Such-And-So Founder
Was A Pious Christian!
So There!
Wally Mason

From: "wally mason"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Sent: December 18, 2001 2:06 AM
Subject: Big_List_Of_Quotations

Dear Editor,

Would you please answer this for me. Since 1st Chief Justice John Jay was closer to the writing of the Constitution, What did he mean by the following? "Providence has given to our people the choice of their ruler, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and the interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."

Jonah

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "wally mason"
Subject: Re: Big_List_Of_Quotations
Date: December 18, 2001 12:50 PM

I don't know that he said it at all.

It has become extremely popular among Christians to forge Christian sentiments into the mouths of the American Founders. So popular has this become, and so often do we receive questions such as yours about such well-known deceptions as the James Madison "...to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments" forgery, that whenever a Christian asks us, in a tone similar to what you here display, what we think about what so-and-so said, who then recites Christian sentiments alleged to be the words of a United States Founder, we insist that the writer provide an original source citation before we will respond. A secondary citation, such as Bartlett's, will not do, as we have found numerous errors in this and other so-called reference books. Instead, we insist on the primary citation: the original document plus the first place where it appeared in a publication.

Then, before responding, we take the bus over to the Reed College library, find the source, and study it in its original context (as we did with the Jefferson quote that begins, "Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure...?" wherein we discovered into what a desperate strait these "Christian Nation" advocates have driven themselves who would stoop to posting this of all Jefferson quotations on their Web sites!).

Every instance of this alleged quotation from Chief Justice Jay that I was able to find on the Internet (a dozen copies out of the first twenty "hits") was on a list of other quotations alleged to have been the words of various Founders and purporting to teach uneducated and gullible Christians that the American Founders were pious Christians. Unfortunately for your credibility, each of these lists, without exception, also contained the above-mentioned James Madison forgery, which was initially popularized by history revisionist David Barton. Several years ago, Barton himself called the Madison forgery "false" and asked his followers to stop using it. Barton issued this request because he had just been busted by John Stagg and David Mattern, the editors of The Papers of James Madison, who called it "inconsistent with everything we know about Madison's views on religion and government."

Thus, in order to receive my comments on this quip allegedly by John Jay, you're going to have to find a source for it that's more reliable than a bunch of lists on the Internet, all of which still represent the Madison forgery as being genuine, and all of which likewise contain numerous other questionable quotations and all of which contain such out-of-context quotations as the Jefferson one asking, "Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure...?" If this one shows Jefferson's piety and his faith in the Christian deity, then you need to be prepared also to argue Jefferson's belief in some other pretty wild occultic superstitions! This whole piece was a metaphor -- a dream of Jefferson's! It is obvious that most devout Christians who place this quip on their web pages have never read the whole thing in its context or they wouldn't even touch this one, lest they be thought to advocate the occult by quoting a portion of Jefferson's writings which denounce the institution of human slavery using several different metaphors, including "God" and also including some occult metaphors!

What happens when a group which pushes a certain agenda behaves dishonestly? We cannot trust them any more. This is what has happened to the "Christian Nation" movement: By seeking to show the piety of the American Founders, they have had to manufacture some pretty low-class lies -- because the central figures of this nation's founding were Deists who thought of Jesus as only a man and who thought of the Bible as the words of men, at minimum. The more "devout" among the Deists, such as Thomas Paine, thought of the Bible was pure blasphemy.

If you wish to support those seeking to overthrow the United States Constitution, that is your prerogative. Do not expect any respect from us. However, you may want to urge these traitors to start being meticulous about their honesty if they wish to gain credibility among those of us who respect honest scholarship.

Your movement would get a lot further if they would admit that America was the first modern nation to erect a godless constitution, and then declare that a godless constitution is not a good thing and must be changed. Even I would have some semblance of respect if your movement went about its business in an honest manner such as this, because I could say that at least they were being honest about United States history. But since your movement bases its main points on falsehood, propagandizing its agenda by lying about United States history, I will oppose that movement with every semblance of my being.

Your ideological forebears, about whom Jefferson spoke when he said, "I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man" (Jefferson's lowercase "g"), were despicable creatures, earning the bitter vitriol of our third President. However, they ran circles around your group when it comes to morals because at least they admitted that the United States Constitution is a godless document! And if you read the entire "eternal hostility" letter, which is reproduced in our Historical section, you will see that those against whom he swore "eternal hostility" were those who sought to establish Christianity as the state religion!

I admit that I am not familiar with the words of John Jay, because he obviously did not write much which inspired the minds of men and women who love the founding principles of this great nation. I am, however, very familiar with the writings of Thomas Jefferson, having read almost all the papers having to do with government, and having read much of the collection of his writings in my attempts to track down his religious views. Jefferson hated biblical Christianity (particularly because of what it did to people), and criticized it mercilessly in his private letters, particularly the exchanges with John Adams later in life.

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Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.
     -- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp, July 30, 1816

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Nevertheless, regardless of what he thought of the people who loved the Christian Bible, Jefferson, a Freethinker, would never consider discriminating against a biblical Christian, as John Jay is above portrayed as having advocated against non-Christians. Had you presented to me an alleged quip from a Freethinker advocating that we discriminate against Christians, I would have immediately pronounced it a forgery, and would have "eaten my hat" if someone would have shown it to have been true, because Freethinkers generally did not think as you here portray John Jay as thinking.

Since you present to me the alleged words of a Christian advocating that we discriminate against non-Christians, I find this quite credible based upon the way many biblical Christians have been known to think and behave. In other words, I find as it easy to believe that a Christian would discriminate against an atheist as I find it difficult to believe that an atheist would discriminate against a Christian. In fact, Freethinker and Deist John Adams, himself no less a critic of the Christian Bible than Jefferson, said this about discrimination against Christians:

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I do not like the reappearance of the Jesuits.... Shall we not have regular swarms of them here, in as many disguises as only a king of the gipsies can assume, dressed as printers, publishers, writers and schoolmasters? ... Nevertheless, we are compelled by our system of religious toleration to offer them an asylum.
     -- John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 5, 1816

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Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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