Is such a slogan inclusive, pluralistic, non-elitist, and consistent with the American doctrine of separation of church and state? Are there citizens who have no god to trust, or citizens who have a god, but don't trust him? If so, then who is included in the pronoun 'We'?"
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Thomas Paine is the Viet Nam vet of our Founding Fathers. While Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, et al, are memorialized on our coin and currency, in parks, schools, mountains, and rivers, Thomas Paine is largely ignored. He gave his all for our freedom, but abuse and scorn have been his reward. Even his American grave was desecrated and his body taken, allowing an English bishop to scornfully display his skull.
In a bit more than a fortnight Pope John Paul II will make a request for forgiveness for the conduct of his church over the centuries. The infirm pontiff has prepared a list of the murders, tortures and horrors the papacy has caused to humanity. It reportedly takes 50 pages to lay it all out--things like the papal pogroms against the Jews, the crusades against Islam, and the Inquisitions that went on for centuries. Will 50 pages be enough?
She turned around the medical profession, the courts, and even the legislatures, as she made family planning a rational alternative to the sick notion that some perverse god insists on having an overpopulated world. Late in life she wrote what motivated her activism--"No woman can call herself free who does not own or control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother."
Should we laugh or cry when we are confronted with the invincible ignorance of bigotry? We can't honor freedom of religion by dishonoring freedom from it. How little we have changed--while the ancient Cypress along the Guadalupe grew from plants to towers--freethought still seeks a home in Comfort.
James Madison (1751-1836), the Father of our Constitution and our fourth president went to Princeton at 18 with the idea of becoming an Anglican minister, and came back to Virginia a freethinker. At age 22, he wrote, "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded project." He then fought for religious liberty for all, believer and disbeliever, which was no easy task-then or now.
Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895) was a towering genius of the 19th Century. In 1859 Charles Darwin gave Huxley an advance copy of the Origin of the Species for critical comment. Huxley, upon completing the small book, declared: "How exceedingly stupid not to have thought of that."
He rebelled against society, the bar, the bench, the tradition of big business grinding down working men and women, segregation, and a host of other establishments. With his crew of clients he ran a hard charge through the judicial system of his day. As a result we all have more freedom than we would have had without him.
All that we know comes to us from our five senses. All that we know and all that we have found, from quarks to quasars, are part of the natural world. Freethinkers can only share their ignorance of the alleged supernatural for we have no knowledge of it.
Denis Diderot (1713-1784) was the brightest light of the French Enlightenment--a man of intelligence, passion and genius. He yearned for knowledge as he sought the answer to the ultimate enigma of all ... our Universe. He wanted to know why we are here? ... why is there a universe? ... why is there anything at all?
Voltaire (1694-1778) was the most brilliant writer of all time. His influence in securing liberty for humanity is inestimable. He changed his world and ours. Many founding fathers spoke of his influence in securing separation of State from Church in America.
We are asked to believe that out of the trillions of stars, in billions of galaxies--we were selected by the Lord God of the Whole Shebang, for experimentation.
Ambrose Bierce chaffed at this world as long as he could, but after losing his wife to divorce and two sons to death, the asthmatic, superstitious, bilious atheist felt compelled to write his friends of his premonition of approaching death. Soon he would vanish with few clues. His thoughts, his humor, his wit, and his social criticism remain.
She spent her short life fending for her gender, and children and animals. She was a freethinker who championed the supremacy of reason over any tradition or dogma that was unjust.
Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) recognized no power greater than Nature, and spent his life investigating the nature of Nature. His truculent agnosticism is not generally known, but it resulted from his investigation into the alleged supernatural.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) was a compound of brilliance, wit, grit, gumption, and humor who became one of the great writers and social critics of this fading century.
Ethan Allen was a freethinker who thought Judeo-Christian-Islam-anity was a calamity. He is another of the founders the religious right doesn't speak about when they tell us of our "Christian nation."
Percy Bysshe Shelley was a sad genius who tried to live a happy life. He mastered Latin and Greek, pondered the great philosophers, and, suddenly he was reborn--he became an amalgam of Lucretius, Pliny, Hume, Locke, d'Holbach, Bacon, Voltaire, Spinoza, Franklin, Paine, and a host of other giants whose thoughts were melded into his flashing mind.
Pope John Paul II has recently informed the world that Purgatory is still there and he's made arrangements with the powers that may be to let us out early when we die.
What makes a fellow who has title, wealth, and social standing want to ignore the mores of his time--to go around tossing dead cats through stained glass windows, saying "everyone is crazy, and here's why"? It is called the pursuit of happiness.
Christian prelates say they can't understand why they lose so many of their own to Islam, and gain so few converts, from Islam,in return. Murphy asks, "Do you think they're thick, or are they having us on?"
So where did we come from if not from Eden? Darwin said, "Man is descended from a hairy, tailed quadruped, probably arboreal in its habits ... For my part I would as soon be descended from a baboon ... as from a savage who delights to torture his enemies ... treats his wives like slaves ... and is haunted by the grossest superstitions."
Mark Twain (1835-1910) was a freethinker who brooked many hard blows in his roisterous life.
The history of the world is the battle between intelligence and superstition. Take a look at the Scopes "Monkey Trial."
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1850-1902) was the most famoust freethinking woman of her day. She spent her life fighting for equal rights for all humanity.
Robert G. Ingersoll was known as the greatest orator our country ever produced. A hundred years ago, everyone knew of him.
If we learned real history in schools--the warts along with the dimples--then folks might lighten up on one another.
Most folks have never heard of Giordano Bruno, who was burned to death in the Square of the Flowers, in down-town Rome, on February 16, 1600, for the crime of thinking.
This is an open letter to tell Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, and his claque at the Family Research Council, that their right to spread hatred, veiled or blatant, will not be impaired if Colorado makes gays and lesbians eligible to be victims of hate crimes.
Freethinkers employ reason when they are beseeched to join a religion. Religionists seem to employ reason in all areas of their lives except religion, and even here they use it to disregard all religions but their own.
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