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:
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.
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