Friday, March 26, 2010

Separation of Church & State

This is an ongoing issue so I thought I'd set the record straight here and now.  Christian conservatives won't believe me, and hardcore Xtians such as David Barton have manufactured (read: lied about) quotes from Jefferson and other founders claiming that there was no separation.  I think he's been doing meth with Ted Haggard.

Let's start by examining whether or not America is a Christian nation.  
The Treaty of Tripoli, signed in 1796, states that "As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen..."  It is an official document.  They would not have put it in there unless they meant it as true.

From our presidents' mouths:

George Washington: He never mentions Jesus Christ in his letters, and is quoted as saying to the United Baptist Churches of Virginia in 1789 that everyone "ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.  A friend of Washington's, Dr. Abercrombie, once remarked that "Washington was a Deist."  

John Adams: Adams wrote, in A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, "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 will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses."

Thomas Jefferson: Many of his writings and letters denounce the miracles and such of Jesus and Christianity in general.  In a letter to Ezra Stiles Ely, he wrote "You say you are a Calvinist. I am not. I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know."  In another letter, "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law regarding an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State." -- 1802 letter to the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut.  Contrary to Barton's claims, the letter contains no "one-directional wall."

James Madison: Definitely not a Christian.  "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.  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; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny... a just government...needs them not." -- Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments (1795)

The argument against a America being a Christian nation comes right from our founding fathers.  

Thomas Jefferson, who helped draft the Constitution and its principles, comes down firmly on the side of separation of church and state.  The letter from which the phrase comes was carefully crafted, and was shown to two others before finally being sent as an official clarification of his policies.

Another founding father, Thomas Paine, wrote a diatribe against Christianity, Age of Reason.

Many of our founding fathers were Freemasons, which included Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Paine.  This would explain the Masonic symbolism and design that endures to this day.  From the Architect of the Capitol: "The Capitol's first cornerstone was laid on September 18, 1793, by President Washington in a Masonic ceremony. The ceremony was preceded by a parade and followed by celebration and feasting." Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC), himself a Freemason, took part in a Masonic ceremony recently to commemorate the laying of the cornerstone.  

The cornerstone of the Washington Monument was similarly celebrated at the laying ceremony, with a Grandmaster Mason officiating.

In a streetmap of downtown D.C. you can see the primary Masonic symbols: the Square, the Compass, the Rule and the Star.  

The Great Seal of the United States includes some important symbols of Freemasonry: the All-Seeing Eye, the Great Pyramid, the Six-Pointed Star, the Eagle, the phrases "Annuit Coeptis" and "Novus Ordo Seclorum," and the motto "E Pluribus Unum."

Freemasonry is not Christianity, and many conservative Christians take issue with it.  They must have a beef against the United States, as well.

I hope I have demonstrated some important facts:
1) The United States was founded and influenced by Freemasonry
2) The United States was not founded or influenced by Christianity
3) The United States was intended to have a clear separation of church and state.  

The United States was founded by people fleeing religious persecution, and by people who believed the Monarchy of England was corrupt.  To this end, our founding fathers set down the principles of what they believed would establish a government fair to all it citizens.  In recent times this has been betrayed, as bought and paid-for politicos and religious nutbags continue to sully the good name of America.  

Perhaps something drastic will happen, and we will all band together under New Deal policies and start to take care of each other, instead of the "me-first" monster that we live under today.