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Old 02-19-2004, 10:11 PM   #76
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
Thanks for the condescending sigh....
I apologize. I did not intend for it to be condescending, nor was that "sigh" directed at you. It was more directed at myself, as I find that I've been forced to repeat myself here in this forum.

But that isn't your fault, so don't take it that way.

Melon
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Old 02-19-2004, 10:13 PM   #77
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Ahh its not you...I am just pissy I just found out I need more surgery on my new Kidney stone...LOL Just plain cranky. I should have Pm'd you...LOL

I really was looking forward to getting slammed by you over this topic...hehe
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Old 02-19-2004, 10:20 PM   #78
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Originally posted by Dreadsox
You miss the point I think.... Kids react when Christianity is mentioned. Not when other heritages are mentioned. I understand the difference.
Ah, I see. My bad (sorry to hear about you having to have more surgery on the kidney stone...that sucks ...).

Perhaps that lends some support to what some people are saying here, though-most kids react to Christianity because that's the one that most people are familiar with. If the other religions in this country were promoted as much as Christianity tends to be, that might change (especially if they were promoted in a better light. Unfortunately, a lot of people look down upon the Islamic religion because of what a few people did. But that's another topic entirely, I believe).

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Old 02-19-2004, 10:34 PM   #79
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http://www.postfun.com/pfp/worbois.html

The Faith of our Founding Fathers, by Dean Worbois

Do you think he wants some credit for your post Melon?



Sorry it is the teacher in me.
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Old 02-19-2004, 10:37 PM   #80
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
http://www.postfun.com/pfp/worbois.html

The Faith of our Founding Fathers, by Dean Worbois

Do you think he wants some credit for your post Melon?



Sorry it is the teacher in me.
I should post my sources. I did take it from that page.

I guess, in hindsight, it makes it look like I've been writing all these threads myself. However, I have figured that if I have been putting quotations in my threads--like direct quotes from Jefferson and Adams--it is assumed that I researched it and not invented it myself.

But it is sloppy scholarship, so, yes, that page is where I got my arguments from.

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Old 02-19-2004, 10:42 PM   #81
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No way..I knew you forgot...LOL
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Old 02-20-2004, 10:47 AM   #82
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I will attempt to debate what Melon has prestented the best that I can. i will be back during the day to take on each of the men that he quoted. It is practically impossible to debate each and every quote due to the lack of context in them. I have tried this morning to do so, and cannot find the quotes in context of the letter or document that they all appeared. Some I was successful with.

I will start with that rebel Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson was a thinker. He believed in science and the laws of science. His world was one in which ALL things could be explained. This led him, like others to begin to look at religion and the Bible differently from the established Churches at the time.

Jefferson believed that the whole Bible was not dung. How have I come to this conclusion? I believe he said that is was. Jefferson as I said above believed that everything in this world is bound by science and the laws of nature. He did not believe that the miracles in the New Testament occured because of his belief in science. However, if he thought that the whole book was "DUNG" why did he directly use the verses from King James in his Bible. That would make no sense if the book was DUNG.

Jefferson used the direct language because he respected the text. Jefferson did not rewrite the whole entire Bible, he chose to write the Gospels over. Why? Not because Jesus was not important to him. He wanted to remove DOGMA and the Miracles from the Bible. He felt that the Message of Christ was important, like many of the Unitarians in the day.

Jefferson was not a "deist" in the sense that he did not believe in God or the message of Jesus.

Here is my proof in context.

[Q]To Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse

Monticello, June 26, 1822

Dear Sir, -- I have received and read with thankfulness and pleasure your denunciation of the abuses of tobacco and wine. Yet, however sound in its principles, I expect it will be but a sermon to the wind. You will find it as difficult to inculcate these sanative precepts on the sensualities of the present day, as to convince an Athanasian that there is but one God. I wish success to both attempts, and am happy to learn from you that the latter, at least, is making progress, and the more rapidly in proportion as our Platonizing Christians make more stir and noise about it. The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man.

1. That there is one only God, and he all perfect.

2. That there is a future state of rewards and punishments.

3. That to love God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself; is the sum of religion.

These are the great points on which he endeavored to reform the religion of the Jews. But compare with these the demoralizing dogmas of Calvin.

1. That there are three Gods.

2. That good works, or the love of our neighbor, are nothing.

3. That faith is every thing, and the more incomprehensible the proposition, the more merit in its faith.

4. That reason in religion is of unlawful use.

5. That God, from the beginning, elected certain individuals to be saved, and certain others to be damned; and that no crimes of the former can damn them; no virtues of the latter save.

Now, which of these is the true and charitable Christian? He who believes and acts on the simple doctrines of Jesus? Or the impious dogmatists as Athanasius and Calvin? Verily I say these are the false shepherds foretold as to enter not by the door into the sheepfold, but to climb up some other way. They are mere usurpers of the Christian name, teaching a counter-religion made up of the deliria of crazy imaginations, as foreign from Christianity as is that of Mahomet. Their blasphemies have driven thinking men into infidelity, who have too hastily rejected the supposed author himself, with the horrors so falsely imputed to him. Had the doctrines of Jesus been preached always as pure as they came from his lips, the whole civilized world would now have been Christian. I rejoice that in this blessed country of free inquiry and belief, which has surrendered its creed and conscience to neither kings nor priests, the genuine doctrine of one only God is reviving, and I trust that there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die an Unitarian.

But much I fear, that when this great truth shall be re-established, its votaries will fall into the fatal error of fabricating formulas of creed and confessions of faith, the engines which so soon destroyed the religion of Jesus, and made of Christendom a mere Aceldama; that they will give up morals for mysteries, and Jesus for Plato. How much wiser are the Quakers, who, agreeing in the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, schismatize about no mysteries, and, keeping within the pale of common sense, suffer no speculative differences of opinion, any more than of feature, to impair the love of their brethren. Be this the wisdom of Unitarians, this the holy mantle which shall cover within its charitable circumference all who believe in one God, and who love their neighbor! I conclude my sermon with sincere assurances of my friendly esteem and respect. [/Q]

So for the record...He believes in the Moral teachings of Christ. He was opposed to DOGMA. His Bible (Really a Gospel since he did not rewrite the entire text)used the Language of King James without the miracles to get directly at the teachings of Christ. His battle with the churches of the day caused him to be labled not a Christian leading one to believe that he was NOT a Christian. This however is not true. Jefferson himself in his own words writes that he is a Christian. Which was indeed the point that I made yesterday. He viewed himself as a disciple of Christ, because he was opposed to the Dofma, which he felt did not come from Christ.

[Q]To Charles Thomson Monticello, January 9, 1816
MY DEAR AND ANCIENT FRIEND,
-- An acquaintance of fifty-two years, for I think ours dates from 1764, calls for an interchange of notice now and then, that we remain in existence, the monuments of another age, and examples of a friendship unaffected by the jarring elements by which we have been surrounded, of revolutions of government, of party and of opinion. I am reminded of this duty by the receipt, through our friend Dr. Patterson, of your synopsis of the four Evangelists. I had procured it as soon as I saw it advertised, and had become familiar with its use; but this copy is the more valued as it comes from your hand. This work bears the stamp of that accuracy which marks everything from you, and will be useful to those who, not taking things on trust, recur for themselves to the fountain of pure morals. I, too, have made a wee-little book from the same materials, which I call the Philosophy of Jesus; it is a paradigma of his doctrines, made by cutting the texts out of the book, and arranging them on the pages of a blank book, in a certain order of time or subject. A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen; it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what its author never said nor saw. They have compounded from the heathen mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man, of which the great reformer of the vicious ethics and deism of the Jews, were he to return on earth, would not recognize one feature. If I had time I would add to my little book the Greek, Latin and French texts, in columns side by side. And I wish I could subjoin a translation of Gosindi's Syntagma of the doctrines of Epicurus, which, notwithstanding the calumnies of the Stoics and caricatures of Cicero, is the most rational system remaining of the philosophy of the ancients, as frugal of vicious indulgence, and fruitful of virtue as the hyperbolical extravagances of his rival sects.

I retain good health, am rather feeble to walk much, but ride with ease, passing two or three hours a day on horseback, and every three or four months taking in a carriage a journey of ninety miles to a distant possession, where I pass a good deal of my time. My eyes need the aid of glasses by night, and with small print in the day also; my hearing is not quite so sensible as it used to be; no tooth shaking yet, but shivering and shrinking in body from the cold we now experience, my thermometer having been as low as 12 degrees this morning. My greatest oppression is a correspondence afflictingly laborious, the extent of which I have been long endeavoring to curtail. This keeps me at the drudgery of the writing-table all the prime hours of the day, leaving for the gratification of my appetite for reading, only what I can steal from the hours of sleep. Could I reduce this epistolary corvee within the limits of my friends and affairs, and give the time redeemed from it to reading and reflection, to history, ethics, mathematics, my life would be as happy as the infirmities of age would admit, and I should look on its consummation with the composure of one "qui summum nec me tuit diem nec optat."

So much as to myself, and I have given you this string of egotisms in the hope of drawing a similar one from yourself. I have heard from others that you retain your health, a good degree of activity, and all the vivacity and cheerfulness of your mind, but I wish to learn it more minutely from yourself. How has time affected your health and spirits? What are your amusements, literary and social?

Tell me everything about yourself, because all will be interesting to me who retains for you ever the same constant and affectionate friendship and respect.[/Q]

Jefferson called his book the "Philosphy of Jesus" He was not rewriting the entire Bible. Jeffersons words in context speak volumes. He considered himself a Christian more Chrisitan than the preaches in the churches.

http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/jeff1458.htm http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/P/tj3/wr...rf/jefl239.htm

I have work to do. John Adams is next...BBL.
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Old 02-20-2004, 12:05 PM   #83
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On to John Adams. Again, John Adams was Unitarian. He is burried in the basement of the Unitarian Church in the center of Quincy Massachusetts.

Adams is the Founding Father that would have been today's John Lennon in my opinion. John, may very well have taken from Adams to come up with the song "Imagine".

Many of the writings of Adams on religion come from his Diary and the letters that he wrote to Thomas Jefferson. The first quote you presented was probably said by Adams. Adams strongly felt that the traditions and dogmas of religion were indeed what was wrong with religion. His quotes about Catholics and Priests are very harsh.


[Q]Twenty times in the course of my late readings, have I been on the point of breaking out, 'This would be the best of all worlds if there were no religion in it!' But in this exclamation I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company I mean hell. So far from believing in the total and universal depravity of human nature, I believe there is no individual totally depraved. The most abandoned scoundrel that ever existed never wholly extinguished his conscience, and while conscience remains there is some religion[/Q]

Adams did not like structured religion based on my readings because religion was used by the Popes and Kings to wage war and persecute in my opinion. Does this mean that he was not a believer in God? Does this mean he was against the Bible? I think not. He like Jefferson did believe in the MESSAGE of the book and in God the creator.


From Adams DIARY:

[Q]FEBRUARY 22, 1756 Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged, in conscience, to temperance and frugality and industry; to justice and kindness and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love and reverence towards Almighty God. In this commonwealth, no man would impair his health by gluttony, drunkenness, or lust; no man would sacrifice his most precious time to cards or any other trifling and mean amusement; no man would steal, or lie, or in any way defraud his neighbor, but would live in peace and good will with all men; no man would blaspheme his Maker or profane his worship; but a rational and manly, a sincere and unaffected piety and devotion would reign in all hearts. What a Utopia; what a Paradise would this region be.[/Q]

In his diary he reacted this way towards Thomas Paine who had just published the Age of Reason an attack on Christianity.

[Q]JULY 26, 1796
Cloudy . . .

The Christian religion is above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modem times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity, and humanity, let the blackguard Paine say what he will; it is resignation to God, it is goodness itself to man.[/Q]

In his diary he certainly does not seem like he agrees with Thomas Paine about Christianity.

Finally, with tremendous respect he writes of Christianity and its central message being in harmony with the laws of nature.

[Q]AUGUST 24, 1796

One great advantage of the Christian religion is that it brings the great principle of the law of nature and nations--Love your neighbor as yourself, and do to others as you would that others should do to you,--to the knowledge, belief, and veneration of the whole people. Children, servants, women, and men, are all professors in the science of public and private morality. No other institution for education, no kind of political discipline, could diffuse this kind of necessary information, so universally among all ranks and descriptions of citizens. The duties and rights of the man and the citizen are thus taught from early infancy to every creature. The sanctions of a future life are thus added to the observance of civil and political, as well as domestic and private duties. Prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude, are thus taught to be the means and conditions of future as well as present happiness. [/Q]

Adams, like Jefferson believed in the central message of Jesus. He may not have believed in the Dogma taught by the various religions, but he certainly was not opposed to the message. He most edfinitely believed that the Bible was indeed a worthy book on which to base a society:

[Q]Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God.... What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be."[/Q]

Finally...the second quote you attribute to him, was not his specifically as the site you got it from pointed out......It was the Treaty of Treaty of Tripoli. Now, if you egamine what that treaty was about it was between the US and a Muslim Nation. Now, lets think about the history of European powers, dominated in the past by Papal influences and how a Muslim nation would feel about a "Christian Nation". It was put into the Treaty to reinforce to the people that we were entering into the treaty with that we were not going to enter into a Crusade based on the whim of a Pope or another organized religious body. Taking that one line out of the document not written by Adams and attributing it to him is wrong. One final note....the treaty was reaffirmed with Tripoli two or three years later this clause in it was removed from the treaty. OOps....back at you.

http://www.ronaldbrucemeyer.com/rants/1030almanac.htm http://www.constitution.org/primarys...damsdiary.html
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Old 02-20-2004, 12:38 PM   #84
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I have run across a Supreme Court Case today. Interestingly enough, a French Gentleman left the city of Philadelphia a sum of money to start a school. In the will he specified that lay people be the teachers in the school and not religious scholars/ministers. Since it was a school for orphans, I am guessing here that he wanted them to not be influenced by any one religion.

The will was challenged by the family in court...they wanted the money, and the bulk of the arguments appeared to be that this school could not be opened because you could not have laypeople teaching Christianity.

The Supreme Court

[Q]It is unnecessary for us, however, to consider what would be the legal effect of a devise in Pennsylvania for the establishment of a school or college, for the propagation of Judaism, or Deism, or any other form of infidelity. Such a case is not to be presumed to exist in a Christian country; and therefore it must be made out by clear [*199] and indisputable proof. Remote inferences, or possible results, or speculative tendencies, are not to be drawn or adopted for such purposes. There must be plain, positive, and express provisions, demonstrating not only that Christinanity is not to be taught; but that it is to be impugned or repudiated.

Now, in the present case, there is no pretence to say that any such positive or express provisions exist, or are even shadowed forth in the will. The testator does not say that Christianity shall not be taught in the college.But only that no ecclesiastic of any sect shall hold or exercise any station or duty in the college. Suppose, instead of this, he had said that no person but a layman shall be an instructor or officer or visitor in the college, [**190] what legal objection could have been made to such a restriction? And yet the actual prohibition is in effect the same in substance. But it is asked; why are ecclesiastics excluded, if it is not because they are the stated and appropriate preachers of Christianity? The answer may be given in the very words of the testator. "In making this restriction," says he, "I do not mean to cast any reflection upon any sect or person whatsoever. But as there is such a multitude of sects and such a diversity of opinion amongst them, I desire to keep the tender minds of the orphans, who are to derive advantage from this bequest, free from the excitement which clashing doctrines and sectarian controversy are so apt to produce." Here, then, we have the reason given; and the question is not, whether it is satisfactory to us or not; nor whether the history of religion does or does not justify such a sweeping statement; but the question is, whether the exclusion be not such as the testator had a right, consistently with the laws of Pennsylvania, to maintain, upon his own notions of religious instruction. Suppose the testator had excluded all religious [***235] instructors but Catholics, or Quakers, [**191] or Swedenborgians; or, to put a stronger case, he had excluded all religious instructors but Jews, would the bequest have been void on that account? Suppose he had excluded all lawyers, or all physicians, or all merchants from being instructors or visitors, would the prohibition have been fatal to the bequest? The truth is,that in cases of this sort, it is extremely difficult to draw any just and satisfactory line of distinction in a free country as to the qualifications or disqualifications which may be insisted upon by the donor of a charity as to those who shall administer or partake of his bounty.

But the objection itself assumes the proposition that Christianity [*200] is not to be taught, because ecclesiastics are not to be instructors or officers. But this is by no means a necessary or legitimate inference from the premises. Why may not laymen instruct in the general principles of Christianity as well as ecclesiastics. There is no restriction as to the religious opinions of the instructors and officers. They may be, and doubtless, under the auspices of the city government, they will always be, men, not only distinguished for learning and talent, but for piety and elevated [**192] virtue, and holy lives and characters. And we cannot overlook the blessings, which such men by their conduct, as well as their instructions, may, nay must impart to their youthful pupils. Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament, without note or comment, be read and taught as a divine revelation in the college -- its general precepts expounded, its evidences explained, and its glorious principles of morality inculcated? What is there to prevent a work, not sectarian, upon the general evidences of Christianity, from being read and taught in the college by lay-teachers? Certainly there is nothing in the will, that proscribes such studies. Above all, the testator positively enjoins, "that all the instructors and teachers in the college shall take pains to instil into the minds of the scholars the purest principles of morality, so that on their entrance into active life they may from inclination and habit evince benevolence towards their fellow-creatures, and a love of truth, sobriety, and industry, adopting at the same time such religious tenets as their matured reason may enable them to prefer." Now, it may well be asked, what is there in all this, which is positively [**193] enjoined, inconsistent with the spirit or truths of Christianity? Are not these truths all taught by Christianity, although it teaches much more? Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament? Where are benevolence, the love of truth, sobriety, and industry, so powerfully and irresistibly inculcated as in the sacred volume? The testator has not said how these great principles are to be taught, or by whom, except it be by laymen, nor what books are to be used to explain or enforce them. All that we can gather from his language is, that he desired to exclude sectarians and sectarianism from the college, leaving the instructors and officers free to teach the purest morality, the love of truth, sobriety, and industry, by all apropriate means; and of course including the best, the surest, and the most impressive. The objection, then, in this view, goes to this, -- either that the testator has totally omitted to provide for religious instruction in his [*201] scheme of education, (which, from what has been already said, is an inadmissible interpretation,) or that it includes but partial and imperfect instruction in those [**194] truths. In either view can it be truly said that it contravenes the known law of Pennsylvania upon the subject of charities, or is not allowable under the article of the bill of rights already cited? Is an omission to provide for instruction in Christinanity in any scheme of school or college education a fatal defect, which avoids it assording to the law of Pennsylvania? If the instruction provided for is incomplete and imperfect, is it equally fatal? These questions are propounded, because we are not aware that any thing exists in the constitution or laws of Pennsylvania, or the judicial decisions of its tribunals, which would justify us in pronouncing that such defects would be so fatal. Let us take the case of a charitable donation to teach poor orphans reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and navigation, and excluding all other studies and instruction; would the donation be void, as a charity in Pennsylvania, as being deemed derogatory to Christianity? Hitherto it has been supposed, that a charity for the instruction of the poor might be good and valid in England even if it did not go beyond the establishment of a grammar-school. And in America, it has been thought, in [**195] the absence of any express legal prohibitions, that the donor might select the studies, as well as the classes of persons, who were to receive his bounty without being compellable to make religious instruction a necessary part of those studies. It has hitherto been thought sufficient, if he does not require any thing to be taught inconsistent with Christianity.

Looking to the objection therefore in a mere juridical view, which is the only one in which we are at liberty to consider it, we are satisfied that there is nothing in the devise establishing the college, or in the regulations and restrictions contained therein, which are inconsistent with the Christian religion, or are opposed to any known policy of the state of Pennsylvania.

This view of the whole matter renders it unnecessary for us to examine the other and remaining question, to whom, if the devise were void, the property would belong, whether it would fall into the residue of the estate devised to the city, or become a resulting trust for the heirs at law.

Upon the whole, it is the unanimous opinion of the court, that the decree of the Circuit Court of Pennsylvania dismissing the bill, ought to be affirmed, and it is [**196] accordingly affirmed with costs. [/Q]

This was from the Supreme Court Case:

FRANCOIS FENELON VIDAL, JOHN F. GIRARD, AND OTHERS, CITIZENS AND SUBJECTS OF THE MONARCHY OF FRANCE, AND HENRY STUMP, COMPLAINANTS AND APPELLANTS,
v.
THE MAYOR, ALDERMEN, AND CITIZENS OF PHILADELPHIA, THE EXECUTORS OF STEPHEN GIRARD, AND OTHERS, DEFENDANTS.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
43 U.S. 127; 1844 U.S. LEXIS 323; 11 L. Ed. 205; 2 HOW 127
JANUARY, 1844 TERM

1844...The Constitution was barely past 50 years old. Yet VERY clearly, the Supreme Court supports not only laypople teaching from the Bible in the schools, but it is also clear that it was completely acceptable to have those schooled in religion teaching from the bible as well. Specifically the New Testament.
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Old 02-20-2004, 03:09 PM   #85
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[Q]James Madison ("4th U.S. President and writer of the Constitution):

"What influence in fact have Christian ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In many instances they have been upholding the thrones of political tyranny. In no instance have they been seen as the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty have found in the clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate liberty, does not need the clergy."

He even went as far as to condemn religious exemption from taxes:

"Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together." [/Q]


OK...the Madison quote backs up exactly what I have said. If we look at the problems that they have with religion, it is the institutions. He is not saying it is wrong to be a Christian. He is saying that too often the religions have not worked for the people. Nowhere does this indicate that he is NOT a follower of Christ in the sense of Jefferson. Nowhere does it say that he framed the constitution to eliminate the basic principles of Christianity, or the "Philosophy of Christ" that Jefferson spoke of. Considering Jefferson and Madison were extremely close friends and neighbors, this potentially reinforces the perception that what troubled the founding fathers was NOT the people or the flock. It was the dictation from the throne and pulpit that allowed Monarchies to dominiate their people. It was the dictation from the pulpit that called for war.

Now of all the founding fathers, Madison wrote the least about religion. However, to take a stance that he was opposed to Christianity is wrong. Before the Revolutionary War, it was public practice for there to be a TAX (Something the Founding Fathers were against) that was collected and used to fund Congregational and Anglican churches in the colonies. Apparently after the revolution SOME states continued this practice.

In Virginia, where Jefferson and Madison lived, they wound up being opposed to such a tax. This is where many of Madsion's writings come from on the topic of religion. Taken out of context of the situation, one would think the man opposed religion. This is not the case. The Virginia Assembly had a bill sponsored by Patrick Henry in front of it. It would have created public support for churches. Henry included the provision that the money would be designated to the denomination of your choice.

To men like Jefferson and especially Madison, this would be contrary to the belief that Religion, organized religions, had been used by governement to keep tyrrany alive. This raising of money by the Government put too close a bond between the two. In this context, Madison supports my contention that the wall of Separation was NOT a wall to separate religious people from the government, however, the wall of separation was designed to keep the governement out of Religion.

Here are Jefferson's words in light of this debate:

[Q]

The Virginia Act For Establishing Religious Freedom

Thomas Jefferson, 1786


Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do; 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 endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporal rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labors for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that, therefore, the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to the offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles, on the supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.
Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

And though we well know this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no powers equal to our own and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law, yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right. [/Q]

And here are Madison's Words in response to Patrick Henry's tax....Jefferson was in Paris at the time:

[Q]To the Honorable the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia
A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments


We the subscribers , citizens of the said Commonwealth, having taken into serious consideration, a Bill printed by order of the last Session of General Assembly, entitled "A Bill establishing a provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion," and conceiving that the same if finally armed with the sanctions of a law, will be a dangerous abuse of power, are bound as faithful members of a free State to remonstrate against it, and to declare the reasons by which we are determined. We remonstrate against the said Bill,
Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, "that religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence." The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society. Before any man can be considerd as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governour of the Universe: And if a member of Civil Society, do it with a saving of his allegiance to the Universal Sovereign. We maintain therefore that in matters of Religion, no man's right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance. True it is, that no other rule exists, by which any question which may divide a Society, can be ultimately determined, but the will of the majority; but it is also true that the majority may trespass on the rights of the minority.

Because Religion be exempt from the authority of the Society at large, still less can it be subject to that of the Legislative Body. The latter are but the creatures and vicegerents of the former. Their jurisdiction is both derivative and limited: it is limited with regard to the co-ordinate departments, more necessarily is it limited with regard to the constituents. The preservation of a free Government requires not merely, that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained; but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great Barrier which defends the rights of the people. The Rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are Tyrants. The People who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them, and are slaves.

Because it is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of Citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entagled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much soon to forget it. Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? that the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?

Because the Bill violates the equality which ought to be the basis of every law, and which is more indispensible, in proportion as the validity or expediency of any law is more liable to be impeached. If "all men are by nature equally free and independent," all men are to be considered as entering into Society on equal conditions; as relinquishing no more, and therefore retaining no less, one than another, of their natural rights. Above all are they to be considered as retaining an "equal title to the free exercise of Religion according to the dictates of Conscience." Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and to observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us. If this freedom be abused, it is an offence against God, not against man: To God, therefore, not to man, must an account of it be rendered. As the Bill violates equality by subjecting some to peculiar burdens, so it violates the same principle, by granting to others peculiar exemptions. Are the quakers and Menonists the only sects who think a compulsive support of their Religions unnecessary and unwarrantable? can their piety alone be entrusted with the care of public worship? Ought their Religions to be endowed above all others with extraordinary privileges by which proselytes may be enticed from all others? We think too favorably of the justice and good sense of these demoninations to believe that they either covet pre-eminences over their fellow citizens or that they will be seduced by them from the common opposition to the measure.

Because the Bill implies either that the Civil Magistrate is a competent Judge of Religious Truth; or that he may employ Religion as an engine of Civil policy. The first is an arrogant pretension falsified by the contradictory opinions of Rulers in all ages, and throughout the world: the second an unhallowed perversion of the means of salvation.

Because the establishment proposed by the Bill is not requisite for the support of the Christian Religion. To say that it is, is a contradiction to the Christian Religion itself, for every page of it disavows a dependence on the powers of this world: it is a contradiction to fact; for it is known that this Religion both existed and flourished, not only without the support of human laws, but in spite of every opposition from them, and not only during the period of miraculous aid, but long after it had been left to its own evidence and the ordinary care of Providence. Nay, it is a contradiction in terms; for a Religion not invented by human policy, must have pre-existed and been supported, before it was established by human policy. It is moreover to weaken in those who profess this Religion a pious confidence in its innate excellence and the patronage of its Author; and to foster in those who still reject it, a suspicion that its friends are too conscious of its fallacies to trust it to its own merits.

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. Enquire of the Teachers of Christianity for the ages in which it appeared in its greatest lustre; those of every sect, point to the ages prior to its incorporation with Civil policy. Propose a restoration of this primitive State in which its Teachers depended on the voluntary rewards of their flocks, many of them predict its downfall. On which Side ought their testimony to have greatest weight, when for or when against their interest?

Because the establishment in question is not necessary for the support of Civil Government. If it be urged as necessary for the support of Civil Government only as it is a means of supporting Religion, and it be not necessary for the latter purpose, it cannot be necessary for the former. If Religion be not within the cognizance of Civil Government how can its legal establishment be necessary to Civil Government? What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the Civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny: in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established Clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just Government instituted to secure & perpetuate it needs them not. Such a Government will be best supported by protecting every Citizen in the enjoyment of his Religion with the same equal hand which protects his person and his property; by neither invading the equal rights of any Sect, nor suffering any Sect to invade those of another.

Because the proposed establishment is a departure from the generous policy, which, offering an Asylum to the persecuted and oppressed of every Nation and Religion, promised a lustre to our country, and an accession to the number of its citizens. What a melancholy mark is the Bill of sudden degeneracy? Instead of holding forth an Asylum to the persecuted, it is itself a signal of persecution. It degrades from the equal rank of Citizens all those whose opinions in Religion do not bend to those of the Legislative authority. Distant as it may be in its present form from the Inquisition, it differs from it only in degree. The one is the first step, the other the last in the career of intolerance. The maganimous sufferer under this cruel scourge in foreign Regions, must view the Bill as a Beacon on our Coast, warning him to seek some other haven, where liberty and philanthrophy in their due extent, may offer a more certain respose from his Troubles.

Because it will have a like tendency to banish our Citizens. The allurements presented by other situations are every day thinning their number. To superadd a fresh motive to emigration by revoking the liberty which they now enjoy, would be the same species of folly which has dishonoured and depopulated flourishing kingdoms

Because it will destroy that moderation and harmony which the forbearance of our laws to intermeddle with Religion has produced among its several sects. Torrents of blood have been split in the old world, by vain attempts of the secular arm, to extinguish Religious disscord, by proscribing all difference in Religious opinion. Time has at length revealed the true remedy. Every relaxation of narrow and rigorous policy, wherever it has been tried, has been found to assauge the disease. The American Theatre has exhibited proofs that equal and compleat liberty, if it does not wholly eradicate it, sufficiently destroys its malignant influence on the health and prosperity of the State. If with the salutary effects of this system under our own eyes, we begin to contract the bounds of Religious freedom, we know no name that will too severely reproach our folly. At least let warning be taken at the first fruits of the threatened innovation. The very appearance of the Bill has transformed "that Christian forbearance, love and chairty," which of late mutually prevailed, into animosities and jeolousies, which may not soon be appeased. What mischiefs may not be dreaded, should this enemy to the public quiet be armed with the force of a law?

Because the policy of the Bill is adverse to the diffusion of the light of Christianity. The first wish of those who enjoy this precious gift ought to be that it may be imparted to the whole race of mankind. Compare the number of those who have as yet received it with the number still remaining under the dominion of false Religions; and how small is the former! Does the policy of the Bill tend to lessen the disproportion? No; it at once discourages those who are strangers to the light of revelation from coming into the Region of it; and countenances by example the nations who continue in darkness, in shutting out those who might convey it to them. Instead of Levelling as far as possible, every obstacle to the victorious progress of Truth, the Bill with an ignoble and unchristian timidity would circumscribe it with a wall of defence against the encroachments of error.

Because attempts to enforce by legal sanctions, acts obnoxious to go great a proportion of Citizens, tend to enervate the laws in general, and to slacken the bands of Society. If it be difficult to execute any law which is not generally deemed necessary or salutary, what must be the case, where it is deemed invalid and dangerous? And what may be the effect of so striking an example of impotency in the Government, on its general authority?

Because a measure of such singular magnitude and delicacy ought not to be imposed, without the clearest evidence that it is called for by a majority of citizens, and no satisfactory method is yet proposed by which the voice of the majority in this case may be determined, or its influence secured. The people of the respective counties are indeed requested to signify their opinion respecting the adoption of the Bill to the next Session of Assembly." But the representatives or of the Counties will be that of the people. Our hope is that neither of the former will, after due consideration, espouse the dangerous principle of the Bill. Should the event disappoint us, it will still leave us in full confidence, that a fair appeal to the latter will reverse the sentence against our liberties.

Because finally, "the equal right of every citizen to the free exercise of his Religion according to the dictates of conscience" is held by the same tenure with all our other rights. If we recur to its origin, it is equally the gift of nature; if we weigh its importance, it cannot be less dear to us; if we consult the "Declaration of those rights which pertain to the good people of Vriginia, as the basis and foundation of Government," it is enumerated with equal solemnity, or rather studied emphasis. Either the, we must say, that the Will of the Legislature is the only measure of their authority; and that in the plenitude of this authority, they may sweep away all our fundamental rights; or, that they are bound to leave this particular right untouched and sacred: Either we must say, that they may controul the freedom of the press, may abolish the Trial by Jury, may swallow up the Executive and Judiciary Powers of the State; nay that they may despoil us of our very right of suffrage, and erect themselves into an independent and hereditary Assembly or, we must say, that they have no authority to enact into the law the Bill under consideration.
We the Subscribers say, that the General Assembly of this Commonwealth have no such authority: And that no effort may be omitted on our part against so dangerous an usurpation, we oppose to it, this remonstrance; earnestly praying, as we are in duty bound, that the Supreme Lawgiver of the Universe, by illuminating those to whom it is addressed, may on the one hand, turn their Councils from every act which would affront his holy prerogative, or violate the trust committed to them: and on the other, guide them into every measure which may be worthy of his [blessing, may re]dound to their own praise, and may establish more firmly the liberties, the prosperity and the happiness of the Commonwealth. [/Q]

Now if you take the context away from Madison....boy he looks anti religion. This was not the case in context of the situation. He was worried about using TAXATION to fund a religion. He felt that that was ONE GIANT step towards the establishement of one denomination over another.

http://religiousfreedom.lib.virginia...red/vaact.html

http://religiousfreedom.lib.virginia..._m&r_1785.html

The Danger here is that by using one line quotes, as in the danger of using one line from the bible is that you are losing the historical context of the situation.

I would agree the men you quoted did not agree with, nor belong to any mainstream denomination. Unitarianism gave them the freedom to explore the "Philosophy of Christ" but the Bible was still a part of their belifs. They were anti-doctrine. They were opposed to a STATE RELIGION which could be used to force the population to support a tyrranical governement. They were not atheists....nor were deists who had separated themselves from the belief that there was ONE God and the meassage of Christ was not an important message to be heard.
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Old 02-20-2004, 05:58 PM   #86
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It is clear, however, that they would support the clear separation of church and state, to a degree that would make them look like leftist extremists.

The argument was never to ban religion completely from America, but to ban it completely from government, as religion and government mixed together is corruption waiting to happen. Why do you think the Reformation happened in the first place? The mixture of the Catholic Church with the monarchies of Europe is a prime example of how government can corrupt religion, with the corrupted religion propping up a corrupt government.

History has clearly shown that mixing religion and politics together is a clear disaster.

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Old 02-20-2004, 06:26 PM   #87
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They were not all that way...Patrick Henry for example.

Clearly they were not looking to prevent people from exercizing their rights to vote and make laws. There is nothing to indicate this. Does this not make the point that the wall of separation was ONE way, too keep the governement out of religion, even to make certain that it is not funding it.

One thing is absolutely for certain....They would oppose public funding of Faith Based Charities. No doubt in my mind.
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Old 02-20-2004, 06:58 PM   #88
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I'm just curious, just want peoples opinion on this. But honestly does our forefathers "religion" really matter? We have the constitution which they gave us, and like everything else written in word, it's left up to interpretation. So maybe the approach to the first ammendment has changed, but is that really all that bad? Our country is a much different country than it was originally, some for the better some for the worse. But isn't focusing on our forefather's "religion" a step back? Isn't a little dangerous? I think if you look at history, societies that do this often lean towards fundalmentalism. What was right for our forefathers isn't always right for us, I mean yes maybe the majority claimed Christiany as their religion, but does that mean it's OK to allow religion in our government? Many also had slaves, do we want to bring them back as well?

I'm having a hard time understanding how anyone truly believes allowing religion to legislate our laws is a good thing. If someone can honestly give me an example or something, I'd really like to hear it.
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Old 02-20-2004, 07:15 PM   #89
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar
I'm just curious, just want peoples opinion on this. But honestly does our forefathers "religion" really matter? We have the constitution which they gave us, and like everything else written in word, it's left up to interpretation. So maybe the approach to the first ammendment has changed, but is that really all that bad? Our country is a much different country than it was originally, some for the better some for the worse. But isn't focusing on our forefather's "religion" a step back? Isn't a little dangerous? I think if you look at history, societies that do this often lean towards fundalmentalism. What was right for our forefathers isn't always right for us, I mean yes maybe the majority claimed Christiany as their religion, but does that mean it's OK to allow religion in our government? Many also had slaves, do we want to bring them back as well?

I'm having a hard time understanding how anyone truly believes allowing religion to legislate our laws is a good thing. If someone can honestly give me an example or something, I'd really like to hear it.
.

Angela
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Old 02-20-2004, 07:47 PM   #90
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I am having a hard time understanding your point of view. Would you ban people belonging to a religion from voting or holding elected office? You cannot separate completely from what you believe religiously from yourself. The founding fathers were trying to prevent a Religion from dominating governement and using it for "tyrranical" purposes and they were trying to prevent governement from doing the same. You would have to BAN people who belong to organized religion from ever voting to get what you wish for.

Ignore the founding fathers religion....GOOD WE CAN DO THAT....But you cannot IGNORE the historical reasons that created the constitution the way they did. It was not to prevent people with religious beliefs from exercizing their rights in a Democracy to make laws.

The Constitution was designed for ONE purpose in the area of Religion. I have cited and put their words in here. It was NOT designed to keep people of any faith from exercising their rights in a Democracy. That is what you are asking for, and it is contrary to their words and the intent of the First Amendment. It is clear from their words what their intent was especially when their words are kept in the context of the time they were written.

You can thumbs up and pat each other on the back all you want and I believe that you may very well see this country go the way you and others here desire. It is your right to work towards that in a Democracy. It does not change the hows and the whys this Constitution was created the way it was.

Yes, the constitution is subject to interpretation...but the interpretation is supposed to be based on past courts decisions and not the whims of the day. That is why the courts are appointed for life....so that it moves and changes slowly.

God I would love to have spoken with Jefferson and Adams and Monroe and Henry.

If you have read what I posted, you would not consider any of the men MNelon or I discussed, fundamentalist. On the contrary, one thing Melon and I would agree with (I think) is that they would very much think fundamentalism as we know it today to be very silly. Clearly Jefferson and Adams would not be party to it. I would venture Mr. Franklin would not as well. He also urged Thomas Paine to not publish his attack on religion....

[Q]At present I shall only give you my opinion that . . . the consequence of printing this piece will be a great deal of odium drawn upon yourself, mischief to you, and no benefit to others. He that spits into the wind, spits in his own face. But were you to succeed, do you imagine any good would be done by it? . . . [T]hink how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue . . . . I would advise you, therefore, not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person . . . . If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be without it? I intend this letter itself as proof of my friendship.[/Q]
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