Thomas Jefferson on Religious Freedom

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    Apr 13, 2011 11:47 PM GMT
    On the occasion of Thomas Jefferson's birthday, a worthy read from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

    http://blog.au.org/2011/04/13/my-birthday-wish-for-thomas-jefferson-an-end-to-the-religious-right%E2%80%99s-lies-about-him/

    As much as I love my Christian faith and my church, I would NEVER advocate for the creation of a state church nor impose Old Testament Biblical law on this country.
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    Apr 14, 2011 1:23 AM GMT
    Nice topic !! Separation of Church and State is right up there with Habeas Corpus rights when it comes to ranking of importance for Americans. Whenever any country throughout history mixed religion and Government the citizens suffered, a little research turns up the most well documented period and its drastic results was when the Roman Catholic Church held superiority over most of European Governments. Who knows the numbers they killed "in the name of the lord". It was known as the dark ages for good reason, because when ever church dogma has dominance knowledge/science suffers. Exhibit A, look are what the far right Christians are trying to farward through the Tbaggers and Republicans. If not carefully watched and held back they would gladly take us back to the 19th century.
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    Apr 14, 2011 1:54 AM GMT
    realifedad said Nice topic !! Separation of Church and State is right up there with Habeas Corpus rights when it comes to ranking of importance for Americans. Whenever any country throughout history mixed religion and Government the citizens suffered, a little research turns up the most well documented period and its drastic results was when the Roman Catholic Church held superiority over most of European Governments. Who knows the numbers they killed "in the name of the lord". It was known as the dark ages for good reason, because when ever church dogma has dominance knowledge/science suffers. Exhibit A, look are what the far right Christians are trying to farward through the Tbaggers and Republicans. If not carefully watched and held back they would gladly take us back to the 19th century.


    Thanks.

    Religion, when taken out of its context and used in conjunction with force, can produce horrifying results. Some say that what happened in Europe could never happen here because we're smarter and more 'civilized' than to stoop to that level. My response: never say never; people never thought that one man could kill over 6 million people.
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    Apr 14, 2011 2:35 AM GMT
    A few thoughts:

    @RealLifeDad
    :

    I would respectfully point out that the 19th century (in terms of US history) there never was a threat of the US or even the Southern States becoming a theonomist* government. People then were perhaps more openly religious and read Bibles in classrooms and so-forth, but the dawn of the 19th century was the end of any sort of established churches in the USA.

    Even today, while some on the far left/militant atheists will try to create a case that the Theonomist/Christian Reconstructionist movement, there simply isn't a chance of any sort of momentum for such a movement.

    Even local or regional successes at trying to establish Old Testament Law as a sort of a christianized form of the Muslim Shari'ah Law would be crushed by the courts, if not the active involvement of the ACLU, the ADL, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, among other civil rights groups.

    And as for the Creationist lobby, while I believe that people should be able to believe in whatever creation lore they choose to, Academia is very secure in its defense of materialistic evolution as the primary and agreed upon explantion for the origin and development of life on earth.

    Again, not likely that the "riding dinosaurs" crowd will overturn a century or more of accepted scientific knowledge.

    @Columbusite: Oddly enough, Hitler was not terribly religious. At least not in the sense we commonly hear the word "religious".

    True, he had an outward (mostly youthful) identity with the Roman Catholicism that was prevalent in Southern Germany and Austria of his youth, but later history seems to suggest that he became taken with a mix of esoteric Hinduism, Occultism, native German paganism, all with a very thin veneer of Christianity to make his presentation of ideals more palatable to the Germanic masses... and all of it subsumed in service to the State (the Reich).

    In fact, Hitler and the Nazis (and the Thule Society as a spiritual forebear) strove to create a state religion, not for the sake of a religious state, but as a tool to ensure the devoted obedience of the people to the Reich.

    Hitler wanted to be as much the Messiah for his Reich as Jesus is for Christians. In this manner, he was very much an anti-christ.
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    Apr 14, 2011 3:03 AM GMT
    Ive always wondered at the unusual religious fervour present in US politics... Almost as if the uber-devoutness of the pilgrims overtook the enlightenment spirit of the founding fathers... interesting juxtaposition
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    Apr 14, 2011 3:45 AM GMT
    Civil Rights and Religion
    Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions…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.”
    --Jefferson’s “Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom,”
    Adopted January 1786

    Fascinating! and SO relevant today.
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    Apr 14, 2011 3:50 AM GMT
    alphatrigger saidA few thoughts:

    @RealLifeDad
    :

    I would respectfully point out that the 19th century (in terms of US history) there never was a threat of the US or even the Southern States becoming a theonomist* government. People then were perhaps more openly religious and read Bibles in classrooms and so-forth, but the dawn of the 19th century was the end of any sort of established churches in the USA.

    Even today, while some on the far left/militant atheists will try to create a case that the Theonomist/Christian Reconstructionist movement, there simply isn't a chance of any sort of momentum for such a movement.

    Even local or regional successes at trying to establish Old Testament Law as a sort of a christianized form of the Muslim Shari'ah Law would be crushed by the courts, if not the active involvement of the ACLU, the ADL, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, among other civil rights groups.

    And as for the Creationist lobby, while I believe that people should be able to believe in whatever creation lore they choose to, Academia is very secure in its defense of materialistic evolution as the primary and agreed upon explantion for the origin and development of life on earth.

    Again, not likely that the "riding dinosaurs" crowd will overturn a century or more of accepted scientific knowledge.

    @Columbusite: Oddly enough, Hitler was not terribly religious. At least not in the sense we commonly hear the word "religious".

    True, he had an outward (mostly youthful) identity with the Roman Catholicism that was prevalent in Southern Germany and Austria of his youth, but later history seems to suggest that he became taken with a mix of esoteric Hinduism, Occultism, native German paganism, all with a very thin veneer of Christianity to make his presentation of ideals more palatable to the Germanic masses... and all of it subsumed in service to the State (the Reich).

    In fact, Hitler and the Nazis (and the Thule Society as a spiritual forebear) strove to create a state religion, not for the sake of a religious state, but as a tool to ensure the devoted obedience of the people to the Reich.

    Hitler wanted to be as much the Messiah for his Reich as Jesus is for Christians. In this manner, he was very much an anti-christ.


    ____________________________________________

    You make good points, but a little more literal than I meant it to be taken. What I was refering to are things like the Far Righter Christian Organizations in Texas are now trying to take texas back to the days when Anal Sex was a punishable offense, in spite of the Supreme Court knocking down those 19th century laws as unconstitutional.

    Southern Baptist Far Righter Christians would gladly stop interracial marriages.

    The far Right Christians would definately take away the freedom of gays to be foster Parents or adopt and children.

    The Far Right Christians are actively working to make it impossible for a woman to get an abortion.

    They would take away sex education and especially any mention of homosexuality as being a normalized human relations 'option'.

    The list goes on and on as to how they'd take us back to the 19th Century.

    These Subtle ways of bringing 'god' back into American Government are basicly mixing Christian 'values and principles' into legislation. These efforts are creeping in through the back door and are very dangerous. Never forget that Human Nature has not changed and its just as easy for Americans to lose freedoms now as ever in history. All that needs to happen is have major catastrophies take place, or our being attacked and the Sheeples will go for anything under the banner of "keep us safe".

    Keeping religion out of our government is a very important effort, look at all the effort and organizing the far right christian groups are doing to bring 'America back to god'. Its for control, its to bring people into line with their Christian beliefs, and many of these groups firmly believe it their duty to 'stop the gay indoctrination' because they believe our country is punished by gods 'natural disasters' for turning our country's back on god and allowing gay rights, gays to serve in the military and etc. Watch many of the TV evangelists, listen to the preachers on the radio and you'll hear them say this stuff. Read from Right Wing Watch and you'll be alarmed at what I call the "Christian Talaban" and their efforts to legislate their beliefs.

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    Apr 14, 2011 3:52 AM GMT
    Interesting. Jefferson was ahead of his time. So in this day and age, do you think that anyone who was atheist, non-religious, non-Christian, agnostic or didn't pretend to be Christian could ever be elected to the Presidency?
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    Apr 14, 2011 3:55 AM GMT
    NoSuchPerson saidInteresting. Jefferson was ahead of his time. So in this day and age, do you think that anyone who was atheist, non-religious, non-Christian, agnostic or didn't pretend to be Christian could ever be elected to the Presidency?
    Nope.. not a chance 'in hell'..
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    Apr 14, 2011 4:02 AM GMT
    I thing it is absolutely true that many conservatives feel that the founding fathers intended to set-up a Christian nation and feel that the secularization of our country is destroying it....that we are losing the core values of our country as we kick God out of our schools and public buildings.

    Thanks for pointing out that this fantasy of theirs has little basis in historical fact.
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    Apr 14, 2011 4:04 AM GMT
    NoSuchPerson saidInteresting. Jefferson was ahead of his time. So in this day and age, do you think that anyone who was atheist, non-religious, non-Christian, agnostic or didn't pretend to be Christian could ever be elected to the Presidency?


    Short answer: No, not likely.

    But at the same time, one need only provide a minimum lip service to "god", in the loosest sense.

    This may change in a generation or so, as the more devout Christian population dies off and becomes less of a majority.

    In Jefferson's time, the closest thing to atheism (as religion and a general sense of public piety was somewhat more entrenched in daily life, and modern rationalism was yet in its earliest stages in North America) was Deism, or more along the lines of the "Clockmaker God" who was more or less disinterested in His creation and generally took a laissez-faire approach to things.

    I'm not sure that a person then who outright denied the existence of God would have found a great many friends who would publicly support his logic...
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    Apr 14, 2011 4:10 AM GMT
    moscowmikey saidI thing it is absolutely true that many conservatives feel that the founding fathers intended to set-up a Christian nation and feel that the secularization of our country is destroying it....that we are losing the core values of our country as we kick God out of our schools and public buildings.

    Thanks for pointing out that this fantasy of theirs has little basis in historical fact.



    They don't care.
    They want to force their extreme and intolerant version of Chritianity on all Americans, and they don't care if it's what our forefathers intended or not.
    They want to be in charge of what freedoms we have - and what freedoms they choose to deny us.
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    Apr 14, 2011 4:14 AM GMT
    moscowmikey saidI thing it is absolutely true that many conservatives feel that the founding fathers intended to set-up a Christian nation and feel that the secularization of our country is destroying it....that we are losing the core values of our country as we kick God out of our schools and public buildings.

    Thanks for pointing out that this fantasy of theirs has little basis in historical fact.


    Closer to the truth is that America has a "civic religion" which has a certain lifeless formality to it. It was not the stuff of "political correctness" where all mentions of deity were to be quietly snuffed out like a baby in its crib, but more like a humble acceptance of different points of view, where the more important business of administering the Republic took place.

    In the very few and limited spaces He was mentioned, "God" was acknowledged as the creator and font of all authority and sovereignty, which is granted to the people, and entrusted by the people to the elected government.

    In this manner of a "civic religion", the religion was never established after the fashion of the Church of England, or the political bishoprics of Europe, or where the faith of the land was determined by the faith of its human sovereign.

    In 18th century America, "God" was made palatable to all the various religious factions that Americans laid claim to, including Jews, Catholics, and all sorts of Protestant flavours (and had Hindus and Muslims been a significant minority among the Founders, I'd imagine that Vishnu and Krishna and Allah would probably have gotten rolled up into that notion).

    Beyond that, in that old 18th century "civic religion", there is little of the traditional gospel message or any calls to repentance and so forth that composes the bulk of the Christian message.
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    Apr 14, 2011 7:34 AM GMT
    Pato_Rico saidIve always wondered at the unusual religious fervour present in US politics... Almost as if the uber-devoutness of the pilgrims overtook the enlightenment spirit of the founding fathers... interesting juxtaposition


    In the US, a politician with a lot of religious expression is supposed to show that he is an upstanding person with a strong moral character (or at least appear that way to the voters). The irony is that the more the politician shows his religious expression publicly, the less morally he behaves privately.
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    Apr 14, 2011 9:27 AM GMT
    I love the way there are Americans who think church and state are separate in the US; nice work of propaganda.
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    Apr 14, 2011 6:29 PM GMT
    True_Blue_Aussie saidI love the way there are Americans who think church and state are separate in the US; nice work of propaganda.







    I love the way you "don't have a 'dog' in this race" but yet you enterject your bullshit for special effects.
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    Apr 14, 2011 9:42 PM GMT
    realifedad said
    True_Blue_Aussie saidI love the way there are Americans who think church and state are separate in the US; nice work of propaganda.







    I love the way you "don't have a 'dog' in this race" but yet you enterject your bullshit for special effects.
    Like a low budget effects flick..
    the effects suck and they look like shit.
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    Apr 14, 2011 10:19 PM GMT
    Don't see how church and State are separated in the US when the US is the worlds largest Christian country, that is going to keep Christianity alive in Europe, countries with massive cathedrals where religion was dieing.

    Church and state separate in the US; giggles.

    On June 8th an over whelming victory in the US with Prop8 passing is modern day proof of how integrated religion and state in the US are, and they get to keep their taxation exemptions too.

    But if it helps you to remain blind to this truth, I'm not trying to take off your blinkers.

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    Apr 15, 2011 4:24 AM GMT
    Individual voters who are religious, and organizations that lobby for religiously identified issues that can fund and drive politics are not that mixture of church and state Jefferson spoke of.

    Specifically, Jefferson's comments of "erecting a wall of separation between church and state" were to reassure a very small minority sect of Baptists that their liberty to worship God would not be infringed upon by a state that established church, such as an "Church of Connecticut" with prelates or bishops that were appointed by the state government.

    Colonial governments/viceregal appointments in North America in the late 18th century often required the appointees or those elected to profess their faith or affirm their membership in one of the recognized churches (most typically the Church of England of that time).

    The major issue Jefferson and other like-minded Founders addressed was to prevent a "Church of the United States" or any of the number of colonial/state churches that could have been and initially were successors to the Anglican Church from gaining power over the minority and independent churches.

    It is a two-way street: it keeps the government from establishing churches, and prevents churches from gaining too much power overthe workings of government.

    So in short, the Mormons are not the government - they have a great deal of influence over social conservatives due to the massive donation power of individual Mormons and other socially conservative Christians.