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ON RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE: If Our Founding Fathers Were All Christians, Why Did They Say This?


US Politics & Gov't  (tags: politics, usa, history reigion and politics, religious toleraiton, news, government, americans )

Cal
- 24 days ago - dailykos.com
Despite their origins and religious backgrounds--Following the more secular teachings of Jesus Christ (being charitable, loving one another, treating strangers with kindness) is what the men who founded this country were for.



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Comments

Richard S. (190)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 9:27 am
A very important article.

Thank you Cal for posting.
 

Natasha Salgado (511)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 9:44 am
Interesting...religion is a curse. We meed more Atheists. Thx Cal
 

Cal Mendelsohn (968)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 9:48 am
Thanks for alerting me to this article, Richard
 

Allan Yorkowitz (452)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 9:55 am
Thanks -very interesting
 

Dandelion G. (381)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 10:00 am
Thank you Cal and although I was well aware of this there are far too many who are not. This needs to be more widely known.

From the article:

“Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.”
- Thomas Jefferson, A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (1779)

I've had this quote on my profile page since I made it in 2007.

"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches" Benjamin Franklin

 

Barry T. (829)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 10:27 am
Noted ... thanks for posting Cal. It is ironic that the far right is always claiming to be defending the constitution (I monitor the American Liberty PAC - by subscribing to their emails) but though they claim to be upholders of the constitutions, on this issue and the issues of corporatism / corporations as people etc they are so far removed from the opinions of most of the framers / founding fathers as to be alien.
 

Elizabeth Nipper (70)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 10:53 am
Thomas Paine was not an atheist as you can see if you click on "here" by his quote. He often spoke of God In his "Common Sense" work. Around 20 years later he wrote Age of Reason" and claimed to be a Deist. Deist's believe in God, but don't believe he intervenes in mankinds' lives. The Deists do not believe in the accuracy of the Bible. i believe Thomas Jefferson was also a deist. Benjamin Franklin claimed to be a deist. For further information check out this article: "hope & humor by james watkins "We're US Founding Fathers Christians?"
 

Ben Oscarsito (355)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 11:52 am
Religious tolerance...??? -Tell me about it!
 

gabriele jefferson (147)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 12:14 pm
noted
 

Ashley heffner (450)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 1:21 pm
I"m sure someday if for whatever reason in the United States Christianity or even religious people as a whole become the minority, they will change their views on what they mean by religious tolerance hella quick.

Today, in the U.S. it basically means, "You will respect my religious authority. I am better than you! All laws will be designed to suit my religious needs/wants. Churches will not be taxes. We will get our religious holidays in some cases to be national holidays. AND my religious rights as the owner of a corporation (in the case of Hobby Lobby) are superior to your religious or even medical rights! Damn science! (unless I think it can back up my beliefs or you know I need a doctor), is generally what I hear from the United State's own religious zealots.

Key point: In the United States our "devout" individuals just shoot their mouth off and try to force their version of morality onto everyone else through laws. But very, very few are actually violent.
 

Glenn Byrnes (194)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 1:37 pm
Noted. Thank you.
 

Ruth Ann W. (205)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 1:49 pm
Thank you for posting Cal
 

A F. (130)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 2:08 pm
thanks!
 

Kathleen Mireault (31)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 3:15 pm
Noted. Thanks for posting, Cal! Thomas Paine's comments re: the futility of arguing with someone who's renounced reason really cracked me up!
 

Richelle R. (60)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 3:20 pm
There is not separation of church and state in the US government. And the far right wing, esp. the tea party, is no better than the Islamic republics, who the republicans hate. And are willing to spend billions of dollars and human lives to destroy.
 

Lois Jordan (55)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 3:27 pm
Noted. Thanks, Cal. It's necessary that we are reminded of the facts. The place these zealots used to hold was in obscurity....not too many years ago. I still believe they are a tiny segment of the population, with huge amounts of money funded by the wealthiest to make them seem larger-than-life. They are liars and very often replace facts with fantasy. When they are reminded of quotes by the Founders, they often stumble over their own words in response.
 

Elle B. (81)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 3:41 pm
This is the same stupid nonsense that the founding fathers, literary satirists, et al of their time had to respond to. . .fortunately...Thomas Jefferson did excellent research unlike the screwball nit-wit cherry pickers of his (and our) day...defending religious freedom for all (including the nit-wits...however unbeknownst to them...)

"Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law." ― Thomas Jefferson, Ltr. to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

"For we know that the common law is that system of law which was introduced by the Saxons on their settlement of England, and altered from time to time by proper legislative authority from that time to the date of the Magna Charta, which terminates the period of the common law ... This settlement took place about the middle of the fifth century. But Christianity was not introduced till the seventh century; the conversion of the first Christian king of the Heptarchy having taken place about the year 598, and that of the last about 686. Here then, was a space of two hundred years, during which the common law was in existence, and Christianity no part of it ... That system of religion could not be a part of the common law, because they were not yet Christians." ― Thomas Jefferson, Ltr. to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

[responding to the claim that Christianity was part of the Common Law of England, as the U.S. Constitution defaults to the Common Law regarding matters that it does not address. ]

"... the common law existed while the Anglo-Saxons were yet pagans, at a time when they had never yet heard the name of Christ pronounced or knew that such a character existed." ― Thomas Jefferson, letter to Major John Cartwright, June 5, 1824

* * * * * * *
[When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom ... was finally passed, ... a singular proposition proved that its protection 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 the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion." The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination. ― Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, 1821

* * * * * *

"In our Richmond there is much fanaticism, but chiefly among the women. They have their night meetings and prayer parties, where, attended by their priests, and sometimes by a hen-pecked husband, they pour forth the effusions of their love to Jesus, in terms as amatory and carnal, as their modesty would permit them to use a mere earthly lover." ― Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, November 2, 1822

"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 classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." ― Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823
 

Elle B. (81)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 5:15 pm
"I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know." ― Thomas Jefferson

"If we did a good act merely from the love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? It is idle to say, as some do, that no such thing exists. We have the same evidence of the fact as of most of those we act on, to wit: their own affirmations, and their reasonings in support of them. I have observed, indeed, generally, that while in Protestant countries the defections from the Platonic Christianity of the priests is to Deism, in Catholic countries they are to Atheism. Diderot, D'Alembert, D'Holbach, Condorcet, are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than love of God." ― Thomas Jefferson, Ltr. to Thomas Law, June 13, 1814

"I am anxious to see the doctrine of one god commenced in our state. But the population of my neighborhood is too slender, and is too much divided into other sects to maintain any one preacher well. I must therefore be contented to be an Unitarian by myself, although I know there are many around me who would become so, if once they could hear the questions fairly stated." ― Thomas Jefferson, Ltr. to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, January 8, 1825

"I trust there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die a Unitarian." ―Thomas Jefferson, Ltr. to Waterhouse, June 26, 1822

[Letters of Thomas Jefferson], Thomas Jefferson, 3rd US President

"I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another." ― Thomas Jefferson, Ltr. to Elbridge Gerry, 1799

"The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man." ― Thomas Jefferson, Ltr. to Jeremiah Moor, 1800

"I know it will give great offense to the clergy, but the advocate of religious freedom is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from them." ― Thomas Jefferson, Ltr. to Levi Lincoln, 1802

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes." ― Thomas Jefferson, Ltr. to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813

"The law for religious freedom ... [has] put down the aristocracy of the clergy and restored to the citizen the freedom of the mind." ―Thomas Jefferson, Ltr. to John Adams, 1813

"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer engine for their purposes." ―Thomas Jefferson, Ltr. to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814

"My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest. The artificial structures they have built on the the purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolt those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there." ―- Thomas Jefferson, Ltr. to Mrs. M Harrison Smith, August 6, 1816

"I am not afraid of the priests. They have tried upon me all their various batteries, of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying and slandering, without being able to give me one moment of pain." ― Thomas Jefferson, Ltr. to Horatio Gates Spafford, 1816
 

Winn Adams (190)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 5:20 pm
Thanks Cal. They should teach this in school - the truth, not the religious hype.
 

Dale O. (189)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 7:15 pm
Religion is a personal matter, it should have nothing to do with government and fundamentalists often try and impose their own interpretations of religion onto all of society. Their views are not always the same views as more progressive interpretations of religion, but the fundamentalists try and impose only their own viewpoints which are narrow and dogmatic.
 

Janis K. (94)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 7:40 pm
Thanks for sharing Cal.
 

Betty Kelly (2)
Saturday July 5, 2014, 10:22 pm
Division of Church and State should be respected.
 

Colin Hope (237)
Sunday July 6, 2014, 2:20 am
Thanks for sharing............ and so..... where to now...... the environment??
 

John S. (297)
Sunday July 6, 2014, 4:48 am
Then again, they did also say:

George Washington; "While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian."

John Adams: "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."

John Adams: "Now I will avow, that I then believe, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System."

Thomas Jefferson: "Now I will avow, that I then believe, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System."

John Hancock: "Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. ... Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us."

And oh so many more. They were concerned with a strong central government, but they were anti-clerical and the establishment of a national religion.
 

Mitchell D. (129)
Sunday July 6, 2014, 8:13 am
Thank you, Elle, I was going to remark that Jefferson was a Unitarian, and I hve, a number of times posted the comment, attributing it to Jefferson, but it was Hamilton, quoted in the Smithsonian magazine, who supposedly said in response to being asked 'Why the Constitution failed to mention God..," that "We forgot."
As per Lynn S's posting, so much propaganda, and lies, have been put out about so many things, by our "leaders," and now, their paid propagandists, about what and who we are, and what moves us, that it is a very sad state of affairs into which we have led ourselves.
 

pam w. (191)
Sunday July 6, 2014, 9:02 am
I suggest we all save these quotes for response to the nuuters who will INSIST that "the US was founded on Christianity."

They'll never choose to believe us, of course. They've been too saturated with Christian-inspired myth.
 

James Maynard (66)
Sunday July 6, 2014, 12:22 pm
All of us here who can read, know
the founders were, in large part,
Deists....but, we also know that
doesn't matter to the fact challenged.
 

Dave C. (213)
Sunday July 6, 2014, 1:22 pm
.....remember religion is faith, doesn't need any truth or proof......

the obvious answer though is that our Founding fathers weren't Christians....maybe deists as James says.....but they certainly weren't creating a religious country when they founded the USA
 

jan b. (3)
Sunday July 6, 2014, 2:29 pm
Most of the Fathers were deitist. Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson ( for example ) clearly outlines the views which led him to play a leading role in the campaign to separate church and state and which culminated in the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom: It t does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. ... Reason and free enquiry are the only effectual agents against error. Jefferson's religious views became a major public issue during the bitter party conflict between Federalists and Republicans in the late 1790s when Jefferson was often accused of being an atheist.
 

jan b. (3)
Sunday July 6, 2014, 2:31 pm
With everyone being so religious even back then in the 1700's......the Fathers probably catered to that no matter what their beliefs were. Its like the politicians today who say God bless this that and the other or be crucified.
 

Freya H. (299)
Sunday July 6, 2014, 8:38 pm
No wonder the USA is going to hell in a handbasket. We have entirely forgotten the true vision of the Founding Fathers and are perverting this great (?) nation into a religious (and corporate) dictatorship. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but I sense that something is about to hit the fan--
 

Bojan Kunstelj (18)
Monday July 14, 2014, 11:59 pm
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