An Open Letter To The Guy Who Sent Me This Message
edited: Monday, March 15, 2004
By Eddie Thompson
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Monday, March 15, 2004
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(The following response is directed at the man who sent me the message that begins this essay. I am sorry, but I lost your name, and since it was unsigned, this was the only way I could answer your message.)
(The reader should first read the article "Church & State: The
Constitutional Amendment To Ban Gay Marriages," for a
fuller understanding of the context.)
Message From A Reader:
I'm going to address your points, even though you never really addressed mine. I'll ask again, if the constitution was amended to serving overweight people 2 meals a day, by law, how would you feel about that? As far as the founding fathers and Christianity goes, Why do some Christians believe these men are Christians? Besides a desperate desire that it should be so, in selective examination of their writings, one can discover positive statements about God and/ or Christianity. However...believing in God does not make someone a Christian. Merely believing in God is insufficient evidence for demonstrating either Christian principles or that a person is a Christian. Thomas Jefferson created his own version of the gospels mainly because he was uncomfortable with refernces to miracles. By definition alone, that he did not acknowledge these events, makes it unlikely he was a Christian. In his Notes To Virginia, he wrote, "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury to my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." (Dumas Malon, Jefferson The President: First Term 1801-1805. Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1970, p. 191) Thomas Paine wrote, "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. My own mind is my own church." (Richard Emery Roberts, ed. "Excerpts from The Age of Reason". Selected Writings of Thomas Paine. New York: Everbody's Vacation Publishing Co., 1945, p. 362) Regarding the New Testament, he wrote that: I hold [it] to be fabulous and have shown [it] to be false...(Roberts, p. 375) About the afterlife, he wrote: I do not believe because a man and a woman make a child that it imposes on the Creator the unavoidable obligation of keeping the being so made in eternal existance hereafter. It is in His power to do so, or not to do so, and it is not in my power to decide which He will do. (Roberts, p. 375) John Adams sided with Washington as regards to Christianity," 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 tranquility of Musselmen, - and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arrising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries." (Charles I. Bevans, ed. Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America 1776-1949. Vol. 11: Philippines-United Arab Republic. Washington D.C.: Department of State Publications, 1974, p. 1072). There is quote after quote after quote, and these are just a few. These are not opinions. These are cold hard evidence. Yes they believed in God, but it was not the God of Christianity. Personally I believe Christians would like us to believe the Founding Fathers were Christian to justify political agendas. Rather than wanting something new , the seek to restore something they imagine has been lost. The reality: Nothing has been lost. It was never there to begin with. America was never "Christian". I'm not attacking your position for being the "majority". Not too long ago blacks were hung, forced into slavery,etc..basically treated as 2nd (3rd?) class citizens. Why? Because the majority demanded it. The same situation applies to women also. Bottom line, many of the early immigrants to the New World came for religious reasons - often to escape persecution. However, they were not interested in religious freedom for anyone other than themselves, and often turned around and persecuted others who had slightly different viewpoints. The United States is not, by any stretch of the imagination a Christian nation today, nor has it ever been, nor was it ever intended to be. The Religious right (or left) would do well to stop looking for the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth.
First, of all, let me say that if your proposed constitutional amendment to allow fat people only two meals a day, by law, passed, I would probably be disappointed. That does not address the issue that I would still be bound by that duly established law, however. The issues are not even comparable since what liberal judges and maverick mayors are presently doing by issuing marriages licenses is against the law. A more applicable example would be if a head strong judge, by judicial fiat, declared that fat people could have only two meals a day. And once again, I would be very disappointed in that judgment. In fact, I would feel the same way I feel about abortion being established by judicial fiat. I would feel like an injustice was taking place. Yet, it would still be the law of the land. Can’t you see that homosexual marriages are currently against the law? And if the liberals want to change that they should go through proper, democratic channels: like a constitutional amendment.
Secondly, I see that you could not resist my suggestion that you not go through the historical record and cherry pick a few quotes from the founding fathers that would support the assertion that Christianity had no influence on the establishment of our earliest documents and ideals. As I suggested, you can find a few quotes to support any theory. In fact, you could read my book and find anti-religious statements, if you choose. The point I made stands: the vast majority of the volume of what was written by our founding fathers supports the idea that Christianity influenced the formation of our country.
I do not believe that America was based on the Christian religion, but it was certainly built upon its principles, ideals, and morality. In fact, most religions are based upon similar ideals. It just happened that a vast majority of the founding fathers were Christian, many of them Sunday school teachers and church leaders. The larger point is that they saw no need to separate their religious convictions and ideals from the work of establishing a viable country built upon solid documents which would serve to guide us in this endeavor. Do not cherry pick. Do a nexus search. Look at the volume of historical evidence. To deny Christian influence in the founding of our country just belittles any legitimate argument you may have.
Quotes From The Men Mentioned In The Reader’s Message:
GEORGE WASHINGTON’S FIRST INAUGURAL ADDRESS IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK, THURSDAY, APRIL 30, 1789: Having thus imparted to you my sentiments as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.
John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson in 1813, pointed out the common thread amongst the founders: "The general principles, on which the fathers achieved independence, were the only principles in which that assembly of young gentlemen could unite... And what were these general principles? I answer, the general principles of Christianity, in which all these sects were united..."
John Adams, writing to Jefferson, said: "Have you ever found in history, one single example of a nation thoroughly corrupted that was afterwards restored to virtue? And without virtue, there can be no political liberty... I believe no effort in favor of virtue is lost..."
John Adams, "Statesmen...may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand...The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a Greater Measure, than we have it now, They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty… 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."
George Washington's Farewell Address, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens... Tis substantially true , that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free Government...
Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its virtue… It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
George Mason, "Father" of the Bill of Rights; "My soul I resign into the hands of my Almighty Creator, whose tender mercies are all over His works, who hateth nothing that He hath made, and to the justice and wisdom of whose dispensations I willingly and cheerfully submit, humbly hoping from His unbounded mercy and benevolence, through the merits of my blessed Savior, a remission of my sins."
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|Reviewed by Dan Summerfield (Reader)
I'm a little confused. Your writing indicates that you believe an injustice was done when abortion was established by judicial fiat. Perhaps so, but do you now feel equally disappointed that a Presidency was also established by a judicial fiat.
If you do not, Sir, you can't have it both ways. By your responses to the "anonymous" reader there can be little doubt that you did not vote for either Gore or Nader.
Oh, by the way, you quote Washington on the Divine. Were you aware the Father of our country was reputed to have the foulest mouth in the Army, or that he cheated the government so badly on his expense reports that when he offered to serve the Presidency at no salary if Congress would simply pay his expenses it absolutely refused to do so.
These incidents, of course, have nothing to do with the central themes you and the reader write of, but they also are a matter of record and are certainly indicative of the "principles, ideals and morality" held by our forefathers you make reference to.
|Reviewed by Joe Blaine (Reader)
|"Disappointing"?? That's putting it a bit mild isn't it? Let try more like outraged, pissed off, fuming,etc. But you would respect it because it's law...? Let's just say I'm not buying that. I'm not even going to go through all the laws (consensual crimes) that hurt no one except the "criminal". Are they fair? Ofcoarse not. Then why are they there? Most likely because someone in power who wants to impose their morals,ethics,etc on us, the "criminals". By criminals I mean gays, lesbians, gamblers, prostitutes, drugs users, incestrous, pornography viewers, polygamists, etc. It happened with Prohibition and it's happening now. Or lets just say its been happening. When is America going to get off its moral high horse? When is this "I know what's best for you" phase going to end? Why is someone a "liberal" because they're sick of being denied their rights from which they're entitled? If I want to sit watching X rated movies, smoking weed, taking Vicodin without prescription, gambling, prostituting, while using unorthadox medical practices and talking to jaywalkers about unpopular politicals views while getting married to my boyfriend, what business is it of yours? Or anyones for that matter? None. That is what this country was built on. Not Christianity but the freedom to do what the hell ever you want (as long as your not hurting the person or property of another). As for your quotes, I could come back with 20 more supporting my theory. That's not the point. Several of your quotes never even mentioned Christianity. I would also like to know exactly when and where they took place.
The point is just because it's law, doesn't make it right. And if it does, then the people in power aren't doing their job. Conservatism breeds ignorance and oppression. History has proven this over and over. Conservatives don't want to know (about gays, gambling, prostituting, drug use,etc) and as soon as they know, they want a law to stop it. All in the name of God ofcoarse. Nevermind countries like the Netherlands that are SO far ahead of us in terms of lawmaking. And for some reason God hasn't done away with it yet. Let's say for arguments sake that EVERY founding father was Christian. Does that still make it right? No. Contrary to popular belief, they weren't perfect.
Bottom line, Gays could care less what people do in their bedrooms and who they marry. So why don't we get that same respect? Civil Unions will not work. Number one, they're not recognized nowhere except Vermont. Number two, the "seperate but equal" garbage never worked with blacks, women, and it wont work with gays. Gay Marriage will happen, there's no doubt in my mind it will. But getting a ignorant population to mature fast is never easy, or quick. -Joe
|Reviewed by Eddie Thompson
|My Response to Mr. Cravit and Mr. Neven:
Thank you for your review of my essay. Your civility was refreshing. If I may, I wanted to include this thought: the Founding Fathers were not as intent on “separating” their convictions from the work of establishing a viable country as they were “protecting” those convictions from future authorities, as their experiences had dictated was warranted. I am confounded by the acceptance by this generation that Christianity has little or nothing to do with our country, or democracy itself. Scan the world and see how many non-Christian countries are "mature" democracies. Scan the Declaration of Independence and countless other founding documents of America, the world’s oldest democracy, and see from where ideals of “freedom” spawn. I in no way advocate making Christianity a state religion. Constantine demonstrated what such activity could produce. I am simply stating that the morality and ideals of Christianity are what produce freedom, liberty, and the responsibility to our neighbor that comes with those desired realities. And those ideals will keep such realities strong if they are not shoved aside by a wrong-headed attempt to “protect” society from the morality of Christians. Oops, sounds like I am preaching again. Thanks for tolerating this out-of-touch preacher. And again, thanks for your review.
|Reviewed by William Neven
|I, too, feel that Christianity should remain where it has been since the founding of our fine country [that is, in whichever Christian sect Church it may be] as laid down by The Constitution, the term "under God" being a well-known change in it around WWII time [which I feel does not unduly place the United States in the realm of supporting one religion against the other.] As one Christian to another, thanks for your insights - though, on my own part, I have enough faith that Jesus Christ is my savior without having to worry about my belief in him and his truths being incorporated into any humanmade, political system. Eventually, other humans will realize it, too, Reverend. Besides, time is one thing God has given us in abundance [assuming we don't destroy ourselves though I have faith that will not occur either.] Thanks again for a most intriguing piece.|
|Reviewed by Tammy Cravit
|I found your essay interesting, in spite of the fact that I disagree with your conclusion. Historically, the role of the legislature has been to set laws in keeping with the will of the majority, and the role of the judicial process has been to protect the rights of the minority from being unduly breached by the majority. That's what checks and balances are all about.
Also, I would respectfully point out that if the Founding Fathers truly felt no need to "separate their religious convictions and ideals from the work of establishing a viable country", they wouldn't have bothered with the Establishment clause of the Constitution.
Notwithstanding my disagreements with your argument, I thought your opinion was cogently articulated. Thanks for sharing it.