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Monday, November 29, 2004

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 American presidents' views on religion

Let the record speak for itself.

George Washington:

Washington gives us little in his writings to indicate his personal religious beliefs. Washington commented on sermons only twice. In his writings, he never referred to "Jesus Christ." He attended church rarely, and did not take communion - though Martha did, requiring the family carriage to return back to the church to get her later.

When trying to arrange for workmen in 1784 at Mount Vernon, Washington made clear that he would accept "Mohometans, Jews or Christians of any Sect, or they may be Atheists." On his deathbed he did not ask for any clergy, though one was available. His funeral services were those of the Freemasons.

John Adams
"The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."

Thomas Jefferson
"I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies."

James Madison
"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries."

John Quincy Adams
"There is in the clergy of all Christian denominations a time-serving, cringing, subservient morality, as wide from the spirit of the gospel as it is from the intrepid assertion and vindication of truth."

Abraham Lincoln
"The Bible is not my Book and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long complicated statements of Christian dogma."

William Howard Taft
"I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe."

Theodore Roosevelt
"I hold 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."

Franklin D. Roosevelt
"The lessons of religious toleration -- a toleration which recognizes complete liberty of human thought, liberty of conscience -- is one which, by precept and example, must be inculcated in the hearts and minds of all Americans if the institutions of our democracy are to be maintained and perpetuated. We must recognize the fundamental rights of man. There can be no true national life in our democracy unless we give unqualified recognition to freedom of religious worship and freedom of education."

Harry Truman
"We have gone a long way toward civilization and religious tolerance, and we have a good example in this country. Here the many Protestant denominations, the Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church do not seek to destroy one another in physical violence just because they do not interpret every verse of the Bible in exactly the same way. Here we now have the freedom of all religions, and I hope that never again will we have a repetition of religious bigotry, as we have had in certain periods of our own history. There is no room for that kind of foolishness here."

Jimmy Carter
"I believe in the separation of church and state and would not use my authority to violate this principle in any way."

George W. Bush
Compare these views with those of George W. Bush:

"Tyrants and dictators will accept no other gods before them. They require disobedience to the First Commandment. They seek absolute control and are threatened by faith in God. They fear only the power they cannot possess -- the power of truth. So they resent the living example of the devout, especially the devotion of a unique people chosen by God." -- George W. Bush, blaming the Holocaust on godlessness, rather than on Christian anti-Semitism, at the National Commemoration of the Days of Remembrance at the US Capitol on April 19, 2001.

"Scripture says: "Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted." I call on every American family and the family of America to observe a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, honoring the memory of the thousands of victims of these brutal attacks and comforting those who lost loved ones. We will persevere through this national tragedy and personal loss. In time, we will find healing and recovery; and, in the face of all this evil, we remain strong and united, 'one Nation under God.'" -- George W. Bush, directing the religious exercises of his constituents and proclaiming a unity which omits at least ten percent of the population.

"I ask Americans to bow our heads in humility before our Heavenly Father, a God who calls us not to judge our neighbors, but to love them, to ask His guidance upon our nation and its leaders in every level of government." -- George W. Bush, National Day of Prayer Proclamation, January 20, 2001.

3 Comments:

Blogger jeremy said...

Those are some pretty intresting quotes there, where did you get all of them from?

2:55 PM  
Blogger Nanovirus said...

I found the quotes scattered about the web. I tried to get a sample representing different American eras to underscore just how differently Bush views religion and politics. There is nothing traditional about it.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Dave S. said...

I was at Monticello recently and noticed that Jefferson collected a lot of Biblical art work. There is a scene of John the Baptist displayed prominently in his parlor. I asked about this and the tour guide said that, "Jefferson thought Jesus was the shiznit!"

OK, I really didn't ask, but I meant to.

2:40 PM  

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