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STOP THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT .ORG
THIS IS HISTORY WITH A PUNCH!
On March 2, 1819, more than thirty years after leading the way in drafting and framing the United States Constitution, James Madison's wrote to Robert Walsh,
"The civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State."
One of the ways to counter the attack on American Constitutional principles by the religious right is to address their revisionism, misinformation and distortions. Important also is their psychological motivation which is based in religious zeal. This site is an educational site regarding claims found in the religious right's propaganda, which, not surprisingly, are not founded in historical, legal, or scientific facts. An especially profound error is their spin on Christian history and Christian principles. The often repeated claim, America was founded on Christian principles is seriously flawed. They don't seem to know how to separate law from heritage and tradition. They have invented an unwritten constitution which they prefer over the real one. Their tactic is to cherry pick the quotes that fit their agenda. While anyone can pick quotes from American founders, none of them are the law. Many do not realize that the people who attended the Constitutional Convention were not of one mind regarding religious matters. They were a diverse bunch and some were not friends at all. So choosing quotes has its problems. The best quotes to cite are ones that reflect the content of the Constitution itself. The deception may be deliberate among the most fanatical, issuing from a messianic obsession to evangelize at any cost in order to save and control the world. America's sage, Thomas Jefferson spoke against these people wanting to shove their religion down people's throats by the loathsome alliance of church and state. (See Jefferson and Madison church-state separation quotation page)
"Turning, then, from this loathsome combination of church and state, and weeping over the follies of our fellow men, who yield themselves the willing dupes and drudges of these mountebanks, I consider reformation and redress as desperate, and abandon them to the Quixotism of more enthusiastic minds." Letter to Charles Clay, January 29, 1815
"That but a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in church and state: that the purest system of morals ever before preached to man has been adulterated and sophisticated, by artificial constructions, into a mere contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves, that rational men not being able to swallow their impious heresies, in order to force them down their throats, they raise the hue and cry of infidelity, while themselves are the greatest obstacles to the advancement of the real doctrines of Jesus, and do in fact constitute the real Anti-Christ." Letter to William Baldwin, January 19, 1810
The theocracy of the Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded
religious intolerance. Religious exclusivity is a principle
both the Bible and the Quran. The United States Constitution
embraces principles of liberty that would have been considered
Christian leaders of Massachusetts. In the General Councils of
that shaped church doctrine and civil law, the decree would be Let
anathemized, a popular decree of condemnation. Biblically
religious intolerance was codified in Massachusetts. Indeed,
Madison treated Henry's bill on the floor of the Virginia legislature:
"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."
Leaders and especially followers of the right have difficulty differentiating between religious ethics with liberty ethics. The ethics of liberty are ethics of fairness, acceptance and tolerance. They embrace and respect the circumstances of a pluralist world with its myriad worldviews. The Bible opposes tolerance in many spheres of life, especially religious tolerance. The sexual politics of the Bible are also vicious and given to violence. The Bible is so complete in it's doctrine of religious and sexual intolerance that no matter which Christian sect was in power over the centuries, they persecuted everyone else. Be they Arianists, Monophysites, Nicene 'Catholics'of Rome or Byzantine, Donatists, Lutherans, or Calvinist Puritans; they were all extremely intolerant of other religious beliefs and used the state whenever possible in order to gain control. What Catholic emperors Theodosius and Justinian did to those they deemed heretics, so did the Arianist Christians and Protestant Christians.
Although overlapping in some areas, liberty ethics and values are not always the same as religious ones. No sensible person needs religion to know that lying, stealing, cheating or destroying other people's property is wrong. Empathy is biologically inborn in all but a few and it is where moral principles are anchored. Religions try to convey what they think is moral but they distort the representation of the human moral sense with dogmatic authoritarian supernaturalism. Sometimes the principles of liberty and religion are polar opposites. An example is comparing the First Commandment with the the First Amendment. Part of Christianity's decline in the United States is due in part to more liberal Christians embracing humanist values of tolerance and acceptance.
In the present USA, less than 10% consider themselves evangelicals and more than half of the 77% of Americans that identify as Christians are nominals who reject a literal reading of the Bible. They cherry pick their morality based on common sense. This is a monumental shift away from the days before the ratification of the US Constitution when some constitutions made evangelism the law of the land. Over the centuries, critical thinking and education have increased the numbers of liberal Christian humanists, deists, skeptics and unbelievers. For more statistics on the changing religious identification of the US, see the page on surveys by the Christian evangelical organization BARNA and the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS2001) of 50,281 households in 2001.
We are seeing more splintering right now as Anglicans and Episcopalians reject the intolerant nature of the Bible regarding sexual orientation. They refuse to take the Bible's condemnation of homosexuality seriously because they deem it unjust, unAmerican and unscientific. They have chosen reason and justice over blind faith in the literal reading of the Bible. The same has happened with divorce because the issues surrounding marriage and divorce are not as simple mindedly black and white as the Bible and the Quran claim. Nobody in their right mind can take Jesus' statement that if one divorces on grounds that don't deal with unchastity and then remarries, they have committed adultery. That's a ridiculous and immature notion that only the most diehard conservatives take seriously.
A few years ago the Texas Baptists split from the Southern Baptist Convention due to its position insisting on women being submissive to their husbands. The Southern Baptists have also recently condemned some Baptist colleges who are also rejecting the homophobia of the Bible by allowing Gay-Straight Alliance clubs. In fact, the number of churches who accept gays and lesbians is growing steadily while the religious fundamentalists are losing ground in the culture wars. Like the fundamentalists of Iran, they are very loud but are still a small minority. People are realizing that Christian fundamentalists are very similar to Islamic fundamentalists in their aims regarding religion, sexuality, science and secularism. To his credit, I once heard Bill O'Reilly attack a Christian fundamentalist as being no different than the Muslim brand. While he may be wrong on a great deal of things, one must give credit where credit is due. He was right on the mark.
Several Baptist Colleges have also rejected the strict anti-gay policies of the Southern Baptist Convention. Groups like The Promise Keepers also embrace a biblically accurate submissive role for women in society. This is much like a Muslim marriage. Recently, a high ranking official of the Christian Coalition was forced out because he wanted to pay more attention to social justice and environmental issues. Imagine that! They could not bear someone who was not strident and fanaticly focused on abortion, same-sex marriage, creationism and stem cell research. Walk into any self proclaimed Full Gospel church and you will see, as is done in Islam, women are taught submissive roles in society.
Splits aren't new regarding matters of justice in America. The Methodist and Baptist Churches also split over slavery; the northern liberal churches choosing humanist values of justice and compassion and the southern conservatives choosing biblically accurate slaveholding. In 1836, the Methodist-Episcopal Church held its annual council Council in Georgia. The following exerpts are from James G Birney's 1840 book, The American Churches: The Bulwarks of Slavery:
At the Georgia Annual Conference it was Resolved unanimously that:
"Whereas, there is a clause in the discipline of our church, which states that we are as much as ever convinced of the great evil of slavery; and whereas the said clause has been perverted by some, and used in such a manner as to produce the impression that the Methodist Episcopal church believed slavery to be a moral evil,"
"That it is the sense of the Georgia Annual Conference, that slavery, as it exists in the United States, is not a moral evil."
"That we view slavery as a civil and domestic institution, and one with which, as [demonized, vile individuals as distinct from] ministers of Christ, we have nothing to do, further than to ameliorate the condition of the slaves, by endeavoring to impart to him and his [demonized] master the benign influences of the religion of Christ, and aiding both on their way to heaven."
On the motion, it was Resolved unanimously
"That the Georgia Annual Conference regard with feelings of profound respect and approbation, the dignified course pursued by our several superintendents or bishops in suppressing the attempts that have been made by various individuals to get up and protract an excitement in the churches and country on the subject of abolitionism."
Anti-abolitionist Reverend James H. Thornwell claimed that those who supported abolition of slavery were, in his own words regarding who the abolitionists were, (Cited in Eugene D.Genovese, "Religion in the Collapse of the American Union", 1998, page 80): "The parties in this conflict are not merely Abolitionists and Slaveholders; they are Atheists, Socialists, Communists, Red Republicans, Jacobins on the one side, and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is the battle ground, Christianity and Atheism the combatants, and the progress of humanity the stake"
As you can see, the narrowminded nature of the religious right has not changed much since then. If you don't side with the politics of conservative religion, you're an atheist or a communist at least. It was the same kind of story with the suffrage movement, too: Conservative Biblical literalists vs religious and secular humanists who knew the Bible was bankrupt regarding the issue. Again, it is and was Christian values of intolerance, discrimination and inequality at odds with the principles of liberty found in our Constitution. It legally ended fifteen hundred years of authoritarian church state alliances based on this commandment below. In the Suffrage essay, I will show you an 1850 NY newspaper article that attacks as unBiblical the idea of making the races and sexes equal, complaining that these socialists and infidels are rejecting the social order of the Bible which, according to the newspaper's editors, has worked well. Women could not vote and Blacks were slaves and they said it worked well.
American law is based on the Ten Commandments? If there was ever a statement that went against the principles and guarantees of the Constitution, that's it. Comparing the First commandment with the First Amendment is a clear example of colliding values. As And Religious radicals STILL tell us that our laws are based on the commandments. In fact, our first and amendment makes the first and second commandments unconstitutional as laws. That goes for the commandments on graven images, the Sabbath and using the Lord's name in vain. All unlawful and thoroughly unconstitutional. Why evangelical activists make such an irrational and possibly dishonest claim is at the heart of their agenda to proselytize at any cost. Is it a blindness? They are much like radical Muslims who also rage at secularism and demand governments of God.
Adding that unbelief is a capital offense (stoning) or one deserving eternal torment in the Bible only makes the distinction clearer. The 6th article's 3rd clause makes one'e religion constitutionally irrelevant as a value for public service by banning religious tests, which required Christian declarations of faith.
Clause 3: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious tests shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
It revoked the long established Christian (and Islamic) principle (no other religion tolerated) of religious tests and declarations. This religious test ban impairs the Christian goal of making all confess to Christianity by excluding the requirements of test and declaration in oaths for public office. In fact, the 6th Article and the 1st Amendment neutralizes the 1st and the 2nd commandments as the foundation of any laws, which they were in the old order. The Constitution marked the end of an age; a new dispensation of liberty had arrived to replace the old era. A new order for the ages. What did they mean by that bold motto? A bold break from the legal traditions the past. The government was now religion-neutral, no longer based on any religious faith, and a protector of all religious liberty. Legally, no religion was second class anymore as Christians usually demand, then and now.
With the ratification of the Constitution, unlike the period with Christian traditions of religious tests for pubic service (afterall, every tongue shall confess so why not start at the gates of civil government), no person could be excluded from public service and office holding because they weren't of a required religious persuasion. It was now against the law to require any religious faith for oaths of office yet the religious right makes such religious declarations a requirement for civic worthiness; precisely the attitude the founders were countering in Clause 3 of Article 6. No Religious Test - Your religion is your own matter; what we are concerned about in an oath is guarding THIS code of laws. Not that one. Article 6, Clause 1 says there is no higher law. It is "the supreme law of the land". The oath is to that highest law. What the Christian reconstructionists fail to see is that there is a difference between heritage and law. Religious tests were tradition and they were law. After the ratification, this tradition was now unconstitutional. It took until 1824 and 1836 before the last states (CT & MA) made their transition to constitutional adherence by legally dis-establishing religion and ending specific Christian religious tests. Adams and Jefferson were gleeful regarding the end of the "Protestant Popery" in Connecticut. It took until 1961 to end the use of religious tests that affirmed the existence of a God. That was a USSC decision regarding the Maryland Constitutions religious test. It was a representative of the old order; of church and state alliances.
There are hundreds of laws, considerered tradition and heritage from the past, that have been ruled unconstitutional. It is a necessary adjustment over time after the ratifcation of the Constitution. Things weren't automatic. Becoming a nation of new political orders and conventions takes time. Old laws and unconstitutional convention didn't disappear over night. They had to be rooted out, and with a bitter fight at times. Violence was par in many liberty expansions. It took more than seven decades for slavery to end and it resulted from a Civil War and then an Amendment to the Constitution. It took even longer, 120, for women's suffrage. It took 170 years before the USSC ruled that laws banning the marriage of interracial couples were wrong. And who was there to fight liberty? Religious conservatives every time. Who blew up churches and murdered activists during the Civil Rights movement? Traditionalists touting the Bible and shouting God's intention to keep the races separate.
And there have been important court rulings that keep the government out of our bedrooms, our ideologies, our literature, and our doctor's office. The Christian religious right, like radical Islamists, wants into your bedroom, into your love life, into your reading room, into your bloodstream, and into your doctors office. Who fought the stablishment of family planning clinics and the right to purchase and use contraception? The religious right. They want a big say in your private life. Its their God given responsibility to intrude into you life.They are the ones there to oppose the expansion of liberty because that means a freer and more diverse society. They want uniformity, not diversity. Pluralism is a dirty word even though the First Amendment gurantees a pluralist nation. Whether it is immmigration or other religions, they seethe with open hostility towards the concepts of diversity protected in the Constitution They are not religious humanists; they are authoritarian totalists. The expansion of liberty means the end of some customs. So did the Industrial Revolution and the liberty to shop on Sundays signalled the end of some customs but we survived all the changes.
Part of the foundation of Christianity's long history of religious intolerance is the so-called Great Commission It leaves no room for religious diversity, anywhere.
Matthew 28:19-20. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Philippians 2:10-11: "..every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord...
Those rather imperial statements aren't a recipe for religious tolerance in a world of free conscience and diversity, which is a basic ingredient in a free world. God's words in the Pentatuech's made wrong belief and unbelief capital offenses. The Bible teaches religious intolerance from cover to cover. Pagans had lived in a culture of religious diversity and tolerance before Christians came along and claimed their religion the only legitimate religion on Earth. Much as Isalamists have always done. Christians were then called atheists because they denied the existence of the gods. A few emperors saw Christanity as uncivil and dangerous to Roman social order, which rested partly on a foundation of religious diversity. Religious coexistence was just as necessary for public order then as it is now. It worked then, too. It was Christianity that brought religious wars to Europe. People did not fight over religion until they were told hat they had to believe. Thankfully, we are now back to the paganish world of religious diversity and codified tolerance that Christians wiped out in the fourth through sixth centuries.
Believers are charged with converting people, not being supporters of diversity and true religious liberty. The commission makes it clear: All Nations. Religious intolerance becomes a virtue. Respecting other religious beliefs as equals is antithetical to the Biblical charge to evangelize and convert. The free world's ethic of 'live and let live' is virtually nonexistent in the Bible (and the Quran). The commission is obsessed with control and the making of a uniform authoritarian religious collectivism. It is all about conformity and uniformity in a uniformly Christian society and much like any collectivist vision.But has it ever worked? No, never, as far as the principles of liberty go. The conservative forces of Christianity, those that think the Bible is the inerrant and literal Word of God, whether they are in the laity, the government or the clergy, have fought the majority of rights movements in western history. Throughout history, canon law, edicts and diverse alliances of religion and government have opposed many of the liberties we now take for granted in modern times.
How is it that people say we are founded on Christian 'Biblically correct' Christianity, like conservative Islam, is clearly intolerant of all other religions, counting them fraudulent and demonic? The statement is a cultural myth that perpetuates itself in being oft repeated. 'Memes', ideas taking on their own lives and evolving, are what we are seeing in action. Our constitution does not promote any religion and contains no Christian principle. In fact, it takes the views of classical and enlightenment humanist thinkers on the subjects of rights of conscience and the separation of powers.
The religious right continually confuses heritage with constitutional law. Somehow they think tradition gives them the right to use the state's functions and properties to promote Christianity. This is their 'unwritten constitution' which is supported by an array of selected quotes and tradition but not one letter in the United States Constitution. Somehow they think religious liberty is the liberty to use the state as their evangelical vehicle. That was never the Constitution's intentions. IWhen Madison wrote the Bill of Rights with the Constituional Congress, he meant for church and state to be separate. That is clear in his letters years later. The people of the day knew what the last fifteen hundred years of Christianity wed to the State had given Europe; that it is the nature of Christian governments, like any authoritarian regime, to dominate and be in control of all the people's religion and speech. They are still with us, the most zealous stopping at nothing to Christianize the world under the guise of religious liberty, which they clearly don't understand. The US Constitution prevents that and protects us from those who think religious liberty is the right to use the time, functions and property of the state as a vehicle of evangelism. More than a millenium of experience proved how fatal that combiunation was. The Constitution's two religious clauses were crafted with the history of religion and authoritarianism in mind. Both speak in the negative: NO religious tests; NO law shall be made regarding religion.
Below are examples of Biblical principles. When incorporated as law, they represent the antithesis of the principles of religious liberty. So when people say America was founded on Biblical principles, you can always ask them "oh yea, which ones?". Don't hold your breath. I have yet to get even the simplest answer. They just reel off irrelevant quotes and never answer the questions. Which Christian principles are in the Constitution? Where in the Constitution are they expressed? They just keep repeating the same mantra, somehow assuming that saying so ad nauseum makes it so. The Constitution is the USA's foundational law. Nothing else is. It is the Supreme Law of the Land. It is based on humanist principles of free conscience and of diversity. The religious right in not bashful about hating humnanists either. Its like religions who demand that you hate this world and life. Nothing beforehand counts except on historical, social, and cultural terms. The religious ideas of the Plymouth Bay Colony were part of the old legal order and were antithetical to the new order of liberty and government organization founded in the federal constitution.
Deuteronomy 7:5: But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and hew down their Ashe'rim, and burn their graven images with fire.
Deuteronomy 12:3: you shall tear down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and burn their Ashe'rim with fire; you shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy their name out of that place
Up until the ratification of Constitution, people had to make religious declarations as part of their required oath of office. One could call them Nicene (Trinitarian) confessions. The US Constitution outlawed those demanding laws based in the Christian principles of universal religious declarations intolerance. Our nation, before the ratification, was nearly as intolerant as England. You had to be a Trinity believing Protestant to serve in government. Our government's legal foundation is not based in the principles of the old order found in governments based in Christianity. Those were Medieval conceptions and principles.
Clause 2: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the Supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
Clause 3: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
Justice Joseph Story was very clear regarding the Sixth Article in his 1833 writings on the Constitution when he wrote,
"The remaining part of the clause declares, that 'no religious test shall ever be required, as a qualification to any office or public trust, under the United States.' This clause is not introduced merely for the purpose of satisfying the scruples of many respectable persons, who feel an invincible repugnance to any test or affirmation. It had a higher object; to cut off forever every pretense of any alliance between church and state in the national government".
"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion -- as it has itself no character of enmity against the law, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims]......"
The negotiations of the Treaty of Tripoli began in the Washington Adminstration and it was signed into law by President John Adams:
"Now be it known, that I, John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said treaty do, by and within the consent of the Senate, accept, ratify and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof."
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. z
There are no Biblical or Christian principles above. People of the religious right seem to refuse to see that the establishment clause is a condition of the free excercise clause. It is much like the conditions we have on 'free speech', press and assembly. You cant say anything you want, anywhere you please or anytime you like. There are conditions to rights. There are responsibilities to freedom. There are social contracts. The humanist principles of live and let live are imbedded in and trumpeted by the Constitution.
It amazes me what people want to see. Evangelicals can not fathom why our government is religion-neutral. A little historical education would help a great deal. Most Christians don't even know the history of their religion. They don't really understand how it got into power in Europe. They don't understand how that power was maintained. They have been taught a revisionist history that serves the evangelical obsession. They have no idea that other religions and classical ideas were nearly extirpated with threats, violence and the judicial savagery founded on scripture. Emperor Theodosius the Great even outlawed the Olympics because they were pagan in origin. He closed and confiscated the thousand year old Academy in Athens that was founded by Plato. It was fifteen centuries before they returned after the ruins at Mount Olympus were discovered by archeologists in the nineteenth century. Read the story of The Rise of Church-State Alliances 325-565). It is a story very similar to how many twentieth century dictatorships achieved their rise to power. A story of threats of harm, loss of rights, religious totalitarianism and exclusivity much like the beliefs of today's radical Islamists: by it, it rose to power and by it, it maintained power over the people.