In reply to Ken Bateman’s letter “Leave religion out of government” (Messenger, Aug. 15, 2012):
I am glad that we live in a country that will let us speak what we believe. This is covered in the first amendment. I do not agree with you, but I will defend your freedom of speech until my dying day.
The first settlers of this country came from England so they could have freedom of worship. In fact, 29 of the 56 people that signed the Declaration of Independence had a seminary degree, or a degree from a Bible College, but the only ones you ever hear about are Jefferson or Franklin because of their views on religion.
On Dec. 4, 1800, Jefferson, who was over the Senate at that time, started having church services in the capitol. Six weeks later he was installed as president and shortly afterward ordered the Marine Band to play at the services. By 1857, more than 2,000 people per week were attending church at the capitol.
As for the statement you made about the first American Bible: True, it was not printed by the government, but they did lend Robert Aitken the money. And it was recommended by Congress.
President Thomas Jefferson, author of the phrase “separation of Church and State,” asked Congress to ratify a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians, which they did Dec. 3, 1803. Negotiated shortly after the Louisiana Purchase by future President William Henry Harrison, the Kaskaskia Indian Treaty stated: “And whereas the greater part of the said tribe have been baptized and received into the Catholic Church, to which they are much attached, the United States will give annually, for seven years, toward the support of a priest of that religion, who will engage to perform for said tribe the duties of his office, and also to instruct as many of their children as possible, in the rudiments of literature, and the United States will further give to assist the said tribe in the erection of a church.”
Later in 1806 and 1807, two similar treaties were made with the Wyandotte and Cherokee tribes. On April 26, 1802, Thomas Jefferson extended a 1787 act of Congress in which special lands were designated, “for the sole use of Christian Indians and the Moravian Brethren missionaries for civilizing the Indians and promoting Christianity.”
A few weeks before his death at age 84, Benjamin Franklin summarized his religious beliefs, in terms with which I could readily associate myself. He said, “I believe in one God, the creator of the universe, that He governs by His providence, that He ought to be worshipped, that the most acceptable service we render to him is doing good to His other children, that the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this.
“These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them. As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think his system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble.
“I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequences, as probably it has, of making his doctrines more respected and more observed; especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any peculiar marks of his displeasure.”
I do not want to or mean to judge, but as a Christian and a veteran I do not see anything wrong with what they are doing in Alvord. I want God in our government as He is the only hope that we have left.