Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Naton Founded on Christian Principles?

I get into the most trouble whenever I touch on religious issues in these columns.

Sex comes in a close second, in case you're wondering.

But, what's a few more nasty letters.

I constantly hear Religious-Right types reminding us that this nation must return to the Christian principles of our founding fathers.

People like

  • George Washington
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • John Adams
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • James Madison (considered the author of the U.S. Constitution)

Want to hear what these people really said?

George Washington - "The father of our country"

The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine.

Thomas Jefferson* -

I do not find in orthodox Christianity
one redeeming feature. The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his Father, in the womb of a virgin will be classified with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.

Abraham Lincoln -

The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma.

John Adams -

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... foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity.

>>" align="absmiddle" border="0">James Madison (considered the author of the U.S. Constitution)-

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 severity in the laity; in both superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

And it goes on, but you get the idea.

It would be a bit hard to assume that all this was taken out of context.

And, in case you are wondering, these people were not atheists. Generally speaking, they were people who believed in God and espoused solid ethical principles.

You might wonder why you haven't heard about these views before.

The answer is simple.

In accordance with our predominant Judeo-Christian biases they have simply been — how shall we say this — "overlooked."

Could the Religious Right be equating a belief in God with Christianity?

It would seem that most people in the world believe in God...

...but most people in the world aren't Christians.

One thing sure, when it comes to our founding fathers it would seem that the rhetoric of the Religious Right is based more on wishful thinking than on truth.

Despite the arguments of contemporary preachers of the Religious Right...humanism is neither un-American nor, for that matter un-Christian.

Jefferson, Franklin, and the men who framed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were anticlerical Deists.... They created America as an experiment in democracy, freedom and humanism. -Dr. E.C. Johnson

* Thomas Jefferson spent considerable time investigating the Bible and the life of Jesus. He subsequently wrote, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, detailing his findings -- findings that differ in major ways with typical Christian beliefs.

© 2005, Frederick Horne

All Rights Reserved


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