“As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?--John Adams, letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, 1816”
I returned the favor with another quote of John Adams:
“The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity…I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and the attributes of God.” [June 28, 1813; Letter to Thomas Jefferson]
Interestingly a commenter suggested that they were less worried about the letters (whether pro/anti of religion) of the “major founding fathers” as they were the “agreed upon language of the documents that actually establish and speak for our government, such as our noticeably godless Constitution and the Treaty of Tripoli.”
Please do not take this as a personal attack of the author or commenter, for I only wish to ponder the thoughts (not the individuals) for a moment.
1] If there is no desire to ponder the thoughts/quotes of the founding fathers as to their letters, then why is so much emphasis placed on the LETTER that the familiar phrase “separation between Church & State” arises, for it is nowhere written in the Constitution or Treaty of Tripoli?
Constitution, Bill of Rights, Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
2] Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli appears to be an interesting topic indeed. I will quote from an article:
America did not stop paying tribute to all of the pirates completely until 1815. But it is clear enough that by this time, where Tripoli was concerned, they had the upper hand that they did not have years earlier. This suggests that the reworking of the treaty without Article 11 should be regarded as better reflecting American sentiments than the earlier version, regardless of who wrote or negotiated it. It may be further noted that no such verbiage as Article 11 is found in any of the treaties with the other Muslim pirate states -- which throws a wrench into the idea offered by the above skeptical site that it belonged in the text and would have been welcomed by Muslims.
A word to begin, for poor-reading skeptics: We do not argue that eliminating Article 11 is the same as proving that America was indeed "founded on the Christian religion" -- whatever that may mean. To what extent that may or may not be so is something we plan to look into in future essays. For the present, please note that:
The article as it stands merely says that the government of America is not founded on the Christian religion. This does not mean that the American social/political network was not founded with Christian principles of mind, or that the peoples of America were not Christian to some degree; it merely addresses the government of America. Why?
It may occur to critics that the phrase "founded on the Christian religion" would have a certain meaning to those whose state were "founded on" the Islamic religion -- a "Mehomitan nation". The essential message would be that America was not a Christian theocracy, or a state where the church had political power, as the religious authorities in Muslim nations had power -- which is something no one argues for America.
Our conclusion: Article 11 is a skeptical dud that proves nothing about the founding principles of this nation and says nothing about to what extent Christian influence has shaped us or our government.