Go sit on a frag grenade. You are a disgrace to the United States military. Your comments on the Arizona recruiting poster are your own fucked up thoughts. I sure hope no one ever thinks you represent any one in uniform. I for 1 and my entire family think that sign was entirely appreciate and represents part of the foundation of this country. I highly suspect you use this site as a ruse for your own personal gain. You disgust me.
First, thanks for your correspondence to the MRFF, and for your military service, if any. (I am assuming you have some service from your reference to a frag grenade, which we shall NOT sit on, but thanks for the kind “Christian” thought, typical of so many received.)
Thanks also for having the courage to sign your name and a valid address, which is untypical of a great many of the anonymous cowards who write the MRFF, and thanks for a reasonably literate letter. (Though you might want to remember that “your” as used above in the subject should be “you’re” – i.e., a contraction of “you are” — whereas “your” indicates possession, i.e., “belonging to you” as in “Your grammatical error.” Likewise, you should have used “appreciated” vice “appreciate” — i.e., “The sign was obviously appreciated by you and some others who believe religion should be mixed with government, but Mr. Weinstein and others who believe in the Constitution’s clear prohibition of the establishment of any religion in government did not appreciate it.”
I am a combat veteran and a supporter of the MRFF. I received a copy of your letter from Mr. Weinstein, who asked me to respond on his behalf. Please allow me to enlighten you on the MRFF and its mission.
The MRFF’s staff, supporters, and clients are for the most part active, active reserve, retired, or former members of the US Armed Forces. Our numbers include ranks from private to flag officers, from all branches of the service, and specialties ranging from support to front-line combat arms.Service eras represented in the MRFF’s ranks include WW II, Korea, Viet Nam, Gulf I and the present GWOT.Many hold personal decorations, including the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star w/ V and the Silver Star, as well as the Army, Navy, and AF Crosses. One holds the Medal of Honor.
Many members come from multi-generation service families. For example, my own family has a long history of military service, which includes 5 generations of Marines, as well as other branches. My earliest known ancestors arrived here ca. 1627, a few years after the founding of the Massachusetts colony. My thrice-great grandfather fought in the Revolution and my great-grandfather fought in the Civil War, fighting for the Union in the 66th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, one of the few regiments to remain all-volunteer for the duration of the war. He was wounded at the Battle of Peach Tree Creek, GA during Sherman’s March to the Sea.
Our family has also participated in WW I, WW II, Korea, Vietnam, and Gulf I and the current GWOT as well as many of the smaller wars and conflicts. One of my Marine uncles by marriage was captured upon the fall of Corregidor, and transported on the Hell Ships to Japan, where he served as a slave laborer (aka “guest of the Emperor”) until he was liberated. My (Marine) father served in the South Pacific in the island campaigns, starting with Guam and Guadalcanal, till he was med-evaced to the US after being seriously wounded. Two Marine uncles (one of them the former POW) were in Korea with service from Inchon to the Chosin Reservoir.
I also served in the Marines, and was engaged in close personal ground combat in several of the major operations in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968, and was in several operations, including Operation Scotland at Khe Sanh, before, during, and after the Tet 1968 assault and the Siege, and in the Hue-Phu Bai area after leaving Khe Sanh.
MRFF’s founder and Director, Mr. Weinstein and his family have distinguished service spanning three generations of military academy graduates and over 130 years of combined active duty military service, from World War I to the current GWOT.Mr. Weinstein’s father was a distinguished graduate of the US Naval Academy, and Mr. Weinstein himself was a 1977 Honor Graduate of the US Air Force Academy, later serving for 10 years in the Air Force as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) military attorney, both as prosecutor and defense attorney. He also served in the Reagan White House.His oldest son and daughter-in-law are also Air Force Academy graduates (2004), and his youngest son also graduated from the Academy (2007). He was the sixth member of the Weinstein family to attend the Air Force Academy.
Mr. Weinstein’s nephew (an observant Christian), is a Marine SNCO in combat arms, who has had three front-line deployments in the GWOT.
Mr. Weinstein was a wealthy and well-connected lawyer who worked with some of the most powerful corporations and people in this country. He left his last position (with H. Ross Perot) to found the MRFF when he found out about the religious abuses going on in the military. Far from “gaining” anything from his pursuit of these issues, he has sacrificed his comfort, savings, and mortgaged all his property to pursue this fight. Furthermore, he has risked his own safety and that of his family in this struggle.
(For Mr. Weinstein’s full biography, please see here: http://www.
Many staff are volunteers who pay for the “privilege” of spending a lot of time and effort fielding letters that are often scurrilous, venomous, obscene, and threatening (this doesn’t include yours, I hasten to add), by contributing what we can to the MRFF financially as well. Paid staff are few, and all are believers in what we do. There is no money in any of this — other than what we spend pursuing cases.
The MRFF supports the Constitutionally mandated requirements that there will be no religious test for office, and no established religion (i.e. no state official religion).
“. . . no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” (Article VI, Section III)
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .” (1st Amendment)
Successive Supreme Court decisions have upheld these principles. Based on the 1971 case of Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 612-13, the Court will rule a practice unconstitutional if:1. It lacks any secular purpose. That is, if the practice lacks any non-religious purpose.
2. The practice either promotes or inhibits religion.
3. The practice excessively involves government (in this case the military) with a religion.
Drawing from the 1989 case of Allegheny County v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573, the practice is examined to see if it unconstitutionally endorses religion by conveying
“a message that a particular religion is ‘favored,’ ‘preferred,’ or ‘promoted’ over other beliefs.”
“Wherein ‘core religious viewpoints’ are contrary to or abrogate other Constitutional protections, ‘ the free exercise clause’ and or freedom of ‘expressive association’ as well as its rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion may be curtailed.”
The Coercion Test
Based on the 1992 case of Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 the religious practice is examined to see to what extent, if any, pressure is applied to force or coerce individuals to participate.
The Court has defined that “Unconstitutional coercion occurs when: (1) the government directs (2) a formal religious exercise (3) in such a way as to oblige the participation of objectors.”
A religious body may not interfere with or attempt to disrupt the practice of other religions.
A religious body is subject to civil law and may not practice acts which are deemed illegal under law.
The Shaw creche display and similar cases amply fulfill these definitions, which is why they are opposed by the MRFF.
The MRFF is committed to ensuring that this boundary between church and state is maintained, and that the Constitutional rights to freedom of conscience for all Americans (particularly our servicemen and women) are not violated, and that they are not subjected to unwanted proselytization by any religious group whatsoever.Despite reports to the contrary, neither Mr. Weinstein nor the MRFF is “against” Christianity or any other religion. On the contrary, as the name implies, the MRFF supports religious freedom and pluralism for all faiths or none, in accordance with the US Constitution (see above) and public law. Its founder, members, and supporters include people of many different faiths and belief systems, as well as free-thinkers.For example, Mr. Weinstein is an observant Jew (though he also has a problem with the “token Menorah” TAFB erected as an after-thought concession), and his own family circle is one of blended faiths, including observant Christians. The MRFF staff (paid and volunteers) is composed of approximately 75% Christians of varying sects (mainly Protestant, including evangelical), 15% Jews, and 10% all others, including Hindus, Muslims, and various other faiths, as well as free-thinkers of various types, including atheists and agnostics.
Though the MRFF is comprised of people of many faiths (as well as no faith), it is strictly secular, and as noted above, defends US service personnel against violations of their Constitutional rights to freedom of conscience.
As to the problems MRFF clients face, I’ll let the numbers tell the story.
Currently, 96% of all the over 40,000 (and rising) MRFF cases are brought on behalf of professing Christians, (mainly Protestants), followed by Catholics (including Roman and Eastern Orthodox).
The 4% balance of cases includes Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs, as well as self-described Pagans of various sects, atheists, agnostics, and other free-thinkers, and at least one self-described “Jedi Knight” (formed around the Jedi Knights of the Star Wars movies).The great preponderance of MRFF cases involve abuses of authority and violations of the above quoted Constitutional guarantees of freedom of conscience by a specific sub-set of aggressively evangelical radicals who style themselves “Christians” and who are becoming increasingly entrenched and powerful in the military at ranks all the way up to flag officer. They are known variously as Dominionists or Reconstructionists. (See the attachment below for more detail.)In clear and blatant violations of the Constitution, public law, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, members of these groups aggressively inveigle and solicit “recruits”, but failing that, harass, bully, and attempt to intimidate (often under color of authority) service members under their command, in order to forcibly attempt to proselytize them, using tactics ranging from denying choice assignments and promotions to all but those they consider “Christian enough” to giving those unwilling to knuckle under poor performance reviews, and assigning difficult, dirty, and dangerous tasks – including potentially deadly tasks in combat. Some infantrymen have even been put on “permanent point” — that is, they are ordered to be the first man in line on a patrol. (I don’t know what you know about combat patrolling, but this is the equivalent of a death sentence.)
In many commands (especially in the USAF), the entire CoC is often riddled with or entirely composed of these Dominionists — including the people tasked with providing relief, such as EO NCOs and officers, and on up through the entire CoC. In more than one case we have dealt with, the EO NCO (a Dominionist) has placed the supposedly confidential complaint on the desk of the very same CO or XO who was the cause of the complaint in the first place! Exactly what chances of redress through the system are there in these situations? If you answered “minus zero” you are correct. Here is just one example of the thousands of cases we have fielded. Like the USAF, the Army is SUPPOSED to have avenues for wrongs like this to be addressed. Read this and see what just one of our clients, an Army officer, experienced.(And this was an officer — imagine the plight of an enlisted person in the rigid top-down hierarchy of the military.)
For all the lip service the USAF and other branches give these issues, the realities are far different. The MRFF has a great many USAF (and other branches of service) clients, both officer and enlisted, who have been actively discriminated against, harassed, and even beaten for being other than Christian — or even for being the “wrong kind” of Christian — i.e., non-Dominionist.
While I grant you that the poster incident is small potatoes, it is just one of a vast number of intrusions on the Constitution by these people in the military and other government agencies. MRFF opposes ALL violations when a complaint is made by service personnel or a member of the DoD.
I have attached some information on the Dominionist movement. (See below)
As to what the Founders intended regarding religion, they were hardly a monolithic bloc, but please see the information (also attached below) for a clear look at what some of the principal Framers had to say on this issue.
I trust that this answers your questions, and I hope it has made you aware of the real nature and work of the MRFF. Please feel free to contact the MRFF directly (See “Reply To” above) if you have any more questions.
F. J. Taylor
Dominion Theology — A Serious and Growing Threat to the Nation
The MRFF began in 2005 when Mr. Weinstein, an Honor Graduate of the USAF Academy and highly successful top-level business attorney (then working for Perot Enterprises), learned from his son (then at the USAF Academy) that there was a great deal of religion-based physical, verbal, and emotional harassment directed not just at his son, but at all cadets who were not Christian — or even just “not Christian enough” or the “right kind.” For Jews and others non-Christians, things were even worse. The Jews got the usual “Jesus-killer” and other ethnic slurs, and non-Christians who don’t wish to convert got even worse.Having experienced similar abuse himself at the Academy while a cadet (including a brutal beating from ambush), Mr. Weinstein was very concerned that such egregious violations of the Constitutional right to freedom of conscience, which he had supposed eradicated in the modern military, were still on-going — and what is more, that they were even worse than in his own time.Initially, he thought that with his service background and his own connections in the services, the government, and business that things could be set to rights with a few calls and visits. However, he was astonished to find that not even a man with his connections had enough clout to right the situation, and that indeed, it was far bigger, and far more wide-spread, than he had anticipated.
Instead of a few isolated religious fanatics acting as loose cannons, he found a network that spread wide and deep throughout the USAF and indeed the entire armed forces, in positions of great power and trust from enlisted and NCO through flag officer ranks. Sadly, even flag officers (those who weren’t personally involved as part of the problem) were and remain afraid to confront this issue.
As Mr. Weinstein probed deeper into the mire, he found that this was part of a long-running, well-financed, and well-organized operation by a group of zealots who follow an extremely radical theology.
In violation of the Constitution, public law, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, these Dominionists (a radical and militant subset of evangelical Christianity) aggressively seek converts. Failing persuasion, they harass, bully, and attempt to intimidate under color of authority service members under their command or control, in order to attempt to proselytize even service members who have expressed their unwillingness.
When in command positions, they use tactics ranging from denying good assignments and promotions to those they don’t consider Christian or “Christian enough” to giving poor performance reviews, and difficult, dirty, and dangerous tasks – including potentially deadly tasks in combat. (One of our clients was assigned as “permanent point” in a combat unit!)
They have advocated in both words and writing the overthrow of the Republic and Constitution (by ballot if possible, but by bullet if necessary), and replacing them with an Old Testament style theocracy, complete with “Biblical” Sharia-like laws, complete with public executions by stoning, sword, or other “Biblical” methods, with mandatory attendance and participation by the whole community – including children.
Anyone not considered not “Christian enough” by these people if they gain power will be forced to either convert to or accept their warped version of Christianity – or die. They have been correctly described as “American Taliban.”
Some people might consider this some sort of tin-hat conspiracy theory, or that they are just far-right fringe loonies without a hope of achieving power, but these people have been operating “under the radar” for over 50 years, and are now firmly entrenched in every branch and MOS of our armed forces and government, at every level – and are getting bolder by the day.
To get a handle on their plans for the rest if us, let’s examine the words of the individuals who founded and control the movement, such as the late Rousas John Rushdoony who wrote that they intend to “…lead them (non-believers) to Jesus – in chains, if necessary.” (Rushdooney was not speaking metaphorically here!)
Rushdoony also wrote that democracy is “heresy” and that Christians must remember that “a monarchy (referring to “God’s kingdom on earth”) is not a democracy.” and “Democracy is the great love of the failures and cowards of life.”
Rushdoony listed eighteen capital “crimes” including blasphemy, witchcraft, astrology, adultery, incorrigible delinquency, homosexuality, promiscuity or unchastity before marriage, wearing a red dress (for women – though one must suppose these people would apply it to men too), and failure to keep a kosher kitchen.
Punishment for non-capital crimes would include whipping and indentured servitude or slavery (including for debt), and prisons would become temporary holding tanks while prisoners awaited sentencing. Women and children would again become chattel property of men.
Rushdoony and other Dominionists have been aptly described elsewhere as “the American Taliban” as noted above. This is true in more ways than just their morbid interest in cruel and unusual punishment. They are extremely retrogressive socially and politically, and share many more beliefs in common with the Islamic fundamentalists than they do with the average American.
Perhaps one reason they hate the Islamist fascists is that they have so much in common with them — battles between kindred are always the worst. One can only hope that they never recognize their true kinship, lest they join forces in a truly unholy alliance.
Rushdoony’s Chalcedon Foundation also helped establish The Rutherford Institute, a legal organization to promote their agenda through the very courts they plan to supersede once in power, so although Rushdoony died, his organization and legacy of theocracy lives on.
Gary North, Rushdoony’s son-in-law, espouses (publicly) a slightly less draconian version, stating, “I don’t want to kill homosexuals–I would be happy just driving them back into the closet.” However, he also espouses stoning for blasphemers and those who curse their parents, and has stated that public stoning of “malefactors” would be “a great way to bring communities together.”
The CFGC (Council of Full Gospel Churches) was founded and is run by retired Army COL “Jim” Ammerman. They have been one of the main chaplain accreditation agencies ending these stealth “Dominionist” chaplains into the military services.
One of their worst offenders is US Army chaplain MAJ James Linzey, who, with his CFGC cohorts have also denigrated Judaism and Catholicism, as well as mainstream Protestant churches. In a stunning example of their theology (and ultimate plans for everyone not of their belief), Linzey, in a 1999 video, described mainstream Protestant churches as “demonic, dastardly creatures from the pit of hell ” that should be “stomped out.”
The Council of Full Gospel Churches (Linzey’s accrediting agency) not only didn’t pull his accreditation, but supported this egregious violation of the Constitution, his mission and orders as a military chaplain, and of his oath as an officer. (Of course, Ammerman is as bad or worse.)
COL Ammerman and MAJ Linzey have also spread conspiracy theories about “Satanic forces” in the U.S. government for years aiding a military takeover aided by unnamed “foreign” (presumably UN) troops.
In 2008, COL Ammerman said that four presidential candidates (US Senators Obama, Clinton, Biden and Dodd) should be hanged for treason – for not voting to designate English as America’s official language. He also stated that President Obama would be assassinated as a “secret Muslim.” (In the late 1990s, he had also called for the execution of then-president Clinton for treason.)
CFGC and its chaplains have repeatedly and egregiously violated the Constitution and the laws and regulations regarding chaplaincies, including those on interfaith cooperation, bans on membership in organizations with religious or racial supremacist principles, especially those espousing violence, and that active military personnel cannot make disloyal or contemptuous statements about officials.
This problem, as stated, is very wide-spread and deeply entrenched, not only in the military but in many areas of government and indeed, other nations.
These people are very clever, subtle, well-organized, and well-funded. They are gaining ground in many areas – including the military and the Service Academies.
These people are our main opponents, and regular violators of the very Constitution which guarantees them freedom of religion and pluralism, which they call upon to defend themselves as they attack and undermine the very principles which allow them to exist and operate.
While we accept their right to believe as they please, within the framework of the Constitution and public law, we balk at allowing them to proselytize unwilling service personnel under their command “under color of authority” and to undermine and work to destroy the Constitution that many of our members (most of whom are former or serving members of the US Armed Forces), swore to “uphold and defend.”
The Dominionists and their allied sects are committing egregious assaults on the Constitution and on the rights of servicemen and women daily. We expose to the clear light of day their violations, as well as those of any other individuals or groups who attempt the same. Unfortunately, this group constitutes the bulk of the complaints we receive.
Mr. Weinstein determined that this movement, far from being a few relatively harmless religious lunatics, had developed into a highly dangerous and credible threat to the Constitution and to the Republic itself. He determined that there was no way he could stand aside and let them continue their rise to power. He left his employment, and founded MRFF, using all his own money and mortgaging his possessions, borrowing from friends, family and anyone he could convince of the need to battle this threat. He quite literally has wagered his “life, fortune, and sacred honor” to defend the Constitution he swore (like all of us who have served) to “uphold and defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That is why he (and we) belong, and do what we do. In return, we are demonized, vilified, and daily threatened with death and violence to ourselves and our families.
FYI, some Online sources of information on Dominionism:
Pat Robertson’s “The Secret Kingdom” outlines his own plan for a theocracy.
Was the USA Founded as a “Christian” nation?
Correspondents to the MRFF and others involved in the so-called “culture wars” often cite as “proof” of this claim the common (and mistaken) notion that “One Nation Under God” and other mottoes, friezes (such as on the SCOTUS), etc., stating that these were handed down from the Founders and Framers. They were not. This motto and others are actually from well past the Founding, and all of them are relatively modern
For example, the above phrase is from the 1954, and is a rewrite of the relatively modern Pledge of Allegiance. (Not a Founding document by any stretch of the imagination.)
The author of the Pledge was Francis Bellamy, who far from being a Founder or Framer, was a Socialist, then working as the circulation manager of a Boston children’s magazine, “The Youth’s Companion.” He had previously been a minister, but was defrocked for telling his parishioners that Christ was a Socialist. They took umbrage, and he was dismissed.In 1892, Mr. Bellamy wrote the “Pledge of Allegiance” to coincide with the Columbus Quadricentennial and Exposition, as part of an ongoing campaign to send flags to schools, to boost advertising and circulation.The Pledge of Allegiance as written by Bellamy originally read;
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands-one nation indivisible-with liberty and justice for all.”
(Note that there is no reference to “God.”)
It was re-written around WW I (during a flurry of nativist anti-German and anti-immigrant political strife) to read “…to the Flag of the United States of America…” because it was believed by some paranoid nativists that some immigrant children might mistakenly think the flag of their native land was meant.
The original Pledge included extending one’s hand toward the US flag, but this was later dropped in WW II in favor of the current hand over the heart, because it was thought that the extended hand too closely resembled the Nazi salute.
In 1942, Congress officially recognized the Pledge, but in 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that school children could not be forced to recite it, citing the First Amendment.
The phrase “under God” was only added in 1954 during the Cold War, mainly due to pressure from the religious right, particularly from the Catholic secret society, the Knights of Columbus.
As can be seen, this phrase is neither very old, nor was it from the Founders and Framers, who were generally adamant that the US was a secular nation with freedom of conscience for all. (See below.) Far from being a gift from the Founders, it was composed in the late 19th century by a defrocked Socialist minister as part of an ad campaign.
Likewise, “In God We Trust” on our coinage and as a national motto was not chosen by the Founders and Framers. The original national mottos handed down by the Framers were:
“E Pluribus Unum” (“From Many, One” — which Jefferson suggested) adopted in 1782, five years before the Constitutional Convention, and inscribed next to the Great Seal of the United States, designed under the joint supervision of Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson.
“Annuit Cœptis” - suggested by Charles Thomson who made the final design for the reverse side of the Great Seal in June 1782. The motto is from a line in the pagan Roman poet Virgil’s “Georgics.” (Thomson changed Virgil’s “annue” to “annuit” – i.e., 3rd person). In conjunction with the Eye on the Seal, representing Providence as the subject, it is a rebus meaning; “Providence has favored [or “favors” as annuit can also be present tense] our undertakings.”
(The use of the term “Providence” here is a deistic phrase, which is not surprising as Jefferson and Franklin were Deists, while Adams, originally a Congregationalist, had by then become a Unitarian leaning towards Deism.)The other original motto from our Great Seal, is again from a line by Virgil, “Novus Ordo Seclorum” meaning “A New Order of the Ages.“
(Before the tin-hatted conspiracy theorists among my readers get out their M-16s, I hasten to add that this does not translate as “new world order” as has been suggested by some conspiracy theorists, whose understanding of Latin is obviously defective. Thomson himself said that the motto referred to the beginning of a new age, or “American era” beginning in 1776, the date inscribed below the Pyramid in Roman numerals.)
“In God We Trust” originally dates only from the Civil War (again, not from the Founders, Framers, or the Revolutionary era), and was adopted mainly due to agitation by a handful of strident but influential fundamentalists of that era, bolstered by the social, political, and economic upheavals attendant upon the war.
Following the so-called “Second Great Awakening” of religious revivalism of the 1830s, fundamentalists were greatly perturbed at the lack of a “godly” motto and iconography, and the use of such “horrid pagan” figures as the “Goddess of Liberty” on our coinage. They believed that these “oversights and errors” on the part of the Founders needed to be “rectified.” (Words and attitudes echoed by their modern counterparts.)
As is common in time of war, both sides were then claiming divine approval for inflicting mayhem upon the “enemy” — in this case, their fellow Americans.
(This sort of usurpation of a deity’s name is common in time of war. For example, the motto on German military belt buckles from before the Franco-Prussian War up until the end of WW II was “Gott Mit Uns” -“God [is] with Us.” Obviously “god” is not backing all sides — yet the leaders on all sides claim his approval and guidance to gain the approval and support of the ignorant public. As Seneca the Younger wrote; “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false — and by the rulers useful.” It still is.)
The original suggestion was made by a fundamentalist minister, and taken up by some of the more zealous representatives and senators and the proposition was passed.
Lincoln’s Treasury Secretary, Salmon P. Chase, therefore instructed James Pollock, Director of the Philadelphia Mint, to prepare a motto in 1861, but an Act of Congress of January 18, 1837 had prescribed that only the original mottoes and devices (mentioned above) that should be placed upon the coins of the United States, so the mint could make no changes without additional legislation.In December 1863, the Director submitted designs to Secretary Chase, who approved them, and suggested that the proposed motto should be changed to read “In God We Trust” which first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin.Two further Acts after the war expanded the use of this motto, but it was not always used on all coins until after 1938, and not made official until 1956, during the Cold War when our propagandists heightened the notion that a “godly” US was opposing the “godless” Soviet Union.
(It is interesting to note here that the case has been made by some leading clerics [and by President Theodore Roosevelt] that putting the deity’s name on money was sacrilegious. If I were a theist, I would agree. As a non-theist, I merely think it unconstitutional.)The adoption of this motto was largely the result of pressure exerted by the Knights of Columbus. (The K of C is a Roman Catholic secret society originally set up in opposition to the Masonic Order. No Catholic communicant was allowed to join any “secret society” except the K of C.)
Another frequently cited “proof” of the supposed “Christian origin” of the US are friezes which include Moses and Solomon on the Supreme Court building. However, they don’t date from the Founding, and this is only part of the frieze.The Supreme Court friezes were designed by its architect, Cass Gilbert (d. 1934), who picked Jewish sculptor Adolph A. Weinman (d. 1952), to execute them. They used sources from many civilizations, and the idea was to depict a procession of “great lawgivers of history” to portray the development the concept of the rule of law.Weinman’s subjects of course include his people’s own Moses and Solomon, both noted as lawgivers, but also Menes, first Pharaoh of the first dynasty of ancient Egypt, one of the earliest recorded lawgivers (and considered a “god” by his people); Hammurabi, a (pagan) king of Babylon receiving his famous Code from the mythical Babylonian Sun God; Lycurgus, a (pagan) legislator and reformer of Sparta’s constitution; Solon of Athens, another pagan, who remodeled the Athenian constitution in 594 B.C.; Draco (one of Solon’s predecessors – and also a pagan) who had the Athenian code of laws written down for the first time, as well as the (pagan) Roman Emperor, Octavian (aka “Augustus Caesar”) is also depicted, as are the (pagan) Chinese philosopher, Confucius, Mohammed, and Napoleon Bonaparte, whose religion, if any, seems to have depended on where he was and what he was trying to accomplish.
This presents some interesting problems for those who would interpret the depictions of Moses and Solomon as constituting a public “endorsement” of Judaism and (by a completely unsupported stretch) Christianity, and thus “proof” of the “Christian origins” of the nation.
First and foremost, the first century AD Jewish rabbi, Yehoshua ben Yosef (aka “Jesus”) is nowhere depicted.
Even if we make that vast and unsupported stretch, and say that two Jewish lawgiver figures include Christianity by extension, and thus are an “endorsement” of those religions, then one must also concede that the presence of the other (mostly pagan) lawgivers depicted (who far outnumber the small Jewish contingent), must also constitute an “endorsement” of their religion(s), Q.E.D.
Since the pagan depictions far outnumber the Judaic ones, and since there are NO Christian elements depicted, then these friezes, if indeed a religious endorsement, would actually appear to be promoting pagan religions far more heavily than Judaism, and therefore, we must assume that they more strongly “endorse” pagan beliefs over Judaism.
But of course they do no such thing. They are not “endorsements” of any religion, but merely a symbolic iconic representation of the progress of law over the centuries.
Likewise, the phrase “So help me God” in the enlisted and commissioning oaths was only added in 1960 when they changed the original 1789 and later oaths (which had no reference to any god in accordance with the Constitution’s “No religious test” and “No establishment” clauses) by amendment to Title 10, Section 502, (becoming effective in 1962), largely as part of the infiltration of the Dominionists even then into the government and military, and the still-extant propaganda drive to portray the US as a religious nation in opposition to the “godless atheists” (a grossly redundant phrase) of Russia and other Communist states.
The phrase “So help me God” as a mandatory addition is clearly a violation of the Constitution (though I surmise it could be used if it were unwritten and entirely voluntary). Officers administering the oath generally allow enlistees to omit the words, if they choose, according to their religious beliefs. While the federal law does not appear to make any part of the oath optional, military regulations often do. For example, the Army enlistment regulation (see Army Regulation 601-210, paragraph 6-18) makes the portion “So help me God” optional, and the USAF version, which had seemed to make it mandatory, was recently revised to make it optional.
ALL religious symbology and language on our national coinage, motto, buildings, etc., which has been quoted as “proving” that we were “established as a Christian nation” was added between approximately 75 to 165 years AFTER the Constitution was approved, and all the Framers were long dead.
All the symbology, mottos, etc. they did use or bequeath were derived from Pagan Classical Greek and Roman sources (such as the figure of the goddess of Liberty on our coinage – so if they intended to leave us a “religious” nation, they clearly must have “intended” it to be a pagan one.
However, they no more intended a Pagan Republic than a Christian one – they used Classical iconography and language, just as they did in their architecture, because it was admired at that time, in vogue, and the mark of an educated, sophisticated, and cultured person — as opposed to the illiterate superstitious peasant who believes in supernatural and “miraculous” claptrap.
Even many of the most pious (including many clergy) were opposed to mixing religion with government. John Adams, though himself a believer in a higher power (he was originally a Congregationalist, but later became a Unitarian), specifically stated that the Republic was established WITHOUT “divine” guidance. (See the quotes by Adams below)
It really wasn’t until the so-called “Second Great Awakening” of the 1830s (mentioned above) that wild-eyed religious zealots began pushing to mix religion with government – against all the advice and warnings of many of the primary movers and Framers such as Jefferson, Madison, Adams, etc.
As to references to Western religion (where they exist) outnumbering other references; since this continent was settled mainly by Western Europeans from Christian nations, most settlers were therefore from Christian or Jewish backgrounds (other than Muslim slaves kidnapped in Africa). Even when some of these escaped or were manumitted and became freedmen, they had little or no power or influence, so one would hardly expect there to be much Muslim influence present in the early US, any more than one would expect references to Buddha, Krishna or Arjuna, or any other of the many gods and goddesses around the world.
However, Islam was not unknown to the Framers. Thomas Jefferson had a Koran which he had studied extensively, and which he left to the university he helped found. It is still extant, and Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim US Congressman, swore his oath of office on the Jefferson Koran.
Also, Jefferson, Madison, and Washington all expressed tolerance and acceptance for Muslims and other non-Christians in their writings. When hiring workmen for Mount Vernon, George Washington wrote to his agent;
“If they be good workmen, they may be from Asia, Africa, or Europe; they may be Mohammedans, Jews, or Christians of any sect, or they may be Atheists.”
Fortunately for the Jews, Mohammedans (i.e., Muslims) and atheists of his time, Washington was not as prejudiced against non-Christians as some people now seem to be.
However, the Founders’ quotes or beliefs about any god or religion, pro or con, are irrelevant in light of the US Constitution, which does not mention any deity or religion at all except to state clearly :
“. . . no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” (Article VI, Section III)“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” (1st Amendment)
However, one might legitimately ask, what was the Framers’ intent in relation to these clauses? As Jefferson said (in a letter to William Johnson, 1823;)
“On every question of construction carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”
Historically, the strongest influence on the principal Framers was not Judaism or Christianity (which as remarked perpetuated aristocratic, priest-ridden theocracies for most of their histories), but the broad new flowering of thought among the intellectual elite of European philosophers from about the middle of the 17th century to the late 18th century known as the “Age of Enlightenment” (sometimes included with its early 17th century predecessor, the “Age of Reason” — which Paine used as the title of one of his pamphlets). Its principles were based on reason and intellect instead of illogic, irrationality, and superstition, and sought to replace both the aristocracy and established churches, which were viewed as reactionary and oppressive. Many of these philosophers were Deists at best.
Many of our Founders and Framers were active participants in the Enlightenment movement, and in regular correspondence with the European philosophers who had started the movement. Though raised as at least nominal Christians of one stripe or another, the most influential and important Framers, the main crafters of our form of government, such as Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and Paine, among others, were clearly Deists at best, eschewing the “miraculous” trappings of religion. In fact, it is extremely doubtful that any of these gentlemen would pass the modern “litmus test” for “true believers” — and I surmise that were they here today, they might well be MRFF clients or supporters.
They had seen the manifold evils of established religion in other lands, which featured the religious persecution, imprisonment, torture, religious murders, and many religious bloody wars - which was one of the main reasons that the US was created as a secular nation with NO established religion — for as Mr. Madison so cogently wrote;
“Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?”
Who indeed but a blind zealot?
However, that was far from the Framer’s only objection to religion in government. The Framers (who were remarkably prescient — even without divine help) had just this problem in mind when they banned establishment and religious tests for office.
The Framers believed in the Enlightenment theory of “natural rights” which held that human rights come from nature (or deity), and cannot justly be taken away without consent. Therefore, the majority has no legitimate power to vote away or otherwise abridge the natural rights of political, ethnic, religious, or other minorities.
Though the Framers had respect for the will of the majority, they also understood that, as Madison stated at the Virginia Constitutional Convention in 1829, “In republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of minority.”
Jefferson had proclaimed in his first inaugural address, “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression.”
Independent judicial protection of rights by judges who are appointed and serve for life (SCOTUS) also helps to ensure justice and the protection of individual rights. An early example of legislation designed to protect minorities was the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom mentioned above.
George Washington, our first President, was a member of the established Anglican church of Virginia (which became the Episcopalian church following the Revolution).
He was also a Freemason, which requires a belief in some higher power. It is also clear that he was a firm believer in the importance of religion in maintaining order.
I have already quoted his attitude towards equality for all religions and even non-theists. Here are some more facts regarding his beliefs.Washington’s personal diaries indicate that he did not regularly attend services at Mount Vernon, spending most Sundays writing letters, conducting business, fox-hunting, or doing other activities. A biographer, Paul Leicester Ford, wrote:
His daily “where and how my time is spent” enables us to know exactly how often he attended church, and in the year 1760 he went just sixteen times, and in 1768 he went fourteen, these years being fairly typical of the period 1760-1773.
Though he attended services more often when he traveled on political business, it might be any sect or denomination – he attended several churches in his travels, including Catholic, Presbyterian, and Quaker.
He also rarely used the word “God” except in catchphrases such as “thank God”, “God knows” (i.e. no one knows), “for God’s sake”, or “my God!” as an exclamation. More often, he simply spoke of “Providence” or wrote privately to fellow Masons of the “Great Architect of the Universe” (both common Deist terms).
Washington almost never mentioned “Jesus Christ” in speeches or writing. A rare reference was in a 1779 letter to a delegation of Christianized Indians, which replies to a letter they sent him telling him of their intent for peace, and to acquire religious instruction, and asking for support in their affairs with Congress.As noted above, Washington was an early supporter of religious toleration and freedom of religion. In 1775, he ordered that his troops not show anti-Catholic sentiments by burning the pope in effigy on Guy Fawkes Night, and he issued the first official proclamation of St. Patrick’s Day in America on March 17, 1780, as a holiday for the Continental Army stationed in Morristown, New Jersey. It was the first holiday granted to the troops in two years. Washington awarded this holiday
“…as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence”.
In 1790, Washington expressed his support for religious tolerance where in a letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island he stated,
“May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.”
On February 1, 1800, a few weeks after Washington’s death, Thomas Jefferson made the following entry in his journal, regarding an incident on the occasion of Washington’s departure from office:
“Dr. Rush tells me that he had it from Asa Green that when the clergy addressed Genl. Washington on his departure from the govmt, it was observed in their consultation that he had never on any occasion said a word to the public which showed a belief in the Xn religion and they thot they should so pen their address as to force him at length to declare publicly whether he was a Christian or not. They did so. However he observed the old fox was too cunning for them. He answered every article of their address particularly except that, which he passed over without notice. Rush observes he never did say a word on the subject in any of his public papers except in his valedictory letter to the Governors of the states when he resigned his commission in the army, wherein he speaks of the benign influence of the Christian religion. I know that Gouverneur Morris, who pretended to be in his secrets & believed himself to be so, has often told me that Genl. Washington believed no more of that system than he himself did.”
Morris (January 31, 1752 – November 6, 1816) represented Pennsylvania in the Constitutional Convention of 1787. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation, and the amanuensis of the Constitution committee. He wrote the preamble and some sections of the Constitution, and was one of its signers. He was also a noted “ladies’ man” and libertine, and was at best a Deist.
Rev. Dr. James Abercrombie was rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, which Washington sometimes attended. After Washington died, when asked about Washington’s beliefs, Abercrombie replied: “Sir, Washington was a Deist!” (Rev. Abercrombie was NOT being complimentary.)
What emerges from all this is a picture of Washington as a typical Enlightenment Deist who (like his fellow Founders, Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin) admired the moral teachings, though not necessarily believing in the divinity or miraculous aspects of a (possibly) historic 1st century AD Jewish preacher known as Yehoshua.
John Adams, Washington’s VP and successor in office, clearly did not believe the US had been established by divine intervention or assistance – in fact, quite the opposite. In “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787-88) he states clearly;
“The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history.