First, I need to apologize for not posting for a little bit. ' />

It Doesn’t Take Common Sense To Know…The United States is a Secular Country

First, I need to apologize for not posting for a little bit. It was the weekend and then I had some dental work on Monday. Needless to say, I haven’t really been in the mood to type or even think of anything to write.

I must start by saying that this is a heavily debated topic, and I knone+nation+under+god It Doesnt Take Common Sense To Know...The United States is a Secular Countryow that it will either come under critical praise or criticism. To me, though, it is evidently clear that the United States is in fact a secular country. Obviously, that does not mean the United States doesn’t have religion. Quite frankly, it has more than it should. What I mean by saying the United States is a secular country is that our country is not founded on a specific set of religious values. Within the last few years, there seems to have been a resurrection of the idea that the United States is a Christian nation.There has been an unfortunate wave of Christian conservatism that has been embraced by a lot of people in this country and although it may be a minority, the people who are of this Christian conservative school of thought are in high and important places. The most recent controversy in the news is the CEO and owner of “Chick-fil-a” Dan Cathy making this statement: “The biblical definition of the family unit” and that he prays “God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about.” Now, obviously I am not calling the CEO of “Chick-fil-a” a powerful and influential person, but it’s controversies like this, that bring the issue of religion and faith in the United States into the public domain. I have already touched on some of the issues regarding gay rights and marriage in a post and can be found here, http://itdoesnttakecommonsensetoknow.blogspot.com/2012/07/it-doesnt-take-common-sense-to_17.html. That’s not what this post is about. Although the issues regarding gay rights and the religious and political oppression are important, this post’s focus is about emphasizing the fact the United States is not a Christian nation founded on Christian values, nor in any way intends to represent the values of Christianity.

sarah palin rick perry It Doesnt Take Common Sense To Know...The United States is a Secular CountryLets start with a pretty popular argument that seeks to prove the United States is a Christian nation. “The founding fathers were all Christian and founded this country and wrote our constitution using Christian values.” Now I can’t overstate how wrong that statement actually is. If you think that statement sounds wrong or made up here is a quote from Sarah Palin “Lest anyone try to convince you that God should be separated from the state, our founding fathers, they were believers”. How about Rick Perry: “America is going to be guided by some set of values…The question is going to be, ‘Whose values?'” He said it should be “those Christian values that this country was based upon.” Now I guess those aren’t the fairest examples of politicians who think the United States is founded on Christian values but the fact is one was a front-runner for the GOP nomination and the other was an ex-vice presidential candidate. Those quotes just highlight the people who persist in delusion and hold positions of power. The problem with the statement about the founding fathers and the Constitution is that they are simply not true. They are misguided and ignorant of the truth.

 It Doesnt Take Common Sense To Know...The United States is a Secular CountryIf we can focus just on the Constitution, it is evident to anyone who has actually read the document that it is in no way shape or form a religious document. I think that this is more than clearly evident by the wording and implementation of the first amendment of the Constitution. “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.” The key part is obviously, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. These are the first words of the Bill of Rights. In fact, that is the only time religion is even mentioned in the Constitution. The words God and Christianity are never mentioned. You would think that if the framers of the Constitution felt that Christian values were important to the establishment of this country and the Constitution itself, they might have mentioned something about it within the document. The truth is that the United States Constitution is one of the most truly secular founding documents ever written. I find it insulting when anyone claims that the Constitution is based on Christian values because it is just simply ignorant to even believe that. The best way to prove to me that you have not read the Constitution is to say that it was written using Christian values.

14texbooks 1 articleLarge It Doesnt Take Common Sense To Know...The United States is a Secular CountryMoving on to the next part of the argument which is: “Our founding fathers were religious men”. Now, I will concede that many of our founding fathers were religious men. Yes, some of them were very Christian, but all of them, being children of the Enlightenment, knew that separating religious values and ideas from government was paramount. They knew that power based on religious tyranny and oppression has not worked and will never work. They saw religion as an important expression of freedom, but that means all religions not just the Christian sort. Below is a list of quotes from the “highly religious” founding fathers and you be the judge about their faith, and if they wanted the United States to be a christian nation.

“The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs.” –Letter to James Smith, Thomas Jefferson

-The religion-builders have so distorted and deformed the doctrines of Jesus, so muffled them in mysticism’s, fancies and falsehoods, have caricatured them into forms so monstrous and inconceivable, as to shock reasonable thinkers, to revolt them against the whole, and drive them rashly to pronounce its Founder an imposter. Had there never been a commentator, there never would have been an infidel.” — Jefferson’s Letter to Timothy Pickering, Thomas Jefferson

-“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.” -in Poor Richard’s Almanac, Benjamin Franklin

“When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself so that its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil power, ’tis a sign, I apprehend, of it’s being a bad one.” Benjamin Franklin

-“In the affairs of the world, men are saved not by faith, but by the lack of it.” Benjamin Franklin

-“Can a free government possibly exist with the Roman Catholic religion?” -letter to Thomas Jefferson, By John Adams

“I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved– the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!”-letter to Thomas Jefferson, By John Adams

-“God is an essence that we know nothing of. Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there will never be any liberal science in the world.” John Adams

-“Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.” Thomas Paine

-“We do not admit the authority of the church with respect to its pretended infallibility, its manufactured miracles, its setting itself up to forgive sins. It was by propagating that belief and supporting it with fire that she kept up her temporal power.” Thomas Paine

-“This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.” John Adams

-“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. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.” Thomas Paine

I would like to be fair on this issue, but the evidence is glaring. There is nothing you can show me that would prove that the founding fathers weren’t atheists, deists, and agnostics. These men understood religious oppression and tyranny and sought to ensure that the country they founded would not have that. They were children of the Enlightenment, and understood the importance of having a secular document that ensured religious freedom without the document itself perpetuating a religious agenda. The Constitution of the United States is crafted so beautifully that it infuriates me when people, who have never read it, try to manipulate it to suit their religious ignorance, and seek to use it for their own political gain.

Now, many people have become alarmists about conservative Christians and religious extremists. These people are simply crazy. They will have their fifteen minutes, express their ignorance and get lost in shuffle with everyone else. Many atheists and agnostics look down at people who have faith because of the few extreme and crazy, and that is wrong. It is not a religion’s fault for the actions and words of a few. Unfortunately, it is the loudest and most extreme who get the publicity. Not every Christian in this country thinks that America was founded on Christian values or should be based on Christian values. The United States is a great nation not because of its faith, but its lack of faith. Because we are one of the few countries in the world whose founding document seeks to ensure the freedom of all religions and does not establish a specific faith to be its own. People can have whatever opinions they want, but that doesn’t mean they are right and that certainly doesn’t mean they should be law.

Written by: Salvatore Pezzino Jr.
Edited by: Julius Motal

About SalPezzino
Along with writing for ZazenLife.com, I also have my own personal blog called It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know.... Check it out @ http://itdoesnttakecommonsensetoknow.blogspot.com/

13 Responses to It Doesn’t Take Common Sense To Know…The United States is a Secular Country

  1. Frank Smith says:

    George Washington was certainly a deist, and he refused a priest while on his death bed.

  2. The wordings of the current oath of enlistment and oath for commissioned officers in the US Military are as follows:

    “I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

  3. “The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite, and these Principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer. And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young Men United, and which had United all Parties in America, in Majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence.

    “Now I will avow, that I then believe, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System.”
    –Adams wrote this on June 28, 1813, excerpt from a letter to Thomas Jefferson.

    “I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.”
    –The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, p. 385.

    “Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshipped.

    “That the most acceptable service we render to him is in doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them.

    “As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, is the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see;

    “But I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence, as probably it has, of making his doctrines more respected and more observed; especially as I do not perceive, that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any peculiar marks of his displeasure.”
    –Benjamin Franklin wrote this in a letter to Ezra Stiles, President of Yale University on March 9, 1790.

  4. Well, I disagree. 1) I can find counter quotes from every founding father about their religion and how Christian they were. 2) Prayer has always been the first thing the Congress that did. Continental or otherwise. 3) God is mentioned in the first sentence of the Constitution and The Declaration of Independence. He is mentioned by every President and Congress. He is inscribed on every monument in Washington. “In God We Trust Is our National Motto. The Armed Forces swear allegiance to America, the US Constitution, God and to the Commander in Chief.

    Do I have to go on?

    • SalPezzino says:

      First of all the first sentence of the Constitution does not mention god, second the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence alludes to Thomas Jefferson’s belief in a enlightenment interpretation of God. “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” Please take note of the phrasing “Laws of Nature and of Natures’s God entitle them” Thomas Jefferson, being a Deist believed in the Laws of nature and did not follow specific christian doctrine. That is constantly being taken and misinterpreted by the conservative right to prove Thomas Jefferson’s strong conviction to religion. The truth is Thomas Jefferson actually re-wrote or edited the Bible, its known as the Jefferson Bible, it is not a conspiracy theory of any kind its published, can be found in the library of congress, etc. The Jefferson Bible, Thomas Jefferson took away all of the miracles that Jesus Christ “performed” and as well as the miracles from the Old Testament. Jefferson believed that the bible as religious book was certainly useless at perpetuating a religion, but felt that the philosophical value found within the bible and teachings of Jesus Christ where useful from a philosophical perspective, hence the reason why he took it upon himself to edit the bible.

      Next when it comes to all of the magical contrary quotes that you found, they only reinforce my point by proving that some of the founding fathers where deists. Specifically this one, as from what I mentioned above “I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.” Thomas Jefferson believed in the teachings of Jesus Christ from a philosophical perspective not a Christian Perspective. Conservative Christians are constantly misinterpreting quotations from the founding fathers to prove that they were Christian men. If you take away the conservative christian lens you put on to look at those quotes you will see clearly that they are spoken from a deist or agnostic perspective. “Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshiped.” Deist quote not a christian quote!! If it was a Christian quote he would have said creator of the Earth. People back then where not thinking in universal terms. Only people who studied the texts from the enlightenment and enlightenment thinkers would say creator of the Universe. Please take a look at the Benjamin Franklin quotes closer, I have read a few books about him and by him. The letter you cited to prove Benjamin Franklin’s belief in Jesus Christ is classic Benjamin Franklin. He always wanted people to like him. Not meaning he was a vain person but he was non confrontational in the sense that if someone wrote him a letter about his opinions on the wonders of Jesus’ teachings then he was not going to reply with a contrary response. You can clearly see what he was trying to do in the sentence “As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, is the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see;. Take note “my opinion of whom you particularly desire”, Benjamin Franklin was replying to a letter from the President of Yale university, do you honestly think Benjamin Franklin was going to tarnish his image with the president of Yale, who obviously had a specific idea of Benjamin Franklin in his head. Before you attempt to think that what I said is my opinion please take it upon yourself to look up what people have written about Benjamin Franklin and his letters before you decide to quote them, that I am just simply reiterating what other people have said about Benjamin Franklin’s conflicting letters. Meaning Benjamin Franklin typically wrote what the person he was writing to wanted to hear.

      Finally to you comments to this “Prayer has always been the first thing the Congress that did. Continental or otherwise. 3) God is mentioned in the first sentence of the Constitution and The Declaration of Independence. He is mentioned by every President and Congress. He is inscribed on every monument in Washington. “In God We Trust Is our National Motto. The Armed Forces swear allegiance to America, the US Constitution, God and to the Commander in Chief.” Again I must prove you wrong. Prayer began opening congress in 1939, with the first full time Chaplin being appointed. So clearly not always. And yes you can cite times when congress may have said prayers before that, but it is certainly not a long standing tradition initiated by our founding fathers who would most likely recognize christian prayer in congress a violation of the first amendment. Of course God is mentioned by everyone he is a popular guy/lady. In God we Trust was not always national motto. Our National Motto was “E Pluribus Unum” which means “from many one” a fitting motto that George Washington carefully, choose. That motto can be seen on the dome of the United States Capital building. In God We Trust was established in 1956 by Dwight D Eisenhower, as a clever trick to try and weed out the godless communists in the United States. Along with adding prayer to classrooms, printing in god we trust on money, inserting it into the pledge of allegiance (which did not have god in it before 1956), the motto of the armed forces and putting god just about everywhere else to scare the commies and creating a generation of idiotic christian conservatives who persist in the delusion that this is a Christian Nation. You quoted it your self “So help me God.” (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).” Look at the citation “replacing the wording first adopted in 1789″ it didn’t have god in it before 1962. What document went into effect 1789? HMMM!! I don’t know the Constitution of the United States. God was added to everything in the United States in the middle of the 20th Century. So everyone born,1950 and beyond thinks the country was always like that, and now people who can’t see past there own faith consider the United States a Christian Nation all because of a group of scared, ignorant, religious politicians in the fifties.

      Do I have to go on?

      • Well, you are wrong. Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, nearly half (24) held seminary or Bible school degrees. George Washington certainly was a Christian and his devotion to prayer and reverence for the Bible set a standard among his own men and the US military to this day.

        He wrote “While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
        –The Writings of Washington, pp. 342-343.

        Further John Hancock- first signer of the Constitution also expressed his Christian beliefs:
        John Hancock
        1st Signer of the Declaration of Independence

        “Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. … Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.”
        –History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.

        Patrick Henry- the famous Colonial orator whose ‘Give me Liberty or Give me Death’ speech is credited with being a major catalyst for the Revolutionary war stated the reasons for his speech as being Christian in origin:

        “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”
        –The Trumpet Voice of Freedom: Patrick Henry of Virginia, p. iii.

        ************
        YOU are correct of course in identifying Jefferson, Franklin and others as being Deists- but it is a common misconception today that being a Deist somehow deviated from belief in the Bible.. In fact. Franklin, Jefferson and intellectuals others of their time were Christian Deists.

        Christian deism incorporates Christian tenets. Christian deists believe that Jesus Christ was a deist. Jesus taught that there are two basic laws of God governing humankind. The first law is that life comes from God and we are to use it as God intends, as illustrated in Jesus’ parable of the talents. The second law is that God intends for human beings to live by love for each other, as illustrated in Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan.

        In short without Christianity- Deism would not exist – and without Deism- Thomas Jefferson and other intellectuals of his age would have never dared to revolt against English Tyranny. And the United States of America would never have existed.

        Need I go on?

        • SalPezzino says:

          “I will concede that many of our founding fathers were religious men. Yes, some of them were very Christian, but all of them, being children of the Enlightenment, knew that separating religious values and ideas from government was paramount.” I said this in the original post, but the founding fathers were intellectual enough to know that incorporating religious values into a new government would not work. Rebelling against religious tyranny, they would NEVER use a specific set of religious values to establish the founding document of this country. You show me an article or amendment of the Constitution that promotes or establishes christianity as the official religion of the United States then you win. I never said George Washington wasn’t a devout christian, I simply said that he choose the motto of this country to be “E Pluribus Unim”, which proves he was more then capable of separating his own personal beliefs from what he thought was best for this country.

          To think that the United States would not have existed without christianity or deism is just plain arrogant and stupid. How could you even infer that notion. These were intellectual men who were perfectly capable of rationalizing the need for freedom and separation outside of the realm of there own personal beliefs. They new that separating personal beliefs from practical government was key. It is evidently clear in the careful wording of the United States Constitution, furthermore there is no way you could possibly conclude anything other then that if you have actually read the United States Constitution.

          Finally to the quotes that you so carefully choose. I have already mentioned that many of the founding fathers were religious men. I never said that they were all agnostics, deists, and atheists, I will always concede that many of them were devout christians. To be fair I did say this “I would like to be fair on this issue, but the evidence is glaring. There is nothing you can show me that would prove that the founding fathers weren’t atheists, deists, and agnostics.” I worded it completely wrong and I have already requested the editor change it, it should say “many of the founding fathers” not “the founding fathers”.Its the conservative chrisitans who would like to believe that all of the founding fathers were chrisitans. Even then, that does not prove a single thing about how they developed the Constitution. Unlike religious leaders today our founding fathers were capable of writing a document that was completely void of any unnecessary religious values and beliefs.

          The heart of my argument from the original post is that this country was not founded on religious values. Its clearly evident in the Constitution. There is nothing within the Constitution that establishes Christianity as the official faith of this country, nothing that alludes to christian values being the inspiration for specific articles and amendments, and nothing promoting or denouncing specific faiths or creeds. It is simply not there. I hate to break it to you but, the Constitution is a secular document, always has been a secular document, and unless religious idiots somehow change the document, it will always be a secular document.

          Don’t be arrogant by saying “need I go on” especially when you are wrong and perpetuating ignorant beliefs.

          Like this “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Patrick Henry never said that. He never said or wrote those words. Before you Google (founding fathers religious quotes) you really should look to see if they are accurate first. I don’t disagree with you that Patrick Henry was a religious person, hell if he had his was the United States would be a Christian nation where people needed to pay taxes to support churches. FYI, Henry wanted to do that but because Thomas Jefferson basically told him to STFU that didn’t happen. Patrick Henry refused to sign the Constitution and fought not to have it ratified. Even though he didn’t support it he still ended up signing it anyway because he thought it was best for the country.

          Next the reason why many of the founding fathers degrees were considered “seminary degree’s” because Yale and Harvard were seminary’s before they became Universities. So before you get information from people like David Barton, you should know that he considers any degree from Harvard or Yale a seminary degree. The only reason I know that everything you wrote is wrong and probably taken from him, is because I have debated with David Barton before and you basically said the same bullshit that he claims including the Patrick Henry quote. The key though to knowing you got stuff from David Barton is because he only says 24 even though, using Bartons standards its 27. The reason he doesn’t say 27 is because he would have to include Thomas Paine, who was a confirmed atheist.

          Do I have to continue proving you wrong and tearing apart you argument’s?
          (FYI this is how you close an argument in the most pretentious way possible)

          • Christianity is the major reason America was colonized in the first place.
            As for the rest of your argument. well reasoned, well argued, but wrong.

            • SalPezzino says:

              I get and understand that you don’t want to continue the circular arguing, I don’t want to either. Can I ask though what I am wrong about? If it was well reasoned and well argued, what do you think I am wrong about? Colonized is completely different from established. I mean I will agree with just about everything you say about the pilgrims and everything that happened in the colonies before the mid 1700’s. But once the enlightenment hit this country really changed.

              • I would say your overall premise is wrong. You seem to believe that Christianity was just a fluke of history at best and an unhappy accident that America owes little to in both its national origin and creation of its civil government. Further that Christian ideals somehow became incidental to the founding fathers and they could give a toss about them either way.

                I would submit for your consideration- that until the present day- Christianity was so very much a part of the fabric of our national consciousness that if you were to suggest to the founding fathers that they weren’t Christian and that the ideals they were fighting for were not Christian in origin then they would probably turn away in disgust.

          • Also never heard of this fellow David Barton fellow. Anything i know about Christianity I get from four guys named Matthew, Luke, John and Mark.

  5. brett says:

    First off this is a great, well written article on a very touchy subject. I think what happens with these people is that when they’re thinking ” this country was founded by christians blah blah blah”,they’re refering to the pilgrims. The problem is they completely ignore the fact that theoretically the country didn’t start until after the revolutionary war. It makes sense though of why they’d like them since they are the christian extremists of their time…i mean they are a great example of why society should be run on religious values…oh you’re a man who likes men? he’s a witch!! burn him at the stake!!

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