George Washington wrote as follows:
* "Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. I had hoped that liberal and enlightened thought would have reconciled the Christians so that their [not our?] religious fights would not endanger the peace of Society." (Letter to Sir Edward Newenham, June 22, 1792)
[George Washington was not a communicant. This fact can be easily demonstrated. A century ago it was the custom of all classes, irrespective of their religious beliefs, to attend church. Washington, adhering to the custom, attended. But when the administration of the sacrament took place, instead of remaining and partaking of the Lord's Supper as a communicant would have done, he invariably arose and retired from the church.]
The Rev. Dr. Wilson, who was almost a contemporary of our earlier statesmen and presidents, and who thoroughly investigated the subject of their religious beliefs, in his sermon affirmed that the founders of our nation were nearly all Infidels, and that of the presidents who had thus far been elected -- George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson -- not one had professed a belief in Christianity. The following quote is from his sermon:
"When the war was over and the victory over our enemies won, and the blessings and happiness of liberty and peace were secured, the Constitution was framed and God was neglected. He was not merely forgotten. He was absolutely voted out of the Constitution. The proceedings, as published by Thompson, the secretary, and the history of the day, show that the question was gravely debated whether God should be in the Constitution or not, and, after a solemn debate he was deliberately voted out of it. ... There is not only in the theory of our government no recognition of God's laws and sovereignty, but its practical operation, its administration, has been conformable to its theory. Those who have been called to administer the government have not been men making any public profession of Christianity. ... Washington was a man of valor and wisdom. He was esteemed by the whole world as a great and good man; but he was not a professing Christian."
2nd President (1797-1801)
John Adams wrote:
* "Nothing is more dreaded than the national government meddling with religion."
* "Thirteen governments [states & former colonies] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretense of miracle or mystery...are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind."
* "It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service [formation of the American governments] had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven..."
3rd President (1801-1809)
Thomas Jefferson wrote:
* "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God."
* "The serious enemies are the priests of the different religious sects to whose spells on the human mind its improvement is ominous."
* "I join you [John Adams], therefore, in sincere congratulations that this den of the priesthood is at length broken up, and that a Protestant Popedom is no longer to disgrace the American history and character."
* "In every country and in every age the priest [any and every clergyman] has been hostile to liberty; he is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own."
* "I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition [Christianity] one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies."
The 4th President (1809-1817) feared organized religion. Quotations here excerpted from James Madison on Religious Liberty edited by Robert S. Alley, ISBN 0-87975-298-X.
James Madison wrote:
* "During almost fifteen centuries, the legal establishment of Christianity has been on trial. What have been the fruits of this trial? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; and in both, clergy and laity, superstition, bigotry and persecution." (Speech to the General Assembly of Virginia, 1785)
6th President (1825 - 1829)
John Quincy Adams wrote:
* "There are in this country, as in all others, a certain proportion of restless and turbulent spirits - poor, unoccupied, ambitious - who must always have something to quarrel about with their neighbors. These people are the authors of religious revivals."
Not until the 7th President (1829 - 1837) did organized religion win a proponent in that office. Jackson started out religious and grew ever more so with advancing years. Yet even so he saw the limits of his office in that regard.
Andrew Jackson wrote:
* "I could not do otherwise without transcending the limits prescribed by the Constitution for the President and without feeling that I might in some degree disturb the security which religion nowadays enjoys in this country in its complete separation form the political concerns of the General Government." (letter explaining his refusal to proclaim a national day of, among other things, prayer.)
Benjamin Franklin wrote:
* "The Infinite Father expects or requires no worship or praise from us."
* "I conceive, then, that the Infinite has created many beings or gods vastly superior to man."
* "It may be these created gods are immortals; or it may be that after many ages, they are changed, and others supply their places."
* "Howbeit, I conceive that each of these is exceeding good and very powerful; and that each has made for himself one glorious sun, attended with a beautiful and admirable system of planets."
Thomas Paine wrote:
* "The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion. It has been the most destructive to the peace of man since man began to exist. Among the most detestable villains in history, you could not find one worse than Moses, who gave an order to butcher the boys, to massacre the mothers and then rape the daughters. One of the most horrible atrocities found in the literature of any nation. I would not dishonor my Creator's name by attaching it to this filthy book." (from The Age of Reason)
10th President (1841-1845)
John Tyler wrote:
"The United States have adventured upon a great and noble experiment, which is believed to have been hazarded in the absence of all previous precedent -- that of total separation of Church and State. No religious establishment by law exists among us. The conscience is left free from all restraint and each is permitted to worship his Maker after his own judgement. The offices of the Government are open alike to all. No tithes are levied to support an established Hierarchy, nor is the fallible judgement of man set up as the sure and infallible creed of faith. The Mohammedan, if he will to come among us would have the privilege guaranteed to him by the constitution to worship according to the Koran; and the East Indian might erect a shrine to Brahma if it so pleased him. Such is the spirit of toleration inculcated by our political Institutions.... The Hebrew persecuted and down trodden in other regions takes up his abode among us with none to make him afraid.... and the Aegis of the Government is over him to defend and protect him. Such is the great experiment which we have tried, and such are the happy fruits which have resulted from it; our system of free government would be imperfect without it." (letter dated July 10, 1843)
16th President (1861-1865)
Abraham Lincoln wrote:
* "My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them." (to Judge JS. Wakefield, after Willie Lincoln's death)
Mary Todd Lincoln wrote:
"Mr. Lincoln was not a Christian."
18th President (1869-1877)
Ulysses S. Grant wrote:
"Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church and the private school supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate ." (Address to the Army of the Tennessee, Des Moines, Iowa, September 25, 1875)
26th President (1901-1909)
Theodore Roosevelt wrote:
"To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not avowed his allegiance to any church, is an outrage against that liberty of conscience which is one of the foundations of American life. " (letter to J. C. Martin, 9 November 1908)
"If there is one thing for which we stand in this country, it is for complete religious freedom , and it is an emphatic negation of this right to cross-examine a man on his religion before being willing to support him for office ." (letter to J. C. Martin, 9 November1908)
"I hold that in this country there must be complete severance of Church and State ; that public moneys shall not be used for the purpose of advancing any particular creed; and therefore that the public schools shall be nonsectarian and no public moneys appropriated for sectarian schools." (Carnegie Hall address, 12 October 1915)
Below are some of the objections one might make against the Christian religion:
The Christian New Testament contradicts itself, not just on trivia, but even about the supposed resurrection of Christ . Fundamentalist Christians who are unabashedly adamant about the tenet of Creationism would have us think of the Bible as FACT. Yet, how can the Bible be historical fact if even its most crucial element is chock full of contradictions? But do not take my word for it. Kindly refer to your own copy (verse numbers vary in certain editions). Do your own research with these inconsistencies.
On this most important recounting (i.e. the accounts of Christ's resurrection) contradictions are packed so tightly as to overlap one another. For brevity's sake I plan to only touch on the high spots with the assurance that you may easily consult the source for any details I shall leave out.
Know that all four gospels were written by men entirely absent from the events they attempt to record. Stated another way, NONE OF THE GOSPEL AUTHORS WERE EYE WITNESSES . Greeks, they were...students of the Apostle Paul. But, for that matter, neither was Paul an eye witness. Paul claims to have been converted by an angelic apparition well after the death of Christ.
So not one of these four books was written by actual witnesses. Nor was Paul who told them of it himself a witness. It is hearsay, twice removed. Christian scholars know this well attributing all four works to divine inspiration. But if that be the case had they not ought to agree...at least in the more important details? Shouldn't the DIVINE INSPIRER HAVE TOLD THE SAME STORY (or at least agreeing stories) TO EACH ONE??? Yet they differ, markedly .
Secondly note that Peter and James, who were indeed actual witnesses, and who's own books are found in the bible fail to corroborate these supposed histories. Why should that be? Let's have a look.
FIRST QUESTION: How many women came to the sepulchre, one, two or three?
In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. [Two women]
And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene , and Mary the mother of James , and Salome , had brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. [Three women]
The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. [One woman]
Summary: John says one, Matthew two, Mark three. And, Luke is too vague to bother quoting.
SECOND QUESTION: At what time did the woman (or women) arrive at the sepulchre? -- Nearly dawn, the rising of the sun, yet dark?
In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
Mark 16:1 & 2
And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun .
The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
Summary: Except for John, that seems no big difference, unless you are Jewish, in which case it's a pretty big deal. If you can see the actual sun then the Sabbath is passed, otherwise not.
QUESTION THREE: Who rolled away the stone from the door, and when? -- An angel of the Lord was seen rolling it away, stone was already rolled away,
And, behold, there was a great earthquake : for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it .
And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away : for it was very great.
And found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
Summary: Matthew says two Marys saw an angel roll away the stone after an earthquake . Mark says both Marys and also Salome found it already rolled away . John says that just a single Mary found it already rolled away . Neither Mark, nor Luke nor John say a word about an angel moving the stone nor even an earthquake. Wouldn't a GREAT EARTHQUAKE be something worth reiterating? And, an ANGEL???
QUESTION FOUR: How many angels did the woman (or women) see? One angel, a young man, two men, two angels.
What did the angel (or angels) do?
And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
And entering into the sepulchre, they [the two Mary's and Salome] saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in long white garment; and they were affrighted.
And it came to pass, as they [unnamed women] were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments;
And [Mary} seeth two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
Summary: Matthew and Mark report a solitary angel . Luke and John claim a twosome . Luke says his two angels were standing . Matthew, Mark and John all have theirs sitting some place or other, each in a unique locale.
QUESTION FIVE: Whom did Jesus meet first when risen from the dead? How did she (or they) and Jesus greet one another?
Matthew 28:9 & 10
And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them [the two Marys], saying All hail . And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said unto them, Be not afraid: go and tell my bretheren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he cast seven devils .
John 20:14, 16 & 17
And then she [Mary] had thus said, she turned herself back and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. [...] Jesus saith unto her, Mary . She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni ; which is to say, Master.
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and to your God .
Summary: Matthew claims Jesus greeted two Marys, saying, "Hail." and some further dialog in the next verse. John has Jesus saying entirely different things to his lone Mary. Luke utterly fails to report Jesus having met any Marys, or even a Solome, at all. Jesus spoke nothing to Mark's own solitary Mary, but cast out devils instead.
QUESTION SIX: How many disciples went into the sepulchre? Just one, or three?
Then arose Peter , and ran into the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which has come to pass.
John 20:3,4 & 6
Peter therefor went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together; and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.
Then cometh Simon Peter following him , and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
Summary: Luke says one disciple . John says three disciples . But who's counting? Parts of this read like a Homer Simpson narrative. Can't you just hear the uncertain pauses: "Peter went forth, and . . . er . . . um . . . that other disciple . . . ohhh! whats-his-name . . . came to the sepulchre . . . and then . . . umm, well, . . . several other things happened. I think I knew this once."
QUESTION SEVEN: Where did the risen Jesus meet his disciples? Were there eleven present, more than eleven, or only ten?
Matthew 28:16 & 17
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
Afterward he appeared unto the eleven [in Galilee, according to verse 7] as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
Luke 24:13, 15, 33 & 36
And behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus , which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. [...] And they rose up on the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, [...] And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
John 20:10, 19 & 24
Then the disciples went away again unto their own home [in Galilee]. [...] Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, and came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. [...] But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
Summary: Matthew, Mark and John say Jesus met eleven in Galilee. But Luke says he met ten just outside Jerusalem. Galilee and Jerusalem are quite far apart, especially for men afoot. A furlong being one eighth of a mile, that makes Emmaus 7.5 miles outside Jerusalem while the nearest mountains in Galilee are at Nazareth, sixty plus miles further yet. Judas, already dead by his own hand, was not invited. So the absence of Thomas Didymus makes ten disciples, not eleven.
QUESTION EIGHT: What final words did Jesus give his disciples before ascending into heaven?
Mark 17:15 through 20
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is babtized shall be saved; but he that believeth shall not be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. And then after the lord had spoken unto them he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
Luke 24:44 through 51
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, and all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be enbued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them and carried up into heaven.
Observation: How very dissimilar. Only Mark and Luke report of Jesus ascending into heaven while Matthew and John say nothing whatever about that. Instead of having Jesus ascend into heaven, with Matthew we get the following:
Matthew 28:16 through 20
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted; And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefor, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
BUT NOW,for something completely different. . . . From John we read:
After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.
Observation: John then goes on with a quite lengthy story about the disciples next being in a ship, miraculously catching 153 fishes with a single cast of the net which is so heavy they cannot lift it but must drag it ashore where they discover a fire of coals to lay it upon. And here, upon said shore, is where Jesus (according to John) bids farewell at some length. Finally, John concludes thus:
And there were also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
Summary: Well... The very crux of the New Testament is shot full of glaring contradictions. Yet I suppose that we may conclude from John's final remark almost anything at all. More Homer Simpson style story retelling: It's like...I forgot the rest, see...so...a whole ton of this other stuff, you know?...yeah, like that happened too. So what accounts for these obviously glaring discrepancies? A bad connection on the divine inspiration network?
I really don't enjoy trashing other people's beliefs like this. Indeed that isn't my purpose here. Hardly would I have wasted time in this dull and tiresome research on quite uninteresting a topic were not for George W. Bush's evidently ignorant attempts to have the U.S. government endorse this so-called history. Despite the efforts and inclinations of our wise founding "fathers" in this country, we now have slogans on our coins. The Pledge of Allegiance, once entirely secular, has been redacted in favor of a particular god. Christian ultra-conservatives have repeatedly sought to gain legitimacy in reviewing text books for the public schools and EVEN revising to please their narrow concept of the Christian religion our teaching of SCIENCE. And America's own King George II wants to spend my taxes in favor of mostly Christian churches. For me, that is too much.
It does little good to defend these issues one at a time. Bringing Christian dogma into government certainly opens it up for public rebuttal. But, any fair public accounting must, of necessity, examine this issue at its foundation. And there, at the foundation, is where it is most clearly flawed.
I labor under no delusion that all these ideas will impact those who follow Bush's dogma. After all, nothing is so LOST, so CONSIGNED TO HELL as is a closed mind.