Would the (American) Founding Fathers want a theocracy?

After reading an article about the secular coalition writing to congress expressing their desire to vote down the resolution to incorporate "In God we Trust" everywhere, I got into a mature and structured...Facebook war... with my father. A quick overview of where he stands: he loves almost everything that Beck/Rush/Hannity/fox news says. He wasn't this hard headed 10 years ago, but now it's become ridiculous.

I post this hoping for advice, is there any hope for him? Any ideas on further points to be made? 

You may find this humorous, disturbing, or just dumb.

What follows is the unedited stream of conversation debate. I was doing this while at work and on my phone, so if my points are not well said or totally wrong that might be why.

(I am David S., my father is Mike S., Mike L and Katie J are skeptic friends of mine)

David S.

Should we really let christian hardliners turn our country into a theocracy? "In god we trust" is only 60 years old. The founding fathers wouldn't stand for this.

Secular Coalition Urges House Committee to Oppose 'In God We Trust'...

Mike S. ARE YOU SURE ABOUT THAT ?? The FF's wouldn't stand for this?


David S. Absolutely, they wanted a secular government, they just got done with england, why would the want to do the same thing. Like I've said before, some of their main influences came from non-religious thinkers like John Locke. And for the simplest method to see if they wanted god involved, try finding mention of god or religion in any legal document they crafted. You won't because its not there. There is no mention or hint of the 10 commandments, no mention of god, no mention of jesus. If they even remotely wanted it the country to be christian, they would have mentioned something.

And again, using sources that are clearly biased doesn't help. Sure there were probably some that wanted a christian nation, but the majority did not. If you really want a theocracy, get ready to give up your sundays, mandate prayer, and follow the old testament. Modern day christians say that they don't need to, but Jesus did say that the old testament was good and should be followed. So get out your stones and sacrificial animals and take a trip back to the bronze age.

Mike S. On September 1, 1782, the committee appointed by Congress to consider Aitken's project, having learned the completed Bible was almost ready for publication, at last took action by requesting......... the Chaplains of Congress....... to examine the proposed edition for accuracy.......Then Congress approved the "pious and laudable undertaking of Mr. Aitken, as subservient to the interest of religion, as well as an instance of the progress of arts in this country," and recommended his Bible to the American people, graciously authorizing him to publish the recommendation "in any manner he shall think proper."

Why would there be CHAPLANs of CONGRESS? Why would congress seek to examine the Bible for accuracy? Why would they then recommend the Bible to the American people?

David S. If your sources were anything but christian sites you may have a more objective view of it. It's a simple matter of looking at the evidence. All mentions of god and religion were created in the last century, mostly as an overreaction to communism. Many of the fathers were religious, some were simply theists, such as jefferson. But they believed in a personal god and a secular government. If christianity was so important, why did it take till the 1950s for any mention of it to show up? Hell, the original oath of office didn't invoke swearing to god. Try sources that don't have crosses all over the site, they are obviously not objective.

This is a complex part of history, with no simple answer. What we can do is look at the writings of the time, the influences of the fathers, and the legal documents written. When we do that, it is blatantly obvious that christianity was not a central point. You shouldn't hand to reach for obscure points such as the ones you just mentioned to prove such a large and important point.

Mike S. IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776 ????

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —

Mike S. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlpNTUMa4tY

David S. I wasn't aware that the declaration of independence was a legal document. I can plainly see that the bill of rights is littered with biblical references, it's plain as day. The ten commandments are the center point of or legal system and christianity is our declared national religion.

Yes I am being sarcastic, not of that is true.

Mike S. Is this the John Locke you are referring to ?


David S. Yeah, good piece on separation of church and state. I see what you are trying to do, and you are missing a critical point. You can be religious and separate that from public policy. I have no problems with personal gods, neither did the founding fathers.

David S. http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/summer97/secular.html

I can't believe I forgot to mention the Treaty of Tripoli where John Adams wrote "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 tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

Which is, by the way, a legal document.

Mike S. Dave you are ignoring overwhelming facts against your position-again

Mike S. http://supreme.justia.com/us/143/457/case.html

David S. Which facts are those, specifically. Did I make up the treaty? Did I forget how to read totally miss the overt references to the bible in the constitution? Did I make up the fact that all the official references to "under god" didn't appear until the 20th century? Did I not post an article from a seemingly neutral website void of crosses and atheistic agendas? Or are you the one ignoring the facts that I have presented? Nothing I have said requires comlex justification and sighing, it is all readily available and does not say anything negative about the fathers. If anything it shows their forward thinking to rise above the standards of the time.

Mike S. I have provided you with 100's of direct quotes and writings from the founding fathers, I just attached a Supreme Court case. It is not the messenger (vehicle) it is the message. I am sorry but you couldn't be more wrong.


Katie J I just have to say that this was the caption on your video.

"David Barton is founder of WallBuilders (www.wallbuilders.com), an organization dedicated to restoring America's constitutional, moral, and religious foundations. As stated by George Washington, David believes that, "The proopitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation which disregards the eternala rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained."They have a lot of information to learn from on the website.

Again, unless you believe that all information is part of a conspiracy against your beliefs you must begin to understand the importance of impartial and unbiased information. Media outlets with an agenda may not find this to be important in understanding and disseminating information. However, a direct quote from your source says "an organization dedicated to restoring america's constitutional, moral and RELIGIOUS foundations." How can you expect one to value the information you have put forth as valid if it's original goal is unbiased. Discussions based away from logic will never be solved and I think that is the epitome of the problem here.

David S. I am trying to be as objective as possible, you on the other hand could not be more subjective. A formal debate can't take place when one side is littered with logical fallacies, both formal and informal. I know I probably have a few in there, mostly due to frustration, but I readily acknowledge reasonable counterpoints. I respond with a strong point such as the treaty, you respond with an obscure court ruling. I respond with points regarding the ability to be religious personally a secular at a government level, you ignore that. Please, please, for your own sake, start looking for neutral sources. I would not have been able to get through school at a respectable level if I did my research like you. You need to be able to decipher the validity of your sources to determine the strength of your argument. Weak source, weak argument. I was referring to primary sources, legal documents, and secondary reasoning. You are using talking points fed to you by agenda driven sources, weak obscure points, and you are disregarding everything I have posted. I have read through all your links and have found nothing substantial that counters the point adequately.

You sound like a neo con bible thumper and I know you are not. I know you are trying to justify your point with no I'll intentions, but thinking outside of the box doesn't hurt.

Mike L Thomas Jefferson (1802), Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association explaining the meaning of the First Amendment..."the whole of the American people declared their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion...' thus building a wall between church and state."

Supreme Court (1947), Everson vs. Board of Education..."The 'establishment of religion' clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions or prefer one religion over another." and "Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between Church and State.'"

Mike L I don't know how much more proof someone needs than the founding fathers but I guess if you shove your fingers in your ears hard enough and yell "la la la la la, not listening" loud enough, it doesn't matter.

(Removed link to some school textbook based on the bible from colonial times)

David S. Ok, you have to be joking at this point. What was the point of that link?

Mike L What does that even have to do with the separation of church and state? And nothing personal Mike, but you have yet to show ANY proof that the founding fathers based our constitution on religion. No quotes, no text, nothing. Just because they were religious, doesn't mean they wanted religion in the government.

Mike L Besides, until churches start paying taxes, they deserve NO say in how the government acts.

Mike S. No matter where you turn for information there will be an agenda attached to it --

Mike S. That link was one of the 1st textbooks used in schools. It was printed in Boston -

Mike S. It was called The New England Primer

David S. Lol, this is absurd. The sources I referenced were not opinions or allegations, they are the actual documents. So unless you think the treaty, constitution, and direct quotes are all a fabricated conspiracy, you must accept the fact that the US was founded on a secular basis allowing for whatever personal god you want

Mike L There's not really an underlying agenda to the Constitution.

Mike S. Mike I maintain the basis for the founding of this country is grounded in Christianity - not that they wished to form a mandatory one size fits all religion. I do not disagree that it was a true conviction of the FF's that a relationship if at all between a person and a God was purely between that individual and no one else. Further that they felt the country would have been flawed had it not provided for the freedom to practice different religions IF desired.

David S. For at least the third time in this debate, can you provide any legitimate evidence that that is true? Can you provide examples in which it is apparent that christianity was a make influence? Nothing you have said acknowledges any facts that have been presented. Does your stance have anything to support it other than your convictions?

Mike S. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

What do they mean Creator are they referring to their Moms and Dads

Mike S. This link will in all likelyhood fall under your NOT RELIABLE SOURCES claim - perhaps it is all made up and is incorrect or maybe it holds some water. AGAIN they are not about establishing a religion but this does show some moments when they turned to religion.


David S. Ok, now Im done, I addressed that earlier. The declaration of independence is not a legal document and his no bearing on the governance of the country. These arguments may work in circles that have already come to a conclusion and want their beliefs to be justified. But in the real world where evidence matters, they don't hold up.

Did you even read anything I posted or wrote? I read everything that you posted, that's why I was able to address those points. Nothing you have said even hints at you reading anything but what you posted.

Mike S. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/f0404s.jpg

Mike S. Dave that has ZIP to do with wether or not they were Christians.

Mike S. Congressional Fast Day Proclamation

Congress proclaimed days of fasting and of thanksgiving annually throughout the Revolutionary War. This proclamation by Congress set May 17, 1776, as a "day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer" throughout the colonies. Congress urges its fellow citizens to "confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his [God's] righteous displeasure, and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness." Massachusetts ordered a "suitable Number" of these proclamations be printed so "that each of the religious Assemblies in this Colony, may be furnished with a Copy of the same" and added the motto "God Save This People" as a substitute for "God Save the King."

Mike S. The debate is (as I am looking at it) wether the FF's were Christian men or not - the proof is overwhelming YES they absolutely were.

Mike S. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/vc006492.jpg

Mike S. Morality in the Army

Congress was apprehensive about the moral condition of the American army and navy and took steps to see that Christian morality prevailed in both organizations. In the Articles of War, seen below, governing the conduct of the Continental Army (seen above) (adopted, June 30, 1775; revised, September 20, 1776), Congress devoted three of the four articles in the first section to the religious nurture of the troops. Article 2 "earnestly recommended to all officers and soldiers to attend divine services." Punishment was prescribed for those who behaved "indecently or irreverently" in churches, including courts-martial, fines and imprisonments. Chaplains who deserted their troops were to be court-martialed.


Mike S. Northwest Ordinance

In the summer of 1787 Congress revisited the issue of religion in the new western territories and passed, July 13, 1787, the famous Northwest Ordinance. Article 3 of the Ordinance contained the following language: "Religion, Morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, Schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged." Scholars have been puzzled that, having declared religion and morality indispensable to good government, Congress did not, like some of the state governments that had written similar declarations into their constitutions, give financial assistance to the churches in the West.

Mike S. Christianizing the Delawares

In this resolution, Congress makes public lands available to a group for religious purposes. Responding to a plea from Bishop John Ettwein (1721-1802), Congress voted that 10,000 acres on the Muskingum River in the present state of Ohio "be set apart and the property thereof be vested in the Moravian Brethren . . . or a society of the said Brethren for civilizing the Indians and promoting Christianity." The Delaware Indians were the intended beneficiaries of this Congressional resolution.

Mike S. All of this is in the Library of Congress.

David S. Those are much better points than the weak stuff you posted earlier, but it does not support your argument. Time and time again you were presented with mountains of solid evidence and all you can rebut with is obscure events. At some point, logic has to kick in and weigh the values of evidence. If it is overwhelmingly to one side, the conclusion probably resides there. If it is so obvious, why is it so hard to find evidence for, while the secular stance can be made with barely breaking a sweat? They were the CREATORS, they could have added whatever language they wanted to the constitution and other legal documents. So why didn't they sprinkle a christian god all over the place? Or is that just another conspiracy by the evil intellectual elite?

And btw, it doesn't matter of they were christians. In fact the most notable ones, jefferson and adams come to mind, were theists, self proclaimed at that.

David S. And even if a few wanted a christian nation, the majority did not. Hence the lack of christianity mentioned in legal documents. This is similar to your ridiculous argument against evolution. Even though 99% of biologists agree that evolution is true, since 1% don't, we should throw it out. You can't even get 100% of christians to agree on how to worship god and jesus, not even close!

David S. I hate to resort to an ad hominem point, but why are you so vehemently defending this? You don't go to church, you don't read the bible, you don't tithe 10% of the family income directly to the church. Why hitch your wagon you something you don't even follow? This does matter because all the points you use are rehashed from biblical litteralists who wouldnt mind some old testament justice in america. You're siding with borderline extremists. So unless you became born again without me knowing, I remain confused as to your justification.

Mike S. David you are being silly now - we are not discussing evolution vs creationsim. If people want their kids to learn creationism they can have them attend religious school. Public schools should not teach religion UNLESS it was to be all encompassing to cover the teachings of multiple religions. Then it would qualify as constructive education.

Congress urges its fellow citizens to "confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his [God's] righteous displeasure, and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness."

Mike L. Many of our founding fathers and patriots were not Christians. They were Deists! These include Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Monroe, James Madison, John Adams, and Thomas Paine. Some actually having much contempt for Christianity. Thomas Jefferson created the "Jeffersonian Bible," in which he removed all of the supernatural events and miracles of Jesus, just keeping his teachings. Paine wrote "the Age of Reason," a scathing critique of the bible.

Mike L. And to even mention morality and religion together in the same sentence is absurd. But thats a whole different topic.

At this point, I have given up. I have no more energy to debate.

Views: 243

Tags: Founding Fathers, Parents, advice, constitution


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