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Rick Santorum Is Appalled By The First Amendment

In a speech earlier this week in Massachusetts, former Pennsylvania Senator and probable 2012 candidate for President Rick Santorum pretty much rejected the idea that the First Amendment means what it says:

In remarks to about 50 members of the group Catholic Citizenship — which encourages parishioners to speak out on issues of public policy — Santorum decried what he called the growing secularization of American public life.

He traced the problem to Kennedy’s 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, in which Kennedy — then a candidate for president — sought to allay concerns about his Catholicism by declaring, “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”

Santorum, who is Catholic, said he is “frankly appalled” by Kennedy’s remark.

“That was a radical statement,” Santorum said, and it did “great damage.”

“We’re seeing how Catholic politicians, following the first Catholic president, have followed his lead, and have divorced faith not just from the public square, but from their own decision-making process,” Santorum said.

The crowd responded with nods and applause.

Santorum’s comments, and his explicit criticisms of President Kennedy’s groundbreaking 1960 speech on the role of religion in politics, mirrors similar comments that Sarah Palin made in her most recent book, which prompted a response from one of Kennedy’s nieces:

In her new book, “America by Heart,” Palin objects to my uncle’s famous 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, in which he challenged the ministers – and the country – to judge him, a Catholic presidential candidate, by his views rather than his faith. “Contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for president,” Kennedy said. “I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president who happens also to be a Catholic.”

Palin writes that when she was growing up, she was taught that Kennedy’s speech had “succeeded in the best possible way: It reconciled public service and religion without compromising either.” Now, however, she says she has revisited the speech and changed her mind. She finds it “defensive . . . in tone and content” and is upset that Kennedy, rather than presenting a reconciliation of his private faith and his public role, had instead offered an “unequivocal divorce of the two.”

(…)

Palin fails to understand the genius of our nation. The United States is one of the most vibrant religious countries on Earth precisely because of its religious freedom. When power and faith are entwined, faith loses. Power tends to obfuscate, corrupt and focus on temporal rather than eternal purposes.

Somehow Palin misses this. Perhaps she didn’t read the full Houston speech; she certainly doesn’t know it by heart. Or she may be appealing to a religious right that really seeks secular power. I don’t know.

I am certain, however, that no American political leader should cavalierly – or out of political calculation – dismiss the hard-won ideal of religious freedom that is among our country’s greatest gifts to the world. As John F. Kennedy said in Houston, that is the “kind of America I believe in.”

It isn’t, however, that Santorum , Palin, and those like them believe in. To them, America was founded as an explicitly “Christian nation” and the Founding Fathers intended that our system of government and laws comply with the tenants of that religion. The problem for advocates of this theory, however, is that the historical evidence is all to the contrary and in fact quite supportive of the secular society based on freedom of religion that Kennedy spoke of in his speech.

As I noted in a post I wrote in December about Palin’s comments about President Kennedy, the historical evidence in favor of the “Christian Nation” hypothesis is sorely lacking:

In reality, the Founders were in fact more influenced by the writings of men like John Locke and Algernon Sidney than they were by anything in the Bible. Jefferson’s most famous phrase “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” came from Locke’s “Life, Liberty, and Property,” for instance. More importantly, at the time of the American Revolution, the natural rights tradition that the Founders relied upon owed more to the Greeks than it did to Christianity or theology:

In reality, neither Jewish nor Christian traditions know anything of the ideas of natural rights and social contract found in Hobbes, Gassendi and Locke. That’s because those ideas were inspired by themes found in non-Christian Greek and Roman philosophy. Ideas of the social contract were anticipated in the fourth and fifth centuries BC by the sophists Glaucon and Lycophron, according to Plato and Aristotle, and by Epicurus, who banished divine activity from a universe explained by natural forces and taught that justice is an agreement among people neither to harm nor be harmed. The idea that all human beings are equal by nature also comes from the Greek sophists and was planted by the Roman jurist Ulpian in Roman law: “quod ad ius naturale attinet, omnes homines aequales sunt” — according to the law of nature, all human beings are equal.

Moreover, the Founders own religious beliefs are far less orthodox that religious conservatives would like to believe. Jefferson, for example, was a Diest who believed in a Creator who played absolutely no role in the affairs of the world, and considered much of the New Testament to be mere superstitions, which is the reason he created his own version of the teachings of Jesus which completely deleted any reference to his being of Divine origin.

Additionally,  John Tyler, America’s 10th President made this point in a letter in 1843:

“The United States have adventured upon a great and noble experiment, which is believed to have been hazarded in the absence of all previous precedent — that of total separation of Church and State. No religious establishment by law exists among us. The conscience is left free from all restraint and each is permitted to worship his Maker after his own judgment. The offices of the Government are open alike to all. No tithes are levied to support an established Hierarchy, nor is the fallible judgment of man set up as the sure and infallible creed of faith. The Mohammedan, if he will to come among us would have the privilege guaranteed to him by the constitution to worship according to the Koran; and the East Indian might erect a shrine to Brahma, if it so pleased him. Such is the spirit of toleration inculcated by our political Institutions.”

And George Washington sent this message to a Hebrew Congregation in 1790:

“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 were 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 under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support … May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants — while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

History, in other words, makes it emphatically clear that while the Founders were for the most part religious men in keeping with the customs of their times (Jeffers0n and Franklin being notable exceptions to this), there is simply no evidence to suggest that they intended to create a nation whose government played any role at all in the religious lives of its citizens, or whether religion played any role in government. To borrow former Senator Santorum’s words, it isn’t President Kennedy who was radical when he suggested in 1960 that:

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the President — should he be Catholic — how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference, and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him, or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accept instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials, and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

The real radicals are Santorum, Palin, and those who agree with them that more than 200 centuries of history should be ignored in order create their idea of heaven on Earth.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Michael says:

    You really do like to write utterly pointless little articles.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  2. Another example of the US’s non-Christian-ness is our legal system. We explictly rejected the biblically derived Roman Law used in most of Europe in favor of Common Law, with its Norse (i.e. Pagan) roots.

    There’s a reason there’s a book of the Bible called Judges and not one called Juries.

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  3. Tim says:

    Apparently Doug Mataconis rejects the idea that the First Amendment doesn’t mean what it doesn’t say. You can wish all you want that the words “separation of church and state” were in there, but they’re not.

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  4. mardsden says:

    Fitting, then, Michael – because your comment is pointless.

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  5. terry says:

    if the words aren’t in there, Tim, does that mean we should be using biblical and other religious laws instead of secular ones? I sure hope not; the majority of biblical law is as awful as most of sharia law is.

    I prefer church and government remain separate. On the other hand, in the UK, where church and state are and remain one, the majority of the population are now atheists and agnostics.

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  6. G.A.Phillips says:

    Fitting, then, Michael – because your comment is pointless.

    No, yours is pointless. Michael has a point based on history and current events.

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  7. Ben Wolf says:

    Keep the holy Jeebus out of politics, please.

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  8. Ernieyeball says:

    Before the First Amendment there is Article VI:
    “This Constitution, (not your Holy Book)..shall be the supreme Law of the Land;..no religious Test shall ever be required…”
    Our Great Charter is a secular document.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. Bleev K says:

    I don’t see why we need to go so far to fight talibans when we have so many here.

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  10. TG Chicago says:

    @Mataconis: Did you mean to say “200 centuries” at the end there? I think the Santorum/Palin conception is backward, but I don’t know if you have to go back to the Stone Age.

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  11. Tlaloc says:

    Apparently Doug Mataconis rejects the idea that the First Amendment doesn’t mean what it doesn’t say. You can wish all you want that the words “separation of church and state” were in there, but they’re not.

    Very true. You know what words aren’t found in the second amendment? “Gun”, “pistol”, “handgun”, and “rifle”. So I guess we can go ahead and just outlaw all of those, you know, since it never said any of those words and all…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. tom p says:

    Art VI, para 3:

    “but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

    My favorite clause of the constitution. Why? Because it is so so clear in it’s meaning? No…

    Because every time I (or others) quote it, so many of you go whistling past the graveyard…

    Yeah GA, Tim, Stormy and Michael, the language is pretty clear, you can argue that Jefferson, Adams, Madison and Washington were idiots….

    Go ahead, do that.

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  13. Terence Elliott says:

    It’s “tenets” of religion, not “tenants”, for Christ’s sake.

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  14. Yeah GA, Tim, Stormy and Michael

    Why am I being lumped in with Tim, GA, and Michael?

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  15. Wayne says:

    Terry you mean those awful biblical laws like “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not steal”, and “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”? Yeah let’s do away with those. (Sarcasm)

    The first amendment was to grant “freedom of religion” and prevent the government from establishing that there is only one religion. The reason they did it was because many government\kings establish one official religion and punish those that did not practice it. That is why many came to the America.

    It was not to establish a guarantee that atheist didn’t have to deal with religion and religious people. It was not done to take away any reverence or practice of religion out of government. Congresses, Presidents and the court witnesses are sworn in using the bible. There are a large number of references to religious principle throughout our government and history. Ever heard of “in god we trust”? It is not in the Protestant or Catholic Church we trust.

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  16. Ben Wolf says:

    I’m sure Wayne is aware laws against theft and murder predate Christianity and Judaism by at least three thousand years. So yeah, getting rid of biblical laws would be just fine, considering they have somewhere between diddly and squat to do with a legalistic tradition descended more from Graeco-Roman culture.

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  17. Moosebreath says:

    Wayne,

    “Terry you mean those awful biblical laws like “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not steal”, and “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”? Yeah let’s do away with those. (Sarcasm)”

    Do you want the rest of the Ten Commandments enacted into law? Should working on the Sabbath be criminalized? Failing to honor your mother and father? Blasphemy? Coveting your neighbor’s wife?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. Scott Rose says:

    The frequency with which one encounters Americans reading through intelligent articles and then making utterly stupid comments is indicative of why we have so many Santorums and Palins regarded as authorities rather than as the flabbergasting nincompoops they in truth are.

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  19. Jane2 says:

    What Scott said.

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  20. Lgbpop says:

    I agree, keep the church out of politics and politics out of the church. I even agree with that enough to add Martin King, Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton (amongst others) to your pitiful, all-white list of Santorum, Palin et al.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. Paul says:

    All you need is one quote. From the man who came up with the first amendment and the separation of church and state.

    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

    -Thomas Jefferson, Letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut. January 1, 1802.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. [...] Doug Mataconis put it: To [detractors], America was founded as an explicitly “Christian nation” and the [...]

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  23. anjin-san says:

    > Terry you mean those awful biblical laws like “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not steal”, and “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”? Yeah let’s do away with those. (Sarcasm)

    So Wayne, do you follow all biblical law, or just the ones you think are cool? Here are a few:

    Leviticus 11:8, which is discussing pigs, reads “You shall not eat of their flesh nor touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.” Hope you don’t eat bacon or hot dogs. You might be headed south at some point.

    No tattoos. Leviticus 19:28 reads, “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.”

    Leviticus 19:19 reads, “You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.” (own any polyester clothing?)

    Timothy 2:9: “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments.” Does you wife or girlfriend have any jewelry? A designer dress? A hairdo? What are you doing with that un Godly sinner?

    > Leviticus 11:10 reads, “But whatever is in the seas and in the rivers that does not have fins and scales among all the teeming life of the water, and among all the living creatures that are in the water, they are detestable things to you.” Hope you have not had any clam linguini. Ever.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Kylopod says:

    @Paul

    I’m afraid that Jefferson had nothing to do with the First Amendment. The man who drafted it was James Madison, who did in fact use the phrase “total separation of the Church from the State” on at least one occasion. He also referred to the “separation between Religion and Govt in the Constitution of the United States.”

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  25. G.A.Phillips says:

    Arguing with athiests, sigh……

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  26. Gulliver says:

    Only an idiot argues with someone who believes that we should use a high moral code as a basis for our laws. The only way the left can justify it is by calling out a foolish argument – i.e. “If you believe in the moral laws of the Bible then you must be wanting to have a Theocratic government and therefore reject the Constitution. ” This is nonsense and reflects the left’s usual intellectual deficiency of thought and reason.

    The only way they can win an argument is to immediately change the context in an attempt to make any view that opposes them seem to be unreasonable and extreme. In fact it is their arguments which are extreme.

    All men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…”

    Deal with it.

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  27. G.A.Phillips says:

    Thomas Jefferson

    “The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend to all the happiness of man.”
    “Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus.”

    “I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.” [Letter to Benjamin Rush April 21, 1803]

    “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.” [Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781]

    “It [the Bible] is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.”
    [Jan 9, 1816 Letter to Charles Thomson]

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  28. G.A.Phillips says:

    All men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…”

    An awesome precedent!

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  29. G.A.Phillips says:

    Forgot to H/T this site. but here is some on Madison also…..

    http://www.eadshome.com/JamesMadison.htm

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  30. Kylopod says:

    >Arguing with athiests, sigh……

    If you consider an Orthodox Jew who just returned from megillah reading to be an “athiest,” then I suppose I’m an athiest. If not, I could dress up as one next year.

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  31. Kylopod says:

    @G.A.

    I’m well aware that Jefferson considered himself to be a Christian and considered Christianity to be the highest religion of mankind. What I’m wondering is whether you consider him to have been a Christian. He didn’t believe Jesus was divine, he didn’t believe in any of the miracles recorded in the New Testament, and in fact he published his own bowdlerized version of the Bible specifically removing any mention of those miracles. At the very least, his take on Christianity was highly unorthodox. Do you regard him as a true Christian, or an apostate?

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  32. Wayne says:

    Do I think we should follow all laws specific or perceived laws in the bible? No. The point is we do follow some and we should. Tell me what biblical law that someone is trying to pass that you disagree with?

    Christianity is many people’s guide to right and wrong. Should there be law saying you must be a Christian to be elected? No. However people shouldn’t be force to leave their faith at the door because they get elected. The idea that the government must be completely free of regions is B.S.

    People should have religious freedom as a citizen or as an elected politician.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. G.A.Phillips says:

    If you consider an Orthodox Jew who just returned from megillah reading to be an “atheist,” then I suppose I’m an atheist. If not, I could dress up as one next year.

    lolI was trying to irritate atheists.

    ,What I’m wondering is whether you consider him to have been a Christian. He didn’t believe Jesus was divine, he didn’t believe in any of the miracles recorded in the New Testament, and in fact he published his own bowdlerized version of the Bible specifically removing any mention of those miracles. At the very least, his take on Christianity was highly unorthodox. Do you regard him as a true Christian, or an apostate?

    You are way off into rewritten history land….

    My observations were made in evidence to the misquotation and false understanding… of certain statements and belief structures.

    You might want to re research why he cut up the bible and for what purpose….

    I could tell you who I think is preaching a non biblical doctrine?Was Jefferson a preacher or one of our founders who was moved by God to do some of the things he did and inspired.

    I hope to God that he was saved when he died.

    It is not for me to judge this for any man.

    As to the U.S.A being set up as a non Christian secular government, I say poppycock!

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  34. mattb says:

    Couple points… expanding on @Kylopod, there really isn’t one “brand” of Christianity. There wasn’t before the council of Nicea and there sure isn’t one today (try bringing hardline Evangelicals/Pentecostals, Catholics and Mormons into discussion).

    Further, following @Wayne:

    It was not to establish a guarantee that atheist didn’t have to deal with religion and religious people.

    This is a fundamental misrepresentation of Atheist arguments (I’m not one btw). Their argument is that they shouldn’t be asked to participate in it by public/government institutions. You can’t use the first amendment to make a Neighbor take down a nativity scene or a menorah. You can use it to argue against prayer within schools (note: part of the argument here is the question of the line between asking and forced participation).

    It was not done to take away any reverence or practice of religion out of government. Congresses, Presidents and the court witnesses are sworn in using the bible. There are a large number of references to religious principle throughout our government and history. Ever heard of “in god we trust”? It is not in the Protestant or Catholic Church we trust.

    But, again, the question here is one of tradition versus official sanction. Side stepping the question of “under god” in the pledge, you don’t need to be sworn in on a bible (See Keith Ellison for a notable departure). And should an atheist be elected to office, they could chose to be sworn in using a copy of the Constitution. Likewise, the use of a Chaplin is an “optional” choice — not a requirement. The moment any of that is required, then I think one can argue that the spirit and the law of the first amendment has be violated.

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  35. matt says:

    “under god” wasn’t added to the pledge of allegiance till the 50s around the same time “in god we trust” was first added to our money. Somehow we as a country survived for almost 200 years with e pluribus unum as our national motto..

    I also refer you to the Treaty of Tripoli 1796 which was voted on and signed by several of the founding fathers of this country..

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  36. matt says:

    The founders of this country were a mix of religious and non religious people so I don’t see what the problem is with the separation of church and state. Do keep in mind quite a few of the original settlers here were fleeing religious persecution..

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  37. Kylopod says:

    >My observations were made in evidence to the misquotation and false understanding… of certain statements and belief structures.

    If you’re implying that the Jefferson quotes you produced in any way contradict what I’ve been saying, you need to look at what he was saying again.

    Jefferson viewed himself as a Christian, believed in a God who doesn’t take an active role in human affairs, and regarded Jesus as history’s greatest moral teacher, but he explicitly rejected the supernatural doctrines of orthodox Christianity, including the Virgin Birth, the Trinity, and the divinity of Jesus. As he explained in a letter to John Adams:

    And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.

    >You might want to re research why he cut up the bible and for what purpose

    He explained it in a letter to William Short (italics added):

    But while this syllabus is meant to place the character of Jesus in its true and high light, as no impostor Himself, but a great Reformer of the Hebrew code of religion, it is not to be understood that I am with Him in all His doctrines. I am a Materialist; he takes the side of Spiritualism; he preaches the efficacy of repentance towards forgiveness of sin; I require counterpoise of good works to redeem it, etc., etc. It is the innocence of His character, the purity and sublimity of His moral precepts, the eloquence of His inculcations, the beauty of the apologues in which He conveys them, that I so much admire; sometimes, indeed, needing indulgence to eastern hyperbolism. My eulogies, too, may be founded on a postulate which all may not be ready to grant. Among the sayings and discourses imputed to Him by His biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others, again, of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same Being. I separate, therefore, the gold from the dross; restore to Him the former, and leave the latter to the stupidity of some, and roguery of others of His disciples. Of this band of dupes and impostors, Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and first corruptor of the doctrines of Jesus. These palpable interpolations and falsifications of His doctrines, led me to try to sift them apart. I found the work obvious and easy, and that His past composed the most beautiful morsel of morality which has been given to us by man. The syllabus is therefore of His doctrines, not all of mine. I read them as I do those of other ancient and modern moralists, with a mixture of approbation and dissent.

    So I ask, once again: do you consider Jefferson to have been a Christian?

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  38. James H says:

    I would say the argument is not nearly as cut and dry as it might seem to either side. For one: Was the argument at this nation’s founding regarding separation of state and church, or separation of the two only at the federal level? And then you get to something like the Massachusetts Constitution. In its original version, circa 1780, we find this passage:

    It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession or sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship

    All well and good and consistent with our understanding of free exercise. But consider the immediately following section:

    As the happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality; and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community, but by the institution of the public worship of God, and of public instructions in piety, religion and morality: Therefore, to promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies politic, or religious societies, to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily

    I know of at least one state constitution (North Carolina) that still places on officeholders a (now-unenforceable) religious test. And in the Confederate constitution, in many ways a mirror of the original US Constitution, the preamble reads, “and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity—invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God—do ordain and establish this constitution for the Confederate States of America.”

    I’m not trying to argue in favor of merging religion and state, mind you. In fact, I believe quite strongly in that separation. But it seems to me that we have been having this discussion all the way back to the founding of this country.

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  39. Paul says:

    @Kylopod

    Thomas Jefferson first came up with the idea of the separation of church and state in the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom written in 1777. James Madison gave a speech after the law was written supporting the law, but he did not come up with the idea. It was Jefferson’s idea.

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  40. Kylopod says:

    @Paul

    I was responding to your claim that Jefferson was “the man who came up with the first amendment and the separation of church and state.” He was the first person to articulate the idea that the Constitution mandates a “wall of separation between church and state,” but he had nothing to do with the drafting of the First Amendment itself, whereas Madison did.

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  41. Paul says:

    @Kylopod

    I was responding to your claim that “I’m afraid that Jefferson had nothing to do with the First Amendment.” He had a lot to do with it. He had the idea of one of the most important principles of the first amendment.

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  42. Kylopod says:

    Okay, I get what you’re saying. I was talking about the drafting of the amendment itself (and the larger Bill of Rights) and not its precursors. But you raise a very good point, that the Virginia Statute was the basis for the Establishment Clause, so it is certainly relevant that Jefferson was the first Founder to talk about separation of church and state, though it is also important that Madison talked about the concept too.

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  43. [...] Rick Santorum Is Appalled By The First Amendment (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

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  44. [...] Rick Santorum Is Appalled By The First Amendment (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

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