More from Jefferson:
The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man (Letter to J. Moor, 1800).
The clergy...believe that any portion of power confided to me [as President] will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion (Letter to Benjamin Rush, 1800).
History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes (Letter to von Humboldt, 1813).
In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. (Letter to H. Spafford, 1814).
Jefferson's (and the other founding father's) position was clear. Government in no way should intrude upon any citizen's belief, or practice of that belief. On the other hand, religion should likewise, never be allowed to intrude upon the civil government.
Perhaps somebody on this board could show me an example of the Left (so-called) intruding upon the practice of religion, or forcing anyone by any means - coercion, edict, law - to stop practicing their religion? It seems to me that if a religion (and its believers) is blocked in its efforts to (for example), force the civil government to include prayer in public schools, those religious people consider that blocking action to be an intrusion on their ability to practice their religion. You'd think there were thousands of leftie protestors blocking the entrance to their church. No. I cannot think of a single example of anyone on the left trying to stop the practice of religion. I can think of numerous examples of the religious trying to force-feed their religious views on the civil government - and the rest of us.
Like John Marshall (I believe it was him) once said, the most important right, and the right upon which all other rights depend, is the right to be left alone.
As a side note, there is now a fundamentalist Christian organization who's goal it is to flood South Carolina with fellow fundamentalists, take over the government and install a fundamentalist doctrine, and then - if the Federal government disagrees with their action - to secede from the Union.
BTW - I'm not an atheist. You know, there are a whole bunch of lefties out there who are very religious people - for example, the Quakers.
Last edited by Rohirrim; 08-12-2004 at 05:28 PM..