Response to Ms. Perry
Dear Editor:Ms. Ruth B. Perry, in a recent letter to the editor, wrote that “Our founders wanted freedom of religion, not freedom from religion,” and “Our laws are founded on Biblical teachings,” and “If we do not stand up for freedom of religion, freedom from religion will take over with the help of the ACLU.”In my opinion, the founders, who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, wanted freedom of religion for the individual American, and freedom from religion for the State. In the Declaration, only impersonal words are used to refer to a higher power: Nature’s God, Creator, Supreme Judge and Divine Providence. To emphasize the secular nature of the document, Benjamin Franklin changed Jefferson’s wording, “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable,” to “We hold these truths to be self evident …” Sacred has a religious connotation, and Franklin stressed the freedom from religion.In the Constitution, there is no reference to God. It does state that “… no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” The president’s oath of office, as specified in the Constitution, says only, “I solemnly swear (or affirm) …” There is no reference to a Bible or to “So help me God.”Our law is founded on the common law of the Saxons, who brought it to England in the fifth century, before the Bible reached England in the seventh century. Ours is a secular state.”The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” These words appear in the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli, which was initiated by George Washington and signed into law by John Adams.Not long after the Puritans came to America seeking freedom of religion, they were denying it to others. Early Massachusetts was a Puritan theocracy and dissenters were expelled. Other Colonies have similar histories. The ACLU defends freedom of religion everywhere, except in public places and public affairs.The founders of our country wanted the government to be free from religion. If they didn’t spell out separation of Church and State, they certainly implied it.Peter LarroweCarbondale
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