A recent news story cites a poll by the non-partisan First Amendment Center that says 55% of all Americans 'believe the nation's founders wrote Christianity into the Constitution.' The right-wing reactionary Republicans have repeated this lie enough times that a majority of Americans think it is true. In response, here's a Pretzel Logic look at statements about religion made by some of our Founding Fathers that would have Rush 'the Lush' Limbaugh questioning their patriotism.
Wishful Thinking Or No Thinking At All?
Before I get to the quotes, is it any surprise that the same poll found that 'three out of four people who identify themselves as evangelical or Republican believe that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation?'
Thomas Jefferson Must Have Read The News Story About This Poll
Thomas Jefferson to Richard Henry Lee, April 22, 1786 ( on the British regarding America, but mentioned here because it's still on point ) : 'What is it men cannot be made to believe!'
Good! Let's Start With Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts, And The Rest Of Their Ilk
More from the news story about the poll: ' ...only 56% agree that freedom of religion applies to all groups 'regardless of how extreme their beliefs are.' That's down from 72% in 2000. More than one in four say constitutional protection of religion does not apply to 'extreme' groups.'
That Hindoo You Do So Well
Thomas Jefferson, writing in his autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom: '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.'
More from the news story about the poll: 'Half say teachers should be allowed to use the Bible as a factual text in history class.'
Mr. Jefferson Takes his Gospel Whenever Its Possible, But he Takes It With A Grain Of Salt - Or Maybe A Whole Freaking Ocean Of It
Thomas Jefferson writing to John Adams in a letter dated January 24 1814: 'The whole history of these books [ 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.'
Guess Which Titles Would Not Be Part Of Thomas Paine's Book Club
Thomas Paine in The Age of Reason, Part One ( 1794 ) : 'Each of those churches show certain books, which they call revelation, or the word of God. The Jews say that their word of God was given by God to Moses, face to face; the Christians say that their word of God came by divine inspiration: and the Turks say, that their word of God ( the Koran ) was brought by an angel from Heaven. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.'
The Real Book Of Revelations
Thomas Paine, again, from The Age of Reason, Part One: 'No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a communication, if he pleases. But admitting, for the sake of a case, that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only. When he tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and consequently they are not obliged to believe it.'
If you think it's ironic that we''e fighting in Iraq supposedly to create a secular democracy while at the same time we have a creeping ( and creepy ) right-wing reactionary evangelical theocracy brewing in our own 50 states, write to me at PretzelLogicDave@aol.com and give me your best impersonation of Thomas Jefferson or Paine.