Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Religious group challenges 'traditional' history

Presidents’ Day is when many Americans honor the country’s past commanders-in-chief. At the Christian Heritage Center in Fishersville, Thomas Jefferson was not on the list of honorees Monday. It was the day a call to arms went out, to Christians everywhere, to band together and fight religious persecution they encounter even today.

It was the day to recognize the perpetrator, that “enemy of the Gospel” - Jefferson, according to Christian Heritage officials.
(Christian Heritage officials) cited examples to suggest Jefferson was the enemy of Christians and that Washington was a model Christian, who walked the walk - even begging forgiveness from God when his prayers were not fervent enough.

“Jefferson came disguised as an angel of light by appealing to reason instead of faith - to works instead of the cross,” Humphries said.

Ina strange way this is actually encouraging. I see so much nonsense about how America was founded as a Christian nation, and all of the Founding Fathers were indistinguishable from the Disciples. This is hogwash, and it is good to see acknowledgement of the faulty premise. Jefferson, the primary author of the documents that established our nation, was the guy who said:

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 legislative powers of the 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.

The problem, of course, is that rather than admit that perhaps Jefferson's wall is a good idea, they prefer to paint Jefferson as a rogue and a charlatan. But he was in good company:

"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole carloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity." --John Adams

"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."--Benjamin Franklin, _Poor_Richard_, 1758

"Ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and all of which facilitates the execution of mischievous projects. Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded project."--James Madison

"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."--Thomas Paine, _The_Age_of_Reason

"One of the embarrassing problems for the early nineteenth-century champions of the Christian faith was that not one of the first six Presidents of the United States was an orthodox Christian."--The Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1968, p. 420


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