Saturday, February 9, 2013

"Legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." Thomas Jefferson

Dave Barry, columnist, 1947 -
  • "People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them."

  • The problem with writing about religion is that you run the risk of offending sincerely religious people, and then they come after you with machetes.”

Mahatma Ghandi:  "The need of the moment is not one religion, but mutual respect and tolerance of the devotees of the different religions."

Thomas Paine: "Of all of the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny of religion is the worst."

"In every country and in every age, the priest [rabbi/imam/...etc...] has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own"
Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826). Author of the Declaration of Independence, third President of the United State
The Library of Congress

Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists
The Final Letter, as Sent

To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.


The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & 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 & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.
Th Jefferson
Jan. 1. 1802.

John Locke (1632-1704), English political philosopher argued for individual conscience, free from state control

Theories of religious tolerance

Locke, writing his Letters Concerning Toleration (1689–92) in the aftermath of the European wars of religion, formulated a classic reasoning for religious tolerance. Three arguments are central: (1) Earthly judges, the state in particular, and human beings generally, cannot dependably evaluate the truth-claims of competing religious standpoints; (2) Even if they could, enforcing a single "true religion" would not have the desired effect, because belief cannot be compelled by violence; (3) Coercing religious uniformity would lead to more social disorder than allowing diversity.

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