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      11-05-2014, 01:40 PM   #397
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Originally Posted by bbbbmw View Post
Here are some quotes from George Washington:

"You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do every thing they can to assist you in this wise intention; and to tie the knot of friendship and union so fast, that nothing shall ever be able to loose it."
The first quote is the only one that mentions Christ, so is the only relevant one. Is is clear that the Founding Fathers valued religion over atheism, at least in public.

This particular quote is often cited in a highly misleading way, by far right and Christian propaganda websites. Washington was addressing Native Americans, who, at the time, were considered "godless heathens", and so, any religious beliefs at all were to be encouraged. He wasn't speaking to Americans, and he wasn't bringing up Christ out of thin air, he was responding to the Native Americans communication. Details on these unbiased websites, the first is particularly good.

http://fakehistory.wordpress.com/201...rican-schools/

http://www.mountvernon.org/research-...us-quotations/

Given Washington's reticence to discussing his own religious views, the quote is surprising, unless you know the context.

Last edited by 128Convertibleguy; 11-05-2014 at 01:56 PM.
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      11-05-2014, 01:59 PM   #398
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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
The first quote is the only one that mentions Christ, so is the only relevant one. Is is clear that the Founding Fathers valued religion over atheism, at least in public.

This particular quote is often cited in a highly misleading way, by far right and Christian propaganda websites. Washington was addressing Native Americans, who, at the time, were considered "godless heathens", and so, any relious beliefs at all were to be encouraged. He wasn't talking about Americans. Details on these unbiased websites, the first is particularly good.

http://fakehistory.wordpress.com/201...rican-schools/

http://www.mountvernon.org/research-...us-quotations/
Are the quotes incorrect?

Quotations of Christ were not my point; I was speaking of Washington's recognition of a God that is involved in everyday life. This would appear to rule him out as a Deist, along with Ben Franklin, who requested prayer at every daily meeting of the Constitutional Convention.

The web links you provided are instantly credible - someone's blog at Wordpress... And btw - they didn't refute the quotes I made at all - in fact they presented them as the actual quotes. So what was your point?

Whether Washington was speaking to the Native Americans or not, would he have changed his message? You cited the Jefferson Bible previously - many sources say that Jefferson edited to actual Bible to present it to the Native Americans in ways that they could relate to it.
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      11-05-2014, 06:59 PM   #399
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Originally Posted by bbbbmw View Post
Whether Washington was speaking to the Native Americans or not, would he have changed his message? You cited the Jefferson Bible previously - many sources say that Jefferson edited to actual Bible to present it to the Native Americans in ways that they could relate to it.
Yes, unquestionably, Washington would not have said that to American citizens. Whatever his beliefs, he wasn't big on imposing them on others, or even stating them in public. As the websites I cited made clear, this was a special thing, where he was trying to improve relations with Native Americans.

OTOH, the idea that Jefferson wrote the "Jefferson Bible" with Native Americans in mind is utterly absurd. He clearly was removing all supernatural references to Christ; son of God, virgin birth, resurrection, walked on water, etc., because as a scientist and a follower of the Enlightenment, he eschewed the supernatural for the logical. It earned him the undying opposition of important Christian leaders, who issued pamphlets denouncing him, and stating he was unfit to be President because of his religious beliefs.

Bottom line - your Christian interpretations fly in the face of other things we know about these two men.
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      11-05-2014, 10:37 PM   #400
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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
Yes, unquestionably, Washington would not have said that to American citizens. Whatever his beliefs, he wasn't big on imposing them on others, or even stating them in public. As the websites I cited made clear, this was a special thing, where he was trying to improve relations with Native Americans.

OTOH, the idea that Jefferson wrote the "Jefferson Bible" with Native Americans in mind is utterly absurd. He clearly was removing all supernatural references to Christ; son of God, virgin birth, resurrection, walked on water, etc., because as a scientist and a follower of the Enlightenment, he eschewed the supernatural for the logical. It earned him the undying opposition of important Christian leaders, who issued pamphlets denouncing him, and stating he was unfit to be President because of his religious beliefs.

Bottom line - your Christian interpretations fly in the face of other things we know about these two men.
Your first point is your opinion on what Washington would not have said. Thanks for that.

Your second point is incorrect - in his "bible," he included what Jesus said in the Bible (primarily Jesus' parables and instruction), and excluded what others said about Jesus - your conclusion ("because as a scientist and follower of the enlightenment") is not supported. Jefferson said that one reason he created his "bible" was "a primer for the Indians." He also got funding from Congress to build a church and hire a priest to minister/educate the Kaskaskia Indians.

Regarding the assumption that Jefferson was a Deist - in the foreward of his bible, he describes the Jews as Deists, and how they "caused good men to reject the whole in disgust, and regard Jesus as an imposter." He then says "It [his bible] is a document in proof that I AM A REAL CHRISTIAN [his emphasis]..." - but never says he is a Deist, when he was clearly familiar with the term and the concepts.
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      11-06-2014, 12:21 PM   #401
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Originally Posted by bbbbmw View Post
Your second point is incorrect - in his "bible," he included what Jesus said in the Bible (primarily Jesus' parables and instruction), and excluded what others said about Jesus

Regarding the assumption that Jefferson was a Deist - in the foreward of his bible, he describes the Jews as Deists, and how they "caused good men to reject the whole in disgust, and regard Jesus as an imposter." He then says "It [his bible] is a document in proof that I AM A REAL CHRISTIAN [his emphasis]..." - but never says he is a Deist, when he was clearly familiar with the term and the concepts.
George Washington being a Deist is defintately debatable. Jefferson is much less so. The rest of your quote looks like this:

Quote:
"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."
What Jefferson removed in his bible was any mention of any miracle, anything supernatural and any claim Jesus was a GOD. He kept only his teachings, as you say, and looked at Jesus as simply a moral Philosopher. Which is where the "I am a real Christian" quote comes into play. He didn't not believe Jesus was a God, simply a man who advocated agreeable values (forgiveness, kindness, etc).

Quote:
Jefferson wrote that “Jesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of God.” He called the writers of the New Testament “ignorant, unlettered men” who produced “superstitions, fanaticisms, and fabrications.” He called the Apostle Paul the “first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.” He dismissed the concept of the Trinity as “mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.” He believed that the clergy used religion as a “mere contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves” and that “in every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty.” And he wrote in a letter to John Adams that “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.”

So no, Jefferson was not a "Christian" in the way that we normally define a Christian. He was being glib. Here are some other quotes from Jefferson:
  • Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.
  • I concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshipped by many who think themselves Christians. -Regarding "Would not Society be better without Such religions? Is Atheism less pernicious than Demonism?")
  • Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.
  • If we did a good act merely from love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? ...Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than the love of God.

But again. "Who believed what" is largely irrelevant. Because regardless of what the individual beliefs of each Founder, they all acknowledged the need for Religious Freedom and the benefits of Separation of Church and State.
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      11-07-2014, 08:20 PM   #402
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Originally Posted by Devious21 View Post
Because regardless of what the individual beliefs of each Founder, they all acknowledged the need for Religious Freedom and the benefits of Separation of Church and State.
What is your source for that conclusion? The only FF to ever use those words ("separation of church and state") was Thomas Jefferson, in an 1802 letter to the Danbury CT Baptist Association. Jefferson himself regularly attended church services inside the House of Representatives, as did many others.

Here's William Rehnquist's opinion, written in 1985 (he was a Supreme Court Justice):

"It is impossible to build sound constitutional doctrine upon a mistaken understanding of constitutional history, but unfortunately the Establishment Clause has been expressly freighted with Jefferson's misleading metaphor for nearly 40 years. Thomas Jefferson was, of course, in France at the time the constitutional Amendments known as the Bill of Rights were passed by Congress and ratified by the States. His letter to the Danbury Baptist Association was a short note of courtesy, written 14 years after the Amendments were passed by Congress. He would seem to any detached observer as a less than ideal source of contemporary history as to the meaning of the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment...

The 'wall of separation between church and State' is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned."

This from Justice Scalia in 2005:

"I shall discuss first, why the Court’s oft repeated assertion that the government cannot favor religious practice is false...

George Washington added to the form of Presidential oath prescribed by Art. II, §1, cl. 8, of the Constitution, the concluding words 'so help me God.' The Supreme Court under John Marshall opened its sessions with the prayer, 'God save the United States and this Honorable Court.' The First Congress instituted the practice of beginning its legislative sessions with a prayer. The same week that Congress submitted the Establishment Clause as part of the Bill of Rights for ratification by the States, it enacted legislation providing for paid chaplains in the House and Senate. The day after the First Amendment was proposed, the same Congress that had proposed it requested the President to proclaim ' a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed, by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many and signal favours of Almighty God.'

...The same Congress also reenacted the Northwest Territory Ordinance of 1787, 1 Stat. 50, Article III of which provided: 'Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.' And of course the First Amendment itself accords religion (and no other manner of belief) special constitutional protection.

These actions of our First President and Congress and the Marshall Court were not idiosyncratic; they reflected the beliefs of the period. Those who wrote the Constitution believed that morality was essential to the well-being of society and that encouragement of religion was the best way to foster morality."

You may not agree with their conclusions, but their statements are facts. And clearly, every FF did not agree with the later-described concept of "separation of church and state."
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      11-08-2014, 01:29 PM   #403
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Originally Posted by bbbbmw View Post
What is your source for that conclusion? The only FF to ever use those words ("separation of church and state") was Thomas Jefferson, in an 1802 letter to the Danbury CT Baptist Association. Jefferson himself regularly attended church services inside the House of Representatives, as did many others.
Yes, he coined the phase. The establishment clause is in the Bill of Rights and can be interpreted differently by different people.

Do you not recognize the importance of Separation of Church and State?

There's a concept called the Veil of Ignorance. It's a thought experiment where you have to develop a society while being ignorant of where you would be placed in that society (race, religion, etc). Let's say you had to re-roll your gender, race and religion today, and that your income and prosperity were determined purely by what you produced or the skills you had to offer.

What if you were Christian and the Government (and the social majority) made constant references to Allah and used tax payer's money to put up references to Muhammad? Or let's say you're Hindu and believe in many gods. Do you like that your government officially recognizes one God? What if you were a Muslim and Allah was the ONLY true God and yet the Government you lived in recognized the many Gods of Greek mythology while claiming to have religious freedom?

Now let's say you want to avoid being unfair to ensure religious freedom. So whenever Government makes references to a God, it will make sure to include the following text "God, God(s), or No God". And whenever they are going to use tax payer's money, let's say to put up religious decorations, they make sure to poll the town and include decorations from each and any religion practiced to ensure they are being "equal". What if you have someone who practices a religion that's private to them, either because it's simply no one's business or because they fear being attacked for their beliefs. They are now being forced to pay for all the other religion's decorations that they do not believe in, while not being equally represented.

The reason Separation of Church and State makes sense is because attempting to have Religious Freedom without it is an expensive waste of time, if not impossible. Instead of having Government attempt to recognize religions and try to then treat them all equally, WHILE SPENDING OUR MONEY, it makes MUCH more sense to leave religion to the PEOPLE whom the Establishment Clause is designed to protect.

The Government's job is to ensure individuals can have whatever and as much religion as it wants. Trying to get the Government to recognize YOUR religion is really just being a bully. It sets us back on the path of a State backed religion which was what we were trying to avoid in the first place.
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Last edited by Devious21; 11-08-2014 at 01:50 PM.
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      11-09-2014, 12:00 AM   #404
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Devious21 View Post
Yes, he coined the phase. The establishment clause is in the Bill of Rights and can be interpreted differently by different people.

Do you not recognize the importance of Separation of Church and State?

There's a concept called the Veil of Ignorance. It's a thought experiment where you have to develop a society while being ignorant of where you would be placed in that society (race, religion, etc). Let's say you had to re-roll your gender, race and religion today, and that your income and prosperity were determined purely by what you produced or the skills you had to offer.

What if you were Christian and the Government (and the social majority) made constant references to Allah and used tax payer's money to put up references to Muhammad? Or let's say you're Hindu and believe in many gods. Do you like that your government officially recognizes one God? What if you were a Muslim and Allah was the ONLY true God and yet the Government you lived in recognized the many Gods of Greek mythology while claiming to have religious freedom?

Now let's say you want to avoid being unfair to ensure religious freedom. So whenever Government makes references to a God, it will make sure to include the following text "God, God(s), or No God". And whenever they are going to use tax payer's money, let's say to put up religious decorations, they make sure to poll the town and include decorations from each and any religion practiced to ensure they are being "equal". What if you have someone who practices a religion that's private to them, either because it's simply no one's business or because they fear being attacked for their beliefs. They are now being forced to pay for all the other religion's decorations that they do not believe in, while not being equally represented.

The reason Separation of Church and State makes sense is because attempting to have Religious Freedom without it is an expensive waste of time, if not impossible. Instead of having Government attempt to recognize religions and try to then treat them all equally, WHILE SPENDING OUR MONEY, it makes MUCH more sense to leave religion to the PEOPLE whom the Establishment Clause is designed to protect.

The Government's job is to ensure individuals can have whatever and as much religion as it wants. Trying to get the Government to recognize YOUR religion is really just being a bully. It sets us back on the path of a State backed religion which was what we were trying to avoid in the first place.
Excellent post. I agree completely.
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      11-09-2014, 08:15 PM   #405
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Devious21 View Post
Yes, he coined the phase. The establishment clause is in the Bill of Rights and can be interpreted differently by different people.

Do you not recognize the importance of Separation of Church and State?

There's a concept called the Veil of Ignorance. It's a thought experiment where you have to develop a society while being ignorant of where you would be placed in that society (race, religion, etc). Let's say you had to re-roll your gender, race and religion today, and that your income and prosperity were determined purely by what you produced or the skills you had to offer.

What if you were Christian and the Government (and the social majority) made constant references to Allah and used tax payer's money to put up references to Muhammad? Or let's say you're Hindu and believe in many gods. Do you like that your government officially recognizes one God? What if you were a Muslim and Allah was the ONLY true God and yet the Government you lived in recognized the many Gods of Greek mythology while claiming to have religious freedom?

Now let's say you want to avoid being unfair to ensure religious freedom. So whenever Government makes references to a God, it will make sure to include the following text "God, God(s), or No God". And whenever they are going to use tax payer's money, let's say to put up religious decorations, they make sure to poll the town and include decorations from each and any religion practiced to ensure they are being "equal". What if you have someone who practices a religion that's private to them, either because it's simply no one's business or because they fear being attacked for their beliefs. They are now being forced to pay for all the other religion's decorations that they do not believe in, while not being equally represented.

The reason Separation of Church and State makes sense is because attempting to have Religious Freedom without it is an expensive waste of time, if not impossible. Instead of having Government attempt to recognize religions and try to then treat them all equally, WHILE SPENDING OUR MONEY, it makes MUCH more sense to leave religion to the PEOPLE whom the Establishment Clause is designed to protect.

The Government's job is to ensure individuals can have whatever and as much religion as it wants. Trying to get the Government to recognize YOUR religion is really just being a bully. It sets us back on the path of a State backed religion which was what we were trying to avoid in the first place.
I don't disagree with much of your post - I actually don't advocate that government is a good way to alter social behavior. Trying to extricate religion from all aspects of our society, however, simply isn't possible, and wasn't intended from the start.

Regarding the Veil of Ignorance - it's a great idea, but not practical, in my opinion. What society has every achieved this religious-vacuum utopia? Communism tried, Pol Pot tried, and all sorts of other horrible leaders (with horrible outcomes), and people more oppressed than ever. The Judeo-Christian ethics of our society are what binds us to concepts that are so intrinsic to our society that they are taken for granted. Mankind by itself doesn't have an innate respect for human life. Mankind doesn't by itself recognize human rights. And the list goes on - A society without religion might look a lot like The Hunger Games.

Right now we are also seeing bullying by the non-religions, such as atheism, earth-worship, etc. It's the same issue, just wearing different clothing.
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