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Old 01-25-2005, 03:30 PM   #16
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If you look up the Jefferson Bible you will learn about his beliefs on the divinity of Christ.
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Old 01-25-2005, 03:40 PM   #17
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A little lengthy, but this gives some interesting insight into Jefferson's views on religion / Christ:


"Most important of all is the evidence of Thomas Jefferson's own words as to what he believed. The following quotation, from a letter (Aug. 10, 1787) which he wrote to his young nephew and ward, Peter Carr, sheds much light on Jefferson's religious opinions:"

"Religion. In the first place, divest yourself of all bias in favor of novelty and singularity of opinion. Indulge them on any other subject rather than that of religion. On the other hand, shake off all the fears and servile prejudices under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix Reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal 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 of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine, first, the religion of your own country. Read the Bible, then, as you would Livy or Tacitus. For example, in the book of Joshua we are told the sun stood for several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus, we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, etc. But it is said that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine, therefore, candidly, what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand, you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the laws of Nature. You will next read the New Testament. It is the history of a personage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions: 1, Of those who say he was begotten by God, born of a virgin, suspended and reversed the laws of Nature at will, and ascended bodily into heaven; and, 2, Of those who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who set out with pretensions to divinity; ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition, by being gibbeted, according to the Roman law, which punished the first commission of that offense by whipping, and the second by exile, or death in furea.... Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you will feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you. If you find reason to believe there is a God, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye, and that he approves you, will be a vast additional incitement: if that Jesus was also a God, you will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love. Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven; and you are answerable, not for the rightness, but uprightness, of the decision." (Parton's Life of Jefferson, pp. 338 339.)
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Old 01-25-2005, 05:53 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by verte76
Unitarianism isn't a cult; it's a group of liberal religious people.
Perhaps it would help to define cult.

There are a few groups that use plenty of Christianese, but deny core beliefs about Jesus.
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Old 01-25-2005, 10:28 PM   #19
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Originally posted by verte76
Believe it or not, I was a member of a Unitarian Church prior to my conversion to Catholicism. I'd been raised in a very conservative Protestant environment, rebelled, went to the Unitarians for six years, then..........I became a Catholic. Unitarianism isn't a cult; it's a group of liberal religious people. It originally got its name from its rejection of the divinity of Christ and the Trinity and in 1961 they merged with the Universalists, a group who believe in universal salvation. Unfortunately my group had some people who were very intolerant of more conservative religious people and there was one really bad incident in particular where some people were rude as hell to a terrific gospel choir that had been invited by some of the members. I talked to the gospel singers and told them I thought they were cool. It was embarrassing.
That's very interesting, Verte, I had no idea. It seems that with good intentions of being inclusive to all, they are still - in a sense - exclusive to those who don't have conservative beliefs. I'm personally glad that you find the Catholic church more fulfilling. I think it's very real in comparisan, but reasonable people may beg to differ.

But, to add to our famous list of Unitarians, is Susan B. Anthony and Christopher Reeve. Two very inspiring figures in American history.
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Old 01-26-2005, 05:55 AM   #20
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What was considered Unitarianism at that time was much different from what we have now. It was still steeped in Christianity though maybe not as orthodox as others at the time. The Unitarian Church now is much more "secular" ( I guess that's the right word).
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Old 01-26-2005, 08:20 AM   #21
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Re: Religions of the First 10 Presidents

Quote:
Originally posted by Macfistowannabe
George Washington - Episcopalian
John Adams - Unitarian
Thomas Jefferson - [Questionably] Unitarian

"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a god." -- Thomas Jefferson

"To the corruptions of Christianity, I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence, and believing he never claimed any other." -- Thomas Jefferson

James Madison - Episcopalian
James Monroe - Episcopalian
John Quincy Adams - Unitarian
Andrew Jackson - Presbyterian
Martin Van Buren - Dutch Reformed
William Henry Harrison - Episcopalian
John Tyler - Episcopalian

Thoughs, etc?
First off, this is a clear misrepresentation of the Founding Fathers, along with the religious climate of the day. There was the first "Great Awakening," yes, in the 1760s, but by the time of the American Revolution, the U.S. was highly disillusioned with religion. The Founding Fathers were more accurately products of the secular Enlightenment, and has less to do with religion. Most of the Founding Fathers were Episcopalian in name only, as, prior to independence, it was the state religion. This doesn't mean that they were fervent, regular churchgoers--and I have direct quotes to prove it.

Little is known about what George Washington thought about religion. He's noticeably silent in history about it, but historians believe that he attended Episcopalian services infrequently.

However, we do have this:

"As the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,--as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquillity of Messelmen,--and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mohammedan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever interupt the harmony existing betweenthe two countries"--Treaty of Tripoli in 1797, Article XI. Drafted during Washington's second term and ratified during John Adams' term. It was also ratified by the U.S. Senate unanimously.

John Adams is also a bit more forthright:

"I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved--the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!"--John Adams in a letter to Thomas Jefferson

"But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed.--John Adams in a letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816, "2000 Years of Disbelief", John A. Haught

"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole carloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity." --John Adams

Thomas Jefferson is even more vocal:

"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are serviley 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 blind faith." -- Thomas Jefferson

"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."--Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association on Jan. 1, 1802, "The Writings of Thomas Jefferson Memorial Edition," edited by Lipscomb and Bergh, 1903-04, 16:281

"(When) the (Virginia) bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason & right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that it's protections of opinion was meant to be universal. 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 "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantel of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohametan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination."--Thomas Jefferson, from his autobiography, 1821, "The Writings of Thomas Jefferson Memorial Edition," edited by Lipscomb and Bergh, 1:67

"The legitimate powers of government 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, Jefferson the President: First Term 1801-1805," Dumas Malon, Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1970, p. 191

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise.. affect their civil capacities."--Thomas Jefferson, "Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson," edited by Julron P. Boyd, 1950, 2:546

In regards to your quote above, Jefferson did see himself, at times, as "Christian," but he looked very disdainfully on orthodoxy. You should try and read "The Jefferson Bible" sometime. He eliminated the Old Testament, removed several books from the New Testament, and from the existing texts, removed all passages he believed perverted Christianity. Jefferson would clearly not approve of today's evangelical Christianity.

James Madison, also the writer of the Constitution, was steadfastly opposed to tax-exempt statuses for religion and had the same zeal in desiring a complete separation of church and state:

"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has 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, "A Memorial and Remonstrance, 2000 Years of Disbelief" by James A. Haught

"Ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and all of which facilitates the execution of mischievous projects. Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded project."--James Madison, "2000 Years of Disbelief" by James A. Haught

"And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."--James Madison in a letter to Edward Livingston in 1822

"It may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will best be guarded against by an entire abstinence of the Government from interference in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect against trespasses on its legal rights by others."--James Madison, "James Madison on Religious Liberty", edited by Robert S. Alley, ISBN pp 237-238

"The Civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success, whilst 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

As for James Monroe onwards, there aren't many quotes out there on what they thought about religion, so I can't say one way or another in regards to their religious beliefs. However, for America as a whole, religion was in decline from the time of the American Revolution to around 1840, which is the time of the second "Great Awakening." It is at this time that ministers created the myth of the "Christianity" of the Founding Fathers. To convert as many people as possible, they wanted desperately to convince people that America was founded as a "Christian nation" and then paraded the Founding Fathers as examples of it. The problem is, of course, is that they were all lies from the beginning. Period.

Overall, the Founding Fathers were not very religious (as a reflection of the times and their social class), and what religion they did have had a lot in common with the French "Enlightenment," which was non-Christian, as a whole. Thomas Jefferson et al. were more likely agnostic "Deists," and the reference to "the Creator" in the Constitution is a direct reference to Deism, as that's exactly the term Deism used to refer to "God." But we owe an awful lot to the Enlightenment, as if it weren't for his heavy emphasis on secular humanism, we would likely have devolved into religious wars.

It was also their view that separation of church and state served a dual purpose: to prevent religion from perverting government, but also to prevent government from perverting religion. They had very unconventional religious beliefs, and they knew how easy it was for "the religious majority" to want to start legislating their morality. Happen to remind you of a certain situation today?

Melon
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Old 01-26-2005, 10:16 AM   #22
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The irony is that the Founding Fathers probably couldn't be elected today.

I wonder if they're on their stomachs now, or if they've done a full 360.
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Old 01-26-2005, 12:07 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by medmo
The irony is that the Founding Fathers probably couldn't be elected today.

I wonder if they're on their stomachs now, or if they've done a full 360.
They would probably have to claim a denomination, be less vocal about their concerns about the corruptions in Christianity, and probably less vocal about their strong views on Freedom of Religion. In other words, less outspoken on things that are seemingly more and more controversial. I don't think anyone that openly rips on the church or a certain form of Christianity - or any religion - has a good shot at becoming president. We have heard Bush over and over again note that Islam is a religion of peace. Some of us need more convincing evidence, but for security reasons, I wouldn't want him burning the Koran and having it broadcasted to the Middle East.

I suppose it would be fair to say that the Founding Fathers were less concerned about political correctness than we are today.
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Old 01-26-2005, 12:10 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Perhaps it would help to define cult.

There are a few groups that use plenty of Christianese, but deny core beliefs about Jesus.
We can always ask our friend, dictionary.com.

5 entries found for cult.
cult ( P ) Pronunciation Key (klt)
n.

A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader.
The followers of such a religion or sect.
A system or community of religious worship and ritual.
The formal means of expressing religious reverence; religious ceremony and ritual.
A usually nonscientific method or regimen claimed by its originator to have exclusive or exceptional power in curing a particular disease.

Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing.
The object of such devotion.
An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[Latin cultus, worship, from past participle of colere, to cultivate. See kwel-1 in Indo-European Roots.]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
cultic or cultish adj.
cultism n.
cultist n.

[Download or Buy Now]
Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Main Entry: cult
Function: abbreviation
culture


Source: Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc.


cult

n 1: adherents of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices 2: an interest followed with exaggerated zeal; "he always follows the latest fads"; "it was all the rage that season" [syn: fad, craze, furor, furore, rage] 3: a system of religious beliefs and rituals; "devoted to the cultus of the Blessed Virgin" [syn: cultus, religious cult]


Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University


cult

CULT: in Acronym Finder


Source: Acronym Finder, © 1988-2004 Mountain Data Systems


cult

cult: in CancerWEB's On-line Medical Dictionary


Source: On-line Medical Dictionary, © 1997-98 Academic Medical Publishing & CancerWEB
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Old 01-26-2005, 12:11 PM   #25
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Unitarianism is not a cult, certainly not in the way that the Branch Davidians or Heaven's Gate were cults.
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Old 01-26-2005, 12:13 PM   #26
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I could agree to that.
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Old 01-26-2005, 12:13 PM   #27
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To "Christian Churches" they are easy to label that way though.
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Old 01-26-2005, 12:31 PM   #28
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The Unitarian Universalists are not a cult, and nor do they operate using cult-like behavior. You can disagree with their doctrine or their liberal approach to religion; that's well within any of our rights. But "cult" is an abuse of the term.

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Old 01-26-2005, 01:20 PM   #29
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Some actually believe that mainstream Christian churches are a cult. They look at the concept of communion, for example.

- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -
From http://ronaldbrucemeyer.com/rants/0808almanac.htm

In order to partake of Christian communion, the child must also "be able to distinguish the Eucharistic from the common bread; that is, to know that what looks like bread is not bread, but contains the real, living Body and Blood of Christ." Leaving aside this patently ludicrous statement, what do you suppose it means that this miraculous bread, that looks like ordinary bread, "contains the ... Body and Blood of Christ"? If you eat this bread, are you eating God?

And why would you eat a god?

[---]

Communing with fellow Christians may encourage fellowship, but there is always a side dish of comical consequences. In his 1911 recollection of fourteen years in the Jesuit priesthood, Count Paul von Hoensbroech tells the story of an old woman who, after receiving the wafer in her mouth, contemplated that she was swallowing the genital organs of Christ himself. She spat the wafer into her prayer book, gave it to the priest, and he had to eat it![5]
- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -
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Old 01-26-2005, 01:23 PM   #30
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So wait....

You are saying Catholics are a cult because they believe in transubstantiation?
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