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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Religion in the US almost 240 years ago

    So I've been listening to NPR and doing some googling. It's really interesting where evangelical Christians stood when this nation started vs. where they stand now. For instance, it was evangelical Christians who pushed for separation of church and state. In fact, in 1773 a prominent Baptist minister in New England named Rev. Isaac Backus said "church and state are separate, the effects are happy, and they do not at all interfere with each other: but where they have been confounded together, no tongue nor pen can fully describe the mischiefs that have ensued".

    None of the founding fathers were Orthodox Christians. Benjamin Franklin said "Lighthouses are more useful than churches" and "Every other sect supposes itself in possession of the truth, and that those who differ are so far in the wrong. Like a man traveling in foggy weather they see those at a distance before them wrapped up in a fog, as well as those behind them, and also people in the fields on each side; but near them, all appears clear, though in truth they are as much in the fog as any of them."

    John Adams said:
    "This world would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it!"
    "We have now, it Seems a National Bible Society, to propagate King James's Bible, through all Nations. Would it not be better to apply these pious Subscriptions, to purify Christendom from the Corruptions of Christianity; than to propagate those Corruptions in Europe Asia, Africa and America! ... Conclude not from all this, that I have renounced the Christian religion, or that I agree with Dupuis in all his Sentiments. Far from it. I see in every Page, Something to recommend Christianity in its Purity and Something to discredit its Corruptions. ... The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount contain my Religion."

    Thomas Jefferson is FULL of nasty quotes regarding Christianity, the man cut and pasted his own version of the bible, and in reality didn't even believe Jesus was the son of God.

    So, why is it that some people think we are a "Christian" nation? Why is there such a push by evangelical Christians NOW to make this a Christian nation? I honestly wonder what Christians from the founding years of this country would make of the Christians these days. I don't think they'd be very fond of them.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Re: Religion in the US almost 240 years ago

    There are over one hundred different prayers composed and written by Washington in his own hand, with his own words, in his writings. He described himself as one of the deepest men of faith of his day when he confessed to a clergyman, "No Man has a more perfect Reliance on the alwise, and powerful dispensations of the Supreme Being than I have nor thinks his aid more necessary."

    Rather than avoid the word "God," on the very first national Thanksgiving under the U.S. Constitution, he said, "It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor."


    there were 13 original states. what was the religion of the mojority of any of those states? hindu? what?


    Using the colonial term for the hand of God, “Providence,” Franklin here testifies to his belief that God’s hand was ever active in the birth of our nation:
    “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”

    Below are two more quotes from Franklin that express his understanding of God:

    “My dear friend, do not imagine that I am vain enough to ascribe our success [Revolution] to any superiority…If it had not been for the justice of our cause, and the consequent interposition of Providence, in which we had faith, we must have been ruined. If I had ever before been an atheist, I should now have been convinced of the being and government of a Deity!”
    —In a letter to William Strahan, August 19, 1784

    “I must own I have so much faith in the general government of the world by Providence that I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance to the welfare of millions now existing, and to exist in the posterity of a great nation, should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent Ruler.”
    —On the impact of Independence on generations of Americans during the Constitutional Convention

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Northern California

    Re: Religion in the US almost 240 years ago

    The word "God" is not in the constitution.

    Regardless of the founders faith. They wanted this nation to be secular.

    We are a secular nation.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Re: Religion in the US almost 240 years ago

    Let me clarify as mumbles clearly doesn't understand. By Christian nation, I mean a nation where Christianity's beliefs are integrated into law. I do NOT think this nation should be that kind of Christian nation. (As far as majority of the population, in that sense it is a Christian nation.)

    All of the founding fathers had some sort of religious background and belief, I'm not saying they didn't. What I am saying is that they weren't Orthodox Christians. Writing prayers and beliving in a Christian God doesn't make them orthodox Christians. When it comes to George Washington, he rarely wrote or expressed his religious views (writing prayers is not the same as communicating what his exact beliefs are). Historians have been unable to agree upon what his actual religious belief was, beyond his belief in God.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Re: Religion in the US almost 240 years ago

    they were careful not to let anybody get the idea that the president, congress or courts would be allowed to define God, as kings had done in the past.

    they didn't, however, show any intention to declare that gay marriage was a right. they never imagined abortion was a right. they didn't list being drunk or high all the time as a right. they didn't say theft is okay to prove they were not subject to the ten commandments. they didn't say the government was responsible to give everybody food everyday. they didn't set any tax rate to guarantee that the rich paid their fair share.

    they said, the powers of the federal government are limited to those specificly mentioned, such as international trade and war, and all other powers are reserved to the states and the people.

    they never imagined a president taking direct control of banks and industry, but today, GM is Government Motors, and the majority shareholder in Citi is Obama's government.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Re: Religion in the US almost 240 years ago

    And Baptists never wanted people to vote for a president based on faith or religion. A LOT of these things that were meant to happen never did mumbles.

    This isn't about politics, as I posted this in the religion forum. So please, keep it on topic. This is discussing the correlation between Christianity and the US. Please keep current politics out of it, as it's not relevant to the topic I'm attempting to discuss.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Northern California

    Re: Religion in the US almost 240 years ago

    mumbles, maybe we should make being sober all the time a crime.

    Maybe we should have a war on sobriety.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Re: Religion in the US almost 240 years ago

    Interesting that Adams mentioned the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount as his religion.

    If you look at the book of Matthew, what becomes apparent is a kind of "Constitution" of the New testament church.

    Fkirst, the separation of church and state is powerfully implied by both Matthew 4 and Luke 4. I like Luke's version better.
    Luke 4:5-8, we see that Satan takes Jesus up on a high mountain and shows him all the kigdoms of the world. he tells Jesus:
    "All this power will I give you, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me: and to whoever i will give it.
    "If you will worship me, all shall be yours.
    "Jesus answered 'get thee behind me, Satan, for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shall you serve."

    That is a pretty good statement on separation of church and state.

    If you look at the next chapter, Matthew 5(sermon on the mount) you see an establishment of a concept of law similar to the process developed in our own law. As Jefferson did in the declaration of Independence, Jesus never declared some new concept of human freedom, but tied all his ideas back to the ancient concept of law. Where Jefferson said "we hold these truths to be self evident....that (all men) are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights", he tied all assumptions to anciently understood principles of liberty.

    Jesus did the same by declaring that he did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, and then he began to focus on individual obedience to God's law apart from government, which was given to the power of satan. That, too, is separation of church and state.

    You will notice, also, while giving a personal process for obeyinf the law, Jesus also gave permission for people to settle matters "out of court"(Matthew 5:25).

    This might be called what today is recognized as tort law. If two people have a diagreement, they can settle it among themselves and avoid court costs.

    Jesus expounded on this same principle in Matthew 18, allowing for people to settle disagreements using the "two witness rule' in Deuteronomy, chapters 17 and 19.(17:5, 19:15)

    Jesus said that if they could not settle it among themselves, bring it before the church. If one refused to hear the matter, he was to be treated "as a gentile and tax collector(I like the tax collector part, since it was a tax collector who supposedly recorded these words)".

    Further, Jesus established the authority of this settlement in Matthew 18:18. Whatever the church bound on earth was bound in heaven, and whatever was loosed on earth was loosed in heaven.

    The church, however, was given no power to punish, but simply to ex-communicate an unwilling member.

    Paul points out this same process in 1 Corinthians chapter 5 and 6, and even establuishes the idea of a form of "trial by jury" in chapter 6, with the least members(trial by peers) establishing a decison out of court.

    That is, among christians, the church can claim full authority over tort law, with the standards of judgement established by "The Lord's prayer" in Matthew 6.

    That is a complete separation of church and state among christian believers.

    How about criminal law? The Supreme Court ruled in "Miranda vs Arizona" 1966, footnote 27, that the 5th amendment right against self incrimination had its analog in the bible itself, coming from the two witness rule in Deuteronomy. Ancient Talmudic law held that the accused could not speak for himself, buit two witnesses had to present unbiased evidence against him. One witness was not to be allowed in any accusation(Deuteronomy 19:15).

    The "presumption of innocence" which has been held anciently comes from that concept.

    Notice also that Leviticus 19:18 holds that the law "shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love them as yourself".

    The law was not, and could not be used, of itself, as a form to claim revenge against its citizens.

    Strangers were to be treated the same way(Lev.19:33-34).

    That, too, is the presumption of innocence which could only be abridged by the testimony of two unbiased witnesses.

    In the US today, however, this principle is not followed. If you are ticketed by a traffic cop, who is obviously biased, since he lives by giving you a ticket, that cop appears as the only witness against you, after which the DA, who takes out accusations based on his oath of office(an oath usually based on the bible), will seek to acuse and convict you based on the testimony of only one biased witness. In effect, he violates the oath which gives him authority.

    The principle of separation of church and state is compete and absolute, as Paul establishes in Romans 6, where he points out that a christian is "dead to the law", and there can be no law to punish a dead man. The only exception is if the person does damage to another, after which the other can bring charges for himself in a court of law. But tort law is till within the power of the church.

    Even in Romans 13, where Paul says to be obedient to the higher powers, he limits those powers in verse 4 to vengeance, not to the declaration of what constitutes a crime. Where ther is no harm, there is no crime, or as Paul says in Romans 5, where there is no law, there is no sin.

    Christians are not to partake in any act of vengeance, as Paul points out in the preceeding chapter, Romans 12. Vengeance is God's alone, which is why he says that the "higher powers" are servants of God. Only they can execute vengeance, but that is only to be practiced AFTER the church has applied all other possible solutions.

    That is, the higher powers are not granted the power to declare something a crime, and then pay others to accuse citizens. The christian has total immunity unless he actually harms another.
    Romans 8:33 "Who sjhall anything to the charge of god's elect? It is God that justifieth(this comes from Isaiah 50:8, which guarantes the right to face accusers, also in our 6th amendment).

    Paul clearly states that this immnity includes immunity against world governments in Romans 8:38-39.

    As he points out in Romans 13, law is not a terror to good works.

    So, early religious leaders rightly understood that the separation of church and state was complete and immunity against the state was absolute. Congress could make no law respecting establishment of religion or prohibiting free exercise thereof.

    In their view, attempts to link church and state was to link with the power of satan. As Paine stated, government at its very best is but a necessary evil.

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