Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Showing My Patriotism

For Independence Day, here are some freethinking, godless quotes from the Founding Fathers of the United States:

George Washington, 1st U.S. President:

“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.” [Notice use of the word their, rather than our, when referring to Christians.]

"There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness."

John Adams
, 2nd U.S. President:

"This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it."

"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity."

Thomas Jefferson,
3rd U.S. President:

"Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth."

"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

James Madison, 4th U.S. President:

"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect."

"What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not."

Benjamin Franklin
, U.S. public official, writer, scientist, printer, and Founding Father:

"In the affairs of the world, men are saved, not by faith, but by the want of it."

"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."

"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."

The Reverend Doctor Bird Wilson, an Episcopal minister in Albany, New York, in a sermon preached in October, 1831:

"The founders of our nation were nearly all Infidels, and that of the presidents who had thus far been elected [Washington; Adams; Jefferson; Madison; Monroe; Adams; Jackson] not a one had professed a belief in Christianity.... Among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism."

Of course, some of the quotes above were from private letters written to each other and to other confidantes. Judging by other quotes from the early presidents, there seems to be some difference between their public personas and their private convictions. But the U.S. was never meant to be a Christian nation, contrary to popular belief...

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

God Throws a Wobbly at England

Not surprisingly, it has been revealed today that the disastrous floods in Britain this weekend are just another one of God's temper tantrums...

From today's Telegraph:
"The floods that have devastated swathes of the country are God's judgment on the immorality and greed of modern society, according to senior Church of England bishops.

"One diocesan bishop has even claimed that laws that have undermined marriage, including the introduction of pro-gay legislation, have provoked God to act by sending the storms that have left thousands of people homeless."

Even if there was a God up there hating gay people, am I to believe that only gay and other so-called 'immoral' people were affected by the flooding?

"While those who have been affected by the storms are innocent victims, the bishops argue controversially that the flooding is a result of Western civilisation's decision to ignore biblical teaching....[The Rt Rev Graham Dow] expressed his sympathy for those who have been hit by the weather, but said that the problem with 'environmental judgment is that it is indiscriminate.'"

So even if a person faithfully follows the teachings of the Catholic church and leads what is supposedly a moral life in the eyes of God, this is still no insurance against God's wrath. No matter how much you oppresses yourself to get through the pearly gates of the next life, God will still torment you in this one. "Why, God, why?" is a question that any person of faith must surely find themselves asking at some point, and in this case Rev. Dow implies that it has nothing to do with them, nor with the huge low pressure zone hovering over the region; no, they can blame all of their losses on homosexuals invoking God's wrath. It's much more reassuring to have someone to blame, than to accept the fact that nature doesn't really give a crap about you or your gay neighbor.

Here are some priceless quotes from the Rt. Rev. Dow:

"In the Bible, institutional power is referred to as 'the beast', which sets itself up to control people and their morals."

Gee, that 'beast' sounds awfully familiar...Could it be genetically similar to the Catholic Church and other organized religions? Here's another:

"Our government has been playing the role of God in saying that people are free to act as they want."

Wha-huh? Absurd as these statements are by themselves, let's put them into their original context:

"In the Bible, institutional power is referred to as 'the beast', which sets itself up to control people and their morals. Our government has been playing the role of God in saying that people are free to act as they want."

I don't know where to begin with the contradictions here. The government is not controlling people's morals if it's letting people act as they want. And it seems that playing the role of God would entail the exact opposite - that is, petty and pointless rules and regulations about every aspect of life, right down to what we are allowed to think about. Look at any sacred text and you'll see that God is a ridiculously micro-managing despot.

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