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Forum Post: The Founding Fathers and the Truth About "Christian America"

Posted 1 year ago on Jan. 27, 2013, 3:42 a.m. EST by quantumystic (1710) from Memphis, TN
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The sad truth is this is a construct of the cold war. This has never been a born again nation. The in god we trust on money and one nation under god were added to money and the pledge of allegiance to distinguish the united states from those evil communist atheists. The fact is our founding fathers were universalist theistic rationalists. The following is an interesting post on the subject by one Ed Brayton: I have written at some length about the religious beliefs of the leading founding fathers (primarily Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson and Madison). We’ve already established that none were orthodox Christians, that all of them shared a common perspective that Gregg Frazer has best described as theistic rationalism. There’s one other aspect of their perspective that I think is important and I’m going to call that universalism, for lack of a better term at this point. And by universalism I do not mean merely the notion that all people will be saved and reconciled to God after they die (though I think they all likely believed that as well); I mean the belief that there was only one God and that all religions were speaking of that God even if their own cultural biases and traditions were laid over the top in terms of dogma and ritual.

One piece of evidence for this is that they typically used non-specific names for God that were minimalist enough that all religions could view them as speaking to their own particular religion. Thus in the Declaration of Independence you get phrases like Nature’s God and Creator and Divine Providence. George Washington, in particular, had a large number of phrases that all worked to the same effect, as a sort of lowest common denominator deity, including the great governor of the universe, the supreme disposer of all events, and the Almighty ruler of the universe. Thomas Jefferson likewise spoke of the Great Governor of the world.

Another piece of evidence for this is that these men often used the preferred terminology for God of the people they were addressing. This was true even of religions that were not of the Abrahamic variety, religions which were very different like the beliefs of the American Indians at the time. When speaking to the Indians, these men routinely spoke of the “Great Spirit”, which they viewed as merely another title for the one God that they all believed in. In an 1803 letter to the Choctaw Indians, for example, Thomas Jefferson closed his letter thus:

But we thank the Great Spirit who took care of you on the ocean, and brought you safe and in good health to the seat of our great Council; and we hope His care will accompany and protect you, on your journey and return home; and that He will preserve and prosper your nation in all its just pursuits.

Likewise in an 1806 letter to the Cherokee Nation, he spoke even of praying to the Great Spirit:

My children, I thank you for your visit and pray to the Great Spirit who made us all and planted us all in this land to live together like brothers that He will conduct you safely to your homes, and grant you to find your families and your friends in good health.

George Washington had already set this tone in his administration a decade earlier, closing a letter to the Cherokee Nation in 1796 by saying, “I now send my best wishes to the Cherokees, and pray the Great spirit to preserve them.” Washington was a Master Mason, of course, and one of the tenets of Freemasonry is that all religions are more or less the same, all valid ways to God.

James Madison used the same convention and went so far as to say identify the Great Spirit as the creator of us all in an 1812 letter:

The Great Spirit has given you, like your white brethren, good heads to contrive, and strong arms, and active bodies. Use them like your white brethren of the eighteen fires, and like them, your little sparks will grow into great fires. You will be well fed, dwell in good houses, and enjoy the happiness for which you, like them, were created.

It seems clear that, for these leading founders, their theistic rationalism demanded a universal deity that was called by many different names. They all rejected claims of revelation as well, which I think speaks to the fact that they believed in a “lowest common denominator” deity, one that all religions could agree on in its few basic characteristics. I suspect this is what Adams had in mind when he spoke of “primitive Christianity”, the very bare core of beliefs that Christianity has in common with other monotheistic religions – the notion of one God who created the universe and everything in it.

All else that we needed to know about God was, to their way of thinking, discernible through the application of reason alone with no need for direct revelation. Thus, we see Jefferson urging his nephew, Peter Carr, to take everything in the Bible and in all other books and subject it to the tests of reason. All that seems contrary to reason and logic is to be discarded, everything that stands up to scrutiny is kept. Reason, not faith, was their ultimate concern.

33 Comments

33 Comments


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[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (21783) 1 year ago

John Quincy Adams took his oath on a law book--not a bible.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33128) from Coon Rapids, MN 1 year ago

Hmmmm - interesting - oath on a compilation of agreed upon principals - or on a compilation of divine principals that are told to you by some one else - ummm - shit - if you do not have access to the source and understand it - just what the fuck are ya gonna do?

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (9727) 1 year ago

Exactly!!!!!!!

How about go back to a time when divine principals were divined and validated through the excercise of reason? That idea was so empowering to humanity that they have spent 2000 years trying to wipe it out, and still have not completely succeeded.

Those ideas live on, almost in spite of us, such is their power, but we ourselves have forgotten them.

How's that for a royal conundrum?

[-] 1 points by quantumystic (1710) from Memphis, TN 1 year ago

good point.

[-] 1 points by ZenDog (20554) from South Burlington, VT 1 year ago

r3vel4TI0N5

the queen who will not mourn will not,

and if the Babble-onian Harlot is not already dead and in the ground then her whoring will never cease.

[-] 1 points by quantumystic (1710) from Memphis, TN 1 year ago

huh?

[-] 1 points by ZenDog (20554) from South Burlington, VT 1 year ago

you had six points six hours ago - I even gave you one myself just because I thought the whole exchange was so entertaining. Now you are back to just one?

What happened? Somebody's boss get pissed?

[-] 1 points by quantumystic (1710) from Memphis, TN 1 year ago

my boss?

[-] 1 points by ZenDog (20554) from South Burlington, VT 1 year ago

I dunno . . . somebodies boss . . .

[-] 1 points by ZenDog (20554) from South Burlington, VT 1 year ago

then her whoring will never cease I said.

[-] 1 points by quantumystic (1710) from Memphis, TN 1 year ago

whose whore?

[-] 2 points by ZenDog (20554) from South Burlington, VT 1 year ago

since your comment just hit the top of the charts you really should consider spelling - after all - the whole world may be watching

[-] 1 points by agkaiser (1299) from Fredericksburg, TX 1 year ago

The whore is the pimps.

[-] 1 points by ZenDog (20554) from South Burlington, VT 1 year ago

I have this theory - one that stipulates that contemporary events seen from two thousand years ago must appear a bit murky, and of course, they will be interpreted through the lens of culture and belief of the visionary.

Myself, I would not call her a harlot. I would not. Her death was a tragedy. Was she drunk on the blood of saints? I cannot say - but I doubt that the causes she brought forth before the public were issues she did not believe in. I do not believe that is possible. They were issues of merit. They deserved public attention. She helped focus that attention, regardless of motive.

She is dead. I would not call her a harlot. Her death sealed a military and political alliance in blood.

This was, in my view, an international tragedy.

Given my sick sense of humor [above] I cannot now and in public append her name. That would not do. In my opinion she deserves far more respect than that.

[-] 0 points by quantumystic (1710) from Memphis, TN 1 year ago

you don't like the fact we are not founded on the ideology that some would claim?

[-] 0 points by ZenDog (20554) from South Burlington, VT 1 year ago

did I say that?

I believe we all operate in accordance with the laws of nature . . . it is unfortunate that for some, that nature is:

[-] 0 points by peacehurricane (293) 1 year ago

Religions I thought have always agreed that though called by many names and worship in many way all pray to same One God. The bible replaced seven different forms with God. Mary Magdeline?

[-] 0 points by kimba (14) 1 year ago

The Great Spirit, Allah, God, Creator, Source, all are the great spark that birthed this universe and us. We all know within ourselves what it is and how to live together on this planet, without war, religion, conflict, or construct. We just need to tap into that inner knowledge that we each have.

Of course, at this point, trust is involved, more so than faith.

I think The Founding Fathers were a group of enlightened individuals who had a great vision for the us. And it was not based on a religion. Unfortunately it went off the rails, but with some hard work, I think we could finally get to where they wanted us to be.

[-] 0 points by GypsyKing (9727) 1 year ago

Your point is well taken here, and I believe it is very relevent because there has been a lot of effort to misrepresent the actual beliefs of America's founders. They were products of the enlightenment, believers in reason over blind faith and Universalists, as your example regarding the "Great Spirit" clearly points out.

Only in knowing the truth of our past can we move forward in progress.

[-] 1 points by Middleaged (5140) 1 year ago

Had to look up American Enlightenment & Republicanism in the United States. Clearly we are in an Idiocracy or some other age from what I see in Wikipedia, but .... it isn't simple and a quick read is not enough to master the material. How about an Age of Rent-Seeking & an Age of RICO Violations.

American Enlightenment, Politically, the age is distinguished by an emphasis upon liberty, democracy, republicanism and religious tolerance – culminating in the drafting of the United States Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Historians have considered how the ideas of John Locke and republicanism merged to form republicanism in the United States.

Republicanism, It stresses liberty and "unalienable" rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, rejects aristocracy and inherited political power, expects citizens to be independent in their performance of civic duties, and Vilifies Corruption.[2]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republicanism_in_the_United_States

[-] 1 points by quantumystic (1710) from Memphis, TN 1 year ago

Yes it is obvious that like many things the right wing loons are hijacking the truth.

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (9727) 1 year ago

Yup, that was the first thing they hijacked. First the truth and then your wallet.

[-] 1 points by quantumystic (1710) from Memphis, TN 1 year ago

Well they have hijacked history if you have not noticed. FDR deepened and prolonged the great depression and Ronald Reagan is the greatest president in history.

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (9727) 1 year ago

Oh, I noticed alright. "War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength" . . . and Ronald Reagan was the greatest president in history.

Now shut up and feel greatful if you get minimum wage with two college degrees!

RA!

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33128) from Coon Rapids, MN 1 year ago

lol - bizzaro world comic?

The Chinese sure seemed to like ray-gun.

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (9727) 1 year ago

He was the first jester of the apocalypse. We were luckey enough to miss McCain, Palin and Romney. That would have been a diverting nightmare! LOL

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33128) from Coon Rapids, MN 1 year ago

OMG - would anything have survived? A month? More?

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (9727) 1 year ago

Really a scary prospect, REALLY!

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33128) from Coon Rapids, MN 1 year ago

Damn - no shit - a scary prospect - and narrowly avoided at that.

[-] 1 points by ZenDog (20554) from South Burlington, VT 1 year ago

I thought the examples of the use of the term Great Spirit were indicative of political acumen, and really said very little about their actual spiritual beliefs.

You can find instances of the Catholic Church incorporating not just language, but actual observance, from the indigenous to the religious rite, and again, its about political acumen and population control and management - has nothing to do with spirituality.

Much of Europe at the nation's founding was in a period of recovery from Catholicism that had engaged in political intrigue for over half a millenium - and that may explain as much about our founders views regarding religion as anything else.

[-] 0 points by GypsyKing (9727) 1 year ago

You may be right about political acumen, and I do believe you are right about recovery from Catholic totalitrianism. I don't see that analysis as being in contention with what I was saying.

[-] 0 points by ZenDog (20554) from South Burlington, VT 1 year ago

I'm not saying I disagree - just that the example doesn't make the case.

[-] 0 points by GypsyKing (9727) 1 year ago

Yes, I'll grant you that.