Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Letters to the Editor

May 26, 2014

How did founders feel about religion?

— — A letter printed in the May 21 edition of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph stated, “Surely they realize that, like it or not, our founders established this nation as a republic under God, the Christian God.”

I would like to remind the previous letter writer that John Adams, founding father and second president of these United States signed the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796 which stated: “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion...” The treaty was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate.

It is also worthwhile to note that many of the founding fathers, most notably Benjamin Franklin, were deists that questioned the divinity of Jesus Christ. Franklin wrote to his friend Ezra Stiles (1790): “As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity: tho’ it is a Question I do not dogmatise upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble.”

Thomas Jefferson, third president of these United States and drafter of the Declaration of Independence heavily edited the Bible to exclude nearly all mention of Jesus’ miracles and other other-worldly events. Read his famous “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth,” informally called the Jefferson Bible, for more information on this. In addition, of the three accomplishments handpicked to be listed on Jefferson’s tombstone was the statute establishing religious freedom in Virginia.

Thomas Paine, who once penned “These are the times that try mens’ souls...” during the Revolution, also wrote a pamphlet called “The Age of Reason” that directly challenged the idea that the Bible was divinely inspired.

These are but a few examples that contradict the assertion made by the previous letter writer.

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892, but the words “under God” weren’t added until 1954. Frankly, I believe that we live in “one nation indivisible,” and that “one nation under God” doesn’t adequately capture the broad scope of our country’s religious diversity nor our long standing spirit of religious freedom. As a patriotic American I recite the pledge alongside my fellow citizens, omitting the “under God” line. I feel that I ought not pledge my allegiance to a deity that I do not believe in while declaring my allegiance to my country.

John McCormick

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