Don't Promote
Lincoln as an Atheist
Judith Prince

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Notes to Our Readers
    Firstly, this is not a prayer but a Proclamation!
    Secondly, Congress forced Lincoln to create (but not to deliver) this Proclamation.
   • Finally, Lincoln did not write (author) this Proclamation. All but the most dishonest of propagandists would admit that the sentiments contained herein were uncharacteristic of President Lincoln.
     We removed the incomplete copy provided by our reader who had copied it from one of those "Christian Nation" agitprop web sites. Those who edited the copy that was sent to us (having been posted on numerous web sites) had the audacity to excise the language stating that this Proclamation was wholly an act of Congress.
     Also downplayed in every presentation we examined was the fact of this having been penned by William Seward, a pious Christian and Lincoln's Secretary of State, known for using his role as Lincoln's secretary (speechwriter; letter writer) to inject religious sentiments to the point where Lincoln, at one point, felt the need to review Sewards creations for religiosity before sending them out.
     This combination of dishonest alterations was designed to leave readers with the inescapable impression that the whole thing was Lincoln's idea.
     Below we present an intact copy of the proclamation along with accurate, unbiased commentary as to its origins and meaning. (We have no "agenda"; we have nothing to gain or lose by telling the truth of this matter.)
           -- Your PAM Editors
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By The President
of the United States Of America

A Proclamation
For a Day of
National Humiliation
Fasting and Prayer

WHEREAS, the senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and Just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has by a resolution, required the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation:

And whereas, it is the duty of nations as as well as of men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord:

And, in so much as we know that, by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

In witness whereof, I have here unto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh.

By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
William H. Seward, Secretary of State

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine"
To: "Judith Prince"
Subject: Re: Abrham Lincoln a Christian
Date: August 15, 2004 08:26

Thank you for your letter.

We keep thinking that we've presented all these facts very so clearly that all someone has to do is read them. Unfortunately, the two busiest topics on our Forum happen to be subjects that are truly meaningless in every sense of the word. The most common letters that we get are the stern rebukes that we get because of the very clear presentations we have made about Presidents Lincoln and Washington. The religious views of these political figures would not be of interest to anybody were it not for the fact that a large number of Christian apologists and clergymen have a horrible habit of claiming humankind's heroes as their own. This is clearly used as a cheap way to advertise the Christian religion!

These unsavory characters have been extremely busy when it comes to revising the histories of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. This is rather easy to get away with, actually, because both men had very complex views and both men were about as private as a man can get when it comes to divulging their views to others, even their families.

For this reason, we have made our case for the truth clear, simple, and very easy to grasp. We think it is important to clear the air. Many of humankind's heroes thought for themselves and did not depend upon the emotional and social crutch of religion. This is interesting to know, but beyond that, we say, "So what?" But despite the plain truth well known by scholars of history, many slick manipulators, either out to make a buck or, worse, using falsehood to lure people into the "fold," travelled from pulpit to pulpit openly declaring the testimony of friends, relatives, and associates, and the findings of the historians to be lies. They exploited the names, the reputations, indeed, the very persons of our heroes by posthumously "baptizing" them into the Christian church.

All this they did for personal and political gain.

Despite the clear and easy-to-understand presentations we have produced, we still get letters from people who say that the truth is not the truth, but is a lie. (Sound familiar?) I'm beginning to wonder if certain people simply refuse to read what they don't want to hear, if they refuse to accept those things that they don't want to be true? Or perhaps is it an "us-versus-them" thing, wherein the man in the pulpit asserts one thing but a studious atheist suggests something entirely different. Who to believe? Why, the preacher, of course! Why? Because he is a moral, upstanding Man of God, that's why!

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To answer your question, we say that Abraham Lincoln was "at times, an atheist," because his closest associate, when describing his religious convictions, said that Abraham Lincoln was "at times, an atheist." That's what the man closest to him said about Lincoln in his Biography of him. And in each of the handful of places where we mention Lincoln and atheism in the same breath we point to this quotation as our resource. Why are you trying to defame us by uttering falsehood? Is it because we are atheists?

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Regarding this proclamation, a portion of which you sent (and a certain portion of which is conspicuous by its absence; one can only wonder why), this was written by William H. Seward, Lincoln's Secretary of State, a very religious man who on more than one occasion talked Lincoln into giving religious proclamations that he had written for the President. On a few occasions Lincoln gathered the nerve to make the Secretary change the wording, it having gone too far even for this President whose sole mission at the time was to gain the nation's trust, that is, to be trusted -- to be counted trustworthy -- by all Americans. That was Job Number One for Lincoln at the time.

But pay close attention to the part that was left out by the web site you took this from: check the very first part of the proclamation, where it talks about how Congress carried a motion requiring the President to give this proclamation! Hmmmm. Do you think a man as devout as your leaders want us to believe would need an Act of Congress in order to apologize to God? Did Congress ever tell Jimmy Carter to pray? Would they ever have had to? Uhhh, I don't think so!

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Regarding another proclamation that Lincoln gave that he did not write and which made probably him grimace at times (being modestly familiar with the discussions about Lincoln's very complex religious views), we have another question for you.

Did you not read what Lincoln himself said, when a close associate chided him about having given a similar speech?

Here it is: here is what Lincoln said in private about the infamous "Thanksgiving Address" that he gave in public (although he did not write it):

Oh, that is some of Seward's nonsense, and it pleases the fools.
-- to Judge James M. Nelson, in response to his question from Nelson: "I once asked him about his fervent Thanksgiving Message and twitted him with being an unbeliever in what was published." Quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 138

An interesting study in either deception or gullibility, we can't tell which, is to track down how many Christian web sites gloat over the fact that Lincoln actually "invoked the Holy Spirit" in the Thanksgiving address! Note that Seward also wrote the proclamation in question.

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Finally, whenever we get a spite-filled letter which accuses us of wrongdoing from the get-go (with no greeting or anything human), we gather whatever clues we can from it in our attempt to figure out just why so many people so viciously hate atheists! This is Job Number One for us as a project: to solve the problem of bigotry against atheists. So pardon me while I offer up some speculative questions that might help someone help us come up with some of these answers.

First, is it safe to assume that you believe everything that every politician ever said in a speech? If so, then I think you probably deserve the punishment reserved for people who do that! which is, You get to live the rest of your life being someone who would believe the lies of a politician!

What do you think about all of Abraham Lincoln's private letters? Do they tell us anything about his religious views, or can these be clearly and adequately discerned from the public speeches and pronouncements he gave, utterances that were written by another man?

What about the things that Abraham Lincoln's wife said about him? Do they not count for more than a speech that Congress required Lincoln to give?

What about the things the things that Abraham Lincoln's friends and associates said about him?

Didn't you want to read those quotes I posted?

Or do you automatically disregard any and all testimony given by an atheist?

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Entering our 10th year of service to people with no reason to believe

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