The following is another short article in a series titled, what would the founding fathers do, or WWTFFD. The point of this exercise is to present a view based on the letters, quotes, books, and speeches of the founding fathers. Feel free to subscribe for more or email the author with additional information.
Cochise County— In 1814 Francis Scott Key coined the phrase, “In God is our trust.” And with that phrase the end of religious freedom sped quickly towards us. It began to appear on United States coinage in 1864, and than in 1954 after a long campaign by the Knights of Columbus “Under God” was legislated into the pledge of allegiance. Interestingly “God” is not found in the Constitution; in fact if it were not for the date “in the year of our Lord” it would never have been seen in the Constitution. In fact, the original Constitution bars any religious test to hold any federal office in the United States. Thomas Paine said it quite well in Common Sense (1776), “To God, and not to man, are all men accountable on the score of religion.” Later he went on to say, “As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of all government, to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which the government hath to do therewith.” Thomas Paine was a deist, and a moralist, and he understood that NO government should mandate anything other than the protection of religion.
Interestingly the modern argument by a beer bellied subset of the Conservative movement claims that this is a “Christian Nation.” Thankfully they are a relatively minor subset, after all the only thing more scary than a progressive bent on instituting the communist ideal is a religious zealot bent on instituting their religious ideals. Daily I am reminded that Muslims are the problem, and progressives are the problem, and yet no one “reminding” me can actually quote a thing out of the Constitution. They remind me that “under god” am on our money and in our pledge and I remind them that this was “legislated” illegally in 1954, this of course generally causes them to avoid any further debate. After all it’s the only prop they have; if there is more I am indeed waiting. Thomas Jefferson said it best, “The opinions of man are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction.” Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom – 1779
The First Amendment was meant to erect a wall of separation between “state and religion” it never said anything about separation of church and state. So what if a few legislators want to publicly pray, so what if the Ten Commandments are placed on a court house steps. All any constitutionally minded individual should really care about is that we are free to practice or not practice as we see fit. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Of course I am irritated when I see more Ten Commandments being erected, after all the Ten Commandments are followed by rules on how to kill those who disobey. Modern Christians only see the commandments they forget the rules of murder that follow them, public stoning, burning, hanging, and more. So let them publicly pray, or erect their billboards, after all I and many others like myself have the stores, theaters, and restaurants all to ourselves on Sunday morning, and Wednesday night!
What should be remembered is that this nation was founded specifically to provide freedom to its inhabitants. So why should Larry and Joan down the street be treated any differently by our government than Bob and Sue regardless of which god, gods, God, Gods, or none at all that they worship? This is the clear and resounding message sent by the founding fathers; this is what must be remembered as we approach our Independence Day. Everyone is free, if they are a citizen of this nation, and everyone should be free regardless. A local** resident said the following, “What I believe is personal why would I want to tell anyone else?” I agree fully, after all why is what we think so important that others must believe, follow, and do that?
I leave you with this last quote from Thomas Jefferson, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God.” Notes on the State of Virginia – 1782
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