Why Does Thomas Paine Hate America?

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If you want to celebrate Thomas Paine Day in Arkansas, this has got to be a time that tries your soul.

The proposal by state Rep. Lindsley Smith, Fayetteville Democrat, to commemorate Jan. 29 as "Thomas Paine Day" failed in the state House of Representatives after a legislator questioned Paine's writings criticizing the Bible and Christianity. … state Rep. Sid Rosenbaum, Little Rock Republican, quizzed Miss Smith about Paine and quoted passages from Paine's book, "The Age of Reason," which Mr. Rosenbaum called anti-religious.

"He did some good things for the nation, but the book that he wrote was anti-Christian and anti-Jewish," Mr. Rosenbaum said. "I don't think we should be passing things out like this without at least debating it and letting people in the House know what we're voting on."

Or by, you know, lying about them. The Age of Reason isn't anti-Christian or anti-Jewish. It's anti-religion. "All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit." This is without question the most powerful document of Deism. (It's free right here, by the way.) Paine was basically turned into a pariah by the book, though, so this vote carries a kind of terrific irony.

I understand why legislators want to perpetuate the story that all of our founding fathers were Christians (budding Jerry Falwells, depending on who you ask). I don't understand the importance of believing that they all really dug church.

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  1. Because it’s all of a piece. Why paint Trotsky out of a painting? Because when you’re trying to shove your doctrine down people’s throats, the truth is an inconvenient little stumbling block that needs to be smoothed out of the way.

    It’s just a lot easier to accomplish with dead guys. (Just ask the Mormons who retroactively got Hitler into Heaven.)

  2. Well, Rosenbaum doesn’t seem to be interested in perpetuating the story that all our founding fathers were Christians, or he wouldn’t raise the subject of Paine’s anti-religious work.

    And I think you are splitting hairs to say that the book isn’t anti-Christian or anti-Jewish because it’s anti-religious, especially when Christianity and Judaism get name-checked in the blanket condemnation of religion. It would seem to me more accurate to note that it is anti-Christian and anti-Jewish because it is anti-religious.

  3. “The Age of Reason isn’t anti-Christian or anti-Jewish. It’s anti-religion.”

    Same thing, if you’re a member of the One True Religion.

    Suppose some impressionable youth (such as our friend from yesterday) were to actually read Thos Paine’s works based on this ill-advised commemoration, and be inspired to question things he has been told all his life. If he can question religion, might he not also question the necessity of government meddling in every aspect of life?

    The risk is too great.

  4. “All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish…”

    But look! He was against Islam too! Doesn’t that carry any weight? 🙂

    Thomas Paine’s Goiter, this thread is yours!

  5. I understand why legislators want to perpetuate the story that all of our founding fathers were Christians (budding Jerry Falwells, depending on who you ask). I don’t understand the importance of believing that they all really dug church.

    Because it helps us define who America’s allies and enemies are in an otherwise confusing world.

  6. Oh, yeah, and Paine’s real sin here is grouping Islam, the “bad” religion with Judiaism and Christianity, which are the “good” ones.

  7. Well, its Arkansas and much like Alabama, Missippi, Tennessee, Georgia (sans Atlanta) and South Carolina, I don’t give a rats ass what those bible thumpers do in their own state. We’ve got enough government holidays as it is already anyway, don’t need those lazy bastards finding yet another excuse not to work.

  8. Ah, the great Turkish religion…

  9. I understand why legislators want to perpetuate the story that all of our founding fathers were Christians … I don’t understand the importance of believing that they all really dug church.

    The latter can’t be true if the former is. It’s all about the money.

  10. “I don’t understand the importance of believing that they all really dug church.”

    I understand it just fine. It helps to propogate the widely held belief that America was founded as a “Christian Nation” when any one with common sense (pun intended) can see that it was not and that most of the evidence to support this myth was fabricated in the 1950s when the “Godless Communists” were our main enemies. Now that it’s Islamofacists this myth is handy once again.

  11. Marcvs,

    During the period in question, not only was Islam the state religion of the Ottoman Empire, but the Ottoman Sultan was considered the highest Muslim religious authority.

    Saying “the Turkish religion” was no more innacurate or confusing as refering to Catholicism as “the Roman religion” circa 350 AD.

  12. Micheal Novak interviews Havey Kaye on Book Tv about Thomas Paine here . Strange bedfellows, and an interesting interview. Apparently Novak isn’t all that concerned about Paine’s distaste for religion, in fact he gives him a lot of credit for convincing both the Protestants and the Catholics that it is their best interest to secede and form their own nation.

  13. As a banker, I whole-heartedly object to LIT’s suggestion that we have enough government holidays.

    That said, I guess Common Sense isn’t any more common today than under King George. There’s some cosmic lesson in that, I’m sure.

  14. I don’t understand the importance of believing that they all really dug church.

    Mr. Weigel,

    Do you even understand why Mr. Paine wrote “The Age of Reason”? Or the pamphlet, praised as instrumental in vitalizing the revolution for G Washington, at all?

    Isn’t it exactly because of those who insist on exactly these points of view, to oppose all those who would impose a christian sharia law on us? Those whom the libertarian movement embraces as “small government” conservatives, because they would like to transfer all power to religious authorities?

    I suspect your fimilarity with the human species, and it’s history is not a very deep one.

  15. Oh, relax, Johnny. Don’t go trying to slam the author of an article when your main points of protest are grammatically incomprehensible.

    Anyway, it would seem likely that legislators want the general populace to believe that the founding fathers all really dug church because they have vested interests in filling said church’s seats. A church can’t make money without pockets to empty filing in of a Sunday.

  16. Wait just one minute. Hitler went to Heaven?

  17. Just yesterday, Thoreau banished George W bush to hell, and Hitler is in heaven?

  18. The Age of Reason isn’t anti-Christian or anti-Jewish. It’s anti-religion.

    Well, not really. Read the actual quote below.

    “All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.”

    See the bolded term, there? It was anti-state religion, not anti-religion. And, you know, that’s kind of the way the Establishment Clause reads. Not that religious people should be banished from politics, but that the state should be banished from religion.

    And I say this as pretty much an agnostic, who has no use for social engineering from the right, left, or pulpit.

  19. Sorry, national didn’t bold.

  20. The liberals fall over themselves to piss on our founders (dead white slave owners), and now these idiots…

    Maybe the christian fundies and the islamic fundies need to get together and burn Paine in effigy. Finally, they can agree on something.

  21. Guys, the message here is that not everybody holds Thomas Paine in the same esteem that you do.

    If it’s that important to you, try to concvince others that Paine deserves to be honored. I don’t think “you’re stupid if you disagree with me” is going to work.

  22. Arkansas matters little.

  23. Maybe it’s just my opinion, but I have a feeling that Paine wouldn’t want to be honored by any of the current government entities in the United States.

    Most likely, he’d print something inflammatory against the current State and be thrown in jail in a month as an agitator and rebel.

  24. “The liberals fall over themselves to piss on our founders”

    No, not so much. If by liberals you mean the fucktards who skew left who are of the same ilk as the Falwells, Robertsons, Coulters, and Hannities on the right, which group I wouldn’t use a shorthand for “conservatives”, you might have some semblance of a point. I can’t think of a single liberal friend who is remotely interested in pissing on any founders for holding slaves. It was a non-starter back then, and even liberals realize that.

  25. Over the years it’s been apparent to me that those among us who find religion distasteful have burned the midnight oil to prove that the founders weren’t religious. Case in point is David’s use of the term story as a substitute to imply myth.

    Calling those dorks liars for stating that Age of Reason was Anti-Jewish and Anti-Christian seems like needless hair splitting. Sure, Age of Reason is anti-religious. And, by definition, Christianity is a religion, therefore…….Well, you know, it walks like a duck. RC Dean’s comment about state religion notwithstanding. Excellent point, BTW

  26. speaking of Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville has the only grad program specializing in school choice in the nation. So there ya go.

    The other obvious point (to me, anyway) is why do we need another holiday?

    In the old days Americans were pretty much against state sanctioned holidays and state built monuments. Seems like good sense to me. Let people make their own arrangements.

  27. “Mr. Thick Guy”:

    You exist in a very enlightened circle. Good for you.

    I happen to have first-hand experience of liberal academia “deconstructing” our founders… marginalizing them as “imperialists”.

    I’ve read accounts where high school textbooks are increasingly downplaying the accomplishments of our founders for the sake of “diversity”. Years ago one would study a whole chapter regarding Thomas Jefferson. Now he gets barely a paragraph.

    And do you have a real handle here, prick, or are you just going to hide?

  28. MNG-

    When somebody responds to you with “Mr. Thick Guy”, the proper response is “Thanks, how did you know?”

  29. t:

    Good one 🙂

  30. The other obvious point (to me, anyway) is why do we need another holiday?

    That’s not a point, really, but a question. The answer would be that we don’t have very many so perhaps a few more would be beneficial? There’s reason to think that Americans work too much and could benefit from a few more days off with pay.

  31. “If it’s that important to you, try to concvince others that Paine deserves to be honored. I don’t think “you’re stupid if you disagree with me” is going to work.”

    That’s pretty funny coming from a guy who’s only shtick is to condescendingly disagree with whatever the prevailing content of a thread is.

  32. That’s pretty funny coming from a guy who’s only shtick is to condescendingly disagree with whatever the prevailing content of a thread is.

    That’s because disagreement spurs much more interesting discussion than everybody just repeating the dogma. And it’s not like I come on here an insult people, I just point it out when I think they’re wrong.

  33. The whole “Christain Nation” thing makes me ill. Both sides lie and twist and take all kinds of things out of context trying to “be right” about it.

    Here’s what my research has led me to conclude:

    The founding fathers made up their own individual minds about religion(s). Many delibrately kept their mouths shut on the subject, others delibrately not. These were not a group of religiously “like minded” men.

    Individually:

    Paine – Atheist

    Washington – Closet atheist who payed lip service to christianity in speeches, etc.

    Jefferson – Deist who appreciated Christ’s philosophy but denied his divinity in writing.

    Adams – Unitarian heretic. Christian but certianly not a biblical literalist.

    Franklin – Deist.

    You know, come to think of it who were the solid “christian believers” among the founders? Madison?

  34. (Just ask the Mormons who retroactively got Hitler into Heaven.)

    Weirdest Godwin moment ever.

  35. That’s because disagreement spurs much more interesting discussion than everybody just repeating the dogma. And it’s not like I come on here an insult people, I just point it out when I think they’re wrong.

    This isn’t an argument. Its just contradiction!

  36. “That’s because disagreement spurs much more interesting discussion than everybody just repeating the dogma.”

    Normally, I’d agree with you. However, you’re so dogmatic in your disagreement that I see no purpose served by it. Rather than finding it fresh and spurring of new discussions, I think you’re really just playing the iconoclastic dissenter. Quite frankly, it’s tiresome.

    Far be it for me to attempt to psycho-analyze a troll, but there it is.

  37. You know, come to think of it who were the solid “christian believers” among the founders? Madison?

    And Madison wrote the first amendment because he thought that separation of church and state would be beneficial for religious believers and their organizations.

    Interesting that none of the first-tier figures in the revolution were fans of state-sponsored religion.

  38. Calling those dorks liars for stating that Age of Reason was Anti-Jewish and Anti-Christian seems like needless hair splitting.

    I don’t think so. Framing his statement as “anti-Christian” or “Anti-Jewish” as opposed to equal opportunity anti-religion makes his out to be a prejudiced bigot instead of a religious skeptic.

    By calling someone out as anti a particular religion when that someone was merely giving examples of religion in general, you fundamentally are trying to change the meaning of what the writer is saying.

    Calling someone anti-Christian and anti-Jew implies that you have a problem with those specific religions or a prejudice against them, as opposed to being against organized religion (or state sponsored) religion in general.

    I think a person of faith would be less offended by someone who is doesn’t believe in religion in general versus someone who hates their religion.

  39. ktc2,

    You only really gave examples of how people who believe we are a christian nation “twist the facts”. (By claiming that the founding fathers were religious christians) How does the opposite side (which I count myself on) do so?

  40. Sam B,

    I’ve seen people on both sides of the debate take statements out of context.

    Often folks eager to disprove the “Christian nation” line will misuse statements opposing state mandated religion in an attempt to make the person quoted appear non religious.

    It proves no such thing of course, only that they disapproved of state religions, which of course is really sufficient to disprove the whole “Christian nation” line of BS, but some just have to push it further than it really goes.

  41. ktc2–Although I am not sympathetic to the religious right, allow me to play Devil’s advocate for a moment. We were in fact a “Christian nation” at the time of the founding (although there is considerable debate about how many regularly attended church); it’s just that there were multiple sects and denominations and no one could come up with a statement of government support for Christianity that everyone could agree upon. Ironically, the most vocal opponents of any explicit statement in support of Christianity were the Baptists, who were a minority sect everywhere at the time, and feared getting the short end of the stick. The reason the religious right today gets some traction out of the argument is that there is no evidence that the founders intended for the government to be anti-religion, a la Paine and the French Revolution. So, they contend that teaching evolution is anti-religious, and their taxes shouldn’t have to support it. The problem has arisen largely because the role of government has become much more pervasive than it was in 1791. Back then, you could just move your community somewhere where you could make up your own rules, and no one would bother you as long as you followed certain broad principles of civil society. It’s too crowded to get away with that today. So, the argument about what the founders intended is really a red herring…the issues and context were completely different.

  42. I have to say, though, as much as I can’t stand fundies who try to hijack our founders’ intentions, I am not too fond of liberits who attempt to purge every iota of christian indentity from our culture.

    Sure, it’s mildly irritating having a stupid “Pledge of Alligiance”, but it’s not such an earth-shattering big deal. From my observations, of being a kid in public school, the kids mostly eye-roll and mumble their way through it. The “brainwashing” is not taking hold.

    And “In God We Trust” on our money? Not a big deal. But the liberits find some way to wet their pants over it.

  43. ktc2 (and I guess Ron should pay attention to this one too),

    Fair enough, I suppose I have observed this myself in small measure.
    One thing that many people do cite is the Treaty of Tripoli, which states that “As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion…” and goes on to state that there shouldn’t be any animus between America and Tripoly over religon.
    I wonder if you consider this another example of misuse? I could certainly see how some people might view it as America merely kowtowing to a more powerful Muslim state, and not at all reflective of how the founding fathers REALLY felt.

    PS I hope I’m not coming off as antagonistic here, this is something that interests me and I am actually hoping more to pick your brain than to argue.

  44. In his pamphlet, Common Sense, Paine demonstrated great courage and prescience. In fact, it bears directly on the current executive administration.

  45. Mr. Nice Guy,

    We still should note though that the phrase “under God” did not make its way into our pledge of allegiance until 1954. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pledge_of_Allegiance
    And the phrase “In God we trust” wasn’t found on any US dollar bill printed before 1957. (although on coinage much earlier) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_God_We_Trust
    I don’t think you should be so dismissive of these sayings. I find they are the most often repeated ones by people positing that we are a “Christian Nation”.

  46. Sam B: Well, of course it’s all about context, and the statement is not inconsistent with what I said. The founders deliberately chose not to specifically endorse ANY religion, so it is true that the government was not founded on the Christian religion. On the other hand, almost no one at the time would have endorsed Tom Paine’s formulation, either. The truth is that neither side’s argument is fully supported by what happened at the founding. It was a messy topic then, and it’s a messy topic today.

  47. Sam B

    If my memory serves me well the Treaty of Tripoli was begun under Washington’s administration, passed by the first congress and signed in the end by Adams.

    Now, I do believe it is a clear statement of intent that US federal goverment was in no way a “Christian Nation”. Regardless of if it was “kowtowing” as you put it to a stronger nation. Either: A) Our first presidents and legislature understood that the US was not a Christian Nation, or B) They were all willing to “deny christ” in writing from a little piratous intimidation.

    Take your pick, either way it doesn’t look good for the “Christian Nation”/all our founders were devout Christians folks.

  48. Ron,

    We were a Christian nation in the same sense as we were an English speaking nation or a Caucasion nation. Not as a point of law, just because the majority happened to be so.

    Yes, I agree most of the religion in government argument would be moot if we got the feds out of our daily lives.

  49. Ron,

    Forgive me then. I took your argument to be “We are a Christian nation, it’s just that the founding fathers couldn’t decide on which Christian sect to go with so they decided on none to avoid turmoil.”
    I agree with you of course and I’m not arguing here for the removal of religon as the Jacobins attempted. My point here though is that when those on the religious right call us a “Christian Nation” they DO mean to imply that we are a nation that has an official state religon and it is Christianity and some even go so far as to try and prove it has always been that way. THAT is what I am attempting to disprove here, although I should hope that I am in large part “preaching to the choir.”

  50. A follow-up point: At the time of the founding, there was considerable disagreement about whether the nation (as opposed to the government) was heading in a mostly secular direction, which is what Jefferson thought, or in the direction of more widespread Christian establishments throughout the country. In fact, in the early 1800’s a second great revival swept the country and Jefferson was proven wrong, at least in the short term. Looking at our society today, he might argue that he was right.

  51. “Yes, I agree most of the religion in government argument would be moot if we got the feds out of our daily lives.”

    Well I certainly agree with that, although I still maintain that most of this “Christian Nation” ballyho has its origins in the “Red Scare” of the 1950s, when the “Godless Communists” were the enemy and it is now recieving fuel from the fact that our current enemies (Islamofascists) are also antogonistic towards christianity.

  52. Sam B: Well, my point is a little more nuanced than that. I could construct an argument, as some I have heard on the Christian right do, that the founders would never have tolerated the promulgation by the government of teachings or beliefs that contradicted basic Christian principles. There is probably some truth to that argument, based upon my historical reading. Some historians have expressed it this way: In the U.S., the goverment was designed to allow freedom OF religion, whereas in France the government was designed to allow freedom FROM religion. A subtle difference, but critical to understanding the debate. The problem with the right’s argument, in my opinion is that it is impossible to extract the beliefs back then from their historical context. It’s apples and oranges.

  53. I mispoke. We were a caucasion nation by point of law. Bad analogy.

    I think the founders went as far as their times would allow distancing government from religion. Given today’s technology and knowledge I’d argue they would go further than they did.

    One could only go so far those days without ending up burned or lynched.

  54. Sam B: The other point is that the religious right, like many who become oppressors, express their motivation in defensive terms; i.e., the government is attacking MY religion, so I have to fight back. The secular left, and most libertarians, see this fear as irrational at best, and a mere sham at the worst. I tend to believe that the fear is genuine, wherein lies the rub: how do you deal with someone who you believe is acting irrationally? A much harder question for me than “how do you deal with someone who wants to enslave you?”

  55. Ron,

    I think more to the root of the issue then is: would the founding fathers have tolerated ANY “promulgation …of teachings or beliefs” religious or not. Where in the constitution does it allow for federal control of schooling?

  56. To illustrate my “historical context” argument, I would point out that most evangelical Christians at the time believed the Pope was the antichrist, and we were already experiencing the beginning of the apocolypse. At some point, bashing Catholics became sufficiently impolitic to cause the evangelicals (most of them, anyway) to come up with a new construct for the second coming. This re-invention continues to happen today–Hal Lindsey keeps pushing the rapture date back a decade at a time (going back to the 1960’s) and continues to sell books.

  57. Sam B: The founders clearly thought that the 10th amendment had more substantive purpose than anyone today was.

  58. Ron: Sad but true.

  59. Thomas Paine is the one intellect from whose writings I currently derive the most inspiration and validation of my own insights, especially in two respects: his devout Deism, and his advocacy of libertarianism tempered with progressive tax policies.

    Paine, the son of Quakers, follows his critique of revealed religion in the Age of Reason with the following: “How different is this to the pure and simple profession of Deism! The true Deist has but one Deity, and his religion consists in contemplating the power, wisdom, and benignity of the Deity in his works, and in endeavoring to imitate him in everything moral, scientifical, and mechanical.
    The religion that approaches the nearest of all others to true Deism, in the moral and benign part thereof, is that professed by the Quakers; but they have contracted themselves too much, by leaving the works of God out of their system. Though I reverence their philanthropy, I cannot help smiling at the conceit, that if the taste of a Quaker could have been consulted at the creation, what a silent and drab-colored creation it would have been! Not a flower would have blossomed its gayeties, nor a bird been permitted to sing.”

    As a practicing Quaker, I’m happy to report that modern Quakers have discarded their distinctive drab, plain-dress uniform of yesteryear, and no longer renounce art as they commonly did in the eighteenth century. Indeed, there are a number of musicians, painters, and artists in my own local Quaker meeting.

    Our nation was founded not on Judeo-Christian principles but on Deist principles (especially in the Declaration of Independence’s belief that the truth that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights is self-evident). Deism has a positive content (belief and trust in Nature’s God, and the moral importance of imitating the benevolence of the Deity) as well as a negative content (skepticism or agnosticism concerning revealed religion), and I for one approve of the continuance of that positive content (which does not contradict the Judeo-Christian tradition) in our public and political discourse.

    In Agrarian Justice, Paine advocated paying every citizen (wealthy or poor) upon attaining the age of 21 years a certain sum. This was not a matter of charity but of justice, according to Paine, as compensation for the loss, caused by the cultivation of land and consequent system of land ownership, of every person’s natural birthright to joint proprietorship in the earth (as would have been enjoyed in the natural state, and as in fact enjoyed by Native Americans in the lands not yet taken by European cultivation and development). The funds for these payments were to come from a system of inheritance taxes.

    Libertarians (of whom I count myself one), many of whom consider Paine a patron saint, would do well to take this concept to heart, if not the specific program advocated. One can be a libertarian and think government spending and taxes should be drastically cut, while also believing that those necessary taxes we do have should be progressive.

    Liberty is tied to property, and its tie is closest the less property an individual has. A young man in modern society can’t find himself a plot of ground, build a cabin or a tepee, plant some crops, and hunt and gather food from the surrounding area, because all the land has been deeded off to others. If he wants to survive and doesn’t have an inheritance, he’ll need to obtain employment from someone with money (maybe someone who inherited his money and with it the unearned power to command the indigent’s services), and to obtain decent employment in the modern world he’ll probably have to go into debt to obtain the necessary education.

    This inherently unfair and unfree state of affairs can and should be ameliorated with drastic tax relief that starts at the bottom of the economic totem pole. Eliminate all income taxes (for wealthy and poor alike), and fund the government with use taxes, consumption taxes, and as much inheritance and gift taxes as are needed to replace the income tax (or rather, a fraction of the former income tax in a drastically scaled down government).

    For another libertarian and capitalist proponent of inheritance and estate taxes, see Andrew Carnegie’s the Gospel of Wealth.

  60. “The other point is that the religious right, like many who become oppressors, express their motivation in defensive terms; i.e., the government is attacking MY religion, so I have to fight back.”

    Yeah, that always cracks me up. No, the facts are attacking your religion, science is attacking your religion, in short REALITY is attacking your religion. Perhaps that means something? LOL.

  61. What would one expect from a bible belt state? Wait till they find out that Thomas Jefferson cut up his bible.

  62. I wanted to clarify also that what makes Quakerism nearer to Deism than all other religions, and I think what Paine primarily had in mind in making the comparison, is Quakers’ reliance on the “Inner Light” (aka “Reason”) rather than scripture, by which all alleged divine authority of scripture must necessarily be judged.

    Quakerism’s advantage over Deism, for me, is that it actually constitutes a living community of “believers” with a venerable tradition, for our mutual benefit and support. Traditionally, it has regarded the Christian scriptures as divinely inspired, though it eschews credal forumulations of this belief and creeds in general, so that Quakers in modern meetings often have very different beliefs concerning, inter alia, the divinity of Jesus Christ.

  63. There’s reason to think that Americans work too much and could benefit from a few more days off with pay.

    What have holidays got to do with “days off with pay” other than in government and government-regulated industries? Every other business sees a holiday as an opportunity to have a [insert theme] sale and work harder.

    And Madison wrote the first amendment because he thought that separation of church and state would be beneficial for religious believers and their organizations.

    Amen.

    And besides the establishment clause we have Article VI:

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

    One would think that if the Founding Fathers wanted to set up a Christian Nation they would have reversed that provision, to say “Only Christians can hold office.” So why didn’t they?

    Whether or not the FFs were Christian, they certainly knew the recent history of the colonies. Groups like the Pilgrims, Puritans, Baptists, Anabaptists, and many others came to the New World in search of religious freedom. Why? Because every denomination that came here during the colonial period was fleeing the persecution of a Christian government.

    I am a lifelong Christian. And I believe that if the fundamentalist denominations get their wish that the U.S. secular government become a Christian government, it will be the worst disaster that could befall the U.S. and the churches within it.

    I think the FFs would agree.

  64. In support of holidays: the reason there are as few holidays as there are presently is the direct result of government and religion in collusion to limit the time available for individual pursuit outside the realm of church and state. Luther, Calvin, and proponents of the time, called for vast limitations on leisure time provided to the populace. Five days in service to the State, one day in service to the Church, and one day left to the individual…of course this one day has become a battleground for advertising and vendors to suck what little life a citizen may have left. More holidays=more down-time=less “progress”. Less holidays=more production=wrecked planet in less time/vast capital accumulated by the elite. Oh…this has taken to long…EVERYONE BACK TO WORK!!!

  65. Paine’s comment is being misread.

    You’re looking at this as an attack on religion.

    Actually, Paine was writing about the “national institutions of churches” — that is, GOVERNMENT-MANDATED churches, such as the Church of England.

    It does show a lot about your prejudices, though, that you come to a site which is opposed to government coercion, and overlook the government in favor of bashing religion.

  66. Maybe the dissenting legislators were thinking about passages like the following from Age of Reason:

    “We know nothing of what the ancient Gentile world (as it is called) was before the time of the Jews, whose practice has been to calumniate and blacken the character of all other nations; and it is from the Jewish accounts that we have learned to call them heathens.

    “But, as far as we know to the contrary, they were a just and moral people, and not addicted, like the Jews, to cruelty and revenge, but of whose profession of faith we are unacquainted. It appears to have been their custom to personify both virtue and vice by statues and images, as is done nowadays both by statuary and by paintings; but it does not follow from this that they worshipped them, any more than we do.”

    So it’s *not* anti-Jewish to say Jews are “addicted to cruelty and revenge” and that their “practice has been to calumniate and blacken the character of all other nations”?

    What if William Donohue said it?

  67. Why Does Thomas Paine Hate America?

    A: He’s seen what we’ve become.

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