"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 tranquility of Muslims, and as the
said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against
any Muslim 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."
Here's a JPEG of a document that records the treaty:
James Madison spent 8 years writing the Constitution by himself. The convention modified it some, and added the Bill of Rights (Praise be to Rhode Island for holding out and FORCING the adoption of the BOR!!!) I'm sure Madison, Washington and Adams, at a minimum, are spinning in their graves at what we've let happen to our country. My guess is that they are now revolving about about 3,600 rpm. ;)
Of the quotes below, I selected a couple to highlight here, at the top.
The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries. [James Madison, 1803? Origin questionable]
Ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects. [James Madison, letter to William Bradford, Jr., Jauary 1774]
The list of Madison's quotes (I'm sure that this is far from the full list; he felt very strongly about this subject, as did most of the Founders).
Keep in mind that NOT ONE of the first 7 Presidents was a 'true' Christian; they were Deists or Agnostics or Unitarians.
- Nothwithstanding the general progress made within the two last centuries in favour of this branch of liberty, & the full establishment of it, in some parts of our Country, there remains in others a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Gov' & Religion neither can be duly supported: Such indeed is the tendency to such a coalition, and such its corrupting influence on both the parties, that the danger cannot be too carefully guarded agst.. And in a Gov' of opinion, like ours, the only effectual guard must be found in the soundness and stability of the general opinion on the subject. Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Gov will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together; [James Madison, Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822, The Writings of James Madison, Gaillard Hunt]
- An alliance or coalition between Government and religion cannot be too carefully guarded against......Every new and successful example therefore of a PERFECT SEPARATION between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of importance........religion and government will exist in greater purity, without (rather) than with the aid of government. [James Madison in a letter to Livingston, 1822, from Leonard W. Levy- The Establishment Clause, Religion and the First Amendment,pg 124]
- That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some; and to their eternal infamy, the clergy can furnish their quota of impas for such business..." [James Madison, letter to William Bradford, Jr., Jauary 1774]
- It was the belief of all sects at one time that the establishment of Religion by law, was right & necessary; that the true religion ought to be established in exclusion of every other; and that the only question to be decided was which was the true religion. The example of Holland proved that a toleration of sects, dissenting from the established sect, was safe & even useful. The example of the Colonies, now States, which rejected religious establishments altogether, proved that all Sects might be safely & advantageously put on a footing of equal & entire freedom.... We are teaching the world the great truth that Govts do better without Kings & Nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson that Religion flourishes in greater purity, without than with the aid of Gov. [James Madison, Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822, The Writings of James Madison, Gaillard Hunt]
- [I]t may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interfence in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespasses on its legal rights by others. [James Madison, in a letter to Rev Jasper Adams spring 1832, from James Madison on Religious Liberty, edited by Robert S. Alley, pp. 237-238]
- Ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects. [James Madison, letter to William Bradford, Jr., Jauary 1774]
- What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not. [Pres. James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1785]
- Experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution. [James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1785]
- ...Freedom arises from the multiplicity of sects, which prevades America and which is the best and only security for religious liberty in any society. For where there is such a variety of sects, there cannot be a majority of any one sect to oppress and persecute the rest. [James Madison, spoken at the Virginia convention on ratifying the Constitution, June 1778]
- It was the Universal opinion of the Century preceding the last, that Civil Government could not stand without the prop of a religious establishment; and that the Christian religion itself, would perish if not supported by the legal provision for its clergy. The experience of Virginia conspiciously corroboates the disproof of both opinions. The Civil Government, tho' bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success; whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the TOTAL SEPARATION OF THE CHURCH FROM THE STATE. [James Madison, as quoted in Robert L. Maddox: Separation of Church and State; Guarantor of Religious Freeedom]
- Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us. If this freedom be abused, it is an offense against God, not against man:To God, therefore, not to man, must an account of it be rendered. [James Madison, according to Leonard W. Levy, Treason Against God: A History of the Offense of Blasphemy, New York: Schocken Books, 1981, p. xii.]
- The number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the state. [James Madison, 1819, in Boston, Why The Religious Right is Wrong about the Separation of Church and State]
- The Civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, posesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the state. [James Madison in a letter to Robert Walsh, March 2, 1819]
- Strongly guarded... is the separation between religion and government in the Constitution of the United States.
- Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion & Govt in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history [ttempts where religious bodies had already tried to encroach on the government]. [James Madison, Detached Memoranda, 1820]
- 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?
- (15) Because finally, the equal right of every citizen to the free exercise of his religion according to the dictates of conscience is held by the same tenure with all our other rights. If we recur to its origin, it is equally the gift of nature; if we weigh its importance, it cannot be less dear to us; if we consult the Declaration of Rights which pertain to the good people of Virginia, as the basic and foundation of government, it is enumerated with equal solemnity, or rather studied emphasis. [James Madison, Section 15 of A Memorial and Remonstrance, June 20, 1785, frequently misquoted to imply religion as the basis of gov't]
- We hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth that religion, or the duty which we owe our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence. The religion, then, of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man: and that it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. [James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance to the Assemby of Virginia]
- ...several of the first presidents, including Jefferson and Madison, generally refused to issue public prayers, despite importunings to do so. Under pressure, Madison relented in the War Of 1812, but held to his belief that chaplains shouldn't be appointed to the military or be allowed to open Congress. [Richard Shenkman, I Love Paul Revere, Whether He Rode Or Not]
- Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize [sic], every expanded prospect. [James Madison, in a letter to William Bradford, April 1,1774, as quoted by Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco:Harper & Row, 1987, p. 37]
- No distinction seems to be more obvious than that between spiritual and temporal matters. Yet whenever they have been made objects of Legislation, they have clashed and contended with each other, till one or the other has gained the supremacy. [James Madison in a letter to Thomas Jefferson Oct-Nov 1787]
- To the Baptist Churches on Neal's Greek on Black Creek, North Carolina I have received, fellow-citizens, your address, approving my objection to the Bill containing a grant of public land to the Baptist Church at Salem Meeting House, Mississippi Territory. Having always regarded the practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government as essential to the purity of both, and as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, I could not have otherwise discharged my duty on the occasion which presented itself [James Madison, Letter to Baptist Churches in North Carolina, June 3, 1811]
- The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries. [James Madison, 1803? Origin questionable]
- The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without a legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported. A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical Religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity. [James Madison, Letter to F.L. Schaeffer, Dec 3, 1821]
- Chaplainships of both Congress and the armed services were established sixteen years before the First Amendment was adopted. It would have been fatuous folly for anybody to stir a major controversy over a minor matter before the meaning of the amendment had been threshed out in weightier matters. But Madison did foresee the danger that minor deviations from the constitutional path would deepen into dangerous precedents. He took care of one of them by his veto [in 1811] of the appropriation for a Baptist church. Others he dealt with in his "Essay on Monopolies," unpublished until 1946. Here is what he wrote: "Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them, and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does this not involve the principle of a national establishment ... ?" The appointments, he said, were also a palpable violation of equal rights. Could a Catholic clergyman ever hope to be appointed a Chaplain? "To say that his religious principles are obnoxious or that his sect is small, is to lift the veil at once and exhibit in its naked deformity the doctrine that religious truth is to be tested by numbers, or that the major sects have a right to govern the minor." The problem, said the author of the First Amendment, was how to prevent "this step beyond the landmarks of power [from having] the effect of a legitimate precedent." Rather than let that happen, it would "be better to apply to it the legal aphorism de minimis non curat lex [the law takes no account of trifles]." Or, he said (likewise in Latin), class it with faults that result from carelessness or that human nature could scarcely avoid." "Better also," he went on, "to disarm in the same way, the precedent of Chaplainships for the army and navy, than erect them into a political authority in matters of religion." ... The deviations from constitutional principles went further: "Religious proclamations by the Executive recommending thanksgivings and fasts are shoots from the same root with the legislative acts reviewed. Altho' recommendations only, they imply a religious agency, making no part of the trust delegated to political rulers." (Irving Brant, The Bill of Rights: Its Origin and Meaning, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1965, pp. 423-424. Brant gives the source of "Essay on Monopolies" as Elizabeth Fleet, "Madison's Detatched Memoranda," William & Mary Quarterly, Third series: Vol. III, No. 4 [October, 1946], pp. 554-562.)
Washington wrote it and signed it, Congress ratified it during Adams' term, and then Adams signed it.
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 tranquility 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.************
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.
Jan. 1. 1802.
Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth. (Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 363.)
"I know," Jefferson had written, ... "that Gouverneur Morris, who pretended to be in his [George Washington's] secrets & believed himself to be so, has often told me that Genl. Washington believed no more of that system [Christianity] than he himself did." (Paul F. Boller, George Washington & Religion, Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963, p. 85. Jefferson's comments were written in his journal, Anas, in February, 1800, according to Boller, p. 80.)
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 prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state. (Thomas Jefferson, as President, in a letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 369)But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer [Jesus] of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State. (Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Samuel Kercheval, 1810; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 370)
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 political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose. (Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Baron von Humboldt, 1813; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 370)
**** And no better example of 'the lowest grade of ignorance than our current Prezidunce ***
The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government (*** can you say, "Faith-based initiatives"??), have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man. (Thomas Jefferson, as quoted by Saul K. Padover in Thomas Jefferson on Democracy, New York, 1946, p. 165, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 48.)
In every country and 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. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer for their purposes. (Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Horatio Spofford, 1814; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 371)
A professorship of Theology should have no place in our institution [the University of Virginia]. (Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Cooper, October 7, 1814. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 492.)
On tax-exemptions for churches:
I would call your attention to the importance of correcting an evil that, if permitted to continue, will probably lead to great trouble in our land before the close of the Nineteenth century. It is the acquisition of vast amounts of untaxed church property.... In a growing country, where real estate enhances so rapidly with time as in the United States, there is scarcely a limit to the wealth that may be acquired by corporations, religious or otherwise, if allowed to retain real estate without taxation. The contemplation of so vast a property as here alluded to, without taxation, may lead to sequestration without constitutional authority, and through blood. I would suggest the taxation of all property equally, whether church or corporation. (Ulysses S. Grant, 18th U.S. President [1869-1877], Message to Congress, December 7, 1875; Congressional Record, Vol. 4, part 7, page 175; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 288)
Oh, there is SO much more.
I'm not against religion; I'm against religion in my government, for the government is the government of ALL the people, not just Xians. Faith-based initiatives are nothing more than creeping theocracy, and the worst kind of dictatorship; God makes a very despotic ruler.