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David Paszkiewicz's letter in the Observer

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Guest Paul

I'm sorry David Paszkiewicz doesn't register and post here. We could have some fascinating discussions, which might be enlightening and useful to the community.

His letter in today's Observer is a perfect example. In it he argues against Michael Newdow and his suit regarding the President's oath of office. Mr. Paszkiewicz also argues that a commitment to a traditional conception of God is the foundation of human rights. There are several major problems with his argument.

1. Michael Newdow's lack of standing in his daughter's case has nothing to do with the present action regarding the President's oath of office. Furthermore, the mere fact that he is not his daughter's custodial parent does not mean he is not interested in his daughter's welfare or that he has no parental rights. It's quite amusing watching Mr. Paszkiewicz work up a lather over how a father is "interfering" with his "born-again, Bible believing Christian" daughter's schooling. The girl was in the second grade when he brought that action. If the shoe was on the other foot and the custodial parent was the atheist, one wonders whether Mr. Paszkiewicz would make a passionate argument that the girl had been brainwashed, and how her Christian non-custodial parent was a hero or even a martyr. Maybe a second-grader is capable of being a "born-again Bible believing Christian," but more likely she was following her custodial parent's lead.

2. Mr. Paszkiewicz then argues that the statement in the Declaration of Independence, "they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights," is not a religious statement. Of course it is. Belief in a Creator is a religious idea. Perhaps if Mr. Paszkiewicz would explain his argument we could have a useful discussion on the subject. On the face of it, his statment makes no sense.

3. He then writes that the Declaration of Independence "makes it clear that rights are not something that are granted by kings or political leaders; they are granted by God!" A study of the history of human rights reveals a very different picture. Most of history is tainted by dominant forces controlling, oppressing and abusing weaker forces. Widespread acknowledgement of human rights is a relatively recent development. It grows out of the 18th Century Enlightenment, along with our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. This was a era of advancing secularization and a secular movement. In particular, our Constitution is a completely secular document. The Framers debated and deliberated on that point, and the choice to adopt a completely secular Constitution was a conscious one. So while one line in the Declaration of Independence references "Creator," our founding legal document, the Constitution, contains no such reference. This means that our country is not a "Christian nation," contrary to what some people claim today. This was made explicit in the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797, which states unequivocally that the "Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." This treaty has the force of American law, and reveals the intent of the Framers, many of whom were in the government at the time. By contrast, the Declaration of Independence has no force of law. The founders may have held religious beliefs, but they understood the importance of keeping those beliefs separate from their official duties.

One can argue that rights are derived from God, but that is just metaphysical speculation. In point of fact, governments have denied people rights throughout history. Christians have not been spared, and on the contrary have in many cases been the abusers and oppressors.

Furthermore, belief in a god is not necessary to a sound conception and practice of human rights. There is a more tangible foundation for human rights: our common humanity. Each of us, and all of us together in our communities and our nations and in the world, either will treat others as our brothers and sisters, loving our neighbors as ourselves, or we will not. If we do, no belief in any conception of God is necessary. If we do not, no belief in any conception of God will save us from being tyrants over those we abuse and oppress. Treating others with dignity and respect is a choice each person makes, and that nations make. Belief in a god is the reason some people say they are doing it, but there is a more tangible and more universal justification.

4. Mr. Paszkiewicz then argues that if "the Michael Newdows of this world succeed in erasing God from public life, people will begin to reject the founding principle that this is 'one nation under God.' It will then be assumed that our rights come from government." First, the phrase "one nation under God" comes from the current pledge of allegiance. The words "under God" were inserted into the pledge in 1953 as part of the McCarthy anti-Communist witch hunts, one of the darkest and most tragic episodes in our history. It is not a founding principle; if it was, the framers of our Constitution would have written it into the Constitution, which they purposefully declined to do.

Second, Mr. Paszkiewicz's argument betrays a characteristic mythical element. Rights don't "come from" anywhere. Either we respect and honor other people or we don't. Governments can proclaim a universal commitment to rights, but as we have seen in our own country, sometimes such claims are empty, as they were for Native Americans and African-American slaves for a very long time. We can champion human rights, and we should, but at the end of the day, a nation's commitment to human rights is only as good as that nation's fidelity to core principles. Those principles have nothing to do with what Mr. Paszkiewicz calls God. They are simple virtues like kindness and equal treatment for all. People either abide by them, or they don't.

Mr. Paszkiewicz seems to think that his religious ideas make human rights more secure. I believe that his ideas make human rights less secure, because the best foundation for an idea is its true and known foundation, not a guess or a speculation. In his conceptualization, values are buffered from their known source, which tends to obscure them. Mr. Paszkiewicz is entitled to his religious beliefs, but they are not universally shared or based on anything that is objectively true. By contrast, our common humanity is an observable fact. That is the soundest foundation for human rights. Acknowledging each person's humanity is the soundest reason for treating others as we wish to be treated.

5. Then Mr. Paszkiewicz writes: "The danger is this, if citizens believe government to be the giver of rights, they will then believe government has the right to take them away." As discussed above, the premise is faulty. Equally important, governments have been taking rights away throughout history. Governments in Christian nations have been among the worst offenders. Nazi Germany, for example, was a predominantly Christian nation, whose persecution of Jews is epic. If one takes the United States as a shining example of commitment to human rights, then how does one explain slavery, imperialism and genocide against the Native American peoples? There is no evidence that the dominant Christian culture in these nations helped them be any less oppressive; on the contrary, in the United States the Bible was offered as an excuse for slavery and in Germany persecution was explicitly on religious and ethnic grounds. The danger is a function of human greed and self-service. As Reinhold Niebuhr wrote, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible. Man’s inclination toward injustice makes democracy necessary.” Democracy is the best form of government because its very form assumes universal equality and participation. But as we see over and over, there are no guarantees in a democracy. It is only as good as the work people put into it. People can shout their belief in God to the skies, it won't make the slightest difference unless they are putting human values into action.

6. Finally, Mr. Paszkiewicz writes" "Those who think it is trendy to protest American traditions ought to consider this each time they attack our pledge." I wish the gentleman would walk a mile in my shoes or the shoes of anyone who dares point out to the dominant Christian majority in the United States how it is not keeping its commitment to the central Christian value, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." I know of no one who stands up against abuses and overreaching by this country's Christian majority because it is "trendy." It isn't trendy. On the contrary, taking such a stand draws abuse and contempt, as I have seen firsthand and as has been displayed on this forum repeatedly. I hesitate to use the words thoughtless and dismissive, but they do come to mind.

And we are not attacking the pledge of allegiance. We are protesting the hypocrisy and other inconsistencies in the way the pledge is being misused as a vehicle of indoctrination. We are protesting the fact that a national pledge, which should speak for us all, has been rendered sectarian by the inclusion of the words "under God." As always, the test is whether a nation's people are living the values they claim to hold. I have argued that we have just gone through an era of irresponsibility. I think most Americans are coming to realize that. We need to turn the page, restore civic virtue and reawaken our common commitment to human values. I can be fully a part of that effort because belief in God is not the test; fidelity to human values is.

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Guest 2smart4u
I'm sorry David Paszkiewicz doesn't register and post here. We could have some fascinating discussions, which might be enlightening and useful to the community.

His letter in today's Observer is a perfect example. In it he argues against Michael Newdow and his suit regarding the President's oath of office. Mr. Paszkiewicz also argues that a commitment to a traditional conception of God is the foundation of human rights. There are several major problems with his argument.

1. Michael Newdow's lack of standing in his daughter's case has nothing to do with the present action regarding the President's oath of office. Furthermore, the mere fact that he is not his daughter's custodial parent does not mean he is not interested in his daughter's welfare or that he has no parental rights. It's quite amusing watching Mr. Paszkiewicz work up a lather over how a father is "interfering" with his "born-again, Bible believing Christian" daughter's schooling. The girl was in the second grade when he brought that action. If the shoe was on the other foot and the custodial parent was the atheist, one wonders whether Mr. Paszkiewicz would make a passionate argument that the girl had been brainwashed, and how her Christian non-custodial parent was a hero or even a martyr. Maybe a second-grader is capable of being a "born-again Bible believing Christian," but more likely she was following her custodial parent's lead.

2. Mr. Paszkiewicz then argues that the statement in the Declaration of Independence, "they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights," is not a religious statement. Of course it is. Belief in a Creator is a religious idea. Perhaps if Mr. Paszkiewicz would explain his argument we could have a useful discussion on the subject. On the face of it, his statment makes no sense.

3. He then writes that the Declaration of Independence "makes it clear that rights are not something that are granted by kings or political leaders; they are granted by God!" A study of the history of human rights reveals a very different picture. Most of history is tainted by dominant forces controlling, oppressing and abusing weaker forces. Widespread acknowledgement of human rights is a relatively recent development. It grows out of the 18th Century Enlightenment, along with our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. This was a era of advancing secularization and a secular movement. In particular, our Constitution is a completely secular document. The Framers debated and deliberated on that point, and the choice to adopt a completely secular Constitution was a conscious one. So while one line in the Declaration of Independence references "Creator," our founding legal document, the Constitution, contains no such reference. This means that our country is not a "Christian nation," contrary to what some people claim today. This was made explicit in the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797, which states unequivocally that the "Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." This treaty has the force of American law, and reveals the intent of the Framers, many of whom were in the government at the time. By contrast, the Declaration of Independence has no force of law. The founders may have held religious beliefs, but they understood the importance of keeping those beliefs separate from their official duties.

One can argue that rights are derived from God, but that is just metaphysical speculation. In point of fact, governments have denied people rights throughout history. Christians have not been spared, and on the contrary have in many cases been the abusers and oppressors.

Furthermore, belief in a god is not necessary to a sound conception and practice of human rights. There is a more tangible foundation for human rights: our common humanity. Each of us, and all of us together in our communities and our nations and in the world, either will treat others as our brothers and sisters, loving our neighbors as ourselves, or we will not. If we do, no belief in any conception of God is necessary. If we do not, no belief in any conception of God will save us from being tyrants over those we abuse and oppress. Treating others with dignity and respect is a choice each person makes, and that nations make. Belief in a god is the reason some people say they are doing it, but there is a more tangible and more universal justification.

4. Mr. Paszkiewicz then argues that if "the Michael Newdows of this world succeed in erasing God from public life, people will begin to reject the founding principle that this is 'one nation under God.' It will then be assumed that our rights come from government." First, the phrase "one nation under God" comes from the current pledge of allegiance. The words "under God" were inserted into the pledge in 1953 as part of the McCarthy anti-Communist witch hunts, one of the darkest and most tragic episodes in our history. It is not a founding principle; if it was, the framers of our Constitution would have written it into the Constitution, which they purposefully declined to do.

Second, Mr. Paszkiewicz's argument betrays a characteristic mythical element. Rights don't "come from" anywhere. Either we respect and honor other people or we don't. Governments can proclaim a universal commitment to rights, but as we have seen in our own country, sometimes such claims are empty, as they were for Native Americans and African-American slaves for a very long time. We can champion human rights, and we should, but at the end of the day, a nation's commitment to human rights is only as good as that nation's fidelity to core principles. Those principles have nothing to do with what Mr. Paszkiewicz calls God. They are simple virtues like kindness and equal treatment for all. People either abide by them, or they don't.

Mr. Paszkiewicz seems to think that his religious ideas make human rights more secure. I believe that his ideas make human rights less secure, because the best foundation for an idea is its true and known foundation, not a guess or a speculation. In his conceptualization, values are buffered from their known source, which tends to obscure them. Mr. Paszkiewicz is entitled to his religious beliefs, but they are not universally shared or based on anything that is objectively true. By contrast, our common humanity is an observable fact. That is the soundest foundation for human rights. Acknowledging each person's humanity is the soundest reason for treating others as we wish to be treated.

5. Then Mr. Paszkiewicz writes: "The danger is this, if citizens believe government to be the giver of rights, they will then believe government has the right to take them away." As discussed above, the premise is faulty. Equally important, governments have been taking rights away throughout history. Governments in Christian nations have been among the worst offenders. Nazi Germany, for example, was a predominantly Christian nation, whose persecution of Jews is epic. If one takes the United States as a shining example of commitment to human rights, then how does one explain slavery, imperialism and genocide against the Native American peoples? There is no evidence that the dominant Christian culture in these nations helped them be any less oppressive; on the contrary, in the United States the Bible was offered as an excuse for slavery and in Germany persecution was explicitly on religious and ethnic grounds. The danger is a function of human greed and self-service. As Reinhold Niebuhr wrote, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible. Man’s inclination toward injustice makes democracy necessary.” Democracy is the best form of government because its very form assumes universal equality and participation. But as we see over and over, there are no guarantees in a democracy. It is only as good as the work people put into it. People can shout their belief in God to the skies, it won't make the slightest difference unless they are putting human values into action.

6. Finally, Mr. Paszkiewicz writes" "Those who think it is trendy to protest American traditions ought to consider this each time they attack our pledge." I wish the gentleman would walk a mile in my shoes or the shoes of anyone who dares point out to the dominant Christian majority in the United States how it is not keeping its commitment to the central Christian value, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." I know of no one who stands up against abuses and overreaching by this country's Christian majority because it is "trendy." It isn't trendy. On the contrary, taking such a stand draws abuse and contempt, as I have seen firsthand and as has been displayed on this forum repeatedly. I hesitate to use the words thoughtless and dismissive, but they do come to mind.

And we are not attacking the pledge of allegiance. We are protesting the hypocrisy and other inconsistencies in the way the pledge is being misused as a vehicle of indoctrination. We are protesting the fact that a national pledge, which should speak for us all, has been rendered sectarian by the inclusion of the words "under God." As always, the test is whether a nation's people are living the values they claim to hold. I have argued that we have just gone through an era of irresponsibility. I think most Americans are coming to realize that. We need to turn the page, restore civic virtue and reawaken our common commitment to human values. I can be fully a part of that effort because belief in God is not the test; fidelity to human values is.

12 paragraphs to tell us you don't agree with Pasziewicz. Good Grief !!

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To the Publisher:

I’m writing to express my appreciation for your column last week “Taking God Out.” The ongoing battle to remove any reference to God from public life is not only tiresome it is downright foolish. In your reference to Michael Newdow’s latest attempt to remove God from the traditional inauguration ceremonies, you mentioned that he may be America’s least favorite atheist. Well, if he isn’t, he ought to be.

In his original attempt to have the Pledge of Allegiance banned from schools, he sued on behalf of his second grade daughter. Sadly, few knew that he wasn’t married to her mother and didn’t have custody of her. The little girl was actually a born-again, Bible believing Christian (along with her mother) and she was not at all uncomfortable reciting the pledge. The fact is Newdow had no standing in the case. He used his daughter in order to advance his own agenda.

Newdow’s thinking demonstrates a dangerous shift from the thinking of our Founding Fathers. They understood clearly that our rights come from God; we are born with them. The Declaration of Independence states: “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…” This is not a religious statement; it is a profound philosophical and political statement. It makes it clear that rights are not something that are granted by kings or political leaders; they are granted by God!

In addition, the Declaration makes it clear that the purpose of government is to protect our God-given rights. If the Michael Newdows of this world succeed in erasing God from public life, people will begin to reject the founding principle that this is “one nation under God.” It will then be assumed that our rights come from government.

The danger is this, if citizens believe government to be the giver of rights, they will then begin to believe government has the right to take them away. Those who think it is trendy to protest American traditions ought to consider this each time they attack our pledge.

David Paszkiewicz

Kearny

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I'm sorry David Paszkiewicz doesn't register and post here. We could have some fascinating discussions, which might be enlightening and useful to the community.

His letter in today's Observer is a perfect example. In it he argues against Michael Newdow and his suit regarding the President's oath of office. Mr. Paszkiewicz also argues that a commitment to a traditional conception of God is the foundation of human rights. There are several major problems with his argument.

1. Michael Newdow's lack of standing in his daughter's case has nothing to do with the present action regarding the President's oath of office. Furthermore, the mere fact that he is not his daughter's custodial parent does not mean he is not interested in his daughter's welfare or that he has no parental rights. It's quite amusing watching Mr. Paszkiewicz work up a lather over how a father is "interfering" with his "born-again, Bible believing Christian" daughter's schooling. The girl was in the second grade when he brought that action. If the shoe was on the other foot and the custodial parent was the atheist, one wonders whether Mr. Paszkiewicz would make a passionate argument that the girl had been brainwashed, and how her Christian non-custodial parent was a hero or even a martyr. Maybe a second-grader is capable of being a "born-again Bible believing Christian," but more likely she was following her custodial parent's lead.

2. Mr. Paszkiewicz then argues that the statement in the Declaration of Independence, "they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights," is not a religious statement. Of course it is. Belief in a Creator is a religious idea. Perhaps if Mr. Paszkiewicz would explain his argument we could have a useful discussion on the subject. On the face of it, his statment makes no sense.

3. He then writes that the Declaration of Independence "makes it clear that rights are not something that are granted by kings or political leaders; they are granted by God!" A study of the history of human rights reveals a very different picture. Most of history is tainted by dominant forces controlling, oppressing and abusing weaker forces. Widespread acknowledgement of human rights is a relatively recent development. It grows out of the 18th Century Enlightenment, along with our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. This was a era of advancing secularization and a secular movement. In particular, our Constitution is a completely secular document. The Framers debated and deliberated on that point, and the choice to adopt a completely secular Constitution was a conscious one. So while one line in the Declaration of Independence references "Creator," our founding legal document, the Constitution, contains no such reference. This means that our country is not a "Christian nation," contrary to what some people claim today. This was made explicit in the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797, which states unequivocally that the "Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." This treaty has the force of American law, and reveals the intent of the Framers, many of whom were in the government at the time. By contrast, the Declaration of Independence has no force of law. The founders may have held religious beliefs, but they understood the importance of keeping those beliefs separate from their official duties.

One can argue that rights are derived from God, but that is just metaphysical speculation. In point of fact, governments have denied people rights throughout history. Christians have not been spared, and on the contrary have in many cases been the abusers and oppressors.

Furthermore, belief in a god is not necessary to a sound conception and practice of human rights. There is a more tangible foundation for human rights: our common humanity. Each of us, and all of us together in our communities and our nations and in the world, either will treat others as our brothers and sisters, loving our neighbors as ourselves, or we will not. If we do, no belief in any conception of God is necessary. If we do not, no belief in any conception of God will save us from being tyrants over those we abuse and oppress. Treating others with dignity and respect is a choice each person makes, and that nations make. Belief in a god is the reason some people say they are doing it, but there is a more tangible and more universal justification.

4. Mr. Paszkiewicz then argues that if "the Michael Newdows of this world succeed in erasing God from public life, people will begin to reject the founding principle that this is 'one nation under God.' It will then be assumed that our rights come from government." First, the phrase "one nation under God" comes from the current pledge of allegiance. The words "under God" were inserted into the pledge in 1953 as part of the McCarthy anti-Communist witch hunts, one of the darkest and most tragic episodes in our history. It is not a founding principle; if it was, the framers of our Constitution would have written it into the Constitution, which they purposefully declined to do.

Second, Mr. Paszkiewicz's argument betrays a characteristic mythical element. Rights don't "come from" anywhere. Either we respect and honor other people or we don't. Governments can proclaim a universal commitment to rights, but as we have seen in our own country, sometimes such claims are empty, as they were for Native Americans and African-American slaves for a very long time. We can champion human rights, and we should, but at the end of the day, a nation's commitment to human rights is only as good as that nation's fidelity to core principles. Those principles have nothing to do with what Mr. Paszkiewicz calls God. They are simple virtues like kindness and equal treatment for all. People either abide by them, or they don't.

Mr. Paszkiewicz seems to think that his religious ideas make human rights more secure. I believe that his ideas make human rights less secure, because the best foundation for an idea is its true and known foundation, not a guess or a speculation. In his conceptualization, values are buffered from their known source, which tends to obscure them. Mr. Paszkiewicz is entitled to his religious beliefs, but they are not universally shared or based on anything that is objectively true. By contrast, our common humanity is an observable fact. That is the soundest foundation for human rights. Acknowledging each person's humanity is the soundest reason for treating others as we wish to be treated.

5. Then Mr. Paszkiewicz writes: "The danger is this, if citizens believe government to be the giver of rights, they will then believe government has the right to take them away." As discussed above, the premise is faulty. Equally important, governments have been taking rights away throughout history. Governments in Christian nations have been among the worst offenders. Nazi Germany, for example, was a predominantly Christian nation, whose persecution of Jews is epic. If one takes the United States as a shining example of commitment to human rights, then how does one explain slavery, imperialism and genocide against the Native American peoples? There is no evidence that the dominant Christian culture in these nations helped them be any less oppressive; on the contrary, in the United States the Bible was offered as an excuse for slavery and in Germany persecution was explicitly on religious and ethnic grounds. The danger is a function of human greed and self-service. As Reinhold Niebuhr wrote, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible. Man’s inclination toward injustice makes democracy necessary.” Democracy is the best form of government because its very form assumes universal equality and participation. But as we see over and over, there are no guarantees in a democracy. It is only as good as the work people put into it. People can shout their belief in God to the skies, it won't make the slightest difference unless they are putting human values into action.

6. Finally, Mr. Paszkiewicz writes" "Those who think it is trendy to protest American traditions ought to consider this each time they attack our pledge." I wish the gentleman would walk a mile in my shoes or the shoes of anyone who dares point out to the dominant Christian majority in the United States how it is not keeping its commitment to the central Christian value, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." I know of no one who stands up against abuses and overreaching by this country's Christian majority because it is "trendy." It isn't trendy. On the contrary, taking such a stand draws abuse and contempt, as I have seen firsthand and as has been displayed on this forum repeatedly. I hesitate to use the words thoughtless and dismissive, but they do come to mind.

And we are not attacking the pledge of allegiance. We are protesting the hypocrisy and other inconsistencies in the way the pledge is being misused as a vehicle of indoctrination. We are protesting the fact that a national pledge, which should speak for us all, has been rendered sectarian by the inclusion of the words "under God." As always, the test is whether a nation's people are living the values they claim to hold. I have argued that we have just gone through an era of irresponsibility. I think most Americans are coming to realize that. We need to turn the page, restore civic virtue and reawaken our common commitment to human values. I can be fully a part of that effort because belief in God is not the test; fidelity to human values is.

Couldn't have said it better myself. I have heard the argument regarding the Declaration over and over again as evidence that our forefathers were all Christians with Christian idealogy. Granted, some of them were probably Christians but Thomas Jefferson, the priciple author of the Declaration was at best a Diest. He believed in the god of "nature" and the natural world. The fact that it says "creator" does not necessarily indicate reference to a god. We were all created-no doubt but there is much interpretation as to the origin of our creation.

I agree with your argument regarding Mike Newdow and his representation of his daughter. California is a community property state and they make no exceptions when dealing with custody issues. Unless a parent is abusive or incarcerated or has substance abuse problems. joint legal custody is almost always the precedent. Mike should have just as much right to file a complaint on behalf of his daughter as the child's mother does. I live in California and have primary custody of my daughters but I share legal custody with my former husband. As I said in another post, a few years ago, my now 13 year old daugter was forced by her father to undergo an underwater baptism against her will. When she told me about this, there was nothing legally I could do. Although I have not discussed this openly with Mike, I can understand the frustration that he felt at his case being thrown out on a technicality that should not have been an issue in the first place. I believe the court was just looking for a way to not have to entertain the issue at hand. We live in the same county here in Sacramento and I know how the Family Court works here. It's very frustrating.

If people believe so strongly in the PLedge and what it stands for they should have no problem restoring it to it's former glory before it was corrupted in the 1950s. Like any piece of work, the government did not get permission from the author of the pledge to alter it. It was written to be a statement that could be made by any American citizen.

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12 paragraphs to tell us you don't agree with Pasziewicz. Good Grief !!

He did more than tell you he doesn't agree. He gave you reasons. Basically, Paszkiewicz is an ultra-right-wing religious zealot who wants the government to support his religion. It's not like we don't all know that.

One thing is constant, though. Paul writes twelve paragraphs, you write a sentence or two and don't say anything. He writes one paragraph, you write a sentence or two and don't say anything.

You know, sometimes people write things that are longer than twelve paragraphs. They're called books. You should try reading one sometime.

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12 paragraphs to tell us you don't agree with Pasziewicz. Good Grief !!

Just imagine. By reallocating the 20 minutes it took you to count those 12 paragraphs, you might have been able to read one of them.

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12 paragraphs to tell us you don't agree with Pasziewicz. Good Grief !!

One sentence to say absolutely nothing. Why bother?

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Couldn't have said it better myself. I have heard the argument regarding the Declaration over and over again as evidence that our forefathers were all Christians with Christian idealogy. Granted, some of them were probably Christians but Thomas Jefferson, the priciple author of the Declaration was at best a Diest. He believed in the god of "nature" and the natural world. The fact that it says "creator" does not necessarily indicate reference to a god. We were all created-no doubt but there is much interpretation as to the origin of our creation.

I agree with your argument regarding Mike Newdow and his representation of his daughter. California is a community property state and they make no exceptions when dealing with custody issues. Unless a parent is abusive or incarcerated or has substance abuse problems. joint legal custody is almost always the precedent. Mike should have just as much right to file a complaint on behalf of his daughter as the child's mother does. I live in California and have primary custody of my daughters but I share legal custody with my former husband. As I said in another post, a few years ago, my now 13 year old daugter was forced by her father to undergo an underwater baptism against her will. When she told me about this, there was nothing legally I could do. Although I have not discussed this openly with Mike, I can understand the frustration that he felt at his case being thrown out on a technicality that should not have been an issue in the first place. I believe the court was just looking for a way to not have to entertain the issue at hand. We live in the same county here in Sacramento and I know how the Family Court works here. It's very frustrating.

If people believe so strongly in the PLedge and what it stands for they should have no problem restoring it to it's former glory before it was corrupted in the 1950s. Like any piece of work, the government did not get permission from the author of the pledge to alter it. It was written to be a statement that could be made by any American citizen.

"Some of them were probably Christians". I think all of them had a Christian background which is what formed their ideals and inspired The Declaration and The Constitution.

Newdow is using his child as a pawn and should be ashamed.

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Guest Patriot
To the Publisher:

I’m writing to express my appreciation for your column last week “Taking God Out.” The ongoing battle to remove any reference to God from public life is not only tiresome it is downright foolish. In your reference to Michael Newdow’s latest attempt to remove God from the traditional inauguration ceremonies, you mentioned that he may be America’s least favorite atheist. Well, if he isn’t, he ought to be.

In his original attempt to have the Pledge of Allegiance banned from schools, he sued on behalf of his second grade daughter. Sadly, few knew that he wasn’t married to her mother and didn’t have custody of her. The little girl was actually a born-again, Bible believing Christian (along with her mother) and she was not at all uncomfortable reciting the pledge. The fact is Newdow had no standing in the case. He used his daughter in order to advance his own agenda.

Newdow’s thinking demonstrates a dangerous shift from the thinking of our Founding Fathers. They understood clearly that our rights come from God; we are born with them. The Declaration of Independence states: “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…” This is not a religious statement; it is a profound philosophical and political statement. It makes it clear that rights are not something that are granted by kings or political leaders; they are granted by God!

In addition, the Declaration makes it clear that the purpose of government is to protect our God-given rights. If the Michael Newdows of this world succeed in erasing God from public life, people will begin to reject the founding principle that this is “one nation under God.” It will then be assumed that our rights come from government.

The danger is this, if citizens believe government to be the giver of rights, they will then begin to believe government has the right to take them away. Those who think it is trendy to protest American traditions ought to consider this each time they attack our pledge.

David Paszkiewicz

Kearny

You have the support of many, many people, including myself. Newdow is an angry, mean-spirited, malicious, never smiling wretch. It's just incomprehensible to me that he has a following anywhere but Hell.

But like I've said here before, America is 80+% Christian and we wil not give in to the Newdows of the country that want to take God out of our lives.

Keep up the good fight. Semper Fi

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"Some of them were probably Christians". I think all of them had a Christian background which is what formed their ideals and inspired The Declaration and The Constitution.

Newdow is using his child as a pawn and should be ashamed.

I also have a Christian background but it doesn't form my ideas and thoughts. I think anyone coming from that part of the world at that time had no choice but to have a "christian" background. I noticed you did not comment on the fact that Thomas Jefferson was a Diest.

Mike Newdow has just as much right as a parent to speak on behalf of his child. You don't know the whole story. He is a loving father and his parental rights have nothing to do with whether or not he was married to the mother. If she was such a devout Christian-why did she allow herself to become pregnant by a man she was not married to and who didn't share her beliefs? And how is a 7 year old a Bible believing Christian? Brainwashing

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Guest Lincoln Logger
Couldn't have said it better myself. I have heard the argument regarding the Declaration over and over again as evidence that our forefathers were all Christians with Christian idealogy. Granted, some of them were probably Christians but Thomas Jefferson, the priciple author of the Declaration was at best a Diest. He believed in the god of "nature" and the natural world. The fact that it says "creator" does not necessarily indicate reference to a god. We were all created-no doubt but there is much interpretation as to the origin of our creation.

I agree with your argument regarding Mike Newdow and his representation of his daughter. California is a community property state and they make no exceptions when dealing with custody issues. Unless a parent is abusive or incarcerated or has substance abuse problems. joint legal custody is almost always the precedent. Mike should have just as much right to file a complaint on behalf of his daughter as the child's mother does. I live in California and have primary custody of my daughters but I share legal custody with my former husband. As I said in another post, a few years ago, my now 13 year old daugter was forced by her father to undergo an underwater baptism against her will. When she told me about this, there was nothing legally I could do. Although I have not discussed this openly with Mike, I can understand the frustration that he felt at his case being thrown out on a technicality that should not have been an issue in the first place. I believe the court was just looking for a way to not have to entertain the issue at hand. We live in the same county here in Sacramento and I know how the Family Court works here. It's very frustrating.

If people believe so strongly in the PLedge and what it stands for they should have no problem restoring it to it's former glory before it was corrupted in the 1950s. Like any piece of work, the government did not get permission from the author of the pledge to alter it. It was written to be a statement that could be made by any American citizen.

Does anyone else wonder what a divorced mother and nurse from supposedly Sacramento, California is doing posting here on Kearny on the Web? Someone who knows so much about the court system and just who happens to agree with every comment that Paul says. Maybe if she wasn't on the computer so much she just might be still married? Just food for thought.

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I'm sorry David Paszkiewicz doesn't register and post here. We could have some fascinating discussions, which might be enlightening and useful to the community.

His letter in today's Observer is a perfect example. In it he argues against Michael Newdow and his suit regarding the President's oath of office. Mr. Paszkiewicz also argues that a commitment to a traditional conception of God is the foundation of human rights. There are several major problems with his argument.

1. Michael Newdow's lack of standing in his daughter's case has nothing to do with the present action regarding the President's oath of office. Furthermore, the mere fact that he is not his daughter's custodial parent does not mean he is not interested in his daughter's welfare or that he has no parental rights. It's quite amusing watching Mr. Paszkiewicz work up a lather over how a father is "interfering" with his "born-again, Bible believing Christian" daughter's schooling. The girl was in the second grade when he brought that action. If the shoe was on the other foot and the custodial parent was the atheist, one wonders whether Mr. Paszkiewicz would make a passionate argument that the girl had been brainwashed, and how her Christian non-custodial parent was a hero or even a martyr. Maybe a second-grader is capable of being a "born-again Bible believing Christian," but more likely she was following her custodial parent's lead.

2. Mr. Paszkiewicz then argues that the statement in the Declaration of Independence, "they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights," is not a religious statement. Of course it is. Belief in a Creator is a religious idea. Perhaps if Mr. Paszkiewicz would explain his argument we could have a useful discussion on the subject. On the face of it, his statment makes no sense.

3. He then writes that the Declaration of Independence "makes it clear that rights are not something that are granted by kings or political leaders; they are granted by God!" A study of the history of human rights reveals a very different picture. Most of history is tainted by dominant forces controlling, oppressing and abusing weaker forces. Widespread acknowledgement of human rights is a relatively recent development. It grows out of the 18th Century Enlightenment, along with our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. This was a era of advancing secularization and a secular movement. In particular, our Constitution is a completely secular document. The Framers debated and deliberated on that point, and the choice to adopt a completely secular Constitution was a conscious one. So while one line in the Declaration of Independence references "Creator," our founding legal document, the Constitution, contains no such reference. This means that our country is not a "Christian nation," contrary to what some people claim today. This was made explicit in the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797, which states unequivocally that the "Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." This treaty has the force of American law, and reveals the intent of the Framers, many of whom were in the government at the time. By contrast, the Declaration of Independence has no force of law. The founders may have held religious beliefs, but they understood the importance of keeping those beliefs separate from their official duties.

One can argue that rights are derived from God, but that is just metaphysical speculation. In point of fact, governments have denied people rights throughout history. Christians have not been spared, and on the contrary have in many cases been the abusers and oppressors.

Furthermore, belief in a god is not necessary to a sound conception and practice of human rights. There is a more tangible foundation for human rights: our common humanity. Each of us, and all of us together in our communities and our nations and in the world, either will treat others as our brothers and sisters, loving our neighbors as ourselves, or we will not. If we do, no belief in any conception of God is necessary. If we do not, no belief in any conception of God will save us from being tyrants over those we abuse and oppress. Treating others with dignity and respect is a choice each person makes, and that nations make. Belief in a god is the reason some people say they are doing it, but there is a more tangible and more universal justification.

4. Mr. Paszkiewicz then argues that if "the Michael Newdows of this world succeed in erasing God from public life, people will begin to reject the founding principle that this is 'one nation under God.' It will then be assumed that our rights come from government." First, the phrase "one nation under God" comes from the current pledge of allegiance. The words "under God" were inserted into the pledge in 1953 as part of the McCarthy anti-Communist witch hunts, one of the darkest and most tragic episodes in our history. It is not a founding principle; if it was, the framers of our Constitution would have written it into the Constitution, which they purposefully declined to do.

Second, Mr. Paszkiewicz's argument betrays a characteristic mythical element. Rights don't "come from" anywhere. Either we respect and honor other people or we don't. Governments can proclaim a universal commitment to rights, but as we have seen in our own country, sometimes such claims are empty, as they were for Native Americans and African-American slaves for a very long time. We can champion human rights, and we should, but at the end of the day, a nation's commitment to human rights is only as good as that nation's fidelity to core principles. Those principles have nothing to do with what Mr. Paszkiewicz calls God. They are simple virtues like kindness and equal treatment for all. People either abide by them, or they don't.

Mr. Paszkiewicz seems to think that his religious ideas make human rights more secure. I believe that his ideas make human rights less secure, because the best foundation for an idea is its true and known foundation, not a guess or a speculation. In his conceptualization, values are buffered from their known source, which tends to obscure them. Mr. Paszkiewicz is entitled to his religious beliefs, but they are not universally shared or based on anything that is objectively true. By contrast, our common humanity is an observable fact. That is the soundest foundation for human rights. Acknowledging each person's humanity is the soundest reason for treating others as we wish to be treated.

5. Then Mr. Paszkiewicz writes: "The danger is this, if citizens believe government to be the giver of rights, they will then believe government has the right to take them away." As discussed above, the premise is faulty. Equally important, governments have been taking rights away throughout history. Governments in Christian nations have been among the worst offenders. Nazi Germany, for example, was a predominantly Christian nation, whose persecution of Jews is epic. If one takes the United States as a shining example of commitment to human rights, then how does one explain slavery, imperialism and genocide against the Native American peoples? There is no evidence that the dominant Christian culture in these nations helped them be any less oppressive; on the contrary, in the United States the Bible was offered as an excuse for slavery and in Germany persecution was explicitly on religious and ethnic grounds. The danger is a function of human greed and self-service. As Reinhold Niebuhr wrote, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible. Man’s inclination toward injustice makes democracy necessary.” Democracy is the best form of government because its very form assumes universal equality and participation. But as we see over and over, there are no guarantees in a democracy. It is only as good as the work people put into it. People can shout their belief in God to the skies, it won't make the slightest difference unless they are putting human values into action.

6. Finally, Mr. Paszkiewicz writes" "Those who think it is trendy to protest American traditions ought to consider this each time they attack our pledge." I wish the gentleman would walk a mile in my shoes or the shoes of anyone who dares point out to the dominant Christian majority in the United States how it is not keeping its commitment to the central Christian value, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." I know of no one who stands up against abuses and overreaching by this country's Christian majority because it is "trendy." It isn't trendy. On the contrary, taking such a stand draws abuse and contempt, as I have seen firsthand and as has been displayed on this forum repeatedly. I hesitate to use the words thoughtless and dismissive, but they do come to mind.

And we are not attacking the pledge of allegiance. We are protesting the hypocrisy and other inconsistencies in the way the pledge is being misused as a vehicle of indoctrination. We are protesting the fact that a national pledge, which should speak for us all, has been rendered sectarian by the inclusion of the words "under God." As always, the test is whether a nation's people are living the values they claim to hold. I have argued that we have just gone through an era of irresponsibility. I think most Americans are coming to realize that. We need to turn the page, restore civic virtue and reawaken our common commitment to human values. I can be fully a part of that effort because belief in God is not the test; fidelity to human values is.

Did anyone else not believe that Paul was not going to go after Paszkiewicz on this one? Paul has been going on a witch hunt after this person since before junior was even in his class. And Paul claims that we have gone through an age of irresponsibility. We have and mostly because of people exactly like Paul is the reason why. Many of the ideals of behavior and responsibly have come from religion. It is that same religion the he protests against. He wants an “awakening”, but he doesn’t say from what? People in general need guidelines to follow. Otherwise people and free thinkers think it ok to piss on Paul’s grave when he is gone. After all what else do they have to go on other than to do as they believe they should? Respectfully speaking of course.

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"Some of them were probably Christians". I think all of them had a Christian background which is what formed their ideals and inspired The Declaration and The Constitution.

Newdow is using his child as a pawn and should be ashamed.

OK, let's pretend all of them were Christians even though we know that many of them were deists. If you were right, it would have been very simple for them to write a Christian Constitution. They chose not to. How do you explain their choice?

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"Some of them were probably Christians". I think all of them had a Christian background which is what formed their ideals and inspired The Declaration and The Constitution.

Newdow is using his child as a pawn and should be ashamed.

Sounds like a local atheist I know. :blink:

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"Some of them were probably Christians". I think all of them had a Christian background which is what formed their ideals and inspired The Declaration and The Constitution.

Newdow is using his child as a pawn and should be ashamed.

Do you really think that only a Christian could have come up with those documents or held those ideals? Jefferson, who was the primary author of the Declaration, specifically and repeatedly wrote that he did not believe Jesus was anything but a man, and he repeatedly criticized the supernatural elements of Christian theology. In fact, he literally cut entire sections out of his Bible to excise the supernatural miracles and other fantastic tales he didn't find believable. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible http://www.angelfire.com/co/JeffersonBible/jeffbsyl.html

But you know, it doesn't even matter. If every founding father had been a member of the CBA like Mr. Paszkiewicz is, the morally right thing to do wouldn't change. There is no reason and no justification for government picking sides on religion. People are free to choose their religion. It is a sacred individual right. Unfortunately, you want to have it both ways. You want to say you're treating everyone equally, but any time you have to make a choice, you have no trouble at all treating your own religion as superior to mine.

You don't see it that way? That's the problem.

Of course, I have a Christian background. Is my opinion authoritative on that basis?

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Does anyone else wonder what a divorced mother and nurse from supposedly Sacramento, California is doing posting here on Kearny on the Web? Someone who knows so much about the court system and just who happens to agree with every comment that Paul says. Maybe if she wasn't on the computer so much she just might be still married? Just food for thought.

A California girl discovers KOTW and just happens to be a leftist atheist who hates Bush and loves Newdow, just like Paul ! Go figure.

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Does anyone else wonder what a divorced mother and nurse from supposedly Sacramento, California is doing posting here on Kearny on the Web? Someone who knows so much about the court system and just who happens to agree with every comment that Paul says. Maybe if she wasn't on the computer so much she just might be still married? Just food for thought.

I see you crawled out of your sewer to give us one of your nasty and mean comments. What was the point of your comment besides being nasty?

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Does anyone else wonder what a divorced mother and nurse from supposedly Sacramento, California is doing posting here on Kearny on the Web? Someone who knows so much about the court system and just who happens to agree with every comment that Paul says. Maybe if she wasn't on the computer so much she just might be still married? Just food for thought.

Are you speaking as an example of the Christian community? Most Christians I know would call a remark like that obnoxious.

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Did anyone else not believe that Paul was not going to go after Paszkiewicz on this one? Paul has been going on a witch hunt after this person since before junior was even in his class. And Paul claims that we have gone through an age of irresponsibility. We have and mostly because of people exactly like Paul is the reason why. Many of the ideals of behavior and responsibly have come from religion. It is that same religion the he protests against. He wants an “awakening”, but he doesn’t say from what? People in general need guidelines to follow. Otherwise people and free thinkers think it ok to piss on Paul’s grave when he is gone. After all what else do they have to go on other than to do as they believe they should? Respectfully speaking of course.

1. Just because it comes from David Paszkiewicz doesn't mean I have to ignore it.

2. Why not address the content?

3. It makes no sense to say that the age of irresponsbility is my fault. My political views have been in the minority these past thirty years.

4. I have said from what.

a. An awakening from myth and superstition into a more scientific world view.

b. An awakening from the politics of division into the politics of inclusion.

c. An awakening from cynicism into a restored idealism.

d. An awakening into a patriotism that calls on us to serve instead of just asking us to recite a pledge, put a yellow ribbon on a gas-guzzling SUV during a war and then go shopping.

e. An awakening into sustainable politics and economics.

f. An awakening into the politics of long-term solutions instead of just short-term indulgences.

5. You're not being respectful. If you were, you wouldn't be writing about someone pissing on my grave, which I won't have anyway.

I could easily go on, but the Red Wings are on and I've already missed the first period.

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Do you really think that only a Christian could have come up with those documents or held those ideals? Jefferson, who was the primary author of the Declaration, specifically and repeatedly wrote that he did not believe Jesus was anything but a man, and he repeatedly criticized the supernatural elements of Christian theology. In fact, he literally cut entire sections out of his Bible to excise the supernatural miracles and other fantastic tales he didn't find believable. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible http://www.angelfire.com/co/JeffersonBible/jeffbsyl.html

But you know, it doesn't even matter. If every founding father had been a member of the CBA like Mr. Paszkiewicz is, the morally right thing to do wouldn't change. There is no reason and no justification for government picking sides on religion. People are free to choose their religion. It is a sacred individual right. Unfortunately, you want to have it both ways. You want to say you're treating everyone equally, but any time you have to make a choice, you have no trouble at all treating your own religion as superior to mine.

You don't see it that way? That's the problem.

Of course, I have a Christian background. Is my opinion authoritative on that basis?

No, I don't think that only a Christian could have come up with those documents or held those ideals. But looking at the writing it is obviously based on Christian principles. That's probably one of the reasons that Jefferson was unable to come to terms with being a slave owner and stating that all men were created equal.

I think the fact that Jefferson took the time to edit his Bible shows a man that was very thoughtful on religion. He may have had trouble dealing with the supernatural miracles but I think he believed in the existence of Jesus and God and lived his life by many of those principles. I think this is evident in the Declaration.

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I also have a Christian background but it doesn't form my ideas and thoughts. I think anyone coming from that part of the world at that time had no choice but to have a "christian" background. I noticed you did not comment on the fact that Thomas Jefferson was a Diest.

Mike Newdow has just as much right as a parent to speak on behalf of his child. You don't know the whole story. He is a loving father and his parental rights have nothing to do with whether or not he was married to the mother. If she was such a devout Christian-why did she allow herself to become pregnant by a man she was not married to and who didn't share her beliefs? And how is a 7 year old a Bible believing Christian? Brainwashing

How can you claim that your background doesn't form your ideas and thoughts?

Jefferson as as deist;

"In summary, then, Jefferson was a deist because he believed in one God, in divine providence, in the divine moral law, and in rewards and punishments after death; but did not believe in supernatural revelation. He was a Christian deist because he saw Christianity as the highest expression of natural religion and Jesus as an incomparably great moral teacher. He was not an orthodox Christian because he rejected, among other things, the doctrines that Jesus was the promised Messiah and the incarnate Son of God. Jefferson's religion is fairly typical of the American form of deism in his day."

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Does anyone else wonder what a divorced mother and nurse from supposedly Sacramento, California is doing posting here on Kearny on the Web? Someone who knows so much about the court system and just who happens to agree with every comment that Paul says. Maybe if she wasn't on the computer so much she just might be still married? Just food for thought.

Why you would think it is your right to surmise why I am here and then go on to presume why I am divorced is just the kind of unbelievable arrogance and judgemental attitude that you and a few of your "minions" display every time you post here. Your lack of respect for anyone to have an opinion that does not comply with yours or who agrees with someone else you have decided to dislike just shows again and again that you are not here to engage in conversation or even debate but rather just to try and put people on the defensive. I feel I have more of a right to be here than you whether I am from Kearny or not because I come here wanting to engage in discussion and do my best to be civil and treat others with the decency they deserve as human beings. If you must know, my ex was someone very much like yourself. I left him. I like how you assume that it was the other way around. Typical. I learned about the family court system through unfortunate sets of circumstances. I have never studied law except on my own tme which is my right as a free American, just like it's my right to be on the computer any time I please without consent from my ex-husband,or you. Thank you, however, for proving my theory that we did originate from pond scum. Some of us still have yet to evolve.

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A California girl discovers KOTW and just happens to be a leftist atheist who hates Bush and loves Newdow, just like Paul ! Go figure.

But 80% (by your own estimation) can believe in an imaginary friend in the sky and a few of you even know how to hurl insults that sound incredibly alike but no one finds this coincidential? Go figure!

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No, I don't think that only a Christian could have come up with those documents or held those ideals. But looking at the writing it is obviously based on Christian principles. That's probably one of the reasons that Jefferson was unable to come to terms with being a slave owner and stating that all men were created equal.

I think the fact that Jefferson took the time to edit his Bible shows a man that was very thoughtful on religion. He may have had trouble dealing with the supernatural miracles but I think he believed in the existence of Jesus and God and lived his life by many of those principles. I think this is evident in the Declaration.

I see mainly Humanism in both those documents. There is nothing in either of them that is exclusively Christian, not even the statement about a Creator.

Maybe I'm wrong. Point out what is in either of those documents that is exclusively Christian in its orientation.

Besides, one of Jefferson's main points about any system of laws is that the people have the right at any time to change their form of government. We have learned quite a lot since those days, as evidenced by our progress in civil rights, culminating in the inauguration of a black president this coming Tuesday. We have also learned quite a lot about religion. We should use that knowledge to continue toward a better society that includes and honors everyone. To me, that's the main test.

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OK, let's pretend all of them were Christians even though we know that many of them were deists. If you were right, it would have been very simple for them to write a Christian Constitution. They chose not to. How do you explain their choice?

No answer to this, I see. Just like there's no answer to anything the wacko fundies don't want to hear. If it doesn't fit what they decided in advance to believe, they just ignore it.

Then they pat themselves on the back for never changing their minds. Food in a tin can keeps longer, too, but that's because it doesn't get any air.

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