An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

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woodcanoe
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An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

More from our enlightened schools:
[url=http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/main/Print.aspx?mid=800&cid=3420]web page[/url]

quote: Ten-year-old student Luke Whitson used his regularly scheduled recess time to read the Bible with a few friends on his school's playground. After receiving a complaint from a parent, the school's principal reportedly ordered the students to stop their activity, put their Bibles away, and cease from bringing their Bibles to school.

By the way, love the lawyer's name - [b]Pope.[/b]Al[ 05-12-2005: Message edited by: Al Greenlaw ]

woodcanoe
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An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

This was the lead editorial in the Bangor Daily News Tuesday April 5, 2005. There is much food for thought within.

An American Theocracy
Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - Bangor Daily News
In bits and pieces, the signs are everywhere that the conservative Christian religious movement is directing the policies of the Republican Party. But it took a conservative Republican politician - who is also an ordained Episcopal minister - to put them all together and say so.
John C. Danforth, a three-term Republican senator from Missouri and briefly U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, issued a warning to his party in
a recent op-ed column in The New York Times. He wrote: "By a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians." As elements of this transformation, he listed advocacy of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, opposition to stem cell research "involving both human embryos and human cells in petri dishes" and "the extraordinary effort to keep Terri Schiavo hooked up to a feeding tube." He described those elements as "parts of a larger package, an agenda of positions common to conservative Christians and the dominant wing of the Republican Party."In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which reprinted his
article, Mr. Danforth said: "It becomes extraordinarily divisive, and legislatures get themselves entangled with writing religious documents into legislative form. It's exactly what the Constitution says we can't do, and it's exactly what we can't do if we want to keep the country glued together." He added: "I'm surprised people have been so mute about this. I thought if nobody was saying this, I should."On the Schiavo case, his column said: "High-profile Republican efforts to prolong the life of Ms. Schiavo, including departures from Republican principles like approving Congressional involvement in private decisions and empowering a federal court to overrule a state court, can rightfully be interpreted
as yielding to the pressure of religious power blocs."He also mentioned a current Missouri controversy in which the state's General Assembly had advanced legislation to criminalize even stem cell research in which the cells are artificially produced in petri dishes and will never be transplanted into the human uterus. "It is not evident to many of us that cells in a petri dish are equivalent to identifiable people suffering from terrible diseases. I am and have always been pro-life. But the only explanation for legislators comparing cells in a petri dish to babies in the womb is the extension of religious doctrine into statutory law," he wrote.Mr. Danforth shares some of the positions of the religious right, including his long devotion to the anti-abortion movement and his support for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.He wrote that during his 18 years in the Senate Republicans often disagreed with each other but were held together by basic principles including limited government shared by virtually all Republicans. "But in recent times, we Republicans have allowed this shared agenda to become secondary to the agenda of Christian conservatives. As a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today, it seems to be the other way around."Mr. Danforth's article was reminiscent of Maine's Sen. Margaret Chase Smith's 1950 "declaration of conscience" denouncing the anti-Communist demagoguery of Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. It could help generate resistance to a current drive by Christian conservative groups against the Senate's filibuster rule, which they regard as vital to issues like abortion, prayer in the schools and same-sex marriage.

Steven Scharf
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

Here is the original:New York Times
March 30, 2005
OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
[b]In the Name of Politics[/b]
By JOHN C. DANFORTH St. Louis — BY a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians. The elements of this transformation have included advocacy of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, opposition to stem cell research involving both frozen embryos and human cells in petri dishes, and the extraordinary effort to keep Terri Schiavo hooked up to a feeding tube. Standing alone, each of these initiatives has its advocates, within the Republican Party and beyond. But the distinct elements do not stand alone. Rather they are parts of a larger package, an agenda of positions common to conservative Christians and the dominant wing of the Republican Party.Christian activists, eager to take credit for recent electoral successes, would not be likely to concede that Republican adoption of their political agenda is merely the natural convergence of conservative religious and political values. Correctly, they would see a causal relationship between the activism of the churches and the responsiveness of Republican politicians. In turn, pragmatic Republicans would agree that motivating Christian conservatives has contributed to their successes.High-profile Republican efforts to prolong the life of Ms. Schiavo, including departures from Republican principles like approving Congressional involvement in private decisions and empowering a federal court to overrule a state court, can rightfully be interpreted as yielding to the pressure of religious power blocs.In my state, Missouri, Republicans in the General Assembly have advanced legislation to criminalize even stem cell research in which the cells are artificially produced in petri dishes and will never be transplanted into the human uterus. They argue that such cells are human life that must be protected, by threat of criminal prosecution, from promising research on diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and juvenile diabetes.It is not evident to many of us that cells in a petri dish are equivalent to identifiable people suffering from terrible diseases. I am and have always been pro-life. But the only explanation for legislators comparing cells in a petri dish to babies in the womb is the extension of religious doctrine into statutory law.I do not fault religious people for political action. Since Moses confronted the pharaoh, faithful people have heard God's call to political involvement. Nor has political action been unique to conservative Christians. Religious liberals have been politically active in support of gay rights and against nuclear weapons and the death penalty. In America, everyone has the right to try to influence political issues, regardless of his religious motivations. The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement.When government becomes the means of carrying out a religious program, it raises obvious questions under the First Amendment. But even in the absence of constitutional issues, a political party should resist identification with a religious movement. While religions are free to advocate for their own sectarian causes, the work of government and those who engage in it is to hold together as one people a very diverse country. At its best, religion can be a uniting influence, but in practice, nothing is more divisive. For politicians to advance the cause of one religious group is often to oppose the cause of another.Take stem cell research. Criminalizing the work of scientists doing such research would give strong support to one religious doctrine, and it would punish people who believe it is their religious duty to use science to heal the sick.During the 18 years I served in the Senate, Republicans often disagreed with each other. But there was much that held us together. We believed in limited government, in keeping light the burden of taxation and regulation. We encouraged the private sector, so that a free economy might thrive. We believed that judges should interpret the law, not legislate. We were internationalists who supported an engaged foreign policy, a strong national defense and free trade. These were principles shared by virtually all Republicans. But in recent times, we Republicans have allowed this shared agenda to become secondary to the agenda of Christian conservatives. As a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems to be the other way around.The historic principles of the Republican Party offer America its best hope for a prosperous and secure future. Our current fixation on a religious agenda has turned us in the wrong direction. It is time for Republicans to rediscover our roots.John C. Danforth, a former United States senator from Missouri, resigned in January as United States ambassador to the United Nations. He is an Episcopal minister
I especially like the 3rd from last and last paragraphs.Steven Scharf
SCSMedia@aol.com[ 04-09-2005: Message edited by: Steven Scharf ]

Al Greenlaw
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson would certainly agree with:

quote: "I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage."

Danforth is another RINO who doesn't get it. The progressive agenda has been creeping into the culture for decades. A majority (if such a concept can be understood by him) of Americans are saying no more. Christians, especially evangelicals, are being used as whipping boys for the left. It is no coincidence that what we consider "traditional values" have been religiously based for thousands of years. These values are necessary to bind societies together. It is not fair to say that Christians want to impose their beliefs (although some may), but rather Christians are reacting to changes in our culture that have been "imposed" by liberal legislation or, courts bent on social engineering. Danforth has it backwards. It is no wonder he is "former" Senator and "former" U.N. Ambassador.Al

woodcanoe
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

A quote from Senator Danforth's piece:"It becomes extraordinarily divisive, and legislatures get themselves entangled with writing religious documents into legislative form. It's exactly what the Constitution says we can't do, and it's exactly what we can't do if we want to keep the country glued together."
I think this is the heart of his opinion piece. We talk about going back to "traditional values" often, and I have myself. But the question becomes: "Whose values are we going to accept?"There are vast differences of opinion amongst religious groups. I have seen several local churches become bitterly divided over ideological differences in my lifetime. Within the Christian religions there is vast disagreement on many issues. So which doctorine shall we make into law?Here in Maine several years ago a man laced the coffee urn with arsenic in order to attempt to kill other members of his congregation. Do we need America as bitterly divided as that congregation was.I am a God-fearing person that has said a few prayers over the years but I realize that to try to establish a state religion, or build a series of laws based on such is a sure recipe for disaster. We will shortly look like afghanistan!To me it is far better, and within the scope of the Constitution if religion stays as a personal matter and not a government one!

Al Amoling
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

Keeping religion as a personal matter is fine. However you can not force people to not be guided by their religious beliefs no matter what their vocation.

woodcanoe
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

I have no problem with people being guided by their beliefs. But when they suggest that whatever they believe should be the law of the land because their God says so then I think they have crossed over a line that the Constitution properly lays out. Our nation was founding by God-fearing people yet they went to great lengths to keep religion and politics as seperate as they could. I think this is still a good idea today!

Anonymous
Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

Amendment ICongress 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.

Al Greenlaw
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

Woodcanoe, the founders were accutely aware of the special place that religion has in the lives of people. They also understood that, like zealotry of all types, religious fervor could get out of hand. Many immigrants were here because of religious intolerance. They also believed that God (our Creator if you will) granted all people certain inalienable rights that could not be taken away by any government. This so-called separation of church and state is a myth. The Founders beleived that faith should always play a role in the decisions of man, but they wanted to ensure that ALL faiths were given equal status. They understood that, for the most part, religion(s) provided codes of conduct that were beneficial to society. Christians have not always behaved well and the Founders knew this. They wanted to ensure that the beneficial aspects of religion could be expressed freely, but also ensure that all would be protected and treated equally. The Shiavo matter was portrayed as if it was only Christians who were protesting. In reality there were various disability groups, Jews, and even non-believers in the crowd. I believe that our country has become too secular. We have wondered away from the principles we were founded with. That does not mean I want everyone in this country to become a Christian, far from it. What I would like to see is more attention paid to what our Creator has instructed us to do. That is precisely what our Founders wanted as well. Al

mainemom
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

Our Founders - mainly Deisits rather than sectarian Christians - were all too aware of the evils done in the name of religion back in England during previous centuries. They were determined that religious authority should not have the force of law in this new republic, and equally determined that the government should not favor or persecute people for their religious beliefs.Amen, Senator Danforth.

apondsong
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

quote:Al Greenlaw says: [i] That does not mean I want everyone in this country to become a Christian, far from it.[/i]

THAT means you aren't a Bible-believing, born-again Christian Al.....? Is that so?

Al Amoling
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

The idea that our founding fathers were deists is rubbish.

Al Greenlaw
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

quote:Originally posted by Shep:
[b]THAT means you aren't a Bible-believing, born-again Christian Al.....? Is that so?[/b]

Not that your response requires a reply, but...Find any post from me that implies in anyway that I am a "born again" Christian, whatever that means. I am not a missionary and never have been. I am Bible-believing, as you imply, but understand that others are not. I pray that they may be some day, but have neither the time nor the inclination to convert them. I try to live my life according to my faith and that means that I should exhibit my faith openly and proudly. I hope that I have accomplished this. If I believe that the laws of man conflict with what God has taught us, I have a duty to oppose that law. I do not, and have never advocated violence, but I have been granted my right to protest, not just by the Constitution, but by the Creator through which that right was ultimately given to mankind.Abortion is wrong.
Euthanasia is wrong.
Assisted suicide is wrong.
Depriving brain-damaged, non-terminal people, food and water, is wrong.
Life is a gift from God, from womb to tomb. We can certainly agree on many end-of-life issues, and probably do, but if we continue to define life by it's utility to society, we are headed for trouble. Al

mainemom
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

quote:Originally posted by AlAmoling:
[b]The idea that our founding fathers were deists is rubbish.[/b]

Al, in case you are actually serious, read this please (I hope it doesn't disillusion you too much):
[url=http://www.deism.org/foundingfathers.htm]http://www.deism.org/foundingfa...John Adams:
From a letter to Charles Cushing (October 19, 1756):
“Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, ‘this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.’”Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11: Written during the Administration of George Washington and signed into law by John Adams.
“The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”Jefferson:
Letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, September 23, 1800
“[The clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man”Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, January 19, 1810
"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."Letter to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813
"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 political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose."Letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814
“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”Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, May 5, 1817
"I had believed that [Connecticut was] the last retreat of monkish darkness, bigotry, and abhorrence of those advances of the mind which had carried the other States a century ahead of them. ... I join you, therefore, in sincere congratulations that this den of the priesthood is at length broken up, and that a Protestant Popedom is no longer to disgrace the American history and character. If by religion we are to understand sectarian dogmas, in which no two of them agree, then your exclamation on that hypothesis is just, 'that this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.'Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823
"One day the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in the United States will tear down the artificial scaffolding of Christianity. And 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."James MadisonLetter to William Bradford, April 1, 1774:
"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise"Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, Section 7, 1785:
“During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.”Ibid, Section 8:
“What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the Civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny: in no instance have they been seen as the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established Clergy convenient auxiliaries”Franklin:
From Franklin’s autobiography:
“Scarcely was I arrived at fifteen years of age, when, after having doubted in turn of different tenets, according as I found them combated in the different books that I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself ”“...Some books against Deism fell into my hands....It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quote to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations, in short, I soon became a thorough Deist.”Benjamin Franklin, The Writings of Benjamin Franklin: London, 1757 - 1775
"If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England."Ethan Allen:
From Religion of the American Enlightenment:
“Denominated a Deist, the reality of which I have never disputed, being conscious that I am no Christian.”Thoams Paine:
Excerpts from The Age of Reason:"My own mind is my own church. All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.""Whenever we read the obscene stores (of the Bible), the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the Word of God." "...when I see throughout the greater part of this book (the Bible) scarcely anything but a history of the grossest vices and a collection of the most paltry and contemptible tales, I cannot dishonor my Creator by calling it by His name." "(The Christian) despises the choicest gift of God to man, the Gift of Reason; and having endeavored to force upon himself the belief of a system against which reason revolts, he ungratefully calls if 'human reason' as if man could give reason to himself."“Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself than this thing called Christianity”Thomas Paine, Answers to Friends regarding The Age of Reason, Paris, May 12, 1797"As I have now given you my reasons for believing that the Bible is not the Word of God, that it is a falsehood, I have a right to ask you your reasons for believing the contrary; but I know you can give me none, except that you were educated to believe the Bible; and as the Turks give the same reason for believing the Koran, it is evident that education makes all the difference, and that reason and truth have nothing to do in the case. You believe in the Bible from the accident of birth, and the Turks believe in the Koran from the same accident, and each calls the other infidel. But leaving the prejudice of education out of the case, the unprejudiced truth is, that all are infidels who believe falsely of God, whether they draw their creed from the Bible, or from the Koran, from the Old Testament, or from the New.""It is often said in the Bible that God spake unto Moses, but how do you know that God spake unto Moses? Because, you will say, the Bible says so. The Koran says, that God spake unto Mahomet, do you believe that too? No. Why not? Because, you will say, you do not believe it; and so because you do, and because you don't is all the reason you can give for believing or disbelieving except that you will say that Mahomet was an impostor. And how do you know Moses was not an impostor?"

mainemom
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

Seems the Founders were – gasp – liberals, though not – phew – socialists.

Al Greenlaw
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

No agenda at this site:[url=http://www.deism.org/foundingfathers.htm]Brought to you by Mainemom[/url] Welcome! This website is designed to provide information on Deism and be a resource for other freethinkers (from Atheists to Transcendentalists) in our mutual struggle against the religious dogmas that have too long held humanity back. Whether you're a Deist already, a different freethinker, or just not sure, this site was created in the hope that you will find it thought-provokingAl[ 04-14-2005: Message edited by: Al Greenlaw ]

Henry Clay
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

John Adams went to many churches. On some Sundays, he would visit as many as three different services to hear what the sermon would be. He enjoyed debating theology with the ministers of the different faiths. I believe he was a member of the Universalist Church and is buried right under the church's porch alongside Abigail.

Al Greenlaw
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

This is just one link I found on mainemom's favorite site: [url=http://www.blackboxvoting.org/]Kerry was robbed![/url]

Henry Clay
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

The founders loved to write. I am sure I can find quotes from each of those you call deists that would describe them as ardent supporters of organized religion. They were politicians and their writings should be regarded in terms of who their audience was. I believe most of the founders were members of one Protestant faith or another. Jefferson perhaps was the least connected to any religious group than any of those you mention save Tom Paine who I would have a hard time believing was a member of any church. "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars." --George Washington in his Farewell Address delivered this day, September 19, 1796"Religion and good morals are the only solid foundation of public liberty and happiness." --Samuel Adams"It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. ... I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not." --John Adams"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever." --Thomas Jefferson"May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us in all our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy." --George Washington“Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe." --James Madison

Ray Richardson
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

quote: From a letter to Charles Cushing (October 19, 1756):
“Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, ‘this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.’”

‘this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.’I agree with this statement. Religion is a man-made institution.Faith, on the other hand, is a personal relationship with the Almighty that is NOT dictated by mankind, but by the individual with God.Using Southern Baptist, which I grew up as, they have established that you should not drink or dance.The Bible clearly talks about Jesus turning the water into wine. It also talks about at that very same event that they made merry and danced.Jesus made the best wine, according to the scriptures, as the guest of the wedding wanted to know why the best wine was held for last.The Southern Baptist have actually established a HIGHER standard than Jesus did when it comes to alcohol.WHY?Faith is the important element in one's life. Religion is not.Religion only confuses faith.Religion, denominations, whatever you want to call it, are man-made.Faith is not.IMHO,Ray

mainemom
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

Henry and Al,
Nothing you have posted contradicts the fact that these great men were more akin to deists than to any Christian sect. Please note that deists are not atheists.
John Adams was known to be a Unitarian, but his opinion of organized religion is quite clearly mistrustful.
As for my favorite web site, it is a toss-up between TechCentralStation and Real Clear Politics. I also enjoy Powerline and FrontPageMagazine, and I have been known to read the National Review Online and Opinion Journal. And guess what: I go to Mass every week and partake of the Eucharist.
My politics and my faith however, do not blind me to reality, including historical reality.

Henry Clay
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

I have studied a great many of our founders and have read their works. Actually, reading their biographies is a wonderful hobby and there are always new ones with new angles coming out. I can go back and find quotes for you. Ben Franklin may have been a deist in his younger days. He certainly found religion later in life. "If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it?"
--Benjamin Franklin Jefferson is also often regarded as a deist and I believe at times in his life he was a deist. He did find comfort in the bible however when his wife died. However, John Adams was devout in his belief in religion. The man wrote volumes and volumes every day in his diary. He also doubted himself from time to time. I am not at all suprised if he got upset about religion at one point or another. However, it is simple ignorance if you try to portray him as not being a believer in organized religions. He came from a very faithful and devout line. They were cornerstones in their community and in their church. It is simply not true to paint him as being anything other than a follower of organized religions.

Al Greenlaw
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

mainemom, how do you reconcile this from the web site you linked:

quote:Because skepticism and doubt are not sins, Deists view with extreme suspicion any efforts by other humans to claim divine authority, such as claiming to be a "prophet" or citing "sacred scripture" said to be written by alleged prophets (as in the Bible, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, etc.). Placing faith in scriptures, prophets, priests, churches, "holy" figures, or traditions is surrendering your personal reason to another source. Usually, this other source has far less interest in "the state of your soul" as the accumulation of wealth and political power. With scripture and revelation removed, all that remains to know God is personal reason and observation of the universe. Essentially, this is getting to know the artist by studying the artwork. The only "Word of God" is the universe itself.

With this?

quote: And guess what: I go to Mass every week and partake of the Eucharist.

Or this?

quote: My politics and my faith however, do not blind me to reality

What am I missing?Al

Henry Clay
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

This is an authority on Jefferson:Jefferson's Religious Beliefs
Jefferson was always reluctant to reveal his religious beliefs to the public, but at times he would speak to and reflect upon the public dimension of religion. He was raised as an Anglican, but was influenced by English deists such as Bolingbroke and Shaftesbury. Thus in the spirit of the Enlightenment, he made the following recommendation to his nephew Peter Carr in 1787: "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." In Query XVII of Notes on the State of Virginia, he 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: "The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts as are injurious to others. But it 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 inquiry 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. With the help of Richard Price, a Unitarian minister in London, and Joseph Priestly, an English scientist-clergyman who emigrated to America in 1794, Jefferson eventually arrived at some positive assertions of his private religion. His ideas are nowhere better expressed than in his compilations of extracts from the New Testament "The Philosophy of Jesus" (1804) and "The Life and Morals of Jesus" (1819-20?). The former stems from his concern with the problem of maintaining social harmony in a republican nation. The latter is a multilingual collection of verses that was a product of his private search for religious truth. Jefferson believed in the existence of a Supreme Being who was the creator and sustainer of the universe and the ultimate ground of being, but this was not the triune deity of orthodox Christianity. He also rejected the idea of the divinity of Christ, but as he writes to William Short on October 31, 1819, he was convinced that the fragmentary teachings of Jesus constituted the "outlines of a system of the most sublime morality which has ever fallen from the lips of man." In correspondence, he sometimes expressed confidence that the whole country would be Unitarian, but he recognized the novelty of his own religious beliefs. On June 25, 1819, he wrote to Ezra Stiles, "I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know."--Rebecca Bowman, Monticello Research Department, August 1997Thanks for challenging me. I love learning more about the founders.

Henry Clay
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

This is from the United Unitarian website:
[url=http://www.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/johnadams.html]http://www.uua.org/...(John) Adams always preferred Unitarian worship services. He wrote Aaron Bancroft in 1823, "The most afflictive circumstances that I have witnessed in the lot of humanity are the narrow views, the unsocial humour, the fastidious scorn and repulsive tempers of all denominations excepting one." However, during long years of service to his country Adams could not always find a satisfactory Congregational Church and tried others. When the government was in Philadelphia, Adams took a Presbyterian pew rather than attend the congregation founded by Joseph Priestley's admirers. Priestley supported the French Revolution, whose "Reign of Terror" disillusioned Adams. Moreover, he had religious differences with Priestley. He could never stomach Priestley's penchant for speculation about the end of the world using Daniel and Revelation. He wrote Universalist Rush, "I have attended public worship in all countries and with all sects and believe them all much better than no religion, though I have not thought myself obliged to believe all I heard."

Henry Clay
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

Madison's views on religion are pretty amazing. I think he spent a great deal more time studying how to govern and how to organize a government than any other founder. He came from a section of Virginia that had strong religious faiths and I believe it would be fair to count him among those more secular than spiritual. However, he ran for office against James Monroe after Patrick Henry gerymandered their district. The two had to go out and collect votes from those among the faithful and that meant turning to religious leaders for support. A good analysis about Madison and religious freedom is here:
Madison's lifelong zeal for religious freedom began in May 1776 when state lawmakers wrote a new constitution for the newly independent Commonwealth of Virginia. The document contained a Declaration of Rights with a clause on religious liberty, penned by George Mason. The original clause declared that "all men should enjoy the fullest toleration in the exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience...."Madison didn't like it. He objected to Mason's use of the word "toleration" because it implied that the exercise of faith was a gift from government, not an inalienable right. Madison's substitute--"all men are entitled to the full and free exercise" of religion--essentially won the day. This put Madison far ahead of John Locke, who generally mustered no more than grudging toleration for religious belief.Over the next decade, Madison would be involved in various religious liberty battles in the Virginia legislature, from repealing penalties against dissenters to suspending taxpayer support for Anglican clergymen. Those struggles came to a head in 1784 when--religious conservatives take note--the General Assembly tried to pass a General Assessment bill to collect tax money for all Christian churches in the name of "public morality." Madison and others saw the bill for what it was: an attempt to prop up the Protestant Episcopal (Anglican) church with taxpayers' money. Prompted by Baptist leaders and others, Madison penned his now-famous Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments in July 1785.Biographer Irving Brant calls the 15-point document "the most powerful defense of religious liberty ever written in America." One reason is that Madison made freedom of conscience--meaning belief or conviction about religious matters--the centerpiece of all civil liberties. He called religious belief "precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society." By placing freedom of conscience prior to and superior to all other rights, Madison gave it the strongest political foundation possible.Hard-core separationists and others disagree, claiming that the Memorial's pious rhetoric masks an antipathy to religion. But consider Madison's appeals in the Memorial. He voices concern that the misuse of religion would lead to "an unhallowed perversion of the means of salvation." He reasons that government support would "weaken in those who profess this Religion a pious confidence in its innate excellence and the patronage of its Author." He recalls that ecclesiastical establishments of the past have done great damage to the "purity and efficacy" of religion." Are these the arguments of a religious scoffer?Madison would pick up the fight again during the drafting of the First Amendment. As chairman of the House conference committee on the Bill of Rights, Madison's original draft was among the most ambitious: "the civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship...nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed...." Though somewhat less expansive in its protections, the final version--"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" --clearly bears the Madison stamp.The point is that, thanks largely to Madison, free exercise replaced toleration as the national standard for protecting religious liberty, a standard he first raised in Virginia and sustained throughout his political career.Liberals make Madison into an anti-religious rationalist, determined to quarantine the republic from the disruptive influence of faith. Conservatives, when not trying to Christianize him, invoke Madison's faith-friendly rhetoric to justify the latest attempt to reinsert religion in the public square. The truth is more complicated. What is nearly indisputable is that his religious instincts fueled much of his political activity.In the fight to pass the Virginia Bill for Religious Liberty, he shamed Christian conservatives--who tried to insert the words "Jesus Christ" in an amended preamble--with these words: "The better proof of reverence for that holy name would be not to profane it by making it a topic of legislative discussion...." In 1795, during a congressional debate over naturalization, he bluntly repelled anti-Catholic prejudices: "In their religion there was nothing inconsistent with the purest Republicanism." At age 65, in retirement at his estate in Virginia, Madison praised the separation of church and state because, by it, "the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, & the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased...."In the twilight of his life, Madison wrote that [b]"belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the World and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources."[/b] Only in a culture that "bristles with hostility to all things religious" (as Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist recently put it) could such a common-sense view fall into controversy--or neglect.
[url=http://www.heritage.org/Research/PoliticalPhilosophy/EM729.cfm]http://ww...

Henry Clay
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

I will not attempt to create some religious life for Tom Paine. None existed that I am aware of but Benjamin Franklin once wrote to Paine on the subject.TO THOMAS PAINE.
[Date uncertain.] DEAR SIR,
I have read your manuscript with some attention. By the argument it contains against a particular Providence, though you allow a general Providence, you strike at the foundations of all religion. For without the belief of a Providence, that takes cognizance of, guards, and guides, and may favor particular persons, there is no motive to worship a Deity, to fear his displeasure, or to pray for his protection. I will not enter into any discussion of your principles, though you seem to desire it. At present I shall only give you my opinion, that, though your reasonings are subtile and may prevail with some readers, you will not succeed so as to change the general sentiments of mankind on that subject, and the consequence of printing this piece will be, a great deal of odium drawn upon yourself, mischief to you, and no benefit to others. He that spits against the wind, spits in his own face.
But, were you to succeed, do you imagine any good would be done by it? You yourself may find it easy to live a virtuous life, without the assistance afforded by religion; you having a clear perception of the advantages of virtue, and the disadvantages of vice, and possessing a strength of resolution sufficient to enable you to resist common temptations. But think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women, and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes, who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great point for its security. And perhaps you are indebted to her originally, that is, to your religious education, for the habits of virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. You might easily display your excellent talents of reasoning upon a less hazardous subject, and thereby obtain a rank with our most distinguished authors. For among us it is not necessary, as among the Hottentots, that a youth, to be raised into the company of men, should prove his manhood by beating his mother.
I would advise you, therefore, not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person; whereby you will save yourself a great deal of mortification by the enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of regret and repentance. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it. I intend this letter itself as a proof of my friendship, and therefore add no professions to it; but subscribe simply yours,B. FranklinFranklin was certainly not as big a churchgoer as Adams, but he did give away money to support several houses of worship.[ 04-14-2005: Message edited by: Henry Clay ]

Henry Clay
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

The Library of Congress has material about religion and the federal government.
[url=http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel06.html]http://www.loc.gov/exhib...
This from that report:
The first two Presidents of the United States were patrons of religion--George Washington was an Episcopal vestryman, and John Adams described himself as "a church going animal." Both offered strong rhetorical support for religion.
And further:
Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the third and fourth Presidents, are generally considered less hospitable to religion than their predecessors, but evidence presented in this section shows that, while in office, both offered religion powerful symbolic support.
And further:
The eighty one year old Franklin asserted that "the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this Truth--that God governs in the Affairs of Men." "I also believe," Franklin continued, that "without his concurring Aid, we shall succeed in this political Building no better than the Builders of Babel."

Henry Clay
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

Benjamin Rush followed more closely the Republicans (Jeffersonian Democrats) than the Federalists. He was raised a Calvin but attended different religious faiths including Unitarian and Presbyterian.He once confided to John Adams, though: "I have ventured to transfer the spirit of inquiry (from my profession) to religion, in which, if I have no followers in my opinions (for I hold most of them secretly), I enjoy the satisfaction of living in peace with my own conscience, and, what will surprise you not a little, in peace with all denominations of Christians, for while I refuse to be the slave of any sect, I am a friend of them all. . . . [My own religion] is a compound of the orthodoxy and heterodoxy of most of our Christian churches." He also believed in the divinity of Jesus Christ.

Henry Clay
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

Alexander Hamilton was a christian. At least after he was shot by Burr."I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a sinner. I look to Him for mercy; pray for me.” [July 12, 1804 at his death]
He had proposed creating some Christian society throughout the United States:
Alexander Hamilton explained in an 1802 letter to James Bayard:
"I now offer you the outline of the plan they have suggested. Let an association be formed to be denominated 'The Christian Constitutional Society,' its object to be first: The support of the Christian religion. Second: The support of the United States.""I have carefully examined the evidences of the Christian religion, and if I was sitting as a juror upon its authenticity I would unhesitatingly give my verdict in its favor. I can prove its truth as clearly as any proposition ever submitted to the mind of man."[url=http://www.eadshome.com/AlexanderHamilton.htm]http://www.eadshome.com/Al...

Henry Clay
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Re: An American Theocracy! Religion In Politics

The Library of Congress also has a section dealing with Religion and States - specifically those Anti-Federalists who did not want to see the Constitution come into being but would have rather seen a stronger Articles of Confederation. Patrick Henry was an ardent Anti-Federalist, as was Samuel Adams. Henry proposed a taxpayer supported religion for Virginia which was supported by John Marshall who ended up being one of our greatest Supreme Court Chief Justices. (I didnt know this).
Here is the information:
A Proposal for Tax-Supported Religion for Virginia
This broadside contains (at the bottom) the opening sections of Patrick Henry's general assessment bill, one similar to those passed in the New England states. The bill levied a tax for the support of religion but permitted individuals to earmark their taxes for the church of their choice. At the top of the broadside are the results of a vote in the Virginia General Assembly to postpone consideration of the bill until the fall 1785 session of the legislature. Postponing the bill allowed opponents to mobilize and defeat it. Leading the forces for postponement was James Madison. Voting against postponement and, therefore, in support of a general tax for religion was the future Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall.
[url=http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel05.html]http://www.loc.gov/exhib...

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