Walter Cronkite finally spoke out, "For years I kept my opinions to myself. But now I must speak out. Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition and other religious political extremists have gained power by entering the political system from the grassroots up. Their goal is to mobilize enough Christian activists to control our nation's political process from school boards to the White House." Walter Cronkite's Interfaith Alliance group says: "If successful, the Christian Coalition and its allies will create an America in THEIR OWN IMAGE by:
(1) Revoking First Amendment guarantees ... including the separation of church and state and freedom of speech.
(2) Dismantling government-supported public education.
(3) Mandating the daily exposure of public school students to state-sanctioned prayer.
(4) Displaying THEIR Ten Commandments in all public schools and buildings.
Fundamentalist Christians, bible belt Christians and Southern Baptists are currently working overtime to convince the American public that the "founding fathers" intended to establish this country on "Christian biblical principles".
My first question is: Whose biblical principles? Jerry Falwell wrote in America Can Be Saved, “I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!" Indeed, on January 30, 2000 religious right leaders announced a new campaign to mobilize Christians in the U.S. in an effort to pull all evangelical children out of public schools. The idea behind the boycott is to depress enrollment, stall funding, and to close all public schools in the country for good.
My second question is: Which "founding fathers"? American history tells that the primary leaders of the so-called "founding fathers" were not Bible-believing Christians. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, James Madison and many others not in the limelight were either Unitarians (rejecting the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus) or Deists. It was not the King James Version of the Bible to whom the author of the Declaration of Independence was inspired; it was to "Nature's God" as Deism teaches. At the time of our country’s founding, Deism had become a dominant religious attitude between intellectual and upper class Americans and the first three presidents of the United States also held Deistic convictions. What is Deism? It is a theory about the nature and existence of God. It asserts that God exists, and the He created the world, but that He has no present relation to the world. The Deist makes this assertion to harmonize science and free will with the existence of such a being as God―feeling there is no real conflict between the idea of an all-powerful God and the idea of a science studying law-abiding world.
As for the religious beliefs of the general population in pre and post-revolutionary times, it wasn't nearly as Christian as most people think. Lynn R. Buzzard, executive director of the Christian Legal Society (a national organization of Christian lawyers) has admitted that there is little proof to support the claim that the colonial population was overwhelmingly Christian. "Not only were a good many of the revolutionary leaders more Deist than Christian," Buzzard wrote, "but the actual number of church members was rather small. Perhaps as few as five percent of the populace were church members in 1776." Historian Richard Hofstadter says that "perhaps as many as ninety percent of the Americans were unchurched in 1790" and goes on to say that "mid-eighteenth century America had a smaller proportion of church members than any other nation in Christendom," noting that "in 1800 only about one of every fifteen Americans was a church member." Historian James MacGregor Burns agrees with these figures, noting, "There had been a ‘very wintry season’ for religion, ninety percent of the people stayed outside the churches."
Historians, who deal with facts rather than wishes, paint an entirely different picture of the religious composition of America during its formative years than the image of a nation founded on "Christian biblical principles" that modern Bible fundamentalists are trying to foist upon the country. The founding fathers established a religiously neutral nation, and a tragedy of our time is that so many people are striving to undo all that was accomplished by the wisdom of the founding fathers who framed for us a constitution that would protect the religious freedom of everyone regardless of personal creed. An even greater tragedy is that these modern Bible fundamentalists many times hoodwink the public into believing that they are only trying to make our nation what the founding fathers would want it to be. Separation of church and state is what the founding fathers wanted for the nation, and we must never allow anyone to distort history to make it appear otherwise.
During the 1980s the Christian Coalition and the Religious Right―calling themselves the “silent majority―led by Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Pat Buchanan grew rapidly and they gained political clout. They became a major political lobby and some of their candidates were even elected to the Congress. They claim to have the power to turn out masses of voters on behalf of their causes and now are trying to influence national elections by spiritual blackmail. The Religious Right claims to speak for every person of faith. But do they speak for you?
Pat Robertson of the 700 Club stated, "You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense! I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist." To the Washington Post Pat Robertson said, "The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." And in his report at the Christian Coalition Road to Victory Conference on October 6, 1999, Robertson said, "Our Constitution and First Amendment were never intended to separate God from government." By God, Roberston means of course, Jesus! This same sentiment was shown by Randall Terry speaking to the Indiana News Sentinel: “Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty; we are called by God to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism.” Realize the code words carefully used here by Terry, Biblical duty and called by God are door-knocking missionary beliefs and practices―that they are called by God (Jesus) to preach the gospel (New Testament).
At the Tennessee Pastors Convention in 1999, Jerry Falwell said "The anti-Christ will be a Jew." Falwell also bragged: "Our goal has been achieved. The Religious Right is solidly in place, and religious conservatives in America are now in for the duration. If we are going to save America and evangelize the world, we cannot accommodate secular philosophies that are diametrically opposed to Christian truth. We need to pull out all the stops to recruit and train 25 million Americans to become informed pro-moral activists whose voices can be heard in the halls of Congress. We've fighting against … all the systems of Satan that are destroying our nation today - our battle is with Satan himself." In the context of the above, think about what the Gospel of John said in the New Testament about Satan and the Jews― “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will …(John 8:44).
The Religious Right claims to speak for every person of faith. But do they speak for you? Some say why worry, they're not running for the presidency. However, history has proven that much influence can be asserted on people in power by people who claim they speak for the majority.
"It is from the bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine, and murder, for the belief in a cruel god makes a cruel man, and the bible is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind" —Thomas Paine (1737-1809)