Re: Fwd: [asa] The Swift-Boating of Judge Jones

From: Janice Matchett <>
Date: Thu Dec 21 2006 - 22:34:33 EST

I don't have a whole lot of time here at the moment and I apologize
for being so late replying. Busy time of year and I've been out of
town a lot. I'll give it my best shot in my reply to your questions
and comments here in the time I have. Hope this will suffice.

At 02:21 PM 12/14/2006, Ted Davis wrote:

>@ This is my problem with the judge:May 22, 2006 - Judge Jones
>reveals his false beliefs (premise for his ruling) about the
>Anti-Establishment Clause in the Constitution:"The founders believed
>that true religion was not something handed down by a church or
>contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational
>inquiry. They possessed a great confidence in an individual's
>ability to understand the world and its most fundamental laws
>through the exercise of his or her reason. This core set of beliefs
>led the founders, who constantly engaged and questioned things, to
>secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance
>between church and state." ~U.S. District Judge John E. Jones in his
>May 2006 commencement address to 500 graduates at his alma mater,
>Dickinson College. He needs to click my screen name and
>get up to speed. :) ~ Janice
>Ted replies: Janice, I share your dissent from the judge's view
>of the first part of the first amendment. We both apparently agree
>that the disestablishment of
>religion does not equate to promoting secularism, which is what the
>courts tend to say it means.
>But the judge's views on the primacy of reason were in fact
>prominent in the writings of several important founders--esp
>Jefferson, whose view that the First Amendment means that we must
>erect a "wall of separation between church and state" comes from a
>letter he wrote to a Baptist church while he was
>president. Jefferson's "Bible", which one can find for sale at
>Monticello, consists in the moral teachings of Jesus, nothing more;
>it's a slim volume, to say the least. Franklin also held a low view
>of scripture, in keeping with his deism; John Adams was a Unitarian;
>and Tom Paine, the fellow who helped rile us up, was a virulent
>critic of the Bible. ~ Ted

@ Thomas Paine wasn't a "Founding Father". Regarding him, and the
other names you listed, they are referenced below under "America's
Unchristian Beginnings???".

As far as the Jefferson letter goes, it has been taken out of context
and blown out of proportion, but I don't have time to get into it
right now other than to post this reference with a 6/22/2005 comment
by a Constitutional scholar on Free Republic, whom I know and love:

Click link to see the actual copy of the letter:
The "Wall of Separation..." letter by Jefferson...(Rare Newspaper)
AURORA GENERAL ADVERTISER ^ | Monday February 1, 1802
Posted on 06/22/2005 5:30:43 PM EDT by fight_truth_decay


The comment:

  "Jefferson's letter is just that, a letter. He was not involved in
the constitutional convention, and had nothing to do with the Bill of
Rights -- being in France on both occasions. His letter was written
14 years after the Bill of Rights were adopted. And several of the
states ratifying the Bill of Rights actually had official state
religions. I am obviously not arguing for a return to that, but the
point is that if today's "separation of church and state" viewpoint
existed back then, the Bill of Rights never would have been ratified
by the states, including the states that had official religions. And
a few days after writing this letter, Jefferson went to the House of
Representatives for morning prayer, as he did frequently as
president. But this is, nonetheless, a fascinating link." ~ Mark Levin

[[[[[ Janice interjects: Mark Levin is a Constitutional scholar &
President of The Landmark Legal Foundation - author of the book, "Men
in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying
America ]]]]

6 posted on 06/22/2005 5:41:23 PM EDT by holdonnow [ aka Mark Levin ]

I'll also add this: The Mythical Wall of Separation:

>What exactly do you have to tell the judge, Janice, in your own
>words please if possible. I don't agree with him, but I don't think
>he needs to "get up to speed" on this. ~ ted

@ I would tell him he "needs to get up to speed" on what motivated
the Framers of the Constitution only if [1] he wants to stop
embarrassing himself in public, and [2] wants to impress others
beside members of one of the the most destructive organizations in
America today; the deceptively-named ACLU.

Linked from my profile page: is this:

America's Unchristian Beginnings? - 1995 by Gregory Koukl

Greg responds to an L.A. Times Op-Ed article by this title (sans
question mark), subtitled "Founding Fathers: Despite preachings of
our pious Right, most were deists who rejected the divinity of Jesus."

There has been a lot of confusion on the issue of whether or not we'
re a Christian nation, and I'm not exactly sure why. But it is hotly
debated in our culture right now. The reason I say I'm not sure why
is because the historical record is quite clear. I think that
Christians, though, often make inappropriate, unfounded, or
inaccurate applications of some of the information, and I want to
speak to that in just a moment.

As to the faith content of those who were our Founding Fathers, there
can be absolutely no confusion about the fact that virtually every
single one of them shared a Christian, biblical world view. There is
some question as to whether every single one of them held to all the
orthodox teachings of classical Christianity; but it seems to me that
there is very little question as to what their religious persuasions
and world views were.

There was a piece in the L.A. Times on the third of this August on
the Op-Ed page entitled "America's Unchristian Beginnings." It is
subtitled "Founding Fathers: Despite preachings of our pious Right,
most were deists who rejected the divinity of Jesus."

There are a couple things that trouble me about this article, the
biggest thing is the word "most" in the subtitle. "Most of our
Founding Fathers" apparently were deists, according to this person's
assessment. This is a canard that's been tossed around even by some
Christians who ought to know better. This piece was written by Steven
Morris who is a professor of physics at L.A. Harbor College and he is
also a member of the L.A.-based Atheists United.

Some might say, what does a physicist know about history? Just
because he is a physicist doesn't mean that he can't have an accurate
opinion about this particular issue. I take issue with his research.
It' s simply bad.

He goes on to reply to the Christian Right, who he says is trying to
rewrite the history of the United States in its campaign to force its
view of religion on others.

His approach is to quote seven different people: Thomas Paine, George
Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Ethan Allen, James Madison,
and Ben Franklin. His point is to quote these individuals who he
thinks apparently are, first of all, Founding Fathers, and secondly,
characteristic of the lot of them in rejection of Christianity and in
acceptance of deism.

I am frustrated by this because it is characteristic of the way a lot
of people want to treat this issue. They think that they can take
names that we associate with that period and are well known, sift
through their writings and find some things that they think are
hostile to Christianity, and therefore conclude that not only these
people are anti-Christian, but all of the rest of them are
anti-Christian, as well.

It's an example of Steven Morris turning the exception into the rule.
Since he can find what he thinks are seven different people that are
important personalities during this period of time, who at some time
in their lives may have written something that can be understood to
be non-Christian, then that characterizes the whole group of them as
deists, ergo the subtitle "Most were deists who rejected the divinity
of Jesus."

Morris' sightings are simply specious. Thomas Payne and Ethan Allen,
for example, were in no- wise intellectual architects of the
Constitution. Rather, they were firebrands of the Revolution. Was
that important? Sure, they made an important contribution, but they
weren't Founding Fathers. Period.

Now, as for Washington, Sam Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. If one
looks at the literature of the time--the personal correspondence, the
public statements, the biographies--he will find that this literature
is replete with quotations by these people contrary to those that Mr.
Morris very carefully selected for us.

Apparently, he also very carefully ignored other important thinkers:
John Witherspoon, for example, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, John
Adams, Patrick Henry. All individuals who were significant
contributors to the architectural framework of this country and who
had political philosophies that were deeply influenced by
Christianity, especially Calvinism.

But there is another thing that he completely overlooks in this
analysis. Something that makes a mockery out of his analysis, and
also answers the question quite simply and directly and in the
affirmative for us about the Christian beginnings of our Republic.

This issue is actually very simple. The phrase "Founding Fathers" is
a proper noun. In other words, Founding Fathers refers directly to a
very specific group of people (although I think you could be a little
bit flexible and include a little wider group of people). Those who
intellectually contributed to the Constitutional convention were the
Founding Fathers. If we want to know whether our Founding Fathers
were Christian or deists, one needs only to look at the individual
religious convictions of those 55 delegates of the Constitutional convention.

How would we know that? We look at their church membership primarily,
and also at their correspondence. Back then church membership was a
big deal. In other words, to be a member of a church back then, it
wasn't just a matter of sitting in the pew or attending once in a
while. This was a time when church membership entailed a sworn public
confession of biblical faith, adherence, and acknowledgment of the
doctrines of that particular church.

Of those 55 Founding Fathers, we know what their sworn public
confessions were. Twenty-eight were Episcopalians, eight were
Presbyterians, seven were Congregationalists, two were Lutheran, two
were Dutch Reformed, two were Methodist, two were Roman Catholic, one
is unknown, and only three were deists--Williamson, Wilson, and Franklin.

To heap more fuel on the fire of my point, of the 55, the
Episcopalians, the Presbyterians, the Congregationalists, and the
Dutch Reformed (which make up 45 of the 55) were Calvinists, for
goodness sake!

In other words, these weren't just Christians, these were among the
most extreme and doctrinally strict Christians around. Of the 55
delegates, virtually all of them were deeply committed Christians.
Only three were deists. Even Franklin is equivocal because, though
not an orthodox Christian, Franklin seems to have abandoned his deism
early in life and moved back towards his Puritan roots. Indeed, it
was 81 year old Franklin's emotional call to humble prayer on June
28, 1787, that was actually the turning point for a hopelessly
stalled Constitutional convention. We have his appeal on record
thanks to James Madison who took copious notes of the whole
proceeding. His appeal contained no less than four direct quotations
from Scripture. This does not sound like a man who was hostile to the
Christian religion.

But this assessment doesn' t answer a more fundamental question: Are
we a Christian nation? It seems clear that most of the Founders were
Christians, not deists. But what about the question "Are we a
Christian nation?" I think the answer depends entirely on what is
meant by "Christian nation."

Are the theological doctrines of the Bible explicitly woven into the
fabric of government? The answer is no. The non-establishment clause
of the First Amendment absolutely prohibits such a thing.

However, was the Biblical view of the world--the existence of God who
active in human history, the authority of the Scripture, the inherent
sinfulness of man, the existence of absolute objective morality, and
God-given transcendent rights--was that the philosophic foundation of
the Constitution? The answer is, without question, yes. The American
community presumed a common set of values which were principally
biblical. Further, the founding principles of the Republic were
clearly informed by biblical truth.

A question can be asked at this point. Given the fact that most of
the Founding Fathers--either those who are among the 55 delegates to
the Constitutional convention or those outside of that number who
were significant architects to the Constitution--were in fact
biblical Christians and had sworn to that, and those that weren't
were at least deeply moved and informed by a biblical moral view, one
could ask the question, "So what? What does that have to do with
anything today?"

I think that Christians may be a little out of line on this part of
the issue, and I want to bring it into balance. Regarding the
question, Is America a Christian nation?, if we mean by that that
Christianity is the official, doctrinal religion of this country, the
answer is of course not. That's prohibited by the exclusion clause of
the First Amendment. If we mean that we were founded on Biblical
principles by Christian men who had a deep commitment to the
Scriptures by and large, the answer is certainly yes.

But then the question is, So what? How does what happened 200 years
ago influence what is going on now? I actually have two points to make.

This fact doesn' t give Christians a trump card in the debate on
public policy, in my view. Just because Christians were here first
doesn't mean that their views should continue to prevail. Within the
limits of the Constitution, the majority rules. That's the way this
government works, ladies and gentlemen.

But let's not rewrite history to relegate those with religious
convictions to the sidelines. That is the other half of this. The
privilege of citizenship remains the same for all despite their
religious convictions. Everyone gets a voice and everyone gets a vote.

Christians don't have a leg up on everyone else because we were here first.

Even the Christians who wrote the rules didn't give us that liberty.
They didn't give us that leg up. They made the playing ground even
for everyone, every ideology, every point of view.

Having said that, though, in writing the First Amendment and the
non-establishment clause, they did not have in view this current idea
of separation--that the state is thoroughly secular and not informed
at all by religious values, especially Christian.

This view that is popular now was completely foreign, not just to the
Founders, but to the first 150 years of American political thought.

It's absolutely clear that the Fathers did not try to excise every
vestige of Christian religion, Christian thought, and Christian
values from all facets of public life. In fact, they were friendly to
religion in general, and to Christianity in particular, and
encouraged its education and expression.

As to the durability of this tradition, I suggest that anyone who has
any doubts about this simply read Lincoln's second inaugural address,
which is etched into the marble of the northern wall of the Lincoln
Memorial. Go there and read it. Face Lincoln, turn right, and there
it is. It contains no less than three or four biblical references.

After that you can reflect on
Thanksgiving Proclamation of October 3, 1863. It begins this way: "It
is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence
upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and
transgressions [By golly, how did that get in there?] in humble
sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to
mercy and pardon. And to recognize the sublime truth announced in the
Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are
blessed whose God is the Lord."

I think that pretty much settles it." ~ Greg Koukl

~ Janice ......."A little a good thing.
~ Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God." - Thomas Jefferson

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Received on Thu Dec 21 22:35:09 2006

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