Phony Washington Quote Proves
U.S. Is A Christian Nation
Daniel McTighe

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Daniel McTighe"
Subject: Re: U.S Is Christian Nation, According To Phony Washington Quotes
Date: March 08, 2002 8:57 PM

The first President (but not the founder) of the United States was well-known to favor religion as something sorely needed by the masses, thinking them too inept to govern themselves the way aristocracy allegedly could. This was a very common belief among Deists of the time, of whom most were Deists -- not Christians.

Christians of aristocracy went further than Deists in advocating that all men needed religion; thus, the mark of a Christian man was that both his private life and his public life was steeped in and fettered with religious ritual. But the Deist could easily be detected by the fact that his public words were quite religious. However, conspicuous by its absence was religiosity in the private life of a Deist: they need strong religious affiliation, but I can do just fine without it, getting by with a simple, personal relationship with God, if even that.

John Adams likewise held this view, though I don't think it can be argued successfully that Jefferson and Madison were as staunch in this matter of the masses needing religion just to keep the world from lapsing into pure pandemonium as were Washington and Adams. But George Washington and the others like him were hypocrites: they believed good for others what they shunned for themselves: religious affiliation and religious instruction. It cannot be overemphasized that this was the common thinking of the day; this is where "atheism" became equated with "wickedness": if religion was the only thing that could stay lawlessness (in this outdated mode of thinking), then atheism equaled the promotion of lawlessness. Although his speeches often contained mention of "Providence" and "Religion" and even "God," nowhere can a reliable source be found to make Washington mention the name of Christ, praise the Christian Bible, or openly laud the Christian religion.

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Phony Washington Quotation

Yea, even your alleged quotation, which you told our readers is from "Farewell Address 1796" is not to be found on the most reliable copies of that document. You can see a bitmap of that publication for yourself at EarlyAmerica.com, as published in the "Independent Chronicle." In case you (or any reader) is too lazy to read the bitmap, they've also provided a transcription of the message.

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Yup! The quotations you sent us are phony! phony! phony! -- words placed into Washington's mouth for the purpose of promoting an agenda. Christians do this a lot, you know!

Here is the difference between a real historian and a preacher: the historian's stated goal is to follow truth wherever she may lead; the preacher's job description contains an obligation to uphold the Bible even if he finds it to be patent falsehood! In fact, preachers have been known to manufacture lies about people (even George Washington! even me!) just to uphold the Bible or to get around the fact that the Bible is utter fiction. (Hey! Can you imagine somebody making up lies about George Washington? Have you ever heard of such a thing!? Preposterous, I tell you! George Washington slept here, and that's just the way it is!

However, even had you been telling the truth, even if George Washington had been a devout and pious Christian, it is not his opinion of the nation that makes the nation what it is! If that were the case, then I could tell you this was not a Christian nation based solely upon Washington's and Adams' respective creation and signing of the Treaty of Tripoli, or any number of Thomas Jefferson sayings -- or John F. Kennedy or Jimmy Carter, for that matter! And you could retort back that this is a Christian nation because George Bush (Jr. and Sr.) said it is! No, what the President says is not what the Country is. What the Constitution says is what our country strives to be (but not necessarily what it is, because our ability to carry out those ideals is fallible at best.

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In any event, I insist that you apologize to our readers for trying to deceive them by telling us that George Washington said these things in his Farewell Address of 1796. He did not, as you can see by one of the most authoritative texts of that address in existence. I am quite offended that you would think of our readers as stupid enough to fall for such a transparent ploy, particularly when this document is only a few mouse-clicks away.

You can surely get away with fooling gullible Christians who could never stand to think that a man who was so honorable that he told his father the truth about chopping down a cherry tree could be anything other than a pious Christian. Such people are just begging to be lied to; thus, numerous shysters stand in a long line, each awaiting his opportunity to fleece the flock while the pickin's are good (such as right after a national disaster launches the people into a flag-waving frenzy of antiatheistic patriotism.

But the intended readers of this magazine and web site are not Christians: indeed, our target audience consists of those who are already atheists, who need absolutely no convincing on the matter. As such, most of us don't give a rat what Washington or Adams or Jefferson believed. They could have been Voodoo Witch Doctors for all we care. Thus, we are not going to be swept away by claims that they were or were not any religious view. The truth happens to be that Franklin, Paine, Allen, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J. Q. Adams and Jackson were all Deists which, back then, was pretty much the same as saying they were Unitarians. They believed that a God existed (because Darwin's book hadn't been published yet; thus, hardly anybody was an atheist). But they did not believe Jesus Christ was that God.

Franklin and Adams occasionally lapsed into prayer (the latter around the time of the death of his wife, Abigail), but the rest were not known to be men of prayer or openly denounced it as ineffective or, in the case of Paine and several other influential intellectuals of the day, patent blasphemy against an all-knowing and Providential God Who already knew how to run His Universe, thank you. Washington, specifically, was known, if anything, for shunning the activity, having been openly castigated by his wife's pastor for ducking out of Communion, and having been described by visitors as a curious father because he did not lead the family in prayer at mealtime. The others, if they engaged in prayer, were like Jesus was in that they did so privately, never engaging in prayer under any circumstances except with the congregation or alone, in private. We have no reliable descriptions of any of these men praying on the street corner as is popular to do among the Christian political pundits of America today.

Thus, we will post your tirade as yet another example of a Christian so desperate that he'd openly lie in order to get people to believe some absolutely worthless "fact" that alleges (but fails) to promote the Christian religion (even if it were truthful), and will await your apology to our readers. If we receive it, we will post it; if we don't we won't.

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Have a nice life: as far as I can tell, this is the only life I get to live. I choose to live mine adhering as strictly as I can to the most strenuous moral code that I can devise. This is because in so doing, I run the lowest risk of harming my fellow humans during their only -- ever -- opportunity to exist. As mine appears to come to a close (again), I still strongly suspect that adopting and promoting an ideology is one of the surest ways to harm others, as those who advocate this or that "truth" (which is never even their opinion but the invention of somebody else) become tempted to place that ideology over all other things. I could never do that to myself and I could never do that to my fellow-humans.

It is for this reason that I remain an atheist -- a man who is as yet unconvinced by the claims of theism. Had someone come along who had been able to convince me that the Christian claim is truthful, I might have gone along with it -- privately, of course. But nobody has made a convincing case for the Christian religion, so I remain a non-Christian. And as nobody has made a very good case for any other religious claim, I remain an atheist; that is, one who lacks theism.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six-and-a-half years of service
    to people with no reason to believe

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Added: March 10, 2002

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This letter is reproduced verbatim, except that the ad for free e-mail, etc., at the bottom, was removed.

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Unlike the above, this isn't quite the same response sent to the letter writer, but has been groomed a few times between having been written and being posted.
     In addition, we changed the motif to pink smileys because -- er, just -- uh -- well, just because.

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Daniel McTighe"
Subject: Re: U.S Is Christian Nation, According To Phony Washington Quotes
Date: March 10, 2002 2:18 AM

-- and --

Oho! Really, now!
 

Sad? That's all? Sad? No argument, just an emotional ejaculation?

I suppose, then, that if you'd spent almost 40 years off and on studying his life and had discovered hypocrisy in his behavior, you'd cover it up in the interest of truthfulness!? Would you do the same, then, for Jesus? bend the truth a bit, just for the sake of his fragile reputation? Would he need your help in protecting his reputation before men? If it turned out that what they say he said isn't what he really said, would you lie about that, too?

You almost sound like a Twelve Stepper, standing up for Alcoholics Anonymous in spite of a world of corruption and false claims, just so that some drunk who'd otherwise stay away might show up, thinking AA to be a good thing (even though AA only works for less than a handful of those who try it)!

And don't say bad things about the Boy Scouts, either, if you know what's good for you!

I find it interesting to note that people actually exist who would admit that even if they knew George Washington was a hypocrite, they would cover up that information -- lie about it, in other words -- (in the interest of -- what!?) rather than point it out in the interest of truthfulness and increasing the overall knowledge base of humankind.

("And George Washington Slept Here, Too!")

I will also note my observation regarding those who think like you just did here (in dodging my direct question by accusing me of ill will when I pointed out that Washington favored for others what he did not himself practice!). That he favored religion for the masses is easily seen by comparing both his public and private writings and noting little discrepancy between the two on this matter. That he did not practice religion (that he especially did not practice the Christian religion) is thoroughly documented and soundly defended on our web site. People who would lie to protect the reputation of a dead President, a fallible human launched into mythical proportions by equally fallible humans, albeit boundlessly more worthy of being called "losers," people who would lie about this man they never knew in order to defend his reputation, thinking that he just could not get by without a recommendation from characters of their fine and upstanding character. Most likely, though, people who stood to gain by connecting his name and his fame to their agenda -- people called, since their very beginning, Christians. Such people have been known to brag about their criminal past, asking ideological opponents if they can top such a past and, at the same time, calling said opponents "arrogant, insulting, foolish," and any number of other derogatory epithets so long as they can bolster their own reputation: to hell with the reputations of others they may involve along the way.

"Arrogant"? "Insulting"? "Foolish"? I am none of those things, and I will prove it to you right now:

It is my sincere hope that you are not a Christian. Furthermore, it is my sincere hope that the Christian religion is not true. I hope these things for your sake. This profoundly sincere hope is based entirely upon my understanding that Jesus, the founder-figure of the Christian religion, is alleged to have has pronounced a sentence of eternity in the Christian Hell for any person who would call somebody "a fool," which, I assume, includes using variations of the root fool (such as foolish).

You may be my ideological opponent, and you may be many things that I would never want to be (that I try with all my might and spend all my resources avoiding becoming, since this is my only -- ever -- chance to exist). But even at that, I would never want to think that you (or anybody, for that matter) would ever spend even a minute "wailing and gnashing your teeth" in the Christian Hell, as it is described by such Christian luminaries as Jonathan Edwards and even the highly respected Billy Graham.

This is because that's all you are: my ideological opponent.

True, you have harmed me greatly by slandering me, and you did this (it appears) solely for the purpose of trying to increase the credibility and notoriety of the Christian religion. (Specifically, you tried to ruin a man's very reputation just for the sake of a mere idea!) But I don't hate you, for this or for any other reason. I don't even pity you, because you have chosen the path you took and that you now take, and you have known since childhood that when people do certain things, certain results take place.

I will counter your every move against me, as I will counter any move of yours (that comes to my attention) to revise American history.

Revolutionary history means a lot to me only because it has been a hobby of mine since I was a kid (three of my ancestors signed the Declaration or the Constitution); but Revolutionary history stands on its own merits and is well-known throughout the world: she needs no help from me, and your attempts to topple her will not prevail even if I do not lift a finger to counter your efforts. I will counter your efforts nonetheless, simply because this is an area of which I am a quasi-expert, and I feel obligated to share what few "gifts" I have with my fellow humans. Furthermore, I am a staunch patriot and a resolute lover of my country (not because I was born here or that I spent part of my life in service to her [I didn't], but because I firmly believe in her foundational principles). As such, I hate to see my beloved country slandered the way you have done in your first letter to me. But again, my country doesn't need my services in this respect (she can stand on her own merits); nevertheless, she will get my services simply because I love her -- not in a flag-waving way but, I think, much deeper than waving a flag could ever express.

Similarly, I strongly oppose this movement attempting to overthrow the United States Constitution (which movement has been going on, according to Thomas Jefferson, since before the Constitution was even ratified!). My opposition to your movement has little to do with the fact that said attempts to overthrow her are aimed at demolishing my Religious Liberties (although they are): I love the Constitution and I'd defend the Second Amendment with the same vehemence, even though that Amendment's survival would never directly affect me personally like the First Amendment's guarantee of Freedom of Conscience (including, especially, freedom from religion and even religious affiliation in that our very country is unaffiliated with even the Christian religion).

But what means more to me than anything else is truthfulness. This is not what I learned from Gandhiji, it is why I am attracted to his outlook. Thus, I still insist that you apologize to our readers for attempting to deceive them with the phony Washington (non)quotation, and now, for adding further confusion to the discussion with this ruse accusing me of calling Washington a hypocrite, as a way to dodge my initial challenge to you. Nice try, but now you owe our readers two apologies for the same thing: attempting to deceive us!

I will give you one more chance. If said apology is not forthcoming, I will assume that your only goal in contacting us was to degrade and belittle the readers, volunteers, and owner of this operation (as well as the class of people that our operation represents). That being the case (as I strongly suspected it was, before I even finished reading your first letter), I will invoke the Abuse portions of our Guidelines for Submission, particularly that pertaining to your inclusion on our 505 list.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six-and-a-half years of service
    to people with no reason to believe

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Added: March 12, 2002

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Daniel McTighe"
Subject: Re: Is U.S Christian Nation, According To Phony Washington Quotes
Date: March 10, 2002 9:33 PM

I empathize with your condition: over the past twelve weeks, I have been rendered barely able to move and almost completely unable to care for myself, and the doctors are clueless as to why this is happening to me. In addition, I am responding to none of the treatment. This has all been so fast, but I know what it's like to drop your cane in the grocery store and have to track down a clerk to pick it up for you because over the past three days the ability to bend over that far has been taken away from you.

Unless I hear otherwise, I will assume you are retracting the phony Washington quote. That is the most important matter in this discussion (though far from the most important matter discussed: there is a difference).

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I strongly urge you to be very cautious with the "Christian Nation" movement: as a lay historian since about the age of nine, I assure you that those who are promoting this idea fall into two categories: (1) they are ruthless charlatans who will stop at nothing to advance their political (not religious) agenda, and are exploiting millions of honest, sincere, very devout Christians (and others) in order gain the political power to have their way; (2) they are honest, sincere, very devout Christians (and others) who have been taken in by the above-mentioned hucksters.

Please! Please! be very very careful!

These creeps are in it only for political and personal gain. They don't care about you; they don't care about your spirituality. They don't care about your rights. They don't care about anybody's rights; for that matter, because they already have enough of your donations and my tax-exemptions to buy all the "justice" they need -- "justice" that O. J. Simpson could only dream about, and you saw the "justice" that he bought! With that, it matters naught how the laws actually come down: they don't even care if this ever becomes a "Christian nation" because they're making money hand-over-fist simply for their effort, simply for promoting the idea because it's what Christians of the popular mindset currently want to believe. So they dish out whatever the market will bear!

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America was founded on the heels of the most ruthless period of history our planet has ever endured: The Inquisition, Witch Hunts, Dark Ages, Middle Ages, and Post-Roman Empire.

Madison remembered what happens when any political entity allies itself with any religion, because it was still happening when he was a boy. He remembered and vowed to do all that was in his power to divorce all politics from ALL religion and allow the two to flourish independent of one another.

We (fortunately) do not have that "advantage" (if you would call it that): we don't remember what it was like, but our Constitution still reads the same as if we could remember. Perhaps the Enlightenment has changed our species and we will never again abuse this power, but the only way to change it is to change the Constitution. Walking around and saying that the Constitution never was that way will not work. Meanwhile, let's support a good thing because our Constitution has prevented (for the most part) some very grievous conditions which our European forebears had to endure and still remember.

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That's all I have to say on the subject, and I appreciate your writing to our Forum. My hope is that I can survive this mysterious illness long enough so that if it is My Turn, if I am "walking Spanish (down the hall)," as Tom Waits said, that I can at least place this Forum, as it now exists, into the proper hands to keep her posted for others to enjoy and learn from, or even find an editor to pare her down and have her published and placed into a few key libraries.

That's all. I ask for little else besides that very small amount of dignity, which, I think, is mine for being human. For that, I try my darndest to give the same to all others I encounter.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six-and-a-half years of service
    to people with no reason to believe

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