Who let God in?

Founding fathers’ open-mindedness flies in the face of those who claim this country for Christians alone

Ishmael Raymon is a writer and poet with a gardening business in Chico.

In today’s soup of opinions concerning various religions, there is often an assumption that the United States was founded on Christianity. However, there is not one mention of God in the Constitution; the separation of church and state was made clear, as most of the first Americans had fled from religious persecution in England. The words “under God” in The Pledge of Allegiance were added later, around World War II.

Thus, this country was not founded on Christianity, nor is it a Christian nation, but it is, rather, a melting pot of religious views. This was recently illustrated when a politician was sworn into office with one hand on the Quran—and not just any Quran, but the personal copy of Thomas Jefferson!

Many of this country’s founding fathers were not simply apple-pie patriots but intelligent minds thirsting for knowledge of the world and of other cultures. In the letters of John Adams, for instance, we find a correspondence to Jefferson (his vice president) declaring a curiosity for the scriptures of India and the concept of reincarnation. Ben Franklin wrote his own epitaph stating his belief of coming back in another form, and of Jesus said, “I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, is the best the world has ever seen or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes and I have with most dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity ….”

Another misconception is that the Bible is the “word of God.” One example is the use of Romans 1:26-7 in the fight against homosexuals. However, these are letters dictated in Greek by Paul, formally Saul of Tarsus (modern-day Turkey).

Paul, like Jesus, was not a Christian, but a lifelong Jew. When he was Saul, he worked in the Roman Guard for the High Priest and spent a great deal of time searching out followers of Jesus—dragging men, women and children back to Roman authorities for punishment, which usually meant death. It’s likely to him of whom Acts 7:58 refers in regard to the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr ("… and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul").

So, how could the letters of a Roman/Jew who was responsible for countless deaths of Christians, and who later argued fervently with the original disciples, be the “word of God"?

Possession of the truth—and ceasing to seek it—often results in the mind-set of misconception and delusion, leaving some people defending concepts gone awry. Instead, as John Adams believed, religion should be based on common sense and must change and evolve toward perfection.