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Switch to Forum Live View The Separation of Church and State
6 years ago  ::  Jan 07, 2009 - 6:06PM #21
Al-Fatihah
Posts: 1,347
[QUOTE=agnosticspirit;1002825]Hallo Al-Fatihah, nice to see you in these parts of Bnet! :)

There are many Christians today who like to proclaim that the USA is a "Christian country". It's wishful thinking on their part. There are also many non-Christians who like to think that the First Amendment means NO religion, which is also wishful thinking.

The First Amendment was rather ambiguous (kind of like the Bible or Quran can be), which is why we're still arguing about the meaning today.... ;)

Some of our Founding fathers were Christian - Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine certainly weren't ---- Most of them agreed, however, that the theocratic systems of government in the Old World were best left in the past and that government should exist to protect the rights of the individual. This was an entirely new paradigm, as most governments of the past promoted the concept that the individual should exist to serve the State. To protect the rights of the individual, the wise men who drafted the Constitution agreed that a State religion could not be permitted.

Response: Hi Agnosticspirit. As few have already stated, I believe that the separation of church and state was done so because the founding fathers knew it would be problematic based on the failures of previous governments doing the same. It had nothing to do with freedom for the simple fact that the founding fathers themselves were slave owners.

Quote: agnosticspirit
On why the In God We Trust printed on our money? We have Salmon P. Chase, the zealous Christian Treasurer appointed by Lincoln to thank for that. The Union was running short of cash in the Civil war and we had to print money. At his insistence (not Lincoln's wish, as Lincoln himself wasn't your typical orthodox Christian either) the phrase has appeared on our currency ever since.

Kind regards,

--- AS[/QUOTE]

Response: Actually, the idea of printing money was done so because it allowed private banks to be in control. What better way to control a people than by controlling the currency they use? Plus it's easier to make and distribute. But that's a long story.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 07, 2009 - 6:12PM #22
TPaine
Posts: 9,380

Al-Fatihah wrote:

Response: Very informative. I agree with everything. But I also believe that despite the idea of separating church and state the founding fathers still wanted to create a christian government or at least a government based on the belief of God which is why the US currency says "in God we trust" and people are sworn in on the bible. Even the pledge of allegiance says "one nation under God".


All the Founding Fathers were dead when Salmon P. Chase had "In God We Trust" put on the money. Federal officials are not officially sworn in on the Bible. As I stated in a previous post, many chose to do so in a private unofficial ceremony. The words "one nation under God" were added to the pledge in the 1950's by a reactionary Congress trying to show that the US was better than the "godless" communists. If the Founders meant for this to be a "Christian Nation,"why did the man known as the Father of the Constitution write?

"Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together" ... James Madison (Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822).

"The genius of the Constitution rests not in any static meaning it might have had in a world that is dead and gone, but in the adaptability of its great principles to cope with current problems and current needs." -- Justice William Brennan: Speech to the Text and Teaching Symposium at Georgetown University (October 12, 1985)
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 07, 2009 - 9:25PM #23
hortonthrockmorton
Posts: 3,497
[QUOTE=Al-Fatihah;1003452]But I also believe that despite the idea of separating church and state the founding fathers still wanted to create a christian government



Believe what you want, but it's clear that the founders directly sought out to avoid a Christian theocratic government.  If they wanted a 'christian government', they knew how to do that.  They just had to look back to Calvin's Geneva as an example of a 'Christian government.'  Their government looked nothing like Calvin's Geneva.  They certainly intended nothing that would resemble in any way some kind of Christian Sharia.

or at least a government based on the belief of God



a 'government based on belief of God' makes no sense.  Simply believing in God provides no platform by which to construct a civil government.

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6 years ago  ::  Jan 07, 2009 - 9:28PM #24
peterthesplitfish
Posts: 1,609
Shalom Paine,

Here is Paine...Thomas Paine from Age of Reason Part I:

"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.

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise; they have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to the happiness of man, that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe."

"Soon after I had published the pamphlet Common Sense, in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion. The adulterous connection of church and state, wherever it had taken place, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, had so effectually prohibited by pains and penalties, every discussion upon established creeds, and upon first principles of religion, that until the system of government should be changed, those subjects could not be brought fairly and openly before the world; but that whenever this should be done, a revolution in the system of religion would follow. Human inventions and priestcraft would be detected; and man would return to the pure, unmixed and unadulterated belief of one God, and no more."

Peter M.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 08, 2009 - 7:27AM #25
Drwhite
Posts: 309
[QUOTE=Xristocharis;1002027]That's beside the point. The separation of Church and State is still the principle used in order to prevent a state endorsement of any religion instituted in America's founding documents.

-Jon[/QUOTE]

No, it is exactly the point. The founding father's set no such prinicple into being. It was Jefferson's belief that there should be a seperation, but the Constitution did not expressly set it in stone.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 08, 2009 - 8:08AM #26
TPaine
Posts: 9,380

DrWhite wrote:

No, it is exactly the point. The founding father's set no such prinicple into being. It was Jefferson's belief that there should be a seperation, but the Constitution did not expressly set it in stone.


Madison, who was the primary author of the Bill of Rights, also believed in Separation. There are numerous quotes that back up that assertion such as,

"Notwithstanding the general progress made within the two last centuries in favour of this branch of liberty, and the full establishment of it in some parts of our country, there remains in others a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Government and Religion neither can be duly supported. Such, indeed, is the tendency to such a coalition, and such its corrupting influence on both the parties, that the danger cannot be too carefully guarded against. And in a Government of opinion like ours, the only effectual guard must be found in the soundness and stability of the general opinion on the subject. Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together. It was the belief of all sects at one time that the establishment of Religion by law was right and necessary; that the true religion ought to be established in exclusion of every other; and that the only question to be decided was, which was the true religion. The example of Holland proved that a toleration of sects dissenting from the established sect was safe, and even useful. The example of the colonies, now States, which rejected religious establishments altogether, proved that all sects might be safely and even advantageously put on a footing of equal and entire freedom; and a continuance of their example since the Declaration of Independence has shown that its success in Colonies was not to be ascribed to their connection with the parent country. if a further confirmation of the truth could be wanted, it is to be found in the examples furnished by the States which had abolished their religious establishments. I cannot speak particularly of any of the cases excepting that of Virginia, where it is impossible to deny that religion prevails with more zeal and a more exemplary priesthood than it ever did when established and patronized by public authority. We are teaching the world the great truth, that Governments do better without kings and nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson: the Religion flourishes in greater purity without, than with the aid of Government" ... James Madison (Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822).

While it's true the words "Separation of Church and State" do not appear in the Constitution, neither do the words "Right to Privacy" yet that right has been found to be the intent of the Founders, and such decisions are based on the 14th, 9th, 5th, 4th, and 3rd Amendments.
Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists used the phrase which he borrowed from Roger Williams' quote, "hedge of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world."Rhode Island under Williams was the only colony that permitted real religious freedom.

"The genius of the Constitution rests not in any static meaning it might have had in a world that is dead and gone, but in the adaptability of its great principles to cope with current problems and current needs." -- Justice William Brennan: Speech to the Text and Teaching Symposium at Georgetown University (October 12, 1985)
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 08, 2009 - 12:54PM #27
Al-Fatihah
Posts: 1,347
[QUOTE=TPaine;1003551]All the Founding Fathers were dead when Salmon P. Chase had "In God We Trust" put on the money. Federal officials are not officially sworn in on the Bible. As I stated in a previous post, many chose to do so in a private unofficial ceremony. The words "one nation under God" were added to the pledge in the 1950's by a reactionary Congress trying to show that the US was better than the "godless" communists. If the Founders meant for this to be a "Christian Nation,"why did the man known as the Father of the Constitution write?[/QUOTE]

Response: This may be true but on three different occasions, Thomas Jefferson ordered for designated land for christian Indians for the promotion of christianity. (1787,1806 and 1807) Also, the bible was a required text in public schools.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 08, 2009 - 2:23PM #28
TPaine
Posts: 9,380

Al-Fatihah wrote:

Response: This may be true but on three different occasions, Thomas Jefferson ordered for designated land for christian Indians for the promotion of christianity. (1787,1806 and 1807) Also, the bible was a required text in public schools.


In 1787 Jefferson didn't have the power to designate anything. He was in France as the Ambassador. Where did you find this information? Madison, as POTUS, vetoed a bill that would provide funds to builf a church in Mississippi.

"Veto message, Feb 28, 1811, by . To the House of Representatives of the United States: Having examined and considered the bill entitled "An Act for the relief of Richard Trevin, William Coleman, Edwin Lewis, Samuel Mims, Joseph Wilson, and the Baptist Church at Salem Meeting House, in the Mississippi Territory," I now return the same to the House of Representatives, in which it originated, with the following objection:

"Because the bill in reserving a certain parcel of land of the United States for the use of said Baptist Church comprises a principle and precedent for the appropriation of funds of the United States for the use and support of religious societies, contrary to the article of the Constitution which declares the 'Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment" ... James Madison (Veto message, Feb 28, 1811)

Further, if the Founders intended that this be a Christian Nation, why did President John Adams sign and the Senate unanimously endorse the Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11 of which stated bluntly:

Art. 11. 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 Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

The Bible was used in schools as a reader since there were few books at the time in great enough numbers to provide to all the students who needed a common book.

"The genius of the Constitution rests not in any static meaning it might have had in a world that is dead and gone, but in the adaptability of its great principles to cope with current problems and current needs." -- Justice William Brennan: Speech to the Text and Teaching Symposium at Georgetown University (October 12, 1985)
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 08, 2009 - 2:49PM #29
amcolph
Posts: 17,692
[QUOTE=TPaine;1005458] The Bible was used in schools as a reader since there were few books at the time in great enough numbers to provide to all the students who needed a common book.[/QUOTE]

In addition, the population of the country was, in those times, substantially all at least nominally Protestant Christian, so there were few--if any--students whose religious sensibilities would have been offended by it.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 08, 2009 - 5:31PM #30
Summer813
Posts: 325
[QUOTE=Al-Fatihah;1003452]Response: Very informative. I agree with everything. But I also believe that despite the idea of separating church and state the founding fathers still wanted to create a christian government or at least a government based on the belief of God which is why the US currency says "in God we trust" and people are sworn in on the bible. Even the pledge of allegiance says "one nation under God".[/QUOTE]
Perhaps you missed it: as I noted earlier, people are NOT required to be sworn in on a Bible or on ANY sacred text.

So there goes one of your arguments.

Secondly, you need to go back and read what TPaine posted regarding the "in God we trust" on money, and thirdly, the Pledge of Allegiance wasn't even written until after all the Founders were dead, and it did NOT contain any mention of God at all. That was added during the 1950's in response to the whole "Red Scare" silliness, as it was thought that anyone who subscribed to Communism (and therefore to atheism, or so it was thought) would not be willing to say it and so the Pledge could be used as a tool to ferret out secret Communists... or whatever the McCarthyist thinking of the day was.
Shared pain is lessened, shared joy increased. Thus do we refute entropy. - Mike Callahan, Callahan's Crosstime Saloon
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