Sujet: Misquoting Our Founding Fathers
De: tothesource
Date: 16 Jun 2005 09:23:33 -0700


Dear Concerned Citizen,

June 16, 2005

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.


Responses to: Contrary to A Popular Assumption

Your recent article about stem cell research was interesting. You reported that federal funds are not used for abortion. While this is on the books, it is technically not true. All federal employees have a government paid health care system that covers abortion, which in fact can be reduced to government funded and endorsed abortion. It's just another contradiction in our federal government. Thanks for your e-mail reports. - S. C.

Your articles on many things have been largely thought provoking and well-thought-out. I would love to see you build on the past columns you've done about the separation of church and state to actually consider what the first amendment actually says and what the papers of the founding fathers say about what was intended by that amendment, taking the focus away from a phrase that I believe appears only in one of Jefferson's letters. In a couple of other areas you're starting to lose me as a fan - in these areas you appear to have abandoned your high ground of well-conceived combinations of faith and reason to opinions verging on the kind of right-wing dogma that gives Christians of all stripes a bad name. These areas are globalization and stem cell research. In the case of global trade, while individuals certainly suffer as jobs and trade becomes globalized, nations prosper. America has prospered enormously through globalization. Further, it is only, practically, by a combination of trade and of the US setting a real example of love and moral behavior (as a country and as individuals) that boundaries of hate and resentment can be pulled down. As the most prosperous, most heavily polluting country in the world America should sacrifice something to bring the rest of the world up, to remove the huge economic gaps that spawn global terrorism and to live up to its responsibilities to the world. In the case of stem cell research and cloning, I don't believe that the tremendous potential to end human suffering in diseases like Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis etc should be set aside because of the fate of a few embryos. Goodness, we seem entirely willing to allow the ongoing sacrifice of thousands of totally conscious living people due to this country's (almost unique in the developed world) love affair with firearms. We have also (reasonably) in the past conscripted unwilling grown men to fight the scourge of Nazism. Why get so upset about what people might do with stem cell technology - why not closely monitor progress and ensure that if the lives of some nascent human beings are sacrificed, that they are sacrificed responsibly for the good of all humanity while ensuring that non-benign uses of the technology are anticipated and prevented. We could, if we chose, regard any embryos that are sacrificed in this cause like the grown men that laid down their lives agains t Nazism, willingly or not. Both are heroes in the fight against a global scourge. I would love to see this column deal with any or all of the following issues in America and to do so from a biblical perspective, not from the perspective of the political agenda that the so-called 'religious' right has laid out for us: Gun Control in the US or the lack of it Global Warming and other environmental issues Capital Punishment Israel and the Palestinians Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and the treatment of foreign prisoners Our responsibilities to the poor - both at home and in the rest of the world (Africa is a particularly topical case) - J. P.

Consider: The missing element in every human 'solution' is an accurate definition of the creature. The way we define 'human' determines our view of self, others, relationships, institutions, life, and future. Important? Only the Creator who made us in His own image is qualified to define us accurately. Choose wisely. There are -- and will be -- results. Many problems in human experience are the result of false and inaccurate definitions of humankind premised in man- made religions and humanistic philosophies. Human knowledge is a fraction of the whole universe. The balance is a vast void of human ignorance. Human reason cannot fully function in such a void, thus, the intellect can rise no higher than the criteria by which it perceives and measures values. Humanism makes man his own standard of measure. However, as with all measuring systems, a standard must be greater than the value measured. Based on preponderant ignorance and an egocentric carnal nature, humanism demotes reason to the simpleton task of excuse-making in behalf of the rule of appetites, desires, feelings, emotions, and glands. Because man, hobbled in an ego-centric predicament, cannot invent criteria greater than himself, the humanist lacks a predictive capability. Without instinct or transcendent criteria, humanism cannot evaluate options with foresight and vision for progression and survival. Lacking foresight, man is blind to potential consequence and is unwittingly committed to mediocrity, averages, and regression - and worse. Humanism is an unworthy worship. The void of human ignorance can easily be filled with a functional faith while not-so-patiently awaiting the foot- dragging growth of human knowledge and behavior. Faith, initiated by the Creator and revealed and validated in His Word, the Bible, brings a transcendent standard to man the choice-maker. Other philosophies and religions are man- made, humanism, and thereby lack what only the Bible has: 1.Transcendent Criteria and 2.Fulfilled Prophetic Validation. The vision of faith in God and His Word is survival equip- ment for today -- and the future. Man is earth's Choicemaker. He is by nature and nature's God a creature of Choice - and of Criteria. His unique and definitive characteristic is, and of Right ought to be, the natural foundation of his environments, institutions, and respectful relations to his fellow-man. Thus, he is oriented to a Freedom whose roots are in the Order of the universe. The human family dare not sow the seeds of cannibalism. We have been warned. - J. F. B.

It is ironic that we are concerned with embryos when we the Society, the Government, the Community, the Parents don't care the Danger that awaits our live children when they go out of our homes. We give so much emphasis to; Drugs, Arm Robbery Criminals, end so on, but what about the Sexual Predators that are walking the streets just waiting to make their move on an ease pray. Our children are Not safe including women, even Senior Citizens and boys are exposed to this Animals! How can the Government take this offense not serious enough and send them back to the community when they should be either Segregated, or in jail, this predators should be kept locked once they commit the first offense, why wait until they destroy more lives, this should considered as Killing , these are mentally ill people showing remorse just to be given a second chance, it is impressive how they are trusted, they will continue destroying until they are caught and comes to the light other wise they are protected because they report the next morning? Do they have a tracking device? How do the Officer knows what he did, to whom and how many so far? Texas pride is their State size why not building a colony "something like are 51" only for them, if the poor are separated in a so called projects, why the predators are free when they should be far way from the community. I moved from another State and the city thinking it will be safer for my children and this place has a concentration, the Cities or Counties should list Warning or Attention! Sexual Predator's Community" I did some research about the area where I live, and let me tell you I am Terrified! They are Soooo Many that it is Scary to allow my children to go out alone, one was living one street way from mine, I contacted the police, the State Police, Email the Government and I will keep moving this until someone those something quick,. The local Parole officer called me yesterday to let me know the predator had moved to Houston, Have you ever heard the News! every single day one or more children are kidnapped, abused, taken away from their mothers and later thrown out (disposed) we know of only those taken out to the light. It is so sad that Nobody cares about it, this is common and OK! With the USA Government! We are so like Iraq and Bin Ladin, Sending WOMD "Predators" to destroy our own Country our communities our children and pass on their legacy to make more abusers "Fact" Is there something you can do about it! What a challenge. The "FREE COUNTRY" slogan is just a lay. What would you do if one of those children were yours? Would you plea to give the predator a second chance? What if one of those children were yourself when you were a kid! Do the Government realize that the real world can not afford to leave surrounded by body guards, or expensive neighborhoods?. - C. C.

Scary stuff, isn't it! And this country, Canada, is in many ways, more liberal than yours. Right now the minority Liberal government is trying to push through bill C38 legalizing same sex ':marriage" before the summer recess. And there is NO LAW protecting preborn children from the likes of Henry Morgantaler, notorious abortionist, and his ilk. Henry Morgentaler lost his license to practice medicine some time ago but the University of Western Ontario with its theological colleges including a Roman Catholic college, is planning to honour this man with an honourary doctorate. There are a couple of petitions ongoing, one to try and stop the granting of the degree and another from a very left wing group to endorse the choice. The opponents now have over 12,000 signatures. Two points: One: We started the slide down the slippery slope with Rowe versus Wade and other moves to liberalize abortion including my native England which allowed first trimester abortions beginning in 1967. Now we have a situation where only a vocal group of Christian pro-lifers are still working for the protection of the developing baby. and Two: Isn't the use of adult stem cells equally, or even more, useful? Listening to the radio last evening, I heard that a young man in Texas was going to be sentenced for murder because he caused the death of his girl friend's twins [he was the father]. She asked him to jump on her abdomen hoping to cause a miscarriage, which he did. Does that mean that abortion is not legal in Texas? Or that there's a difference between causing a miscarriage and ending the baby's life in a clinic or hospital? When we break God's word it only causes confusion. Keep up the good work. Yours in Christ Jesus, - J. N.

Regarding Andrew Sullivan's quote, "No American taxpayer should be required to fund from her own dollars what she regards as a moral outrage." I and millions of others consider war "a moral outrage." But we have to cough up our taxes like everybody else. Outrageous! - G. B.

Your article on stem cell research and cloning brings up some good points, especially regarding cloning, which I agree is potentially a hideous infringement upon nature and the sovereignty of God. Some other words from the article, however, had an even greater impact upon my emotions. The author expresses concern for American taxpayers who should not need to fund something that they consider to be "terribly immoral, even murderous". Further, it is stated that "forcing these dissenters to pay their hard-earned tax dollars for activities they detest would be to violate society's duty to respect diverse opinions of its citizens." You even quote Andrew Sullivan when he describes his view on the matter: "No American taxpayer should be required to fund from her own dollars what she regards as a moral outrage." In those words, you have neatly summed my own feelings regarding Bush's immoral and, as stated by the leaders of his own Christian denomination, unjust, war in Iraq. I would be pleased to see such eloquent concern expressed in tothesource for the lives of Iraqi children, and those in other countries as well, who have suffered as a result of Bush policies. The moral outrage that many American citizens feel about the war in Iraq and other foreign policy embarrassments of this administration surely compares to that which is expressed in the article about stem cell research and cloning. Yet, if those of us who feel that way would not have to pay the military percentage of our taxes to support such immoral acts and policies, there probably could be no war. (Note--just this morning, a report is out that 52% now feel negative about the war.) So, yes, this administration is speaking out about what is right and wrong on this particular issue, and I think that there is some validity to what they are saying. However, there are many other moral issues of equal importance for which this administration gets a failing grade--and this has resulted in a severe decline in America's credibility and level of respect in the world. - D. N.

Hasn't the government been funding the destruction of innocent human life through the needless war in Iraq? What about capital punishment? It's been proven that some of these people are innocent, too. President Bush is not the moral icon you make him out to be. This idea that you must support Bush to be a Christian is for hypocrits and liars. Please take me off your email list immediately. - P. J.

I guess I will learn to listent to the "sky is falling" metality of those afraid of stem cell research when I hear the same people just as concerned about thousnds and thousands dying in Iraq (not so disturbing to many because they are mostly Iraqis) as they are concerned about a stem cell. Why is the upholding of some values that are Christian not extend to others? I believe the spirit of the Christ as well as the words of the Gospels suggest "loving your enemy, etc.." Yet we accept pre-emptive strikes and pre-meditated wars with no concern about crossing a moral and ethical line. I think we sometimes strain at a gnat. . .and swall camels. - D. D.

It seems to me that you have gotten things backwards with this ban on embryonic stem cell research.,if it is murder to use these embryos for research then certainly it is murder to discard them as this administration is demanding. Please remove me from this republican propaganda list. - B. J.

Responses to: Looking Back, Looking Forward

It's going to be "all of the above". The worldview of Islam, fueled by economic prosperity (for the ruling few, of course) will only increase the antipathy toward western civilizations, especially democratic ones. The Soviets and China will experience what post-WW1 Germany experienced--the rise of nationalism and a turning back to authoritarianism, which, I argue, is because the strongest religious base of the people was Catholicism (which never welcomed democracy with open arms). China? Well, there's where they are going to become so powerful that they're going to head out of control and when they do it's not going to be pretty. They're so big it's just so difficult for us here to understand their internal difficulties--economics is just one facet. But they've learned the best way to control things is with the authoritarianism of Mao. So that's the future? Well, there's still a sovereign God up there! - G.

Mr. D'Souza asserts, in an otherwise thoughtful article, that the 3000 killed on 9-11 is more than the total killed in the 50 history of the Cold War. That sound you hear is 50,000 plus soldiers who gave their lives in Vietnam, rolling over in their graves. Does Mr. D'Souza thinks that conflict was just a regional or civil war in which participation by both sides was unrelated to the cold war? - T. B.

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Religion and the Founding of the American Republic
Founding Fathers Quotes
We live complex lives. We strive to sort out priorities that sometimes conflict or seem incompatible. A moral framework is needed to help us understand the reality around us. Our Judeo-Christian heritage provides a framework to help us comprehend the choices we make and the conflicts that arise over them. It is not only the main source of our spiritual values, but also many of the secular values we depend on.

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