Thanks for your E and your recent follow-up. Sorry I haven’t responded sooner, but I have had a number of other pressing issues, and I don’t like to rush my responses, as I prefer to be thorough and address the issues presented.
First though, let me state clearly that neither my original E nor the following in any way reflects the official policy of the MRFF which merely presses for the upholding of the Constitutional rights of its clients. The following constitutes only my research and thinking on the subject.
Though Señor Cortés began his career as a Liberal and student of Rousseau, he sadly back-slid into the dark and benighted superstition of his vicious, brutal and murderous ancestors, such as the despicable Hernando Cortés and his fellow “Conquistadores.” (Which is properly rendered; “Thieves and genocidal mass murderers”).
You and your amigo Señor Cortés and co. ask me to embrace Christianity, and especially Catholicism — that wonderful religion which brought us the Crusades (the first of which were waged against other Christians who dared to believe differently, aka “heretics”) and later the religion of witch-hunts and the Inquisition, and in more recent times, child abuse on a massive scale — and that is totally leaving aside my own very negative childhood experience with Catholicism. (Which I am proud to say I never bent down before or bought into — despite the relentless mental abuse, brainwashing attempts, and beatings.)
All of which I quite agree with, but extend to other religions as well.
Mr. Federer is a former evangelical pastor, with a degree in Accounting/Business Administration, and is a failed political candidate. He is in no sense qualified as a historian, and certainly not as an objective one, so nothing he has to say could be of interest to any serious historian.
I don’t share your version of your religious beliefs, nor ever will, and so I have no particular concerns about your vision of the afterlife — which I also have no belief in.
However, you are welcome to them if they make you feel good.
As to the Founders and Framers quotes;
In the first place, you failed to refute even one of the factual quotes I provided, (if you even read them) for the simple reason that you cannot — because they are all genuine.
They are also from those who were without question the most important and influential of the Founders and Framers — but I suspect you didn’t even read them, since they conflict with your preconceived notions. Try actually reading them.
As for your quotes; Alas, you seem to have used some unreliable sources! These appear to originate with the pseudo-historian David Barton, or another of the “Liars for Jesus.” (An excellent book by Ms. Chris Rodda which I suggest that you read.)
Mr. Barton is not an historian, nor does he have any credentials in history or law, let alone Constitutional law. His “BA” (if one can call it that) was in “religious education” from Oral Roberts “University” (1976).
Mr. Barton then served as a church youth director, teaching math and science (although he never studied those fields professionally) and eventually became principal at Aledo Christian School, a ministry of the charismatic church started by Barton’s parents. (A sterling example of nepotism!)
Accredited scholars dispute the accuracy and integrity of his assertions about history, accusing him of practicing misleading historical revisionism, “pseudoscholarship” and spreading “outright falsehoods”.
According to a New York Times article on his work, “…many professional historians dismiss Mr. Barton, whose academic degree is in Christian Education from Oral Roberts University, as a biased amateur who cherry-picks quotes from history and the Bible.”
Barton’s 2012 book “The Jefferson Lies” was voted “the least credible history book in print ” by the History News Network. The book’s publisher, the Christian publishing house Thomas Nelson, disavowed the book and withdrew it from sale. A senior executive said that Thomas Nelson could not stand by the book because “basic truths just were not there.” (i.e., Not even a Christian publisher could stomach his lies.)
Barton himself has admitted that he has not located primary sources for eleven alleged “quotes” from Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, and U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
The Texas Monthly noted in 2006 that “Barton has denied saying that in his (Jefferson’s) famous letter to Danbury Baptists “Jefferson referred to the wall of separation between church and state as ‘one-directional’—that is, it was meant to restrain government from infringing on the church’s domain but not the other way around. There is no such language in the letter.”
However, the article goes on to say that his denial is contradicted by a 1990 version of Barton’s video America’s Godly Heritage in which Barton states:
On January 1, 1802, Jefferson wrote to that group of Danbury Baptists, and in this letter, he assured them—he said the First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state, he said, but that wall is a one-directional wall. It keeps the government from running the church, but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government.
So Mr. Barton is also a liar, as well as completely unqualified as a credible historian.
The key Adams “quotes” you provide are out-of-context pastiches, misattributed, or have nothing to do with the discussion at hand — i.e., was America established as a “Christian” nation. Let’s examine them.
The first “quote” given as John Adams is actually a pastiche of three phrases taken from a letter (28 June 1813) to Thomas Jefferson juxtaposed to give a misleading impression of Adams’ meaning. (See here for a discussion and the actual quote in full:
The second “quote” is another out of context “quotation” also originating from the work of Mr. Barton.
What Mr. Barton doesn’t tell you is that for his entire adult life, Adams (raised a Congregationalist) identified as a Unitarian. Adams absolutely rejected the doctrines of Original Sin, the Trinity, the Incarnation, “miracles” Atonement and eternal damnation. That’s why you have to examine the WHOLE of what a Founder believed, not cherry picked selected quotes, taken out of context which mislead (intentionally, in Barton’s case).
This clarification is utterly absent from Barton’s presentation – which is why serious historians don’t give him a second look. In the words Barton leaves out, it is clear that Adams was clearly being sarcastic in that second quote. As Mr. Harvey used to say, “And now for the REST of the story…”
“The Holy Ghost carries on the whole Christian system in this earth. Not a Baptism, not a Marriage not a Sacrament can be administered but by the Holy Ghost, who is transmitted from age to age by laying the hands of the Bishops on the heads of Candidates for the Ministry. In the same manner as the holy Ghost is transmitted from Monarch to Monarch by the holy oil in the vial at Rheims which was brought down from Heaven by a Dove and by that other Phyal which I have seen in the Tower of London. There is no Authority civil or religious: there can be no legitimate Government but what is administered by this Holy Ghost. There can be no salvation without it. All, without it is Rebellion and Perdition, or in more orthodox words Damnation.
Although this is all Artifice and Cunning in the secret original in the heart, yet they all believe it so sincerely that they would lay down their Lives under the Ax or the fiery Fagot for it. Alas the poor weak ignorant Dupe human Nature. There is so much King Craft, Priest Craft, Gentlemens Craft, Peoples Craft, Doctors Craft, Lawyers Craft, Merchants Craft, Tradesmens Craft, Labourers Craft and Devils Craft in the world, that it seems a desperate and impracticable Project to undeceive it.“
Once again, Mr. Adams was correct, as we see from many of the letters we receive.
In later presentations, such as on Glenn Beck (on 8 April 2010), Mr. Barton was even more overt in his lies, changing Adams’s words to “The Holy Ghost carries on the whole Christian system in His truth.” — which shows that this “Liar for Jesus” can’t even keep his lies straight.
As to the other “quotes”; — I haven’t time to do the research on these quotes by minor figures now, but even if these quotes are real and untampered with (and knowing Barton and his ilk, I have little reason to believe that without examination), I did not state that the Founders and Framers did not include Christians or people who had been raised as Christians. Given that they were almost without exception of Northern European Christian stock (albeit of many sects and denominations), they would be highly unlikely to be anything else.
What I SAID was that the principal Framers who were most involved in the formation of the Constitution and of the US (Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, et al) were products of the Enlightenment and some were clearly Deists — a far cry from what you would acknowledge as Christianity, since none of them by their own words believed in the concepts of “Original Sin, Atonement, the Trinity, or the supposed “divinity” of Yehoshua (though they valued some of the moral principles said to be his), “miracles” or in the “prophecy” which you seem to prize. Try reading what I sent you, and their other actual writings from accredited and researched sources (as opposed to pseudo-historians like Mr. Barton.
As to the other Founders mentioned in your quotes;
John Quincy Adams (son of John Adams) while an estimable man and President in many respects, was neither a Founder nor a Framer, nor is he considered as such by any historian. He was born in 1767 and thus was 8 years old at the start of the Revolution. He had minus zero to do with the Revolution or the Constitution.
(And just FYI, John Quincy Adams took his oath of office as President on a book of Constitutional Law — NOT a bible.)
The younger Adams was also part of the religious “revival” of the early 19th century known as the “Second Great Awakening” and was thus a product of his time — but he was not a Framer or Founder, and thus irrelevant to the discussion.
Elias Boudinot was a Founder, and an admirable man, who gave excellent service to the Continental Congress. He was the descendant of French Huguenot refugees (driven out of France by the persecution and murders perpetrated on the Huguenots by the [established] Catholic church. Boudinet was a devout Presbyterian and supported missions and missionary work. so it is likely that he would make such a statement. However, Boudinet had little to do with the Constitution except to vote on the submission of the First Amendment — which he doubtless applauded, given his own family history of persecution by the established CATHOLIC church of France.
Gunning Bedford – there were actually two Gunning Bedfords, cousins known as “Jr.” and “Sr.”. The typically inept and slipshod Barton here conflates the two men.
Gunning Bedford, Jr. was a Continental Congressman from Delaware and delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787. He spoke these words, as part of his funeral oration on the death of Washington. He was a Presbyterian, though (like a number of Founders), also a Mason, and later re-buried on the grounds of a Masonic home. As with Boudinot, such a phrase would not be incompatible with his personal beliefs. However, he was not an author or principal figure in the drafting of the Constitution.
His cousin, Gunning Bedford, Sr. was an officer in the Continental Army (which Jr. was not) and later served as Governor of Delaware.
Dr. Josiah Bartlett was a Congregationalist (the New England church that sprang from the radical English Brownist Dissenter sect who formed the Plymouth Colony) — so it would hardly be unusual for him to make such a statement. However, although he was part of the Founding, signing the Declaration, serving in the Continental Congress, and helping to draft the Articles of the Confederation, he had nothing to do with the drafting of the Constitution, and is thus irrelevant to the discussion.
Also, as I mentioned in my first E, these Brownist Dissenters (known in England as “Puritans”) were murderous radicals who later started a civil war in England and the UK, and were responsible for great deal of bloodshed and massacres of men, women and children, particularly in Catholic Ireland where they massacred entire populations of some towns. They are now known in the US as “Pilgrims” — a term not used by them, but used 175 years after their time in a poem about them. They referred to themselves sanctimoniously as “Saints” — but they had no qualms about massacring men, women, and children of the native populations here and stealing their lands.
They also imprisoned, flogged, tortured, and murdered anyone who disagreed with their established version of Christianity. They were the perpetrators of not only the murders of the infamous Salem Witch Trials, but also were responsible for the first judicial religious murder of a woman in America — the Quaker, Anne Hutchinson. — all of which you’d know if you had read my essay. Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was of their stock, wrote a book about them called “The Scarlet Letter” which exposes their hypocrisy.
In addition to the copious quotes given in my essay, I present a few more actual and factual quotes from John Adams (along with a reiteration of some of the originals you obviously missed). While it is indisputable that Adams believed in a higher power, and believed Christianity’s principles were good (as opposed to its “fictitious miracles” and “dogma“) he clearly was a Deist with Christian leanings, rather than a Christian as you would interpret the term. (I have added emphasis so that even superstition-occluded eyes can read the words.)
The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles? — John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, June 20, 1815
The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history.
Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.
Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.
— all the above by John Adams in “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787-88)
Adams is clearly saying that the US was NOT established by the “influence of Heaven” as you and your fellow believers would have it, but “…by the use of reason and the senses.”
“As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?”
— John Adams, letter to FA Van der Kamp, December 27, 1816
“I shall have liberty to think for myself without molesting others or being molested myself.” — John Adams, letter to his brother-in-law, Richard Cranch, August 29, 1756, explaining how his independent opinions would create much difficulty in the ministry.
“The frightful engines of ecclesiastical councils, of diabolical malice, and Calvinistical good-nature never failed to terrify me exceedingly whenever I thought of preaching.” — John Adams, letter to his brother-in-law, Richard Cranch, October 18, 1756, explaining why he rejected the ministry in favor of the law.
When philosophic reason is clear and certain by intuition or necessary induction, no subsequent revelation supported by prophecies or miracles can supersede it. — John Adams
Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose.Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it. — John Adams in a letter to his son, John Quincy Adams, November 13, 1816,
I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved — the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! — John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson
The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning…. And, even since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate A FREE INQUIRY? The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will soon find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your legs and hands, and fly into your face and eyes. — John Adams, letter to John Taylor, 1814
We think ourselves possessed, or, at least, we boast that we are so, of liberty of conscience on all subjects, and of the right of free inquiry and private judgment in all cases, and yet how far are we from these exalted privileges in fact!
There exists, I believe, throughout the whole Christian world, a law which makes it blasphemy to deny or doubt the divine inspiration of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, from Genesis to Revelations. In most countries of Europe it is punished by fire at the stake, or the rack, or the wheel. In England itself it is punished by boring through the tongue with a red-hot poker. In America it is not better; even in our own Massachusetts, which I believe, upon the whole, is as temperate and moderate in religious zeal as most of the States, a law was made in the latter end of the last century, repealing the cruel punishments of the former laws, but substituting fine and imprisonment upon all those blasphemers upon any book of the Old Testament or New.
Now, what free inquiry, when a writer must surely encounter the risk of fine or imprisonment for adducing any argument for investigating into the divine authority of those books? Who would run the risk of translating Dupuis?
But I cannot enlarge upon this subject, though I have it much at heart. I think such laws a great embarrassment, great obstructions to the improvement of the human mind. Books that cannot bear examination, certainly ought not to be established as divine inspiration by penal laws.
It is true, few persons appear desirous to put such laws in execution, and it is also true that some few persons are hardy enough to venture to depart from them. But as long as they continue in force as laws, the human mind must make an awkward and clumsy progress in its investigations. I wish they were repealed.
The substance and essence of Christianity, as I understand it, is eternal and unchangeable, and will bear examination forever, but it has been mixed with extraneous ingredients, which I think will not bear examination, and they ought to be separated. Adieu.
— John Adams, in one of his last letters to Thomas Jefferson, January 23, 1825. Adams was 90, Jefferson 81 at the time; both died on July 4th of the following year, on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
There are many more such accurate and provable quotes, unlike your source’s spurious or twisted versions.
As to your citing your interpretation of your version of scriptures as “proof” of your points — almost every religious zealot who writes to the MRFF to complain (including Christians of all flavors) seems to think he or she has sole possession of the Magic Jesus Deity Decoder Ring and the sole knowledge of the “only truth.”
Right !. You and the other 2.18 BILLION Xtians around the world in 41,000-plus denominations and sects — most of whom are sure they are “right” and the only “true” Xtians — some of whom are just as prepared to die (and murder) to prove it as the other religions you put down.
(And we won’t even mention the billions of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and other belief systems great and small world-wide, many of whom believe that THEIR religious flavor of the month is the ‘only true” one.)
I have news for you — you can’t ALL be right. So now we get to the crux of the matter re: establishment. Whatever their own personal beliefs, the Founders had either seen personally or knew of the manifold evils of established religion in other lands, which featured religious persecution, imprisonment, torture, religious murders, and many religious bloody wars — and in Europe, it was all perpetrated on Christians by other Christians.
As I have already mentioned, Mr. Jefferson said very accurately in his “Notes on Virginia” of 1782;
“Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.”
This was one of the main reasons that the US was created as a secular nation with NO established religion — for as Mr. Madison so cogently wrote;
“Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?”
Who indeed but a blind zealot? Try taking off your biblical blinders.
If you don’t know (and don’t care to learn) your own Christian history of persecution, torture and murder, all you need to do is see what happens in countries where they have another established religion — such as some ME countries today, where they do exactly what the Christians used to do to one another (and still do in some places). There, the religion is Islam, and, just like the Christians, they imprison, torture and murder “apostates” and “heretics” — in Sunni nations, they do it to Shiites, and in Shiite nations to Sunnis, and other of the differing sects.
Most of the Founders and Framers, whatever their own persuasion, agreed that the only way to avoid such behavior was to write religious freedom for ALL into the Constitution — and they did. Then they signed it and ratified it, and it remains enshrined there as the law of the land. That means you can believe or disbelieve whatever you wish — but so can the numerous other Christian denominations and sects (even the disgusting Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptists), as can the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans or Pagans of all kinds, Pastafarians (who worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster), or believe in the Cosmic Muffin — or nothing at all.
And that, madam, is what I signed on in the Corps for — not for your version of deity or any other — but for our right to believe (or not) as we please.
Once more, I will leave you with the words of Tom Paine, which most clearly encompass my own beliefs.
He (and many of our other principal Founders and Framers) were products of the “Age of Enlightenment” and its predecessor, the “Age of Reason” — which Paine used as the title of one of his pamphlets. Its principles were based on reason and intellect instead of illogic, irrationality, and superstition, and sought to replace both the reactionary and oppressive aristocracy and established churches.
Writing in “The Age of Reason” Paine stated;
“I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. 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.”
I agree completely.
If you and your ilk choose to disagree, and to continue to be terrorized and enslaved, believing in magical thinking and superstitious nonsense as Señor Cortés and his compadres would have you do, you are of course welcome to your beliefs, per our Constitution. Likewise, all other theists — including the Muslims and others you decry as “phony religions” (As if any religion could be”phonier” than any other! ROFLMAO!) are welcome to their forms of belief — as long as all of you abide within the bounds of the Constitution and the law.
I choose to continue to believe in science, rationality, and the use of the powers of the mind to advance mankind medically, materially, technologically and scientifically. I will also oppose to the utterance any attempts, especially by theist fundamentalists, to bring down our Constitution.
I hope that clarifies my position and reason for writing.
I remain, madam,
F. J. Taylor
“Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.” – Mark Twain