Gotta Give Them Credit for Honesty

Last Sunday I posted about research suggesting the emergence of a “kinder, gentler,” less political Christianity.

The news has evidently not reached Augusta, Virginia.

An ad by the Augusta County Republican Committee touting the need to “Preserve our Christian Heritage” was created to be a reflection of the party’s creed, officials say.

Larry Roller, 87, created the political flier that says, “Preserve our Christian Heritage! VOTE REPUBLICAN” on Nov. 3. The ad ran as an insert in The News Leader Thursday.

God is a foundation of our nation,” said Roller, of Mount Sidney, who is on the GOP committee. “If you read the histories of our founding fathers, (they say) you should not run for office if you are not a Christian.”

Well, I hate to break it to you, Larry, but the founding fathers actually said no such thing. In fact, quite the opposite. That’s why they put that bit in the Constitution about never requiring a religious test for office, and that’s also why the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits government from engaging in activities that “respect an establishment” of religion.

People like Larry remind me of the caller to a radio show I was on a few years ago, who justified his (unconstitutional) position by informing me that “Even James Madison said we’re giving the Bill of Rights to people who live by the Ten Commandments.” When I politely informed him that the quote had been debunked as bogus–and that it was also contrary to everything Madison actually had said–he screamed into the phone “Well I think he said it!” and slammed down the receiver.

In Augusta county, a follow-up story had quotes from a number of local Republican officeholders defending both the ad and Larry’s somewhat unique perspective on the American founding.

When you live in a fact-free world, it’s easier to understand support for people like Donald Trump and Ben Carson…


  1. Trump and Carson don’t seem able to give a coherent intelligent answer to even a simple question. Fiorina never answers a question, but she keeps talking until that pesky questioner gives up. The rest of the republicans apparently want to hold their own debate without questions from outsiders who aren’t sympathetic to their cause and just don’t understand.

    And, it appeals to a significant number of registered republicans. What?

  2. “Christian voters should join forces to keep “Pagans” and “Mohammedans” (Muslims) from office as well as deists like George Washington, or Thomas Jefferson or Unitarians like John Quincy Adams.” From an 1827 sermon of the Reverend Ezra Styles Ely, pastor of the Third Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia entitled a “Christian Party in Politics.” The essence of the sermon was “every ruler should be an avowed and a sincere friend of Christianity…Our civil rulers ought to act a religious part in all the relations which they sustain.” The same pastor appealed to President Andrew Jackson not to travel on the Sabbath, and said “We have always viewed it as a national evil of great magnitude, and one which calls for a national repentance and reformation, that the mails are carried, and the post-offices are kept open, on that holy day in every part of our country…To desecrate the Sabbath,” these activists believed, “was to invite God’s wrath on the nation.”

    Just change the writer’s name, names of those attacked, and the source of evil: bigotry and ignorance updated.

  3. Because so many people actually do believe what he was pushing, this kind of thing IS dangerous. Numbers count, and when the majority thinks, and lives, and votes on this basis, it threatens all.

  4. How is the Augusta Republican Committee’s sentiments any different than those of radical Islam?
    The idea of religious states was suppose to come to an end with the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. The world is still fighting for freedom from irrational thinking and our dear country is no different.

  5. The platform of the Republican party has become “LIES”; “Let’s Indoctrinate Everyone with Stupidity”. That has been working well for them; till yesterday anyway. The headline in the Indianapolis Star this morning (November 4, 2015) says it all; “DEMS SWEEP”. We should be able to begin resurrecting “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” locally come January 1, 2016. The shootings continue here this morning; that is Ballard’s legacy as he leaves the 25th floor of the City County Building.

    Those of us with high reading comprehension skills know what the founding fathers said and what they meant when writing the Bill of Rights, Constitution of the United States and all Amendments, till the current SCOTUS dismantled a few Amendments depriving people of civil and human rights. The writings attributed to the founding fathers, individually and as a whole, were written after the fact…the same as the interpretation of the Bible (written by men using their individual interpretation to spread the word) by the GOP in recent years is based on their interpretation to fit their personal beliefs and to meet their personal needs.

    Sheila; I’m sorry to see Kip Tew lost, he accepted his loss as the gentleman he is and has been during his service to Indianapolis. If Jeff Miller is as dedicated a community worker as reported by Tully on Sunday, maybe that is for the best for his constituents to allow him to continue his work. The two Democratic CC Council losses seem to be based on derogatory accusations against the Republicans attributed to Democrats. We cannot speak to those losses unless we
    read the accusations ourselves…this takes us back to GOP “LIES” which are rampant locally and more so nationally.


  6. The “social gospel” religious movement of the 19th century is more alive politically than religiously. The center of the movement is in New York at Union Theological Seminary.

    My long time companion was a distinguished graduate. I’ve spent many days either visiting or briefly living on campus.

    The German martyr Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer came to the U.S. in the early 30’s from Germany to escape the Nazis and study at Union. However, many of you probably know, he decided to go back and as a result was eventually executed by the Nazis.

    The Highlander School in Tennessee where the early civil rights leaders such as Rosa Parks attended was founded by a Union graduate, Miles Horton.

    PBS’s Bill Moyers is a longtime Trustee.

    Professor Cornell West the contemporary African-American leader is a professor there and is teaching this semester.

    The list is very long. I could go on and on.

    As you can see the Movement is far from dead, at least in a political sense.

  7. I have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments and have learned something today from each of you. Thank you!

    Marv, I have never heard of the New York at Union Theological Seminary and will definitely be taking time to learn about it. Thanks for that info.

  8. Sheila, you should really stop. You are revealing yourself as a fervent and unrelenting anti-Christian.

    John Adams wrote, “Our Constitution was written for a religious and virtuous people; it will serve no other.”

    ” When you look at Washington’s comments that religion and morality are
    the key cornerstones for a democracy, when you look at John Adams’
    comments when he, I think he was the minister, the Ambassador to Great
    Britain, he saw the Constitution for the first time, and as he wrote
    back his observations about the Constitution, he said, surely this is a
    document for a godly people because it will serve no other. ”

    I know you weren’t raised as a Christian. The Founding Fathers were Christian, and subsequent generations of Americans who follow in their paths are Christians. It is very possible that what you think an American is is nowhere close to what the Founding Fathers and their students think it is. Though you live in our neighborhoods, you might not live in the same country or have the same heart as a Bible-believing, flag-waving American Christian.

    The Constitution was a compact among Christians, and if you were at all deconstructionist, you’d realize that imparting a late 20th Century urban atheist-Jewish perspective to a 18th Century rural, Colonial, Christian document is a reading that is unsuited to the document.

    If someone asked “Is Sheila Kennedy a deophobe,” I’d have to say ‘yes.’ Hate and fear are not suited to real academic research.

  9. Sheila,

    I frankly don’t get today’s blog entry. Your big schtick is “civic participation,” yet yesterday saw a Mayor and City Council elected with 22.69% of registered voter participation.

    Can a Mayor who only receives 14.27% support from registered voters really dare to call himself “duly elected?”

    This is a crisis of disinterest, yet you chose to rail against Christians having a say in their government, rather than Marion County residents deciding, en masse, that having a say in their government isn’t worth the time.

    I realize that you’re a big Democrat, so you’re fine with the two-party system locking out everyone else, but it’s obvious that consumers aren’t interested in purchasing either of the two offerings on the stale menu.

    Were Marion County’s democracy a business, it would have failed.

  10. Gopper; in case you missed the messages – real Christians are anti-GOP pseudo Christians. There do be a difference! If Jesus returned today; the GOP would be in that herd of pigs he sends over the cliff, they would be the money changers he throws out of the temples.

  11. Gopper,

    Try to be honest for twice, you’re not for democracy and you and your fellow travelers have found a good way to TRY and get around it.

    The Jews in Germany were less than 1% of the population and you’re going to use the same “Nazi playbook” against 40% of the population in the U.S.. Are you all nuts?

  12. John Adams wrote, “Our Constitution was written for a religious and virtuous people; it will serve no other.”

    Actually Gopper; in 1798 in a speech John Adams gave to the Massachusetts military he said in part, “…our Constitution was written for a moral and RELIGIOUS people…” What it does not say is a Christian people; thus, it keeps to the 1st Amendment, “Congress will make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…” To you, the word “religion” has only one rightful meaning; to you that word only means Christian. Actually, the word religion means, 1: the belief in and worship of God or gods; 2: a system of religious beliefs and practices. The Webster’s definition is also in keeping with the 1st Amendment as it is written…and in keeping with its meaning as it does not specify or demand one specific religion.

  13. The critical part of that story is that this guy is 87 years old. He’s an old, angry, white man who thinks he remembers old days he believes were better than they were, and who hasn’t bothered to learn anything much over the years, including the Constitution or the mess that the South got itself into which continues to this day. Furthermore, he thinks the bible is about a few verses that have been pounded into his head, just assumes that even the parts which are plainly parabolic are just that, and he hasn’t bothered to actually study and grow in his understanding of it. For that matter, any understanding has been strongly flavored by his strange reactionary political view. Unfortunately, he can write and is able to disseminate his ignorance.

    So, you combine fear and ignorance, add a few years to the mix and you get this guy and the people like him. I believe that is what elected Mr. Bevin in Kentucky along with a couple added ingredients: Mix Kim Davis and stubborn ignorance, a weird pharisaical religion (with some notable blind sides) with racially motivated Obama hatred and authoritarianism, let it ferment in an echo chamber, and you get Matt Bevin. Oh well, there was no guarantee that this grand experiment would come out well anywhere. Let future historians take note.

  14. Of course there is only one party in this scenario acting anti American. The voters who are unable to distinguish the treat of theocracy from the freedom of democracy. Civil illiterates.

  15. Marv; your comment is a “Peteism”. The word religion does not, never has and never will mean only Christianity. That was my point…what is your’s? Gopper’s belief that the word religion only means Christian is his personal religious belief; others have different religious beliefs, including countless Christian beliefs which refute other’s Christian beliefs. Freedom of religion and freedom of speech but, the word “religion” is not defined as Christian except to Christians, and pseudo Christians. I can call myself Meryl Streep but that doesn’t make me tall, blond, beautiful and super talented with lots of money but freedom of speech allows me this liberty.

  16. Most of us have probably seen pictures on Facebook of broken soldiers with the message to the effect of freedom is expensive.

    Perhaps it’s time to change the picture to students earnestly learning in a public school classroom.

    And thank God that they are our future and will replace those who never fought in the war against ignorance.

  17. In colonial America, colonists were expected by the English crown (the government) to go to the Anglican church several times a week and to pay a tithe to the church or face government’s punishment. So the founding fathers (a number of whom were Anglican) were adamant that the government would not be a tool of the church – not Christian churches or any others.

  18. JoAnn,

    “Marv, your comment is a “Peteism.” Nothing against Pete, but I was only referring to your post:
    “If Jesus returned today; the GOP would be in the herd of pigs he sends over the cliff, they would be the money changers he throws out of the temples.”

    All I was trying to say is that I was in general agreement with you. but I wouldn’t use the same words to make my point. I apologize. I should have referred to your statement.

  19. If you go down the rabbit hole of religious privilege in the US, you could end up writing about little else.

  20. OK, Marv, we’re cool. I will stop commenting on this blog, been on too often, especially after complaining about one person monopolizing the space. I should be in a better mood with the beautiful headline on the front page of the Star today:)

  21. JoAnn, thanks for pointing out again the problem with pseudo-Christians like Gopper. They should not refer to themselves as Christians at all. Those people refuse to follow Jesus’ teachings – the Messiah that Christianity was founded upon. Christianity was not founded upon the rules of ancient times that are written in the Old Testament.

  22. Pete, Christianity didn’t exist until people listened to and followed Jesus’ teaching and later wrote about His guidance. It didn’t exist in the Old testament books.

  23. Yes Nancy. But some people seem to focus their Christian Faith on Jesus, some more on pre
    Jesus ancient Jewish law, tradition and history.

  24. Gopper, explain something for me since you are all-knowing.

    The Christian-only Republican Party favors Donald Trump, a man worth several billion dollars. How can this be, when Matthew 19:24 says it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven?

    Mixed messages indeed!

  25. The Old/New Testament aspect of the Bible is confusing because the Old describes what believers know He came here to change.

  26. Nancy

    wrong! Christianity didn’t exist until long after JC was dead.

    You people should watch making factual statements on fanciful subjects.

  27. Jefferson, Madison, Adams and their English partner in Athenian democracy John Locke were not the first to oppose the mixture of religion and politics as oil and water which in combination would never successfully mix. They had an illustrious antecedent in a man who changed the world in many important respects, a man named Jesus Christ, who observed that we should “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what is God’s.” Either he knew of the works of his Greek antecedents Plato, Socrates and Aristotle, or somehow divined that both religion and politics work better when separated. He was right about that as he was right about many issues of his day and for the ages. Christians and non-Christians, take note.

  28. Pete

    I really don’t like to address the specifics of Christianity on this blog. Just religion, which is another subject entirely. For this one time:

    Acts 11:26 ” And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”

    JC died before Paul taught at Antioch. But if you think the Bible is just another book, it doesn’t really matter.

  29. Earl. Excuse you! Go back and read my post. I said Christianity started after followers listened to and followed his teaching. I know the firmal term started after his death. No where did I state it started during his life. Be careful what you accuse others of saying and don’t put your words in my mouth!

  30. In the earlier part of this conversation, Groper quoted from a speech in the House by Earnest Istook. The source was correctly cited as a link, but he should have cited the guy who wrote it, Rep. Istook, who presented some palaver about the importance of schools including religious practice while somehow eluding the idea that this was actually advocating religion. (I think that is a violation of the First Amendment,which means that Rep. Istook had a rather tenuous grasp of the Constitution.) In any case, Groper made it sound like he was actually quoting John Adams, or someone, but failed to say that this quote was from Rep. Istook, a man who we should be glad was defeated in an election for governor of Oklahoma, and who subsequently disappeared into the bowels of one of the “think tanks”.

    It seems to me that if you want to quote John Adams, you need to quote john Adams and provide the right source. Not some guy who can say anything he wants in front of the House of Representatives who says he is quoting John Adams or whoever. Rep. Istook would not be the first one to “make it up” in a speech in the House. Sloppy work, Groper.

  31. Guys and Dolls,

    I would suggest that we move away from the “slippery slope”of mixing religion and politics or all of us will eventually be at each others throats. And nothing worthwhile will ever be accomplished.

  32. But Marv; don’t you wish some of the guys and dolls were withing smite reach…and having smote we could move on:)

  33. JoAnn,

    “don’t you wish some of the guys and dolls were within smite reach”

    There are some but not enough. I’d rather be realistic and take my chances with: Santa Claus

  34. Nancy,

    Jesus was a Jew. He taught in the temple. Not the church. Upon his passing, his Jewish disciples dispersed and returned to a normal life. Along came a man who said he had met him along the road and then he began to teach HIS interpretation of Jesus’s teachings. This man was not a Jew. He, alone, established the Christian Church. Other than the synoptics, all you know of the man comes from Paul.

    You can take it from there.

  35. Jesus was a Jew and a Rabbi who taught in temples because there were no churches at that time. He brought a new message to all who would listen; that message was and is the basis of Christianity…obviously named after the messenger. That is when Christianity began; the formalization of the church may have come later but the message came with the man.

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