Friday, November 27, 2009

GLEN BECK: Church and state separation bogus liberal idea!

Some things never change. As usual the religious right is revising history and reinventing America according to its pre-constitutional Medieval religious and political paradigm.

When Patrick Henry tried to get the Virginia government to pay for Christian teachers in 1784, his bill failed to reach the floor for a vote on its third and final try. It was trashed for the now famous religious liberty law crafted by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was in Paris as a diplomat but James Madison took charge and steered the outcome with his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments. See details below video.

Beck, like "Christian Nation" activist David Barton, seems to think the quotations of certain founders reflect the content of the constitution. In most cases they don't; they can't be considered as law. Heritage and tradition are not always law. 

Another thing that Glen Beck does is he has the first three words of a Jefferson quote at the beginning of his show, "QUESTION WITH BOLDNESS..." The problem with this is that the rest of the quote, not shown by Beck, is not well liked by the religious right. It comes from a Thomas Jefferson letter to his nephew Peter Carr at his coming of age. (see ) 

The quote says "Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine first, the religion of your own country. Read the Bible, then as you would read Livy or Tacitus."
If there be one? 

As you can see, Beck has is getting an incomplete in his report card. This is part of the right wing playbook of distortion. Beck uses the Washington Monument to make his point. Trouble is, Washington was a deist, not a Christian, and the monument, like the Supreme Court building, was designed by other people whose job it was to interpret and express the spirit Washington. If you want to see a full layout and explanation of the classical architecture and pagan statuary of Washington, DC see my page at

From my history site, :

Jefferson's statute resulted in the birth of the religion-neutral state, a direct result of the lessons of a violent religious history and the best ideas of the European Enlightenment. Jefferson's pioneering law was brilliant and it was passed instead of Patrick Henry's law to support Christianity. Jefferson's law stated,

"Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."

In December, 1784 Patrick Henry's Bill Establishing a Provision for Teachers of the Christian Religionwas proposed in the Virginia House of Delegates. James Madison, supporting Jefferson's religious liberty statute, addressed the Virginia General Assembly on June 20, 1785 with his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments.

 Here are three excerpts:

"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.

"Torrents of blood have been spilt in the old world, by vain attempts of the secular arm, to extinguish Religious disscord, by proscribing all difference in Religious opinion."

Now this part is what I want you to pay special attention to. According to Madison, the Patrick Henry law was a "Bill of sudden degeneracy". When you hear the religious right whine and wail about church-state separation, think "Bill of sudden degeneracy"

"Because the proposed establishment is a departure from the generous policy, which, offering an Asylum to the persecuted and oppressed of every Nation and Religion, promised a lustre to our country, and an accession to the number of its citizens. What a melancholy mark is the Bill of sudden degeneracy? Instead of holding forth an Asylum to the persecuted, it is itself a signal of persecution. It degrades from the equal rank of Citizens all those whose opinions in Religion do not bend to those of the Legislative authority. Distant as it may be in its present form from the Inquisition, it differs from it only in degree. The one is the first step, the other the last in the career of intolerance."

Madison was responding with no gloves on to Patrick Henry's religious establishment bill which would turn back the clock and tax all citizens to support the spread of Christianity. It should be said that Patrick Henry was an opponent of the Constitution in the debates in the years to come. He was for keeping the old church-state order of Europe and the colonies. He was an example of that period's religious right. Another very interesting fact which counters the argument by church-state accomadists who claim the Constitution is based on Christian principles is that not once is Christianity mentioned in the Federalist Papers. When discussing government, Greece and Rome are mentioned much more than the Bible, which is mentioned only twice.

The first two paragraphs of Henry's Bill stated:

"Whereas the general diffusion of Christian knowledge hath a natural tendency to correct the morals of men, restrain their vices, and preserve the peace of society; which cannot be effected without a competent provision for learned teachers, who may be thereby enabled to devote their time and attention to the duty of instructing such citizens, as from their circumstances and want of education, cannot otherwise attain such knowledge; and it is judged that such provision may be made by the Legislature, without counteracting the liberal principle heretofore adopted and intended to be preserved by abolishing all distinctions of pre-eminence amongst the different societies or communities of Christians;"

"Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That for the support of Christian teachers, [amount] per centum on the amount, or [amount] in the pound on the sum payable for tax on the property within this Commonwealth, is hereby assessed, and shall be paid by every person chargeable with the said tax."

Almost thirty-four years after Madison addressed the Virginia House on the matter of church-state alliances, he stated in a letter to Robert Walsh on Mar. 2, 1819 that,

"The civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the State".

Total Separation of Church FROM the State.

Clearly, Gloomy Glen Beck is from another time and space. Secularism, or government neutrality on religious matters, is the foundation of religious liberty and these religious nutjobs don't even know it.

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