that is wrong.

There is a line, and if it's not clear then in either direction you start to deny religious freedom.



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 12:38 AM
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This nation was in fact, founded on the notion of secularism.

The small amount of religious believers that are, by todays standards, considered radical, do not really comprehend the notion of government being involved with religious belief. They simply go about their lives believng that what they believe is the only true way. Whereas, living in this country, I realise there is no federally established 'way'. It is all subject to belief and perception.

The founding fathers really did, IMHO, have a firm understanding of the natural instincts of humankind. We, as a whole, are not keen on being 'forced' to do or believe something. How many civil wars would have broken out if we were forced into this belief system?

In conclusion, separation of church and state is necessary for the survival of our country. The only problem lies in the fact that humans, as a whole, in this nation are blind to that fact.


 
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posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 07:30 PM
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starred

i never understood how christians take "no part of this world" to mean "meddle in everything"



posted on Aug, 26 2009 @ 08:58 PM
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the "founding fathers" of the great USA were New Age theosophists to the core.

You would expect to see more Christian symbols in a supposedly "Christian Nation" on important monuments and on the currency. Instead we got the pagan statue of liberty (just to mention one).


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posted on Aug, 28 2009 @ 11:24 PM
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reply to post by pdpayne0418
 


Okay, after a couple of days I'm back.


I would have to say that the founding fathers had to think of the many who lived in the colonies, that were persecuted in other countries such as England. Why were some persecuted? Because the government's of their original countries were based on beliefs that they did not agree too.

So, some toke on a voyage to go to the "New World". The founding fathers obviously thought about the future of America when they were writing the constitution. One thing that probably came to their minds, was the need for a larger population, probably to oppose any European countries/empires that would challenge them economically or through conflict. They needed immigration.

How would they get people to come to America? Why not make it seem like the land of the free. Keep in mind, that if the early United States of America, didn't include the bill of rights we wouldn't have the same America. When the patriots were thinking of independence from England they had to do it in a way to get support of the people.

Think of how appealing it would sound to the audience your trying to convince to join the cause, if it was based on reduced tea tax. No they needed something more, something that England didn't give to the majority of the population. Various Rights.

The founding fathers knew that not all of the colonists were Christian, so how could they base the future government on Christianity. I'm sure that the found fathers also saw the flaw in involving religion in government. The flaw is that the world changes. One day is majority of the population is Christian, the next there's a new religion.

The founding fathers wanted to create an independent nation, that could last the centuries. One that could offer what most countries didn't, certain rights.

I applaud the founding fathers, for the bill of rights. The day it was created, was the day it changed the world. They created a government that would be balanced, and if the government abused the populace. Well that's why they created the second Amendment.

If you really pay attention to the bill of rights, you will see that fathers foresaw the abuse of government. I think its just genius. Unfortunately the administrations of the 21st Century have found ways of getting past the bill of rights.



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