Are Politics and Religion
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Mutually Exclusive ?
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[ this page was viewed as many as
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When faith and reason collide,
can both survive the crash?

Has anyone else noticed how both Liberals and Conservatives complain loudly about "mixing of politics and religion", but only when that mixing benefits the other side?  Attribute this behavior to dishonesty if you will, but as often as not, it may simply be a result of honest confusion over issues that are – by their nature after all – extremely confusing?  Is there anyone who can deny that "religion", on the one hand, is a very complicated matter; and that, on the other hand, "politics" is no less complicated?  Just imagine not only trying to hold onto these two complexities in each of your hands, but then trying to juggle them, along with all the other concerns of life!  Tough, isn't it?  Now add to the situation that you are doing all of this in competition with opponents who are trying to make you fail at the endeavor! 
        We Liberals Like Christ believe we have some valuable insights to offer on this matter, both from the civic and from the religious perspective:

Click HERE for
the CIVIC reasons

why – despite "the wall of Separation between Church and State," religion cannot and should not be separated from politics.
Click HERE, for
the RELIGIOUS reasons

why the claim made by many pious Christians that "religion has no business getting mixed up with politics" is contrary to what both the bible and US history teach us.

The CIVIC Perspective

Most well-informed Americans agree that our two century experiment with the "separation of Church and State has proven rather conclusively that it is best for both when our civil governments and our churches have virtually no control over each other.
       But, that does not mean that "faith" and "politics" – as opposed to "Church" and "State" – can and should be assigned their separate areas of concern and be required to "mind their own business".
        Whose business would it be, for example, to give people guidance on the morality of matters like war, justice, crime, the treatment and punishment of convicts, gambling, sexism, child labor, homelessness, immigration, pornography, prostitution, poverty, marriage, spousal abuse, child abuse, adultery, abortion, discrimination against minorities, ethics, drug addiction, unfair marketing practices or marketing of unsafe products, social contracts, labor practices, unemployment, consumer issues, building codes, banking practices, environmental degradation, human rights, vast inequalities of wealth, private vs. public property?
        Only those who confuse "religion" with "church", and "politics" with "state", can try to prevent the inevitable overlapping of religion and politics.  While there are relatively few issues where the overlap isn't obvious ( as in building codes and traffic matters, perhaps ),  most issues clearly are a matter of both religious and political concern. Long after I wrote the above, Howard Fineman published a book, in 2008. in which he wrote "If you cover politics, as I do, or write a book about political history, as I’ve just done ("The Thirteen American Arguments," Random House), you know that we separate church and state, but not faith and politics." I can't help but wonder if he came across this web site.
        Einstein said something of physical science that may be true of political science, namely , "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." ('Science, Philosophy and Religion' 1941.)

founding fathers

The realm of
the Religious

( "Spiritual"
or "Eternal" )

The realm of
the Secular

"Natural" or

At the Personal level
the ethical, spiritual, and
spiritual values that motivate
people as individuals,
whether they be rulers or
voters cannot be separated
from one another :

while Values cannot be separated



At the public level,
the many institutions
designed to pursue various
secular and / or religious
values must be prevented
from interfering
with one another :

Institutions must be kept separate.



Is not "politics," in its original meaning, simply the way in which the public life of the people ("polis" in Greek) is organized?  A community's "politics" may be determined by the people themselves ( in the various types of democracies ), or imposed on it by other persons or groups ( in the various types of "dictatorships" – benevolent or otherwise ).
        Although the word "religion" can be restricted to those whose world view includes supernatural entities, the word can also be extended to include whatever view a person has of his or her place relative to the rest of mankind and the rest of the world.  Even if one's "world view" has no room for any supernatural entity, that world view serves the function of one's "religion".  Mario Cuomo points out that this is the view of the Supreme Court, "Most non-lawyers, maybe even most lawyers, would assume that the word religion necessarily implies a belief in a god, perhaps even monotheism.  Not so.The word religion has been defined by the Supreme Court quite clearly to include belief systems like secular humanism, Buddhism, ethical culture — belief systems, which, by and large, reject the notion of God." { in Religion on the Stump: Politics and Faith in America, Oct., 2002).
        The point of contention is when people organize themselves into various religious groups, just as they organize themselves into various political entities, .  As we all know, all that effort to embody religion has resulted in a great variety of institutions called "churches", "mosques", "temples" and the like, just as there are a variety of states.  Rivalries and competition naturally arise between these various religious institutions, just as there are rivalries and competition among political institutions, at all of their various levels.  Mankind has gradually learned the hard way that it is best for people not to let these various individual religious institutions forcibly dominate other religious institutions, not to let the various states forcibly dominate other states, and not to let the various religious institutions or political institutions dominate each other.
        So long as they don't try to get political servants to take sides in the competition among religious institutions, there is nothing wrong with citizens promoting their particular religious values.  Neither is there anything wrong with politicians paying attention to the religious sentiments of voters, so long as they don't do anything to either favor or oppose any particular religious institution over others.
        The principles are the same for all "special interests", not just religious interests.  Public officials shouldn't show preference for private groups on the basis of age, ethnicity, gender or class, either.  But where no one would suggest that politicians should even attempt to ignore age, gender, class or ethnicity, there are many who mistakenly believe that politicians should ignore the religious opinions and sentiments of voters.  For a significant number of voters, "religion" may be even more important than "politics".  Political candidates (or party activists) who don't take into account the religious convictions and passions of their constituents are as sure to loose elections against opponents who do, as politicians would be if they were rash enough to ignore the occupation, the gender, the ethnicity or the social class of voters!

While private morality is none of the government's business, because it has to do only with the individuals in question, public morality is pretty much what government is all about.  Think about it, isn't the justification for government getting involved with any activity the fact that the activity in question impacts the public?  Abraham Lincoln said that the government is the organization of people to do for one another collectively what they could not do as well or at all individually and privately.  The Judicial branch of government deals with public immorality after the fact, investigating public wrong-doing, arresting the "perps", passing judgement, and punishing appropriately.  The Legislative branch of government, on the other hand, deals with public immorality before the fact, trying to prevent public wrong-doing, by defining it and establishing penalties to either deter wrong-doing or punish it.

The Religious Demographics of American Politics
shows why Liberal Democrats have the most to gain
from the participation of true Christians in America's politics.

See the fantastic "Bushflash video" on
the Republican Party's disdain for
the Separation of Church and State

And here's a great article about the religious views of our first seven presidents, The Founding Fathers were not Bible-thumpers.

"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics
do not know what religion is. " – Gandhi

The Bible

The Religious Perspective :

Politics and the Bible

Many people who have the view that "religion has no business getting mixed up in politics" mistakenly believe that just because the word "politics" isn't used in the Bible, there is no place for politics in their religion and vice versa.  The word "politics" is often used these days to refer to the competition for votes, and in that sense, politics is fairly new.  In the "good old days", of course, politicians didn't need to compete for votes because it was either inheritance that determined who "lorded it over" others, or brute force.  Inheritance may have avoided the messy "politics" that we are used to in countries like America today, but history is replete with examples of plots and wars being fought either to prevent people from inheriting high office or to remove them after they were crowned.
        The truest meaning of the word politics, however, isn't the competition for positions of public service, but the exercise of public service, i.e.  governing, and in that sense, the Judeo-Christian Bible is crammed full of "politics" from cover to cover.  Open the Bible at random, and your chances of not finding references to politics in that sense on that particular page are slim.  The Hebrew Bible is mostly about the political as well as religious history of the nation of Israel.  To see how and why politics, in the best sense of the word, is so central to the Hebrew Bible (or "Old Testament"), see LiberalsLikeChrist.Org/GODvsGreed.

Some Christians think that Jesus was too lofty a person to be associated with something as earthy as "politics".  They says things like, "Christ is apolitical.  He would be neither Republican or Democrat."  or "He wouldn't be a politician."  Why not.  Was he not a man?  If he chose to be a Jew, and a Galilean 2000 years ago, why couldn't he have been a Republican or a Democrat, if he chose to return as an American in our day?  If he could get dirty hands and feet and have to relieve his bowels every day or so, why is it inconceivable that he could view one political party as much more deserving of support than others?  Most of the Gospels are devoted entirely to the three years of Jesus' "public" and political life.  (Even the infancy narrative involves political intrigue by the local King to have Jesus killed before he could threaten Herod's throne.)  When the Gospels had nothing to say about the private life of Jesus, they filled the void by concentrating instead on his cousin, John the Baptist, who went public before Jesus and suffered death at the hands of the politicians before Jesus did.  Many Christians don't recognize how much of the public life and preaching of Jesus had to do with "politics" because they fail to realize that the "scribes", the "lawyers" and the "priests" with whom Jesus did battle constantly were not just the religious rulers of his day.  They were the "political" rulers as well, at the local level.  Apart from requiring the collection taxes (by Jewish locals) and building roads and forts to use in preserving and/or extending the Roman empire, the Romans had little interest in the day-to-day management of local affairs.  All of that the Romans left to the local clergy, something not unheard of even today in less developed areas of our world. 
        Rev. Jim Wallis, of Sojourner, wrote an excellent article on this subject in late 2003.

        Another famous Gandhi quote on this subject is "My politics is my religion, my religion is my politics".

" Render unto Caesar . . ."

IMHO many who quote Jesus on this score miss the point entirely.  Many use this passage, for example, in support of the separation of Church and State.  Here is the passage and its important context, from Matthew 22: 15-22 :

Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?"
    But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" They answered, "The emperor's." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

First of all, readers of this passage need to underestand what this "testing" was all about. The context is that the Jews were under the domination of the Romans. Nobody likes paying taxes, but having to pay taxes to support a government that worships Caesar instead of Yahweh, Oiveh! These politicians expected to use Jesus' answer to either arouse the pious Jews against Jesus or the Roman authorities against him. Jesus came up with a clever answer, one which got him out of the hot water his opponents had put him in, but what are the ramifications of these words over time? Did Jesus believe and teach his followers to believe that they should always cooperate with whoever is in charge? That may be what Paul of Tarsus taught very explicitly and unequivocally in Romans 13, but I don't think that was Jesus' intention here. My own guess is that Jesus recommended "rendering to Caesar that which is Caesar's", because he anticipated the alternative, i.e. the destruction of the whole Jewish nation by Caesar, which is in fact exactly what took place just a few years later.
        So how do Jesus' words apply to our own very different times and places? Not only is Caesar dead, but we have replaced him!  In most Christian countries, it's we the people who govern through the representatives whom we elect to govern in our name. So we don't need to render our taxes and our services to some foreign "Caesar".

Why America shouldn't be a "Theocracy"

Literally, the word "theocracy" means "government by God".  But in reality, theocracies always end up being government by God's surrogates, i. e. the clergy, because God hasn't been known to "micromanage" the world much since creating it.  From the beginning of time, all kinds of clergy have claimed God (or gods) as the author of policies which they the clergy administer.  In a modern country like America, there are two reasons why the clergy should not be involved in the management of "secular" affairs :
1) One is that there are now at least 3 or four major competing faiths and hundreds of divisions within those faiths, so that domination by the clergy of any one of those faiths would be a problem for all the others.
2) And more importantly, the realm of "secular" public affairs in developed societies has grown tremendously since the days when people rarely got together for anything but religious events.

       Pious people need to be careful not to be taken in by cynical politicians like the crafty senator in ancient Spartacus, who when asked about why he was going to sacrifice a bird at the temple, said:  "Privately, I believe in none of the gods.  Publicly, I believe in all of them."

        Hitler was a modern version of that senator.  As John Cornwell pointed out in his sensational book, "Hitler's Pope, The Secret History of Pius XII", and which inspired a good deal of our LiberalsLikeChrist.Org/RCscandal.html page :

"Hitler had two views on the churches – public and private.  In February of 1933 he was to declare (his public relations position) in the Reichstag that the churches were to be an integral part of German national life.  Privately, the following month, he vowed to completely 'erardicate' Christianity from Germany.  'You are either a Christian or a German,' he said.  ' You cannot be both."  (pp. 105-06)

Before Pacelli's Reich Concordat of 1933 with Hitler, Germany's Catholic "Center Party" was one of the only serious obstacles left for the National Socialist Party to overcome in its quest for complete control of Germany.  Thanks, however, to that " pact with the devil", the Papal Nuncio Pacelli (the future Pius XII) acceded to Hitler's demands that the Church keep its clergy and membership "out of politics", in exchange for the State staying out of "purely religious" or "celestial" matters.  ( Both "Church" and "State" ended up being defined by the NAZI rulers, as earthly and celestial. )  Soon thereafter, the Center Party, along with every other Catholic organization that might be considered "political" was persuaded to close shop and / or "stay out of politics".
        One of these, the very politically active "Catholic Peace Union", had numbered about 40,000 members, even counting among its members and / or leaders some of the bishops of Germany.  It would have been expected that many of these would have refused to wear the NAZI uniform, even before they learned how truly evil Hitler and his NAZI war machine could be.  But by the end of the war a total of only seven brave exceptions, out of a total of perhaps 14 million Roman Catholic men, are known to have refused to serve in the NAZI Führer's war machine.  (pp. 105-6). This is what can happen when "religion" is kept out of "politics" entirely.
        Hitler persuaded the Christian churches that it was in their interest to cooperate with him, because he pretended to care about religion, by saying things like :

"Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has 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, April 26, 1933, from a speech made during negotiations leading to the NAZI-Vatican Concordat of 1933).
        Regarding the specific matter of church-state relations, he said,
        "Political parties has nothing to do with religious problems, as long as these are not alien to the nation, undermining the morals and ethics of the race; just as religion cannot be amalgamated with the scheming of political parties." [Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1, Chapter 3] (Translation:So long as religion sticks to irrelevant "celestial" matters and stays out of questions like the morality of mistreating innocent people because of their race, then church and state can live peacefully in their own respective spheres, i.e. THIS life which is Hitler's business, and the NEXT life, which Hitler left to the clergy.)
        "For the political leader, the religious doctrines and institutions of his people must always remain inviolable; or else he has no right to be in politics, but should become a reformer (preacher), if he has what it takes!"  [Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1, Chapter 3]

Alexis de Tocqueville had this unique insight on the role of religion in America's public life :
        "Religion in America, takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must be regarded as the first of their political institutions…I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion – for who can search the human heart?  – but I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions.  This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or to a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society."

"Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer a difficult question: Why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly"? ~~ Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

Conservative Christian "scholarship" regarding Church and State in America :

In order to make the case that Christianity is entitled to preferential treatment in the United States, some so-called Christian scholars publicize arguments about American history that demonstrate that they are either uninformed, dishonest or possibly both. The following material comes from the Snopes page, but is presented here in a format designed by Ray Dubuque to make the contrast between falsehood and truth more obvious.
        "Although the intent of this piece is presumably to demonstrate a government endorsement of Judeo-Christian tradition through the symbols and words used in U.S. federal buildings and the writings of America's founding fathers, nearly all of the information it presents is inaccurate or — when taken in its proper context — misleading."

Regarding this section of artwork on the U.S. Supreme Court building

the Frieze
THIS column presents
the phoney scholarship
of Conservative Christians.
THIS column shows
what TRUE scholarship reveals:

Totally uninformed Conservative writers tell their followers:
    "As you walk up the steps to the Capitol Building which houses the Supreme Court you can see near the top of the building a row of the world's law givers and each one is facing one in the middle who is facing forward with a full frontal view— It is Moses and the Ten Commandments! "

    "The United States Capitol does not house the Supreme Court of the United States.  The Supreme Court has met in its own building since 1935.
    The two representations of Moses which adorn the Supreme Court building both present him in a context in which he is depicted as merely one of several historical exemplars of lawgivers, not as a religious figure.
    The depiction referred to here is a sculpture entitled 'Justice the Guardian of Liberty' by Hermon(sic) A. McNeil, which appears on the eastern pediment of the Supreme Court building. (The eastern pediment is the back of the Supreme Court building, so this sculpture is not something one would see 'walking up the steps to the building which houses the Supreme Court.' The front entrance is on the western side.) The sculpture was intended to be a symbolic representation of three of the Eastern civilizations from which our laws were derived, personified by the figures of three great lawgivers: Moses, Confucius, and Solon (surrounded by several allegorical figures representing a variety of legal themes):
    McNeil described the symbolism of his work thusly: 'Law as an element of civilization was normally and naturally derived or inherited in this country from former civilizations. The 'Eastern Pediment' of the Supreme Court Building suggests therefore the treatment of such fundamental laws and precepts as are derived from the East. Moses, Confucius and Solon are chosen as representing three great civilizations and form the central group of this Pediment.

THIS column presents
the phoney scholarship
of Conservative Christians.
THIS column shows
what TRUE scholarship reveals:

    "As you enter the Supreme Court courtroom, the two huge oak doors have the Ten Commandments engraved on each lower portion of each door. "

The doors of the Supreme Court courtroom don't literally have the "Ten Commandments engraved on each lower portion" — the lower portions of the two doors are engraved with a symbolic depiction, two tablets bearing only the Roman numerals I through V and VI through X. As discussed in the next item, these symbols represent something other than the Ten Commandments."

"As you sit inside the courtroom, you can see the wall right above where the Supreme Court judges sit a display of the Ten Commandments!"

"The wall "right above where the Supreme Court judges sit" is the east wall, on which is displayed a frieze designed by sculptor Adolph A. Weinman. The frieze features two male figures who represent the Majesty of Law and the Power of Government, flanked on the left side by a group of figures representing Wisdom, and on the right side by a group of figures representing Justice:
    According to Weinman, the designer of this frieze, the tablet visible between the two central male figures, engraved with the Roman numerals I through X, represents not the Ten Commandments but the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, collectively known as 'the Bill of Rights'.
    The friezes which adorn the north and south walls of the courtroom in the Supreme Court building (also designed by Adolph Weinman) depict a procession of 18 great lawgivers: Menes, Hammurabi, Moses, Solomon, Lycurgus, Solon, Draco, Confucius and Octavian (south wall); Justinian, Mohammed, Charlemagne, King John, Louis IX, Hugo Grotius, Sir William Blackstone, John Marshall and Napoleon (north wall):
    According to the Office of the Curator of the Supreme Court of the United States, these figures were selected as a representation of secular law:
    Note that Moses is not given any special emphasis in this depiction: his figure is not larger than the others, nor does it appear in a dominant position. Also, the writing on the tablet carried by Moses in this frieze includes portions of commandments 6 through 10 (in Hebrew), specifically chosen because they are not inherently religious. (Commandments 6 through 10 proscribe murder, adultery, theft, perjury, and covetousness.)

Uninformed preachers only get away with the claim that the Ten Commandments ( Exodus 20: 1-17) are the inspiration underlying the U.S. Constitution when they are blessed with an audience of "believers" who have never read that Constitution, which has little to do with any of these Ten Commandments of the Bible:

  1. "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me"The name of the Lord is not mentioned in the Constitution, not even in the Oath which it requires of the president "before he enter on the Execution of his Office." in Article 2, Section 1. The First Amendment protects the free exercise of all beliefs and forbids establishing any one faith over others.
  2. "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain."(Not in the Constitution.)
  3. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.(Not in the Constitution.)
  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.(Not in the Constitution.)
  5. "Honor thy father and mother".  (Not in the Constitution.)
  6. "Thou shalt not kill".  (Not in the Constitution.)
  7. "Thou shalt not commit adultery".  (Not in the Constitution.)
  8. "Thou shalt not steal". [ Part of every legal system before as well as after biblical times.]
  9. "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor".  (Not in the Constitution.)
    ( What about "Thou shalt not bear false witness about these Commandments" ?)
  10. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife".  (Not in the Constitution.)
  11. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's".  (Not in the Constitution. ]

In a debate with Marvin Olasky, the militant atheist Christopher Hitchens asked the significant question: "Prior to receiving these commandments on Mt. Sinai, did the Jews think that murder, lying, stealing and cheating were OK?" (or do people naturally know right from wrong, when and where it matters?)

Quotes from the Founding Fathers
on the Separation of Church & State :

While both sides argue as though their's was an open and shut case, the truth is much more complicated than those at either extreme tell
their followers, when they trot out only those quotes that support their side.

Quotes appearing to

Support   MINGLING

of Church & State :
Quotes appearing to


of Church & State :

"The first President, George Washington, knew the decision to call for independence from England was momentous.  Washington was known as a Christian man.  On June 1, 1774, as the colonies were seeking God's will as to whether they should rebel against certain English laws, he wrote in his diary, '. . .  went to church and fasted all day.'
        We have today Washington's personal prayer book, 24 pages in his own handwriting.  In it he wrote, 'It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.'
        George Washington wrote a prayer addressed to 'O most glorious God, in Jesus Christ' and ended it like this:
        . . .  'Let me live according to those holy rules which Thou hast this day prescribed in Thy holy word . . .  Direct me to the true object, Jesus Christ the way, the truth and the life.  Bless, O Lord, all the people of this land.'
Washington also said:
        'Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.'
        [ These would be powerful quotes if authentic. But this unbiased source points out that they aren't: badquotes.htm.]

        In a 1792 letter, George Washington wrote : "I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society."
        "George Washington never declared himself a Christian according to contemporary reports or in any of his voluminous correspondence.  Washington Championed the cause of freedom from religious intolerance and compulsion.  When John Murray (a Universalist who denied the existence of hell) was invited to become an army chaplain, the other chaplains petitioned Washington for his dismissal.  Instead, Washington gave him the appointment.  On his deathbed, Washington uttered no words of a religious nature and did not call for a clergyman to be in attendance."
From: George Washington and Religion by Paul F. Boller Jr., pp. 16, 87, 88, 108, 113, 121, 127 (1963, Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, TX)
says that G. W. "was extremely aloof from all religions, while being friendly to them all."

"John Adams was the second President and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  On June 28, 1813, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, he said, 'The general principles, on which the Fathers (the founders of America) achieved independence, were the only principles in which that beautiful assembly of young gentlemen could unite. . .  And what were these general Principles?  I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects (denominations) were united. . .'
( probably source for the above: "Donald Lutz, in his book The Origins of the Constitution, says that in analyzing the public writings from 1760 to 1805 of those who founded this country, the Bible was the most often quoted book. )

John Adams wrote:

'Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.'
        'We have no government armed with power capable of contending with passions unbridled by morality and religion.'
        'Statesmen may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.'

Here's another quote erroneously attributed to John Quincy Adams:
        'The greatest glory of the American Revolution was this: It connected in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity. . .  No book in the world deserves to be so unceasingly studied, and so profoundly meditated upon as the Bible.'

John Adams, the country's second president, was drawn to the study of law but faced pressure from his father to become a clergyman.  He wrote that he found among the lawyers 'noble and gallant achievements' but among the clergy, the 'pretended sanctity of some absolute dunces'.  Late in life he wrote: 'Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!' and
he wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1817 :
        "Oh! Lord! Do you think that a Protestant Popedom is annihilated in America? Do you recollect, or have you ever attended to the ecclesiastical strifes in Maryland, Pennsilvania, New York, and every part of New England? What a mercy it is that these people cannot whip and crop, and pillory and roast, as yet in the U.S.! If they could they would." (i.e. if they ever get the chance, they will.)
        It was during Adam's administration that the Senate ratified the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which states in Article XI that 'the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.'
From: The Character of John Adams by Peter Shaw, pp. 17 (1976, North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC) Quoting a letter by JA to Charles Cushing Oct 19, 1756, and John Adams, A Biography in his Own Words, edited by James Peabody, p. 403 (1973, Newsweek, New York NY) Quoting letter by JA to Jefferson April 19, 1817, and in reference to the treaty, Thomas Jefferson, Passionate Pilgrim by Alf Mapp Jr., pp. 311 (1991, Madison Books, Lanham, MD) quoting letter by TJ to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, June, 1814.

Thomas Jefferson, the man "blamed" for the wall of separation between church and state said:
        '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.'



Jefferson nickle

Thomas Jefferson, third president and author of the Declaration of Independence, said:'I trust that there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die a Unitarian.'  He referred to the Revelation of St.  John as 'the ravings of a maniac' and wrote:
        The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ levelled to every understanding and too plain to need explanation, saw, in the mysticisms of Plato, materials with which they might build up an artificial system which might, from its indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit, power, and pre-eminence.  The doctrines which flowed from the lips of Jesus himself are within the comprehension of a child; but thousands of volumes have not yet explained the Platonisms engrafted on them: and for this obvious reason that nonsense can never be explained."
From: Thomas Jefferson, an Intimate History by Fawn M. Brodie, p. 453 (1974, W.W) Norton and Co., Inc.  New York, NY).  Quoting a letter by TJ to Alexander Smyth Jan 17, 1825, and Thomas Jefferson, Passionate Pilgrim by Alf Mapp Jr., pp. 246 (1991, Madison Books, Lanham, MD) quoting letter by TJ to John Adams, July 5, 1814.
        '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.' – Thomas Jefferson (letter to J.  Adams April 11,1823)

'In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty.  He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.'
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814

        'The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machinery of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man.'
–Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Jeremiah Moor, Aug. 14, 1800

        'Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and 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 and State.'
–Thomas Jefferson, Letter to the Danbury (Conn.) Baptist Association, January 1, 1802

        'Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion.  The several sects perform the office of a censor morum over such other.  Is uniformity attainable?  Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity.  What has been the effect of coercion?  To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites.'
–Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781

        'Your sect, by its sufferings, has furnished a remarkable proof of the universal spirit of religious intolerance inherent in every sect, disclaimed by all while feeble, and practiced by all when in power.  Our laws have applied the only antidote to the vice, protecting our religious as they do our civil rights, by putting all men on an equal footing.'
–Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Mordecai M. Noah, May 28, 1818.
for more, see :

– James Madison, letter objecting to the use of government land for churches, 1803
        '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 of the gift of God?'
        'No power over the freedom of religion [is] delegated to the United States by the Constitution.'

        James Madison, fourth president and father of the Constitution, was not religious in any conventional sense.
        'Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.'
        'During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial.  What have 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.' From: The Madisons by Virginia Moore, p. 43 (1979, McGraw-Hill Co., New York, NY)  quoting a letter by JM to William Bradford April 1, 1774, and James Madison, A Biography in his Own Words, edited by Joseph Gardner, p. 93, (1974, Newsweek, New York, NY)  Quoting Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments by JM, June 1785.
        "Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?" from Memorial and Remonstrance

        Erroneously attributed to James Madison:
       'We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not on the power of government. . . [but] upon the capacity of each and every one of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.'
        [This quote, has been circulated widely by right-wing propagandists like David Barton. Yet, according to researchers at the University of Virginia where his writings are kept, it appears nowhere in the writings of Madison.  So, until a reliable source for it is found, this quote should be considered bogus.]

        Another quote erroneously attributed to James Madison:   'Religion is the basis and foundation of government.'
        [See complete expose at tnppage/misq2.htm ]
        [ We have David Barton and William J. Federer to thank for this misquote.  See detailed exposé at /tnppage/misq5.htm]

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of Church & State :

    "Patrick Henry, that patriot and Founding Father of our country said, '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'. "

    "Another spurious quotation. These words appear nowhere in the writings or recorded utterances of Patrick Henry."

    "Every session of Congress begins with a prayer by a paid preacher . . . whose salary has been paid by the taxpayer since 1777."

    "Congress has indeed retained paid (Christian) chaplains since 1789 (not 1777) to open sessions with prayer and to provide spiritual guidance to members and their staffs upon request. (But) This practice was strongly opposed  by James Madison at its inception."

The constitutional propriety of Congressional chaplains has been challenged in an August 2002 lawsuit filed in federal district court by Michael A. Newdow, (the California man who won a federal appellate court decision against the use of the phrase 'under God' in public school-led recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance). The case is still pending."

First chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Jay, wrote:
        'Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty . . .  of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.' (1816)

Justice David Brewer said this:
        'This is a religious people.  This is historically true.  From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation . . .  We find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth . . .  These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.'  (1892)
( According to Alan Keyes, Republican presidential candidate in 2000. Sources not provided.)

As recently as 1952 Justice William O. Douglas wrote:
        'We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.'

        Even liberal Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, wrote in 1954:
        'I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses . . .  Whether we look to the first Charter of Virginia . . .  or to the Charter of New England . . .  or to the Charter of Massachusetts Bay . . .  or to the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut . . .  the same objective is present . . .  a Christian land governed by Christian principles.  I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it: freedom of belief, of expression, of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice under law, and the reservation of powers to the people . . .  I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion.  I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country.'

'Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the Foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth?  That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?'
        'Unless the great God who assisted [President Washington], shall be with me and aid me, I must fail.  But if the same omniscient mind, and Almighty arm, that directed and protected him, shall guide and support me, I shall not fail . . .  Let us pray that the God of our fathers may not forsake us now.'- Abraham Lincoln

Thomas Paine was a pamphleteer whose manifestos encouraged the faltering spirits of the country and aided materially in winning the war of Independence:
        '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. . .  Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.'

From: The Age of Reason, by Thomas Paine, pp. 8,9 (Republished 1984, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY)

Ethan Allen, whose capture of Fort Ticonderoga while commanding the Green Mountain Boys helped inspire Congress and the country to pursue the War of Independence, said,
        'That Jesus Christ was not God is evidence from his own words.'  In the same book, Allen noted that he was generally 'denominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed, being conscious that I am no Christian.'  When Allen married Fanny Buchanan, he stopped his own wedding ceremony when the judge asked him if he promised 'to live with Fanny Buchanan agreeable to the laws of God.'  Allen refused to answer until the judge agreed that the God referred to was the God of Nature, and the laws those 'written in the great book of nature.'
from: Religion of the American Enlightenment, by G. Adolph Koch, p. 40 (1968, Thomas Crowell Co., New York, NY.)  quoting preface and p. 352 of Reason, the Only Oracle of Man and A Sense of History, compiled by American Heritage Press Inc., p. 103 (1985, American Heritage Press, Inc., New York, NY.)

Benjamin Franklin, delegate to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, said:
        'As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion. . . has received various corrupting Changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his Divinity; tho' 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.'  He died a month later, and historians consider him, like so many great Americans of his time, to be a Deist, not a Christian." 
From: Benjamin Franklin, A Biography in his Own Words, edited by Thomas Fleming, p. 404, (1972, Newsweek, New York, NY)  quoting letter by BF to Ezra Stiles March 9, 1790.

"The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma."
Abraham Lincoln

    "Fifty-two of the 55 founders of the Constitution were members of the established orthodox churches in the colonies."

    "The diverse beliefs and religiosity of America's founding fathers is a complex subject, one which cannot be so neatly encapsulated by an (inadequately substantiated) statement such as the one quoted". . .
(at the left).

Interesting sites and articles relating to Church and State :

God on the ballot,

by Alex Johnson, MSNBC Reporter, Sept. 15, 2004
        The religious right's contention that America was established as a "Christian nation" simply does not square with history.  An excellent and scholarly resource on this subject can be found in Robert Boston's  "Why the Religious Right is Wrong About Separation of Church and State", 2nd Edition, Prometheus Books, 2003 and online at A Critique of David Barton's "America's Godly Heritage", by the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs.
and there's another very good critique at
from which the following is excerpted:
        "Christian nation" propagandist David Barton has issued a statement conceding that the following twelve quotations attributed to prominent historical figures are either false or at best "questionable" (meaning that there is no proof that they are accurate). His own observations about the quotes are in parenthesis.

  1. "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 (questionable)
  2. "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible."
    – George Washington (questionable)
  3. "Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise. In this sense and to this extent, our civilizations and our institutions are emphatically Christian."
    – Holy Trinity v. U.S. [Supreme Court] (false)
  4. "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, nor upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves ... according to the Ten Commandments of God."
    – James Madison (false)
  5. "Whosoever shall introduce into the public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world."
    – Benjamin Franklin (questionable)
  6. "The principles of all genuine liberty, and of wise laws and administrations are to be drawn from the Bible and sustained by its authority. The man therefore who weakens or destroys the divine authority of that book may be assessory to all the public disorders which society is doomed to suffer."
    – Noah Webster (questionable)
  7. "There are two powers only which are sufficient to control men, and secure the rights of individuals and a peaceable administration; these are the combined force of religion and law, and the force or fear of the bayonet."
    – Noah Webster (questionable)
  8. "The only assurance of our nation's safety is to lay our foundation in morality and religion."
    – Abe Lincoln (questionable)
  9. "The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next."
    – Abe Lincoln (questionable)
  10. "A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or eternal invader."
    – Samuel Adams (questionable)
    [this can be found in Harry Alonzo Cushing, ed., The Writings of Samuel Adams (1908), Vol. 4, p. 124 – Cliff Walker, May 1, 2002]
  11. "I have always said and always will say that the studious perusal of the Sacred Volume will make us better citizens."
    – Thomas Jefferson (questionable)
  12. "America is great because she is good. and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great."
    – Alexis de Toqueville, Democracy in America (definitely not in the book; perhaps in other more obscure writings; questionable)
    See Jefferson's Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom
        The great Conservative spokesman, Senator Barry Goldwater, viewed the "Religious Right" as a threat to the Conservatism that he represented and to the well-being of the Republican Party:
See Barry Goldwater vs. "the Religious Right"

When the first President Bush was running for the office, he declared  "I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots.  This is one nation under God."  And follow-ups showed that he really meant it.  See

        A great column,3604,1028758,00.html:
        "God help America.  US law insists on the separation of church and state.  So why does religion now govern there? "

poll results

Frederick Douglass on Christianity in America :

Frederick Douglass was an extraordinary man, who not only managed to throw off the shackles of slavery but went far beyond the conventional wisdom of his enslavers.  In his autobiography, he contrasted the Christianity that prevailed in the southern part of America at least in his day, and the Christianity of Christ :


" I find, since reading over the foregoing Narrative that I have, in several instances, spoken in such a tone and manner, respecting religion, as may possibly lead those unacquainted with my religious views to suppose me an opponent of all religion.  To remove the liability of such misapprehension, I deem it proper to append the following brief explanation.
        What I have said respecting and against religion, I mean strictly to apply to the slaveholding religion of this land, and with no possible reference to Christianity proper; for, between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest, possible difference–so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked.  To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other.  I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.  Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity.  I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels.
        . . .  I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me.  We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members.  The man who wields the blood-clotted cow skin (whip) during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus.  The man who robs me of my earnings at the end of each week  meets me as a class-leader on Sunday morning, to show me the way of life, and the path of salvation.  He who sells my sister, for purposes of prostitution, stands forth as the pious advocate of purity.  He who proclaims it a religious duty to read the Bible denies me the right of learning to read the name of the God who made me.  He who is the religious advocate of marriage robs whole millions (of slaves) of its sacred influence, and leaves them to the ravages of wholesale (moral) pollution.  The warm defender of the sacredness of the family relation is the same that scatters whole families, – sundering husbands and wives, parents and children, sisters and brothers, leaving the hut vacant, and the hearth desolate.  We see the thief preaching against theft, and the adulterer against adultery.
        We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the poor heathen! all for the glory of God and the good of souls!  The slave auctioneer's bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master.  Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together.  The slave prison and the church stand near each other.  The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time.  The dealers in the bodies and souls of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other.  The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity.  Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other–devils dressed in angels' robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.
        I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the South is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes – a justifier of the most appalling barbarity, a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds, and a dark shelter under which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of slave holders find the strongest protection.  Were I to be again reduced to the chains of slavery, next to that enslavement, I should regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me. . .  I hate the corrupt, slave holding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land."

– Frederick Douglass (After the Escape)

Slavery has been banned in the South since that was written.  But does that mean that the Christianity in the deep South isn't what it used to be?  If so, why did David Duke, the handsome leader of the KKK who wears expensive business suits instead of bed sheets garner 60% of the white Christian vote when he ran for governor of the very Christian state of Louisiana?  To see how the so-called "Christians" of the Old South use "God's Word" to justify their white supremacy racism, see http://JesusWouldBeFurious.Org /christianconservatism.html.  Sadly the Conservative Christianity that many African Americans believe in today is a legacy left to them by ancestors who inherited it from their Christian white masters, as they demonstrate when they are as hard-hearted toward homosexuals as any Southern "red neck". They quote the bible to oppress gays, just as effectively as the masters of old used it to oppress their ancestors.

Harris, church and state :

posted by Jim Stratton on Aug 24, 2006

"U.S. Representative Katherine Harris (who is campaigning for a seat in the U.S. Senate) said this week that the separation of church state is 'a lie,' that God did not intend for the United States to be a 'nation of secular laws' and that a failure to elect Christians to political office will allow lawmaking bodies to 'legislate sin.'
        In an interview with the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention, Harris described her faith, saying it animates 'everything I do,' including her votes in Congress.
        She warned that if voters do not send Christians to office, they risk creating a government that is doomed to fail.
        'If you are not electing Christians, tried and true, under public scrutiny and pressure, if you’re not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin,' she told interviewers, citing abortion and gay marriage as two examples of that sin. Doing so, she said, 'will take western civilization, indeed other nations because people look to our country as one nation as under God and whenever we legislate sin and we say abortion is permissible and we say gay unions are permissible, then average citizens who are not Christians, because they don’t know better, we are leading them astray and it’s wrong ...'
        Harris said that Americans 'have internalized' the 'lie' that church and state must not be mixed. In reality, she said, 'we have to have the faithful in government' because that is God's will.
        Separating religion and politics is 'so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers,' Harris said. 'And if we are the ones not actively involved in electing those godly men and women,' then 'we’re going to have a nation of secular laws. That’s not what our founding fathers intended and that’s (sic) certainly isn’t what God intended."

The perfect compromise :

Regarding the conflict over religious teaching in public schools, I have a challenge for Christian Conservatives:
        Rather than argue forever with your liberal brothers and sisters as to whether Christianitty or "secular humanism" (as many of you say) should be taught in the public schools of our "Christian" country, why don't you work on your conservative allies and I'll work on my liberal allies to agree to the perfect compromise. Let's both come together to advocate that all of our public schools teach the Liberal Christian views of the http://LiberalsLikeChrist.Org/ web site. That would make Christian Conservatives happy, as Christianity was being taught. And it would make Liberals (Christians and otherwise) happy as liberalism was being taught.

        Here's a good study of the religious beliefs of our founding fathers:

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There is much more where this came from, at Liberal insights
Liberals Like Christ
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