Don't Rush Me
Responding reader writes of civics, deism
'The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.'
April 06, 2011 - Over the past few weeks, I have tried to challenge readers about their roles in the community and this newspapers role in their lives. So, now it's time to start letting you know what your neighbors are saying. More soon.
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Don, It's a critically interesting question you posed in your column, about civility/civics/citizen and our civic duties . . .
. . . Years ago, when we actually had to study civics in school, as American citizens we had to learn about our Constitution, the separation of Church and State, the history that led to the ratification of our Constitution (which was a radical document at the time), and other crucial documents as well, so we'd be more civil to each other.
It amazes me so many citizens of our country today have no idea what such documents say, or even the history behind our current Pledge of Allegiance. They don't know that "under God" was not a part of our Pledge until it was pushed through by lobby groups, in 1954, taking advantage of the fear of the time.
Most American citizens today never heard of Article XI of the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli, which was ratified unanimously by the U.S. Senate and signed by Founding Father and President John Adams. The document states: "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims]Ö"
They don't realize that most of our Founding Fathers were Deists, meaning: 1) they thought the universe had a creator, but that he does not concern himself with the daily lives of humans, and does not directly communicate with humans, either by revelation or by sacred books. 2) They often spoke of God (Nature's God or the God of Nature), but this was not the God of the bible. 3) They did not deny there was a person called Jesus, praised him for his benevolent teachings, but they denied his divinity.
Founding Father and President Thomas Jefferson said: "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear."
Many Americans today don't know Christianity is never mentioned in our founding documents. Founding Father Thomas Paine expressed: "All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."
Founding Father and President George Washington lamented: "I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society."
Founding Father Benjamin Franklin—a brilliant man of many talents, who used the power of observation to create the lightning rod, challenging superstitions and fear-mongering about lightning being a punishment from God—said: "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason," and "In the affairs of the world, men are saved, not by faith, but by the lack of it."
Our Founding Fathers were men of the Enlightenment, who debated heavily and used many minds to create our Constitution, which some people believed wouldn't last more than a generation.
In a letter to the Danbury Baptists Association, Jefferson
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org