“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
– Constitution, First Amendment
Some Georgia politicians are actively promoting the role of religion in politics. Our own state senator, who is supposed to represent all of his district’s citizens whether they are religious or not, attempted to push his “Religious Liberty” bill through the legislature, although he failed. This unneeded bill was just a thinly veiled attempt to discriminate against gays, as I stated in an earlier column. It’s unfortunate that our Board of Commissioners were not as wise as the legislature on this matter.
These local politicians, four of whom apparently believe pushing religion is part of their job (Note: Rousseau voted against the resolution), simply don’t seem to understand how this nation was formed during the “Age of Enlightenment.” And they must not have have read our Constitution, which states: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Folks, legislating legal exemptions for discrimination based on religion is just not part of your job as a County Commissioner.
Next month we have the annual celebration of our nation’s birth. Last July 4, one state politician with local ties (you can guess who) ran newspaper ads headed “In God we trust”, a phrase that no founding father ever asked to be on our coins and was not added until the Civil War. These ads show four founding fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams) plus, oddly, Ronald Reagan, who obviously wasn’t around back then. Talk about pandering to the right-wing base.
Each of the four founding fathers (i.e. minus Reagan) is quoted saying something positive about God, but those quotes are out of context, extremely selective, and highly misleading.
For example, Jefferson also wrote: “Question with boldness even the existence of a god.”; “But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are 20 gods, or no god.”; and “The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”
Adams was a Unitarian who also did not believe in the Trinity, stating: “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,” and: “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.”
As for Franklin, he wrote: “Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.”; “The way to see by Faith is to shut the Eye of Reason”; “I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absenteed myself from Christian assemblies.”; and“To Follow by faith alone is to follow blindly.”
Even the father of our country, Washington,instructed his agent when hiring people to build Mounty Vernon: “If they be good workmen, they may be from Asia, Africa, or Europe; they may be Mohammedans, Jews, or Christians of any sect, or they may be Atheists.”
Furthermore, many other founding fathers were not believers in traditional religion or Christianity. Thomas Paine wrote “The Age of Reason,” and Ethan Allen wrote “Reason: The Only Oracle of Man.” Both promoted deism.
Someone I admire once said: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s”. This was a very thoughtful and considered statement, containing tremendous wisdom. As Jesus said, let’s continue to keep government and religion separate for all our sakes.