Sunday, December 03, 2006


Moral Minority by Brooke Allen

"All national 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."
Thomas Paine

By Edward Copeland
If only all the multitude of religious zealots of all stripes, especially the Christian activists who really value political power more than their own beliefs, could be forced to read the great new book Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers by Brooke Allen. Of course, I'm sure this extensively researched book providing multiple examples of how the great founders of American democracy such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton truly felt about the mixing of government and religion would be dismissed by them as fakery and hoaxes akin to the idea that dinosaurs were here first and that evolution happened.

Allen's quick but detailed read focuses first on the six legends listed above before delving into the world that created them and providing lengthy writings by the men themselves explaining their suspicions of religious institutions and how they felt separating them from the fledgling United States were necessary.

"I mix religion with politics as little as possible," Adams once wrote. It's ironic — and frightening — that as technology such as the one you are looking at right now dear reader would never have occurred to the founding fathers, they remain light years ahead of our current political leaders in recognizing the risks religion poses to freedom.

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government," Jefferson wrote. Not surprisingly, Jefferson, perhaps the founding father most influenced by the Enlightenment, left behind the most ample evidence of his hesitation to allow for any institutionalization of religion. "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others," Jefferson wrote. "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 legs ... reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error ... They are the natural enemies of error, and of error only."

I could go on at length citing examples from Allen's book, but instead I highly recommend that anyone interested in historical accuracy and secular inspiration pick up Moral Minority instead.

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I think learning about what some of the great Founding Fathers of American Democracy thought about American Democracy would be enlightening, too!

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