Christmas can be celebrated in the school room with pine trees, tinsel and reindeers, but there must be no mention of the man whose birthday is being celebrated. One wonders how a teacher would answer if a student asked why it was called Christmas.
...legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State . Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
[ Said during a debate when his opponent asserted that atheism and belief in evolution lead to Nazism :] Atheism by itself is, of course, not a moral position or a political one of any kind; it simply is the refusal to believe in a supernatural dimension. For you to say of Nazism that it was the implementation of the work of Charles Darwin is a filthy slander, undeserving of you and an insult to this audience. Darwin ’s thought was not taught in Germany; Darwinism was so derided in Germany along with every other form of unbelief that all the great modern atheists, Darwin , Einstein and Freud were alike despised by the National Socialist regime. Now, just to take the most notorious of the 20th century totalitarianisms – the most finished example, the most perfected one, the most ruthless and refined one: that of National Socialism, the one that fortunately allowed the escape of all these great atheists, thinkers and many others, to the United States, a country of separation of church and state, that gave them welcome – if it’s an atheistic regime, then how come that in the first chapter of Mein Kampf , that Hitler says that he’s doing God’s work and executing God’s will in destroying the Jewish people? How come the fuhrer oath that every officer of the Party and the Army had to take, making Hitler into a minor god, begins, I swear in the name of almighty God, my loyalty to the Fuhrer? How come that on the belt buckle of every Nazi soldier it says Gott mit uns, God on our side? How come that the first treaty made by the Nationalist Socialist dictatorship, the very first is with the Vatican? It’s exchanging political control of Germany for Catholic control of German education. How come that the church has celebrated the birthday of the Fuhrer every year, on that day until democracy put an end to this filthy, quasi-religious, superstitious, barbarous, reactionary system? Again, this is not a difference of emphasis between us. To suggest that there’s something fascistic about me and about my beliefs is something I won't hear said and you shouldn't believe.
The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries. [ Letter objecting to the use of government land for churches, 1803 ]
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 tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Mohammedan] 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. [ Adams submitted and signed the Treaty of Tripoli, 1797 ]
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute - where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote - where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference - and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him. I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish - where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source - where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials - and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all. [Remarks to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, September 12 1960]
The next time believers tell you that 'separation of church and state' does not appear in our founding document, tell them to stop using the word 'trinity.' The word 'trinity' appears nowhere in the bible. Neither does Rapture, or Second Coming, or Original Sin. If they are still unfazed (or unphrased), by this, then add Omniscience, Omnipresence, Supernatural,Transcendence, Afterlife, Deity, Divinity, Theology, Monotheism, Missionary, Immaculate Conception, Christmas, Christianity, Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Methodist, Catholic, Pope, Cardinal, Catechism, Purgatory, Penance, Transubstantiation, Excommunication, Dogma, Chastity, Unpardonable Sin, Infallibility, Inerrancy, Incarnation, Epiphany, Sermon, Eucharist, the Lord's Prayer, Good Friday, Doubting Thomas, Advent, Sunday School, Dead Sea, Golden Rule, Moral, Morality, Ethics, Patriotism, Education, Atheism, Apostasy, Conservative (Liberal is in), Capital Punishment, Monogamy, Abortion, Pornography, Homosexual, Lesbian, Fairness, Logic, Republic, Democracy, Capitalism, Funeral, Decalogue, or Bible.
They knew that to put God in the constitution was to put man out. They knew that the recognition of a Deity would be seized upon by fanatics and zealots as a pretext for destroying the liberty of thought. They knew the terrible history of the church too well to place in her keeping or in the keeping of her God the sacred rights of man. They intended that all should have the right to worship or not to worship that our laws should make no distinction on account of creed. They intended to found and frame a government for man and for man alone. They wished to preserve the individuality of all to prevent the few from governing the many and the many from persecuting and destroying the few.
Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer a difficult question: why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?
The divorce between Church and State ought to be absolute. It ought to be so absolute that no Church property anywhere, in any state or in the nation, should be exempt from equal taxation; for if you exempt the property of any church organization, to that extent you impose a tax upon the whole community.
The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount…If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State.
The difference between Socrates and Jesus is that no one had ever been put to death in Socrates' name. And that is because Socrates' ideas were never made law. Law, in whatever name, protects privilege.
Christianity may be good and Satanism evil. Under the Constitution, however, both are neutral. This is an important, but difficult, concept for many law enforcement officers to accept. They are paid to uphold the penal code, not the Ten Commandments … The fact is that far more crime and child abuse has been committed by zealots in the name of God, Jesus and Mohammed than has ever been committed in the name of Satan. Many people don’t like that statement, but few can argue with it.
For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew--or a Quaker--or a Unitarian--or a Baptist. It was Virginia's harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson's statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim- -but tomorrow it may be you--until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril. Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end--where all men and all churches are treated as equal--where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice--where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind--and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood. That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believe--a great office that must neither be humbled by making it the instrument of any one religious group nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office. ... This is the kind of America I believe in--and this is the kind I fought for in the South Pacific, and the kind my brother died for in Europe. No one suggested then that we may have a "divided loyalty," that we did "not believe in liberty," or that we belonged to a disloyal group that threatened the "freedoms for which our forefathers died.
Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters , is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together . [ Letter to Edward Livingston, 10 July 1822 - Writings 9:100--103 ]
When the government puts its imprimatur on a particular religion it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favored beliefs. A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some.
Besides the danger of a direct mixture of religion and civil government, there is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by ecclesiastical corporations. The establishment of the chaplainship in Congress is a palpable violation of equal rights as well as of Constitutional principles. The danger of silent accumulations and encroachments by ecclesiastical bodies has not sufficiently engaged attention in the U.S.
The liberty of man is not safe in the hands of any church. Wherever the Bible and sword are in partnership, man is a slave. All laws for the purpose of making man worship God, are born of the same spirit that kindled the fires of the auto da fe, and lovingly built the dungeons of the Inquisition. All laws defining and punishing blasphemy -- making it a crime to give your honest ideas about the Bible, or to laugh at the ignorance of the ancient Jews, or to enjoy yourself on the Sabbath, or to give your opinion of Jehovah, were passed by impudent bigots, and should be at once repealed by honest men. An infinite God ought to be able to protect himself, without going in partnership with State Legislatures. Certainly he ought not so to act that laws become necessary to keep him from being laughed at. No one thinks of protecting Shakespeare from ridicule, by the threat of fine and imprisonment. It strikes me that God might write a book that would not necessarily excite the laughter of his children. In fact, I think it would be safe to say that a real God could produce a work that would excite the admiration of mankind.
The atheist, agnostic, or secularist ... should guard against the encroachment of religion in areas where it has no place, and in particular the control of education by religious authority. The attempts to ban the teaching of evolution or other scientific theories -- a feeble echo of medieval church tyranny and hostility to learning, but an echo nonetheless are serious threats to freedom of inquiry and should be vigorously combated.
So here we have found a means of a) alienating even the most flexible and patient Palestinians; while b) frustrating the efforts of the more principled and compromising Israelis; while c) empowering and financing some of the creepiest forces in American and Israeli society; and d) heaping ordure on our own secular founding documents. When will the Justice Department and the Congress and the Supreme Court become aware of this huge and rank offense, which is designed to bring us ever nearer to holy war?
The prince's official job description as king will be 'defender of the faith,' which currently means the state-financed absurdity of the Anglican Church, but he has more than once said publicly that he wants to be anointed as defender of all faiths—another indication of the amazing conceit he has developed in six decades of performing the only job allowed him by the hereditary principle: that of waiting for his mother to expire.
It's a curious thing in American life that the most abject nonsense will be excused if the utterer can claim the sanction of religion. A country which forbids an established church by law is prey to any denomination. The best that can be said is that this is pluralism of a kind.
If you do not want to stop the wheels of progress; if you do not want to go back to the Dark Ages; if you do not want to live again under tyranny, then you must guard your liberty, and you must not let the church get control of your government. If you do, you will lose the greatest legacy ever bequeathed to the human race—intellectual freedom. Now let me tell you another thing. If all the energy and wealth wasted upon religion—in all of its varied forms—had been spent to understand life and its problems, we would today be living under conditions that would seem almost like Utopia. Most of our social and domestic problems would have been solved, and equally as important, our understanding and relations with the other peoples of the world would have, by now, brought about universal peace. Man would have a better understanding of his motives and actions, and would have learned to curb his primitive instincts for revenge and retaliation. He would, by now, know that wars of hate, aggression, and aggrandizement are only productive of more hate and more human suffering. The enlightened and completely emancipated man from the fears of a God and the dogma of hate and revenge would make him a brother to his fellow man. He would devote his energies to discoveries and inventions, which theology previously condemned as a defiance of God, but which have proved so beneficial to him. He would no longer be a slave to a God and live in cringing fear!
This separation was absolute in our original Republic. But the sky-godders do not give up easily. In the 1950s they actually got the phrase In God We Trust onto the currency, in direct violation of the First Amendment.
[T]here remains [in some parts of the country] a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Govt. & Religion neither can be duly supported. Such indeed is the tendency to such a coalition, and such its corrupting influence on both parties, that the danger cannot be too carefully guarded agst.
Creationists have also changed their name ... to intelligent design theorists who study 'irreducible complexity' and the 'abrupt appearance' of life—yet more jargon for 'God did it.' ... Notice that they have no interest in replacing evolution with native American creation myths or including the Code of Hammurabi alongside the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools.
It is now established by verifiable evidence that religion stultifies the brain and is the great obstacle in the path of intellectual progress. The more religious a person is, the more he is steeped in ignorance and superstition, the less is his sense of moral responsibility. The more intelligent a person, the less religious he is. There is an old saying that 'where there are three scientists, there are two atheists.' The countries whose governments are dominated by religion and religious institutions are the most backward. By the same token, the countries whose people are the most enlightened, and whose governments are based upon the principle of secularism—the separation of church and state—are the most progressive. And let me tell you: When man is intellectually free, the progress he will make is beyond calculation.
The humanitarian philosophies that have been developed (sometimes under some religious banner and invariably in the face of religious opposition) are human inventions, as the name implies - and our species deserves the credit. I am a devout atheist - nothing else makes any sense to me and I must admit to being bewildered by those, who in the face of what appears so obvious, still believe in a mystical creator. However I can see that the promise of infinite immortality is a more palatable proposition than the absolute certainty of finite mortality which those of us who are subject to free thought (as opposed to free will) have to look forward to and many may not have the strength of character to accept it. Thus I am a supporter of Amnesty International, a humanist and an atheist. I believe in a secular, democratic society in which women and men have total equality, and individuals can pursue their lives as they wish, free of constraints - religious or otherwise. I feel that the difficult ethical and social problems which invariably arise must be solved, as best they can, by discussion and am opposed to the crude simplistic application of dogmatic rules invented in past millennia and ascribed to a plethora of mystical creators - or the latest invention; a single creator masquerading under a plethora of pseudonyms. Organisations which seek political influence by co-ordinated effort disturb me and thus I believe religious and related pressure groups which operate in this way are acting antidemocratically and should play no part in politics. I also have problems with those who preach racist and related ideologies which seem almost indistinguishable from nationalism, patriotism and religious conviction.
New Rule: You don't have to teach both sides of a debate if one side is a load of crap. President Bush recently suggested that public schools should teach "intelligent design" alongside the theory of evolution, because after all, evolution is "just a theory." Then the president renewed his vow to "drive the terrorists straight over the edge of the earth." Here's what I don't get: President Bush is a brilliant scientist. He's the man who proved you could mix two parts booze with one part cocaine and still fly a jet fighter. And yet he just can't seem to accept that we descended from apes. It seems pathetic to be so insecure about your biological superiority to a group of feces-flinging, rouge-buttocked monkeys that you have to make up fairy tales like "We came from Adam and Eve," and then cover stories for Adam and Eve, like intelligent design! Yeah, leaving the earth in the hands of two naked teenagers, that's a real intelligent design. I'm sorry, folks, but it may very well be that life is just a series of random events, and that there is no master plan--but enough about Iraq. There aren't necessarily two sides to every issue. If there were, the Republicans would have an opposition party. And an opposition party would point out that even though there's a debate in schools and government about this, there is no debate among scientists. Evolution is supported by the entire scientific community. Intelligent design is supported by the guys on line to see The Dukes of Hazzard. And the reason there is no real debate is that intelligent design isn't real science. It's the equivalent of saying that the Thermos keeps hot things hot and cold things cold because it's a god. It's so willfully ignorant you might as well worship the U.S. mail. "It came again! Praise Jesus!" Stupidity isn't a form of knowing things. Thunder is high-pressure air meeting low-pressure air--it's not God bowling. "Babies come from storks" is not a competing school of throught in medical school. We shouldn't teach both. The media shouldn't equate both. If Thomas Jefferson knew we were blurring the line this much between Church and State, he would turn over in his slave. As for me, I believe in evolution and intelligent design. I think God designed us in his image, but I also think God is a monkey.
From this we conclude, that, to live in harmony and peace…we must trace a line of distinction between those (assertions) that are capable of verification, and those that are not; (we must) separate by an inviolable barrier the world of fantastical beings from the world of realities.
There is no such source and cause of strife, quarrel, fights, malignant opposition, persecution, and war, and all evil in the state, as religion. Let it once enter into our civil affairs, our government soon would be destroyed. Let it once enter our common schools, they would be destroyed. Those who made our Constitution saw this, and used the most apt and comprehensive language in it to prevent such a catastrophe. [ Weiss v. District Board, March 18, 1890 ]
Government in our democracy, state and national, must be neutral in matters of religious theory, doctrine, and practice. It may not be hostile to any religion or to the advocacy of no-religion; and it may not aid, foster, or promote one religion or religious theory against another or even against the militant opposite. The First Amendment mandates governmental neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion. [Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 1968.]
You can make a successful run for political office in this country without an especially thick résumé, any exceptional talent for expressing yourself, a noteworthy education or, for that matter, a basic grasp of science. But you better have religion. You better be ready to profess your faith in and fealty to God — the Judeo-Christian one, of course. And you better be convincing. A dust-up last week in the 2014 race for a United States Senate seat from Arkansas provided a sad reminder of this, showing once again that our ballyhooed separation of church and state is less canyon than itty-bitty crack.
Believing this country to be a political and not a religious organisation ... the editor of the NATIONAL CITIZEN will use all her influence of voice and pen against 'Sabbath Laws', the uses of the 'Bible in School', and pre-eminently against an amendment which shall introduce 'God in the Constitution.
As to Science, she has never sought to ally herself to civil power. She has never attempted to throw odium or inflict social ruin on any human being. She has never subjected anyone to mental torment, physical torture, least of all to death, for the purpose of upholding or promoting her ideas. She presents herself unstained by cruelties and crimes. But in the Vatican—we have only to recall the Inquisition—the hands that are now raised in appeals to the 'Most Merciful' are crimsoned. They have been steeped in blood!
I do not go to church. I don’t go to Christian church or Jew church or any other church. I don’t go to church at all. Not ever. A perfect Sunday for me is spent drinking green tea while reading the Sunday New York Times. Yikes! Why don’t I just turn in my Al-Qaeda membership form and call it a day? As if that wasn’t bad enough, not only do I not go to church: I don’t believe in God. How can I say the Pledge of Allegiance if I don’t believe in God? How can I spend our American currency which pledges In God We Trust? How can I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, so help me God? Answer: I can’t. It’s a real problem. Don’t get me wrong – I’d like to believe in God. I wish I did, especially if He was the kind of God that thought America was #1. But I don’t, which to many people is the same as not believing in America. Up until recently, I thought those people were lunatics.
Oh golly, Brer Fox, your forthright assertion—that evolutionary biology disproves the idea of a creator God—jeopardises the teaching of biology in science class, since teaching that would violate the separation of church and state!' Right. You also ought to soft-pedal physiology, since it declares virgin birth impossible
[W]hen they have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of Separation between the Garden of the Church and the Wildernes of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall it selfe, removed the Candlestick, &c. and made his Garden a Wildernesse, as at this day.