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Posts Tagged ‘Founding Fathers’

I imagine it great vanity in me to suppose that the Supremely Perfect does in the least regard such an inconsiderable nothing as man.  More especially, since it is impossible for me to have any positive clear idea of that which is infinite and incomprehensible.  I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no worship or praise from us, but that he is even INFINITELY ABOVE IT.
  —  Benjamin Franklin
[I do not believe God expects or requires worship or praise from us, and yet I still give it freely.  God is infinitely above it, but I am not burdened by it nor beneath God in offering it.  My faith is in a loving God, and it suffices me.  —  KMAB]
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This sentiment is echoed again and again in the writings of the Founding Fathers.  Virtue brings happiness, vice unhappiness, both to the individual subject and to society in general.  The nature of virtue is not mysterious, to be comprehended only through Christian revelation; it is clearly evident in nature and discernible through the exercise of reason.
 

—  Brooke Allen
from her book: “Moral Minority

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Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and to observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us.
  —  James Madison
(from “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments“)
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What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the Civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny: in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people.  Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established Clergy convenient auxiliaries.
 

—  James Madison
(from “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments“)

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Yesterday, I developed a bad sore throat.  I made it through the work day, but it was getting progressively worse.  I woke up around 2:30am with difficulty breathing, unable to swallow, and what felt like sandpaper at the back  of my throat and a walnut under each of my jaws.  This morning I went to the doctor’s office and was told it’s viral not bacterial, so all I can do is continue to gargle and hang in there (lots of fluids and rest) for a few days and it’ll go away.
 

So today I completed “Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers“, written by Brooke Allen (2006©).  The book is about the religious beliefs of six of the “Founding Fathers” of the United States of America (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Adams).  If you’ll pardon the pun, the book has been a revelation to me!!
 

I had always assumed our Founding Fathers were highly religious (Protestant) Christians.  It seems this is mostly (but not entirely) untrue.  For example, Washington was an occassional church attendee, but he never participated in communion.  In fact, when communion was about to begin, he would stand and leave the service.  When confronted about this behaviour, he admitted he never considered it to be distracting to others attending the service.  Although he continued to occasionally attend services, he never attended another service where communion was to be offered.  The rest, although raised in Christian faith, appear to be mostly Deists.  The exception being Hamilton, who seems to have re-discovered Christianity late in life – but not early enough to have had it significantly affect his politics.
 

In any case, all were stridently against the mixture of Church and State, and so it seems strange to me to think the Religious Right in today’s America hold up the Founding Fathers as the guides in returning the United States to our religious and political roots.  It seems they (the Religious Right) either don’t read (or refuse to understand / believe) the history of our country.  Well, what else is new?  
 

After presenting a chapter on each of the six Founding Fathers, the book concludes with two chapters describing the world which produces the Founding Fathers and some of the turmoil and issues since 1787.  Both chapters are excellent overviews of the religious / political worlds before and after our Constitution and are worth the price of the book themselves.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in American History, Politics or the specific issue of the separation of Church and State.  Rest assured you will see numerous quotes from this book over the next few months…
 

And lest I forget to mention, this is one of the two books I purchased with the gift certificate my daughter Rebecca gave me for my birthday.  Thanks Bec, this book has brought me hours of enjoyable reading and reflective thought!!

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