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KillgoreTrout On July - 2 - 2014

So many, many times I hear so many of my fellow Americans claim that the United States is a Christian nation, as our founding fathers intended it to be. They continue to claim that our founders were god fearing, Christian men who for all intents and purposes designed our nation to be Christian, first and foremost. They are simply mistaken.

Many of the men who helped forge this great nation of ours were indeed Christians. Some were deists who believed in a supreme creator, but that creator took no active interests in the daily lives of his greatest creation, mankind.

Our founders were products of The Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason. The Age of Reason was a cultural movement of intellectuals beginning in late 17th-century Europe emphasizing reason and individualism rather than tradition. Its purpose was to reform society using reason, to challenge ideas grounded in tradition and faith, and to advance knowledge through the scientific method. It promoted scientific thought, skepticism, and intellectual interchange. The Enlightenment was a revolution in human thought. This new way of thinking was that rational thought begins with clearly stated principles, uses correct logic to arrive at conclusions, tests the conclusions against evidence, and then revises the principles in the light of the evidence.

Many of the founders saw, first hand, the terrible results of religious rule in Europe. They saw the fear and subservience that came from allowing religion a large hand in governing the people of Europe, and elsewhere in the world. As a result, they were determined not to allow such ignorance, freedom killing, thought killing dominance occur in the, oh so new nation, they were building.

I offer here some prime examples of their views on religion having the final say in the lives of men and women. These are some of their very well thought out and experience guided beliefs on religion and why religion should not be allowed to govern a nation of free thinking, liberty loving people.

“If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”
– George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia (1789)

“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear.”
– Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr (1787)

“Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.”
– Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man (1791)

“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people build a wall of separation between Church & State.”
– Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Danbury Baptists (1802)

“Congress has no power to make any religious establishments.”
– Roger Sherman, Congress (1789)

“In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practiced, and both by precept and example inculcated on mankind.”
– Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists (1771)

“Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.”
– Thomas Jefferson, A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (1779)

These are but a handful of very clear examples that show just what our founders thought about religious rule. There is little doubt in these wonderful thoughts that the founders clearly wanted a secular nation with the people being able to choose which faith they would follow, or if they chose no faith at all. This is what is meant when they spoke of religious freedom. They clearly meant that there should be no state religion, and no religious meddling in the creation of our laws.

They very clearly believed that no religion should be dominant over any other. They did not want any single religion to have power over, and control those who were of different faiths.

Written by KillgoreTrout

Once a wander, working vagabond, fellow traveler on this 3rd stone from the sun. Hurtling through space and time. Lover of books (especially the classics), all kinds of books from novels, poetry, essay collections, fiction and nonfiction and a big Kurt Vonnegut fan. I am a secular humanist and technically an atheist.....Taoist.

91 Responses so far.

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  1. monicaangela says:

    In regards to religion and the title to this piece: Is the U.S. a Christian nation?

    I submit this quote from H.L. Mencken, I believe he sums it up perfectly.

    “It is often argued that religion is valuable because it makes men good, but even if this were true it would not be a proof that religion is true. That would be an extension of pragmatism beyond endurance. Santa Claus makes children good in precisely the same way, and yet no one would argue seriously that the fact proves his existence. The defense of religion is full of such logical imbecilities. The theologians, taking one with another, are adept logicians, but every now and then they have to resort to sophistries so obvious that their whole case takes on an air of the ridiculous. Even the most logical religion starts out with patently false assumptions. It is often argued in support of this or that one that men are so devoted to it that they are willing to die for it. That, of course, is as silly as the Santa Claus proof. Other men are just as devoted to manifestly false religions, and just as willing to die for them. Every theologian spends a large part of his time and energy trying to prove that religions for which multitudes of honest men have fought and died are false, wicked, and against God.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~― H.L. Mencken, Minority Report

    We have to remember that in the case of the framers of the constitution, they were adapt at using religion to meet their own goal, not practicing literally any one written text, but picking and choosing to suit their needs. This in itself should lead any thinking man and woman to the obvious conclusion that this is not nor should it be a Christian or any other organized form of religion nation. This is my humble opinion of course. 😉

  2. And some more James Madison, Virginia Ratifying Convention: “There is not a shadow of right in the general government to intermeddle with religion. Its least interference with it, would be a most flagrant usurpation.”

    John Adams: “This country has done much. I wish it would do more; and annul every narrow idea in religion, government and commerce, It has pleased the providence of the first cause, the universal cause, that Abraham should give religion not only to Hebrews, but to Christians and Mohomitans, the greatest part of the modern civilized world.”

    Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read, “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.

    From the Treaty of Tripoli,signed by President John Adams: “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 [Muslims], — and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

    • monicaangela says:

      Hello Diane,

      Welcome to PlanetPOV. I agree, the U.S. was not meant to be a Christian nation. As time has passed since the signing of the constitution by the framers there are those who would try to insist that this nation was set up to be or should in their opinion be a Chrisitian nation.

      Religion makes only one direct and obvious appearance in the original Constitution that seems to point to a desire for some degree of religious freedom. That appearance is in Article 6, at the end of the third clause:

      [N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

      This statement is simple and straight-forward, and applies to all offices in the entire United States, both state and federal. The clause simply means that no public position can be required to be held by any one of any religious denomination. It would be unconstitutional for there to be a requirement that the President be Lutheran, or even for the mayor of a small town to be Christian. Likewise, it would be unconstitutional for a law to forbid a Jew or Muslim from holding any office in any governmental jurisdiction in the United States. (This having been said, it should be noted that several state constitutions do have a religious test — specifically, they deny office to anyone unwilling to acknowledge God or a Supreme Being.) That is different than being a follower of Christ.

      It should be noted that without exception, the Framers were Christian or, at the very least, deists (generally, deists believe in a single god who set the universe on its course and then stepped back to watch; some deists believe their deity is the same God of Jude o-Christian tradition, some do not). There were no Jews or Muslims, no Hindus or atheists, and only two Roman Catholics. There were members of more than a half-dozen sects of the Protestant side of Christianity, though. Disagreements about style and method of worship between them were nearly as vast and incongruous as any seen today between, say, Jews and Muslims, such that the Framers wanted to ensure that no one sect could ever seize control of a government and start a theocracy. The religious right in this nation IMHO are trying to disregard the hard work of the framers. They are trying to stack the courts, they are trying to hold politicians they vote into office to a rigid religious test, that being that they profess to be Christian and definitely against Muslims etc. This is what the framers were trying to avoid.

      Christian conservatives principally seek to apply their understanding of the teachings of Christianity to politics and public policy by proclaiming the value of those teachings and/or by seeking to use those teachings to influence law and public policy. This again is something I believe the framers were trying to avoid and, something that I believe every citizen in this nation should avoid. We are not a Christian nation even though Christianity is the number one religion in the U.S.

      Here is a PewResearch study you might like to read: http://religions.pewforum.org/reports

      Thank you for your very interesting post, I enjoyed reading it. 🙂

      • Franklin was the closest to being an atheist. He was raised Congregationalist, but never gave or by his actions seemed to have, a preference as an adult. Most of the rest attended Episcopalian services if any, but there’s no question that many of the “big” names, and 3 out of 4 of our first Presidents were Deist or Unitarian, Jefferson being the most public non-Christian. Point anyone who tries to say different to the Jefferson “Bible.”

        The Constitution was not deemed to supercede state law except the few places it was explicit i so in many, if not most, cases until the 14th Amendment. Even that is being applied piecemeal by the SCOTUS.

        • monicaangela says:

          Thank you for your reply, I agree wholeheartedly.

          If the U.S. was founded on the Christian religion, the Constitution would clearly say so--but it does not. Nowhere does the Constitution say: “The United States is a Christian Nation”, or anything even close to that. In fact, the words “Jesus Christ, Christianity, Bible, Creator, Divine, and God” are never mentioned in the Constitution-- not even once. Nowhere in the Constitution is religion mentioned, except in exclusionary terms.

          None of the Founding Fathers were atheists. 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. They spoke often of God, (Nature’s God or the God of Nature), but this was not the God of the bible. They did not deny that there was a person called Jesus, and praised him for his benevolent teachings, but they flatly denied his divinity. Some people speculate that if Charles Darwin had lived a century earlier, the Founding Fathers would have had a basis for accepting naturalistic origins of life, and they would have been atheists. We’ll never know; but by reading their own writings, it’s clear that most of them were opposed to the bible, and the teachings of Christianity in particular.

    • Thank’s for your thoughtful reply Diane. Welcome to the Planet. I look forward to reading more of your comments, and maybe even an article or more.

  3. PollyTics says:

    Wonderfully stated!

  4. MurphTheSurf3 says:

    Freedom OF is freedom FOR and freedom FROM.

    You see, the Founders and Framers understood that Freedom OF Religion applies to both the practice of religion and the decision not to practice. It is as much freedom FROM religion as it is freedom FOR religion. Why “from”…because like other institutions in the British Empire churches were instruments of regulation and oppression. The Established Church, Anglican, and associated colony specific churches, had many privileges and for that reason tended to endorse the status quo.

    And while Christianity was THE Dominant religion in the United States in 1776, and 1789, it came in such variety with differences so profound that protection from excesses by one over others was deemed a necessity. Framers also addressed concerns related to Jews, Deists and Rationalists (i.e. Atheists).

    Of the 55 delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, 49 were Protestant, two were Roman Catholics. That is 51.

    Among the Protestant delegates to the Constitutional Convention, 28 were Anglican/Episcopalian, 8 were Presbyterians, 7 were Congregationalists, 2 were Lutherans, 2 were Dutch Reformed, two were Methodists. Two of their number were “unaffiliated” which might mean they were deists. There were two Jews.

    The leading Founders (Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Wilson, Morris, Madison, Hamilton, and Washington) have been shown to be supporters of a hybrid “theistic rationalism”. However church attendance and support of a church were the norm to which the Founders held as proper form within society.

    Throughout the writings of many of the Founding and Framing generation one finds references to the “god of nature, of reason, of providence”…this was the language of the Enlightenment, from which the Founders’ intellectual tradition sprang. It provided common ground, apart from any particular tradition, which was often divisive, to consider the nature and role of the deity. For Jefferson, for example, the deity was best understood as Hagia Sophia…Holy Wisdom.

    For Franklin, the idea of the Divine Clockmaker was attractive- building the mechanism, winding it up, setting it down, and then walking aware. Both men were formally Anglican/Episcopalian….but their writings show that they were not bound by the Church of England’s creed (as was Geroge Wythe of Va. for example).

    The Declaration of Independence speaks of “the Creator” of “Providence” and “nature’s God.” NOTE: No God the Father, Jehovah, Yahweh, Jesus, or Holy Spirit. In the Constitution: The reference to the deity is found in one place, the date. Anno Domini.

    I agree that non-belief was rare and largely hidden in their society but the principle of belief or non belief is certainly clear in the Bill of Rights and in their writing. Recall that adherence to the creed of one denomination over another had divided the colonies, and divided the colonists from the British government.

    The Enlightenment provided the philosophical foundation for the Revolution, and for the Founders and Framers. And the root of that philosophy was free inquiry and open mindedness. Further the government was deeply rooted in a secular authority not a religious one…the social contract.

    • Thanks, Murph!

      Yes, many of the founders were very familiar with the works of John Locke and Rousseau. The leading thinkers in the Social Contract theory.

      It’s a real shame that so many people don’t even know what the social contract is about. Even sadder, they never even heard of it.

      • MurphTheSurf3 says:

        And only a small handful of the framers favored a theistic approach to governance— some because they were rationalists, others because they knew how deep the conflicts were among practitioners and how deeply the nation would be if any particular tradition were adopted.

        • ???? I may be reading your comment wrong, but how could those who favored a theistic approach to governance be “rationalists?” “…others because they knew how deep the conflicts were among practitioners and how deeply…the nation would be if any particular tradition were adopted?”

          How deeply…what? Am I missing something here?

          • MurphTheSurf3 says:

            My source is Historian Gregg L. Frazer who argues that the leading Founders (Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Wilson, Morris, Madison, Hamilton, and Washington) were neither Christians nor Deists, but rather supporters of a hybrid “theistic rationalism”

            Gregg L. Frazer, The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders: Reason, Revelation, and Revolution (University Press of Kansas; 2012)

            Theistic rationalism is a hybrid of natural religion, Christianity, and rationalism, in which rationalism is the predominant element. Thus reason is the lens through which matters of faith are viewed and weighed for authenticity.

            Theistic rationalists believe that God plays an active role in human life as a source of guidance, inspiration and support.

            Prayer is understood to be communication with the divine spirit present in the universe. They accept parts of the Bible as divinely inspired, using reason as their criterion for what to accept or reject.Their belief that God intervenes in human affairs to inspire the actions of the right thinking and their approving attitude toward parts of the Bible distinguish theistic rationalists from Deists.

            Thus, the Declaration Congress and the Constitutional Convention were “acts of God.”

            Jefferson is an interesting example of this in practice.

            Jefferson was a member of the Episcopal Church and a leader of his local congregation, yet his private beliefs are hardly traditional- as that church doctrine represents.

            Jefferson’s belief system is laid out in “The Jefferson Bible”, or “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth” as it is formally titled. It was constructed by Jefferson in the latter years by cutting and pasting with a razor and glue numerous sections from the New Testament as extractions of the doctrine of Jesus “cleansed” (he said) of myth. Jefferson’s condensed composition excludes all miracles by Jesus and most mentions of the supernatural, including sections of the four gospels which contain the Resurrection.

            I suspect he was typical of many of his generation of leaders.

            I regard most of the references to providence, the divine, God as efforts to transcend the peculiarities of individual churches by embracing this concept of the divine as inspirational and aspirational.

  5. pinkpantheroz says:

    Marvellous article, KT. It sure spells out what the USA is. It is the United States of America, not the United Christian States of America. And for those of the evangelical fundamentalist persuasion, God did not bless this continent. At least not while rapacious Europeans ( of All religions) pillaged it from the original inhabitants. Not when genocide occurred by killing off the bison. Not when Slave Owners created wealth on the backs of the downtrodden. The United States may be many good things now, but God had nothing to do with it, and really even the mention of God should not be countenanced while making the Law of the Land. The Land exists, we exist. God may, or may not exist, but if He is the one supposedly driving our lives, are we not then slaves to HIM/HER/IT??

    • Thanks PPO! I don’t really care what one’s theological beliefs may be, AS LONG AS, those beliefs don’t include the manipulation and control of others.

      While doing a little research for this article I came across a phrase I don’t think I’ve seen before, or at least never really thought that much about it. The phrase is “freedom of conscience.” That phrase really grabbed me, and gave me a better understanding of what some religious fanatics want to accomplish. They literally want to use their followers’ consciences to be the controlling instrument. I used to think it was solely the threat of hell and eternal damnation, but if one can control another’s conscience and make them feel guilty in the here and now, wow, that is a lot of power over another or an entire group of others.

      It really is insidious and creepy. No one should ever let another human being have that sort of power used against them.

      • Freedom of Conscience, as used at that time, meant that you could believe what seemed right to you. What, if anything, you deemed to be the “proper” relationship between you and your deity. Not quite what the word conscience means today.

        • That’s assuming one believed in a deity. I think, from a secular point of view, the word conscience, is actually more easily defined. The definition is less muddled.

          Maybe I should say that the conscience itself is less muddled.

          • I’m an agnostic only to the point that an absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. 🙂

            I’ve just done a lot of reading things written in that era and before. Since we’re discussing it in terms of the Declaration/Constitutional I’m using the meaning of the phrase had at that time and in that context.

      • MurphTheSurf3 says:

        KT left you a long post- applies to yours and Zeke’s….near the top of the page.

  6. SearingTruth says:

    “Do not carelessly take the hope of others my friends. We all derive that most precious gift from so many different sources. From deep within ourselves, from belief in good and benevolent supernatural forces, from belief in ordered and ultimately just natural forces, and from a plethora of other deeply held and personal beliefs uncounted. Our fight is not with hope fellow citizens, it is with intolerance, despair, suffering, and death.

    In fact, we need not fear the beliefs of others, only their imposition upon us.”
    SearingTruth

    A Future of the Brave

  7. Miles Long says:

    So let’s get to where the rubber meets the road: none of the cogent arguments against the notion that the United States of America is a Christian nation can get any traction with an ideological, dumbed-down religious Right.

    They are truth and logic-challenged and no amount of reality is going to dent their mistaken beliefs, therefore they must be expunged from any possible influence on our system of governance.

    This requires unaccustomed (at least in recent history) effort on the part of the Left. We have to turn out voters in unprecedented numbers for the next generation and purge religious conservatives from all levels of government and the courts.

    Anything else is just howling at the moon…

    Miles “Final Solution” Long

    • Do I hear the pot calling the kettle black? Because they believe something different than you do they are incapable of truth, not in touch with reality, with mistaken beliefs and they must not be allowed to be part of the political process. Freedom of/from religion works both ways or not at all.

      • Miles Long says:

        Diane, Diane, Diane! {laughing}

        You just made my argument for me. The framers of our Constitution eschewed any notion of religion as a mitigating factor in the ruling of this nation; the separation of church and state was one of the abiding principles in the creation of this nation.

        There was to be no establishment of a state-sponsored religion.

        Now if you feel otherwise with all evidence supporting my assertion and absolutely no evidence supporting yours, you fit the description of the people I described in my original post.

        Miles “Better Luck Next Time” Long

        • “They” meant the fundamentalist/evangelical religious right in my reply, a group I’m far from a member of. However, you were writing in the same tone towards them that you object to them using. That’s what I objected to.

          As long as the contest/debate is a bunch of name calling and emotion loaded adjectives it’s not going to get anyone anywhere. We can’t change them (although many of us try), but we can keep from using the same methods.

          • kesmarn says:

            Diane, first off, welcome to the Planet! And many thanks for your comments, and for the call to civility. It’s so difficult to take that step back, that deep breath, and to refuse to be drawn to the place where there’s more heat than light, no?

          • Miles Long says:

            I can’t help my tone bothering you.

            Two things, I speak in absolutes where necessary, and I do not subscribe to the completely discredited notion that there are always two equal sides to any issue.

            My arguments are often harsh and unyielding because I have no time or patience with those who do not argue facts, but instead have a need to inject “feelings” in their discourse.

            FYI: I’m an ordained, ecumenical minister, coupled with the fact that I am also an empiricist; I require proof. As such I fully question the existence of God.

            I also recognize that ANY argument painting the United States of America being conceived as a Christian nation is based on ignorance or delusion, perhaps both. That was my original point.

            To characterize my post as the pot calling the kettle black when the facts are completely on my side is disingenuous.

            Facts are not a matter of feelings…

            Miles “Next?” Long

            • “dumbed-down”, “truth and logic-challenged” “mistaken beliefs”

              Those are adjectives, not facts.

              As soon as you start name calling you’ve lost the debate. If you actually want to change anything, as opposed to just venting your angst, then be the one who rises above it.

            • Kalima says:

              I think that sentence ended with a question mark.

              Have a good day Miles, and goodnight from my corner of the globe.

            • Miles Long says:

              I would remind everyone that it was I who was accused of being the pot calling the kettle black…first. {chuckle}

              Miles “Who’s On First” Long

            • Kalima says:

              Well actually Miles, you are responsible for your tone, and if you had been greeted in this condescending way when you joined The Planet, in fact within the very first comments posted here, you might react in a similar way.

              This is not the Fight Club, it’s a place to discuss and exchange ideas and opinions in a civil and respectful way, no matter how passionate you may be about any issue. We would appreciate it if our members remembered this. It’s not really such a hard thing to do and at one time or another we have all had to do it. It’s much better than the alternative. Thank you.

        • I think you and Diane should probably first identify exactly who “they,” are.

          The law makers, or those that vote for them?

          • Miles Long says:

            In the larger picture, KT, they are indistinguishable on the Right.

            Those who vote them in do so because their candidates hold with their mistaken perspectives.

            The Right’s denial of science and math is clear evidence of my initial assertion and is indistinguishable in voters on the Right from those they elect.

            Miles “Tarred By The Same Brush” Long

            • Miles, I see proof, every day. No, I need no further proof.

              My point is that voters/non-office holders are not bound by the Establishment Clause.

              The office holders ARE. Or should be.

              I’m not talking about good citizenship, only the law. People vote for war mongers, is THAT good citizenship? People vote for the wealthiest to dominate the less fortunate. Is THAT good citizenship? Of course not, but it is not illegal and does not exclude the voter from the political process.

            • Miles Long says:

              The voters on the Right elect their candidates BECAUSE they will violate the Establishment Clause, KT. If you need proof, look at the non-secular pandering of those candidates on the Right to get elected.

              And, really, from a civics point of view, if you elect a candidate you know WILL NOT faithfully defend the Constitution, are you not fulfilling the requirements of good citizenship?

              Miles “No Accident” Long

            • The main distinction is that the voters, aren’t bound by the Establishment Clause in the first amendment. They aren’t because they don’t make the laws.

              Now, the law makers are a different story. They should be bound by the constitution, in it’s entirety.

              So I think there is a distinction when you say that “they,” should be excluded from the political process.

    • monicaangela says:

      Religion is the organization of spirituality into something that became the hand maiden of conquerors. Nearly all religions were brought to people and imposed on people by conquerors, and used as the framework to control their minds.

      John Henrik Clarke

      • Miles Long says:

        Interesting that a man would admit something like that! {laughing}

        Fact: Organized religion was invented by men to take power away from women.

        Prior to the advent of organized religion women ruled all the various small societies across the globe. They were at the pinnacle of all these societies based on their inborn mysticism of being the sex that gave birth, and because they could bleed without dying. This was the status quo for tens of thousands of years.

        Organized religion was the advent of men who wanted to wrestle societal power away from women as evidenced by the fact that all organized religions have women in subservient positions under the dominion of the male sex.

        (And really, don’t anyone f-ing bring up some obscure offshoot to try to show how f-ing smart you think you are and that my thesis is wrong. Smarter people than you have vetted this fact. Okay, except maybe on Themyscira.)

        Anyway, look at the major religions, especially dating back over the last 5,000 years, and their writings and teachings have women in a subservient role in society.

        It is a medical fact that testosterone makes you stupid. Again, we have 10,000 years of history proving that.

        As an adjunct to my original post, I blame women for the position we’re in today as a society.

        (Everyone’s hackles rising now? {chuckle})

        Here’s the deal: 52% or so of the nation’s voters are women, a very clear majority and a margin wider than many elections are decided today.

        If women had been exercising their franchise strategically for the last 50 years even, and we had 52% of the House and Senate at the federal and state level, 52% of the judges sitting on federal and state benches, and 52% of the governors in this country women, the United States of America would be a paradise.

        But we don’t, and all because men were able to convince women that they were better stewards of this planet than women were…and sadly still have entirely too many women believing it.

        Miles “Partially Tongue In Cheek Perspective” Long

    • Nirek says:

      Miles”you are so right” Long, my friend, how do we do that, though?

      • Miles Long says:

        I have my doubts that it can be done.

        If the lost opportunities for college graduates to find gainful employment doesn’t do it for the nation’s young, then nothing will.

        If all the work the Republican party has done to keep Blacks and Latinos from voting doesn’t do it for non-whites, nothing will.

        If losing control of their personal health choices doesn’t do it for women, nothing will.

        If living as a wage slave because the minimum wage is unsustainable for a family to live on doesn’t do it, nothing will.

        If the fact that your favorite reality show or sports team is on television Election Day keeps your ass from exercising your Constitutional right to vote, nothing will.

        If the fact that the Judicial Branch of the government is populated by a majority of heinous ideologues doesn’t do it, nothing will.

        If the fact that your belief that your one vote matters not, nothing will…

        Miles “Quit Making Excuses” Long

        • monicaangela says:

          Hear, hear !!!! Bravo !!! Wonderful Miles, I’d love to hear this in a political speech. Too bad most candidates don’t have the cajones nor the political will to say something as simple, direct, and true as this. This is priceless.

          I would like to copy and use this in an email to friends and family who somehow feel it is futile to vote because of gerrymandering. I hope I have your permission. 🙂

          • Miles Long says:

            Feel free.

            I truly believe what I said, if the direction of this country doesn’t serve to wake people up, then they deserve what they get…or don’t get, whichever the case may be.

            Miles “Just Desserts” Long

  8. phoenixdoglover says:

    As many have mentioned, the attitudes of many of the Founding Fathers about the intersection of religion and government, or the lack thereof, was the result of the previous 150 years of difficult history in Europe.

    The Protestant Reformation really kicked it off; essentially a rebellion from the established Roman Catholic Church. The whole idea of the Reformation was to reject the centralized authority of Rome, repudiate the “unholy alliance” between Catholic Kings and Rome, and establish a wholly local form of religious governance.

    Our Evangelical Christians today are the descendants and beneficiaries of the Protestant Reformation. Their Christian Churches are largely self-governing, and their Protestant tradition of a “Priesthood of all believers” grants them the freedom to express themselves so ardently on matters of religious belief. This was not the case under Rome and the Catholic monarchies.

    What a tragic situation for the Evangelical Churches today and their members, that so many are in the process of repudiating the very philosophic basis for their existence by pushing for religion in government. It’s all the more ironic to have them imagine the Founding Fathers on their side.

  9. Kalima says:

    KT, excellent article perfectly summed up in these two sentences, a point I have been trying to make for years.

    This is what is meant when they spoke of religious freedom. They clearly meant that there should be no state religion, and no religious meddling in the creation of our laws.

    Your Founders were exceptionally wise men who thankfully have not witnessed that their wisdom has been shamefully misinterpreted by the Right to try to control and bleed your nation dry with their consuming greed and disrespect for others.

  10. kesmarn says:

    A terrific article, Homie!

    And it should be required reading for all those Dominionists who insist that the Founders were all devout evangelical Christians who intended for the country to be run with a state-established religion, with rules enforced by a sort of Protestant version of Sharia Law.

    Aren’t you incredibly aggravated by phony historians like David Barton, who’ve never bothered to read any primary sources, have no training in historical research and just make it up as they go along?

    The amount of damage these revisionists do is hard to calculate. People sometimes think that history is something of an esoteric, peripheral issue, but as you’ve eloquently shown, the way we view it determines the way we think, act and vote in the here and now.

    • sillylittleme says:

      Interesting that you use the term Dominionists. It has long been my contention that they have confused dominion (to take care of) with domination (to take over).

      • kesmarn says:

        I think your contention is absolutely right, SLM! And that will to dominate seem so extend to the environment, to animals and to women as well, don’t you think?

    • Much appreciated Homie! I think the very clear writings of our founders really need to be hammered home, time and time again.

      It seems our educational system gives them only a cursory nod these days. I actually hope I’m wrong about that!

  11. SearingTruth says:

    Wow gentle friend KillgoreTrout. That was amazing.

    Thank you.
    ST

    “My beliefs are better than yours.”
    SearingTruth

    A Future of the Brave

  12. Beatlex says:

    Thanks for the history lesson KT,I did not know a lot of that.And to see what SCOTUS is doing to what the founding fathers intended.Sickening

  13. SallyT says:

    My buddy is sooooooooo smart! Thank you for posting. I had something to post for the 4th but now you and Zeke make me think maybe I better stick with the Funnies. You both are so informative.

    You know I love ya!

  14. monicaangela says:

    KT,

    I have a few errands to run, but I couldn’t leave without posting this for you….Enjoy!!!


    • SearingTruth says:

      I am in tears gentle friend monicaangela. A treasure of truth from so long ago.

      Thank you.
      ST

      “I would welcome any God that was kind, compassionate, merciful, and good.

      And allowed me to live in disbelief.”
      SearingTruth

      A Future of the Brave

    • Thanks Monica. Yeah, this is one of my favorite routines by Mr. Carlin.

      Although I’m an atheist, I’m not really an anti-theist. I believe there is a Buddhist saying along the lines of “Respect all religions, for they are but different paths to the same end.” That’s not verbatim, but it’s close enough to show such wisdom in thinking this.

      Can you imagine how much more peaceful and productive this world would be if everybody believed in this way?

      The thing that bothers me about organized religion is it is such a ready tool for those that would twist it’s beauty to control and bilk others.

  15. monicaangela says:

    Excellent article KT….10 stars!!!!!

    The psychologists of mass mind control need no concentration camps when people will believe whatever self-serving line they sell them. Religion has been a method of controlling the masses for as far back in history as one cares to study. The forefathers knew this, you know this, I know this, and many, many others have expressed their concern about the misuse of religion. This is not a Christian nation, and as for the forefathers, they understood that psychological mind control is more difficult to save someone from than an actual concentration camp. I believe this is the reason they decided not to do away with religion altogether, but to allow those that would remain in their mental shackles the opportunity to do so, after all, even they, the forefathers were using the bible to justify some of their actions. We have to remember, these men were slave owners…

    • Thanks Monica, yes, that is a very unfortunate fact of our nation’s history. It’s glaringly hypocritical of them. For such men to be oh so concerned about liberty, and at the same time, owned and kept other human beings is sort of mind boggling. I guess the Age of Reason left a few things out.

      What our founders did accomplish though is equally amazing. Their combined wisdom and fore thought was and is remarkable. America is an ongoing, grand experiment in democracy, and we’ve certainly hit some rough patches along the way, and we still have a long way to go before we get it just right. Getting it just right might be impossible, in the end. Maybe it’s the perfecting processes that are of real importance.

      • Zeke says:

        Hey Kilgore, I just wanted you to see this excerpt from James Madison’s ‘tyranny of the majority’ speech June 6, 1787:

        “We have seen the mere distinction of colour made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man. What has been the source of those unjust laws complained of among ourselves? Has it not been the real or supposed interest of the major number?”
        http://teachingamericanhistory.org/convention/debates/0606-2/

      • monicaangela says:

        I believe because of their unconscious or conscious guilt over many of the things they subscribed to, they actually tried to set this nation up to be the kind of nation it should be in the future, and not the nation it was during their time. Their work has made it possible for many of the changes that have occurred in this nation since their time to come to fruition. They were visionaries, and did IMHO an excellent job at trying to save this nation from what they experienced under British control…too bad there are those that would try to erase/camouflage/distort everything they tried to do.

  16. Nirek says:

    Well done KT, I have no doubt that the GOP/TP think we are a Christian country. Even though they are wrong. After all they are wrong more often than not. They follow some leaders who are “profiteers”. The followers believe them to be profits, wrongly so.

  17. NWGuy says:

    Interesting that the GOPT keeps referring back to the founding fathers as a guide to where they want the US to go, yet, the founding fathers were fighting against much of what the GOPT is currently pushing.

  18. Nicely put.

    The FF were probably influenced by the history of religious wars in Europe, especially the thirty years’ war between Protestants and Catholics. They wanted to try and make it clear that their new country was not going to play host to the same sorts of bloodshed over which version of the Xian God people wanted to accept.

    By the way, the sorts of strictures SCOTUS put on contraception in the Hobby Lobby case don’t even appeal to a majority of Catholics anymore. Pax Christi, the Catholic-based peace alliance, even states that although they condemn abortion, they recognize that it exists in context with the relative lack of power and resources women have in society, and should not be automatically condemned. Most Mainline Protestant denominations support its legality. Some pastor friends of mine just put in a protest letter to the NY Times saying that the views of the Green Family (Hobby Lobby) should not be construed as representing the views of every person of Christian faith.

    Just sayin.

    • Thanks Mister. What nudged me in the direction of this article was the recent SC decision in the Hobby Lobby case.

      It’s nice to know there are religious organizations who do not wish to be associated with those who want religion meddling in our legislation and court decisions.

      I would add that these fundamentalist groups would like much more control over the lives of others, besides the contraception/abortion issues. They want to replace the U. S. constitution with the Bible.

      I know there are many, many good Christian people in America who understand the first amendment and agree with it. I believe they are much stronger in their faith than those yahoos who want religious rule to be dominant in America.

      • TY. Sadly, the Xian right has been able to insinuate itself as the leading-edge ‘Christian’ organization. There are Jerry Falwell Christians and Dan Berrigan Christians and whole lots of people in between.

        My Muslim neighbors have no sympathy with any of the terrorist groups, and will countenance no equivalency between the Al Qaeda’s of the world and the average American Muslim. If we’re willing to believe that, we should believe that the bible-thumping folks pushing against abortion and birth control are in the minority of the Christian community (such as it is ) in the US.

  19. VegasBabe says:

    Well done KT! Question for ya. Did our forefathers who you quote …were they likely coping in a similar climate of religious extremists as we are today?

    • Thanks VB. Oh I think most definitely yes. The Church of England was nearly all powerful then and dissenters from the Church were not looked upon kindly.

      Of course here and now, it’s a lot weirder because we have no central church, yet far too many Americans seem to want one. It’s almost the same, only in reverse.

  20. RSGmusic says:

    THis is a fine article Killgore Trout with out question

    It is the USA, not the religious states of America.

    There are many Christians in the USA but they are both conservative and liberal. SO America has Christians but there are a very large amount of other religions and atheists. The civil laws of the united are not supposed to be religious at all. TO do so should be immediate dismissed from any court in the USA especially the Supreme court. Removal from the courts of the land should not be left up to congress.

    God or Jesus are not in the constitution and neither was it in the original pledge.

    The bible has little to do with politics, economics,science,inventing or building anything in today’s society. The Bible was written by men for men in many aspects. IT was not written in English originally and has both old and new testaments. The old testament for the Jewish religion and the New testament for the Christians. Jesus was born Jewish. Both God and Jesus are as liberal as can be. SO conservatives Christians worship them but practice very little of what they taught and believed in. SO that is why there is such a disconnect with conservatives. Essentially conservative where made by man much latter in the time line.

    first amendment wording

    No religion can make civil law against another religion or non religion bias to their religion thus the separation of Church and state.
    A church is defined as a business by the us tax laws so it get its tax free status no for being a religion or church.

    Jesus never said build a church or took money for his teachings.
    Well the human race failed, we now have churches and money is given to them. Neither are both supposed to be here. Again invented by man.

    Thomas Jefferson

    Thomas Jefferson’s word for the Bible?
    Dunghill.

    The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.
    John Adams

    http://www.nobeliefs.com/jefferson.htm

    Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of
    the common law.

    Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper,
    February 10, 1814

    --
    Believing with you that religion is a matter
    which lies solely between man and his God,
    that he owes account to none other for his faith or
    his worship, that the legislative powers of
    government reach actions only, and 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 and State.

    So there is freedom for ALL religions and FREEDOM from religions and no religion at all.

    America Had it own people the native american Indians and they had many religions.

    In the future the present Supreme court may be the most corrupt court ever on the conservative side. Only time will tell.

    • Some great thoughts indeed RSG! Thanks for including them here. I often wonder, how much proof do these rabid Christian fundamentalists
      need to convince them that America was NEVER intended to have a state religion.

      • RSGmusic says:

        HI KillgoreTrout,

        Your question is a good one.

        The answer is, there will never be enough evidence.
        That is the disconnect. The far right religious conservatives think they are never wrong.

        IN 20 or 30 yrs, they the TP/GOP and those far right will not have enough people to vote them in nationally and just in a few spots in state and locally.

        IF the GOP reinvents themselves they will be more moderate to get elected.

        Live long and prosper Friend KillgoreTrout.

  21. Zeke says:

    Excellent and accurate piece KT. Looks like we are delivering a one two punch for historical accuracy (see my piece due later today.)
    I hope you don’t mind me adding a few quotes from prominent founders.

    “Because experience witnesseth that eccelsiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”
    ~~James Madison, “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments” 1785

    “The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
    ~~John Adams, preface “A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” 1787

    “The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy — a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”
    ~~George Washington Letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport,
    August 18, 1790

    “I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another: for freedom of the press, & against all violations of the constitution to silence by force & not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents.”
    ~~Thomas Jefferson Letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799

    “It behoves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own. It behoves him, too, in his own case, to give no example of concession, betraying the common right of independent opinion, by answering questions of faith, which the laws have left between God & himself.”
    ~~Thomas Jefferson Letter to Benjamin Rush, 21 April 1803

    • Zeke says:

      “That 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 endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time”
      ~~Thomas Jefferson’s, “Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom”
      enacted on January 16, 1786

      • kesmarn says:

        Thanks for some amazing quotations, Zeke. Isn’t it sad that some of the very people who really need to read these words are the ones who are the least capable of comprehending them?

        I was reading an article on that bus full of refugee children that was confronted by an angry group of Tea Party demonstrators today. Here’s an exact transcription of a sign that one of these women was carrying:

        “US Citiens doNT get FREE PASS Y sHould ILEAGELS.”

        Is there the slightest hope that she could ever read prose like the comments quoted above and have the slightest clue?

        Sigh.

        And yet, we can’t give up on getting those words out there, can we?

        • Zeke says:

          The founders did have a way with words, didn’t they?

          That sign is a sad reflection of how far education has fallen in this country. It also reminds me of sign one protester was holding while protesting the atheist monument in Florida.

          “Hook for Jeses”
          [img][/img]

          …gotta laugh to keep from crying.

  22. kevinbr38 says:

    Excellent post Killgore Trout…
    I would take it one step further and point out the hypocrisy of those who would call themselves patriots, while at the same time attempting to make Evangelical Christianity not only our spiritual guide, but the actual basis for our laws as well.

    • Thanks kevin! I just wanted to lay out some proofs that America is not a Christian nation as so many people wrongly believe. I figured you guys could elaborate on that, which you have done pretty clearly here.

      Too many people think that since Christianity is the majority religion here that this fact makes all of our nation a Christian one. Of course, it does not. These people need to get their noses out of the Bible and into an American history book.


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