-Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11: Written during the administration of George Washington and signed into law by John Adams:
“The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
-Thomas Jefferson to Jeremiah Moore, August 14, 1800:
“The clergy, by getting themselves established by law, & ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man.”
to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813:
“History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government.”
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.
Of all tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.
–Amendment I of the United States Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
By going to John Paul II’s funeral George Bush may not have broken the supreme law of the land but he has shown disrespect for one of the most cherished liberties of our nation, a liberty that trumps every virtue that established religions stand for today. History will make its own judgment on JPII and I do not deny the fact that he was a decent and charismatic leader who put human dignity above all socio-economic systems, particularly Soviet communism. However, JPII did not take a stand against communism to defend the empire of liberty. His motivation was to preserve and expand church’s authority over a social system that had foolishly declared war against religion. Vatican only found out about religious tolerance and human dignity when it was no longer able to extend its interest by force, as it had for centuries, and had to start competing with other religions in a secular free market.
GWB represents all of America – an incredibly diverse nation thanks to its secular institutions – when he travels abroad. To vast majority of Americans who do not subscribe to the Catholic church’s brand of spirituality GWB’s action was disrespectful, if not an insult. Perhaps, the president should have sent a personal representative instead of flying aboard Air Force One.
P.S. Here is a British take on the same subject — It’s as if the Reformation had never happened