View Full Version : The Founders' Faith

07-04-2006, 02:55 PM
This year, lots of fireworks over the Founders' faith (http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20060703/ts_csm/afounders;_ylt=AjHSQ8ZL.0kHct9HyEw7Stqs0NUE;_ylu=X 3oDMTA3b2NibDltBHNlYwM3MTY-)

Osborne Russell
07-05-2006, 01:26 PM
Public spaces were "very open, very welcoming" to religion in the early republic, Mr. Morrison says. "Now there's a militant hostility to every public expression of faith. "

If so, it was brought on by the Reds. They attacked the First Amendment and the courts that uphold it, not in defense of the freedom of conscience, but in defense of their view that America was intended to be a "Christian Nation." Now they complain of militant hostility; tsk.

07-05-2006, 02:44 PM
From the Skeptic's Dictionary newsletter #69 - 7/4/06 by Robert T. Carroll (main website at http://www.skepdic.com )

Independence Day

Today, we commemorate our nation's independence and separation from the British Empire. I'd like to commemorate as well the vision of independence from the tyranny of men who use God and religion to oppress others. That vision is expressed in both the Declaration of Independence and in the U.S. Constitution.

The Declaration of Independence mentions "Nature's God" and asserts that it is self-evident that "all men are created equal" and "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." The Founding Fathers and Framers were not establishing an atheist nation, nor were they anti-religious. But the Declaration wisely asserts that governments derive "their just powers from the consent of the governed." The doctrine that governments derive their just powers from God is rejected in our Declaration of Independence. The King of Great Britain might claim that he was owed allegiance because his authority came from God and that to disobey him was to go against God but such a claim would be deemed illegitimate.

A corollary of the consent of the governed concept is that no President of the United States gets his authority from God. He can pray to God. He can ask God to guide him. But he cannot claim we must obey him because he gets his authority from God.

The Founders did not establish an atheist nation but they did establish a secular nation, a nation whose power is derived from the purely secular notion of consent of the governed. They recognized the importance of religion and God in most people's lives and they wisely understood that only a secular nation could protect religious liberty. Had they established a state church, religious liberty would have suffered as it did in England and everywhere else where there is a state church.

The preamble to the Constitution asserts that "We the People of the United States" establish the Union. God is not mentioned here or anywhere else in the Constitution. Again, this does not make the Constitution an atheist document. But it does make it a purely secular document. God is not the source of political power, our Union, or our Constitution. Furthermore, there will be no religious test for any citizen or government official. Obviously, this does not mean that only atheists can be citizens or run for political office. It means that anyone can be a citizen or run for political office without regard for his or her religious affiliation. One expected consequence of this policy was that we would avoid the state-sanctioned religious persecution of minority religions that characterized England and most other countries. There would, of course, still be persecution (witness how the Mormons and other minority religions were treated in the 19th century). Another consequence of this policy is that even an atheist could theoretically become President of the United States. Don't laugh. This country has only been here for 200 years. I don't think we'll last as long as the dinosaurs did, but there is hope that sometime within the next millennium or two the supers will be able to practice in peace while the brights run the government. Granted, we have a few prejudices to overcome. For example, a recent nationwide poll found that 54% wouldn't vote for a Muslim presidential candidate and 37% wouldn't want a Mormon president. The bad news is that the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll didn't even ask participants if they'd vote for an atheist or a bright.

Finally, let's commemorate the First Amendment clauses that assert "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion [the separation clause], or prohibiting the free exercise thereof [the free exercise clause]." They continue to provide ample employment for writers, teachers, judges, and lawyers. As complicated as people have made these simple clauses, I think they (combined with the 14th Amendment) say (1) no laws can be made that apply specifically to religions and (2) no law can be made that prevents people from practicing their religion. Their purpose seems to have been to make sure no national church was established and that the many churches existing at the time would be protected from government persecution. I'm wrong, of course. They actually mean whatever the current majority on the U.S. Supreme Court says they mean.

Of course, the religious fanatics have never accepted the facts that God or Jesus was not named as the source of political power and was not named as the Protector of the Nation in the Constitution. They have declared victory anyway and continue to spread the false notion that this nation is a "Christian" nation not a secular nation that protects Christians and non-Christians alike. The religious fanatics have had their victories. Bibles are used at the swearing in of Presidents and other office holders or in courtrooms when testimony is about to be given or oaths are to be sworn to. "So help me God" and "God bless America" are familiar political phrases. Our currency says "in God we trust." Congress put "under God" in the pledge of allegiance. Athletic contests and military battles are preceded by prayers to Our Father or to Jesus.

And despite the fact that religions have universally been the enemies of freedom and equality, millions of Americans have been taught to believe that Christians didn't support and defend but rather put an end to slavery. We're also mistaught that Christians didn't support and defend the inequality of women and others but were solely responsible for bringing about the 19th Amendment in 1920 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I suppose that in one thousand years, when homosexuals and transsexuals are treated as full human beings, Christians will take credit for that, too.

So, on Independence Day 2006 I salute our Nation's Fathers for establishing a secular nation free from the tyranny of a state religion and free from the tyranny of any Articles of Faith that must be sworn to before holding public office. I salute them for their foresight in recognizing that the best way to protect religions and religious people from discriminatory legislation was to prohibit such legislation altogether. Though we should admit that it wouldn't take a prophet of much ability to recognize that religious fanaticism would be a significant problem in a democracy unless there was a built-in limit to restrict its natural tendency toward tyranny.

Osborne Russell
07-06-2006, 05:41 PM
But the Declaration wisely asserts that governments derive "their just powers from the consent of the governed." The doctrine that governments derive their just powers from God is rejected in our Declaration of Independence.

An inconvenient truth.