Religion and politics—nearly always a toxic mix. History, and the present day clearly demonstrate that when governments/kings/dictators embrace one particular religious belief, those who do not subscribe to it suffer.
It is exactly for that reason that our Founding Fathers were clear about not having an established religion for our fledgling nation. They were all Englishmen who rejected their homeland's concept of the Church of England as a political entity.
This may upset the belief of some of the Religious Right who rail about the USA being a "Christian" nation and who embrace the Founding Fathers as if they were Born Again/Evangenical/ Biblical Fundamentalists. But the founding documents of this nation including the Constitution are clear about one thing–freedom OF religion and freedom FROM religion were essential concepts.
Even more fascinating is to examine the religious beliefs of these great men. Writer Rob Boston outlines and summarizes their writings and beliefs in an article published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of Sunday, January 22.
In brief–John Adams rejected the belief in the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus. Thomas Jefferson was even more skeptical of traditional Christian teachings including the Trinity, virgin birth, divinity of Jesus, resurrection. He considered them as mythological as Greek and Roman tales. His personal editing of the New Testament, the "Jefferson Bible" caused an outrage in his time. He essentially deleted all mention of miracles and focused on the moral teachings of Jesus.
James Madison was a Deist which speaks of a Divine creator who does not interact with his creation. He was against government paid chaplains in the military, federal land to churches or anything that smacked of government involvement in religion.
And finally, what about George Washington himself? He, too, was a strict Deist. He is reported to have been personally against the practice of communion. He was especially dedicated to the tolerance of other religious beliefs. His letter to the TouroSynagogue in 1790 is a powerful pledge to this small Jewish community of complete religious freedom.
Although extreme Islam grabs headlines for their atrocities in our time, the danger of any religious fundamentalism which denigrates nonbelievers must be rejected whenever and wherever it arises.
So if we are going to invoke the teachings of our Founding Fathers, let us at least be accurate about their beliefs. They were incredibly wise in their understanding of the dangers of fundamentalist religious doctrines.
George Wasington understood this truth.
Unfortunately, because of them he could not get elected in 2012.