Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Founding Fathers on Religion

Throughout the recent election, I've heard a lot of cr . . . er . . . ah . . . rhetoric -- yeah, that's it -- about this country being founded on the Christian religion. I also got the idea that my flavor of Christianity is not the Christianity that these people believe in which immediately makes anything I say suspect so if you feel that way, stop reading now. The Constitution's Bill of Rights clearly states:

Amendment I

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.

I put on my Thinking Cap and went into research mode. The results below are the fruits of this endeavor. It's a series of quotes from our Founding Fathers on religion. Enjoy!!!!!!! And if you don't like them, I don't want to hear about it. You can't re-write history and if you try, you're writing lies. I was both fascinated with and very proud of their words.

* If Religion consist in voluntary acts of individuals, singly, or voluntarily associated, and it be proper that public functionaries, as well as their Constituents shd discharge their religious duties, let them like their Constituents, do so at their own expense. (James Madison, memoranda, 1820)

* That religion, or the duty we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience. (Patrick Henry)

* I am persuaded, you will permit me to observe that the path of true piety is so plain as to require but little political direction. To this consideration we ought to ascribe the absence of any regulation, respecting religion, from the Magna-Charta [Constitution] of our country. (George Washington, 1789).

* It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it was by the indulgence of one class of the 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 those 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 Touro Synagogue 1790. )

* We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions ... shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for honors and power ... we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society. (John Adams)

* As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of government to protect all conscientious protesters thereof, and I know of no other business government has to do therewith. (Thomas Paine, the Rights of Man)

* All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish [Muslim], appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit. I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise; they have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe. It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime. He takes up the profession of a priest for the sake of gain, and in order to qualify himself for that trade he begins with a perjury. Can we conceive anything more destructive to morality than this? (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason)

* "The legitimate powers of government," he wrote, "extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." (Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia,)

* And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.
(James Madison, Letters, 1822)

* I will never, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance, or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others. (Thomas Jefferson, Letters, 1803)

I think these words above make it pretty clear what the roles of government and religion were meant to be in this country. If you've studied some of the horrendous persecutions of religions in history and some that are going on today, you know that the Founding Fathers had it right when they wrote the First Amendment.

Happy Blogging!!!!!!!

Kay

15 comments:

  1. You and they have said it all and I agree 100% Why is it so darn hard to let other people believe as they believe and not feel it necessary to impose your beliefs on them? This has mystified me forever and a day.

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  2. Glad to see you back to expressing what you think -- good for the soul and psyche! Always saddens me to to see so much energy expended by one religious group trying to promote their beliefs onto another group. Let's just live in harmony.

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  3. FABULOUS post!! and ha...thomas jefferson may not have had HIS pocket picked, but the present-day TAX-EXEMPT churches are picking ours with abandon.

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  4. Excellent research, Kay! It seems that too many would ignore these writings of our forefathers, who knew firsthand the tyranny of theocracy. Would that we would heed their warnings!

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  5. Kay
    Thanks for searching all these out for us.

    I've never heard or read most of these. Thomas Paine said it better than anyone. Truer words have never been spoken or written down.

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  6. Not only do I agree with your opinion, I appreciate the research you did to make your point.

    I love Thomas Jefferson! ;)

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  7. Kay: Meeeeeeeee too -- which is why I wrote it!

    Joared: My point exactly!

    M.E.: Indeed! If they want tax exempt status, they need to shut up and follow the Constitution. My priest didn't say a word about who we should vote for. Good thing because I would have walked out no matter WHO he endorsed.

    Lynette: They were good, forward-thinking men who truly believed in freedom of thought.

    Clarence: I love Thomas Paine -- he was a real firebrand who difn't mince words.

    Scarlet: Thank you! It's special knowing that you and your parents came here to escape Castro's tyranny.

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  8. Good Morning, Kay,

    I agree totally. We are guaranteed the right to practice our religious beliefs not the right to impose them on others. I think the limitations on freedom of religion are similar to those on speech as described by Justice Douglas (I think, it was): free speech does not include the right to yell fire in a crowded theater. The right to freedom of religion does not include the right to force others to follow your religion.

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  9. Good old Tom Paine. He was almost as opinionated as I am. lol

    Good post.

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  10. perfect, kay. i join the thankers here for your putting the time and effort into clarifying for us

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  11. What a shame that intellect has become a bad word to so many people today. This blog is a good reminder of how thinking isn't bad.

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  12. Mary: You nailed it.

    Betty: If you read "The Age of Reason", I think you'll find he's got you beat!!

    Naomi: Awwww shucks!

    Rain: Thanks! And you know how I tired I was of all the people pontificating about religion and what this country was founded upon. This post is the result. And I'm thinking of more on the Bill of Rights and the Founding Fathers' thoughts.

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  13. Kay,

    Thanks for this.

    Best quote (yours):

    "You can't re-write history and if you try, you're writing lies."

    James Dobson needs a reminder.

    /v

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  14. Volly: A LOT of people need a reminder but when you try to explain it to them, they either don't get it or tell me I'm wrong. Thomas Paine was an atheist. It's abundantly clear in The Age of Reason.

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  15. You might like this blog:

    http://americancreation.blogspot.com

    It is exclusively dedicated to this topic. Check it out of you get a chance.

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