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04 July 2010

Why the Texas Taliban fears Mr. Jefferson.

In the spirit of passing along essays, here is one that I found on a friend's blog that he found on a friend's blog.  Why do I sound like a Pantene commercial?  Entry in its entirety:

Here is a nice essay that my friend Dave Miller had published (as a guest essayist) in the July 1st issue of "The Hook" newspaper. Hawes Spencer (or some other Hook editor) cut it down a bit (possibly to help it fit) so you might be interested in the full Monty, the unedited original article. Here it is in full. Thanks to Dave Miller for graciously permitting me to reprint it here.

Have a happy 4th of July everybody!
Richard Drumm The Astronomy Bum
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The impending celebration of Independence Day comes about four months after the powerful Texas Board of Education voted to undermine one of our Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms; namely, that of religion. Freedom of religion goes hand-in-hand with separation of church and state. The government is neither to establish religion nor prevent it from being practiced, according to the First Amendment. The Texas School Board’s recent acts of textbook censorship and revision of American history suggest that a Christian Taliban is on the rise.

Unfortunately, the extreme religious right is of the belief that our government is based on Christianity and should be recognized as such publicly. Often, the arguments are given that the founders were Christian men and the laws of the land are based upon the Biblical ten commandments. Although the founders in general did attend Christian churches of one kind or another, they wisely realized that the populace was religiously diverse and that no particular religion or sect should be formally recognized. Our laws and their antecedents basically agree with the ten commandments, but so have the laws of most civilizations throughout history. Non-Christian religions all teach similar rules of morality. They were all drawn from human experience down through the ages.

The thinkers who formulated the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were deists, not theists, and were inspired by the ideals of the Enlightenment movement in England and Europe. Among the leaders of that movement were Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet), Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Denis Diderot of France, and Francis Bacon, Isaack Newton, and John Locke of England. Americans Thomas Paine, Ethan Allen, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and Alexander Hamilton accepted the tenets of Enlightenment philosophy. These men believed in a creator, but not so much in the tradition of the familiar Hebrew/Christian God. They referred to that creator with terms such as “the First Cause”, “the Creator of the Universe”, “the Divine Author of all Good”, “the Grand Architect”, “the God of Nature”, and “Divine Providence”. The Declaration of Independence uses exactly this kind of wording, speaking of “Nature’s God”, “Supreme Judge”, and “divine Providence”; all echoes of enlightenment terminology.

Orthodox Christians, if they think about it at all, usually consider deists not to be Christians because, even though deists believe in a creator of the universe, they base their beliefs on reason rather than faith, rejecting supernatural revelation. According to the deist view, once creation was accomplished, the creator essentially no longer took part in directing the course of events. By and large, deists don’t believe in the Trinity; communication with God; the miracles described in the Bible; or the divinity (via the incarnation), virgin birth, atonement, resurrection, or ascension of Jesus.

Thomas Jefferson was raised in the Anglican Church, which was the Church of England in colonial America. He spent his school-boy years at the Reverend James Maury’s academy and his college years at William and Mary, both Anglican institutions, and he attended Anglican and Episcopal churches with some regularity all his life. Yet he was proud of his authorship of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which disestablished the Anglican church as the official church of Virginia, thus removing it from its chief source of income, which was from taxes on the public. Authorship of that statute was one of the three things that he requested to be inscribed on his grave monument (none of the three were to be his political offices, even his service as President of the United States).

While in Philadelphia, he attended Joseph Priestly’s Unitarian church and probably would have done so in Virginia, if one had been available. Priestley had founded the Unitarian Society in London in 1891, three years before immigrating to America. Jefferson had entered many notes from the writings of the leaders of the Enlightenment into his copy books at William and Mary and found that he greatly admired Priestly’s similar philosophy. While Jefferson served as a member of the Board of Visitors of William and Mary, he helped to abolish its divinity school and replace its two professors with professors of science and law. Jefferson did revere Jesus, but as a great religious reformer, teacher of ethics, and as a moral example to, not as a savior of, mankind. In his later years, he produced an edited version of the New Testament, from which he redacted the “corrupted” passages, which he considered to be illogical and unreasonable, added by partisan priests promoting their new religion. The resulting “Life and Morals of Jesus” was published after his death. We often call it the “Jefferson Bible”.

Now, seemingly unaware that our Constitution is a secular, not religious, document the reactionary members of the Texas Board of Education push Creationism as an opposing view and they have downplayed Jefferson to just a few short sentences in their approved history books. To see why his ideas provoke such fear, one need only read Jefferson:

"I have sworn on the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
--to Benjamin Rush, 1800


"I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others."
--to Edward Dowse, 1803


"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty Gods or no God."
--in Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-83


"Whenever... preachers, instead of a lesson in religion, put [their congregation] off with a discourse on the Copernican system, on chemical affinities, on the construction of government, or the characters or conduct of those administering it, it is a breach of contract, depriving their audience of the kind of service for which they are salaried, and giving them, instead of it, what they did not want, or, if wanted, would rather seek from better sources in that particular art or science."
--to P. H. Wendover, 1815


"I am really mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, a fact like this [i.e., the purchase of an apparent geological or astronomical work] can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too, as an offense against religion; that a question about the sale of a book can be carried before the civil magistrate. Is this then our freedom of religion? and are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule for what we are to read, and what we must believe? It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they are rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test of truth and reason. If [this] book be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in its reasoning, refute it. But, for God's sake, let us freely hear both sides, if we choose."
--to N. G. Dufief, 1814


" .. I am myself an empyric in natural philosophy, suffering my faith to go no further than my facts. I am pleased, however, to see the efforts of hypothetical speculation, because by the collisions of different hypotheses, truth may be elicited, and science advanced in the end."
--to George P. Hopkins, 1822


"History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose."
--to Baron von Humboldt, 1813


"And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors."
--to William Roscoe, 1820


Regarding the University of Virginia, which he founded:

"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it."
--to Thomas Cooper, 1814


"… a professorship of theology should have no place in our institution."
--to John Adams, 1823

21 comments:

JD Curtis said...

This is completely wrong from beginning to end. So extensive is it's wrongness that I would have to make an entire blog post of my own to debunk the whole thing. And I just might.

Larian LeQuella said...

Really, actual quotes that the man himself wrote are wrong?

It's hard to recognize the Taliban when you are part of it, isn't it?

JD Curtis said...

I just posted part 1 of my response on my blog happy-ass.

Have a nice day.

Sean said...

All I can think of when confronting an educated, yet still cognitively dissonant, theist is, "let them eat cake".

The source of a document is one discussion; the meaning of the document is another. The framers' religious preferences are as relevant as our current president's favorite sports team or color.

Before you scoff at my analogy, understand that there’s a difference between having an opinion and forcing it upon others. A belief becomes more than an opinion when it can stand up to scientific inquiry. Freedom of religion is freedom from religion.

People other than me must appreciate the irony of someone who is, at once, capable and willing to use science and source checking to validate and analyze a document written 234 years ago, but is not willing to apply the same scrutiny and reasoning to the basal document of their religion.

Larian LeQuella said...

JD, I'm not going to give your page any traffic. I'm sure it's full of references to Conservipedia and the bible, and frankly that has zero merit or even relevance.

Why is it so fucking impossible for your total lack of neural activity to understand that not everyone is your brand of crazy, and we'd appreciate it if you and your kind wouldn't insist on forcing the rest of us to buy into your crazy? Your revisionism and delusions have no place in textbooks or any other public arena sponsored by the government. Religion should be like genitals: Keep them to yourselves, don't flaunt them in public, and stop forcing them on your children.

Although, it seems catholics have a problem with keeping their genitals off children as well...

Scott said...

How utterly immature. JD's post points out important factual errors on the part of the original post (with zero reliance on Conservapedia and the Bible). His factual claims may be incorrect, but at least he sources them, something lacking in the post to which he responded. You can dispute them, but to just plug your ears because you don't like them is childish and fatuous.

It is useful to read something before criticizing it. JD granted you that courtesy. It behooves you to do the same.

Larian LeQuella said...

Hello Scott. Thanks for the comment. This is your first post, so let me preface by saying that in the past, JD HAS used places such as Conservipedia, and Vox Populi and cited them as IMPARTIAL... Repeatedly... He has shot his credibility with me at this point. He is on the same playing field as a flat earther citing a flat earther site (and he still doesn't understand that analogy by the way).

If he wants to post his thoughts here, I'll read them.

JD Curtis said...

I wasnt going to mention it, but since you brought it up Lunky-Lunk-Lunkinator, when did I ever describe Vox Day or Conservapedia as being, quote, "impartial"?

Conservapedia skews conservative as their name might imply. However this has absolutley NO bearing whatsoever as to whether the information contained in their entries is factually correct or not.

And you call me "dour" Lunky-poo?

'Tis to laugh.

Larian LeQuella said...

Here is an example where he says Conservipedia is accurate (and cites them twice): http://larianlequella.blogspot.com/2009/08/i-cant-help-but-be-atheist.shtml#comments And he cites William Lane Craig too...

JD Curtis said...

Lunk...

You do know the difference between the words "impartial" and "accurate", don't you?

I realize the mentality that I'm dealing with here so I don't want to take anything for granted. So a simple 'yes' or 'no' would suffice.

Larian LeQuella said...

Hey, you're starting to sound like me. Maybe I am having an effect on you. :)

Yes.

That was just one set of comments you made. That you even BOTHER to cite them is disturbing when those same instances are found on Wiki, or even dictionary.com. You show your hand in the citations you use.

And your posting history of July 2009 is really what made me totally dismiss you. I mean seriously, ND-TENS? Birther? Yeah, that's not in the slightest the height of delusion... (That was sarcasm in the last sentence in case you didn't catch it, I actually think you are very deluded, and you need constant supervision if you are allowed in public.)

Scott said...

Hi Larian,

Based on your comments thus far, and how Curtis has handled you (and your quick and repeated resort to crude insults), I don't think you're particularly intelligent, and not worth my time.

Incidentally, I'm an atheist. With friends like you...

Larian LeQuella said...

Sorry to hear that Scott. Maybe you missed the part on the top of each blog post that says this is my blog and it's more for my own amusement.

Also, JD has a "history" here. I'm not here to coddle anyone, and his history ends up deserving less respect than most others I would render it to. At this point, it's become a banter.

Scott said...

Yeah, I know he has a history, yet when he asked you to back up one of your claims about that history, you failed. So forgive my skepticism.

I'm sure the blog is for your amusement. Most are. But what a person does for amusement says a lot about what he is.

Larian LeQuella said...

Okay, JD, I went to your page, and I am even more amused at the effort you put into writing about an OPINION piece. And when it gets down to it, everything you wrote and cited are just opinions as well.

But it doesn't address one very important question: WHY did the Texas BOE remove Jefferson from the curriculum?

Also, I think that Taliban is a fair comparison. Your rebuttal described Al Queda, not the Taliban. I know you have an immense problem with distinctions, but there is one. And I would say that the Taliban is much more honest than the dyed-in-the-wool Young Earth Creationist bloc of the Texas BOE. At least with the Taliban, they are honest and up front with their crazy. Not so much with the Texas BOE that gives us such gems as "Someone has to stand up to the experts!"* (*if they disagree with my bronze age fables)

JD Curtis said...

WHY did the Texas BOE remove Jefferson from the curriculum?

Are you merely uncritically accepting what the Left has to say about Jefferson?

He was NEVER in danger of being removed from the curriculum. The only matter that would have been deemphasized would have been his name from a particular list of philosophers who might have been quoted or influential in certain, later revolutions. In the end, he wasnt even taken off of that list. He still would have been studied as a politician and president. Link

Also, I think that Taliban is a fair comparison. Your rebuttal described Al Queda, not the Taliban

Lunk. If you are serious about this, then tell me how many people who have a Christian worldview on the Texas Board of Education have ever killed anybody. Please cite the statistics here.

For comparison, Central Asia Online is reporting that "The Taliban-linked militancy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (ALONE) killed 1,518 civilians and 681 police personnel from January 2007 through March 2010." Link

I would appreciate if you break down your numbers in both civilian and police deaths as well.

I know you have an immense problem with distinctions, but there is one

Is this coming from the guy who tried to interchange the words "impartial" with "accurate" as if they were the same?

Sure they might have different organizational charts, but both groups are engaged in much of the same mayhem against non-combatants and peacekeepers. To state otherwise is nothing short of Orwellian verve.

JD Curtis said...

Scott,

I tink your initial impressions of Mr Lunquist are very well founded and in an easily observable fashion.

Larian LeQuella said...

Goals are the same, METHODOLOGY are different. Like I said, the Taliban is at least honest in their batshit crazy.

JD Curtis said...

Is it your belief that both organizations are not on the same page insofar as the institution of Sharia Law through terroristic means against peacekeepers and non-combatants alike?

If not, may I ask why you believe this is so?

Larian LeQuella said...

JD, are you utterly inept at analogies? Both organizations want THEIR religion to hold sway over all people they come in contact with. Simple as that. Taliban does it with their batshit crazy bombs and intimidation. xtians do it with their batshit crazy persecution complex and weaseling into politics.

http://theocracywatch.org/introduction2.htm has some rather telling quotes and citations if you are at all interested.

JD Curtis said...

So comparing two different groups in which one chiefly utilizes violence to reach their ends equates to another that doesnt at all is A-OK with you.

Bravo.

I just stopped by this blog to see how you were doing after a couple of months since my last visit. If this is the mentality that I have to deal with than this site can revert to Tumbleweeds Central again for all I care. Your "this is my blog and it's more for my own amusement" apologetics not withstanding.

Youre welcome to stop by my blog anytime you want, just come armed with FACTS. Not a predetermined ideology based upon emotional pleas.

Ciao pelotudo