published Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Soddy-Daisy group prays at football game

Without a loudspeaker announcement, a group of young people and adults gathered just off the field at the Soddy-Daisy football game Friday to pray before the kick-off against Cleveland.

As announcers honored football players and cheerleaders on Senior Night, a Soddy-Daisy police officer escorted a group of people assembled in front of the stands onto the grass just behind the goal posts.

Dozens of people came out of the home and visitor stands for a prayer led by Soddy-Daisy senior Shelton Brown.

Afterward, Brown said he was surprised how many people turned out.

"We weren't allowed to announce we were doing it," he said.

He said school officials also told him the prayer couldn't be held on the football field.

Brown said people wanted to demonstrate their desire to pray after schools Superintendent Jim Scales recently ordered a halt to prayers over the loudspeaker at football games and other school events. The ban came after some Soddy-Daisy students complained to the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Brown said most of his classmates agree with him, but he was quick to note there were people on both sides of the argument over prayer in school.

Soddy-Daisy Mayor Gene Shipley and Commissioner Jim Adams joined the prayer group.

"I'm ready to defy Washington and the Supreme Court," Adams said. "I don't have a problem with it at all."

Adams said America is a nation where majority rules, but some people's agendas are dominating the country.

"I think this is a way of defying and sending a message that this isn't right," Adams said. "It's just as much our right to pray as it is anybody's right not to."

Dawn Sheaffer and her daughter, a Soddy-Daisy High School student, also joined the group.

"Look around at the support, even on the other side [of the field] they are coming out onto the field with us," said Sheaffer, adding that she came to the game just to cheer the students on. "We are all here to peacefully exercise our right to say a prayer for both teams."

Soddy-Daisy freshman Zach Ireland said it's a long-standing tradition to pray before the game.

After Scales halted the prayers, Soddy-Daisy players were invited to pray when they visited Rhea County for a game last week.

Since then, the Rhea County Schools has received its own letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Contact Staff Writer Jeremy Belk at jbelk@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6345.

39
Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
ouzzy88 said...

I wonder "what if" a group of _'s wanted to pray in the same manner would be let to do so to? I am all for freedom has long as it is really freedom and not limited to what YOU believe. Understand this if you want freedom OF for yourself and your beliefs in a diverse country that was founded on freedom of/freedom to then "what if"? You so call right gonna boo and bully those whom that "ARE NOT LIKE YOU"? So now what foosball fans, you want a group out on the field "face'in up west and chanting? Why not? FREEDOM OF! your all MEAN PEOPLE!

October 30, 2010 at 5:48 a.m.
XMarine said...

That's ok, that's their right.It never was about that.If you want to pray to the "devil"that's your right also.It's about the intrusion of religion into the government.Once that happens tolerance goes down the toilet because each religion is bigoted towards all else.Don't believe me: look at what's happening in Iran & Soddy Daisy.

October 30, 2010 at 6:43 a.m.
LibDem said...

You know when local politicians show up it's a good cause.

October 30, 2010 at 7:04 a.m.
one4community said...

How about before you start your ranting about people praying, you get a small grip on the language you speak....

It would be you're and not your!

October 30, 2010 at 8:19 a.m.
ouzzy88 said...

It really don't matter any more, even if ALL came to Soddy Daisy to "Pray or assemble" due to mean people, it would just be one big riot. In the end like in every thing these days, it was all started to hide the big raise they will be voting for themselves while we all fight about right and wrong, they'll make their pockets fat. Just like Ooltewah, they all called it traffic issues on Hunter Road, when it was really about not having "that kind of people moving in". As long as We the people are divided in differences "they" will go on filling their pockets. You make quotes from "great men" whom by our standard of Education today would be the same ignorant rednecks you say I am. Well this ignorant hillbilly says: "To see past the differances is the hard part, changing is easy. Like how when people in a group always talk trash about the one who walks away, you'll be walking away soon. Your a dumbass thinking your immune!"

October 30, 2010 at 8:53 a.m.
ouzzy88 said...

It's no longer about party or laws, Guess what 32 years of being a registered voter I have yet to see a man or woman, black, white, or purple worth wasting the gas to go vote for. It's not a party I am looking for it's someone who can see past the diversity within this great nation (which I do love), unite it, and put a stop to all the corruption running amuck. Hey Mr. WAMP remember back in Spring City, TN., I ask you "If you were gonna be wise about this?" Don't retire: BE WISE.....We the people are fed up with being the CUCKOLDS of the people we elect! Make a promise and keep it!

October 30, 2010 at 9:54 a.m.
whatsthefuss said...

Why is it I'm not suprised. Another elected official thinking they are above the law. Where have we seen this before??? I suppose it would be nice for everyone to do as they please with complete disreguard for anyone else. {The Law} It appears this very thinking is what keeps our elected officials busy drafting new laws year after year instead of looking after the population with a positive outcome. "The Grocery Store Christian," strolling down the isle of Religion seems to believe that all the teachings they hold so sacred written in their book also do not apply to them. Does anyone see a pattern here. They choose what suits them and perhaps even find a few BOGO'S that appeal to their selfish beliefs while strolling down the isle leaving behind whatever they feel does not. I had one blogger claim I was angry. That is correct. If what you believe is true, just wait until you die and meet your MAKER. This God of yours is going to make me look like a mild mannerd Salvation Army Bell Ringer at Christmas. If what many believe is true, concern should be for the hereafter, not the herenow. People may want to think about how they can change their eternal direction from down to up before it's to late. Today could be your last day! Love Thy Neighbor!! Whatever happened to that?

October 30, 2010 at 10:24 a.m.
librul said...

Mr. Adams - In America the "majority" rules only in elections and legislative votes. When it comes to Constitutionally conferred civil rights, the LAW rules, regardless of how the "majority" feels about it. That's because those rights are guaranteed to all citizens who are considered equal under the law.

You and Mr. Shipley may think protestant christianists are more "equal" than other citizens or are somehow granted "special" rights because they are in the majority here. You are, sadly, incorrect and if you are that ignorant of the law or of the nature of our government, you have no business in it at any level.

So if it takes a trip to the Supreme Court to make the laws of the land clear to you and if you've got real deep pockets, go ahead, make the Supreme Court's day. It'll obviously be a real educational experience for you.

I think the people of Soddy have far more legitimate uses in mind for their tax money, however.

Sincere thanks to the Freedom From Religion Foundation for all they do.

October 30, 2010 at 5:33 p.m.

Good to see that ignorance and superstition is alive and well in Soddy-Daisy!

October 30, 2010 at 6:14 p.m.

i'm cracking up about wildman's quote by george washington: "Let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion."

he thinks that washington was saying morality without religion is possible. washington was saying the exact opposite, but wildman is too "up in arms" over football prayers to see that.

it's hilarious when liberals throw out quotes that don't support their position

October 30, 2010 at 6:55 p.m.
rolando said...

No one in the group said anything about being above the law, whatsafuss.

What Mr Adams said was in the grand old tradition called "civil disobedience". It has defeated oppressors before. As I recall, a black lady in the South overturned a century of discrimination through "civil disobedience".

What exactly would Mr Adams be arrested for? Exercising his freedoms u nder the First Amendment? Trespassing? Unlawful assembly to worship? Contempt of Court, perhaps?

I know of no law stating a person or a group cannot gather to pray anywhere in this country [with a few logical exceptions]. There are a great many JUDICIAL decisions on the matter, but nothing from the Legislature, per se...just what some judge SAYS a law means. Disrespecting a judge's agenda-based decision does not equal disrespect for the law.

October 30, 2010 at 7:17 p.m.
rolando said...

They do that repeatedly because they have neither a sense of nor a knowledge of history, misterchattanooga.

That is their primary downfall; everything else flows from it.

October 30, 2010 at 7:21 p.m.
rolando said...

The only ones demanding "more equal" or "special" rights these days are the homosexuals and their homophiles, librul.

Being in either a minority OR a majority does NOT guarantee "more equal" or "special" rights...it just means they get the normal ones everyone has.

October 30, 2010 at 7:37 p.m.
librul said...

Well Rolando, you tell me - isn't that exactly what I said? ==> "rights are guaranteed to all citizens who are considered equal under the law." <== Your off-the-wall comment about homosexuals is meaningless. They actually enjoy more acceptance than us atheists do. It took blacks 300 years to break through our society's religio-ethnic wall of prejudice and abuse.

The problem with gays and atheists is that their denial of rights has been imposed by our closed-minded society alone - not institutionalized in law as was black racism.

Now that these groups are finally demanding their rights be respected, people are all upset. The law is firmly on their side, however - posturing politicians and Tea Party zealots notwithstanding.

October 30, 2010 at 8:46 p.m.
whatsthefuss said...

Tony Rolando & Dawn said "What Mr Adams said was in the grand old tradition called "civil disobedience". It has defeated oppressors before." I imagine you refer to Kent State or the March on Selma. Rolando, put down whatever you are smoking and come back to reality. This Mr. Adams is an elected offical. He is to set an example to follow. Not to be some loon in what you refer as a Grand ole Tradition. This has nothing to do with tradition. It has everything to do with intimidation and conforming to another persons belief. If you have imaginary friends in the sky so be it. Don't expect everyone else to be so gullible. Now go chase some sweet trick or treaters from your front door yelling some nonsense about witchcraft. That will leave you all day Sunday to diddle yourself.

October 30, 2010 at 10:16 p.m.
SavartiTN said...

What is really interesting here is that every single person born starts out as an atheist.

October 30, 2010 at 11:33 p.m.

well, that's even funnier that a whole group of unthinkers have misused the quote. read the quote. i know you don't like to do that, but you'll need to. want me to break it down for you? maybe you're not a native english speaker.

here's the original:

"Let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion."

now in an easier format for wildman to understand (and his group of unthinking friends)

"Only a reckless fool would think that morality can be maintained without religion."

here's the quote in its full context as delivered by George Washington in his farewell address:

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?"

October 31, 2010 at 9:27 a.m.
CharleyHorse said...

I bet the pols tried to get in the game for free. They probably charged for overtime. Travel expenses.

Such ignorant fools they are. Prayer Demonstrations are just that....Demonstrations. Demonstrations in front of a captive audience. Demonstrations usually promoted by one particular religion. That same religion that teaches kids to break the law, abuse women rights and distrust science. A Demonstration for power and influence. There is only one religious group that is constantly trying to prosyletize school kids. The Fundamentalists. Usually Baptist in the South.

October 31, 2010 at 6:14 p.m.
AntiTheist said...

Look at case history, these ignorant bigots are going to cost the school anywhere from $100,000 to $800,000 according to previous cases. Thank God for the FFRF.org

I am amazed, utterly astounded at the lack of knowledge and the intensity that these people proclaim their rights to break the law. Not local laws, Constitutional Law.

You can believe bull$%&#, but it won't make it any truer.

http://www.WhyWontGodHealAmputees.com

May God B-Less

November 1, 2010 at 4:04 p.m.
skeptic1234 said...

The main issue is whether any prayer should be part of a public school event (and it seems like the Christian variety is the most frequent offender). The answer is clearly no, for many reasons, including protecting the rights of ALL people. What the majority wants is irrelevant in this case- if the majority in this community wanted the return of slavery at the games, do we, as a country, let it happen? No. If the majority in this community wants to revoke the right to vote by women, do we, as a country, let it happen? No. If the majority in this community wants to legalize polygamy with underage children, do we, as a country, let it happen? No.

What is happening, though, is an example of government sponsorship of religion (Christianity) over other religions and non-religion. This is a dangerous slippery slope we, as free Americans, should absolutely not allow. Students, etc., can have non-mandatory prayer meetings in private prior to the game- that right is protected. But to use public resources to promote any prayer/beliefs is inappropriate and really amounts to a group from one religion imposing their beliefs on others- this is not church- it is a public sponsored football game.

What happens when another religion becomes the majority in the community? How about Muslim prayer or prayer to Zeus? Would this community be willing to allow non-Christian prayer?

I am a TN resident. I am a veteran. I lived in the Middle East as a civilian before I was in the military. That whole region is a wonderful example of what happens when church-state separation is breached- the ill effects of the non-separation of church and state are very apparent there with respect to suppression of rights and loss of freedoms that we cherish in the US. Anyone with any true understanding of the basis of our secular government, current affairs and world history who wishes to preserve American liberties should fight to keep any religious agendas, including prayer, out of ALL government/public sponsored meetings/venues. It is shocking to think that educated people in this country would make the decision to allow such a breach of church-state separation at this public school. Prayer is a matter of individual conscience- as such, the government and public schools should keep out.

November 1, 2010 at 11:37 p.m.
skeptic1234 said...

And I would venture to say that most of the people supporting this prayer haven't even read the Bible. If they have, they should consider advice from the Bible with respect to prayer and "pray in secret," not in public or tax payer supported forums "like the hypocrites."

I would also venture to say that most people in this community were not aware the de facto national motto was originally "From Many, One" and was replaced by "In God We Trust" and that the pledge of allegiance originally did not contain the phrase "under God" (and the author clearly did not intend such language). We, as free people, should NEVER have allowed these changes to take place in the name of freedom. And yes, these things will likely come back to haunt all of us, especially when Christianity becomes a minority.

Finally, prayer may make some people feel better (similar to meditation, yoga, etc.), which is great, but it really doesn’t solve any problems facing this country or the world - knowledge and action solve problems, not prayer- this is an easily observable fact.

November 1, 2010 at 11:39 p.m.
skeptic1234 said...

According to the First Amendment Center, The US Supreme Court has ruled in five school prayer cases: Engel v. Vitale, (1962) Any kind of prayer, composed by public school districts, even nondenominational prayer, is unconstitutional government sponsorship of religion. Abington Township School Dist v Schempp (1963) The second so-called "school prayer" decision. But it was the more far-reaching — prohibiting school officials from organizing or leading prayers and devotional Bible reading in public schools. The Abington v. Schempp decision invalidated a devotional Bible-reading requirement in Pennsylvania; a case consolidated with it, Murray v. Curtlett, struck down a similar law in Maryland. Abington v. Schempp requires that teachers and administrators neither promote nor denigrate religion — a commitment to state neutrality that protects the religious freedom of students of all faiths and no faith. Wallace v. Jaffree, (1985) State's moment of silence at public school statute is unconstitutional where legislative record reveals that motivation for statute was the encouragement of prayer. Court majority silent on whether "pure" moment of silence scheme, with no bias in favor of prayer or any other mental process, would be constitutional. Lee v. Weisman, (1992) Unconstitutional for a school district to provide any clergy to perform nondenominational prayer at elementary or secondary school graduation. It involves government sponsorship of worship. Court majority was particularly concerned about psychological coercion to which children, as opposed to adults, would be subjected, by having prayers that may violate their beliefs recited at their graduation ceremonies. Santa Fe v. Doe, (2000) The Supreme Court held a school may not ask students to lead prayers over the public address system before football games. The Court found the situation in Santa Fe, TX, similar to the situation in the Lee v. Weisman case. Santa Fe's practice was not a matter of private student speech, but of students speaking on behalf of and at the request of school officials. This factor changed the situation from being one of true private student speech to school-sponsored and -endorsed speech. This case demonstrated that schools cannot use a proxy, such as outside clergy or even students, to engage in activities they are themselves forbidden from practicing.

November 1, 2010 at 11:40 p.m.
skeptic1234 said...

John Adams: "The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion." "As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. 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?" "I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved--the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!" "What havoc has been made of books through every century of the Christian era? Where are fifty gospels, condemned as spurious by the bull of Pope Gelasius? Where are the forty wagon-loads of Hebrew manuscripts burned in France, by order of another pope, because suspected of heresy? Remember the 'index expurgatorius', the inquisition, the stake, the axe, the halter and the guillotine." "The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning. And ever since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate A FREE INQUIRY? The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality, is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your eyes and hand, and fly into your face and eyes." "Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, 'this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.'"

"Where do we find a precept in the Bible for Creeds, Confessions, Doctrines and Oaths, and whole carloads of trumpery that we find religion encumbered with in these days?"

"The Doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity."

"...Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind."

November 1, 2010 at 11:43 p.m.
skeptic1234 said...

Benjamin Franklin: "I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy is more regarded than virtue. The scriptures assure me that at the last day we shall not be examined on what we thought but what we did." "I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no worship or praise from us, but that He is even infinitely above it." "I wish it (Christianity) were more productive of good works ... I mean real good works ... not holy-day keeping, sermon-hearing ... or making long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments despised by wise men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity.” "If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish Church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. They found it wrong in Bishops, but fell into the practice themselves both there (England) and in New England." "My parents had given me betimes religious impressions, and I received from my infancy a pious education in the principles of Calvinism. But scarcely was I arrived at fifteen years of age, when, after having doubted in turn of different tenets, according as I found them combated in the different books that I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself."

"...Some books against Deism fell into my hands....It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quote to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations, in short, I soon became a thorough Deist."

November 1, 2010 at 11:43 p.m.
skeptic1234 said...

Thomas Jefferson:

"Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong."

“Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.”

"Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than on our opinions in physics and geometry....The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

“What is it men cannot be made to believe!”

“Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.”

“Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindu and Infidel of every denomination.”

“I concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshipped by many who think themselves Christians.”

“I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.”

“They [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion.”

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”

“History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.”

November 1, 2010 at 11:44 p.m.
skeptic1234 said...

TJ (cont)

“The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.”

“Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”

“In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”

“If we did a good act merely from love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? ...Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than the love of God.” “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus."

“My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest. The artificial structures they have built on the purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolts those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there.” “You say you are a Calvinist. I am not. I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.”

“As you say of yourself, I too am an Epicurian. I consider the genuine (not the imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us.” “Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him [Jesus] by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others again of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism, and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being.” “To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise: but I believe I am supported in my creed of materialism by Locke, Tracy, and Stewart. At what age of the Christian church this heresy of immaterialism, this masked atheism, crept in, I do not know. But heresy it certainly is.”

“Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind.”

November 1, 2010 at 11:46 p.m.
skeptic1234 said...

TJ (cont)

“I can never join Calvin in addressing his god. He was indeed an Atheist, which I can never be; or rather his religion was Daemonism. If ever man worshipped a false god, he did.”

“And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.”

“It is between fifty and sixty years since I read it [the Apocalypse], and I then considered it merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.”

“May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.”

"Reason and persuasion are the only practicable instruments. To make way for these free inquiry must be indulged; how can we wish others to indulge it while we refuse ourselves? But every state, says an inquisitor, has established some religion. No two, say I, have established the same. Is this a proof of the infallibility of establishments?"

"It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself."

"I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth."

"In every country and in every age the priest has been hostile to liberty; he is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own."

November 1, 2010 at 11:47 p.m.
skeptic1234 said...

TJ (cont)

"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. 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 blindfolded fear....Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it end in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue on the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise and in the love of others which it will procure for you."

"Christianity...[has become] the most perverted system that ever shone on man....Rogueries, absurdities and untruths were perpetrated upon the teachings of Jesus by a large band of dupes and importers led by Paul, the first great corrupter of the teaching of Jesus."

"...that our civil rights have no dependence on religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics and geometry."

James Madison: "What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not." "Experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has 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." "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise....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 laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution."

"Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."

November 1, 2010 at 11:49 p.m.
skeptic1234 said...

Thomas Paine: "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of....Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and of my own part, I disbelieve them all."

"All natural institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."

"The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion."

"What is it the Bible teaches us? -- rapine, cruelty, and murder."

"Loving of enemies is another dogma of feigned morality, and has beside no meaning....Those who preach the doctrine of loving their enemies are in general the greatest prosecutors, and they act consistently by so doing; for the doctrine is hypocritical, and it is natural that hypocrisy should act the reverse of what it preaches."

"The Bible was established altogether by the sword, and that in the worst use of it -- not to terrify but to extirpate."

"It is the duty of every true Deist to vindicate the moral justice of God against the evils of the Bible." Every person, of whatever religious denomination he may be, is a DEIST in the first article of his Creed. Deism, from the Latin word Deus, God, is the belief of a God, and this belief is the first article of every man's creed. It is on this article, universally consented to by all mankind, that the Deist builds his church, and here he rests. Whenever we step aside from this article, by mixing it with articles of human invention, we wander into a labyrinth of uncertainty and fable, and become exposed to every kind of imposition by pretenders to revelation. The Persian shows the Zend-Avesta of Zoroaster, the lawgiver of Persia, and calls it the divine law; the Bramin shows the Shaster, revealed, he says, by God to Brama, and given to him out of a cloud; the Jew shows what he calls the law of Moses, given, he says, by God, on the Mount Sinai; the Christian shows a collection of books and epistles, written by nobody knows who, and called the New Testament; and the Mahometan shows the Koran, given, he says, by God to Mahomet: each of these calls itself revealed religion, and the only true Word of God, and this the followers of each profess to believe from the habit of education, and each believes the others are imposed upon. But when the divine gift of reason begins to expand itself in the mind and calls man to reflection, he then reads and contemplates God and His works, and not in the books pretending to be revelation. The creation is the Bible of the true believer in God.

November 1, 2010 at 11:53 p.m.
skeptic1234 said...

TP (cont)

Everything in this vast volume (of creation) inspires him with sublime ideas of the Creator. The little and paltry, and often obscene, tales of the Bible sink into wretchedness when put in comparison with this mighty work. The Deist needs none of those tricks and shows called miracles to confirm his faith, for what can be a greater miracle than the creation itself, and his own existence? There is a happiness in Deism, when rightly understood, that is not to be found in any other system of religion. All other systems have something in them that either shock our reason, or are repugnant to it, and man, if he thinks at all, must stifle his reason in order to force himself to believe them. But in Deism our reason and our belief become happily united. The wonderful structure of the universe, and everything we behold in the system of the creation, prove to us, far better than books can do, the existence of a God, and at the same time proclaim His attributes. It is by the exercise of our reason that we are enabled to contemplate God in His works, and imitate Him in His ways. When we see His care and goodness extended over all His creatures, it teaches us our duty toward each other, while it calls forth our gratitude to Him. It is by forgetting God in His works, and running after the books of pretended revelation, that man has wandered from the straight path of duty and happiness, and become by turns the victim of doubt and the dupe of delusion. Except in the first article in the Christian creed, that of believing in God, there is not an article in it but fills the mind with doubt as to the truth of it, the instant man begins to think. Now every article in a creed that is necessary to the happiness and salvation of man, ought to be as evident to the reason and comprehension of man as the first article is, for God has not given us reason for the purpose of confounding us, but that we should use it for our own happiness and His glory. The truth of the first article is proved by God Himself, and is universal; for the creation is of itself demonstration of the existence of a Creator. But the second article, that of God's begetting a son, is not proved in like manner, and stands on no other authority than that of a tale.

November 1, 2010 at 11:55 p.m.
skeptic1234 said...

TP (cont)

Certain books in what is called the New Testament tell us that Joseph dreamed that the angel told him so, (Matthew i, 20): "And behold the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." The evidence upon this article bears no comparison with the evidence upon the first article, and therefore is not entitled to the same credit, and ought not to be made an article in a creed, because the evidence of it is defective, and what evidence there is, is doubtful and suspicious. We do not believe the first article on the authority of books, whether called Bibles or Korans, nor yet on the visionary authority of dreams, but on the authority of God's own visible works in the creation. The nations who never heard of such books, nor of such people as Jews, Christians, or Mahometans, believe the existence of a God as fully as we do, because it is self-evident. The work of man's hands is a proof of the existence of man as fully as his personal appearance would be. When we see a watch, we have as positive evidence of the existence of a watchmaker, as if we saw him; and in like manner the creation is evidence to our reason and our senses of the existence of a Creator. But there is nothing in the works of God that is evidence that He begat a son, nor anything in the system of creation that corroborates such an idea, and, therefore, we are not authorized in believing it. What truth there may be in the story that Mary, before she was married to Joseph, was kept by one of the Roman soldiers, and was with child by him, I leave to be settled between the Jews and Christians. The story however has probability on its side, for her husband Joseph suspected and was jealous of her, and was going to put her away. "Joseph, her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was going to put her away, privately." (Matt. i, 19). I have already said that "whenever we step aside from the first article (that of believing in God), we wander into a labyrinth of uncertainty," and here is evidence of the justness of the remark, for it is impossible for us to decide who was Jesus Christ's father. But presumption can assume anything, and therefore it makes Joseph's dream to be of equal anthority with the existence of God, and to help it on calls it revelation. It is impossible for the mind of man in its serious moments, however it may have been entangled by education, or beset by priestcraft, not to stand still and doubt upon the truth of this article and of its creed.

November 1, 2010 at 11:56 p.m.
skeptic1234 said...

TP (cont)

But this is not all. The second article of the Christian creed having brought the son of Mary into the world (and this Mary, according to the chronological tables, was a girl of only fifteen years of age when this son was born), the next article goes on to account for his being begotten, which was, that when he grew a man he should be put to death, to expiate, they say, the sin that Adam brought into the world by eating an apple or some kind of forbidden fruit. But though this is the creed of the Church of Rome, from whence the Protestants borrowed it, it is a creed which that Church has manufactured of itself, for it is not contained in nor derived from, the book called the New Testament. The four books called the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which give, or pretend to give, the birth, sayings, life, preaching, and death of Jesus Christ, make no mention of what is called the fall of man; nor is the name of Adam to be found in any of those books, which it certainly would be if the writers of them believed that Jesus was begotten, born, and died for the purpose of redeeming mankind from the sin which Adam had brought into the world. Jesus never speaks of Adam himself, of the garden of Eden, nor of what is called the fall of man. But the Church of Rome having set up its new religion, which it called Christianity [but which in truth is Athanasianism/Constantinism], and invented the creed which it named the Apostles's Creed, in which it calls Jesus the only son of God, conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary; things of which it is impossible that man or woman can have any idea, and consequently no belief but in words; and for which there is no authority but the idle story of Joseph's dream in the first chapter of Matthew, which any designing imposter or foolish fanatic might make. It then manufactured the allegories in the book of Genesis into fact, and the allegorical tree of life and the tree of knowledge into real trees, contrary to the belief of the first Christians, and for which there is not the least authority in any of the books of the New Testament; for in none of them is there any mention made of such place as the Garden of Eden, nor of anything that is said to have happened there. But the Church of Rome could not erect the person called Jesus into a Savior of the world without making the allegories in the book of Genesis into fact, though the New Testament, as before observed, gives no authority for it. All at once the allegorical tree of knowledge became, according to the Church, a real tree, the fruit of it real fruit, and the eating of it sinful.

November 1, 2010 at 11:58 p.m.
skeptic1234 said...

TP (cont) As priestcraft was always the enemy of knowledge, because priestcraft supports itself by keeping people in delusion and ignorance, it was consistent with its policy to make the acquisition of knowledge a real sin. The Church of Rome having done this, it then brings forward Jesus the son of Mary as suffering death to redeem mankind from sin, which Adam, it says, had brought into the world by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge. But as it is impossible for reason to believe such a story, because it can see no reason for it, nor have any evidence of it, the Church then tells us we must not regard our reason, but must believe, as it were, and that through thick and thin, as if God had given man reason like a plaything, or a rattle, on purpose to make fun of him. Reason is the forbidden tree of priestcraft, and may serve to explain the allegory of the forbidden tree of knowledge, for we may reasonably suppose the allegory had some meaning and application at the time it was invented. It was the practice of the Eastern nations to convey their meaning by allegory, and relate it in the manner of fact. Jesus followed the same method, yet nobody ever supposed the allegory or parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the Prodigal Son, the ten Virgins, etc., were facts. Why then should the tree of knowledge, which is far more romantic in idea than the parables in the New Testament are, be supposed to be a real tree? The answer to this is, because the Church could not make its new-fangled system, which it called Christianity, hold together without it. To have made Christ to die on account of an allegorical tree would have been too barefaced a fable. But the account, as it is given of Jesus in the New Testament, even visionary as it is, does not support the creed of the Church that he died for the redemption of the world. According to that account he was crucified and buried on the Friday, and rose again in good health on the Sunday morning, for we do not hear that he was sick. This cannot be called dying, and is rather making fun of death than suffering it. There are thousands of men and women also, who if they could know they should come back again in good health in about thirty-six hours, would prefer such kind of death for the sake of the experiment, and to know what the other side of the grave was. Why then should that which would be only a voyage of curious amusement to us, be magnified into merit and suffering in him? If a God, he could not suffer death, for immortality cannot die, and as a man his death could be no more than the death of any other person.

November 1, 2010 at 11:58 p.m.
skeptic1234 said...

TP (cont) The belief of the redemption of Jesus Christ is altogether an invention of the Church of Rome, not the doctrine of the New Testament. What the writers of the New Testament attempted to prove by the story of Jesus is the resurrection of the same body from the grave, which was the belief of the Pharisees, in opposition to the Sadducees (a sect of Jews) who denied it. Paul, who was brought up a Pharisee, labors hard at this for it was the creed of his own Pharisaical Church: I Corinthians xv is full of supposed cases and assertions about the resurrection of the same body, but there is not a word in it about redemption. This chapter makes part of the funeral service of the Episcopal Church. The dogma of the redemption is the fable of priestcraft invented since the time the New Testament was compiled, and the agreeable delusion of it suited with the depravity of immoral livers. When men are taught to ascribe all their crimes and vices to the temptations of the devil, and to believe that Jesus, by his death, rubs all off, and pays their passage to heaven gratis, they become as careless in morals as a spendthrift would be of money, were he told that his father had engaged to pay off all his scores. It is a doctrine not only dangerous to morals in this world, but to our happiness in the next world, because it holds out such a cheap, easy, and lazy way of getting to heaven, as has a tendency to induce men to hug the delusion of it to their own injury. But there are times when men have serious thoughts, and it is at such times, when they begin to think, that they begin to doubt the truth of the Christian religion; and well they may, for it is too fanciful and too full of conjecture, inconsistency, improbability and irrationality, to afford consolation to the thoughtful man. His reason revolts against his creed. He sees that none of its articles are proved, or can be proved. He may believe that such a person as is called Jesus (for Christ was not his name) was born and grew to be a man, because it is no more than a natural and probable case. But who is to prove he is the son of God, that he was begotten by the Holy Ghost? Of these things there can be no proof; and that which admits not of proof, and is against the laws of probability and the order of nature, which God Himself has established, is not an object for belief. God has not given man reason to embarrass him, but to prevent his being imposed upon. He may believe that Jesus was crucified, because many others were crucified, but who is to prove he was crucified for the sins of the world? This article has no evidence, not even in the New Testament; and if it had, where is the proof that the New Testament, in relating things neither probable nor provable, is to be believed as true?

November 2, 2010 at midnight
skeptic1234 said...

TP (cont) When an article in a creed does not admit of proof nor of probability, the salvo is to call it revelation; but this is only putting one difficulty in the place of another, for it is as impossible to prove a thing to be revelation as it is to prove that Mary was gotten with child by the Holy Ghost. Here it is that the religion of Deism is superior to the Christian Religion. It is free from all those invented and torturing articles that shock our reason or injure our humanity, and with which the Christian religion abounds. Its creed is pure, and sublimely simple. It believes in God, and there it rests. It honors reason as the choicest gift of God to man, and the faculty by which he is enabled to contemplate the power, wisdom and goodness of the Creator displayed in the creation; and reposing itself on His protection, both here and hereafter, it avoids all presumptuous beliefs, and rejects, as the fabulous inventions of men, all books pretending to revelation.

November 2, 2010 at midnight
skeptic1234 said...

I am fairly convinced the most intelligent men at the founding of this country (many of whom were Deists, some quoted above) would be Naturalists or atheists if they had the scientific knowledge we have today.

Polytheism was replaced by monotheism, which suggests monotheism (and its gods) will be replaced by Humanism, freethought, Naturalism, agnosticism, and/or atheism. The gods of the past have perished with the societies that invented them- so too the gods of today will suffer the same fate.

All people are atheists, some just go one god further.

November 2, 2010 at 12:07 a.m.
please login to post a comment

Other National Articles

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement
400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.