Thursday, September 30, 2010

Presidents' views on other Religions

I’m always dumbfounded when the “Religious Right” claims that this country was founded on Christian ideals and how we must return to what we were created to be. All I want to know is what grade did they get in American history? I believe they missed the part about leaving England to escape religious persecution, or the day they learned about the Founding Fathers themselves. No where in the Constitution does it speak of God. In fact the very first amendment they made was to insure that ‘Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…’ That being said, the separation of Church and State has been a little tricky. I myself take a more agnostic/humanist approach and just wish we could all get along and stop referring to God in politics. In fact I’m willing to bet that if He does exist, he’d wish to be kept out of it as much as possible as I’m sure He’s not too thrilled with the fact that most wars are in His name already.

Here are some quotes from some of our more famous Presidents on religion as it pertains to politics and running the country.

George Washington

“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 [not our?] religious fights would not endanger the peace of Society.”

Thomas Jefferson 

"I never told my religion, nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another's creed. I have judged others' religions by their lives, for it is from our lives and not our words that our religions must be read."

Abraham Lincoln

"The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma."

Theodore Roosevelt 

“To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not avowed his allegiance to any church, is an outrage against that liberty of conscience which is one of the foundations of American life.”

“I holde that in this country there must be complete severance of Church and State; that public moneys shall not be used for the purpose of advancing any particular creed; and therefore that the public schools shall be nonsectarian and no public moneys appropriated for sectarian schools.”

George H Bush

Sherman: “What will you do to win the votes of the Americans who are atheists?”

Bush: “I guess I'm pretty weak in the atheist community. Faith in God is important to me.”

Sherman: “Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?

Bush: No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”

Sherman (somewhat taken aback): “Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?”

Bush: “Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I'm just not very high on atheists.”

Bill Clinton

“I've been in politics long enough to expect criticism and hostility. But I was unprepared for the hatred I get from Christians. Why do Christians hate so much?”

“Politics is not religion and we should govern on the basis of evidence, not theology.”

“I like that about the Republicans; the evidence does not faze them, they are not bothered at all by the facts.”

George W Bush

"I wouldn't pick a judge who said that the Pledge of Allegiance couldn't be said in a school because it had the words 'under God'' in it. I think that's an example of a judge allowing personal opinion to enter into the decision-making process, as opposed to strict interpretation of the Constitution."

"We need common-sense judges who understand our rights were derived from God."

“I believe God wants me to be President.”

Barack Obama

"This is a country that is still predominantly Christian, but we have Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists" and others, he said, adding that "their own path to grace is one that we have to revere and respect as much as our own, and that is part of what makes this country what it is."

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