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Re: O'er the ramparts we watch'd
Religious faith or the lack of it is and should be a private affair," I have
ever thought religion a concern purely between our God and our consciences,
for which we were accountable to Him, and not to the priests." Thomas
Jefferson wrote to Mrs. M. Harrison Smith in 1816. State functions should
not be forums on behalf of religious indoctrination of any kind. Governments
should instead teach genuine tolerance, and demand that public functions
and schools remain secular institutions, not pulpits.
One of the cries of the American rebels was against State religion. The
English government had inherited from the Normans a twofold control of men
civil and religious. If you look at the clergy appointments you will see
they were made for political reasons. Elizabeth R II, our Queen, is the
head of the Church of England. Her Majesty changes religion when she
crosses the Scots border to become Church of Scotland.
Dr. James Sinclair Tait father of Robert Holland Tait the author of
Newfoundland: A Summary of the History and Development of Britain's Oldest
Colony among many other works was the descendant of Jonathan Edwards, the
preacher who began The Great Awakening' in America.. 'The Great Awakening'
was a series of religious revivals that swept over the American colonies
about the middle of the 18th cent. It resulted in doctrinal changes and
influenced social and political thought.
The American nations founders from the tradition of 'The Great Awakening'
intensely believed in God. When the Declaration of Independence was signed,
John Adams wrote to his wife:
"I am apt to believe that this day will be celebrated by succeeding
generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated
as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty."
John Adams did not speak of religion.
"Our particular principles of religion are a subject of accountability to
God alone. I inquire after no man's, and trouble none with mine." Thomas
Jefferson to Miles King, 1814
The Profits Of Religion A Study of Supernaturalism as a Source of Income and
a Shield to Privilege by Upton Sinclair is highly critical of the effects of
the demands of religion.
American history that religious zealots do not wish to mention, are the
"Bible wars" which erupted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA. Madalyn Murray
O'Hair discussed this obscure incident in her book 'Freedom Under Siege:'
"When the Roman Catholics themselves would not provide enough schools, the
Catholic church turned to fight the public schools where the Catholic
children were in attendance. Some people today even credit our now totally
secular schools to the fact that the Roman Catholic Church fought so
vigorously for the removal of all the religious matter in the curriculum,
which might be interpreted as adverse reflection on Catholicism. Conversely,
rather than have an intrusion of Roman Catholic doctrines, the Protestants
agreed to secularise the schools. During the nineteenth century, then, both
the Protestants and the Roman Catholics feared the influence of secular
education on the faith and morals of the young people, but they each,
equally, feared the theological supremacy of the other more."
"The road to secularisation, however, was not free of difficulties or even
violence. In 1844, for instance, at the urging of the local bishop, the
Philadelphia school board permitted Roman Catholic children in the public
schools to read from their own version of the Bible, the Douay Version. The
American Protestant Association was outraged. Mass meetings were held, two
Roman Catholic churches were burned, and the rioting was stopped only when
the bishop ordered all his churches closed. At the church of St. Philip Neri
several people were killed. The church was broken open and only the presence
of the militia, the mayor and the governor prevented its being burned to the
Following Philadelphia, religious sects fought over the content of school
prayers or other religious instruction in public schools. In 1854 a mob
attacked a Roman Catholic priest in Maine after he urged his followers to
seek legal remedies against mandatory Protestant verse in the state's public
schools. Fifteen years later, in 1869 there were similar confrontations in
Cincinnati when Roman Catholic parents went to court in order to remove
their children from religious exercises in the city's school system.
Many Protestant groups are sceptical, and consider the prayer proposals a
threat to religious liberty. Atheists rightly point out that any prayer
violates the rights of students who have no religious beliefs. "I am really
mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, a fact like this
[i.e., the purchase of an apparent geological or astronomical work] can
become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too, as an offense
against religion; that a question about the sale of a book can be carried
before the civil magistrate. Is this then our freedom of religion? and are
we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and
what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our
citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or
stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as
ourselves, set up his reason as the rule for what we are to read, and what
we must believe? It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they
are rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it
cannot stand the test of truth and reason. If [this] book be false in its
facts, disprove them; if false in its reasoning, refute it. But, for God's
sake, let us freely hear both sides, if we choose." Thomas Jefferson to N.
G. Dufief, 1814
Jews, Muslims and other religious minorities around the world are clamouring
for "equal access" on behalf of displays and religious in public, Christians
are denied this in Arabic countries. Islam demands it in our open societies
New age cults, voodooists, Satanists, spiritualists, can insist on having
their prayers, holy books and ceremonies incorporated into
the activities of the State.
Governments enforced prayer will fragment parents, teachers, school
governors and ultimately the students. Rather than teach values and morals,
school prayer could result in confrontations over who and what is considered
"holy". It can balkanise students into competing religious factions, and
isolate the many students who have no religious beliefs whatsoever. You must
have a certain admiration for a man who will swim against the current. A
man whose belief is strong enough to weather scorn when he refuses to take
an Oath to a God he does not believe in God. Even though he is dead wrong
you must respect him as a human vital enough to risk adverse reactions
rather that comprise his believe.
"The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of
force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them." --Thomas Jefferson: Rights of
British America, 1774
I have no idea what others feel but no pope, priest, minister, rabbi or imam
will dictate my relationship with God. If a man chooses not to believe in
God that is his own decision I have no right, nor does the government to
question that decision. Let him be his own fool! I will defend him, as best
I can, no less than William Sinclair defended the Gypsies at Roslin.
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