U.S. wasn't founded on religious tenets

Posted: Monday, September 11, 2000

A few facts about the separation of church and state. The U.S. Constitution (First Amendment, Art. VI) states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...." In 1802 the Danbury Baptists asked President Thomas Jefferson to explain the First Amendment. He answered that it was the intent of the founding fathers to have "a wall of separation between church and state" (Jefferson's words).

In 1797 America made a treaty with Tripoli, declaring that "the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." This was written under Washington's presidency, and approved by the Senate under John Adams. The founding fathers were, for the most part, not religious. It was, after all, the age of enlightenment.

The words, "under God," did not appear in the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954, when Congress, under McCarthyism, inserted them. Likewise, "In God We Trust" was absent from paper currency before 1956.

The Supreme Court has ruled that posting the Ten Commandments in public schools is unconstitutional, and with good reason. The first four Commandments are religious edicts having nothing to do with law or ethical behavior. Only three (homicide, theft, and perjury) are relevant to current American law. If Americans honored the commandment against "coveting," free enterprise would collapse!

Religious people insist that there can be no morality without religion. I believe it is immoral to take mythology and superstition as fact. Col. Robert Ingersoll, one of the great thinkers of the 19th century and one of the few to actually read the whole Bible in one year, pointed out that there are at least 100,000 errors in the Old Testament. The founding fathers were brilliant in keeping government secular. In the words of Thomas Edison, "Religion is all bunk."

Alex Wilson


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