Airing on January 31, 2014, Real Time with Bill Maher episode 305 included an exchange with Stephan Merchant about the Founding Fathers and the current qualifications for public office in the United States today. After Merchant quipped about the enlightenment and brilliance of Americas Founding Fathers, Maher added a remark that ought to be said much more often in political discourse:
"[The Founding Fathers] believed in science....they thought the bible was bullshit"
Rather than using my own words to establish the validity of the statement, I turn instead to direct quotes from some of the Founding Fathers themselves (with bold font added to highlight 'the bible is bullshit' type of thinking)....
"Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.""It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God."Franklin:
"As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and I think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble."Washington:
“We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition… In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.”James Madison:
“Freedom arises from the multiplicity of sects, which pervades America and which is the best and only security for religious liberty in any society. For where there is such a variety of sects, there cannot be a majority of any one sect to oppress and persecute the rest.”John Adams:
“The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
What I aim to convey is that many of the Founding Fathers appear to be quite heretical in their beliefs. For the religious right to quote them in defense their views (on the second amendment, religious freedoms, or separation of church and state, or American being a Christian nation....) Seems terribly dishonest. Any persons with ideas like those highlighted above would hardly be called Christians at all by leading voices from the right, like William Lane Craig and practically every single person employed by Fox News.
Whether they believed in God is irrelevant. Admittedly, There are plenty of quotes to be found that praise God explicitly, but I would question whether the God they praised is the same God of the Christian right. I Think not. Let's not forget that Jefferson actually compiled his own bible in protest against the accepted bible, so perhaps they should enlighten themselves a little more about our enlightened, and rather heretical, Founding Fathers.