Friday, April 06, 2007

Blog Against Theocracy

Some good folks have taken it upon themselves to try and express their alarm at the rising tide of theocracy. Visit their flagship site here.

You would think that anyone with even a cursory knowledge (like junior high civics) would realize that the separation of church and state is dealt with in the first amendment because, just maybe, the founders thought it was that important.

That's the big problem I have with the folks who want to institute their faith as the de jure faith of the nation. They don't have an argument with me, they have an argument with our founders. They are arguing with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Nathaniel Green, and John Stark. Very different men who held different, often individual beliefs. Many were Christians. Most people in the colonies at that time were some manner of Christian. Many of them had been living in colonies with a state sponsored religion. Benjamin Franklin had to jump through many legal hoops to get around the laws of Pennsylvania which favored the Society of Friends (Quakers). John Adams, while personally devout, had his scuffles with the institutionalization of the Congregationalist Church by Massachussetts.

One thing that the founders understood was that backing one sect through government is an essential and primal assualt on the liberty of the individual to follow the most personal and private of decisions.

Oddly enough, among the most fervent backers of the first amendment was the fledgling movement of the Baptists. They had seen their young sect relegated to the far fringes of the wilderness by the Anglicans in Virginia, the Quakers in Pennsylvania, and the stern Calvinists of New England. They had been told many times that their personal faith was grounds to deny them access to the public arena. They wanted to make sure that this did not happen.

George Washington said it very well when he was responding to the inquiry by the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island (the very first synagogue in the United States) asking if, as Jews, they might expect "tolerance" from our new nation.

"The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live in under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support."

It is not tolerance that I ask for in my spiritual choices. I demand, as my right in this country, liberty. The most basic liberty of all, liberty of the heart, liberty of the soul.

Jefferson once said "It makes no difference to me if my neighbor worships one God, three Gods, or forty Gods. It neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg."

This is where the choice for me becomes very simple. Who should I side with in this debate?

On the one side we have:

James Dobson
Jerry Falwell
Ralph Reed
Ted Haggard
George W. Bush
Karl Rove
Jimmy Swaggart
Oral Roberts
Aimie Semple McPhearson
William Jennings Bryan

On the other side we have:

George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Franklin
Alexander Hamilton
James Ogilthorpe
James Madison
James Monroe
Patrick Henry
Samuel Adams
John Stark
John Jay
John Marshall
Aaron Burr
Governuer Morris
William Morris
John Hancock




Blogger Deborah Newell said...

Hey, I go wherever Minstrel Boy goes, which is undoubtedly where Frank Zappa would have gone (and which is where everyone who can read should be, if they're honest).

Quoth Frank (at the end of his great song Heavenly Bank Account): Tax the churches. Tax the businesses owned by the churches.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Camera Obscura said...

I've always loved that quote of Jefferson's.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Sherry Pasquarello said...

great post, wonderfully written.

2:51 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

damn right the churches should be taxed. in the online game "jennifer government nation states" in my little country of east plug ugly, we do just that. when an issue came up about the flight of the churches from my country i, as el supremo harper, replied, "good." when scam artists like jim bakker are bilking millions of tax free dollars, when they use the word of god and the gullibility of the faithful to line their own pockets the least we can do is tax the living shit out of them.

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



- oddjob

2:28 PM  
Blogger Bing said...

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes."--Thomas Jefferson

Damn straight, Tommy!

Happy Jihad's House of Pancakes

8:59 PM  

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