Wednesday, August 6, 2008

When one is left speechless, thankfully one can turn to the words of others

I am well aware that Senator Obama - like any number of other politicans and policy makers today - endorses a number of public policies that intertwine religion and government in ways I regard as dangerous to both. But when I saw this, it truly shook me, not so much for its content, but for the fact that a person seeking the Democratic nomination and therefore ultimately the Presidency of this country, of all countries, is permitting this sort of "community service" announcement on his website. The decision by Senator Obama (yes, by Senator Obama, who must accept responsibility for the content of his website) to sponsor this sort of announcement basically left me flabbergasted. So I sought solace in the words of others, which I share below.

  • Language proposed by Thomas Jefferson for the Virginia State Constitution: "All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution": freedom for religion, but also freedom from religion. (emphasis mine) (Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 38. Jefferson proposed his language in 1776.)
  • I may grow rich by an art I am compelled to follow; I may recover health by medicines I am compelled to take against my own judgment; but I cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve and abhor. (Thomas Jefferson, notes for a speech, c. 1776. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 498.)
  • Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. But is uniformity of opinion desirable? No more than of face and stature. (Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 363)
  • Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth. (Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 363.)
  • No man complains of his neighbor for ill management of his affairs, for an error in sowing his land, or marrying his daughter, for consuming his substance in taverns ... in all these he has liberty; but if he does not frequent the church, or then conform in ceremonies, there is an immediate uproar. (Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 364.)
  • Government being, among other purposes, instituted to protect the consciences of men from oppression, it is certainly the duty of Rulers, not only to abstain from it themselves, but according to their stations, to prevent it in others. (emphasis mine) (George Washington, letter to the Religious Society called the Quakers, September 28, 1789. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 500.)
  • It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it was by the indulgence of one class of the people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that those who live under its protection should [conduct] themselves as good citizens in giving it, on all occasions, their effectual support. (George Washington, letter to the congregation of Touro Synagogue Jews, Newport, Rhode Island, August, 1790. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 500.)
  • All religions united with government are more or less inimical to liberty. All separated from government, are compatible with liberty. (Henry Clay, 1777-1852, Speech in the House of Representatives, March 24, 1818. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 190.)
  • When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion. (emphasis mine) (Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President [1861-1865]. From Henry O. Dormann, compiler, The Speaker's Book of Quotations, New York: Ballantine Books, 1987, p. 127.)
  • Encourage free schools, and resolve that not one dollar of money shall be appropriated to the support of any sectarian school. Resolve that neither the state nor nation, or both combined, shall support institutions of learning other than those sufficient to afford every child growing up in the land the opportunity of a good common school education, unmixed with sectarian, pagan, or atheistical tenets. Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private schools, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separated. (Ulysses S. Grant, 18th U.S. President [1869-1877], speech before the Army of the Tennessee, Des Moines, Iowa, 1875; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 288)
  • If there is one thing for which we stand in this country, it is for complete religious freedom, and it is an emphatic negation of this right to cross-examine a man on his religion before being willing to support him for public office. (Theodore Roosevelt, 26th U. S. President [1901-1909], letter to J. C. Martin, November 9, 1908, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 83.)
  • Because we are unqualifiedly and without reservation against any system of denominational schools, maintained by the adherents of any creed with the help of state aid, therefore, we as strenuously insist that the public schools shall be free from sectarian influences, and, above all, free from any attitude of hostility to the adherents of any particular creed. (Theodore Roosevelt, 26th U. S. President [1901-1909], as quoted by Reuben Maury, The Wars of the Godly, New York, 1928, p. 213, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 83.)
  • The fundamental precept of liberty is toleration. We cannot permit any inquisition either from within or from without the law or apply any religious test to the holding of office. The mind of America must be forever free. (Calvin Coolidge, 30th U. S. President [1923-1929], Inaugural Address on March 4, 1925, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 22.)
  • Religious and racial persecution is moronic at all times, perhaps the most idiotic of human stupidities. (Harry S. Truman, 33rd U.S. President [1945-1953], Where the Buck Stops; The Personal and Private Writings of Harry S. Truman, ed. by Margaret Truman; New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1989, p. 126.)
  • As I say, not all of Jefferson's ideas were popular, though most of them were absolutely right.... He was also called an atheist because he didn't believe in a state church, an official church of the government, and in fact made it clear that he didn't much like any church at all, though he did admire many, though not all, of the teachings of religion.... And you'll recall that it was Jefferson, as governor of Virginia, who wrote the Statute of Religious Liberty in 1786, which said that "no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship" but that all people "shall be free to profess ... their opinion in matters of religion." He summed up very bluntly one time his view that no man harmed anyone else in choosing and practicing his own religion, or no religion. "It does me no injury," he said, "for my neighbor to say that there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." (Harry S. Truman, 33rd U.S. President [1945-1953],Where the Buck Stops; The Personal and Private Writings of Harry S. Truman, ed. by Margaret Truman; New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1989, pp. 212-213.)
  • Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others. (John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S. President [1961-1963], letter to the National Conference of Christians and Jews, October 10, 1960. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 191.)
  • If any provision of the Constitution can be said to be more precious than the others, it is the provision of the First Amendment; which undertakes to separate church and state by keeping government's hands out of religion and by denying to any and all religious denominations any advantage from getting control of public policy or the public purse. This is so because the history of nations makes this truth manifest: When religion controls government, political freedom dies; and when government controls religion, religious freedom perishes. (Sam J. Ervin, Jr., 1896-1985, U.S. Senator from North Carolina, in Church & State, February 1985; as quoted by Samuel Rabinove, "Church and State Must Remain Separate," in Julie S. Bach, ed., Civil Liberties: Opposing Viewpoints, St. Paul: Greenhaven Press, 1988, p. 55.)
  • Religious factions will go on imposing their will on others unless the decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy. They must learn to make their views known without trying to make their views the only alternatives. (Barry Goldwater, 1909- , American politician, in a speech,1981. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 498.)
  • That wall, embodied in the First Amendment, is perhaps America's most important contribution to political progress on this planet. (Lowell Weicker, U. S. Senator [and later Governor] of Connecticut, in Free Inquiry 3 [Summer 1983], according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 103.)


10 Comments:

Anonymous kavala007 said...

I am speechless. I clicked on the “this” and I am speechless. It looks to me as if Obama plans to go beyond the policies of George Bush's faith based initiatives. While it has become apparent that the DNC has suffered from a coup d’etat, we must not let our country fall to the same fate. I hear the jack boots.

Thanks, once again, Heidi for not only your post but for all you do.

August 6, 2008 at 12:59 AM  
Blogger jbjd said...

In the comment section on BO's site, I copied the link to your article. But I couldn't enter my comment until I registered for the prayer campaign. Even in jest, I could not bring myself to do this.

August 6, 2008 at 1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can't wait for HRC to see the light

I actully shook with fury and then the numbness come over me.

I think in such a posting, one can see the influence of his church of 20 years. It's group thinking that seeps into every aspect of life and is meant to.

During this primary season so many people have turned to your writings for a sense of sanity and here you have done the same with this fine collection of quotes. Thank you, we need them!

Later I was thinking when I heard Hillary on the SF fundraising video, I thought it seemed she had said some of those things alot before. I mean the part where she says , " I 'm doing all I know how to do! I have called people like the nurses association! " Also, " I can't control the delegates! " and, " no one has done this much this early !.... She most likly has said such things to the DNC and the Obama people over and over and the thing is, Hillary and BO can't communicate . it's oil and water. Hill knows you have to earn the votes. Obama thinks you just hand them over like a pay off....and if you don't , you are trying to "hurt" him . You haven't seen the light. Lord helps us, no pun intended.

This is one of the reasons we must have Hillary in office. She seemingly is the only one who even remembers what our stated government looks like, or how it's supposed to work....and deeply wants to work it in that fashion.

August 6, 2008 at 4:40 AM  
Anonymous minty said...

Yes we are the evil ones who live in darkness and have not seen the light of Obama whose brightness shines forth in radiance and all that is good. Obama who makes deals with St Rezko to leave the common constituent in cold and squalor. For this is for our own good as we must learn to eat less, drive less, become accustomed to less heat when it is cold and less cold when there is heat. For lo I shall walk in the valley of sacrifice I shall not want. For this is the path of righteousness so that other Obama Saints may dwell in fields of arugula forever..Amen

August 6, 2008 at 7:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just another attempt to manipulate hearts and minds. Their prayer sounds more like ego, cult ego as they identify themselves as Obama’s and want conformity instead of allowance and respect for individuality. This was sad to read because my first impression was his follower’s are so deeply consumed by the movement they have yielded their own power to this mere mortal.

Thanks HLF you are awesome!

August 6, 2008 at 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Mirlo said...

I don't believe this! Is it a bad dream? Tell me I'll wake up soon. I thought that I had seen a lot; this is extremly scary - a lot worse than GWB.

August 6, 2008 at 9:43 AM  
Anonymous manolo minx said...

You are now officially my hero. I'm bookmarking this one for the ages. Rereading it might help take the edge off of the extreme wiggins I got seeing that link.

August 6, 2008 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Aeneas said...

First speechless, then a squirm in my stomach, and then utter disgust and indignation.

I wanted to leave a scathing comment in that freaking site, but, as a previous commentator said here, I couldn't make myself register, even if in jest.

They've got it controlled, the sobs.

Although I could give a fake name... and fake email.

Heidi, isn't there a news place you could give this to and have them start blasting. Nothing turns off Americans more than someone praying for their enlightment.

August 6, 2008 at 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Jen Toluca Lake, CA said...

Okay now...! Thank you Heidi for bringing this to light. You are indeed "keeping them honest". In that regard perhaps Anderson "keeping them honest" Cooper's 360 blog might be a good place to make your point. Thank you too for the wonderful words that do calm the uneasy feelings evoked by reading "this".

August 6, 2008 at 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Carolyn Mann said...

Like kavala007, I also was struck speechless -- dumbfounded, really -- by the audacity of these morons thinking they need to pray for we mere mortals who support Hillary. Then I recovered my voice. Unfortunately, it was spouting profanities too vile to be repeated here.

August 7, 2008 at 12:26 AM  

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