FJ Taylor 
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Re: “AFA explores religious respect

It is sadly amusing to see how some religious extremists keep trying to paint Mr. Weinstein as a demonic tool of Satan who is out to persecute and destroy Christianity, while making bags of money through the MRFF.

I was a volunteer correspondent for the MRFF for several years, and saw first-hand many of the letters viciously attacking Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF, (many of them ostensibly "Christians" which were the most vile and obscene things imaginable, most promising violent death and dismemberment for him, his family, and other members of the MRFF.

We also got a few from Jews and Muslims and others - even the odd atheist, though most of those were far less vile and violent than those from self-described "Christians."
(I once told Mr. Weinstein we must be doing something right if we were teeing off such disparate groups!)

I also saw letters from clients praising and thanking Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF.

As others here have correctly pointed out, Mr. Weinstein was already a successful and wealthy corporate lawyer when he undertook this very one-sided fight against a well-funded and vastly larger foe. He has since spent his personal fortune and is mortgaged to the hilt to keep the MRFF in operation from month to month.

Others have also correctly mentioned that far from persecuting Christians (his family is of blended faiths and includes Christians), the bulk of the MRFF's 30,000 clients (on average 96%) are Christians -- but have been persecuted or discriminated against because they are not of the "right kind" of Christian, or not "Christian enough" to suit the radical extremist Dominionists and Reconstructionists who comprise the "American Taliban." Only about 4% of his clients are Jews, Muslims, other faiths, or free-thinkers. These numbers are hardly the hallmark of a person or organization who is out to "persecute and destroy" Christianity.

It should also be noted that every MRFF case is brought because of a complaint by one or more active, reserve, or retired US Armed Forces service members or civilian employees.

Amazingly, Mr. Weinstein's critics don't seem to "get" the fact that the USA was deliberately established by the wise intent of our Founders as a secular Republic, albeit with freedom of conscience for everyone -- not just some majority religion. Here is what our Constitution (which has absolutely no mention of any deity or particular faith) says about religion:

". . . no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." (Article VI, Section III)

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . ." (1st Amendment)

That means that we are a secular nation, but one in which all beliefs are equal, and free to practice -- and before someone starts trying to tell me that we are a "Christian" nation, and that the Founders were all Christians and never expected us to tolerate other religions or cultures, let's look at the words of Mr. Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence on just that subject. Writing in his Autobiography about the passage of the Bill Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia, he said:

"...a singular proposition proved that it's protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word 'Jesus Christ,' so that it should read 'a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion,' the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination."

("Mahometan" was the then-current word for those now known in the West as Muslims.)

James Madison, our 4th President the principal author of the Constitution, and known as the "Father of the Constitution" expressed a similar sentiment when describing the same incident.

John Adams, the first Vice President and second President, and an influential Founder
was raised as a Congregationalist (descended from the Puritan Calvinists). Adams eventually became a Unitarian, not believing in the Trinity, predestination, eternal damnation, or many other essential tenets of what we now refer to as “fundamentalism” -- which is interesting, considering that modern fundamentalist extremists often cite him as an example of a Christian Founder -- though it is unlikely that he would have "measured up" to the Dominionists' “standards” of belief.

Adams also did not believe the US had been established by divine intervention - in fact, quite the opposite. In "A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America" (1787-88) he stated clearly;

"The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity.

It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses."

He also wrote;

". . . Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind."

Surely even the most entrenched fundamentalist should be able to read such a clearly worded statement and determine that Adams, though a believer of sorts, had no belief in "Divine Intervention" in the establishment of the US.

Thomas Paine, author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, and revolutionary, was the chief propagandist of the Revolution. His "Common Sense" (1776) was so influential that John Adams once said, "Without the pen of the author of 'Common Sense,' the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.”

Paine also authored "The American Crisis" a series which ran from 1776–1783, and "The Age of Reason" among many others. Writing in "The Age of Reason" he stated;

"All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.”

Benjamin Franklin expressed belief in a supreme being, and espoused Christian moral principles (though he sometimes failed to follow them himself) -- but, like Jefferson and some of the other Founders, was a Dest who did not believe in the divinity, virgin birth, miracles, or any of the other trappings of fundamentalist Christianity.

"I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absenteed myself from Christian assemblies."

Franklin himself made that clear several times in his other writings, beginning with his "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion" published November 20, 1728.

(See the Benjamin Franklin Papers at:…

In his "Articles"Franklin does not mention the Calvinist ideas of salvation, hell, the divinity of Jesus, or other religious dogma. In fact, he has some concepts that many modern Christians would find rather bizarre.

For example, he sees the ultimate Supreme Being as being indifferent to mankind, and having created other beings superior to man, lesser "gods" -- each of whom has their own "fiefdom" in terms of a solar system, and who are therefore "personal" gods of their sub-creations (such as mankind). In effect, these are the "local" gods of each system. Therefore, in his view, we in our solar system are subordinate to a deity who is more personally concerned with us than the "supreme being" who created all - including our deity. (Actually, this is reminiscent of some tenets of Mormonism in some respects. One wonders if Joseph Smith read Franklin's Articles.)

He further clarified his position in his 1771 autobiography, and he retained these beliefs until his death. In 1790, about a month before he died, Franklin wrote a letter to Ezra Stiles, then president of Yale University, who had asked him his views on religion:

"As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and I think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble…."

(How's all that for "original intent"?)

By not establishing a state religion (as some, like Patrick Henry, had advocated), and by guaranteeing universal freedom of conscience, we have largely (though not entirely) avoided the religious persecutions and wars suffered in other nations for centuries, and which are still going on in some places, such as the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Perhaps some people would prefer it if the Constitution read; "Freedom of religion - but only for approved members of (insert name of preferred religion) " -- but then, obviously, the question becomes WHICH religion, sect, or denomination?

James Madison clearly saw this problem and wrote;

"Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?"

Who indeed? It seems clear to me, and that it should be clear to any moderately intelligent person, but apparently, the radical "Christian" Dominionists the MRFF most often opposes (and even some of the less radical) seem to have forgotten this inconvenient aspect of theocracy.

There are many more instances in Madison's, Jefferson's and other Founders' writings (even those who were devout Christians) where they address the idea and nature of religious tolerance and freedom of conscience, and its necessity in a free Republic.

In addition to the Constitution and the writings of the Founders above, in 1797 America made a treaty with the Muslim kingdom of Tripoli (in the present state of Libya). The treaty was drafted on November 4th, 1796 (at the end of Washington's presidency) by Joel Barlow, the American consul to Algiers.

(Barlow had been an Army chaplain in the Revolutionary War appointed by Washington himself and was a friend to Jefferson and Madison. He later abandoned dogmatic religion and the clergy and became a Rationalist.)

Barlow forwarded the treaty to the Senate, where it was endorsed by Secretary of State Timothy Pickering, approved by the Senate, and signed by the new President, John Adams on June 10th, 1797, and published in the Philadelphia Gazette on June 17th of that year.

This treaty explicitly states (in 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."

Thus, in one of our earliest treaties with a foreign power (ironically an Islamic-based one), our first two Presidents and the most important and seminal Founders, many of whom were then in Congress, and most of whom came from at least nominally Christian and Western European roots, all agreed that the US was "not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion" i.e., that the US was a secular nation. Q.E.D

Therefore, it is clear that our Founders wisely decided to set up a secular Republic, in which there was no state or official religion, where all religions were free to practice, but none could be established, govern, or dominate.

Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF are engaged in a daily struggle to uphold the Constitution and that freedom against a group whose not-so-secret agenda and goal is to eliminate those freedoms and establish their version of a "Christian" theocracy with a form of Old Testament-based "Sharia" that would make the most radical imam green with envy, and an end to science, research, and any learning but "biblical" - which is the same situation that obtains in the most stultifying and stunted back-waters of the Middle East where their version of radical religion has become the dominate force.

In the West, from roughly 400 AD to the 16th century, one religion predominated and was established as the state religion of all Western kingdoms for centuries, with all other beliefs being persecuted and crushed.

All the learning, art, science, knowledge and culture which had been so painfully built up over the preceding centuries was lost in a cataclysm of religious fervor. There was almost no real learning, science, research, engineering or medicine. Europe was riddled with superstition, persecution, and bigotry.

The first 600 years of this period is known as "The Dark Ages." It took a further 500 years for humanity to begin to crawl out of the black hell-hole of ignorance, superstition, and bigotry that religious dominance and dogma had dug for humanity, and we still have a way to go, judging from what I see in this case and elsewhere.

One of Mr. Weinstein's favorite quotes is by the author H. G. Wells: "Civilization is a race between education and catastrophe." In this case, the looming catastrophe is largely self-inflicted (as so often in human history).

If these folks "win" the rest of the country and the world loses, and a new Dark Ages will be inflicted on the world - and very possibly a nuclear "Armageddon" instigated to "help" their deity along. (And just imagine the ego of any who think they could tip a deity's hand! That alone tells you who they really are.)

Bravo Mr. Weinstein and bravo MRFF! Keep up the good work!!


F. J. Taylor
USMC (Ret.)

15 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by FJ Taylor on 10/30/2012 at 3:42 PM

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