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Misquoting Our Founding Fathers
Catholic Educator's Newsletter ^ | June 2005

Posted on 06/19/2005 12:39:02 PM PDT by Coleus

Misquoting Our Founding Fathers    TO THE SOURCE


How many times have your heard that "Our founding fathers were not Christians! They were deists!"? It is an absurd assertion.

It conjures up images of clandestine gatherings in Philadelphia's Independence Hall where one by one Washington and Jefferson and Adams et al swear allegiance to some obscure deist creed and pledge to set America on the course of eradicating Biblical belief from all corners of the land.

Sure some of our nation's founders were deists. Consider the grumpy pamphleteer Thomas Paine in The Age of Reason:

"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...Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."
But Paine was in the minority of founders that had a genuine antipathy to organized religion. The vast majority went on record to declare that religious faith is essential to the formation of a self-sustaining democracy.

 

 

John Adams in a speech to the military in 1798 warned his fellow countrymen stating,

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

     
 

 

Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence said.

"[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be aid in 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. Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind."

     
 

 

Noah Webster, author of the first American Speller and the first Dictionary said,

"[T]he Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government. . . . and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence."

     
 

 

Gouverneur Morris, Penman and Signer of the Constitution.

"[F]or avoiding the extremes of despotism or anarchy . . . the only ground of hope must be on the morals of the people. I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments. [T]herefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God."

     
 

 

Fisher Ames author of the final wording for the First Amendment wrote,

"[Why] should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book? Its morals are pure, its examples captivating and noble. The reverence for the Sacred Book that is thus early impressed lasts long; and probably if not impressed in infancy, never takes firm hold of the mind."

     
 

 

John Jay, Original Chief-Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court,

"The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts."

     
 

 

James Wilson, Signer of the Constitution; U. S. Supreme Court Justice,

"Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. . . . Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other."

     
 

 

Noah Webster, author of the first American Speller and the first Dictionary stated,

"The moral principles and precepts contained in the scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. . . All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible."

 

 

Robert Winthrop, Speaker of the U. S. House,"Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet."

 
     
 

 

George Washington, General of the Revolutionary Army, president of the Constitutional Convention, First President of the United States of America, Father of our nation,"Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society."

 
     
 

 

Benjamin Franklin, Signer of the Declaration of Independence

"[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."

 

Yet the radical secularists are at it again! Their new strategy is to misrepresent the founders by misquoting them or taking quotes out of context to intentionally distort their original meaning. A good example is this oft cited quote by John Adams:

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!!!"
But this quote fragment distorts the main point Adams was making. Quoting from Adam's letter (shown below) he actually said:
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!!!" But in this exclamatic I should have been as fanatical as (Parson) Bryant or (Pedagogue) Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean Hell. (emphasis added)

The founders did not want an established national religion. That's it. They allowed for state established religions. They encouraged the expression of religious faith. And they almost universally sought to encourage religious belief as essential for good governance and citizenship.

Madison sums it up nicely. In his letter to Rev. Jasper Adams in the spring of 1832, Madison once again makes his position regarding the government's proper role quite clear:

"(I)t may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to usurpation on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interfering in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespasses on its legal rights by others."
The founding fathers opposed both government suppression and government establishment of religion. Radical secularists who seek to drive all religious expression from the public square join the ranks of the radical sectarians that our founders sought to declaw.

On this Father's Day we should thank God that our founding fathers had the foresight and courage to promote the expression of religious faith in the foundation and maintenance of our nation.

  

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

"Misquoting Our Founding Fathers." tothesource (June, 2005).

This article reprinted with permission from tothesource.

Tothesource is a forum for integrating thinking and action within a moral framework that takes into account our contemporary situation. We will report the insights of cultural experts to the specific issues we face believing these sources will embolden people to greater faith and action.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government
KEYWORDS: benjaminrush; christianheritage; christianity; constitution; deists; firstamendment; forefathers; founders; foundingfathers; jefferson; johnadams; prayer; quotes; religion; ushistory; washington
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1 posted on 06/19/2005 12:39:02 PM PDT by Coleus
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To: Coleus

Thank you for post this article.


2 posted on 06/19/2005 12:45:47 PM PDT by B4Ranch ( Report every illegal alien that you meet. Call 866-347-2423, Employers use 888-464-4218)
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To: Coleus

Thomas Paine was a "grumpy pamphleteer"?

Or an American hero and the most compelling proponent for the cause of freedom in the colonies.

If you don't like our government, there are several pretty little countries in Europe with religious-oriented constitutional monarchies you might enjoy.


3 posted on 06/19/2005 12:47:02 PM PDT by Natchez Hawk (Clarence Thomas if Rehnquist must be replaced--NOT Scalia)
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To: Natchez Hawk

He might still have been grumpy....
susie


4 posted on 06/19/2005 1:07:12 PM PDT by brytlea (Yes, there are Republican teachers...)
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To: Coleus

Good article. Thanks.


5 posted on 06/19/2005 1:39:52 PM PDT by silverleaf (Fasten your seat belts- it's going to be a BUMPY ride.)
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To: brytlea

"He might still have been grumpy..."

Never understood how George Washington could be so well liked what with being in so much pain from those dentures.

It would make me grumpy


6 posted on 06/19/2005 1:46:38 PM PDT by Natchez Hawk (Clarence Thomas if Rehnquist must be replaced--NOT Scalia)
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To: Natchez Hawk

He was probably grumpy too. I know I am.
susie


7 posted on 06/19/2005 1:57:43 PM PDT by brytlea (Yes, there are Republican teachers...)
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To: Coleus


Excellent work. Articles like this one help to shed some light on organizations like the ACLU, and why they are so dangerous to our country. If any of our founding fathers were around today and saying the same things they said back then, they would be savagely ridiculed (by the left) as brainless religious fanatics.


8 posted on 06/19/2005 2:51:13 PM PDT by clearlight
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Bump. Later pingout.


9 posted on 06/19/2005 2:58:22 PM PDT by little jeremiah (A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, are incompatible with freedom. P. Henry)
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To: Natchez Hawk

Thomas Paine was most certainly 'grumpy' - if you ever read his life story - he lurched from one 'anti-establishment' rant to another - in fact, he almost got executed when he went to France during their 'revoluton'. That said - his pamphleteering was brilliant.


10 posted on 06/19/2005 3:01:10 PM PDT by NHResident
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Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; afraidfortherepublic; Alas; al_c; american colleen; annalex; ...


12 posted on 06/19/2005 3:45:54 PM PDT by Coleus ("Woe unto him that call evil good and good evil"-- Isiah 5:20-21)
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To: Coleus
"Robert Winthrop, Speaker of the U. S. House,"Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet."

This is an absurd statement and first-rate evidence of idiocy. It completely denies the ability of people, irrespective of religious faith, to govern themselves, the premise upon which the country was founded. Not a surprise that he was in congress.

13 posted on 06/19/2005 3:52:34 PM PDT by muir_redwoods (Free Sirhan Sirhan, after all, the bastard who killed Mary Jo Kopeckne is walking around free)
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To: Coleus
Thank you for the post!

After Thomas Jefferson made the infamous remark about separation of church and state that liberals like to recite, the following weekend he ordered the church services held in the house/senate chambers and requested the military band play the music. Hardly a separation but then the liberals don't care about details.
14 posted on 06/19/2005 4:40:08 PM PDT by jackv
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To: jackv

p.s.

Has anyone read "1776"?


15 posted on 06/19/2005 4:41:12 PM PDT by jackv
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To: Coleus

The ACTIVIST judges are obviously antimorality and antireligion which is why I like this one:

John Adams in a speech to the military in 1798 warned his fellow countrymen stating,

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."


16 posted on 06/19/2005 7:34:59 PM PDT by Sun (Call the U.S. SELL-OUT senators toll-free, 1-877-762-8762 & give 'em "heck.")
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To: Natchez Hawk

"Where, some say, is the king of America? I'll tell you, friend, He reigns above..." - Thomas Paine, COMMON SENSE


17 posted on 06/19/2005 7:42:30 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe (No King but Jesus!)
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To: webfree

Stop polluting FR with your lies, tpaine. Only some of the Founders were against state establishments, that's why they left it up to each state to decide for itself.


18 posted on 06/19/2005 7:44:16 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe (No King but Jesus!)
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To: MHGinTN; Coleus; nickcarraway; narses; Mr. Silverback; Canticle_of_Deborah; ...
Pro-Founding Fathers/Life PING

Please FreepMail me if you want on or off my Pro-Life Ping List.

19 posted on 06/19/2005 7:45:44 PM PDT by cpforlife.org (Abortion is the Choice of Satan, the father of lies and a MURDERER from the beginning.)
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To: muir_redwoods
Men will either be governed by God, or by God they'll be governed.

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people, it is wholly inadequate for the government of any other." - John Adams

20 posted on 06/19/2005 7:53:56 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe (No King but Jesus!)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Mr. Adams was incorrect


21 posted on 06/19/2005 8:13:01 PM PDT by muir_redwoods (Free Sirhan Sirhan, after all, the bastard who killed Mary Jo Kopeckne is walking around free)
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To: muir_redwoods

Self-government is not an adequate system for those who refuse to govern themselves.


22 posted on 06/19/2005 8:16:21 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe (No King but Jesus!)
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To: Coleus

One thing for sure: our Founding fathers did not speak with one voice. Debate was in fact hot and heavy all the way through, and continues hot and heavy. It is possible that no gov't system on earth has been so heavily debated as that of the US.


23 posted on 06/19/2005 8:19:18 PM PDT by RightWhale (withdraw from the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty)
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To: Coleus

Deists? I thought the teacher said Dentists. Then what was all that talk about Washington's teeth about?


24 posted on 06/19/2005 8:21:47 PM PDT by bayourod (Unless we get 40% of the Hispanic vote in 2008, President Hillary will take all your guns away.)
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To: Coleus
"Misquoting Our Founding Fathers."

ROFL!
This article does just that.
Acording to the Reverend Ashbel Green, Presbyterian minister who had known George Washington personally, "that while Washington was very deferential to religion and its ceremonies, like nearly all the founders of the Republic, he was not a Christian, but a Deist."

"The founders of our nation were nearly all Infidels."
The Rev. Bird Wilson, an Episcopal minister and historian (lamented in an 1831 sermon)

There are many, many more quotes from the period. Washington's letters also make it very clear he was a Deist.

This nonsense always ends up with prayer quotes.
FACT: It does not matter what personal religious beliefs the founders held. All of them were secularists!
.
25 posted on 06/19/2005 8:36:30 PM PDT by mugs99
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To: mugs99

OK, Lets say your correct, how do you explain the quotes to the contrary? Even if they were secularist's it seems clear that they held a high regard for lessons of Christianity and morality, did they not? And doesn't Deism actually state that it is through reason that we discover God thus the acknowledgment of a God? I don't know but this seems like splitting hairs in some regards other than pure philosophical discussion. Interested in your thoughts


26 posted on 06/19/2005 8:55:48 PM PDT by Archon of the East ("universal executive power of the law of nature")
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To: Archon of the East
The quotes in the article, adams for example, insinuate these men were Christians. If you read his letters, you know in fact Adams was a Deist.

What is their agenda that requires them to revise history?

Even if they were secularist's it seems clear that they held a high regard for lessons of Christianity and morality, did they not?

Of course they did. Deists respect God and morality. Deists do not try to lead a moral life out of fear of a vengeful God, they do it out of respect for God.

Deists are by nature secular. God gives freedom, man takes it away. Religious history is the history of tyranny. No church has ever given freedom, yet many churches have enjoyed the freedom of religion made possible by our secularist founders.

A Christian. or any other, America would send us back into the dark ages of religious persecution.
.
27 posted on 06/19/2005 9:34:37 PM PDT by mugs99
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Comment #28 Removed by Moderator

To: webfree

The early state governments had Republican governments, AND they had state supported churches. You obviously don't know what the definition of the word Republic is. It does not preclude state supported religion.


29 posted on 06/19/2005 9:53:14 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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bump to follow


30 posted on 06/19/2005 10:00:48 PM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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Comment #31 Removed by Moderator

To: Coleus
"The founding fathers opposed both government suppression and government establishment of religion. Radical secularists who seek to drive all religious expression from the public square join the ranks of the radical sectarians that our founders sought to declaw."

Exactly to both of the above points. Great article!

32 posted on 06/19/2005 10:24:21 PM PDT by TAdams8591 (Off the cuff comments are NOT CLEAR and CONVINCING evidence.)
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To: webfree
Tomas Jefferson disagreed.

I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling in religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in religious discipline has been delegated to the General Government. It must rest with the States, as far as it can be in any human authority - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Miller, Jan. 23, 1808

33 posted on 06/19/2005 10:43:31 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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Comment #34 Removed by Moderator

To: webfree

No he quite clearly understood that since those powers not delegated to the federal government are retained by the states, and since no such power of establishment has been delegated to the federal government, it then rests with the states.


35 posted on 06/19/2005 11:06:47 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Natchez Hawk; Coleus
"Thomas Paine was a "grumpy pamphleteer"? Or an American hero and the most compelling proponent for the cause of freedom in the colonies."

"..Paine was in the minority of founders ..." ~ Coleus

Thomas Paine was not a "Founding Father".

"...Thomas Payne and Ethan Allen, for example, were in no- wise intellectual architects of the Constitution. Rather, they were firebrands of the Revolution. Was that important? Sure, they made an important contribution, but they weren't Founding Fathers. Period. ..."

36 posted on 06/19/2005 11:19:10 PM PDT by Matchett-PI (Bad news for Darwinists: Postmoderns reject all meta-narratives including yours (macro-evolution))
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To: Tailgunner Joe
Self-government is not an adequate system for those who refuse to govern themselves.

Nor for those who demand to govern others.

37 posted on 06/19/2005 11:30:57 PM PDT by tacticalogic ("Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: tacticalogic

Government is force.


38 posted on 06/19/2005 11:39:06 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Yes it is. And government without the consent of the governed is tyranny.


39 posted on 06/19/2005 11:41:01 PM PDT by tacticalogic ("Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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Comment #40 Removed by Moderator

To: Tailgunner Joe

But for those of us who do and don't rely on religion it works just fine.


41 posted on 06/20/2005 3:14:14 AM PDT by muir_redwoods (Free Sirhan Sirhan, after all, the bastard who killed Mary Jo Kopeckne is walking around free)
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To: mugs99
A Christian. or any other, America would send us back into the dark ages of religious persecution.

It seems to me that that the Marxist liberty=license crowd is using the deist argument to attemt to eliminate religion and not promote freedom of it. I believe they are specifically attacking Christianity because regardless of the past tryanny Christian churches laid foundation to our western culture and IMO that is exactly what they are trying destroy. Thus I believe the fight for Christianity is not so much a fight for Theocracy but a fight for our western culture. I mean honestly, who is trying to esatblish a theocracy? Certainly one can not equate the simple mention of God with the esablishment of a federal church?

No church has ever given freedom, yet many churches have enjoyed the freedom of religion made possible by our secularist founders.

Neither has any Government. In reality all Government's take away freedoms, our founder's understood that. I guess it might just boil down to whose law do wish to live by? Reason has given this country greatness, revelation has provided the glue that had kept us together. Do you really like what you see when you look forward into a post modern world?

42 posted on 06/20/2005 3:58:25 AM PDT by Archon of the East ("universal executive power of the law of nature")
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To: Coleus

Great thread. Saving some of this.




43 posted on 06/20/2005 4:23:14 AM PDT by Arthur Wildfire! March ( Ad Campaign for DICK TURBAN in profile)
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To: Coleus
Most of the Founding Fathers of America were great men. Defaming the dead, especially the righteous dead stirs up divine anger. People who defame the righteous people of the past are cowards of the lowest order.

The dead keep track of the livings actions. Cynics should ask themselves what sort of dreams and hopes the dead may have had for the future of humankind during their lifetimes. At some point in most people's lives a person experiences a feeling of unbridled optimism and truly believes in a world of eventual peace and harmony.

Respect for the dead is a very important thing. Can and will people of today respect the wishes of those that have come before us ?
44 posted on 06/20/2005 4:29:54 AM PDT by Red Sea Swimmer (Tisha5765Bav)
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To: Natchez Hawk
Or an American hero and the most compelling proponent for the cause of freedom in the colonies.

Besides writing Common Sense what deeds would merit Paine the accolade of "American hero"?
He certainly was no hero to George Washington.

45 posted on 06/20/2005 6:48:44 AM PDT by jla
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To: Archon of the East
the fight for Christianity

ROFL!
That line speaks volumes...You speak of the "Marxist liberty=license crowd", the fight for "western culture".
There is no fight. Never has been. Christianity under attack in America is BS. The handful of anti Christian kooks were ignored by mainstream America until Christian crusaders gave them attention.

You speak of "Marxist", but you obviously haven't read Marx. He was the original crusader against the "liberty=license crowd". Like Marx, religious fanatics use catchy slogans to spread fear and hate. This is not about the "simple mention of God". This is about the Christian hijack of God. God=Christian.

"America is a Christian nation" turns everyone who is not Christian into second class citizens. It is un-American and a danger to our Republic!
.
46 posted on 06/20/2005 10:55:57 AM PDT by mugs99
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To: mugs99
OK mugs, thanks for the condescending ROFL! comment, thats OK I understand. Would the term Soros progressive socialist be more fitting than Marxist? If you don't think that Christianity has been the dominant religion in America since its inception and that it currently being attacked like NEVER BEFORE than you need to pay attention. Originally states often not only tolerated school prayer but encouraged it, but why not today? Why can't a memorial of a cross be present on public land, no Constitutional ground for removing it. The ACLU was in fact founded by communists (and please spare me the definition of the term that has morphed at every defeat). Aren't our laws essentially based on the Magna Carta, a document heavily influenced by God and Christianity? No Mugs we are talking about the mere mentioning of God in Public because that no longer seems tolerated, at least not by a Christian. And why, because Christians believe abortion is wrong, how could they be so intolerant. My whole prior point was that no matter how you slice it Western culture and the American founding was a product of heavy Christian influence, never did I say that anyone should be a second class citizen for their religious beliefs or lack of. Never!
47 posted on 06/20/2005 11:52:00 AM PDT by Archon of the East ("universal executive power of the law of nature")
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To: Archon of the East
Would the term Soros progressive socialist be more fitting than Marxist?

No. You are attempting to label others who don't share your dogma as enemies of the Christian state. Many socialists are Christian and so are many Democrats and Libertarians. The Republican Party does not own Christianity and Christianity does not own America.

You dodge the issue by injecting Soros, ACLU et all into the debate. That is exactly the reason why so many are speaking out against Christian zealotry. There was no problem until televangelists stirred up the gullible with their claims of "persecution".
That empowerd the ACLU and others to recruit the gullible on the other side who fear a return of Christian intolerance. Many are old enough to remember what happened when gullible Germans were shouting "Germany is a Christian nation".

American founding was a product of heavy Christian influence,

We all agree on that. Deists are not anti-Christian. Why are Christians anti-Deist?

never did I say that anyone should be a second class citizen for their religious beliefs or lack of. Never!

"America is a Christian nation" is saying exactly that.
Non Christians see that as a threat, and see attempts by Christians to rewrite history as sinister.

Aren't our laws essentially based on the Magna Carta

No, they are not. The Magna Carta did not separate church and state and did not grant self determination to the people. The Constitution does.

OK mugs, thanks for the condescending ROFL!

That wasn't condescending, it was genuine...Sorry you took it that way.
.
48 posted on 06/20/2005 2:31:18 PM PDT by mugs99
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To: Matchett-PI

I certainly understand he was not a politican or a founding father in the terms of government service. I meant founding father in a more symbolic, less statist way


49 posted on 06/20/2005 3:42:41 PM PDT by Natchez Hawk (Clarence Thomas if Rehnquist must be replaced--NOT Scalia)
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To: mugs99
No I am not attempting to label anyone. If you read my initial "Marxist" statement I was merely saying that group is certainly attacking Christianity and many are "using" the Deist argument (whether it be true or false). I was NOT implying that Deist's are Soros Socialist's, in fact I feel very close with Deist's. And no the Republican party doesn't own Christianity as Christians are able to vote for whom they like. No i wasn't dodging the debate as I was presenting examples of Christianity under attack in response to your ROFL. By the way you somewhat contradicted yourself admitting there are groups fighting Christianity out of fear of zealotry. And very succesfully might I add...IMO

There is no doubt that our founders did intend to relegate religion from realm of knowledge to opinion, otherwise the same tyrannical Government would follow whether that government be a theocracy, monarchy, or aristocracy. Thus obviously (if you want to label all of them with same brush)they had a Deist quality to their work. Though the question remains from these quotes what role did they see or want Christianity (religion) to play in the future of America?

By the way yes, Germany went off the deep end but it wasn't becuase of Christianity it was mostly because of Woodrow Wilson. I am just curious as to how you see zealotry playing out here in the America, what exactly are Christians trying to do that has everbody's shorts in bunch?

50 posted on 06/20/2005 4:38:59 PM PDT by Archon of the East ("universal executive power of the law of nature")
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