This is from the Washington Post:
A group of atheists unveiled a monument to their non-belief in God … to sit alongside a granite slab that lists the Ten Commandments in front of the Bradford County [Florida] courthouse.
As a small group of protesters blasted Christian country music and waved “Honk for Jesus” signs, the atheists celebrated what they believe is the first atheist monument allowed on government property in the United States. …
American Atheists sued to try to have the stone slab with the Ten Commandments removed from the courthouse lawn in this rural, conservative town in northern Florida. Their demand was not met, but they were told they could erect their own monument in “what is described as a free–speech zone”.
It ‘s not just a monument, however:
“When you look at this monument, the first thing you will notice is that it has a function. . . we selected to place this monument in the form of a bench,” said David Silverman, president of American Atheists. …
The event – on Saturday June 29, 3013 – made a small stir:
About 200 people attended the unveiling. Most were supportive, although there were protesters, including a group from the Florida League of the South that had signs that said, “Yankees Go Home.” …
After the 1,500-pound granite bench was unveiled, people rushed to have their pictures taken on it. The bench bears quotes from Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the founder of American Atheists. It also has a list of Old Testament punishments for violating the Ten Commandments, including death and stoning.
The event did not pass entirely without drama. A Christian “jumped atop the peak of the monument and shouted his thanks to the atheists for giving him a platform to declare that Jesus is real.” [He isn't - ed.] But “atheists shouted at him, and he stepped down after about a minute”. …
The atheists said they expected protesters.
“There always are,” said Rick Wingrove, director of a Washington, D.C., area office of American Atheists. “We protest their events, they protests our events. As long as everybody’s cordial and let people speak. This is our day, not theirs. We’re fine with them being here.”
Could we now have a monument to non-belief in socialism in the grounds of the White House?
In support of the Second Amendment:
Alexander Hamilton: “The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed,” adding later, “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government.”
James Madison: “(The Constitution preserves) the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation … (where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”
Thomas Jefferson: “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.”
George Mason, author of the Virginia Bill of Rights, which inspired our Constitution’s Bill of Rights, said, “To disarm the people – that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”
Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey: “Certainly, one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms. … The right of the citizen to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America but which historically has proven to be always possible.”
We took these quotations from an article by Walter Williams. In addition he reminds us:
Notice that the people who support gun control are the very people who want to control and dictate our lives.
And arbitrary government no longer “appears remote in America” under the Obama regime.
John Adams said:
The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.
Thomas Paine said:
The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on nothing; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing and admits of no conclusion.
The Bible: a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalise mankind.
The Christian system of religion is an outrage on common sense.
The Church was resolved to have a New Testament, and out of the loads of rubbish that were presented it voted four to be Gospels, and others to be Epistles, as we now find them arranged.
This is the rubbish called Revealed Religion!
Thomas Jefferson said:
I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.
Religions are all alike – founded upon fables and mythologies.
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 civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.
Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.
George Washington said:
Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. I had hoped that liberal and enlightened thought would have reconciled the Christians so that their religious fights would not endanger the peace of Society.
James Madison said:
During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has 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.
In no instance have the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.
Benjamin Franklin said:
I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absented myself from Christian assemblies.
Theodore Roosevelt said:
To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not avowed his allegiance to any church, is an outrage against that liberty of conscience which is one of the foundations of American life.
Was the Republic of the United States created as a Christian nation?
Warren Throckmorton, in a Townhall article here, asks a question more precisely focused but essentially the same: “Did the first amendment create a Christian nation?”
His answer is no. He explains:
Most states had established Christian denominations in the years before the passage of the Constitution but two states did not, Rhode Island and Virginia. Virginia, the home of Madison and Jefferson, is the most relevant to what would become the First Amendment. In 1786, Madison succeeded in shepherding religious freedom protections through the Virginia legislature that in his words, “have in this country extinguished forever the ambitious hope of making laws for the human mind.”
Unfortunately not forever. “Hate crimes” are laws for the human mind. And they are entirely unnecessary. Those who commit them are either committing a crime, in which case they should be prosecuted regardless of what emotion accompanied it, or they did not, in which case the law should disregard them, hate though they might.
Still, what Madison did achieve was great and lasting – at least until now.
The law that gave Madison his ebullient hope was the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, which reads in part:
“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.”
According to Thomas Jefferson, who had no small hand in the matter,some Virginia legislators wanted to direct the act toward Christianity by inserting Jesus Christ into a section of the Preamble. Jefferson’s account makes clear the extent of the freedom of expression which the Virginia legislature affirmed:
“The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read, “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan [Islam], the Hindoo [Hinduism], and Infidel of every denomination.”
So Jefferson allowed a “holy author of our religion” to haunt the law, but managed to exclude naming it Jesus Christ. It seems most of the legislators had some notion that “Jew, Gentile, Christian, Mahometan and Hindoo ” all shared a belief in such a being. If so, they were mistaken of course. And whether Jefferson himself believed in it no one can be certain.
Jefferson and Madison sought to get the state out of the business of “making laws for the human mind.” In so doing … Madison and Jefferson moved Virginia, and later the nation away from a national religion. …
Virginia moved away from having one of the most solidly established churches all the way to join little Rhode Island on the side of full religious liberty and the separation of church and state.
Madison followed up his success in Virginia with a proposed amendment to the Constitution in 1789 covering religious expression:
“The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed.”
Through debate, Madison’s language was modified to the current First Amendment – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Madison’s work in Virginia and his original proposal make clear that freedom of religious expression is an individual right and not meant for adherents of a particular religion, namely Christianity. …
The First Amendment forbids federal laws which interfere with a citizen’s free expression of religion and the Fourteenth Amendment extends the prohibition to the states.
Madison argued that Christianity itself supported the broad tolerance he was enshrining. Whether he was using the argument purely to achieve his end, or sincerely believed that Christianity was as tolerant as he was painting it, remains unknowable. The point is, it worked. He persuaded the people he needed to persuade.
He put it this way – explaining to the Virginia Assembly why they should not vote funds for teachers of Christianity:
“The establishment proposed by the Bill is not requisite for the support of the Christian Religion. To say that it is, is a contradiction to the Christian Religion itself, for every page of it disavows a dependence on the powers of this world: it is a contradiction to fact; for it is known that this Religion both existed and flourished, not only without the support of human laws, but in spite of every opposition from them, and not only during the period of miraculous aid, but long after it had been left to its own evidence and the ordinary care of Providence.”
With that he must have have sounded like a true believer, which he needed the Assembly to be convinced he was.
If he really was as firm a believer as he sounded then, it is all the more remarkable that he worked and pleaded so persistently and skillfully for the greatest possible tolerance of all religious belief and (by implication) none. Or to put it another way: either he was an extraordinarily broad-minded Christian, or he was an extraordinarily persuasive non-believer. It matters not which, since he achieved the end which did matter and continues to matter – the absence of a national religion.
But now the freedom of conscience and belief that Madison bequeathed to the nation is under threat from “the Mahometan”. Muslims whose freedom of religion he ensured, are exploiting the tolerance he enshrined, in order to destroy it.
Just as happy events and the implementation of good ideas can bring unforeseen bad consequences, so dreadful events and the implementation of bad ideas can result in unexpected good.
Obama’s presidency and a Democratic majority in Congress have brought changes for the worse to America. But they have woken Americans up, reminding them of what their country has been and should be, and rousing many who had never yet felt a need to think about the way the country was governed, to an understanding of what is being taken away from them, and the value of what they had. They join and swell the Tea Party movement. They want to recall or know more about the origins and history of the United States. In the long run that means many more informed and aware citizens will be casting their votes for leaders who truly represent their interests and preserve their hard-won freedom. It would mean that the electorate will likely not make the same mistake again, not in a generation or two anyway, of empowering the enemies of the Constitution – such as Obama, Pelosi, Reid, and others of that kidney.
There’s a story in the Washington Post today that encourages the hope of such a reaction. It’s about hundreds of people gathering to watch “Revolutionary City” re-enactments in the historic area of Duke of Gloucester Street, Williamsburg, Virginia.
Here’s a part of it:
Amid the history buffs and parents with young children wandering along the crushed shell paths of Virginia’s restored colonial city [Williamsburg], some noticeably angrier and more politically minded tourists can often be found.
They stand in the crowd listening closely as the costumed actors relive dramatic moments in the founding of our country. They clap loudly when an actor portraying Patrick Henry delivers his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech. They cheer and hoot when Gen. George Washington surveys the troops behind the original 18th-century courthouse. And they shout out about the tyranny of our current government during scenes depicting the nation’s struggle for freedom from Britain.
“General, when is it appropriate to resort to arms to fight for our liberty?” asked a tourist on a recent weekday during “A Conversation with George Washington,” a hugely popular dialogue between actor and audience in the shaded backyard of Charlton’s Coffeehouse.
Standing on a simple wooden stage before a crowd of about 100, the man portraying Washington replied: “Only when all peaceful remedies have been exhausted. Or if we are forced to do so in our own self-defense.”
The tourist, a self-described conservative activist named Ismael Nieves from Elmer, N.J., nodded thoughtfully. Afterward, he said this was his fifth visit to Colonial Williamsburg.
“We live in a very dangerous time,” Nieves said. “People are looking for leadership, looking for what to do. They’re looking to Washington, Jefferson, Madison.”
“I want to get to know our Founding Fathers,” he added. “I think we’ve forgotten them. It’s like we’ve almost erased them from history.”
It’s a common point of view among tea party activists. They say their unhappiness with Washington reflects how far the federal government has strayed, through taxation and regulation, from the Founders’ intentions. …
The executives who oversee Williamsburg said they have noticed the influx of tea partiers, and have also noted a rise in the number of guests who ply the costumed actors for advice about how to rebel against 21st-century politicians. (The actors do their best to provide 18th-century answers.)
“If people . . . can recognize that subjects such as war and taxation, religion and race, were really at the heart of the situation in the 18th century, and there is some connection between what was going on then and what’s going on now, that’s all to the good,” said Colin Campbell, president and chairman of Colonial Williamsburg. “What happened in the 18th century here required engagement, and what’s required to preserve democracy in the 21st century is engagement. That is really our message.” …
If enough voters come to feel the same way, the Obama presidency will not have been an unmitigated disaster after all.
The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.
I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.
The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
(Thanks to Neil Reinhardt)