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Life Arts    H3'ed 4/8/13

America was founded as a Christian nation: Another Fantasy from the Right.

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The four Gospels in the New Testament were selected from approximately three dozen and official Christian theology began. All the others were to be destroyed but instead some copies were hidden in jars by the Gnostics. They were found in Nag Hammadi, an area in Upper Egypt in the 1945. The distinction between the "chosen vs. the hidden" gospels is telling. The hidden gospels depicted a Jesus who didn't come to save anyone or start an organization of intermediaries to stand between individuals and their experience of God. Thus was born the first fantasy in official Christendom.    

Among the fantasies that Candida Moss writes about in her latest book, The Myth of Persecution, How early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom is that, "the overwhelming majority of Christians idealized martyrdom and suffering like Jesus, but very few of them died violently."

From The Daily Beast on March 31, 2013, "There is an overpowering myth that Christianity was built on violent persecution but historian Candida Moss says that's bad history--and sets a dangerous precedent for hyperbolic accusations of "war on Christians" today.

And so it goes with claims of fantasy; the Christian right's claim of an eternal war on Christians, Fox News's claim of an annual war on Christmas and Bill O'Reilly's claim of the spring war on Easter.

But my all time favorite fantasy is "America was founded as a Christian nation." Please understand, I'm not attacking Christianity. I'm specifically correcting the contemporary distortion being spread by the extreme religious right.

George Washington, "saw religion as necessary for good moral behavior but didn't necessarily accept all Christian dogma. He seemed to have a special gripe against communion and would usually leave services before it was offered." He wrote, "All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights." [1]

And then there was John Adams, who "rejected belief in the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus, core concepts of Christian dogma. In his personal writings, Adams makes it clear that he considered some Christian dogma to be incomprehensible." [2]

Lest we forget Thomas Jefferson, who "did not believe in the Trinity, the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus, the resurrection, original sin and other core Christian doctrines. He was hostile to many conservative Christian clerics, whom he believed had perverted the teachings of that faith. Jefferson once famously observed to Adams, "And 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." [3]

In one letter to John Adams, dated January 24, 1814, he wrote: "The whole of these books (the gospels) is so defective and doubtful that is seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain what parts of them are genuine. In the new testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts of it are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills. " [4]

Jefferson said, of separating Jesus' sayings from the human misinterpretations, in another letter to Adams: "There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man. [5]

And then there was James Madison, "who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, even opposed government-issued prayer proclamations. He issued a few during the War of 1812 at the insistence of Congress but later concluded that his actions had been unconstitutional." [6]

I find the political distortion of our country's religious history offensive enough. But to pander to the uninformed by adding more disinformation insults sincere believers as well as non-believers. This country was founded on the principle of religious freedom. We are free to worship or not however we want. No amount of revisionism is going to change that fact.

But these folks don't go away quietly. From the Huffington Post on April 6, 2013, by Emily Swanson, "Although the North Carolina House of Representatives killed a bill Thursday that would have paved the way for establishing an official state religion, a new national poll finds widespread support for doing so.

The new survey finds that 34 percent of adults would favor establishing Christianity as the official state religion in their own state, while 47 percent would oppose doing so. Thirty-two percent said that they would favor a constitutional amendment making Christianity the official religion of the United States, with 52 percent saying they were opposed."

Fifty two percent opposed. At least we're moving in the right direction.

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Robert De Filippis Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linked In Page       Instagram Page

Author, columnist, and blogger with a long career in business management, management consulting and executive coaching. I've authored and published eight books: "You, Your Self and the 21st Century,"The Flowers Are Talking to Me," and "Faith (more...)

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