The United States is NOT a “Nation under god”

The Secular United States

HI all—I have been out of town for a week or so and unable to post.  July is a rough month for me at work.  After that I should be able to get back to my daily posting!

In honor of Independence Day in the U.S. I have decided that today’s blog post would be my first “re-post”.  One of the things that really gets my dander up is the claim that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation.  While it may be true that some of our Founders were Christian, many were not.  Certainly there is some Christian influence to be seen, but are we a “Christian nation”?  Most assuredly not.  The remainder of this post is from my blog on Feb. 18, 2012.  Enjoy.

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I was going to write something on my own here.  I then though, it would probably be best to let our Founding Fathers speak for themselves.  After all, they did such a nice job of it.

Thomas Jefferson (quotes copied from  http://www.worldfuturefund.org/wff-copyright.htm)

“Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.  What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.”

Source: Thomas Jefferson, “Religion” in Notes on the State of Viriginia (1782), p. 286.

“The present state of our laws on the subject of religion is this. The convention of May 1776, in their declaration of rights, declared it to be a truth, and a natural right, that the exercise of religion should be free. … By our own act of assembly of 1705, c. 30, if a person brought up in the Christian religion denies the being of a God, or the Trinity, or asserts there are more Gods than one, or denies the Christian religion to be true, or the scriptures to be of divine authority, he is punishable on the first offence by incapacity to hold any office or employment ecclesiastical, civil, or military; on the second by disability to sue, to take any gift or legacy, to be guardian, executor, or administrator, and by three years imprisonment, without bail. A father’s right to the custody of his own children being founded in law on his right of guardianship, this being taken away, they may of course be severed from him, and put, by the authority of a court, into more orthodox hands. This is a summary view of that religious slavery, under which a people have been willing to remain, who have lavished their lives and fortunes for the establishment of their civil freedom.”

Source: Thomas Jefferson, “Religion” in Notes on the State of Viriginia (1782), pp. 283-284.

“Religion is well supported; of various kinds, indeed, but all good enough; all sufficient to preserve peace and order: or if a sect arises, whose tenets would subvert morals, good sense has fair play, and reasons and laughs it out of doors, without suffering the state to be troubled with it. They do not hang more malefactors than we do… They have made the happy discovery, that the way to silence religious disputes, is to take no notice of them. Let us too give this experiment fair play, and get rid, while we may, of those tyrannical laws.”

Source: Thomas Jefferson, “Religion” in Notes on the State of Viriginia (1782), p. 287.

“Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.

Source: Thomas Jefferson,  “The Virginia Legislature, Review and Reform of the Law”, in Autobiography. 

“Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”

Source: Letter of Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814.

“I had no idea, however, that in Pennsylvania, the cradle of toleration and freedom of religion, it [fanaticism] could have arisen to the height you describe. This must be owing to the growth of Presbyterianism. The blasphemy of the five points of Calvin, and the impossibility of defending them, render their advocates impatient of reasoning, irritable, and prone to denunciation”.

Source: Letter of Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Cooper, November 2, 1822 in Works, Vol. IV, p. 358.

“Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.”

Source: Letter of Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787.

“And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.”

Source: Letter of Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, April 11, 1823.

“I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.”

Source: Letter of Thomas Jefferson to Francis Hopkinson, March 13, 1789.

“All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.”

Source: Letter of Thomas Jefferson to Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826.

“In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”

Source: Letter of Thomas Jefferson to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814.

“History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.”

Source: Letter of Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813

“The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and in-grafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man.”

Source: Letter of Thomas Jefferson to Jeremiah Moor, 1800.

“No religious reading, instruction or exercise, shall be prescribed or practiced [in the elementary schools] inconsistent with the tenets of any religious sect or denomination.”

Source: Thomas Jefferson, Note to Elementary School Act, 1817.

“The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God, like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs”.

Source: Thomas Jefferson, Works, Vol. IV, p. 360.

“The whole history of these books (i.e. the Gospels) is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.”

Source: Letter of Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, January 24, 1814.

“Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him (i.e. Jesus) by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others again of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism, and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being.”

Source: Letter of Thomas Jefferson to William Short, April 13, 1820.

“It is between fifty and sixty years since I read it (i.e. the Book of Revelations), and I then considered it merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherence of our own nightly dreams.”

Source: Letter of Thomas Jefferson to General Alexander Smyth, Jan. 17, 1825.

Benjamin Franklin (quotes copied from http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/quote-f1.htm)

“When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, ’tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”
Benjamin Franklin, letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780, quoted from Adrienne Koch, ed, The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society, New York: George Braziller, 1965, p. 93.

“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason: The Morning Daylight appears plainer when you put out your Candle.”
Benjamin Franklin, the incompatibility of faith and reason, Poor Richard’s Almanack (1758)

“I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies.”
Benjamin Franklin, quoted from Victor J Stenger, Has Science Found God? (2001)

“Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.”
Benjamin Franklin (attributed: source unknown)

“But the most dangerous Hypocrite in a Common-Wealth, is one who leaves the Gospel for the sake of the Law: A Man compounded of Law and Gospel, is able to cheat a whole Country with his Religion, and then destroy them under Colour of Law: And here the Clergy are in great Danger of being deceiv’d, and the People of being deceiv’d by the Clergy, until the Monster arrives to such Power and Wealth, that he is out of the reach of both, and can oppress the People without their own blind Assistance.”
Benjamin Franklin, comparing the politicized clergyman with the regular clergyman, a thing which a few have ventured to do in recent times, quoted in The New England Currant (July 23, 1722),

John Adams (quotes copied from http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/quote-f1.htm)

“The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787-88)

“As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?”
John Adams, letter to FA Van der Kamp, December 27, 1816

“When philosophic reason is clear and certain by intuition or necessary induction, no subsequent revelation supported by prophecies or miracles can supersede it.”
John Adams, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion

“Indeed, Mr. Jefferson, what could be invented to debase the ancient Christianism which Greeks, Romans, Hebrews and Christian factions, above all the Catholics, have not fraudulently imposed upon the public? Miracles after miracles have rolled down in torrents.”
John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, December 3, 1813

“Cabalistic Christianity, which is Catholic Christianity, and which has prevailed for 1,500 years, has received a mortal wound, of which the monster must finally die. Yet so strong is his constitution, that he may endure for centuries before he expires.”
John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, July 16, 1814

“Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it.”
John Adams, letter to his son, John Quincy Adams, November 13, 1816

“Can a free government possibly exist with the Roman Catholic religion?”
John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 19, 1821

“The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning…. And, even since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate A FREE INQUIRY? The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will soon find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your legs and hands, and fly into your face and eyes.”
John Adams, letter to John Taylor, 1814

“God is an essence that we know nothing of. Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there never will be any liberal science in the world.”
John Adams

James Madison (quotes copied from http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/quote-f1.htm)

“What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient allies.”
James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, addressed to the Virginia General Assembly, June 20, 1785

“Experience witnesseth that eccelsiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”
James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, addressed to the Virginia General Assembly, June 20, 1785

“Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity in exclusion of all other religions may establish, with the same ease, any particular sect of Christians in exclusion of all other sects? That the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute threepence only of his property for the support of any one establishment may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?”
James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, addressed to the Virginia General Assembly, June 20, 1785

“Ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects.”
James Madison, letter to Bradford, January 1774

“Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.”
James Madison, letter to William Bradford, Jr., April 1, 1774

George Washington (quotes copied from http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/quote-f1.htm)

“If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”
George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789

Thanks for Reading.  I look forward to your comments.

—-RB

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11 thoughts on “The United States is NOT a “Nation under god”

  1. Loren Miller from Bedford, OH, United States

    For a country which, insofar as the theists are concerned, was conceived as a christian nation, there is a positive dearth of mention of gods, prophets or saviors in the operant documents of the United States. The Constitution NEVER mentions any deity, prophet, not even the carpenter-turned-rabbi that the christers pin their hopes on, and it mentions religion TWICE, once in Article VI ("no religion test") and the First Amendment ("Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion…"). Indeed, the preamble of the Constitution begins, "We, the People", and not "In the name of Almighty God blah blah blah…" This document insists on being the work of men, intent on "securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity" and not under the influence of any supernatural being.

    Yes, yes, I know, there's that bit in the Declaration of Independence about being "endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights." Problem is, the Declaration is just that: a declaration. It contains no proposal of structure for the government, nor law, nor assignment of rights or privileges. The Declaration of Independence was a gauntlet thrown down at King George III, saying that we had had ENOUGH. It is NOT an operant document of the United States, nor does it have the force of law.

    The problem is that the believers living in the US will grab any straw which will even remotely justify their misguided assertion that the US is a christian country, built on christian principles. They completely ignore the fact that democracy is never mentioned in the bible, let along practiced. In fact, the US owes far more to the ideas of Solon of Ancient Greece than to some ignorant desert god and his commandments. When you have a moment, you might give a look to the following:
    https://sites.google.com/site/thechristiandelusio

    Have a happy and safe Fourth.

    Reply
  2. rblevy from Philippines

    Excellent post, reasonbeing. I don't know how most Americans can think that Jefferson et al were devout Christians when proof to the contrary is right at their fingertips. Maybe deep down they know that if the accepted this evidence, their heads might explode from cognitive dissonance.

    Reply
  3. slrman from Brazil

    As always, theists, especially christians in the USA, do not hesitate to lie in order to force their sick beliefs upon others. Even worse, they always cry, "Persecution!" whenever they are prevented from persecuting others.

    Reply
        1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

          I think the most vocal fit that description. In my dealings with people in my life, on Twitter, and in my classroom, I would be remiss if I did not point out that I see/saw a great deal of ignorance regarding how the First Amendment has been interpreted. So, yes, the leaders of these movements are absolutely guilty of what you wrote, in my opinion. However, I think many of the supporters truly think that "freedom of religion" means that they can do whatever they want, where they want, and whenever they want. They often equate it to speech. which they also misunderstand…this could be a good topic for a blog post later today or this week…thanks for inspiring the idea…

          Reply
  4. Pingback: The Declaration of Independence: A Deistic Document | Reason Being from Columbus, OH, United States

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