Thursday, September 2, 2010

Where Are The Statesmen Today?

"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."
-Benjamin Franklin, in Poor Richard's Almanac

"As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of all government to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith."
- Thomas Paine, Common Sense 1776

"Every new and successful example of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matter is of importance."
- President James Madison, in a letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822

"We all agree that neither the government nor political parties ought to interfere with religious sects. It is equally true that religious sects ought not to interfere with the government or political parties. We believe that the cause of good government and the cause of religion suffer by all such interference."
- Rutherford B. Hayes, in a statement as Governor of Ohio, 1875

"Whatever one's religion in his private life may be, for the officeholder, nothing takes precedence over his oath to uphold the Constitution and all its parts--including the First Amendment and the strict separation of church and state."
- President John F. Kennedy, Look magazine interview, 1959

"It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others."
- President Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Benjamin Rush, 1803

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the 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."
- President Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to the Danbury Baptists, 1802

"Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated."
- President George Washington, in a letter to Edward Newenham, 1792

I think we could use more of this caliber of politician in this day and age.



From my very first post on "Freethinkers"(my first post anywhere), this has been my mantra... We don't need Democrats, we don't need Republicans, we need statesmen. And we need them more now than ever.

And by statesmen, I mean people who put the country before their Party, before their religion, before their state(this is the federal government, of course) and even before their clans. Though I don't do much religion bashing on this site(mainly because I don't bash religion in my private life), I have asked before about loyalties in regards to the devout and invariably the answer is that God comes first, which in my heart seems detrimental to our political society. It is one thing to use religion as guidance and as a moral compass, but in dealing with all American issues and all Americans backgrounds of the citizenry. religious affiliation should take a back seat to the Constitution, the supreme law of the land. Many Christians don't see it that way and this puts the faction over the individual, which is anathema to the original intent of the Founding.

James Madison said...

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."


Does that include Muslims?

How instructive that Madison put morality BEFORE religiosity.

verification: dupwood(pronounced "dupewood")

James Madison said...

"Cursed be all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ."


Not everybody is right all the time, not even James Madison.

G Wahington said...

Its always ironic how individuals like to quote the Constitution and the founders until they are given quotes they don't like. Suddenly, the founders are wrong and their opinion of course is the right one.

With that mentality, Barrack has taken a dump on the Constitution and has done what is right in his own eyes. I'm sure he believes he knows what is best.


Everybody is wrong sometimes, even you George.

There are plenty of people I admire, but I would be dishonest with myself and to everybody else if I said I agreed with them 100% of the time. Anybody who does agree with any ideology or personality 100% of the time is nothing but a vessel or dangerous.

verification word: sider

G said...

I would imagine that a person could cherry-pick quotes from the founding fathers of this nation to make a case for whatever position they're trying to make at the moment. But the simple truth is that these men weren't two-dimensional caricatures that can be defined by 10-second sound bites.

To determine what they believed and intended with our Constitution, it's better to look at the way they conducted their lives as government officials. If we look at them from that perspective, it is quite clear that their idea of "separation of church and state" wasn't anything like the "freedom FROM religion" that so many are seeking today (e.g. Thomas Jefferson, as President, attending church services in the Capitol building).

They wanted to keep the govt out of church affairs and keep churches from directing the govt. But to them, that didn't mean removing all religious references from all official govt places and people. They took the "free exercise" clause VERY seriously.

If one were to inject "statesmen" from the founding of this nation into the public square today, I imagine that the talking heads from both left and right would be throwing hissy fits.

csm said...

It was also a much different time back then than we have now. We grow and update; modify and move on. Would anyone realistically argue that because Jefferson was a slave owner that we should legalize slavery today?

G said...

Of course not. I think it was a big issue in some war back in the 19th Century.

I wasn't arguing that we should have church services in the Capitol building. My point is that by the actions of the founding fathers, it's clear that their view of the Establishment Clause wasn't anything like the position taken today by the "wall of separation" crowd.

In order to correctly understand and apply the Constitution, we need to understand the original intent of those who wrote and ratified it.

csm said...

The "wall of separation" crowd would include Thomas Jefferson, the son of a bitch that coined the phrase. Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptist Association clearly and succinctly shows "the original intent" of at least one of the founders - evidently he also thought the Constitution should be re-written every 20 years or so (if we were to do that right now, that would scare the living shit outta me).