I've been putting up quotes from our founding fathers over the last couple of weeks to illustrate that they did not, in fact, believe that it was OK to be a religious bigot. Having religious freedom does not mean you also get to impede the rights of other people. Essentially, this is what the believers of Republican Jesus think is OK as they happily play the victim card, doing the very same thing they supposedly hate (not to mention employing the fallacies of misleading vividness and appeal to fear).
Yet this recent piece over at HuffPo shows that the atheists out there also get it wrong. The founding fathers were not atheists. They very much believed in God, the grand architect of the universe, and drew much of their inspiration for the core philosophy of this country from John Locke. Locke's Second Treatise of Government was the primary source from which Jefferson wrote The Declaration of Independence. It stated that individuals are born with the rights of life, liberty and property that come directly from our Creator. Jefferson changed "property" to "pursuit of happiness" but the spirit is still the same. Our freedom comes from God and atheists don't believe in God. So where does freedom come from in their eyes? Perhaps my atheist commenters can answer that question.
The quotes that I have been putting up illustrate this core belief. The people that believe in Republican Jesus have always had trouble understanding nuance (you are either with us or agin us!) so it's very likely that they would disagree with Lockian thought which holds that there is no such thing as original sin, for example. People are born as blank slates given only the rights I listed above. How they live their lives after that comes the choices they make with that freedom. Because of this, Locke was often accused of not being a "true Christian"...just like yours truly.
Yet he was clearly a true Christian because he loathed atheism and warned repeatedly that it could lead to chaos. In many ways, I agree with this philosophy and so did the founding fathers. The morality of Christ is what we base our laws upon in America. That doesn't necessarily makes us a Christian nation as many other religions have this same morality. Locke truly believed that reason and Christianity were intertwined and that fundamental human equality arose from this combination. Since all humans were created free, governments need the consent of the governed to make sure that everyone is treated equally under the law. In short, practicing religious bigotry is not freedom. No one has the right to treat people differently because their religion tell them it's ok. Claiming victimhood, as a few jack wagons have done who are refusing to serve gay people at their place of business, is yet another nauseating example of this. The people who are supportive of such folks have yet to tell me where the line is drawn. Would they be allowed to not serve women who were not submissive to their husbands as the Bible says? Or not serve black people because of racial purity beliefs? As of today, all I hear are crickets on these questions. Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law.
So, the quotes that I am putting from our founding fathers are examples of how religious zealots should never be allowed to hijack our government and curtail our freedom that comes directly from God. My beliefs about God coincide with those prevalent at the height of the Age of Enlightenment. The thinkers of the that time, many of whom were our founding fathers, scoffed at both religious zealots and atheists in the same breath. So do I. Our founding fathers sought to protect religion from government, no doubt a large problem as divine right of kings thinking was still quite prevalent at the time. God and Jesus were for everyone, not just those in the aristocracy. No one was closer to God than anyone else...just as the Bible says. That includes believers in Republican Jesus.
Isn't it ironic, though, that with the American Taliban running around, we now have to protect government from religion?
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Friday, September 20, 2013
“We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for honors and power we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society.” ~John Adams, letter to Dr. Price, April 8, 1785