Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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Founding Fathers (and others) speak

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]hat_lights)

"As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?"
[John Adams, letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816]

"God has infinite wisdom, goodness and power; he created the universe; his duration is eternal, a parte ante and a parte post. His presence is as extensive as space. What is space? An infinite spherical vacuum. He created this speck of dirt and the human species for his glory; and with deliberate design of making nine-tenths of our species miserable for ever for his glory. This is the doctrine of Christian theologians, in general, ten to one. Now, my friend, can prophecies or miracles convince you or me that infinite benevolence, wisdom, and power, created, and preserves for a time innumerable millions, to make them miserable forever, for his own glory? Wretch! What is his glory? Is he ambitious? Does he want promotion? Is he vain, tickled with adulation, exulting and triumphing in his power and the sweetness of his vengeance? Pardon me, my Maker, for these awful questions. My answer to them is always ready. _I believe no such things_. My adoration of the author of the universe is too profound and too sincere. The love of God and his creation-delight, joy, triumph, exultation in my own existance- though but an atom, a molecule organique in the universe- are my religion".
[John Adams, in a latter to Jefferson, Sept. 14, 1813, from "Christianity and the Constitution: The Founding faith of our Fathers" John Eidsmoe ISBN: 0-8010-3444-2]

"I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy is more regarded than virtue. The scriptures assure me that at the last day we shall not be examined on what we thought but what we did."
[Benjamin Franklin, letter to his father, 1738]

"Remember me affectionately to good Dr. Price, and to the honest heretic Dr. Priestley. I do not call him honest by way of distinction, for I think all the heretics I have known have been virtuous men. They have the virtue of fortitude, or they could not venture to own their heresy; and they cannot afford to be deficient in any of the other virtues, as that would give advantage to their many enemies; and they have not, like orthodox sinners, such a number of friends to excuse or justify them.
Do not, however, mistake me. It is not to my good friend's heresy that I impute his honesty. On the contrary, 'tis his honesty that brought upon him the character of a heretic"
[Benjamin Franklin, letter to Benjamin Vaughan of England, in _Works, Vol.x._, p.365]

"Experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."
[James Madison, "A Memorial and Remonstrance", addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1785]

"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries."
[James Madison, 1803]

"We maintain therefore that in matters of Religion, no man's right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society, and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance...Because the proposed establishment is a departure from that generous policy, which, offering an asylum to the persecuted and oppressed of every Nation and Religion, promised lustre to our country, and an accession to the number of its citizens. What a meloncholy mark is the Bill of sudden degeneracy? Instead of holding forth an asylum to the persecuted, it is itself a signal of persecution...Distant as it may be, in its present form, from the Inquisition it differs only in degree. The one is the first step, the other the last in the career of intolerance."
[James Madison, response to a proposed bill introduced by Patrick Henry to tax Virginians to support the teachers of the Christian religion -- of *all* sects, which Washington also supported]

"The Bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed."
[The Theological Works of Thomas Paine]

"Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifiying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity."
[Thomas Paine, Age of Reason, pg. 186]

"The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institutions may be abused by human depravity; and that they may even, in some instances, be made subservient to the vilest of purposes."
[George Washington]

"There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness."
[George Washington, address to Congress, 8 January, 1790]

"When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion."
[Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President [1861-1865]. From Henry O. Dormann, compiler, The Speaker's Book of Quotations, New York: Ballantine]

"Fundamentalism isn't about religion, it's about power."
-Salman Rushdie

Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . . we need believing people."
-Adolf Hitler, who at least began as a devout Roman Catholic

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