Letter: No Christian foundation

By The Daily Illini

This is a rebuttal to Elie Dvorin’s assertion on Oct. 14 that our country was founded on Christian faith. Historical revisionists would like us to believe this to be true, but consider the following quotes from our Founders:

n Thomas Paine – “I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own church is my own mind. (The Age of Reason, 1794)

n Benjamin Franklin – “Scarcely was I arrived at fifteen years of age, when, after having doubted in turn of different tenets, according as I found them combated in the different books I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself.” (Franklin’s autobiography, 1817-18)

n George Washington – “Washington, a Deist and a Freemason, never once mentioned the name of Jesus Christ in any of his thousands of letters, and pointedly referred to divinity as ‘It.’ ” (author Robin Morgan)

n John Adams – “Thirteen governments (of the original states) thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretense of miracle, or mystery … are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind. (A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1787-88)

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n Thomas Jefferson – Common law “is that system of law which was introduced by the Saxons … about the middle of the fifth century. But Christianity was not introduced till the seventh century … We may safely affirm (though contradicted by all the judges and writers on earth) that Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.” (letter written Feb. 10, 1814)

n James Madison – “In no instance have (ecclesiastical establishments) been seen as the guardians of the liberties of the people.” (Memorials and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, Section 8, 1785) He called the use of chaplains in Congress and the armed forces unconstitutional.

(Excerpts from Fighting Words for a Secular America by Robin Morgan in Ms., fall 2004, from pages 46 to 49)

Colleen Vojak

graduate student