CHRISTIANITY AND THOMAS PAINE
Christianity And Thomas Paine
So many times we hear the claim that the Founding Fathers were Christians, that the US was founded as a "Christian Nation." I do not believe this for many reasons. Some of which we will discuss today. I began by doing what I do best ... research. So, I grabbed a shovel and started to dig for the Truth. went and found so many of the writings. One of the most interesting was the work of Thomas Paine.
When one thinks of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Paine is rarely mentioned. That’s probably due to the rather poor (and boring) history education in the US. We're only taught what "they" want us to know about. And even that, has been altered and re-written time and time again. Remember, he who wins the wars, gets to rewrite history.
Arguably, Thomas Paine, is the Father of the American Revolution. His two pamphlets, "Common Sense" and "The American Crisis" (both published in 1776), were the foundation of a break from Britain and independence for the new colonies. Many have heard the phrase “These are the times that try men’s souls”. This came from The "American Crisis."
He was also a very early Humanist. He argued for the ending of slavery. He accepted science and social progress. He was unafraid to consider new ideas, looking at how the Iroquois could live in nature and have democracy. His collected works can be found online and in books and ebooks. During my studies, I was primarily searching for Paine’s views on religion and I found several passages that were useful, but this one was very powerful:
"But the belief of a God is so weakened by being mixed with the strange fable of the Christian creed, and with the wild adventures related in the Bible, and the obscurity and obscene nonsense of the Testament, that the mind of man is bewildered as in a fog. Viewing all these things in a confused mass, he confounds fact with fable; and as he cannot believe all, he feels a disposition to reject all. But the belief of a God is a belief distinct from all other things, and ought not to be confounded with any. The notion of a Trinity of Gods has enfeebled the belief of one God. A multiplication of beliefs acts as a division of belief; and in proportion as anything is divided, it is weakened.
Religion, by such means, becomes a thing of form instead of fact; of notion instead of principle: morality is banished to make room for an imaginary thing called faith, and this faith has its origin in a supposed debauchery; a man is preached instead of a God; an execution is an object for gratitude; the preachers daub themselves with the blood, like a troop of assassins, and pretend to admire the brilliancy it gives them; they preach a humdrum sermon on the merits of the execution; then praise Jesus Christ for being executed, and condemn the Jews for doing it.
A man, by hearing all this nonsense lumped and preached together, confounds the God of the Creation with the imagined God of the Christians, and lives as if there were none.
Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself, than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid, or produces only atheists and fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism (absolute oppressive power); and as a means of wealth, the avarice (extreme greed) of priests; but so far as respects the good of man in general, it leads to nothing here or hereafter."
There is much included above, so this cannot be claimed to be taken out of context. There are quite a few good lines in there, but the upshot is that it appears Thomas Paine believes in a god. This would make him a "Deist." A Deist is one who believes in a higher power, specifically a creator that does not intervene in the universe.
Go back and take a look at how he describes Christianity; “strange fable”, “the notion of a Trinity of Gods has enfeebled the belief of one God”, “notion instead of principle”, “all this nonsense”, “there is none more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself, than this thing called Christianity”. These are very powerful statements and he is sure of his stance.
Also, note in the last paragraph, where Paine describes what Christianity really is. It’s an engine of power, of control. It takes wealth from the people and gives to the church leaders and gives nothing in return. Nothing at all. Thomas Paine could have been writing about the televangelists of today, the Pope, or any other "Christian based business" for that matter. All of these (and more like them) have more control, power, and wealth than their position and their religion requires. And most of them preach doom and gloom ... not the "Good News Gospel."
Some might say that religion provides a useful service. That there are benefits to being religious. And maybe there are social and emotional benefits for being in a religion. But those same benefits can be found in almost any small group of good people. To give an example, there are plenty of people and organizations NOT based on religion that are all willing to pitch in and give lend a hand to needy people all over the world. But they do this not because a religion requires it, but because they are good people and desire to help from the goodness of their heart.
However, the leaders of the various religions, even before there was Christianity, have taken advantage of that need for group identity and made a profit from it. Just like Thomas Paine describes and still continues to this day. Many of these religions have taken away the person's individual purpose and identity of self. Thomas Paine, one of our Founding Fathers, was not a Christian. His god was not the god of the Bible. It’s time to quit pretending it was. One must also remember that separation of church and state was not for the protection of the church, it was for protection FROM the church.
Our Founding Fathers were highly intelligent men. They had deep knowledge of ancient pagan mysteries. They were members of secret societies. They know what the church of Rome had done during the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Dark Ages and arranged for the New World to never have to be subject to the people being ruled by the church system.
In closing, if you believe that America is a "Christian Nation" then how do we explain our involvement in so many wars? So much death and suffering? So much corruption, evil, and theft. When we look at all the death and suffering contained in biblical scripture ... then perhaps we are. But if you are referring to the teachings of one presumed man who wandered the Galilee ... preaching love, peace, and joy ... then this country is far away from being considered to follow the footsteps of the Christ.
Just a thought ...
~Justin Taylor, ORDM., OCP., DM.