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American Government and Christianity - America's Christian Roots
Probe Ministries ^ | 2004 | Kerby Anderson

Posted on 08/29/2004 10:42:44 AM PDT by Tailgunner Joe

John Adams was the second president of the United States. He saw the need for religious values to provide the moral base line for society. He stated in a letter to the officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.{1}

In fact, John Adams wasn't the only founding father to talk about the importance of religious values. Consider this statement from George Washington during his Farewell Address:

And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.{2}

Two hundred years after the establishment of the Plymouth colony in 1620, Americans gathered at that site to celebrate its bicentennial. Daniel Webster was the speaker at this 1820 celebration. He reminded those in attendance of this nation's origins:

Let us not forget the religious character of our origin. Our fathers were brought hither by their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political, or literary.{3}

Religion, and especially the Christian religion, was an important foundation to this republic.

Christian Character

It is clear that the framers of this new government believed that the people should elect and support leaders with character and integrity. George Washington expressed this in his Farewell Address when he said, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports."

Benjamin Rush talked about the religious foundation of the republic that demanded virtuous leadership. He said that, "the only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid on the foundation of religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments."{4}

He went on to explain that

A Christian cannot fail of being a republican . . . for every precept of the Gospel inculcates those degrees of humility, self- denial, and brotherly kindness which are directly opposed to the pride of monarchy. . . . A Christian cannot fail of being useful to the republic, for his religion teaches him that no man "liveth to himself." And lastly a Christian cannot fail of being wholly inoffensive, for his religion teaches him in all things to do to others what he would wish, in like circumstances, they should do to him.{5}

Daniel Webster understood the importance of religion, and especially the Christian religion, in this form of government. In his famous Plymouth Rock speech of 1820 he said,

Lastly, our ancestors established their system of government on morality and religious sentiment. Moral habits, they believed, cannot safely be trusted on any other foundation than religious principle, nor any government be secure which is not supported by moral habits. . . .Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.{6}

John Jay was one of the authors of the Federalist Papers and became America's first Supreme Court Justice. He also served as the president of the American Bible Society. He understood the relationship between government and Christian values. He said, "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."{7}

William Penn writing the Frame of Government for his new colony said, "Government, like clocks, go from the motion men give them; and as governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too. Wherefore governments rather depend upon men, than men upon governments. Let men be good, and the government cannot be bad."{8}

The founders believed that good character was vital to the health of the nation.

New Man

Historian C. Gregg Singer traces the line of influence from the seventeenth century to the eighteenth century in his book, A Theological Interpretation of American History. He says,

Whether we look at the Puritans and their fellow colonists of the seventeenth century, or their descendants of the eighteenth century, or those who framed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, we see that their political programs were the rather clear reflection of a consciously held political philosophy, and that the various political philosophies which emerged among the American people were intimately related to the theological developments which were taking place. . . . A Christian world and life view furnished the basis for this early political thought which guided the American people for nearly two centuries and whose crowning lay in the writing of the Constitution of 1787.{9}

Actually, the line of influence extends back even further. Historian Arnold Toynbee, for example, has written that the American Revolution was made possible by American Protestantism. Page Smith, writing in the Religious Origins of the American Revolution, cites the influence of the Protestant Reformation. He believes that

The Protestant Reformation produced a new kind of consciousness and a new kind of man. The English Colonies in America, in turn, produced a new unique strain of that consciousness. It thus follows that it is impossible to understand the intellectual and moral forces behind the American Revolution without understanding the role that Protestant Christianity played in shaping the ideals, principles and institutions of colonial America.{10}

Smith argues that the American Revolution "started, in a sense, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door at Wittenburg." It received "its theological and philosophical underpinnings from John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion and much of its social theory from the Puritan Revolution of 1640-1660.{11}

Most people before the Reformation belonged to classes and social groups which set the boundaries of their worlds and established their identities. The Reformation, according to Smith, changed these perceptions. Luther and Calvin, in a sense, created a re- formed individual in a re-formed world.

Key to this is the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer where each person is "responsible directly to God for his or her own spiritual state.... The individuals who formed the new congregations established their own churches, chose their own ministers, and managed their own affairs without reference to an ecclesiastical hierarchy."{12}

These re-formed individuals began to change their world including their view of government and authority.

Declaration of Independence

Let's look at the Christian influence on the Declaration of Independence. Historian Page Smith points out that Thomas Jefferson was not only influenced by secular philosophers, but was also influenced by the Protestant Reformation. He says,

Jefferson and other secular-minded Americans subscribed to certain propositions about law and authority that had their roots in the Protestant Reformation. It is a scholarly common-place to point out how much Jefferson (and his fellow delegates to the Continental Congress) were influenced by Locke. Without disputing this we would simply add that an older and deeper influence -- John Calvin -- was of more profound importance.{13}

Another important influence was William Blackstone. Jefferson drew heavily on the writings of this highly respected jurist. In fact, Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England were among Jefferson's most favorite books.

In his section on the "Nature of Laws in General," Blackstone wrote, "as man depends absolutely upon his Maker for everything, it is necessary that he should, in all points, conform to his Maker's will. This will of his Maker is called the law of nature."{14}

In addition to the law of nature, the other source of law is from divine revelation. "The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law, and they are to be found only in the Holy Scriptures." According to Blackstone, all human laws depended either upon the law of nature or upon the law of revelation found in the Bible: "Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws."{15}

Samuel Adams argues in "The Rights of the Colonists" that they had certain rights. "Among the natural Rights of the Colonists are these: First, a Right to Life; second, to Liberty; third, to Property; . . . and in the case of intolerable oppression, civil or religious, to leave the society they belong to, and enter into another. When men enter into society, it is by voluntary consent."{16} This concept of natural rights also found its way into the Declaration of Independence and provided the justification for the American Revolution.

The Declaration was a bold document, but not a radical one. The colonists did not break with England for "light and transient causes." They were mindful that they should be "in subjection to governing authorities" which "are established by God" (Rom. 13:1). Yet when they suffered from a "long train of abuses and usurpations," they believed that "it is the right of the people to alter or abolish [the existing government] and to institute a new government."

Constitution

The Christian influence on the Declaration is clear. What about the Constitution?

James Madison was the chief architect of the Constitution as well as one of the authors of the Federalist Papers. It is important to note that as a youth, he studied under a Scottish Presbyterian, Donald Robertson. Madison gave the credit to Robertson for "all that I have been in life."{17} Later he was trained in theology at Princeton under the Reverend John Witherspoon. Scholars believe that Witherspoon's Calvinism (which emphasized the fallen nature of man) was an important source for Madison's political ideas.{18}

The Constitution was a contract between the people and had its origins in American history a century earlier:

One of the obvious by-products [of the Reformation] was the notion of a contract entered into by two people or by the members of a community amongst themselves that needed no legal sanctions to make it binding. This concept of the Reformers made possible the formation of contractuals or, as the Puritans called them, "covenanted" groups formed by individuals who signed a covenant or agreement to found a community. The most famous of these covenants was the Mayflower Compact. In it the Pilgrims formed a "civil body politic," and promised to obey the laws their own government might pass. In short, the individual Pilgrim invented on the spot a new community, one that would be ruled by laws of its making.{19}

Historian Page Smith believes, "The Federal Constitution was in this sense a monument to the reformed consciousness. This new sense of time as potentiality was a vital element in the new consciousness that was to make a revolution and, what was a good deal more difficult, form a new nation."{20}

Preaching and teaching within the churches provided the justification for the revolution and the establishment of a new nation. Alice Baldwin, writing in The New England Clergy and the American Revolution, says,

The teachings of the New England ministers provide one line of unbroken descent. For two generations and more New Englanders had . . . been taught that these rights were sacred and came from God and that to preserve them they had a legal right of resistance and, if necessary a right to . . . alter and abolish governments and by common consent establish new ones.{21}

Christian ideas were important in the founding of this republic and the framing of our American governmental institutions. And I believe they are equally important in the maintenance of that republic.

Notes

  1. John Adams, October 11, 1798, in a letter to the officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts. Charles Francis Adams, ed., The Works of John Adams - Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes, and Illustration (Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1854), Vol. IX, 228-229.
  2. George Washington, Farewell Address (September 19, 1796). Address of George Washington, President of the United States, and Late Commander in Chief of the American Army. To the People of the United States, Preparatory to His Declination.
  3. Daniel Webster, December 22, 1820. The Works of Daniel Webster (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1853), Vol. I, 48.
  4. Benjamin Rush, "Thoughts upon the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic," Early American Imprints. Benjamin Rush, Essays, Literary, Moral and Philosophical (Philadelphia: Thomas and Samuel F. Bradford, 1798), 8.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Webster, The Works of Daniel Webster, 22ff.
  7. John Jay, October 12, 1816, in The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, Henry P. Johnston, ed., (New York: G.P Putnam & Sons, 1893; reprinted NY: Burt Franklin, 1970), Vol. IV, 393.
  8. William Penn, April 25, 1682, in the preface of his Frame of Government of Pennsylvania. A Collection of Charters and Other Public Acts Relating to the Province of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: B. Franklin, 1740), 10-12.
  9. C. Gregg Singer, A Theological Interpretation of American History (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1964), 284-5.
  10. Page Smith, Religious Origins of the American Revolution (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1976), 1.
  11. Ibid, 2.
  12. Ibid., 3.
  13. Ibid, 185.
  14. William Blackstone, "Of the Nature of Laws in General," Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book 1, Section II.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Samuel Adams, "The Rights of the Colonists" (Boston, 1772), The Annals of America, Vol. II, 217.
  17. John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1987), 94.
  18. James H. Smylie, "Madison and Witherspoon: Theological Roots of American Political Thought," American Presbyterians, 112.
  19. Smith, Religious Origins, 3.
  20. Ibid., 4
  21. Alice M. Baldwin, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution (Durham: Duke University Press, 1928), 169.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events
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1 posted on 08/29/2004 10:42:45 AM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

To: Tailgunner Joe


Stay Strong,
Fuzzy122

3 posted on 08/29/2004 11:08:38 AM PDT by fuzzy122 (GBGB [God Bless George Bush])
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To: Tailgunner Joe
There's not a single thing about Christianity in our legally binding "founding documents," meaning the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. That's by design. By culture we are Christian, by government we are a non-sectarian nation. Anyone who tries to persuade us otherwise is revising history with a particular agenda. If our government is changed to represent Christians more than other groups, it will no longer represent all Americans equally. That would be a grave mistake and the beginning of the end of true American religious liberty. In fact, a free republic depends first on freedom of religion and freedom of speech, which is why both appear in the first amendment.
4 posted on 08/29/2004 11:40:32 AM PDT by risk
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To: fuzzy122

AMEN BUMP


5 posted on 08/29/2004 11:47:01 AM PDT by Kackikat
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To: risk
There's not a single thing about Christianity in our legally binding "founding documents," meaning the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. That's by design. By culture we are Christian, by government we are a non-sectarian nation. Anyone who tries to persuade us otherwise is revising history with a particular agenda. If our government is changed to represent Christians more than other groups, it will no longer represent all Americans equally. That would be a grave mistake and the beginning of the end of true American religious liberty. In fact, a free republic depends first on freedom of religion and freedom of speech, which is why both appear in the first amendment.

The ACLU will be proud of you. You revised history to fit your secular agenda. For example, the "First Amendment" was not really the first. It was the third, and then after combining several articles. It became the "first" by default when the original first and second amendments failed ratification by the states. Sorry to burst your bubble, but all 10 of the Bill of Rights were considered equally important.

You wrote, "By culture we are Christian, by government we are a non-sectarian nation. Anyone who tries to persuade us otherwise is revising history with a particular agenda.

The truth is that prior to the usurpation by the ACLU-influenced, Hugo Black supreme court of 1947 the states had power over religion (from the 10th Amendment), and many allowed Christianity to be taught and nourished in public schools.

You wrote, If our government is changed to represent Christians more than other groups, it will no longer represent all Americans equally. That would be a grave mistake and the beginning of the end of true American religious liberty.

Our grave mistake was allowing that communist front group, the ACLU, have a voice in public policy. It has brainwashed too many naive Americans, including you.

6 posted on 08/29/2004 11:55:36 AM PDT by PhilipFreneau
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To: risk

To represent all religions equally would doom this country to secularism. If you truely feared the LORD, you would acknowledge the neccessity for Protestant doctrine in this country's legal system. Otherwise, you open the floodgates to homosexuality, prostitution, paganism, darwinism, satanism, etc.


7 posted on 08/29/2004 12:05:54 PM PDT by AmericanFaith
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To: PhilipFreneau

Find me Christianity in our founding documents. You can't.


8 posted on 08/29/2004 12:11:32 PM PDT by risk
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To: AmericanFaith

So you're saying that we should revise our constitutional protection for non-Christian Americans, our protection against sectarian influence on government, and our resistance to religiously justified tyranny because we might have some difficulties with law enforcement and cultural values? The founding fathers clearly believed that you would lose both if you lost the latter. You can't enforce spirituality with the government.


9 posted on 08/29/2004 12:14:02 PM PDT by risk
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To: risk

When paganism is outlawed, only outlaws will be pagans. When you describe a theocracy as "religiously justified tyranny", you make it sound worse than it is. If our government accepts cultural deviance, it is signaling a green light for our children to stray off the path. I agree it can sound scary, but you have to look at the reality of the matter and the consequences of certain freedoms. Also, just because something has been a tradition in our government doesn't mean it should be kept. I admire your spirit though. In a perfect world we wouldn't need spiritual laws, people would willingly act moral.


10 posted on 08/29/2004 12:48:59 PM PDT by AmericanFaith
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To: AmericanFaith

And what is the plan of implimenting this "get back to our Christian roots"? Just curious on how it should be done.


11 posted on 08/29/2004 1:15:17 PM PDT by CajunConservative (Flush the Johns in November !!! We don't need those girlie men.)
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To: AmericanFaith
If our government accepts cultural deviance, it is signaling a green light for our children to stray off the path.

This is a false dichotomy, in other words, it suggests that the only way to solve a problem is through the proposed solution. There are other ways. Moreover, I would argue that your solution would ultimately fail. How do you enforce it? With powerful government ministries who can reach out and crush non-Christian activities? Some of our legal changes are simply reflective of the fact that the government couldn't and shouldn't be in the business of moral enforcement. We used to ban books in the USA. We don't anymore. Is that bad? I don't think so. Parents can still influence what their children read, although they are losing the knobs with which to adjust those inputs. I'll say more on that in a moment.

Back to the subject of solving the problem of reflecting our moral and ethical values without being sectarian. It can and must be done, otherwise it will fail to represent Americans. When you pass a law that most people agree is reflective of their desires, then it will be enforced. If you pass one that is only reflective of a few peoples' desires, or if you word it in such a way that excludes some Americans who may even agree with it in practice, that too will fail.

First of all, I am a staunch opponent to sex education in the classroom that doesn't teach abstinence and respect for traditional values. I'm convinced that this has become impossible in our public school system. But I wouldn't solve that with a religious law. It's forbidden by the Constitution. But why does it have to be religious? Why can't it simply state that sex education must be abstinence-based and be permitted by parents in order to prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancies?

I am also a staunch opponent to the redefinition of marriage. Why does this have to be a religious issue? There are plenty of non-religious people who will object. But you can make it a democratic issue. If marriage is the asking of permission from the community for permission to cling together in a legal fashion, then wouldn't it break down if more than half of the community failed to recognize unions between brothers or between families and their pets? Again, no need for religion, just democracy.

Also with respect to creationism and evolution in schools, we can teach that both are theories and neither disproves the other, except under certain circumstances that are best left up to the children to discuss with their parents.

What I'm saying is that the "cultural Christians" can serve their needs constitutionally with democracy. Most people agree to these definitions, but because of a lack of sophistication and persistence, they have failed to have their voices heard. Some people tune out when you say, "Pat Robertson teaches..." But if you say I have a right to teach my own child about the birds and the bees, that makes more sense.

What I'm saying is that principles will set us all free. The Founding Fathers knew them and bolted them into our Constitution. We've forgotten how to think about them because we've lost our standards for classical education. It's all part of the same mess, and charter schools and school vouchers should help.

The bottom line is that even if you wanted our laws to impose Christian values, it wouldn't be possible with our Constitution. But you can make the case against collective rights (which is what the same sex fanatics are doing). You can make the case against humanism taught as religion (i.e. more than just a theory). You can make the case against multiculturalism and pan-genderism -- all without bringing up a single religious dogma or doctrine.

When all else fails, you can start a charter school, acquire school vouchers for keeping your kids in for home schooling, and you can seclude yourself into a religious community. But the government is not there to use as a tool for Christianizing society. That has to come from within.

John Milton makes an impassioned plea for freedom of ideas and against the licensing of writers in his Areopagitica written in 1644. He was carefully studied by our founding fathers, as were others who argued passionately for a government that does not seek to impose religious yardsticks to our expressions or our laws. They were well aware of religious tyranny emanating from government having just experienced the rule of King Henry the 8th, who burned 100 Catholic abbeys and churches in his effort to Anglicize the church in England.

We have nothing to fear of religiously justified tyranny here because we have a powerful constitutional protection from it. That could easily change if we lose our guard and stoop to the level many propose in order to "rechristianize" a government that never was Christian in its preferences. It may have been in the days of the Puritans, but they ended up with their own problems with intolerance.

12 posted on 08/29/2004 1:16:28 PM PDT by risk
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To: risk

>>Find me Christianity in our founding documents. You can't.

Not directly. Mentioning Christianity would have been redundant. The Founding Fathers were not redundant writers.

No offense, risk, but I prefer to believe the earlier interpretations vs. new-fangled ones. The following is the history on the matter:

In Runkel vs. Winemiller of 1796, the Supreme Court stated: "By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion, and the sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing."

In People vs. Ruggles of 1811, the Supreme Court stated: "Whatever strikes at the root of Christianity tends to manifestly to the dissolution of civil government."

In his 1833 "Commentaries on the Constitution", Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story wrote:

"The real object of the [first] amendment was, not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment, which should give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government . . ."

"The promulgation of the great doctrines of religion, the being, and attributes, and providence of one Almighty God; the responsibility to him for all our actions, founded upon moral freedom and accountability; a future state of rewards and punishments; the cultivation of all the personal, social, and benevolent virtues;- these never can be a matter of indifference in any well ordered community. . . ."

"Now, there will probably be found few persons in this, or any other Christian country, who would deliberately contend, that it was unreasonable, or unjust to foster and encourage the Christian religion generally, as a matter of sound policy, as well as of revealed truth. In fact, every American colony, from its foundation down to the revolution, . . . did openly, by the whole course of its laws and institutions, support and sustain, in some form, the Christian religion; and almost invariably gave a peculiar sanction to some of its fundamental doctrines. And this has continued to be the case in some of the states down to the present period, without the slightest suspicion that it was against the principles of public law, or republican liberty."

"Probably at the time of the adoption of the constitution, and of the amendment to it, now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation . . . "

In Vidal vs. Girard of 1844, in a case involving a school in Philadelphia that wanted to try and teach morality without religious principals, the Supreme Court stated: "Why not the Bible, and especially the New Testament be read and taught as a divine revelation in the schools? Where can the purest principals of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?"

In 1853 a group filed a suit that actually wanted "Separation of Church and State". The Case never made it to the Supreme Court.

On March 27, 1854 The House Judiciary Committee Stated: "Had the people during the revolution had any suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, the revolution would have been strangled in its cradle . . . At the time of the adoption of the constitution and the amendments, the universal sentiment was the Christianity should be encouraged, but not any one sect . . . In this age, there can be no substitute for Christianity. That was the religion of the founders of the Republic and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants."

In Reynolds vs. United States of 1878, the Supreme Court wrote, "The great vital and conservative element of our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and the divine truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Note that in this case the Supreme Court used Thomas Jefferson's 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in its entirety. The letter was actually used to ensure Christian principals were kept in government.

In Church of the Holy Trinity vs. United States of 1892, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that, "this is a religious people. This is a Christian nation", adding, "Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the redeemer of mankind. It is impossible for it to be otherwise; in this sense and to the extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian."

Note the court took 10 years to make its decision. After researching mountains of evidence, the court went on to quote 87 historical precedents to support its findings (stating that there were more, but 87 should be sufficient).

It was not until 1947, over 150 years after the adoption of the Constitution, that the Supreme Court began its long campaign to remove Christianity from American life.

In Everson vs. Board of Education of 1947, the Supreme Court used only one statement from Jefferson's letter: "American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and State".

That was the first time in the history of American jurisprudence that the term, "wall of separation of church and state" was used in this context. The term was part of a prior, personal opinion written by an ACLU lawyer, Leo Pfeffer. Pfeffer placed his opinion on the desk of the very liberal judge, Hugo Black, and Black rammed it through to get a 5-4 decision.

Therefore, in the span of about 70 years, from Reynolds vs. United States of 1878, to Everson vs. Board of Education of 1947, the Supreme Court went from using Jefferson's 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association as a basis to ensure Christian principals were kept in government, to the basis to eliminate Christian principles from government.

Proving that "nothing is so absurd that if you repeat it enough, people will believe it."

To show you how this matter has been turned around backwards, I quote this from another source:

When a little boy in the fifth grade was reading his Bible at recess, a teacher grabbed him by the ear and hauled him into the principal's office. The principal took the Bible and threw in into the wastebasket, and said, "You are violating the principle of separation of church and state". The bewildered child obviously could say nothing. But, if she had instead quoted the First Amendment, which says, Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof", then little Johnny might have said, "But Principal, in case you haven't noticed, I am not the Congress, and I was freely exercising my religion".

Back to Jefferson. Did Jefferson mean by the phrase "separation of church and state" what we are led to believe today? Absolutely not. It is totally opposite of what he believed.

While Jefferson was President of the United States, he also served as the chairman of the committee on education for the public schools in Washington, D.C. He demanded that two books MUST be taught in D.C. public schools: the Bible and Watts Hymnal.

Did you know that two days after Jefferson sent that letter to Danbury he attended public worship services in the U. S. Capital building? Did you know that he authorized the use of the War Office and Treasury building for church services? That he provided, at the government's expense, Christian missionaries to the Indians? That he put chaplains on the government payroll? That he provided for the punishment of irreverent soldiers. That he sent Congress an Indian treaty that provided funding for a priest's salary and for the construction of a church for the missionaries to the Indians so the Indians might be won to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and, thereby, civilized?

In 1822, four years before his death, Jefferson wrote, "In our village of Charlottesville, there is a good degree of religion, with a small spice only of fanaticism. We have four sects, but without either church or meeting-house. The court-house is the common temple, one Sunday in the month to each. Here, Episcopalian and Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist, meet together, join in hymning their Maker, listen with attention and devotion to each others' preachers, and all mix in society with perfect harmony."

Also in 1822, he wrote, "In our annual report to the legislature, after stating the constitutional reasons against a public establishment of any religious instruction, we suggest the expediency of encouraging the different religious sects to establish, each for itself, a professorship of their own tenets, on the confines of the university, so near as that their students may attend the lectures there, and have the free use of our library, and every other accommodation we can give them; preserving, however, their independence of us and of each other."

The current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, got it right when he said, "There is simply no historical foundation for the proposition that the framers intended to build a wall of separation . . . the "wall of separation between church and State" is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned."


13 posted on 08/29/2004 2:31:49 PM PDT by PhilipFreneau
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To: Tailgunner Joe
Christian ideas were important in the founding of this republic and the framing of our American governmental institutions.

Really, What Christian ideas are those?

Where is the Bible does God recommend:

A republic/democracy type of government
Consent of the governed
Free Speech
Freedom of Religion
Free Press
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness
Right to keep and bear arms
Trial by jury
No cruel and unusual punishments
No unreasonable searches and seizures
Due process of law

Book, chapter and verse on the following please

The only one I seem to be able to find is the Bible does endorse slavery which was present at our founding.

14 posted on 08/29/2004 2:58:50 PM PDT by qam1 (McGreevy likes his butts his way, I like mine my way - so NO SMOKING BANS in New Jersey)
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To: qam1
Make that

Book, chapter and verse on the following above please

15 posted on 08/29/2004 3:00:48 PM PDT by qam1 (McGreevy likes his butts his way, I like mine my way - so NO SMOKING BANS in New Jersey)
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To: PhilipFreneau

The intentions of the Founding Fathers make a good history lesson but should not take precedence over what is necessary in this day and age. They were human beings, not gods, and it is wrong to worship every word they spoke as so many do today.


16 posted on 08/29/2004 5:01:00 PM PDT by AmericanFaith
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To: AmericanFaith

Damn pagans. We can't allow them. People would think this was a free country or something.


17 posted on 08/29/2004 5:16:39 PM PDT by Melas
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To: AmericanFaith

>>The intentions of the Founding Fathers make a good history lesson but should not take precedence over what is necessary in this day and age.

What do you consider necessary in this day and age?


18 posted on 08/29/2004 5:18:52 PM PDT by PhilipFreneau
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To: risk
There's not a single thing about Christianity

Actually, there is

19 posted on 08/29/2004 5:22:28 PM PDT by Tribune7
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To: PhilipFreneau; risk
Agree with Philip

"If our government is changed to represent Christians more than other groups, it will no longer represent all Americans equally."-Risk

The problem is that our government has changed so that it no longer represents Christians equally. Christians are the majority but our rights are being restricted. We are being pushed out of public forums while all other cultures/religions are being promoted. The state department trumpets the contributions that Muslims made to America, Schools teach Christian youth that Islam is good, while no branch of government can mention Christianity in a positive light.

20 posted on 08/29/2004 5:24:55 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: Melas; Modernman; risk; Robert_Paulson2; tpaine; malakhi; Phantom Lord; antiRepublicrat; NCPAC; ...
Oh, goody, another "Christian Nation" thread.

They never tire from attempting to WISH it into being.

Some people, it would seem, just cannot get over the fact that they cannot, in our system, force others to recognize the "superiority" of their beliefs.

And make no mistake, that's what the point of all this fantasizing is.

21 posted on 08/29/2004 5:48:31 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: AmericanFaith
Why do you need the "blessing" of the government for YOUR religion, and its power to force others to recognize its "superiority", if it's The Truth? Surely government force is unnecessary. Why does other people believing different things, or not believing anything at all, bother you so much that you want the government to do something about it?
22 posted on 08/29/2004 5:53:27 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: Long Cut

By your logic, we should tolerate any deviant behavior such as sodomy or atheism as long as they don't interfere with our own day-to-day lives. Yes it does bother me if a muslim moves in next door to me, and yes it does bother me if the media condones homosexuality to such an extend that I can't protect my children from it without unplugging the TV altogether. I don't support Christianity because it is MY religion, but because it is the one true way to mankind's salvation. Everyone insists on their right to define their own morals and "life my life as I choose so long as I don't interfere with my neighbor's right to do the same." What about our right to live in a country free from pagans and terrorists? But you do have a point that it is infeasible to force any religious doctrine upon the country, at least in a literal sense. Outlawing the practice of islam would probably cause riots (not to mention make people vote democrat in droves), although I personally wouldn't have a problem with it. We need to start with smaller victories and slowly change this country's culture back to the Christian values we once had.


23 posted on 08/29/2004 6:32:25 PM PDT by AmericanFaith
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To: AmericanFaith
Also, don't forget that refusing to recognize the superiority of any doctrine is what secularism is all about. We don't need another pledge of allegiance fiasco or Roy Moore controversy.
24 posted on 08/29/2004 6:36:09 PM PDT by AmericanFaith
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To: AmericanFaith

"If our government accepts cultural deviance, it is signaling a green light for out children to stray off the path."

It is up to the parents of a given child to decide what is or isn't "deviant," and then it is up to the parents of the child to get him/her on "the path" if the child strays from it. It is the parents' role - not the governments', thank God!

A free society engineers itself. A free society honors all religious beliefs, while allowing its equally protected citizens to have no particular beliefs whatsoever, if they so desire.


25 posted on 08/29/2004 6:38:23 PM PDT by NCPAC ((Live without Fear: Don't worry about what may happen. Concentrate on what must be done.))
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To: AmericanFaith
"By your logic, we should tolerate any deviant behavior such as sodomy or atheism as long as they don't interfere with our own day-to-day lives."

How is "sodomy" deviant? It is practiced daily by married, heterosexual couples, if you actually know the definition.

Likewise, "atheism" is not only not "deviant", but is something that you would never even know about another person, unless they told you. Even then, it would not affect your life in any way concievable.

"yes it does bother me if the media condones homosexuality to such an extend that I can't protect my children from it without unplugging the TV altogether."

No law says you even have to have a TV.

" I don't support Christianity because it is MY religion, but because it is the one true way to mankind's salvation."

As far as you know.

"Everyone insists on their right to define their own morals and "life my life as I choose so long as I don't interfere with my neighbor's right to do the same.""

Yep. Gotta problem? If your neighbor's not violating your right to life, liberty, or property through force or fraud, he is by definition not bothering you, and any discomfort you have with him is YOUR problem, not his.

"What about our right to live in a country free from pagans and terrorists?"

The terrs are being handled. The pagans have as much right to their religion as you.

"We need to start with smaller victories and slowly change this country's culture back to the Christian values we once had."

After reading your posts, I can only wonder what this means.

26 posted on 08/29/2004 6:49:44 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: DannyTN
"Christians are the majority but our rights are being restricted."

Exactly what rights of yours, previously enjoyed, are being so restricted? Be specific, and keep in mind that rights only confer to individuals, not entire religious groups.

27 posted on 08/29/2004 6:52:03 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: qam1
" A republic/democracy type of government"

"Consent of the governed"

" Trial by jury"

" Due process of law"

Seems to me we got these things, at least, from the Greeks and Romans...all pagans.

28 posted on 08/29/2004 6:55:36 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: NCPAC

I agree that the government should be our last line of defense, but it reality it is our only line of defense. Too many parents are letting the liberal media raise their children for them. Someone needs to step in and do something. A country that accepts the homosexual lifestyle,for example, is not "free". Quite the opposite, it makes us all slaves by forcing us to accept a deviant lifestyle which is not compatible with Christianity. Call me an extremist, but I am not an anarchist and I truly feel there are some rights we simply should not have. The secularists want a "free society" where homosexuals and muslims can act as they please, yet Americans with honest Christian values are forced to live among these heathens. If Kerry wins (God-willing he won't), Christianity will change from a core value to something you practice in the privacy of your own home / church.


29 posted on 08/29/2004 6:56:30 PM PDT by AmericanFaith
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To: Long Cut

If sodomy is so innocent, then how do you rationalize the protection of marriage? And I think you know I'm talking about the homosexual kind.


30 posted on 08/29/2004 7:00:08 PM PDT by AmericanFaith
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To: AmericanFaith

Tolerates atheists? What are you proposing, that the government kill of all the atheists? You're backing yourself into a corner here, and you'd better explain yourself.


31 posted on 08/29/2004 7:08:43 PM PDT by Melas
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To: AmericanFaith
"Too many parents are letting the liberal media raise their children for them. Someone needs to step in and do something."

Ah, "It Takes A Village", huh?

"A country that accepts the homosexual lifestyle,for example, is not "free". Quite the opposite, it makes us all slaves by forcing us to accept a deviant lifestyle which is not compatible with Christianity."

So, we're only "free" if we're all devout Christians, huh? Or at least, "compatible" with Christianity, right? Sorry, I and a lot of others don't want to be your Dhimmis.

" Call me an extremist..."

You don't have to tell me twice.

" but I am not an anarchist and I truly feel there are some rights we simply should not have. "

Which ones do you want to take away? How many of your friends will come with you to take mine? I need to know so I can stock up on ammo.

". The secularists want a "free society" where homosexuals and muslims can act as they please, yet Americans with honest Christian values are forced to live among these heathens."

Nobody's FORCING you to live anywhere you don't want to. You can move out into the Mojave Desert if you want, or save your pennies and buy a large spread of land or an island somewhere. You could even leave the country if you so choose.

"Christianity will change from a core value to something you practice in the privacy of your own home / church."

Since it's not practiced by all Americans, or even an overwhelming majority, that's pretty much what it is now.

You can pray to Christ anytime you want, so long as you do not disrupt others.

32 posted on 08/29/2004 7:12:45 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: AmericanFaith

I do not believe in homosexual marriage. Marriage is a man and a woman. What's your point? Two gay guys living next door doesn't bother me. Nor does it violate a single one of my rights.


33 posted on 08/29/2004 7:15:30 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
Those that say Christianity played no role in our Founding are simply wrong.

I've read a great deal of stuff from that time, and Christianity played a big role. Many sermons from that time were centered around the British tyranny, and how to deal with it. These sermons also involved lengthy discourses on the Rights on man, including the Right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Many talk about the duty of Free men to keep and bear arms in defense of Liberty.

And one of the most influential people in Lexington was pastor Jonas Clarke. His sermons made the case for Freedom and Liberty, and helped to form the ideological stand of the Patriots in Lexington.

Having said also, the stuff I've read from that time period demonstrates that 'religion' was different back then. It was more 'free will' based, and less controlling.

I don't think our Founders would recognize the 'church' of today, that teaches homosexuality is okay, guns are bad, and that we should submit to the gov't in all cases.

34 posted on 08/29/2004 7:18:37 PM PDT by Mulder (All might be free if they valued freedom, and defended it as they should.-- Samuel Adams)
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To: PhilipFreneau
Not directly. Mentioning Christianity would have been redundant. The Founding Fathers were not redundant writers.

That's a very long piece of nothing. If it were as important as you say it is, then it would have been there. Instead they were very concerned about religious civil war, and knew better than to include anything about a particular religion.

That doesn't serve your purposes very well, now does it?

35 posted on 08/29/2004 7:19:40 PM PDT by risk
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To: DannyTN
The problem is that our government has changed so that it no longer represents Christians equally.

Most such "issues" are crass exaggerations by manipulative TV evangelists like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who toy with peoples' fears and worries to the point of propaganda.

Despite all the convenience of illegitimate "Federalist" arguments, even state constitutions in the most conservatives states indicate that your power to redress this problem is logically restricted.

One tool you may not use in order to solve this problem is to choose religious dogma or sectarian language in your laws. You must find other mechanisms. To do anything else would put us back into a situation where Some Americans were under represented or outright discriminated against.

If you use your minds you can meet the challenges our Founding Fathers presented us and rise to the occasion. Laws can be fashioned to serve within the ascribed limits.

36 posted on 08/29/2004 7:25:42 PM PDT by risk
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To: DannyTN

No doubt you're correct in your assertions but the key element to this paradigm shift is the question of why. How can people who take an oath of office to protect and defend this country allow this cultural coup d'etat to happen?....and even worse, we're letting them get away with it. Add to that immigration policy that borders on national suicide and it's even more perplexing. This country cannot last another 10-20 yr.'s under this type of social engineering idiocy......looks like our future could be a re-play of Bosnia.


37 posted on 08/29/2004 7:29:47 PM PDT by american spirit
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To: AmericanFaith
If "too many parents are letting the liberal media raise their children for them" - as terrible as that may be- that is the decision made by those parents. Reprehensible? Absolutely - but it is still their call.

"Quite the opposite, it makes us all slaves by forcing us to accept a deviant lifestyle which is not compatible with Christiantiy."

Why does everything (and I am not speaking particularly about homosexuality here) in America have to be compatible with Christianity? I am not a Christian. Am I less of an American than you?
38 posted on 08/29/2004 7:32:43 PM PDT by NCPAC ((Live without Fear: Don't worry about what may happen. Concentrate on what must be done.))
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To: Long Cut
Bravo, LC. Demagogues will always try to refashion the Constitution for their aims. The same-sex marriage advocates find collective "ghost" rights for arbitrary couples in the Constitution. I don't know where, though. The 5th circuit court finds collective rights for the National Guard in the 2nd amendment. And the theocrats find Christianity written all over nowhere.
39 posted on 08/29/2004 7:38:31 PM PDT by risk
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To: NCPAC
Am I less of an American than you?

Most of these well-meaning people wouldn't intend for that to happen. But it would. And some would be happy for it. This document is brilliant in its protections for Christians and you. Nowhere on the planet has religious teaching flourished the way it has here.

By keeping the government out of religion, the founding fathers actually encouraged it. We have some issues with socialism supporting certain anti-Christian media, but that can be solved without a single dogma entering our laws.

We can abolish the NEA, PBS, NPR, and other government agencies that encourage anti-Christian media. Let taxpayers figure out on their own which of those causes they want to support.

40 posted on 08/29/2004 7:44:21 PM PDT by risk
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To: risk

I agree with everything you said, Risk. Believe me, I am not a Christian basher - and I believe NO organ funded by the Government should slam Christians. These programs and/or agencies should be abolished anyway.

However, I am not going to be trashed because I don't share the beliefs of any one Religion - even if the trashing is cloaked in the best of intentions. It simply astounds me that (apparently) so many Christians believe it is a given that America must - MUST - reflect their interpretations of Christianity.


41 posted on 08/29/2004 8:01:53 PM PDT by NCPAC ((Live without Fear: Don't worry about what may happen. Concentrate on what must be done.))
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To: NCPAC; risk
"It simply astounds me that (apparently) so many Christians believe it is a given that America must - MUST - reflect their interpretations of Christianity."

Simple as all get-out, NC. Read AF's posts...to him and others like him, their version of Christianity is the "One Truth". However, they don't like the fact that others do not recognize this...it hurts their egos or something. Thus, they want the government to FORCE those others to recognize their "superiority".

Like AF said, they'll start small if they have to. Part of it is wishing, hoping, and rationalizing America as a "Christian Nation", in the desire that someday, somehow, a court or a legislature will agree. Then, unfettered, they can begin to shape all laws thusly.

Of course, they'll have the fun of pointing their gnarled fingers at the rest of us and saying, "UNBELIEVERS! We're BETTER than you!"

42 posted on 08/29/2004 8:13:06 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: AmericanFaith
We don't live in a theocracy!

Do you want to "punish" Jews as well as Muslims and atheists? What about Buddhists?

Should only certain sects of Christianity be allowed to practice?

43 posted on 08/29/2004 8:16:19 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: Mulder

So did Free Masonry play a HUGE part in our founding;yet there's a group here,that attacks Masons and all they stood/stand for,all the time,posting lies,calumny,drivel,and tinfoil garbage about them.


44 posted on 08/29/2004 8:18:32 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: Tribune7
Actually, there is

What a long-shot. They wrote the equivalent of "A.D." when describing the date, and you're saying that justifies dogmatic laws in this country?

Every time anyone writes a Gregorian date he's doing exactly the same thing. With comments by our Founding Fathers abounding that indicate their deep and well-reasoned concern about keeping religion and government separate, such as the following two, I find no basis for an argument that depends on a Gregorian representation of a date as proof that they intended our Constitution to be Christian in nature.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for is faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties. --Thomas Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists
And
The civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the State.(1819). --James Madison
The revisionists are the ones who would either divest our culture of Christianity with laws, or who would (re)Christianize it. Both are in fierce violation of our Constitution. There are partisans on both sides who exaggerate the fears of their constituents based on either camp's wishes.

It's only all too unfortunate that we can't ask our Founding Fathers to help us resolve these conflicts.

We have to think them through for ourselves. Christianizing our government is such an obvious mistake to any student of the reformation and the enlightenment, and yet we must confinually defend the notions of John Locke, John Milton, and Jean Rousseau -- all three of whom were passionate defenders of government without the power to impart religious establishment on their people.

Freedom in government is all about representation. That is where it always goes awry. A Christian government would exclude a massive segment of the population from true representation. Any taxes for them would suddenly be onerous. The intercessions of their clergy/officials would susdenly be tedious and oppressive. Furthermore, many Christians would suddenly disagree about dogmas represented in the government. Europe's history is of one religiously motivated war after another. All of that was made obsolete when we finished our American revolution against the English crown and its onerous championship of Anglicanism against Catholicism.

45 posted on 08/29/2004 8:20:29 PM PDT by risk
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To: risk

>> That's a very long piece of nothing. If it were as important as you say it is, then it would have been there. Instead they were very concerned about religious civil war, and knew better than to include anything about a particular religion.

You see my dilemma. I either believe you, or I believe a long history of founding father letters and activities, congressional resolutions, and supreme court rulings, from the beginning of our nation until 1947. It is a tough decision.


46 posted on 08/29/2004 8:20:48 PM PDT by PhilipFreneau
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To: PhilipFreneau

You sir, are the revisionist. Read Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists. Read the greatest thinkers of the Enlightenment, on whose thought our government was built, in letter after letter espousing the ideas of Locke, Milton, and Rousseau. The reformation and the enlightenment set us free from men who would use government as a tool to push their religious agendas. We're not going back to the dark days before all of those changes moved us toward the freedoms we enjoy now. I'm defending the status quo, and I'm not about to let it go. Neither are millions of other Americans of all faiths who understand why our government's protections for their religious practices is so brilliant.


47 posted on 08/29/2004 8:27:23 PM PDT by risk
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To: PhilipFreneau
"The truth is that prior to the usurpation by the ACLU-influenced, Hugo Black supreme court of 1947 the states had power over religion (from the 10th Amendment), and many allowed Christianity to be taught and nourished in public schools."

You just can't live without your religion being taught to other people's kids, or using their tax money to pay for it, can you, Phil?

If states were using public monies to fund the teaching of ONE religion in schools which were supported by EVERYONE's tax dollars, then stopping that was a GOOD thing.

48 posted on 08/29/2004 8:28:27 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: risk

huh? Have you bothered reading the Bible? Our laws (were) based on Judeo-Christian principles.


49 posted on 08/29/2004 8:30:21 PM PDT by I got the rope
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To: AmericanFaith
To represent all religions equally would doom this country to secularism. If you truely feared the LORD, you would acknowledge the neccessity for Protestant doctrine in this country's legal system. Otherwise, you open the floodgates to homosexuality, prostitution, paganism, darwinism, satanism, etc.

A large percentage (pretty soon a majority) of this country is not Protestant. Following your logic, once another religion (say, Catholicism) becomes the majority, we should enshrine their religious principles into law.

I have a better idea: Let's keep government out of religion, and vice versa.

50 posted on 08/29/2004 8:31:51 PM PDT by Modernman (Hippies.They're everywhere. They wanna save the earth, but all they do is smoke pot and smell bad.)
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