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“christian Revisionism” -- Distorting The Historical Record For Religious Ends

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 
http://www.atheists.org/courthouse/charlotte.html


INACCURATE AND IMPROPER USAGE OF QUOTES FROM FOUNDING FATHERS AT THE CHARLOTTE, N.C. CITY COUNCIL MEETING, NOVEMBER 24, 1997
Report compiled by Wayne Aiken, N.C. Director AMERICAN ATHEISTS


Some of the highlights of our analysis of the quotes are as followed:

Thomas Jefferson
Alleged quotation attributed to Thomas Jefferson from the Jefferson memorial in Washington, D.C. “God who gave us life gave us liberty and can the liberty of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis -- a conviction in the minds of people that they are the gift of God...”

Jefferson did say this, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with the issue of government support of religion. The quotation is taken from a famous letter in which he argues against slavery; Jefferson maintained that slavery violated a person's God-given freedom, although he also owned slaves

Alleged quote from George Washington's farewell address: “let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion... Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in the exclusion of religious principle...”

Washington was well-known for making any number of quotes which led many people to infer that he was a practicing Christian; he often spoke on religious themes, and he often attended the Episcopal churches, although he always left before the communion was administered, arousing controversy within the congregation

Alleged quote from the U.S. Supreme Court decision of HOLY TRINITY v. UNITED STATES (1892): “Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of Mankind, it is impossible that it should be otherwise... Our civilization and institutions are emphatically Christian...”

This is another inaccurate statement from David Barton, and he has admitted that this quote appears nowhere in the TRINITY v. UNITED STATES case.

Alleged quote from James Madison: “We have staked the whole future of American civilization and political institutions on our capacity to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

This is another unverified quote spread by David Barton. According to Church & State magazine (July/August, 1996 article “Christian Nation,” Barton has issued a statement admitting that certain quotations attributed to prominent historical figures in his 1992 book “The Myth of Separation,” are either false or, at best, questionable, and he admits that this is one of the most controversial among them.


Alleged charge to the framing committee of the first constitution in America in the state of Connecticut in 1639: “To frame a constitution as near the law of God as they can.”

This is irrelevant to our current system of laws. In fact, the early colonies were theocracies with established churches: Anglican in the south and Congregationalist in New England. Even Rhode Island, founded as an experiment in religious freedom, limited full citizenship to Trinitarian Protestants. Our present system, with separation of church and state, is a deliberate departure from these and earlier European governments.


John
Quincy Adams
Alleged quote from John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States: “The highest glory of the American Revolution was that it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

This quote is taken from the first edition of David Barton's videotape, “Americas's Godly Heritage.” The original source for this quote is the book, “The Pulpit of the American Revolution 1860” by John Wingate Thornton. This particular quote attributed to John Quincy Adams is not documented with footnotes, nor is it even enclosed in quotation marks as all other quotes in the introduction to his book. Instead, it reads like Thornton's own conclusion about what John Quincy Adams believed. These words are not documented nor attached to a date, and have not been traced back to an original source. Elsewhere in this book, Adam's father, John Adams, is quoted properly with footnotes and quotation marks. In the absence of proper documentation, this quote should be considered questionable at best.

These are just a few quotes from the site, but there are more. Just a very interesting place to read some OPV Enjoy.
post #2 of 55
Very interesting reading. I've read some stuff about this since it came up in another thread. MOst of it said that the founding fathers were pretty much ambivelent about religion. They acknowledge christianity but their main concern was govt. without religious interference.
post #3 of 55
As a practicing Christian I just have to say

YUCK!!
post #4 of 55
Thread Starter 
Why do you say yuck?

How can you deny what is right in front of you?

BTW, not all Christians believe we were founded on Christianity.
post #5 of 55
abi might have been saying "YUCK" at the innaccuracies, like "I'm a practicing Christian and even I am disgusted by this."

I don't actually know what she meant, but it's an opportunity to be contrary so I can't possibly pass it up.

Mamaste,

Pallas
post #6 of 55
Thread Starter 
Aw...very good point Pallas.

Perhaps I have a few extra hormones racing through me lately.
post #7 of 55
While I don't believe our nation was founded on Christianity I *do* believe that our founders acknowledged that our rights are *inherent* given to us by our Creator not by the government.

This is an important fact for me because in other situations governments believe that rights come from them (and can be taken away)

In older autocratic monarchies the thought was G-d gave the king his power and, hence, any rights could be granted or taken away by the king with G-d's blessings.

It's a very tricky balance but well worth persuing given the alternatives.

Debra Baker
post #8 of 55
Yes I was saying "yuck" regarding the inaccuracies. Misquoting really annoys me.

Is is known that quite a few of our founding fathers were athiests. Why beat around the bush or even ignore that fact??
post #9 of 55
It is ovious that none of you have read the actual letters of John Adams, or the writings of Geo. Washington etc. etc.
The revisionism is agaist Chrsitianity not in favor of it.
If you want the facts and the truth -- to directly to the source.
BTW - with the exception of Thom. Jefferson and Ben Franklin the majority of our founding father (and mothers) were Chrisitan and heavily influenced by thier faith. This comes from thier own writings NOT the writings of others.

As to yuck -- my sentiments would be much stronger and not for the reasons you state.

Oh, and finally, Geo. Washington prefered the Presbyterain Church -- in those days a person did not take communion in a denomination that was not his own. Washington, for reasons having to do with Martha attended the Anglican Church. Sort of how Bob Hope always went to Roman Catholic Mass on Chrsitmas Eve no matter where he was to please his wife, but Bob Hope is a member of the Presbyterain Church.
post #10 of 55
Having read reverendmothers crushing statement I did a little more research and it seems she is correct. GW was a Christian and you can view his letter and diaries online

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/gwhtml/gwhome.html

and all the information I am finding credits Jefferson as being a Deist. Not an athiest.

Ugh I got too tired to look up John Quincy Adams...the website his letters are on is stupid...

but all of this makes me wonder what makes an athiest website so much more believable than a Christian one?? Why do they seem to be the "voice of reason" with so many???

Researching this topic a little more it seems they are not anymore accurate than they claim Christians to be.
post #11 of 55
Whether or not they were believing Christians or atheists is besides the point. Fact is that they were all born Christians,, with Christian families. And they were aware of that fact, the exclusivity of their peculiarly Christian club, and that is why they placed so many protections into our government ... for those of us not.

- Amy
post #12 of 55
How is it beside the point when that is what the thread was about??

The initial post was about quoting our FFs and what their religions were according to athiest.com.

No one is denying the intent of the fifth amendment.
post #13 of 55
The point of the protections regarding religions was to protect relegions NOT the other way around. Our founding fathers and mothers had a history of living under goverments that used religon for political purposes -- and they wanted the freedom to worship. Most never imagined that someone would choose NOT to worship.

I don't understand what being born into Chrisitanity has to do with anything. One of the differences our founding fathers had from any other group was a Calvinsit world view. They beleived in covenant -- to truly understand the motives and intent of those men who wrote the consitiution we have to understand covenant theology. The vast majority of these men did not live a "shoe box" faith pulling it out only on Sundays to go to church, they lived in the light of thier faith everyday.

BTW - Abigial Adams, who is always being quoted in here famous letter to John -- "Remeber the ladies", came from a long line of ministers. One of the things that drew she and John Adams together were their strong Chrsitan convictions.

And I have to tell you -- when i read "Chrsitian revisionsim" I had to laugh, becasue if you read any text books today you find anything but a Christian world-view. The revisionists are not the Chrsitians.
post #14 of 55
Quote:
And I have to tell you -- when i read "Chrsitian revisionsim" I had to laugh, becasue if you read any text books today you find anything but a Christian world-view. The revisionists are not the Chrsitians.
I am not sure what textbooks you are referring to. I certainly haven't heard of high school textbooks being "anti-christian". In fact textbooks are generally waaayy too kind and sympathetic to the "christian" point of view.
post #15 of 55
Of course I am ashamed of a lot of past wrongs commited in the name of Christ but it does not affect my belief in him as I don't really think Christ would have approved of those things.
post #16 of 55
What they practiced/believed in their hearts is still not relevant. They were well aware of their status as "the majority" and looking to watch out for the minority.

The misuse of the historical record is happening mainly for the "protection of religion." You conveniently miss the fact that, yes, they wanted to protect religion, in particular other religions. Because they were aware of the fact that they were mostly of the same core belief, and while their denominations may have differed, they looked to afford minority denominations and religions those protections.

Ummm ... ahteists are a minority denomination/religion, right?

Inevitably the historical revisionism is a double-edged sword. Christians try to show that the country was founded on a Christian core and that it should continue in a Christian mode. And atheists try to show that they were either fanatics or anti to try and remove religion further from the public sphere.

I guess where I offend truly is that I don't see any actions that attempt to remove religion from the public sphere as in any way damaging to or suppressing Christianity. There are no pogroms against Christian churches, and we still all have Christmas off as a paid holiday. And Christians surely have freedom to worship with their own in their own way. They just can't ask me to pay for it or have to sit through it.

- Amy

edited to add the caveat that there have been attacks on African-American churches until very recently, but those were attacks on the people inside, not on their Christianity. And they were in no way pogroms, as the word "pogrom" refers to an attack sponsored by/authorized by the state authorities.
post #17 of 55
Hi Amy,

there may be no pogroms in the United States but the rest of the world IS experiencing religious murders against Christians. It is documented and if I was more computer savy I could put you onto some links. And these are done by the gov't.

Also there have recently been killings of Christians by Islamics which the gov't winks at. These things will continue....until the end. We just happen to live in a country--the US--that does not tolerate this. We are insulated as Christians, but our brothers and sisters in Christ are being slaughtered.

peace, moondancer who just needed to set the record straight
post #18 of 55
THANK YOU NM!! for coming to my rescue with the links.



peace, moonie
post #19 of 55
Quote:
Also there have recently been killings of Christians by Islamics which the gov't winks at. These things will continue....until the end. We just happen to live in a country--the US--that does not tolerate this. We are insulated as Christians, but our brothers and sisters in Christ are being slaughtered
Sorry but I have hard time beleiving that christianity's days are numbered. Even after reading NM's links I think the biggest problem is that those who follow christ have a problem with proseltysing. Furthermore many if the christians in these stories are as well ethnic minorities. ( 2strikes). I am sorry to say my heart's not bleeding.
post #20 of 55
quote: "Sorry but I have hard time beleiving that christianity's days are numbered."

You're right, 3Boys! Christianity's days are not numbered...It is in the places where the persecution is greatest that the faith is spreading most rapidly.


quote: " I think the biggest problem is that those who follow christ have a problem with proseltysing.

There's a lot of truth to that statement. If they would just keep their mouths shut and quit baptizing the Muslims they wouldn't be getting their heads cut off.... Proselytizing is, indeed, their "problem." And if they'd just quietly accept the 3-Self Patriotic movement and quit distributing Christian literature to kids and quit smuggling in Bibles, they wouldn't be filling up the Chinese prisons. It's really their problem for proselytizing.
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