Long-lived doubt -- separation of church & state
(Top Posts - History - 011705)

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Here's some information of import on the long-lived
doubt regarding the separation of church and state,
a doubt that has been ongoing ever since before
the writing of the

U.S. Declaration of Independence

and the U.S. Constitution

and the Bill of Rights ...

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The Great Infidels
(published in The Works of Robert Ingersoll, 1933)


In our country there were three infidels-Paine, Franklin
and Jefferson. The colonies were filled with superstition,
the Puritans with the spirit of persecution. Laws savage,
ignorant and malignant had been passed in every colony,
for the purpose of destroying intellectual liberty. Mental
freedom was absolutely unknown. The Toleration Acts
of Maryland tolerated only Christians-not infidels, not
thinkers, not investigators.

... The moment the colonies began to deny the rights of
the king they suspected the power of the priest. In digging
down to find an excuse for fighting George the Third, they
unwittingly undermined the church. They went through the
Revolution together. They found that all denominations
fought equally well. They also found that persons without
religion had patriotism and courage, and were willing to
die that a new nation might be born.

... After victory had enriched our standard, and it became
necessary to make a constitution-to establish a govern-
ment-the infidels, the men like Paine, like Jefferson, and
like Franklin, saw that the church must be left out; that a
government deriving its just powers from the consent of
the governed could make no contract with a church pre-
tending to derive its powers from an infinite God.

By the efforts of these infidels, the name of God was left
out of the Constitution of the United States. They knew that
if an infinite being was put in, no room would be left for the
people. They knew that if any church was made the mis-
tress of the state, that mistress, like all others, would cor-
rupt, weaken, and destroy.

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... Thomas Paine

... The writings of Paine are gemmed with compact state-
ments that carry conviction to the dullest. Day and night he
labored for America, until there was a government of the
people and for the people. At the close of the Revolution,
no one stood higher than Thomas Paine.

... Thomas Paine, having done so much for political liberty,
turned his attention to the superstitions of his age. He pub-
lished The Age of Reason, and from that day to this, his
character has been maligned by almost every priest in

... Paine simply took the ground that it is a contradiction to
call a thing a revelation that comes to us second hand. There
can be no revelation beyond the first communication. All after
that is hearsay. He also showed that the prophecies of the
Old Testament had no relation whatever to Jesus Christ,
and contended that Jesus Christ was simply a man.

In other words, Paine was an enlightened Unitarian. Paine
thought the Old Testament too barbarous to have been the
work of an infinitely benevolent God. He attacked the doc-
trine that salvation depends upon belief. He insisted that
every man has the right to think.

... Every Christian, every philanthropist, every believer in
human liberty, should feel under obligation to Thomas Paine
for the splendid service rendered by him in the darkest days
of the American Revolution.

... Thomas Paine was a champion, in both hemispheres,
of human liberty; one of the founders and fathers of this
Republic; one of the foremost men of his age. He never
wrote a word in favor of injustice. He was a despiser of
slavery. He abhorred tyranny in every form. He was, in the
widest and best sense, a friend of all his race.

His head was clear as his heart was good, and he had the
courage to speak his honest thoughts. He was the first
man to write these words: "The United States of America."
He proposed the present Federal Constitution. He furn-
ished every thought that now glitters in the Declaration of
Independence. He believed in one God, no more. He was
a believer even in special providence, and he hoped for

How can the world abhor the man who said:

o "I believe in the equality of man, and that religious
duties consist in doing justice, in loving mercy, and
endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy."

o "It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be
mentally faithful to himself."

o "The word of God is the creation which we behold."

o "Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man."

o "My opinion is, that those whose lives have been spent
in doing good and endeavoring to make their fellow-
mortals happy, will be happy hereafter."

o "I believe in one God, and no more, and I hope for
happiness beyond this life."

o "Man has no property in man."

o "The key of heaven is not in the keeping of any sect!"

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Would Thomas Paine, a Unitarian, a non-believer in the vio-
lent God of the Old Testamyth, a nonbeliever in the christian
sects, condone removing the wall of separation between
church and state? Never.

Would Thomas Paine have been a Deistlike Pantheisticlike
follower in the modern day? Perhaps, or perhaps, with ad-
vantages we now have, what with knowledge of human ori-
gins/evolution, and the vast-beyond-vast realm of our partic-
ular space-time continuum, and the genetic continuum of
life from the simplest to the most complex of organisms,
and _____ (insert all that we have learned since Thomas
Paine lived) ...

... he may have (like many naturalists, freethinkers, atheists,
scientists, secular humanists) been convinced that natural-
ism is by far the most compelling, complete, comprehen-
sive, verifiable, and reliable answer to explain our existence
within a naturalistic cosmos of wonder, mystery, joy, and
pain. ...

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Robert G. Ingersoll


Thomas Paine : Collected Writings : Common
Sense / The Crisis / Rights of Man / The Age of
Reason / Pamphlets, Articles, and Letters (Library
of America), by Thomas Paine
"Thomas Paine was more than a great propagandist
(though he was one of the best). He was one of the
few true patriots who cared nothing for his own
legacy or even his own life at times. The church
has attacked Paine cowardly since his death as
they too know that Paine came very near the truth."


Thomas Jefferson / John Adams
"... Here are a few pertinent quotes from
them ..."


Thomas Jefferson's Freethought Legacy : A
Saying Per Day by the Sage of Monticello,
by Thomas Jefferson, Roger E. Greeley
"A delightful collection of quotes from Jefferson which
establishes beyond dispute his enormous contributions
to rationalism, freethought and science. Jefferson was
unwavering in his dedication to the separation of
church and state. ... In these turbulent days when our
society is pushed and pulled by the excesses of the
Religious Right, allow Jefferson's sober thoughts to
restore your confidence in freethought, rationalism,
humanism, and the importance of reason, science,
and education".


Atheists, Agnostics, and Deists in America :
A Brief History, by Peter M. Rinaldo
"This book recounts the history of two hundred
years of religious disbelief-- from Thomas Jefferson
and Tom Paine, who both thought traditional
Christianity would disappear, to today's American
Humanist Association."

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