Friday, March 04, 2005

Separation of Church and State Confirmed

Treaty of Tripoli Article 11:

"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

Ratified by the senate and 2nd president John Adams in 1797.

According to Article 6 of the US Constitution:
Clause 2: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. "

Also in Article 6 it states "no religious test shall ever be required as qualification to office, or public trust under the US."
The later is't proving that religion should be kept out of government all together but it's another rare instance that religion is discussed and still no mention of the word God, or anything that would lead someone to believe that Christianity belonged in our Government.

Why would mostly Christian men, although some were Deists, want to keep religion out of our government? It would be safe to say that based on their experiences, and the political climate in the world at the time, they could see that by establishing a state religion people would be forced, against their will, to adhere to laws of a religion for which they did not follow. They could also see that allowing entities such as the Vatican to control the government and eliminating their adversaries through legal means, was very dangerous. They also saw what happened to places such as South America where the Spanish in their quest for Gold could go to the head of the Church and act as if they were missionaries in order to justify their enslavement and elimination of native, non-Christian people. I am sure they also realized how many wars were fought over religion, and that proclaiming the US as a "Christian Nation" would make us a target for other theocratic nations of different faiths. Hence, the Treaty of Tripoli.

Remember, in 1954 the phrase"under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance.
Also in the 50s, during the red scare, the phrase "In God We Trust" was added to our currency.
Here is what our money looked like prior to that:

5 Dollar Bill 1914

20 Dollar Bill 1929

1 Dollar Bill 1935

Notice the lack of "In God We Trust".

Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” Thomas Jefferson 1802

To hear what James Madison, the fourth President and the "Father of the Constitution" thought about it, follow this link:

The US Constitution is the law of the land. If anyone can find any reference to God in this document, or you can show me a clause that would prove the founding fathers really meant for our country to be governed by religion, speak now or forever hold your peace. And if you think religion was meant to be involved, how did you come to that conclusion, and which religion should it be? Yours?


Anonymous said...

The 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, specifically article XI, is commonly misused in editorial columns, articles, blogs, as well as in other areas of the media, both Christian and secular. People have been misled by the claims that are being made, namely, that America was not founded as a Christian nation. Advocates of this idea use the Treaty of Tripoli as the foundation of their entire argument, but you deserve to know the truth regarding this often misused document.

The following is an excerpt from David Barton's book Original Intent. In case your need to know Mr. Barton's credentials:

1. He is a recognized authority in American history, particularly concerning the Colonial, Revolutionary, and Federal Eras.

2. He personally owns a vast collection of thousands of documents of American history predating 1812, including handwritten works of the signers of the Declaration and the Constitution.

3. As a result of his expertise, he works as a consultant to national history textbook publishers and have been appointed by the State Boards of Education in States such as California and Texas to help write the American history and government standards for students in those States. Additionally, he consults with Governors and State Boards of Education in several other States and has testified in numerous State Legislatures on American history.

4. He is the recipient of several national and international awards, including the George Washington Honor Medal, the Daughters of the American Revolution Medal of Honor, Who’s Who in America (1997, 1999), Who’s Who in the World (1996, 1999), Who’s Who in American Education (1996, 1997), International Who’s Who of Professionals (1996), Two Thousand Notable American Men Hall of Fame (1995), Who’s Who in the South and Southwest (1995, 1999), Who’s Who Among Outstanding Americans (1994), Outstanding Young Men in America (1990), and numerous other awards.

5. He has also written and published numbers of books and articles on American history and its related issues. (Original Intent, 1996; Bulletproof George Washington, 1990; Ethics: An Early American Handbook, 1999; Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, 1995, and many others).


To determine whether the "Founding Fathers" were generally atheists, agnostics, and deists, one must first define those terms. An "atheist" is one who professes to believe that there is no God; an "agnostic" is one who professes that nothing can be known beyond what is visible and tangible; and a "deist" is one who believes in an impersonal God who is no longer involved with mankind. (In other words, a "deist" embraces the "clockmaker theory" that there was a God who made the universe and wound it up like a clock; however, it now runs of its own volition; the clockmaker is gone and therefore does not respond to man.)

Today the terms "atheist," "agnostic," and "deist" have been used together so often that their meanings have almost become synonymous. In fact, many dictionaries list these words as synonym.

Those who advance the notion that this was the belief system of the Founders often publish information attempting to prove that the Founders were irreligious. One of the quotes they set forth is the following:

The government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion. --GEORGE WASHINGTON

The 1797 Treaty of Tripoli is the source of Washington’s supposed statement. Is this statement accurate? Did this prominent Founder truly repudiate religion? An answer will be found by an examination of its source.

That treaty, one of several with Tripoli, was negotiated during the "Barbary Powers Conflict," which began shortly after the Revolutionary War and continued through the Presidencies of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. The Muslim Barbary Powers (Tunis, Morocco, Algiers, Tripoli, and Turkey) were warring against what they claimed to be the "Christian" nations (England, France, Spain, Denmark, and the United States). In 1801, Tripoli even declared war against the United States, thus constituting America’s first official war as an established independent nation.

Throughout this long conflict, the five Barbary Powers regularly attacked undefended American merchant ships. Not only were their cargoes easy prey but the Barbary Powers were also capturing and enslaving "Christian" seamen in retaliation for what had been done to them by the "Christians" of previous centuries (e.g., the Crusades and Ferdinand and Isabella’s expulsion of Muslims from Granada).

In an attempt to secure a release of captured seamen and a guarantee of unmolested shipping in the Mediterranean, President Washington dispatched envoys to negotiate treaties with the Barbary nations.(Concurrently, he encouraged the construction of American naval warships to defend the shipping and confront the Barbary "pirates"—a plan not seriously pursued until President John Adams created a separate Department of the Navy in 1798.) The American envoys negotiated numerous treaties of "Peace and Amity" with the Muslim Barbary nations to ensure "protection" of American commercial ships sailing in the Mediterranean. However, the terms of the treaty frequently were unfavorable to America, either requiring her to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars of "tribute" (i.e., official extortion) to each country to receive a "guarantee" of safety or to offer other "considerations" (e.g., providing a warship as a "gift" to Tripoli, a "gift" frigate to Algiers, paying $525,000 to ransom captured American seamen from Algiers, etc.).

The 1797 treaty with Tripoli was one of the many treaties in which each country officially recognized the religion of the other in an attempt to prevent further escalation of a "Holy War" between Christians and Muslims. Consequently, Article XI of that treaty stated:

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion as it has in itself no character of enmity [hatred] against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] and as the said States [America] have never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

This article may be read in two manners. It may, as its critics do, be concluded after the clause "Christian religion"; or it may be read in its entirety and concluded when the punctuation so indicates. But even if shortened and cut abruptly ("the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion"), this is not an untrue statement since it is referring to the federal government.

Recall that while the Founders themselves openly described America as a Christian nation (demonstrated in chapter 2 of Original Intent), they did include a constitutional prohibition against a federal establishment; religion was a matter left solely to the individual States. Therefore, if the article is read as a declaration that the federal government of the United States was not in any sense founded on the Christian religion, such a statement is not a repudiation of the fact that America was considered a Christian nation.

Reading the clause of the treaty in its entirety also fails to weaken this fact. Article XI simply distinguished America from those historical strains of European Christianity which held an inherent hatred of Muslims; it simply assured the Muslims that the United States was not a Christian nation like those of previous centuries (with whose practices the Muslims were very familiar) and thus would not undertake a religious holy war against them.

This latter reading is, in fact, supported by the attitude prevalent among numerous American leaders. The Christianity practiced in America was described by John Jay as "wise and virtuous," by John Quincy Adams as "civilized," and by John Adams as "rational." A clear distinction was drawn between American Christianity and that of Europe in earlier centuries. As Noah Webster explained:

The ecclesiastical establishments of Europe which serve to support tyrannical governments are not the Christian religion but abuses and corruptions of it.

Daniel Webster similarly explained that American Christianity was:

Christianity to which the sword and the fagot [burning stake or hot branding iron] are unknown—general tolerant Christianity is the law of the land!

Those who attribute the Treaty of Tripoli quote to George Washington make two mistakes. The first is that no statement in it can be attributed to Washington (the treaty did not arrive in America until months after he left office); Washington never saw the treaty; it was not his work; no statement in it can be ascribed to him. The second mistake is to divorce a single clause of the treaty from the remainder which provides its context.

It would also be absurd to suggest that President Adams (under whom the treaty was ratified in 1797) would have endorsed or assented to any provision which repudiated Christianity. In fact, while discussing the Barbary conflict with Jefferson, Adams declared:

The policy of Christendom has made cowards of all their sailors before the standard of Mahomet. It would be heroical and glorious in us to restore courage to ours.

Furthermore, it was Adams who declared:

The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were. . . . the general principles of Christianity. . . . I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature.

Adams’ own words confirm that he rejected any notion that America was less than a Christian nation.

Additionally, the writings of General William Eaton, a major figure in the Barbary Powers conflict, provide even more irrefutable testimony of how the conflict was viewed at that time. Eaton was first appointed by President John Adams as "Consul to Tunis," and President Thomas Jefferson later advanced him to the position of "U. S. Naval Agent to the Barbary States," authorizing him to lead a military expedition against Tripoli. Eaton’s official correspondence during his service confirms that the conflict was a Muslim war against a Christian America.

For example, when writing to Secretary of State Timothy Pickering, Eaton apprised him of why the Muslims would be such dedicated foes:

Taught by revelation that war with the Christians will guarantee the salvation of their souls, and finding so great secular advantages in the observance of this religious duty [the secular advantage of keeping captured cargoes], their [the Muslims’] inducements to desperate fighting are very powerful.

Eaton later complained that after Jefferson had approved his plan for military action, he sent him the obsolete warship "Hero." Eaton reported the impression of America made upon the Tunis Muslims when they saw the old warship and its few cannons:

[T]he weak, the crazy situation of the vessel and equipage [armaments] tended to confirm an opinion long since conceived and never fairly controverted among the Tunisians, that the Americans are a feeble sect of Christians.

In a later letter to Pickering, Eaton reported how pleased one Barbary ruler had been when he received the extortion compensations from America which had been promised him in one of the treaties:

He said, "To speak truly and candidly . . . . we must acknowledge to you that we have never received articles of the kind of so excellent a quality from any Christian nation."

When John Marshall became the new Secretary of State, Eaton informed him:

It is a maxim of the Barbary States, that "The Christians who would be on good terms with them must fight well or pay well."

And when General Eaton finally commenced his military action against Tripoli, his personal journal noted:

April 8th. We find it almost impossible to inspire these wild bigots with confidence in us or to persuade them that, being Christians, we can be otherwise than enemies to Musselmen. We have a difficult undertaking!

May 23rd. Hassien Bey, the commander in chief of the enemy’s forces, has offered by private insinuation for my head six thousand dollars and double the sum for me a prisoner; and $30 per head for Christians. Why don’t he come and take it?

Shortly after the military excursion against Tripoli was successfully terminated, its account was written and published. Even the title of the book bears witness to the nature of the conflict:

The Life of the Late Gen. William Eaton . . . commander of the Christian and Other Forces . . . which Led to the Treaty of Peace Between The United States and The Regency of Tripoli

The numerous documents surrounding the Barbary Powers Conflict confirm that historically it was always viewed as a conflict between Christian America and Muslim nations. Those documents completely disprove the notion that any founding President, especially Washington, ever declared that America was not a Christian nation or people.

Sandi said...

Blah Blah Blah, that is a lot of talk but I still believe in the seperation of church and state. That means that I don't care what "god" any man, woman, or child worships, just don't try to shove it down my throat or make me follow laws that are based on your religion.
Yes there need to be basic laws: don't kill, don't steal etc....
But when it comes to my body, my bedroom, and my beliefs; stay the hell out of it. Not you John, but your pissed off RIGHT WING readers.

Toad734 said...

I never attributed that qoute to Washington, I attributed that quote to the Treaty of Tripoli which under the 6th article of the Constitution is considered law once ratified by the President and Congress, which it was, therefore making it law and an official stance of the United States of America. If you, as other Christians do with the Bible, want to interpret these words to fit within your own belief structure then I cant stop you from doing so. However I would refer you to Websters Dictionary to translate each word in the treaty and it will come out saying that the United States is not a Christian nation.

slayne said...

Wow, that's quite an explanation Anonymous left. It seems to me, that he/she and many others cannot differentiate two facts: 1)the United States was originally settled by primarily Christian people and 2)those same Christians understood that their religion was a private matter not to intrude on the public at large via the government. How is that so hard to understand?

People who came to this country early on were mostly Christians of various faiths (Catholic, Quaker, etc.) who had already felt the tyranny of state religion in Britain. They more than anyone understood that even Christianity could become corrupt when elevated to absolute power over the people.
Sure, that doesn't mean religion disappeared from the American psyche once the country was established, but the founders knew that religion did not always equal morality and that human laws NOT religious laws were to be the law of the land. How humane were the laws that allowed slavery and the oppression of women and children? Well, that's a topic for some other blog...

Anonymous said...

“God... gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.” [Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781]

Toad734 said...

So does that mean God didn't exist until 1776? If God gives liberty, where was he the 5000 years before America was born? There wasn't much "liberty" in this world up until that point.

Anonymous said...

You seem to be challenging Thomas Jefferson to rise from the dead and defend himself in the face of your rhetorical question. Those words were his, after all. (I want to be on hand if he takes you up on it!)

If you really want an answer from Jefferson or any of the other founders, perhaps you should look to their writings. They were thinkers, and I'm guessing that some of them addressed "the problem of injustice in a world created by a just and loving God," long before the invention of the blog. :-)

In the meantime, I personally take Jefferson to mean exactly what he said (paraphrasing): 1. Our liberty is a gift from God; 2. We should be fearful of forgetting that.

Toad734 said...

I also take what Jefferson to mean exactly what he said:
“Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”

Even if Jefferson thought that there may be a God, it doesnt make it right or true. He also thought owning slaves was a good idea.

Two Minutes J said...

Well its sad to say, there really isn't a separation between church and state here in Indiana. And it's slowly getting worse. I'll give you a couple of examples, ONE: You can't purchase alcohol on Sundays, other than in a bar or restaurant. But no grocery, liquor, etc. can sell alcohol. TWO: On I-465, a billboard by the airport states, "Welcome to Indiana, The Pro-Life State." It also has a picture of a cute little baby. But what scares me is what it states at the bottom of the billboard. "Psalms 24: 10-12" or it could have been Psalms 26, I don't know. But the point is, its linking the state to the Bible. Thats fucked up, and it's only getting worse. We let them do that, then slowly we let them do more and more until the state actually becomes one big church. ....Forgive me if my words come out funny, I'm coming off a month long heroin/cocaine binge. So, my head is a little foggy.

Toad734 said...

Ya I saw those the other day; those arent official state slogans or anything. All you have to do is be able to afford the space on the billboard and you can put up anything you want. In fact, when I get some money I am going to produce the following billboards:

1."Don't make me come up there"

2.There is no God

3.Welcome to Indiana the pro life state, Next exit: Terre Haute Lethal injection champer, Gun shop: next 3 exits

4. Welcome to Indiana, where babies come to die

5. Welcome to Indiana, you cant buy a beer on Sunday but you can still buy a gun.

6. Welcome to Indiana, Killing Feotus' since Roe vs Wade.

Ill think of some more. Anyone with money can lease one of those billboards.

Ron Rutherford said...

Here's for a few good questions:

Where does it mention Seperation of Church and State in the Constitution?

Why was it mandatory to confess your belief in Jesus Christ to live in three of the original 13 colonies?

Why did James Madison make sure every congress session was opened with a prayer if he was so hellbent on keeping Christianity out of the government?

I could go on and on. The points you make are silly and can be easily disproven if you just read ANY of the references the forefathers made about God.

I am not Christian, but I am intellectually honest enough to admit our forefathers WERE and they wanted to base our society around the belief that our rights are given to us by God Almighty.

Toad734 said...

I am no Christian and I am intellectually honest enough to know what James Madison and Thomas Jefferson preached, there’s links to that on my site. I know what the constitution says and doesn’t say, mainly God, and that only 1 of the first 4 European settlements, and the last of those, were set up because of religion.
St. Augustine, Jamestown and Roanoke were all base on conquest and profit, only Plymouth was set up under a religious pretext.
So since those are the 1st 4 founding colonies it’s hard to argue that this country was founded on religion since religion only accounted for 25% of the founding settlements intentions.

Please find me one reference to God in the Constitution. That document is the law of the land, not a prayer that congress had 200 years ago.

Please read article 6 of our constitution and then read the Treaty of Tripoli and tell me what it means to you.

If you think that it means Christianity is what the US is based on then you need to go retake your GED