Friday, July 1, 2016
Over and over I hear people expound on how this is a Christian nation. While some, not all, of the founding fathers were Christian, their own words seem somehow pertinent. Here's a list of quotes. Again, note the surprise at the end.
". . . Some books against Deism fell into my hands. . . It happened
that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended
by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be
refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I
soon became a thorough Deist."
"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." -- Benjamin
Franklin, 2000_Years_of_Disbelief by James A. Haught
"Religion I found to be without any tendency to inspire, promote, or
confirm morality, serves principally to divide us and make us
unfriendly to one another."--Benjamin Franklin
"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."--Benjamin
Franklin, Poor_Richard, 1758
"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."--Benjamin Franklin
Say nothing of my religion. It is known to my god and myself alone.
-- Thomas Jefferson
Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of
every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual.
State churches that use government power to support themselves and
force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil
rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy
unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion.
Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore,
is absolutely essential in a free society.
We have solved ... the great and interesting question whether freedom
of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the
laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which
results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those
principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and
the serious convictions of his own inquiries.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to the Virginia Baptists (1808)
Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction
of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and 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.
-- Thomas Jefferson
"... I am not afraid of priests. They have tried upon me all their
various batteries of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying and
slandering. I have contemplated their order from the Magi of the East
to the Saints of the West and I have found no difference of character,
but of more or less caution, in proportion to their information or
ignorance on whom their interested duperies were to be played off.
Their sway in New England is indeed formidable. No mind beyond
mediocrity dares there to develop itself."
"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 civil as well as religious leaders will always
avail themselves for their own purposes."
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."
. . . Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on
the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of
miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern
part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in
favor of the rights of mankind."
The 1796 treaty with Tripoli, negotiations begun under Washington and
signed by Adams states:
"[As] the government of the United States of America is not in any
sense founded on the Christian Religion"
"Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and
irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause.
Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which
are caused by the difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the
most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be depreciated. I
was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked
the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every
denomination so far that we should never again see the religious
disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society."
George Washington - letter to Edward
John Leland (1754-1841) was a Baptist preacher whose life involved
writing about and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and about the
proper relationship between religion and government. In the latter
passion, Leland agreed with the position of Thomas Jefferson and James
Madison, both of whom he knew personally. Leland spent approximately 14
years in Virginia from 1776 to 1790-91. He was a major leader of the
Baptists in Virginia. He helped Madison by rounding up support for the
defeat of the assessment bill in Virginia in 1784-86, and by supporting
the ratification of the new constitution (only after being assured
that Madison did favor the addition of a bill of rights), He worked to
get Madison elected (over Patrick Henry's hand-picked James Monroe) to
the House of Representatives of the First Federal Congress. He returned
to his home state of Massachusetts in the winter of 1790-91, where he
remained an active minister and champion of separation of church and
state and disestablishment till his death in 1841. He wrote articles
against establishment while in Massachusetts and testified before the
Massachusetts legislature on at least one occasion.
Research by Jim Allison
Excerpt from July 4th Oration by John Leland, July 5, 1802.
. . . Disdain mean suspicion, but cherish manly jealousy; be always
jealous of your liberty, your rights. Nip the first bud of intrusion on
your constitution. Be not devoted to men; let measures be your object,
and estimate men according to the measures they pursue. Never promote
men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual
tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by
human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. It
converts religion into a principle of state policy, and the gospel into
merchandise. Heaven forbids the bans of marriage between church and
state; their embraces therefore, must be unlawful. Guard against those
men who make a great noise about religion, in choosing representatives.
It is electioneering. If they knew the nature and worth of religion,
they would not debauch it to such shameful purposes. If pure religion
is the criterion to denominate candidates, those who make a noise about
it must be rejected; for their wrangle about it, proves that they are
void of it. Let honesty, talents and quick despatch, characterise the
men of your choice. Such men will have a sympathy with their
constituents, and will be willing to come to the light, that their
deeds may be examined. . . .
Source of Information:
Excerpt from "July 4th Oration by John Leland, July 5, 1802". The
Writings of John Leland, Edited by L.F. Greene, Arno Press & The New
York Times New York (1969) pp.260-270) Originally published as: The
Writings Of The Late Elder John Leland Including Some Events In His
Life, Written By Himself, With Additional Sketches &c. By Miss L.F.
Greene, Lanesboro, Mass. Printed By G.W. Wood, 29 Gold Street, New York
1845. Nedstat Counter
"The national government will maintain and defend the
foundations on which the power of our nation rests. It will offer
strong protection to Christianity as the very basis of our collective
morality. Today Christians stand at the head of our country. We want to
fill our culture again with the Christian spirit. We want to burn out
all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theatre, and
in the press — in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality
which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of
LIBERAL excess during the past years" — Adolph Hitler (Taken from The
Speeches of Adolph Hitler, 1922-1939, Vol. 1, Michael Hakeem, Ph.D.
(London, Oxford University Press, 1942), pp. 871-872.)
I suppose times of intense change, revolutionary change even, whether for good or evil, lends itself to extremes. Thus as part of our discourse we hear that Muslims are terrorists, Mexicans carry drugs as if by sheer virtue of their nationality, race, or spiritual journey, every one like them is lumped into the same tiny box. Not only race, nationality, or spiritual belief now, but also I am seeing the ghost of Agism Past rear its ugly head once again. See, hard as it may be to imagine, I remember my own youth and young adulthood. We were in the midst of great change then too. We were moving out of the time of great conformity and extreme oppression of other races, beliefs etc also known as the fifties into the sixties when change was in the air. Our childhoods were filled with the stories of Communists under every leaf and the McCarthy hearings and we were determined to change the status quo. I recall expressions like "Don't trust anyone over 30." On the other side, so many older people looked askance at "the youth of today." Shaking their heads and wringing their hands. "Why when I was their age, I never..." But of course they did, but chose not to recall their own explorations of independence.
Our reality and if allowed our strength is in our diversity, not in our sameness. I've learned having been young, middle aged, and now old, that sometimes great wisdom and sometimes great foolishness can come from the lips of old people. Some learned many lessons and embraced wisdom, while others remained oblivious all the way into old age. I could say exactly the same thing for the young, and of the middle aged as well. Sometimes in talking with young people I will receive a pearl of wisdom so precious, not from experience, but from eyes that can look outside the box. Anytime we categorize and place people into a box of sameness rather than accept them in the rainbow of diversity that is the human condition, we not only limit them, but ourselves.
What inspired all of this? Two articles. One from Ozy yesterday suggesting old people should not be allowed to vote. That suggestion is so antithetical to any concept of a democratic society, I'll not even waste my time ranting about it. The other came today. Vox suggests that "old people become more conservative with age because science says so." Look someone does a study and publishes it, with or without peer review and suddenly it's an absolute. Look, some old people grow more conservative. More often I think conservative experimentation happens in middle age when conformity is demanded, and many revert to liberalism as they grow older. BUT THERE ARE NO ABSOLUTES. How old was the dude who killed the worshippers at that church in South Carolina?
So maybe we can start to chill with the agism, whether one is young or old, perceived or not. It's getting old really quick.
Jessica Wicks aka Long in Tooth (just fooling, mine are false)aka Cantankerous Old Crone aka (fill in the blank)