"Shame on the men who can court exemption from present trouble and expense at the price of their own posterity's liberty!" ~ Samuel Adams
Oh My God!!!!!!
The holiday feasts have long since been digested, the mistletoes have ceased to elicit amorous advances, the department store Santas have put their beards in storage 'til next year, the Christmas trees will soon become part of the local landfill, and the lights on the menorahs are no longer flickering. But what will remain long after the New Years Day hangover has worn off is the argument of separation of church and state. Whether it's a nativity scene at City Hall, or the Ten Commandments in a state Supreme Court, the mixing of politics and religion triggers the most reactionary responses from believers and non-believers alike.Protest of the presence of nativity scenes and Christmas trees in government building prompted a response from Christians that claimed that this was a Christian Nation founded by believers in Christianity. Though some (or perhaps most) of the of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were believers of some form of Christianity, a close look at the most influential founders reveals an indifference and in some cases an aversion to organized religion.George Washington regularly accompanied his wife Martha to church but would skip out before communion. When he was indirectly chastised by the pastor for his early exit, he refrained from attending communion masses altogether. Washington died without requesting the presence of any clergy, though many were more than willing and able to accompany him in his last moments (there might not be any atheists in foxholes, but there are certainly plenty of deists on deathbeds). Thomas Jefferson was maliciously accused of being an atheist (he was a deist) on more than one occasion. Benjamin Franklin believed in a creator (as did most non-Christian founders) and an immortal soul, but though he viewed Jesus Christ favorably as a historical figure, he had "some doubts about his divinity," brave words from a man who knew he would soon leave this existence. No one can doubt John Adams' belief in a god, but even that couldn't keep him from writing, "When philosophic reason is clear and certain by intuition or necessary induction, no subsequent revelation supported by prophecies or miracles can supersede it." James Madison, who was a devout Christian, wrote, "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect" and "All men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience, not within the cognizance of civil government." Thomas Paine, the undisputed literary genius of the revolutionary generation, always made his views clear: "Deism teaches us that God is a God of truth and justice. Does the Bible teach the same doctrine? It does not." Unlike our current president, none of them claimed to have talked to God. The United States may have certain 'rules' with so-called Judeo-Christian roots, but that is a far cry from being a "Christian Nation," as many of today's believers would have the rest of us believe. Sure, the figure of Moses adorns some courthouses, but due to his legal contributions (like Hammurabi's), not his religious beliefs. If only many of those rabid "Christians" would follow some of their own religious teachings as devoutly as they want the rest of us to. "Thou shall not kill," except if "God" tells you it's OK. "Love thy neighbor" except if he's gay. "Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's wife," husband, same sex partner or young boys. "Thou shall not steal" unless you do it by way of taxation. "Thou shall not commit adultery" unless you're a rich and famous televangelist. "Thou shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor" except if he owns a convertible German sports car and a home theatre. The Bill of Rights, which resembles the Commandments in that they both consist of ten, includes "rules" on religion. The very first amendment states, "Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." To most rational folks, this is simple: Nativity scenes on your lawn, Star of David on your door, cross on your rearview mirror, menorah on your window or saints on your dashboard are all OK. Nativity scenes, menorahs or the Ten Commandments at City Hall or in a state Supreme Court (maintained by taxpayers that include the likes of heathens, atheist, Muslims, Moonies, Hare-Krishna's, etc.) may not be a "sin," but is a blatant violation of the First Amendment. The key to this argument is rational thought, something very difficult to extract from people who believe, among other things, in virgin births, the parting of the Red Sea, an omnipotent eternal being capable of keeping track of everyone in existence, that you will reincarnate as a cow, and that 72 insatiable virgins will be awaiting every martyr. When fairy tales and mysticism infect the 'adult' mind, it becomes almost impenetrable to common sense and lucid thought. What about Santa Claus and so-called Christmas trees (they look like pine trees to me)? Nowhere in the Bible, Torah or Koran does Santa deliver toys, nor is there any description of 'Christmas' trees in the manger. Should these pagan spin-offs be allowed on public property? One thing's for sure: The commercially oriented fairy tale of Santa Claus trumps all the dogmatic religious tales in societies that have even the remotest freedoms. Ah, the holidays! Aren't you glad they come around only once a year?