- Apr 17, 2002
- Reaction score
- At an OP in view of your house...
The US was NOT founded by puritans. The puritans were a small sect. Many of our founding fathers were, in fact, Deist or Agnostic. See below quotes.
"I have examined all the known superstitions of the word, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth."
"The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity."
Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11 states:
"The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion."
Here's Thomas Paine:
"It is the duty of every true Deist to vindicate the moral justice of God against the evils of the Bible."
And; "The Christian church has set up a religion of pomp and revenue in pretended imitation of a person (Jesus) who lived a life of poverty."
"Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."
These founding fathers were a reflection of the American population. Having escaped from the state-established religions of Europe, only 7% of the people in the 13 colonies belonged to a church when the Declaration of Independence was signed.
HA HA ..Im back. Now I can explain why I disagree with your statement on many levels, with proof as to why I think your statement is incorrect.
First off, I cant see how you would actually buy your first statement. I will agree that the puritans were a small sect during a time when we were European colonies, and the sect by itself didnt last very long. However, there weren't that many people in the colonies in the 1st place. Also, as is the case with many fundamentalist Christian sects, addititional sects broke off and evolved from the Puritan sect. Christianity in the broad sense is our most widely practiced religion in America today. And, American Christianity is very different then Christianity in other countries because of the way it evolved from our original colonists, who were all fundamentalist protestant Christians, for the most part.
Now in my opinion America came to where it is today because of 4 things. #1 Sheer Determination: People desired to live in a free democratic state, where our leaders represented the people. #2 Luck or Devine intervention or whatever. Our 1st colonists were lucky that they didnt die off completely, which they almost did, and that they were able to even establish settlements. We were lucky that England had other problems overseas, and that we were across the atlantic, so they didnt kick our @$$ in the revolution as they would have and almost did. We were lucky that France didnt take the opportunity to take us over once we became independent, which they could have but they had other issues to attend to overseas. We got lucky with certain land deals, like the Louisiana purchase, and the later purchase of Alaska. The list of our luck goes on. #3 Genocide, slavery and other serious abominations. In order to live in our land, and run things our way, we had to practically exterminate an entire nation of Native American people to current estimations of over 50 million. We used archaic methods of Germ Warfare, terrorism, and other methods of war that would be considered unlawful by todays U.N. standards to exterminate them. Until the beginning of the 1800s, our economy was based off of slavery. Without Slavery our economy, at least as it was DESIGNED pre-1800s, would have failed. It wasnt until the Northern states became more industrial, less relying on the southern agricultural economy, that the North actually drove us to War to abolish slavery. The Republican Ideal at the time was to be able to pull yourself up by your bootstraps to achieve the American dream or to start from being a worker, save $$, to eventually become an owner. Your Democrates at the time were your slave states (Keep in mind that Pre Anti-Bellum and Post Anti-Bellum Democrates and Republicans are 2 different animals, the parties switched after the Cival War, which is the topic of another discussion). Slavery violated the Republican Ideal because how can a worker pull themselves up from their bootstraps if they cant get hired because an Owner wont pay a worker if they can get it for free through slavery. The collision of these 2 ideals lead to the Civil War. Slavery and Genocide are 2 major things, but some would say that our elitist attitudes and government policy is what drives consumerism, and trade policies based off of our unilateral power that drive our economy today. Some very educated people have made the argument that we have modern slavery today, where the gap between the rich and the poor continually grows, and that the former republican ideal no longer exists because corporate America prevents the worker from ever achieving the American dream of becoming an owner. I dont agree with all those points, but the argument have been made, and if correct, these could be considered other abominations. #4 Religious zeal and fundamentalism. Our country was started mainly by people fleeing religious persecution from the established organizations (Mostly the church of England, but some from other established orgs. Like the Church of Rome, Etc.). These people were your religious cults by the time-period standards. They had developed a very ethnocentric, egocentric, and stringent interpretation of the Bible, which lead to religious zeal. This zeal helped the people in the Reveloution, and helped the people survive the pre-revelolutionary days. This zeal was also used as justification for #3 (the genocide and slavery specifically).
Now, here is my main point of this post .
The thing is, from yours (and others) non-christian perspective, you cant have your cake and eat it too. You cant say that Religion, specifically Christian fundamentalism had little to do with the founding of our country, but that religion, specifically Christian Fundamentalism was to blame for #3 (Genocide, Slavery, ethnocentricism, etc.), a clear thing that is an intricate part of our American history. Either A. Christian Fundamentalism played a major role, for better or for worse, in our history. We can take the good (our moral, lets say) and the bad (Slavery, Genocide) with that. Or B. Christian Fundamentalism didnt play a significant role in our countries development, and therefore is not to blame for the good, or the bad (Genocide, slavery, etc.) It has to be one or the other.
I believe its A. I believe Christianity played a major role, but the Ethnocentric version that was being practiced was wrong, which caused many evils in our countries history which we have to live with today.
You can believe what you choose.
Unfortunatily, our opinions matter very little in terms of history. So here our some historical facts:
#1 Religious persecution ran rampet from all sides in Europe, particularly from 1400s-1650s. Catholics against Hugonuts, Hugonuts against Catholics, Protestitants against Catholics, Protestants against other protestants, etc. Our Forefathers basically argued that this was not due to the religions themselves, but due to the dangerous mix of church and state.
#2 Pilgrims settled in Massachusets in the 1620s, creating some of the 1st New England Settlements. They believed in completely separating themselves from the church of England to follow their own sect of Christianity. They settled in the Americas to escape religious persecution.
#3 1630s, Puritans in Europe saught to purify the Protestant churches from any remnants of Catholic influence. They were known for such issuing savage punishments to clerigy and layman that failed to conform to the rules. They were persecuted in England for their behavior and beliefs, so about 20,000 saught refuge here in America. They still considered themselves to be a part of the Congretional Church, or Church of England, but they considered their form to be much more pure.
#4 Some primary sources to support both 2 And 3 would be Bradfords Histories, by William Bradford, which was Bradfords Journals of one of the 1st American settlements. I believe his journals is our 1st written historical record of our 1st colonies. Also Richard Mather authored The Cambridge Platform, and Cotton Mather wrote over 450 books and pamphlets on Puritan Christianity. Cotton Mather you may recognized, for he is blamed for instigating the Salem Witch Trials in Mass.
#5 Some other primary sources to mention would be both the Geneva Bible and the King James Bible. The Geneva Bible was compiled in 1560 by English Reformers who also left for the Americas to escape Religious Persecution. This Bible was used widely by Pilgrims and Puritans until it was replaced by the King James Bible. You also might want to look at Capital Laws or the 17th Century Laws that governed Massechussets. These laws were all based of scriptures, particularly the 10 commandments and Old Testement.
#6 Persecution continued to Run Rampet, except now the colonists were doing it to themselves. You may recognize Anne Hutchenson and Roger Williams. Both were expelled from Puritan Colonies. Willams started a Colony in Rhode Island, and he spoke of Religious Tolerance and Against Persecution. He Wrote The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, although he was a of Christian Faith himself, as was most of his colony. Anne Hutchenson became one of the 1st American Christian leaders. Quakers and Mennonites, who were also started colonies on their own due to banning by Puritans. In Massechusets, those who returned from banning were often executed. In Virginia, which was now mostly Puritan, had passed Anti-Quaker laws. Back to Quakers, dont forget that William Penn established the province of Pennsylvania which was ruled by Quaker Laws. The Quakers faught against spoke of religious tolerance, but only for those who believed in the one true God. So you werent to expect to be tolerated if you werent Christian at all.
#7 A large # of German Lutherans and Reformed Arrived to the Colonies in 1720s to seek refuge. Catholics arrived as well, but were basically required to establish Maryland due to the Anti-Catholic Laws of the other states. The names of some of our states, in hindsight, even show our religious history. It is no wonder that Mary land would be a Catholic state.
#8 Virginia has an interesting background. It was founded by businessmen through The Virginia Company They also ruled there state through the spirit of the Crusaders, which ment basically that people were required to go to church and religious education by swordpoint. This was led by Thomas Dale, one of the states founding fathers. They believed in the church of England as it was in England, not the Puritan version, which was seen with suspicion by the other colonies. They also aspired to converting natives (by swordpoint of course). This is where the famous story of Pocahontas occurred, where she was baptized and married to John Rolfe; 1614.
#9 We did go through an enlightenment period during the early 1700s, where people were getting to be more logical and less dogmatic towards their faiths. However, according the The Library of Congress estimation, around 80% of the people attended a Christian church, and more churches were being built during this time then during the entire 1600s as the population grew. The people who didnt attend often couldnt because there wasnt a church near enough to them.
#10 The Great Awakening began in Europe in 1730s, and swept through America by the 1740s. This was a revival period of religious zeal and evengelicism. Presbeterians, Baptists, and Methodists were now stemming from the Angelican, Congretional, and Quaker churches, leaving them in the dust by the 1800s.
#11 There were Diests such as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson that were landmark in helping to create the seperation of Church and State when we finally became the United States. Deism emphasized morality and rejected the orthodox Christian view and the divinity of Christ. Diests made up a very small minority of the populus during the inception of our Constitution. As a Diest, Jefferson considered himself a minority within a minority. John Toland, and John Locke wrote some famous diest tracts and books, while George Whitfield, Samuel Davies, and Johnathan Edwards wrote against diesm and for Christianity. George Washington is sometimes associated with Diesm, when the evidence to prove this is very slim.
#12 Religion played a major role in the Revolution. Some considered it a religious qurrel according to Torrie Joseph Calloway, friend of Benjamin Franklin. Countless writings, sermons, battle flags and reminents all point to the fact that religious zeal and belief was used to justify the war. John Witherspoon, one of the signers of the Decloration of Independence, is an example of a major influence in preaching the gospel to justify the revolution.
#13 Franklin and Jefferson were one of the most religiously liberal of our founding fathers. Yet, in creating a proposal for The Seal of the United States they both decided to use religious imagery for the task, because the people would identify with it. They went with Franklins proposal of using the image of the parting of the Red Sea.
#14 Some of the biggest debates in our history are the church and state debates. It was mostly over whether or not the States should financially support the churches. In Virginia particularly the debate ensued which eventually led to the official seperation of Church and State. This was sparked by a bill written by Patrick Henry which required a Tax on Virginians that would be given to the churches. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, 2 people you quoted, were the ones to officially put the debate to rest. Jeffersons Act to Establish Religios Freedom is what specifically did the trick. Other founding fathers saw nothing wrong with not separating church and state at first. George Washington can be quoted in saying that he is not in objection to making people pay to support which they profess.
#15 By the time the constitution and federal government was to be put in place, they saw it as wise to leave no mention of religion in our constitution. This was because the Federalists felt that it should be left up to the States, not because they felt it should be absent. There was considerable controversy over not mentioning God in these papers. However, our 1st 2 presidents, were considered religious men. Washington called religion: A nessicary spring of popular government John Adams considered himself a church going animal and believed that liberty and religious morality were inseperable in good government. It was Jefferson and Madison, our 3rd and 4th Presidents, who didnt agree. They were friendly to the MAJORITY however, who followed Christian faiths.
Now, Ive mentioned some names and sources that you can look up for yourself. The best comprehensive source online is probably the Library of Congress website Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, where most of what I have said is broken down there, and sited.
OTHER THINGS TO ADDRESS:
You quotes .Jefferson and Madison is explained above. It is true that they were not specifically Christian religious. The Adams quote is taken out of context. Adams believed that the US was founded on Liberty, however he believes cannot be separated from religious Christian morality; also explained above. Paine wrote The Age of Reason which has been considered The atheist Bible. He was hated and feared by most of the religious community in America for his book, however, I do not see how he could be considered as having great relevance to the founding of the US. HE's not a "forefather" and in fact rotted away in a French prison. The closest he comes to even playing a significant role is he "knew" a few of the key players.
Your 7% statistic .I dont know where your getting that from. Hey I heard that 80% of all statistics were made up on the spot (lol). Seriously, Nothing I have read or seen supports this statistic. It sort of violates good sense when I read the other proofs, also.
Treaty of Tripoli: Yes I am fully aware of the many atheists and Groups of Freethinkers who use the Treaty of Tripoli as their basis for saying that the U.S. was not founded on Christianity They use this to argue against the historical role that the Christian Religion played in the development of our country. This is probably where you came up with the "7% statistic." Let's look at the document for what it really was, though. If you read all the articles of the document, it was designed to prevent Piracy which was running rampant in the 1790s in Tripoli, which was off the coast of Modern Day Libya. Barlow wrote the document which intended to exchange $$ for peace. There is confusion as to what Barlow was many say diest, however, he had served as a military chaplin at one time. Regardless, the treaty was printed and reprinted a few times, with no evidence that the words that the United States was not founded on the Christian Religion" existed in the original document, which was destroyed. Furthermore, the oldest Arabic versions of the document do not contain this saying. So there is controversy there. What if it did, however? It would make some sense because the US government was trying to prevent piracy from a Muslim Nation, and they didnt want to turn anything into a religious war, which at the time they would lose. So even if it was there in the document, it would have been for diplomacy purposes and nothing more that I can see. Also, there is no evidence that Adams actually read this portion of the document when he addressed the people, and in fact his speech notes which can be found in Washington D.C. today support the premise that he DID NOT read that portion of the treaty, if even there, to the public. I feel that the Treaty of Tripoli, because of this evidence, is a mute point. Youd do a better job argueing the lack of a mention of God in the Federal Constitution, because at least that can be verified.
Check out www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/treaty_tripoli.html to see the treaty in full. There is a link there that has different arguments behind it.
Conclusion: Perhaps I was being to broad or general to say that our country was founded on Puritan values. I wasnt false, though, when you look at the evidence. Id say that our country was more or less founded by the 4 things I mention in the beginning. Regardless my proof and argument is stated. The evidence is presented. You can believe what you want, but remember that there are a lot of people out there who try to rewrite history to fit their own agendas. Many freethinkers have websites that do just that. My intel doesn't come from a website that I can specifically rely on to formulate my arguement for me. I have to do it on my own. Regardless, check the library of congress for a list of sources; most all sources you pick up anywhere, however, that aren't "freethinker" propaganda junk will support my points. To say that religion didnt have a major role in our countries development is absurd. I say not only that it did, but I would argue that the fundamentalism part of it caused many great evils in our history.
Any of you can say what you want but I am done with the subject. If I spend any more time on it, my f**king head will explode.