Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Goodbye To All That

Somebody buy Barack Obama this book. I have a feeling that he needs it.

“Question with boldness even the existence of a god.”--Thomas Jefferson.

“Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind.”--James Madison

“I doubt of Revelation itself.”--Benjamin Franklin

“My own mind is my church.”--Thomas Paine

The religious right is gaining enormous power in the United States, thanks to a well-organized, media-savvy movement with powerful friends in high places. Yet many Americans—both observant and secular—are alarmed by this trend, especially by efforts to erase the boundary between church and state, re-making the United States into a theocracy.

But most Americans lack the tools for arguing with the religious right, especially when fundamentalist conservatives claim their positions originated with the Framers of the Constitution. Until now. . . .

Did you know that:

• The Constitution contains not one reference to a deity--on purpose?

• Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence did not mention “endowed by the Creator”?

• “In God We Trust” was not on our currency, and “Under God” was not the U.S. motto, until the McCarthy-ite 1950s?

• The 15th-century Roman Catholic Church considered abortion moral?

• The Treaty of Tripoli--initiated by George Washington and signed into law by John Adams--declares: “The United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion”?

• James Madison, “father of the Constitution,” denounced the presence of chaplains in Congress--and in the armed forces--as unconstitutional?

• Lincoln’s first drafts of The Emancipation Proclamation and Gettysburg Address made no mention of any deity?

In Fighting Words, Robin Morgan has assembled a toolkit for arguing, a verbal karate guide: a lively, accessible, eye-opening collection revealing what the framers (and other leading Americans) really believed—in their own words. She resurrects the Founders as the revolutionaries they were: “A hodgepodge of freethinkers, Deists, agnostics, Christians, atheists, Freemasons—and radicals.