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Our Founders Were NOT Fundamentalists

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Our Founders Were NOT Fundamentalists
Religious Right
by Harvey Wasserman| February 14, 2010

"God made the idiot for practice, and then He made the school board."
--Mark Twain

Today's New York Times Sunday Magazine highlights yet another mob of extremists using the Texas School Board to baptize our children's textbooks.

This endless, ever-angry escalating assault on our Constitution by crusading theocrats could be obliterated with the effective incantation of two names: Benjamin Franklin, and Deganawidah.

But first, let's do some history:

1) Actual Founder-Presidents #2 through #6 -- John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe and John Quincy Adams -- were all freethinking Deists and Unitarians; what Christian precepts they embraced were moderate, tolerant and open-minded.

2) Actual Founder-President #1, George Washington, became an Anglican as required for original military service under the British, and occasionally quoted scripture. But he vehemently opposed any church-state union. In a 1790 letter to the Jews of Truro, he wrote: The "Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistances, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens." A 1796 treaty he signed says "the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." Washington rarely went to church and by some accounts refused last religious rites.

3) Washington was also the nation's leading brewer, and since most Americans drank much beer (water could be lethal in the cities) they regularly trembled before the keg, not the altar. Like Washington, Jefferson and Madison, virtually all American farmers raised hemp and its variations.

4) Jefferson produced a personal Bible from which he edited out all reference to the "miraculous" from the life of Jesus, whom he considered both an activist and a mortal.

5) Tom Paine's COMMON SENSE sparked the Revolution with nary a mention of Jesus or Christianity. His Deist Creator established the laws of Nature, endowed humans with Free Will, then left.

6) The Constitution never mentions the words "Christian" or "Jesus" or "Christ."

7) Revolutionary America was filled with Christians whose commitment to toleration and diversity was completely adverse to the violent, racist, misogynist, anti-sex theocratic Puritans whose "City on the Hill" meant a totalitarian state. Inspirational preachers like Rhode Island's Roger Williams and religious groups like the Quakers envisioned a nation built on tolerance and love for all.

8) The US was founded less on Judeo-Christian beliefs than on the Greco-Roman love for dialog and reason. There are no contemporary portraits of any Founder wearing a crucifix or church garb. But Washington was famously painted half-naked in the buff toga of the Roman Republic, which continues to inspire much of our official architecture.

9) The great guerilla fighter (and furniture maker) Ethan Allen was an aggressive atheist; his beliefs were common among the farmers, sailors and artisans who were the backbone of Revolutionary America.

10) America's most influential statesman, thinker, writer, agitator, publisher, citizen-scientist and proud liberal libertine was -- and remains -- Benjamin Franklin. He was at the heart of the Declaration, Constitution and Treaty of Paris ending the Revolution. The ultimate Enlightenment icon, Franklin's Deism embraced a pragmatic love of diversity. As early America's dominant publisher he, Paine and Jefferson printed the intellectual soul of the new nation.

11) Franklin deeply admired the Ho-de-no-sau-nee (Iroquois) Confederacy of what's now upstate New York. Inspired by the legendary peacemaker Deganawidah, this democratic congress of five tribes had worked "better than the British Parliament" for more than two centuries. It gave us the model for our federal structure and the images of freedom and equality that inspired both the French and American Revolutions.

It's no accident today's fundamentalist crusaders and media bloviators (Rev. Limbaugh, St. Beck) seek to purge our children's texts of all native images except as they are being forceably converted or killed.

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Harvey Wasserman edits  www.nukefree.org . His SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at  www.solartopia.org . The Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show airs at  www.progressiveradionetwork.com .

HARVEY WASSERMAN'S HISTORY OF THE US is available at http://www.harveywasserman.com/, as is A GLIMPSE OF THE BIG LIGHT and clues to the whereabouts of the Holy Grail.

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Actually this treaty was not ratified until June o... by Gregoreuo on Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 9:17:42 AM
Most Americans know that the framers met for thre... by coyote on Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 9:35:14 AM
I didn't know these things, but am hardly surprise... by Daniel Geery on Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 12:45:56 PM
Even though it was a bunch of land andbusiness own... by Steven G. Erickson on Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 4:06:57 PM
A very god article and right on target. If the far... by kanawah on Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 12:08:58 PM
I highly recommend an article titled Little Known ... by Ruth on Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 12:24:39 PM
NOT neo-cons or conservatives-and the same goe... by Eileen Fleming on Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 1:21:24 PM
"All truth passes through three stages: First, it ... by Eileen Fleming on Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 1:27:35 PM
NOT Christians...do some research on Masonry.....t... by Chris Bieber on Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 3:58:27 PM
Thank you for a clear-eyed view of Masonry. It sho... by Dick Thomson on Monday, Feb 15, 2010 at 7:27:39 AM
NOT Christians...do some research on Masonry.....t... by Chris Bieber on Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 4:01:23 PM
"And of all plagues with which mankindare curs'd, ... by John Sanchez Jr. on Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 4:50:11 PM
It did not give Indians freedom of religion and it... by Starla Immak on Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 6:11:21 PM
The high Freemasons are Luciferians. D.C. is laid ... by boomerang on Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 6:12:40 PM
I firmly believe that if, in the next Presidential... by BaronVonRothschild on Monday, Feb 15, 2010 at 1:32:45 PM
You are half right. BUT none of these above mentio... by Lucretia on Monday, Feb 15, 2010 at 3:58:15 PM
Hi Coyote. You wrote: "Bit it wasn't until 1840, a... by Daniel Penisten on Monday, Feb 15, 2010 at 5:59:34 PM
Dan,The Federalist papers will give you all the ar... by Dick Thomson on Tuesday, Feb 16, 2010 at 7:40:26 AM
Here's a very interesting article that incorporate... by Dick Thomson on Tuesday, Feb 16, 2010 at 10:28:10 AM
I'll read those "Federalist Papers". It'sway past ... by Daniel Penisten on Tuesday, Feb 16, 2010 at 7:53:53 PM
Good for you. Not many people will take the time t... by Dick Thomson on Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 7:19:55 AM