Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom – Text

In legislative bill text of the time, via Library of Virginia at Richmond and the Virginia Memory website, excerpt from Records of the General Assembly, of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom:

An Act for establishing religious Freedom.

Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free;

That all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and therefore are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of body and mind yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do,

That the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time;

That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions, which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical;

That even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the Ministry those temporary rewards, which, proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind;

That our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry,

That therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence, by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages, to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right,

That it tends only to corrupt the principles of that very Religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments those who will externally profess and conform to it;

That though indeed, these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way;

That to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own;

That it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order;

And finally, that Truth is great, and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:

Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities. And though we well know that this Assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of Legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare that the rights hereby asserted, are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right

More on Thomas Jefferson and his commitment to a secular experience in the United States of America.

10 Reasons to Be More Open-Hearted this Holiday Season

santa-face-constern-hoho_pdMerry Xmas! We’re still a few weeks away from that big day. Santa’s elves are busy with their supplies, putting final touches on gifts for expectant kids the world over. While this work is underway, everyone else settles busily into their traditional holiday behaviors and social dances.

It’s common this time of year to hear the cheerful rounds, “Happy Holidays!” as we go about our business. We begin to see Christmas and holiday cards arrive in greater frequency and our excitement grows. As well, social tensions may surface.

Practice Cordial Behavior During the Holiday Season

Has the term “Xmas” ever been a issue for you . . . or a friendly wish for happy holidays? After all, it’s common during this time to hear the cheerful rounds, “Happy Holidays!” as we go about our business.

For anyone who has been blasted for extending themselves in good faith, and for those who’d take issue with them, here are one Pastor’s “Top 10 Reasons Christians Should Stop Whining About Secular Xmas“. May these factoids and urgings create a mental trigger of remembrance when heat rises in any exchange, especially online where such banter tends to spin out of control with no true end in sight.

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Share this post in hope that more people can enjoy holidays of peace in absence of individualized arguments that lead to wild speculation and oppression of community members. Share it in hope that all of our communities’ members will realize that what another should do or believe in regard to this festive season and beyond are matters of cultural traditions experienced by individuals . . . and matters of freedom as well. Share in the hope that more will remember: freedom from is as important to the individual and the community as freedom of [religion].

When Dems Disappoint

Image result for jack assA large part of our work today– in fact, the main reason we find ourselves having to ‘come out’ as seculars– is in reminding old democrats, and convincing new  democrats, to support the original secular cause of our nation. This, in the face of political aggression and uncounted workplace and other micro aggressions by wanton evangelicals with various negative effects of an evangelized public and political system.

One twitter user makes a valid point regarding some of the frustration many Americans have experienced over past 50-70 years, as we’ve watched some of our supposed representatives turn toward endorsements of religion through governance during times when we should have been stronger in our commitment to true national unity. In case you didn’t know, Ronald Reagan was a Republican, who was first a popular Hollywood actor, then Governor of California.

REF:

Image via Public Domain & Openclipart

Help Us Share the Love

We live in a world where many religious followers don’t understand other views but their own. Thanks to tainted ideas of faith, even when these followers are aware of other beliefs, they don’t consider understanding or acceptance necessary and work to undermine the freedoms so harshly won by our predecessors.

Image via Public Domain

A faithful person should thank God that communication is what it has become today, for only in the light of awareness can we truly be free of the wraths of religious governments, sectarian neighbors, employers and others with whom we could otherwise live peacefully; if not for the constant aggression of conversion-minded antics by those who’ve wrapped themselves up in a religious theme that demands such aggressions.

Don’t let hard line religious sectarians deconstruct your freedom or rule your life. Help us share the message of secularism during this time when many would rather you forget it.

Must-read: “In today’s digitally connected world, it’s not difficult to reach [secular] voters online.”
[…] -via FFRF on Facebook

Politics have become a platform for sectarianism, which increases the odds of violent tendencies. Consider, if not for the ridiculous religious testing leveled onto a Republican political candidate months ago, would we have seen such a development of radicalism around the Trump candidacy?

How to Treat Evangelized Politics

Save Politics – Protect the Government

Send the religious to church, kick them out of education. The realm of religion is its own bountiful sustenance, which may be frequented or visited on occasion as the individual needs and wants. The secular world is anyone’s to enjoy as well, but not to be ruled by religion.

February 9 – National “Stop Bullying” Day

bullying

Teach others not to engage in bully behavior

There are many behaviors that fall under the dark umbrella of bullying, and we don’t want our children or selves to fall victim to the harmful effects of aggressive, bullish people. Especially in those places we’ve come to expect safety or protection from such behaviors (such as on school grounds and in workplaces) we should take serious measures to stop bullying in it’s tracks before any damage is done.

 

Questions about Bullying

As you consider how you’ll confront bullying, consider extreme evangelicals. These figures appear in all ages. While some seem and may be harmless, we often find ourselves surreptitiously entrapped in some venue where we then are obligated to receive religious messaging. It’s not uncommon that children be used as pawns in this type of behavior.

What will be your best response when approached in uncomfortable places and ways? When you find they’ve targeted your children without your permission?

What behaviors do you see people exhibit that you’d consider inappropriately aggressive, just plain mean or harmful?

REF:
Image via Public Domain at Pixabay

NFL Prayer Participation

Football Prayer at the Professional Level

Because participation in pro-football is considered voluntary, it’s hardly a concern that players are compelled to exhibit public display of prayer during andfootball + helmet_public domain after game-time. In fact, most people don’t realize that it happens.

As far as occasional televised gametime occurrences of religious display, they are rare and often challenged- unsuccessfully challenged, due to the nature of religious freedom in the United States. However, there are aspects of a more fervent religiosity that ritually take place in complete seclusion not from the public of football fandom in attendance but from the merchandise-buying, cable-TV and special event purchasing public-not-present who nonetheless consume all sorts of festivities in the name of the game . . . largely unaware that such religious fervency is a strong part of that “game” for many of the people who actually become involved in it.

A Beliefnet article confirms that there are skeptics of the practice, nonetheless, and that effort is made to shield TV viewers from it. Somehow in attendance to- or in participation of- a secular event filled with decidedly non-secular religious rituals, the usual put upon scapegoat side-comments as to the validity of the antics:

“Doug, you gotta understand,” one ex-player said, “players will try anything if they think it’ll give them an edge in the game.” -via Beliefnet

Why not televise the prayer rituals of pro sports?

We have to wonder why pains are taken to not televise the practice of prayer/religious display at professional sporting events. If these practices are of free will among all subscribers (all those present) then why does media shield television viewers from that activity?

The modern football audience-in-attendance is now, more than ever, financially distinguishable from the rest of the public . . . those normally relegated to TV seats wherever they  may find them. Is this development based on religious privilege?

In other words, to what degree has the vast public already been marginalized financially due to perceived lack of religious fervor or display? Is marginalization perpetuated by religious freedom or minimized by it?

American Education and Expectation

We rely on our public education system to provide impressionable students a serious education while leaving religious fervor for the church. Yet somehow, as we’ve allowed our public education systems to fail in large part, we’ve also allowed our original intent to become sidetracked in favor of religious dogmas and their inherent, eventual marginalizations.

We have to wonder how and why we’ve come to this place. When and why did it become acceptable to juxtapose this quality of freedom with such antics of religious display at adult public events. Does it really matter the age or level of achievement? Shouldn’t the same respectful behavior still apply in public groups, if for no reason other than to avoid muddling the minds of the children?

Freedom for All

All secular systems don’t necessarily allow free expression, but the American system of government does. This leaves us with the same old dilemma: just because one has legal protection of free expression, doesn’t necessarily mean all displays are rational, reasonable or appropriate. Isn’t it much more important that we use our rational senses in the public eye, for the sake of our kids?

Until we can turn back the tide of recently renewed religious fervor, all of our public systems are at risk of being engulfed by some yet-undetermined religion. Our melting-pot nation states cling to one religion only, and practically every holiday is a scathing battle of wills for superiority in our workplaces and neighborhoods. . . not unlike we see globally. How long, if we don’t change our current religious-political trajectory, before we succumb completely to the typical way of religiously-based discord and how can we stem that tide?

One way is to remain conscious. We can remind responsible adults and continue to teach about the history of the free West and the respect of our nation’s Founding Fathers for one another’s ways (why we hold our secularized freedoms so dear). Only this way will we be able to once again live free of the heavy-handed influence sought (and gaining) by our new extreme-religious breed of politicians.

REF:

Image via Public Domain (2-2016)

Remembering & Evolving Darwin

THE SCIENCE OF DARWIN

Had we evolved to live today as long as is reported of the Biblical characters, then Charles Darwin might have celebrated his 207th birthday on February 12 this year. Wondrous, to consider the impact on science had this been so. Darwin’s work on his Theory of Evolution surely sought to solve some questions around human lifespan expectancy.

Humans have lived longer lives in general as time has passed, yet have gained practically nothing in comparison to the centuries of life documented in canonical references. Since the days of many Gods on Earth and their likely mythical children, it seems that human lifespans have . . . been limited. Perhaps this is part of the evolution.

REMEMBERING DARWIN’S BIRTHDAY

Darwin’s approaching birthday brings to mind thoughts of what his experience entailed. Was Charles a lonely man? Beleaguered, surely- having lost a child at an early age in addition to his challenging pursuits . . .pursuits not least of which included a more-than-fair share of social resistance.

Darwin joven

There’s an infamous story of Darwin that brings to mind the idea of “religious testing“.

During the final years of Darwin’s life, a close peer wrote Charles a letter. Contained in the letter was the childlike query of Darwin’s personal belief. As is the custom of many who hold supernatural faith dear, the query held a conditional, almost evangelical tone. Surprisingly, Darwin vacated his coping secular self in favor of a fuller disclosure of his personal stance at that time and due to that prompt. Darwin declared atheism in a return letter.

Charles Darwin was and remains a figurehead of an institution that struggles to live and progress against an equally-evolving tide of evangelical religious adherents. Where some strive to quash scientific research and live by old understandings and methods, others strive to reconcile religions and science- and yet others strive to discount ‘the other’ as a point of win/lose economy . . . to the death if necessary, as some times have shown. Perhaps due to social conscience or to a need to concentrate on his work, Darwin chose a secular path of least resistance . . . until the very end.

RELIGIOUS TESTING

Today, it’s not uncommon to hear phrases like “Pray Until Something Happens”. Seen in jewelry and on logo merchandise, it’s a popular and widely-used motivational acronym that [sometimes] stands for encouragement to pray until something does indeed “happen”. This is just one example of the modern push by Christians [for instance] to bury deeper into a religious system rather than be equipped to relate on a secular level, which encourages teamwork and success among all people.

Recognition of this term is largely associated with the Alcoholics Anonymous experience. As a religion-based program, it’s common practice for subjects who have been exposed to the phrase to extend that dogma outside their circle in various settings. As such, commonly enough there’s a mindset to “push” for certain behaviors that mirror the prayerful stance, and too often this brings strife through conflicting ideas in the secular realm.

PUSH . . . BACK

Such active (camouflaging as passive) persecution [religious testing] of peers has gone on practically unfettered despite major movements over time to avoid it. Many humans allow theirselves in moments of weakness to succumb to the very dogmas they’ve been warned of throughout an educated youth. Rather than neighbors living fully without limitations, humans today see and experience a world of religious challenges and evangelism of the kind seen hundreds and thousands of years ago.

HOW TO KEEP SCIENCE IN THE WORLD AROUND YOU

Be more secular! Let the secular realm have its space as that land upon which all may walk in peace and let it extend through the churches. Let our souls and consciences be the individual benefits they should be to us as living, breathing humans.  Secularism allows us to know one another and to come together peacefully while adhering to our true selves in this great pursuit of life.

The pursuit of reason and science is highly criticized by some religion advocates. To help avert this growing trend, declare- as our international part of this world- that a scientist is to be valued and that perhaps the discipline of science should be much more heralded than it is. Let’s encourage our policy-makers that International Darwin Day be a nationally proclaimed event of the United States, to celebrate with days of observance across the globe.

Urge your State Representatives to co-sponsor the Darwin Day Resolution now. Share! Maybe, by February 12, we will have Senators from each state co-sponsor the bill.

LINK REFERENCE:

Charles Darwin’s letter confessing he is an atheist sells for £127,000. Western Daily Press. (09-2015) http://www.westerndailypress.co.uk/Charles-Darwin-s-letter-confessing-atheist-sells/story-27845322-detail/story.html (01-2016)

 

 

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