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GodDiscussion Radio: A Look at Deism

As the Family Research Council's "Values Voters Summit" comes to a close this weekend, we are again reminded of the ongoing efforts by the religious right to erode the wall of separation between church and state.   The far right insists that the United States is "a Judeo-Christian Nation" and that its Founding Fathers were Christian.

But what does the Constitution say about Jesus?

Nothing.

Does the Constitution mention God?

Nope.

What does the First Amendment (Bill of Rights) say about Jesus?

Nothing.

Does it mention God?

No.

God does show up in the Declaration of Independence as "Nature's God."

"Nature's God" ties into Deistic beliefs.   The Founding Fathers who are most widely believed to have been deists include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, possibly Alexander Hamilton, Ethan Allen and Thomas Paine.

Despite the tremendous influence of Deism to the freedoms enjoyed in the United States today, few people are familiar with Deism — what it is, what its philosophy is, and where it fits in with the notion that the United States is a "Judeo-Christian nation."   The results of a poll taken in September 2007 by the First Amendment Center are alarming:

Sixty-five percent of Americans believe that the nation's founders intended the U.S. to be a Christian nation and 55% believe that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation, according to the "State of the First Amendment 2007" national survey released Sept. 11 by the First Amendment Center.

In our next podcast, we will be taking a look at Deism and the issue of separation of church and state.   Deism is based on reason, not religion.

We're thrilled to announce that we will be talking with Jayson, the Deputy Director of the World Union of Deists, about Deism, free thought and reason.

JohnIMPORTANT UPDATE:   We are also honored to have John Armstrong — DeistPaladin — on the show.   Many who watch YouTube are familiar with John's incredible videos, logic and talent. John is author of God vs. The Bible. John is one of three co-organizers of the Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers.

Please join in for an interesting discussion with Jayson, John and Deborah, your "God Discussion Reporter" and administrator of the site.   If you are unable to tune in, please add your questions in our comments section below and we'll address them on the show.

Details

When:   Wednesday, September 23, 2009, 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time

Time Zone Conversion: World Time Server (type in Los Angeles to see how Pacific standard time translates to your time zone)

Podcast Show Page: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/God-Discussion

Tips: How to Listen and Join In the Discussion

Call-In Number: (914) 338-0452

This is going to be a great show … We hope you can join in the discussion!

About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
  • Fred

    Do they believe that Jesus is our LORD and savior

    • http://godvsthebible.com John

      I'm a deist and I believe there was no historical Jesus at all. Others believe that Jesus was just a religious leader, nothing more. Jefferson published his version of the "Gospel" which stripped out all the supernatural and left only the teachings.

      In deism, all the trappings of religion are stripped out. There's no angels, demons, Satan, Jesus, Heaven, Hell, prayers, saints, prophets, scripture, rituals, churches or clergy. There is only the natural universe, God as its architect and ourselves.

    • aerie

      Fred,

      Who is they?

      Did you even READ the article? They talking about the USA. It was NOT founded on "Christian Principles".

      If you want Jesus as your 'lord & savior' then good luck with that but this country was NOT founded on Jesus, Christianity, or the Bible.

      • Fred

        I pray for you

        Romans 10:9 IF THOU SHALT CONFESS WITH THY MOUTH THE LORD JESUS AND SHALT BELIEVE IN THING HEART THAT GOD HATH RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD THOU SHALT BE SAVED.

        acts 16:30 BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND THOU SHALT BE SAVED

      • Fred

        Samuel Johnston:
        à ¢Ã¢"š ¬ ¢ "It is apprehended that Jews, Mahometans (Muslims), pagans, etc., may be elected to high offices under the government of the United States. Those who are Mahometans, or any others who are not professors of the Christian religion, can never be elected to the office of President or other high office, [unless] first the people of America lay aside the Christian religion altogether, it may happen. Should this unfortunately take place, the people will choose such men as think as they do themselves.
        [Elliot's Debates, Vol. IV, pp 198-199, Governor Samuel Johnston, July 30, 1788 at the North Carolina Ratifying Convention]

        James Madison
        " We've staked our future on our ability to follow the Ten Commandments with all of our heart."

        "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We've staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity– to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God." [1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia]

        à ¢Ã¢"š ¬ ¢ I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare the unsatisfactoriness [of temportal enjoyments] by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way.
        Letter by Madison to William Bradford (September 25, 1773)
        à ¢Ã¢"š ¬ ¢ In 1812, President Madison signed a federal bill which economically aided the Bible Society of Philadelphia in its goal of the mass distribution of the Bible.
        " An Act for the relief of the Bible Society of Philadelphia" Approved February 2, 1813 by Congress

        "It is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other."

        à ¢Ã¢"š ¬ ¢ A watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest, while we are building ideal monuments of renown and bliss here, we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven. [Letter by Madison to William Bradford [urging him to make sure of his own salvation] November 9, 1772]

        At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, James Madison proposed the plan to divide the central government into three branches. He discovered this model of government from the Perfect Governor, as he read Isaiah 33:22;
        "For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver,
        the LORD is our king;
        He will save us."
        [Baron Charles Montesquieu, wrote in 1748; "Nor is there liberty if the power of judging is not separated from legislative power and from executive power. If it [the power of judging] were joined to legislative power, the power over life and liberty of the citizens would be arbitrary, for the judge would be the legislature if it were joined to the executive power, the judge could have the force of an oppressor. All would be lost if the same — body of principal men — exercised these three powers." Madison claimed Isaiah 33:22 as the source of division of power in government
        See also: pp.241-242 in Teaching and Learning America's Christian History: The Principle approach by Rosalie Slater]

        James McHenry — Signer of the Constitution
        Public utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures. The doctrine they preach, the obligations they impose, the punishment they threaten, the rewards they promise, the stamp and image of divinity they bear, which produces a conviction of their truths, can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability and usefulness. In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses, and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience.

        Jedediah Morse:
        "To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. . . . Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all blessings which flow from them, must fall with them."

        John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg
        In a sermon delivered to his Virginia congregation on Jan. 21, 1776, he preached from Ecclesiastes 3.
        Arriving at verse 8, which declares that there is a time of war and a time of peace, Muhlenberg noted that this surely was not the time of peace; this was the time of war. Concluding with a prayer, and while standing in full view of the congregation, he removed his clerical robes to reveal that beneath them he was wearing the uniform of an officer in the Continental army! He marched to the back of the church; ordered the drum to beat for recruits and over three hundred men joined him, becoming the Eighth Virginia Brigade. John Peter Muhlenberg finished the Revolution as a Major-General, having been at Valley Forge and having participated in the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, Stonypoint, and Yorktown.

        Thomas Paine:
        " It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences, and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles: he can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author."
        " The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools, in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only, has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of his existence. They labour with studied ingenuity to ascribe every thing they behold to innate properties of matter, and jump over all the rest by saying, that matter is eternal." "The Existence of God–1810"

        Benjamin Rush:
        à ¢Ã¢"š ¬ ¢ "I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains to prevent them– we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government; that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible; for this Divine Book, above all others, constitutes the soul of republicanism." "By withholding the knowledge of [the Scriptures] from children, we deprive ourselves of the best means of awakening moral sensibility in their minds." [Letter written (1790's) in Defense of the Bible in all schools in America]
        à ¢Ã¢"š ¬ ¢ "Christianity is the only true and perfect religion."
        à ¢Ã¢"š ¬ ¢ "If moral precepts alone could have reformed mankind, the mission of the Son of God into our world would have been unnecessary."

        "Let the children who are sent to those schools be taught to read and write and above all, let both sexes be carefully instructed in the principles and obligations of the Christian religion. This is the most essential part of education"
        Letters of Benjamin Rush, "To the citizens of Philadelphia: A Plan for Free Schools", March 28, 1787

        Justice Joseph Story:
        " I verily believe Christianity necessary to the support of civil society. One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law. . . There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying its foundations."
        [Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States p. 593]
        " Infidels and pagans were banished from the halls of justice as unworthy of credit." [Life and letters of Joseph Story, Vol. II 1851, pp. 8-9.]
        " At the time of the adoption of the constitution, and of the amendment to it, now under consideration [i.e., the First Amendment], the general, if not the universal sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship."
        [Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States p. 593]

        Noah Webster:
        " The duties of men are summarily comprised in the Ten Commandments, consisting of two tables; one comprehending the duties which we owe immediately to God-the other, the duties we owe to our fellow men."

        "In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed…No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people."
        [Source: 1828, in the preface to his American Dictionary of the English Language]

        Let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers just men who will rule in the fear of God [Exodus 18:21]. . . . If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted . . . If our government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the Divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws. [Noah Webster, The History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie and Peck, 1832), pp. 336-337, 49]

        "All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible." [Noah Webster. History. p. 339]

        "The Bible was America's basic textbook
        in all fields." [Noah Webster. Our Christian Heritage p.5]

        "Education is useless without the Bible" [Noah Webster. Our Christian Heritage p.5 ]

        George Washington:

        Farewell Address: The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion" …and later: "…reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle…"

        " It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible."

        "What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ." [speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs May 12, 1779]

        "To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian" [May 2, 1778, at Valley Forge]

        During his inauguration, Washington took the oath as prescribed by the Constitution but added several religious components to that official ceremony. Before taking his oath of office, he summoned a Bible on which to take the oath, added the words "So help me God!" to the end of the oath, then leaned over and kissed the Bible.

        Nelly Custis-Lewis (Washington's adopted daughter):
        Is it necessary that any one should [ask], "Did General Washington avow himself to be a believer in Christianity?" As well may we question his patriotism, his heroic devotion to his country. His mottos were, "Deeds, not Words"; and, "For God and my Country."

        " O Most Glorious God, in Jesus Christ, my merciful and loving Father; I acknowledge and confess my guilt in the weak and imperfect performance of the duties of this day. I have called on Thee for pardon and forgiveness of my sins, but so coldly and carelessly that my prayers are become my sin, and they stand in need of pardon."
        " I have sinned against heaven and before Thee in thought, word, and deed. I have contemned Thy majesty and holy laws. I have likewise sinned by omitting what I ought to have done and committing what I ought not. I have rebelled against the light, despising Thy mercies and judgment, and broken my vows and promise. I have neglected the better things. My iniquities are multiplied and my sins are very great. I confess them, O Lord, with shame and sorrow, detestation and loathing and desire to be vile in my own eyes as I have rendered myself vile in Thine. I humbly beseech Thee to be merciful to me in the free pardon of my sins for the sake of Thy dear Son and only Savior Jesus Christ who came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Thou gavest Thy Son to die for me."
        [George Washington; from a 24 page authentic handwritten manuscript book dated April 21-23, 1752
        William J. Johnson George Washington, the Christian (New York: The Abingdon Press, New York & Cincinnati, 1919), pp. 24-35.]

        "Although guided by our excellent Constitution in the discharge of official duties, and actuated, through the whole course of my public life, solely by a wish to promote the best interests of our country; yet, without the beneficial interposition of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, we could not have reached the distinguished situation which we have attained with such unprecedented rapidity. To HIM, therefore, should we bow with gratitude and reverence, and endeavor to merit a continuance of HIS special favors". [1797 letter to John Adams]

        James Wilson:
        Signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution
        Supreme Court Justice appointed by George Washington
        Spoke 168 times during the Constitutional Convention

        "Christianity is part of the common law"
        [Sources: James Wilson, Course of Lectures [vol 3, p.122]; and quoted in Updegraph v. The Commonwealth, 11 Serg, & R. 393, 403 (1824).]

        ________________________________________________________________________
        Public Institutions
        Liberty Bell Inscription:
        " Proclaim liberty throughout the land and to all the inhabitants thereof" [Leviticus 25:10]

        Proposals for the seal of the United States of America
        à ¢Ã¢"š ¬ ¢ "Moses lifting his wand and dividing the Red Sea" –Ben Franklin

        à ¢Ã¢"š ¬ ¢ "The children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night." –Thomas Jefferson

        On July 4, 1776, Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams "to bring in a device for a seal for the United States of America." Franklin's proposal adapted the biblical story of the parting of the Red Sea. Jefferson first recommended the "Children of Israel in the Wilderness, led by a Cloud by Day, and a Pillar of Fire by night. . . ." He then embraced Franklin's proposal and rewrote it

        Jefferson's revision of Franklin's proposal was presented by the committee to Congress on August 20, 1776.

        Another popular proposal to the Great Seal of the United States was:
        " Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God"; with Pharoah's army drowning in the Red Sea

        The three branches of the U.S. Government: Judicial, Legislative, Executive
        à ¢Ã¢"š ¬ ¢ At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, James Madison proposed the plan to divide the central government into three branches. He discovered this model of government from the Perfect Governor, as he read Isaiah 33:22;
        "For the LORD is our judge,
        the LORD is our lawgiver,
        the LORD is our king;
        He will save us."

        Article 22 of the constitution of Delaware (1776)
        Required all officers, besides taking an oath of allegiance, to make and subscribe to the following declaration:
        à ¢Ã¢"š ¬ ¢ "I, [name], do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration."

        • admin

          Fred, I've seen this list copied and pasted all over the Internet. Is it from Wall Builders? You've quoted Thomas Paine, a Deist, in your arguments. You should look him up on the Internet and read what he wrote. Otherwise, maybe you can listen to the show.

  • Douglas

    Hi,

    I can't wait to listen to this talk. I'm sure it's going to be an enlightening discussion.

    I always was a Deist, but didn't know that. Only recently I've discovered Deism and how it is perfectly aligned to what I think.

    Regards,

    Douglas Matoso
    Deist from Brazil

    • admin

      Glad you can tune in, Douglas! The show has an Internet based call-in feature, so if you have a microphone and headset, you can join in if you want, without the long distance charges.

      A chat room will also be running and I'll try to monitor it as best I can to include questions/comments.

      This will be an excellent discussion – I'm really looking forward to it.

      Deborah –
      your host and site administrator

  • http://www.godvsthebible.com John Armstrong

    Btw, here's the website for the Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers:

    http://atheists.meetup.com/175/

    Thanks again.

  • http://www.seoworkgroup.com/web-hosting.html SEO Workgroup

    Great blog. All posts have something to learn. Your work is very good and i appreciate you and hoping for some more informative posts.

  • admin

    This was a fantastic show … thanks to John and Jayson, and all the folks who had questions. The archive is available at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/God-Discussion. I'll also work on converting it to a YouTube video.

  • http://www.freewebs.com/atiatwb Ronnie

    This was a great show! Would not the world be a better place if people could put religion off to the side? Perhaps! While "religion" will probably never go away, the Bible, as well as other ancient texts, were written my men. That is a fact. Furthermore, many in our world will never admit that they belong to a religion especially "revealed religion!" Many groups in our world declare to others that only THEY are right, while EVERYONE ELSE is going straight to hell! Therefore, religion divides and conquers! What a mess! Because this is true, Pascal's Wager appears to be a joke. The "Bible" for most classical deists, is the creation we behold! I must admit, it does take faith even to be a deist!

    I will put my in trust in the TRUE Creator alone, and not necessarily in the many sectarian words written by men!

    Thank you so much for this presentation!

    • admin

      Thank you so much for listening to the show and commenting, Ronnie! There were some 3 or 4 second delays on our end so there were moments where we couldn't hear one another … but that aside, it was a fantastic interview. Both Jayson and John have such tremendous insight.

      Thanks again, Ronnie!

      …deborah

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