Turning Misbelief to Relief

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 The first step toward change is awareness.  The second step is acceptance.

Nathaniel Branden

Have you ever really believed in something and found out that it wasn’t true? Maybe it was your Santa Clause moment. That time when you discovered Santa really didn’t bring your presents. I never had that moment with Santa. That’s one falsehood I didn’t grow up believing.

I’ve had many of those moments though. The first came in my late teenage years. I had just read a book on how “Christian” America’s founding fathers were. So being a lover of God and history I had to go read their writings and biographies to see their faith in action. I read Jefferson and Franklin and was like “What the hell was that author thinking?” So I said “Well, maybe they weren’t but I bet Washington, Adams, Madison and others were. Nope, Nope, Nope! Now I’m not saying that I found no Christians, but the vast majority of the founding fathers were not conservative orthodox Christians as I had been led to believe.

Still that did not change my belief in Orthodox Christianity and I went on to become a pastor and surprise surprise, college brought a few more, “What??!” moments.

I was taking my Theology 1 class and had to write a paper. I chose to write on the canonization of the Bible. When I was young, I was basically led to believe that these wonderful Christian men got together and in unison chose exactly these books because God led them.   Ummm Nope. They fought over books put in, fought over books left out and pretty much chose the books that Eusibius wanted because he was Constantine the (not so) Greats right hand man when it came to religion. The same Constantine who made the religious leaders create the Orthodoxy of religion by getting rid of the Arians and the vote there was almost unanimous. Those couple that voted no were exiled from the empire. Hmmm. I wonder why it was almost unanimous. Could it be that people didn’t want to lose their jobs, homes, or lives?

Then I started studying the Bible about the Rapture. That’s a huge belief in the conservative world.  But it just doesn’t fit anywhere in the Bible unless you like to look at your Bible as a pretzel and twist away your doctrine. But hey we can make money with books and movies so let’s keep the deception going…

Those moments kept coming and coming and coming. Especially as I read about the late Roman Empire and its hold over Christianity. One big reason I love the separation of church and state. And while we are being political let us at least acknowledge that the Republican Party has no interest in religion except that it great for getting votes.  The Republican Party is nothing more than a bunch of Pharisees with the Tea Party candidates being their High Priests and you know what Jesus thought of them.

The Democratic Party is not Satan’s tool as I was led to believe either. That was another “lie” that I had to overcome.

I had to learn that Muslims are not evil or setting up the anti-Christ and neither is the pope, most people on welfare are not milking the system, immigrants are people too. Did you know that the earth isn’t 4,000 years old or created in seven 24 hour periods? Ok, those are ones I never believed, but I know people who do.

Soon my naïve beliefs of youth one by one fell off, each one easier and not as noticeable. The rules of the church fell away and were replaced with life and love. My love of God grew, my love of people grew and I learned …….

What about you?

A Religious State: What I fear

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May 20, 325 – 1st Christian ecumenical council opens at Nicaea, Asia Minor. This was the first major marriage of Christianity and state. The Emperor Constantine the (not so) Great called the church together to figure out what they believed. All those who disagreed with the Nicene Creed were kicked out of the church. Within 60 years (380 Edict of Thessalonica) all other Christian beliefs and ideas were deemed heretical and the “church” proceeded to eradicate them. This kind of thing is why we have separation of church and state. So we can have freedom of religion.

The same kind of thing had been happening in England for quite some time. When the Church of England broke from Catholicism in the 1500’s the King (or queen) became the head of the church. Whatever the king or queen was (protestant or Catholic) the other was persecuted. There was a revolution in which Oliver Cromwell and the far right Protestants took over and then were over thrown. For six years (1653-1659) the Commonwealth of England controlled the nation’s religion. People were jailed, killed or exiled for speaking their minds. Cromwell did have some people exiled instead of killing them to show his tolerance for religions. (Yeah, right, as I roll my eyes)

Many of the colonists that came to America were running from the wars and religious oppression from the government. They often settled in the Virginia area and in New England. This is where many of our founding fathers were from. Washington, Jefferson, Monroe, Madison, and Patrick Henry were born in Virginia. Hancock, Franklin, John Adams, and Samuel Adams were all born in New England. They were born into areas filled with people who did not like the government and religion being married as one. I find it interesting that the bigger leaders and the writers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution all came from these areas, as well as our first six presidents.

The conservative Christians in America want a “Christian government” like our founding fathers but our founding fathers didn’t want religion in government. They had seen its affects on the people around them. I question how many of them were really Christians. John Adams said the Bible was full of myths. Jefferson took out all the miracles in the Bible when he printed the Jeffersonian Bible. That includes the resurrection. Washington seldom spoke about Jesus, only about the almighty God.   Franklin was a womanizer and Madison said “The establishment of the chaplainship in Congress is a palpable violation of equal rights as well as of Constitutional principles” Not exactly what you would call Christian ideas.

Madison also stated that “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

The end of that is really what scares me if this country becomes a government run on religion. Our government would start persecuting based on the bigotry of whatever religion was in power. We don’t need that. We need freedom. The freedom that the founding fathers wanted us to have.  The freedom to worship without being persecuted. And when I say persecuted I mean beaten, thrown in jail and killed.  That would actually be persecution.

As John Adams once said, “Government has no right to hurt a hair on the head of an Atheist for his Opinions. Let him have a care of his Practices.” Nor should it hurt the hairs on any head of a Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jehovah Witness, Mormon or any other religion. Let’s allow all people to worship as they like, no matter if we disagree with them.  Keep religion out of the government and we can all have true freedom.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edict_of_Thessalonica

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Puritans_from_1649

http://www.usconstitution.net/constframedata.html

 

 

Guess who said that. Founding Fathers and God

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Many people over the years have told me how Christian our founding fathers were but I have found that our founding fathers had some very harsh things to say about Christianity.  I put together a few of their statements.  See if you know who said them.

I have thrown in quotes by the following.  Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, and John Adams.  I also threw in some quotes by Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, and Hitler just to throw you off a bit.

1) “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

2) “But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed? How has it happened that all the fine arts, architecture, painting, sculpture, statuary, music, poetry, and oratory, have been prostituted, from the creation of the world, to the sordid and detestable purposes of superstition and fraud?”

3) “There exists, I believe, throughout the whole Christian world, a law which makes it blasphemy to deny, or to doubt the divine inspiration of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, from Genesis to Revelations….Books that cannot bear examination, certainly ought not to be established as divine inspiration.”

4) “Those who fight in God’s cause will be victorious.”

5) “What we have to fight for is the freedom and independence… so that our people may be enabled to fulfill the mission assigned to it by the Creator.”

6) “I have found Christian dogma unintelligible”

7) “No oppressed or deceived or wrong, no master and no slave, but free brothers in a society over which, God willing, shall flutter the banner of brotherhood and quality. “

8) “Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.”

 

 

1) James Madison

2) John Adams

3) Thomas Jefferson

4) Saddam Hussein

5)Hitler

6) Ben Franklin

7) Gaddafi

8) Thomas Paine

 

How many did you get?  Yes, these are just a few quotes and there were many founding fathers.  Many of them it is hard to find quotes on Jesus or Christ.  They often use God providence or Almighty.  Even so I get the feeling that they are not unlike the politicians of today that use God, Christ, and religion to get elected.  Publicly they played the part, but privately they showed their true self. I’m sure that there were some that were Christians, but often it is made to seem like they all were deeply devoted Christians and they were not.

 

 

Where I got some of the quotes.

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/08/23/list-of-hitler-quotes-he-was-q/

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/m.html

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=103×340428

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/gaddafi-quotes-the-dead-libya-dictator-275336

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/07/04/35-founding-father-quotes-conservative-christians-will-hate/

http://www.barefootsworld.net/founding.html