September 23, 2003


Puzzled by pluralism: Muslim visitors question the American way (Patricia M. Y. Chang, 9/22/03, Christian Century)

Since the 9-11 terrorist attacks the U.S. State Department has sponsored a number of study programs that bring Muslim scholars from around the world to the U.S. with the aim of showing off the American way of separating church and state, and demonstrating how American society is able to both nurture faith traditions and support religious diversity. The implied intent is to promote an American-style separation of mosque and state in Muslim countries.

After being an academic director for two of these programs, however, I am acutely aware of how appealing a religiously aligned state is for Muslims, especially for those who live in countries where Muslims are the majority. This may particularly be true in Iraq where Saddam Hussein's brutally repressive secular regime is viewed by some as a cautionary tale of what happens when religious influence is absent from government. [...]

A large portion of the seminar was devoted to showing off the religious diversity that flourishes in the U.S. and Americans' great tolerance of diverse faiths. Rather than appreciating the benefits that religious pluralism offers to the larger society, some of our guests were clearly puzzled. On the second day of the program, Munib Ur Rehman, a Pakistani cleric, asked me, "If you believe your religion to be true, and you believe it is your duty to share this truth with others, then why would you think that religious pluralism is a good thing?" I realized that the religious tolerance that we celebrate in the U.S. could be perceived by someone from a religiously homogeneous country as a lack of religious conviction or, worse, a shameful hypocrisy. [...]

In the days before the invasion of Iraq, U.S. officials spoke of a "democratic domino effect" by which the installation of a democratic government in Iraq would set off a wave of pro-democratic regime changes elsewhere in the Middle East. Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, argued that the transition of Iraq to the "first Arab democracy" would "cast a very large shadow, starting with Syria and Iran, across the whole Arab world."

My experience with Muslim scholars makes me skeptical that a "democratic domino effect" is about to unfold. And as I look at the current turmoil in Iraq and remember my conversations with Muslim scholars, I have a better understanding of the popular appeal of theocracy in Muslim-majority countries that have been ruled by brutal and repressive secular rulers. I can also better understand that in times of uncertainty it may be easier for people to trust a learned religious leader than a democratically elected elite put in place by dubiously motivated political constituencies.

One important point that this brings forth is how a much reviled aspect of Judaism and Christianity, their exclusivity, makes them uniquely suited to religious toleration. The faith that the many are doomed and only the few saved/Chosen makes it all the easier to put up with people whose beliefs are obviously wrong. In Islam, to the contrary, the entire community must adhere to Muslim beliefs or all are imperiled. The former lends itself to individualism, though responsibilities to one's fellow me is vital, while the latter lends itself to totalitarian structures.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 23, 2003 11:46 AM

Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that in strict Islamic states, the "church" relies on the state to do its evangelism for it?

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 23, 2003 12:47 PM

More accurately, there is no church and there is no state, only the umma (sp?) - one community with one system of laws. Christianity never had that, only multiple systems of laws (the ecclesiastical and civil) because the first Christians weren't conquerors like Mohammed.

Christianity has a sense of guiding principles related by the parables and the sermon on the mount. Islam has detailed laws spelled out on what is allowed and what is not - in the Koran and in the hadiths. In this regard. Christianity is more like Taoism - preaching virtue - and Islam like Confucianism - preaching law and duties.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at September 23, 2003 1:02 PM

The claim made at the end of this post--that the "exclusivity" of Judeo-Christian denominations makes them more naturally suited to toleration than Islam--is hypothetically within reason. So too is Chris Durnell's assertion that Christianity has a sense of guiding principles related by the parables and the sermon on the mount.

In practice, of course, this is too rarely the case. It doesn't take too deep a reading of history to become aware of the essential compatibility of Judeo-Christian beliefs with authoritarian or totalitarian social structures. And exactly which parable, or which part of the sermon on the mount, leads so many American Christians to denounce homosexuality, to take one example? The Judeo-Christian tradition is rife with "detailed laws," (although most American Christians do like to pick and choose among them for the ones they prefer to follow), and it isn't difficult to find authoritarian versions of Christian faith in this country who would be more than happy to force everyone into line, given the chance.

I would aver that the "toleration" both oj and chris would ascribe to the Judeo-Christian tradition is more appropriately credited to the secular/deist beliefs held by the vast majority of those to whom we refer as the "founding fathers," to say nothing of the secular/deist beliefs of their intellectual forebears. Christianity simply came along for the ride. I see this as reason for hope that the Muslim nations of the Middle East can move in a similar direction.

Posted by: M. Bulger at September 23, 2003 1:22 PM

Homosexuality is a behavioral pathology not a religious belief and there's ne need to tolerate, though we now do. In its most extreme secular forms toleration does indeed require us to tolerate everything and becomes unacceptable:

And the Founders were, of course, not secularists or deists but Christians who wrote a Constitution for a Judeo-Christian nation. It's doubtful it can continue to function as Judeo-Christian morality deteriorates.

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2003 2:21 PM

I understand where M Bulger is coming from, but let's face it - any system can become compatible with authoritarian and totalitarian structures. The secular/deist beliefs that helped establish the US also formed the basis for the Jacobin Terror in the French Revolution and eventually to Communism. A solely atheistic or secular worldview thus does not prevent that (though nor does it mean all atheists and secularists will becoem corrupted that way just like all Christians - or any other group X - do not do good things.)

Furthermore, I would argue that the life affirming virtues of the secular/deist also spring from the Christian tradition. There is a reason secularism and secular values originated in a Christian society. I'm not being deterministic here, if Byzantium had triumphed we might all be Caesaropapists - but secular values did arise from a Christian society and many deists even proclaimed Jesus as a profound moral teacher even if they did not believe in the religious aspects.

If you're interested in reading more about how the new secular West was derived from the old Christendom West, I recommend David Gress' From Plato to NATO who exhaustively examines the question of what do we mean we say "the West." Even if you disagree with conclusions, there are many interesting facts and points made.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at September 23, 2003 2:22 PM

Christianity is by definition antithetical to totalitarianism, but can often get along in authoritarian regimes.

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2003 2:31 PM

Toleration was unknown to Christianity -- and Orrin still deplores it, though for some reason not today.

The only religions that tend to be tolerant are polytheisms, and even there toleration seems to arise from outside, not inside, the theology. Vide Hinduism.

The notion that Christianity is inimical to totalitarianism is, of course, fantasy. We need look no further than East Tennessee, although if you want to go further, Russia would be a good place to start.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 23, 2003 2:58 PM

Ask the main minority in Gujarat about toleration.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 23, 2003 3:09 PM

Russia was authoritarian and evolving towards liberal democracy nicely until your Bolshevik pals nipped all that in the bud and imposed totalitarianism.

The totalitarian epoch in East Tennessee we'll leave to your fever dreams.

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2003 3:13 PM

Chris, you make an excellent point regarding the potential for any creed, including both Christian and secular, to submit to authoritarian impulses. There is also no denying that the secular/deist tradition upon which the U.S. was founded (whatever modern American Christians would like to think) was derived from an older Western Christian tradition (but also a still older, if long dormant, Greek secular tradition).

I haven't read Gress, but I would think any considered treatment of the issue would mention that this progression involved the systematic rejection of many of the "detailed laws" under which Christianity operated for so long, at least post-Constantine.

To you oj, I can only say that your last comment is not up to your blog's usual standards. Should I care any more about the "most extreme secular forms" of toleration any more than you care about the more extreme forms of Christian fundamentalism--you know, the ones that condone the murder of homosexuals and physicians who perform abortions? The most extreme form of any belief system will enter into absurdity; this is a truism. There is no incompatibility between what you might wish to call "more moderate" secularism and an absence of "toleration" for certain behavior, such as murder or rape.

Finally, a great deal of myth and legend has come to surround the "Founding Fathers," and their supposedly devout Christianity is part of it. A few devout Christians were among their ranks, but the leading lights (Jefferson, Washington, John Adams, Madison, Ben Franklin; I shouldn't even have to mention Thomas Paine) were at best deists, more often secularists. For crying out loud, in 1797, during John Adams' presidency, Congress passed (and Adams signed) the Treaty of Tripoli, which states explicity: "The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion." Just try and imagine any Congress of the past 50 years considering such a statement!

Posted by: M. Bulger at September 23, 2003 3:25 PM

Harry Eager writes: "Toleration was unknown to Christianity..." Not really unknown, just forgotten (and still occasionally misplaced). Early Christianity, like any newly founded cult, couldn't afford to be so picky about its adherents, and so women could be clergy, and fringe elements of society (homosexuals, etc.) were by all accounts welcomed. It was only later that Christianity became a truly organized religion and began to enforce societal "norms" more rigorously.

As for the generality of Harry's "toleration" rule (that is, that religions generally don't practice it), that would seem to be a given, although I can think of Zoroastrianism as a prime example of a genuinely tolerant faith. It's also a dying one, surprise, surprise. In the Darwinian world of religious faith, the lack of tolerance is a fiercely adaptive trait.

Posted by: at September 23, 2003 3:36 PM


Neither of those would be particularly extreme: by trangressing moral laws both groups have made their executions justified. That we choose not to do so suggests just how tolerant our Christian society really is. But it is become overtolerant at the point where it doesn't stop those doctors from killing again and accepts homosexuality as a behavior worthy of social imprimatur.

Your imaginary versions of the Founders are complete nonsense. We've posted their own words dozens of times here, so I'll not recycle all of them, merely note that the first act of the first Congress was to hire official chaplains and here are the first official words ever spoken by a President:

George Washington

First Inaugural Address
In the City of New York
Thursday, April 30, 1789


The Nation's first chief executive took his oath of office in April in New York City on the balcony of the Senate Chamber at Federal Hall on Wall Street. General Washington had been unanimously elected President by the first electoral college, and John Adams was elected Vice President because he received the second greatest number of votes. Under the rules, each elector cast two votes. The Chancellor of New York and fellow Freemason, Robert R. Livingston administered the oath of office. The Bible on which the oath was sworn belonged to New York's St. John's Masonic Lodge. The new President gave his inaugural address before a joint session of the two Houses of Congress assembled inside the Senate Chamber.

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

AMONG the vicissitudes incident to life no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years—a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who (inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions all I dare aver is that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be affected. All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my country with some share of the partiality in which they originated.

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2003 3:39 PM

John Adams? Adams was perhaps the most religious of the major Founders. To some extent, M, you seem to be mislead by the fact that people then had a different understanding of these phrases than we have now.

As for the rest of it, all I can say is that Americans are fish swimming in a Christian ocean. We live in a Christian culture. When threatened, Christianity will be as violent as needs be. Because the culture in the US is fundamentally Christian, most Christians don't feel threatened.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 23, 2003 3:49 PM

OJ: You must have more than that. The words of the First Inaugural Address are completely consistent with a deist faith, not a Christian one. Consistent with what we (should) already know, Washington fails to mention Jesus Christ or Christianity; there is no such reference in any of his writings or orations. He rarely discussed religion at all, and on the few occasions when he did, he generalized to the same extent as in the inaugural address you have quoted. Although he did attend church "10-15 times" annually, he never prayed in church, and he was reproached publically by the pastor of his church for never taking communion; subsequent to this, he began attending another church.

I think you are imbuing Washington's words with the meaning you wish them to have--which is fine, since this was probably exactly what Washington wanted you to do. Try looking at the same address from a non-Christian perspective. You will see that it is perfectly compatible with anything but the most rigid polytheist or atheist creed.

No nonsense. Washington was not a Christian in any sense that you or another modern American Christian would recognize, or acknowledge. He appreciated and supported religion, but were he alive today you would consider him part of the problem.

Posted by: M. Bulger at September 23, 2003 4:18 PM

To David Cohen: I'm not an expert on John Adams. What I've read, however, indicates that his Christianity would not register on modern American Christians, to wit:

"The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles?"

"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole carloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity."

"The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses...."

In all fairness, there are other Adams quotes in which he does identify himself as a Christian, but he clearly felt that all of the organized churches of his day fell short of his vision of Christianity, which included many books left out of the Bible, and denied much that modern Christians take to be central to their faith. I submit, once again, that this Founding Father was closer to a deist than a Christian.

Posted by: M. Bulger at September 23, 2003 4:27 PM


After posting all of that, it occurred to me that you might be referring to John Quincy Adams, who was in fact a Bible-thumping Christian president, though not really a major "Founder." I just don't see how you could have meant the first John Adams, his father.

Posted by: M. Bulger at September 23, 2003 4:30 PM


Where did you hear all this, 8th grade or at Instapundit? No one who's studied any of these men takes the notion that they were Deists seriously. It's an artifact of Marxist analyses of the Founding. Paine was an exception, but he was reviled by at least Adams and was typically duped by the French Revolution.


In his diary entry dated February 22, 1756, John Adams wrote:

Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love and reverence toward Almighty God...What a Utopia, what a Paradise would this region be.

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2003 4:59 PM

As for the thinkers the Founders depended on, John Locke of course excluded Catholics and atheists from the tolerance he propounded, hardly consistent with your imagined secularism or Deism or whatever.

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2003 5:04 PM

In his inaugural address on March 4, 1797 John Adams stated:

"And may that being who is supreme over all, the Patron of Order, the Foundation of Justice, and the Protector in all ages of the world of virtuous liberty, continue His blessings upon this nation—"

John Adams wrote on August 28, 1813:

"Religion and virtue are the only foundations, not only of republicanism and of all free government, but of social felicity under all governments and in all the combinations of human society—"

In a letter to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813 he wrote:

"The general principles, on which the Father achieved independence, were the only principles in which that beautiful assembly of young Gentlemen could unite- - - And what were these general principles? I answer, the general principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United: And the General Principles English and American Liberty, in which all these young men United, and which had United all Parties in America, in Majorities sufficient to assert her Independence.

Now I will avow, that I then believe, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System."

In his personal diary, on February 22, 1756, John Adams wrote::

"Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love and reverence toward Almighty God — What a Utopia, what a Paradise would this region be."

On July 26, 1796 he wrote in his diary:

"The Christian religion is, above all the Religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times the religion of wisdom, Virtue, Equity, and humanity."

In a marginal note in one of his books Adams writes, “The doctrine of human equality is founded entirely in the Christian doctrine that we are all children of the same Father, all accountable to Him for our conduct to one another, all equally bound to respect each other’s self love.”

Now, Adams certainly said the things you quote. But you have to understand the context in which he was writing, given the particular situation of the established Church in Massachusetts and the threat it felt it was facing from Anglicanism.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 23, 2003 5:07 PM

Actually, M., this is precisely on point:

"The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles?"

That is the very sense in which Christianity is antithetical to totalitarianism. Government must be Judeo-Christian in its morality but not by specifically Judeo-Christian authorities.

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2003 5:11 PM's%20Prayer.htm

President George Washington’s
Prayer for the Nation

Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection, that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government, and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the Unites States at large.

And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and specific temper of mind which were the characteristics of Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.

Grant our supplications, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Given at Newburg, June 8, 1783, and copies sent to the Governors of all the States.)

George Washington's Prayer Journal
From William J. Johnson George Washington, the Christian(New York: The Abingdon Press, New York & Cincinnati, 1919), pp. 24-35.
(1) Sunday Morning
Almighty God, and most merciful father, who didst command the children of Israel to offer a daily sacrifice to thee, that thereby they might glorify and praise thee for thy protection both night and day, receive, O Lord, my morning sacrifice which I now offer up to thee; I yield thee humble and hearty thanks that thou has preserved me from the danger of the night past, and brought me to the light of the day, and the comforts thereof, a day which is consecrated ot thine own service and for thine own honor. Let my heart, therefore, Gracious God, be so affected with the glory and majesty of it, that I may not do mine own works, but wait on thee, and discharge those weighty duties thou requirest of me, and since thou art a God of pure eyes, and wilt be sanctified in all who draww near unto thee, who doest not regard the sacrifice of fools, nor hear sinners who tread in thy courts, pardon, I beseech thee, my sins, remove them from thy presence, as far as the east is from the west, and accept of me for the merits of thy son Jesus Christ, that when I come into thy temple, and compass thine altar, my prayers may come before thee as incense; and as thou wouldst hear me calling upon thee in my prayers, so give me grace to hear thee calling on me in thy word, that it may be wisdom, righteousness, reconciliation and peace to the saving of the soul in the day of the Lord Jesus. Grant that I may hear it with reverence, receive it with meekness, mingle it with faith, and that it may accomplish in me, Gracious God, the good work for which thou has sent it. Bless my family, kindred, friends and country, be our God & guide this day and for ever for his sake, who ay down in the Grave and arose again for us, Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

(2) Sunday Evening
O most Glorious God, in Jesus Christ my merciful and loving father, I acknowledge and confess my guilt, in the weak and imperfect performance of the duties of this day. I have called on thee for pardon and forgiveness of sins, but so coldly and carelessly, that my prayers are become my sin and stand in need of pardon. I have heard thy holy word, but with such deadness of spirit that I have been an unprofitable and forgetful hearer, so that, O Lord, tho' I have done thy work, yet it hath been so negligently that I may rather expect a curse than a blessing from thee. But, O God, who art rich in mercy and plenteous in redemption, mark not, I beseech thee, what I have done amiss; remember that i am but dust, and remit my transgressions, negligences & ignorances, and cover them all with the absolute obedience of thy dear Son, that those sacrifices which I have offered may be accepted by thee, in and for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ offered upon the cross for me; for his sake, ease me of the burden of my sins, and give me grace that by the call of the Gospel I may rise from the slumber of sin into the newness of life. Let me live according to those holy rules which thou hast this day prescribed in thy holy word; make me to know what is acceptable in thy holy word; make me to know what is acceptable in thy sight, and therein to delight, open the eyes of my understanding, and help me thoroughly to examine myself concerning my knowledge, faith and repentance, increase my faith, and direct me to the true object Jesus Christ the way, the truth and the life, bless O Lord, all the people of this land, from the highest to the lowest, particularly those whom thou has appointed to rule over us in church & state. continue thy goodness to me this night. These weak petitions I humbly implore thee to hear accept and ans. for the sake of thy Dear Son Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
(3) Monday Morning
O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks, that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and has given me sweet and pleasant sleep, whereby I find my body refreshed and comforted for performing the duties of this day, in which I beseech thee to defend me from all perils of body and soul. Direct my thoughts, words and work, wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the lamb, and purge my heart by thy holy spirit, from the dross of my natural corruption, that I may with more freedom of mind and liberty of will serve thee, the ever lasting God, in righteousness and holiness this day, and all the days of my life. Increase my faith in the sweet promises of the gospel; give me repentance from dead works; pardon my wanderings, & direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation; teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments; make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber, but daily frame me more 7 more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life bless my family, friends & kindred unite us all in praising & glorifying thee in all our works begun, continued, and ended, when we shall come to make our last account before thee blessed saviour, who hath taught us thus to pray, our Father, & c.
(4) Monday Evening
Most Gracious Lord God, from whom proceedeth every good and perfect gift, I offer to thy divine majesty my unfeigned praise & thanksgiving for all thy mercies towards me. Thou mad'st me at first and hst ever since sustained the work of thy own hand; thou gav'st thy Son to die for me; and hast given me assurance of salvation, upon my repentance and sincerely endeavoring to conform my life to his holy precepts and example. Thou art pleased to lengthen out to me the time of repentance and to move me to it by thy spirit and by the word, by thy mercies, and by thy judgments; out of a deepness of thy mercies, and by my own unworthiness, I do appear before thee at this time; I have sinned and done very wickedly, be merciful to me, O God, and pardon me for Jesus Christ sake; instruct me in the particulars of my duty, and suffer me not to be tempted above what thou givest me strength to bear. Take care, I pray thee of my affairs and more and more direct me in thy truth, defend me from my enemies, especially my spiritual ones. Suffer me not to be drawn from thee, by the blandishments of the world, carnal desires, the cunning of the devil, or deceitfulness of sin. work in me thy good will and pleasure, and discharge my mind from all things that are displeasing to thee, of all ill will and discontent, wrath and bitterness, pride & vain conceit of myself, and render me charitable, pure, holy, patient and heavenly minded. be with me at the hour of death; dispose me for it, and deliver me from the slavish fear of it, and make me willing and fit to die whenever thou shalt call me hence. Bless our rulers in church and state. bless O Lord the whole race of mankind, and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and thy son Jesus Christ. Pity the sick, the poor, the weak, the needy, the widows and fatherless, and all that morn or are borken in heart, and be merciful to them according to their several necessities. bless my friends and grant me grace to forgive my enemies as heartily as I desire forgiveness of Thee my hevenly Father. I beseech thee to defend me this night from all evil, and do more for me than I ccan think or ask, for Jesus Christ sake, in whose most holy name & words, I continue to pray, Our Father, & c.
(5) Tuesday Morning
O Lord our God, most mighty and merciful father, I thine unworthy creature and servant, do once more approach thy presence. Though not worthy to appear before thee, because of my natural corruptions, and the many sins and transgressions which I have committed against thy divine majesty; yet I beseech thee, for the sake of him in whom thou art well pleased, the Lord Jesus Christ, to admit me to render thee deserved thanks and praises for thy manifold mercies extended toward me, for the quiet rest & repose of the past night, for food, rainment, health, peace, liberty, and the hopes of a better life through the merits of thy dear son's bitter passion. and O kind father continue thy mercy and favor to me this day, and ever hereafter; propse all my lawful undertakings; et me have all my directions from thy holy spirit; and success from thy bountiful hand. Let the bright beams of thy light so shine into my heart, and enlighten my mind in understanding thy blessed word, that I may be enabled to perform thy will in all things, and effectually resist all temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil. preserve and defend our rulers in church & state. bless the people of this land, be a father to the fatherless, a comforter to the comfortless, a deliverer to the captives, and a physician to the sick. let thy blessings guide this day and forever through J. C. in whose blessed form of prayer I conclude my weak petitions--Our Father, & c.
(6) Tuesday Evening
Most gracious God and heavenly father, we cannot cease, but must cry unto thee for mercy, because my sins cry against me for justice. How shall I address myself unto thee, I must with the publican stand and admire at thy great goodness, tender mercy, and long suffering towards me, in that thou hast kept me the past day from being consumed and brought to nought. O Lord, what is man, or the son of man, that thou regardest him; the more days pass over my head, the more sins and iniquities I heap up against thee. If I should cast up the account of my good deeds done this day, how few and small would they be; but if I should reckon my miscarriages, surely they would be many and great. O, blessed father, let thy son's blood wash me from all impurities, and cleanse me from the stains of sin that are upon me. Give me grace to lay hold upon his merits; that they may be my reconciliation and atonement unto thee,--That I may know my sins are forgiven by his death & passion. embrace me in the arms of thy mercy; vouchsafe to receive me unto the bosom of thy love, shadow me with thy wings, that I may safely rest under thy suspicion this night; and so into thy hands I commend myself, both soul and body, in the name of thy son, J. C., beseeching Thee, when this life shall end, I may take my everlasating rest with thee in thy heavenly kingdom. bless all in authority over us, be merciful to all those afflicted with thy cross or calamity, bless all my friends, forgive my enemies and accept my thanksgiving this evening for all the mercies and favors afforded me; hear and graciously answer these my requests, and whaatever else thou see'st needful grant us, for the sake of Jesus Christ in whose blessed name and words I continue to pray, Our Father, & c.
(7) A Prayer for Wednesday Morning
Almighty and eternal Lord God, the great creator of heaven & earth, and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; look down from heaven, in pity and compassion upon me thy servant, who humbly prostrate myself before thee, sensible of thy mercy and my own misery; there is an infinite distance between thy glorious majesty and me, thy poor creature, the work of thy hand, between thy infinite power, and my weakness, thy wisdom, and my folly, thy eternal Being, and my mortal frame, but, O Lord, I have set myself at a greater distance from thee by my sin and wickedness, and humbly acknowledge the corruption of my nature and the many rebellions of my life. I have sinned against heaven and before thee, in thought, word & deed; I have contemned thy majesty and holy laws. I have likewise sinned by omitting what I ought to done, and committing what i ought not. I have rebelled against light, despised thy mercies and judgments, and broken my vows and promises; I have neglected teh means of Grace, and opportunities of becoming better; my iniquities are multiplies, and my sins are very great. I confess them, O Lord, with shame and sorrow, detestation and loathing, and desire to be vile in my own eyes, as I have rendered myself vile in thine. I humbly bessech thee to be merciful to me in the free pardon of my sins, for the sake of thy dear Son, my only saviour, J. C., who came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; be pleased to renew my nature and write thy laws upon my heart, and help me to live, righteously, soberly, and godly in this evil worlds; make me humble, meek, patient and contented, and work in me the grace of thy holy spirit. prepare me for death and judgment, and let the thoughts thereof awaken me to a greater care and study to approve myself unto thee in well doing. bless our rulers in church & state. Help all in affliction or adversity--give them patience and a sanctified use of their affliction, and in thy good time deliverance from them; forgive my enemies, take me unto thy protection this day, keep me in perfect peace, which I ask in the name & for the sake of Jesus. Amen.
(8) Wednesday Evening
Holy and eternal Lord God who art the King of heaven, and the watchman of Israel, that never slumberest or sleepest, what shall we render unto thee for all thy benefits; because thou hast inclined thine ears unto me, therefore will I call on thee as long as I live, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same let thy name be praised. among the infinite riches of thy mercy towards me, I desire to render thanks & praise for thy merciful preservation of me this day, as well as all the days of my life; and for the many other blessings & mercies spiritual & temporal which thou hast bestowed on me, contrary to my deserving. All these thy mercies call on me to be thankful and my infirmities & wants call for a continuance of thy tender mercies; cleanse my soul, O Lord, I beseech thee, from whatever is offensive to thee, and hurtful to me, and give me what is convenient for me. watch over me this night, and give me comfortable and sweet sleep to fit me for the service of the day following. Let my soul watch for the coming of the Lord Jesus; let my bed put me in mind of my grave, and my rising from there of my last resurrection; O heavenly Father, so frame this heart of mine, that I may ever delight to live according to thy will and command, in holiness and righteousness before thee all the days of my life. Let me remember, O Lord, the time will come when the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise and stand before the judgment seat, and give an account of whatever they have done in the body, and let me so prepare my soul, that I may do it with joy and not with grief. bless the rulers and people of this and forget not those who are under any affliction or oppression. Let thy favor be extended to all my relations friends and all others who I ought to remember in my prayer and hear me I beseech thee for the sake of my dear redeemer in whose most holy words, I farther pray, Our Father, & c.
(9) Thursday Morning
Most gracious Lord God, whose dwelling is in the highest heavens, and yet beholdest the lowly and humble upon the earth, I blush and am ashamed to lift up my eyes to thy dwelling place, because I have sinned against thee; look down, I beseech thee upon me thy unworthy servant who prostrate myself at the footstool of thy mercy, confessing my own guiltiness, and begging pardon for my sins; what couldst thou have done Lord more for me, or what could I have done more against thee? Thou didst send me thy Son to take nature upon

"The manuscript ended at this place, the close of a page. Whether the other pages were lost or the prayers were never completed, has not been determined."

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2003 6:46 PM


You really shouldn't interfere with manipulation of the dialectic by bringing in trainloads of facts. Just think of the cognitive dissonance you have created. A thinking creature might be destroyed by such a logical presentation. Of course, the ears to listen may be absent in this case.

Posted by: RDB at September 23, 2003 7:40 PM

At Brothers Judd the unsizzled synapse is a provocation.

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2003 7:50 PM

A site created by ex-Muslims to help Muslims leave Islam. Here

This column gives an interesting look at the fundamentalist view of secularist democracy...

"IT is not the American war machine that should be of the utmost concern to Muslims. What threatens the future of Islam, in fact its very survival, is American democracy." This is the message of a new book, just published by al Qaeda in several Arab countries.

Islam faces a new form of unbelief. This, he labels "secularist democracy." This threat is "far more dangerous to Islam" than all its predecessors combined. The reasons, he explains in a whole chapter, must be sought in democracy's "seductive capacities."

This form of "unbelief" persuades the people that they are in charge of their destiny and that, using their collective reasoning, they can shape policies and pass laws as they see fit. That leads them into ignoring the "unalterable laws" promulgated by God for the whole of mankind, and codified in the Islamic shariah (jurisprudence) until the end of time.

The goal of democracy, according to Al-Ayyeri, is to "make Muslims love this world, forget the next world and abandon jihad." If established in any Muslim country for a reasonably long time, democracy could lead to economic prosperity, which, in turn, would make Muslims "reluctant to die in martyrdom" in defense of their faith.

Posted by: Karma at September 23, 2003 8:05 PM

Unfortunately, the web site doesn't give a date for Washington's prayer journal. But the journal is listed at the top of a chronological list in which the 2nd item is dated 1744. It seems plausible that Washington wrote the journal when he was a boy and a pious Anglican, but that his religious beliefs drifted towards deism as he got older.

Posted by: Peter Caress at September 23, 2003 8:09 PM

If Washington drifted towards Deism, as defined

it's hard to differentiate it from Judeo-Christianity.

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2003 8:23 PM

Islam is an outstanding argument against organized religion.

OJ et al should read "The Godless Constitution."

There are plenty of historical citations in there that demonstrate Constitution's secularity (only one reference to religion in the whole document, and that one prohibits religious tests for office) was the result of competing, evenly matched, sects.

And Deism was widespread among the Fouding Fathers.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at September 23, 2003 8:46 PM

Well, of course. Deism is clearly part of the Judeo-Christian tradition. What struck me about the journal (in addition to the high caliber of the writing) were the many references to Jesus -- clearly the writings of a devout Christian. GW's later life hints that he moved away from belief in Jesus as a personal savior.

Posted by: Peter Caress at September 23, 2003 9:17 PM


Can you provide a source that is not dependent upon a nuanced interpretation of shadows discerned in the penumbras generated by interpretations of documents a hundred years and fifty years after the facts? Something written within fifty years either side of 1776 by contemporaries? You may find that your claim that they were deist is totaly dependent upon the view of historians trained (generously speaking) after 1880.

Historical interpretation has to be measured according to the historians worldview unless it is a recitation of verifiable facts. The verifiable facts concerning the Christian faith of the Founding Fathers are abundant - unless you wish to believe that they spent a good deal of time lying about their beliefs.

Posted by: RDB at September 23, 2003 9:20 PM

Huntington has several chapters trying to explain why the movement of backward people is one step forward, two back. That is supposed to explain why younger Muslims are less enamored of western ideals than their educated fathers. (He applies this to all non-western "civilizations," just just Islam, which I would not, myself, consider civilized.)

This makes a lot of sense, but only if you think what's going on now is different from what went on yesterday. I've looked high and low for religious tolerantion, and except for Baha'is, Mani and a few fringe sects, it's hard to find.

Toleration exists in Christianity today because it was foisted on it by secularism, which otherwise made Intolerance ridiculous. It slowly dawned on people that not letting a citizen attend University because he was a Methodist instead of an Anglican was crazy.

Anyhow, Magdeburg, Geneva, Florence, Edinburgh, Rome, Escorial, Versailles, Paris. The list of totalitarian Christian governments is endless until about 1789. And they didn't just go away then, but the Earth moved under them.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 23, 2003 9:38 PM


Obviously it was Christianity that tolerated governmental secularism to begin with.

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2003 10:15 PM

And when Constantine made Christianity the "official" religion of Rome, the faith began to seek secular power and secular approval instead of relying on its heavenly source.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 23, 2003 11:49 PM

This is all very impressive, from both "sides."

But isn't it rather obvious that while the founding fathers may have viewed belief in God(the Christian God alone, though?...) and the morality of God, as evinced by the Bible (Old Testament as well as New?), as necessary conditions, these conditions could by no means be considered sufficient in and of themselves?

And isn't this where the defense of the fledgling country AGAINST established religion and AGAINST potential abuses of established religion (as had occurred in the several hundred years before 1776, and was occurring) step in?

And could anything else really be expected from men of exquisited intelligence who were both "children" of the Enlightenment AND Protestants---with the examples of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation being (relatively) recent history?

I fail to see why or how this has become a black-and-white argument (even if it makes for most interesting comments).

Posted by: Barry Meislin at September 24, 2003 2:34 AM


The book is heavily sourced from contemporaneous writings, from Locke through the Constitutional convention.

Given nearly all religions' historical antipathy towards dissent and freedom of conscience, two of the major underpinnings of our society, the conclusion that Christianity is essential seems a little jarring.

Heck, Christian tolerance often hasn't extended even as far as other Christians.

It might be more accurate to say the principles in the Declaration (Deistically grounded as they are, and the recipe for government found in the Constitution, happened despite Christianity's best efforts, not because of them.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at September 24, 2003 7:56 AM


Reminds me of the old Christian saw about Darwin's deathbed recantation, as if even had he done such a thing it would have had any effect on his theory, one way or another. The Founding principles embodied in the Declaration and Constitution are undeniably Christian, so a quote here or there doesn't mean much. You have to judge them and the nation by what they did and the explicitly grounded our system in rights granted by the Creator. The rest is jesuitical.

Posted by: oj at September 24, 2003 8:46 AM

First, just because it seems to be my lot in life, let me note that the point of the Establishment Clause was to protect Establishments if the individual states chose to have them.

Second, both Jeff and OJ suggest part of the cause of our contemporary confusion. The word "Christian" in the 18th century didn't mean what it means today. It meant, at best, Protestant, and usually wasn't even that broad. (After all, one of the causes of the Revolution was the antipathy of the Congregationalists for the Episcopalians.) As the Framers didn't necessarily consider each other Christians, they used the word sparingly. That doesn't mean that they weren't, as a group, what we today would consider Christian.

The religious history of the Massachusetts Bay Colony is not only interesting in its own right, but is also useful in understanding American history. Nor is this entirely antediluvian. I remember having arguments in the '70s with Protestant friends who claimed that Catholics were not Christians and a heated conversation (very funny in hindsight) based on my misinterpretation of what was meant by "intermarriage."

Posted by: David Cohen at September 24, 2003 9:52 AM


That they came from Christians doesn't make them Christian.

The Declaration reads exactly like a Deist document, and atheists can completely understand the assertions.

What and Why are two entirely different things. Whether one's concept of Why is spelled Creator, or some other variant of Because, doesn't affect the fitness of the "What" end of it in any way.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at September 24, 2003 11:58 AM


I'm fine with that. If you believe the world was Created by a sentient being, who dictated moral laws we're required to follow, that He must be reverenced and that there's an afterlife for the soul--which is what Deism holds--then it matters rather little whether you believe Christ to have been God or not. That's not even freeloading atheism, more like gentile Judaism.

Posted by: oj at September 24, 2003 12:47 PM

Well, nobody contends the Founders were atheists, now; although they were regarded as little better than that by orthodox Christian opinion of the time.

Tolerance was, as I say, unknown to Christianity before the Enlightenment forced the contradictions of doctrine and practice. The Gordon riots were almost contemporaneous with the writing of the Constitution.

The forcing was happening all around the north Atlantic, but it took different forms in different places.

The Founders were not "Judeo-Christians" in any meaningful sense of the term but men willing to cherrypick among all traditions, and they were as much influenced by Roman paganism as by Christianity. They were even influenced to a degree by rather imprecise notions of confucianism and Islam.

One thing you'll not find in, say, Hamilton is any trace of the Sermon on the Mount. He was not much interested in seeing the poor inherit the Earth and absolutely opposed to their getting any part of the Western Reserve.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 24, 2003 3:44 PM


How'd the Jews survive if there was no tolerance?

You've obviously never read anything about Hamilton who was rather devout and who envisioned business and manufacture as a way to improve the lot of all men.

Posted by: oj at September 24, 2003 3:58 PM

I didn't say he was not devout. I said that if the Sermon on the Mount is an important part of Judeo-Christianity, he wanted nothing to do with it.

The Jews survived by fleeing from one persecution to another. Had the Muslims and Christians had the technology we have, there would not have been any Jews left, nor Irish, for that matter.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 24, 2003 9:48 PM

He established Paterson, NJ in order to help the working classes--what have you done that's comparable?

Exterminationist anti-Semitism is actually a modern rationalist racialist disorder--its nearest precursor, the Inquisition, too was racial rather than religious.

Jews were expelled from a couple countries at a couple points, but lived in others for hundreds of years.

Posted by: oj at September 24, 2003 9:52 PM

What OJ said. Harry, you are forcing it. Racism and genocide are very modern notions. The idea that Christendom was hell bent on destroying Judaism and Jews, but lacked the technology to do it, is nonesense. Pre-enlightenment anti-semitism was a very here and there thing, despite the horrors. Name me the first concerted, Christian, pan-European effort to destroy the Jews before Hitler.

That's why your fascinating historical tidbits are so obscure and arcane. C'mon, given Irish subjugation to the Brits for so long, are you really suugesting their survival was because of a lack of technological means to eradicate them?

Didn't stop us with lots of aboriginal tribes. Why did it stop us with the Jews and Irish?

Posted by: Peter B at September 24, 2003 10:16 PM

It would appear that the evil of Nazism has let the evil of the Inquisition (which itself was extended to wherever Spain and Portugal had jurisdiction---a not-insignificant chunk of the then-known world) off the hook.

Another of Hitler's achievements, perhaps....

Posted by: Barry Meislin at September 25, 2003 2:43 AM

I guess we can ignore the myriad expropriations of Jewish property over the last, say, 15 centuries.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at September 25, 2003 11:44 AM


Doesn't their ownership of property prove they were generally tolerated?

Posted by: oj at September 25, 2003 1:29 PM


As soon as they get some, the ecclesiastical powers that be come along and take it all?

That is an example of tolerance that collides nearly head-on with the definition of the word.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at September 25, 2003 9:12 PM

Really? It seems precise. They're allowed their religion but aren't entitled to equal rights. They are tolerated.

Posted by: oj at September 25, 2003 9:20 PM

Sounds like Dhimmi to me.

Dhimmi is a good reason, from where I stand, to find at least one aspect of Islam immoral.

What's good for the goose...

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at September 26, 2003 1:34 PM

is good for Muslims in the occuupied territories...

Posted by: oj at September 26, 2003 1:39 PM

I invented the World Food Prize. Unlike Hamilton, I didn't make any profits on it.

Racism and genocide are modern ideas? I supppose you are right about racism if you mean that someone sat down and wrote a treatise defending the idea. Start with Gobineau.

Before that, it was just assumed.

When the Jews fled persecution, they did not flee to another bishop but to a duke or prince. Someone who would protect them from the Christians. There were warmer and cooler Christians. As there are today.

Surely you guys are not going to contend that the slaughter of the Albigensians was racial? Or the slaughter of the Germans by Germans at Magdeburg? How about the slaughter of the Belgian Protestants? True, it was done by Spaniards, but they did not at the same time slaughter the Belgian Catholics.

If my references are arcane, it is only because Christians are afraid to know their own history.

Motley, "Rise of the Dutch Republic," is a good place to start.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 26, 2003 4:18 PM

No, the Spanish Inquisition was racial rather than religious. The persecuted had converted to Christianity long before but were attacked because of their ethnicity.

The idea of racial extermination is modern and seems largely a function of Darwinism and germ theory and the like.

Posted by: oj at September 26, 2003 4:26 PM

The Spanish Inquistion was both racial and religious. Also economic. That the convserso had, in fact, converted, was denied by the church.

You cannot just make up history to suit yourself.

The Netherlandish Inquistion, less famous but equally infamous, was purely religious.

The slaughters of the Prussians and Slavs by German Christians was racial.

The slaughter of the Sicilian Muslims was religious.

Bottom line. Whole lot of slaughtering going on for a religion that preaches love.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 26, 2003 9:18 PM

They argued over religion and killed each other. We argue over isms and kill each other in far greater numbers. Various of the isms even systematically terminate people who are different. Your age of reason is far worse at killing than was the age of faith.

Posted by: oj at September 26, 2003 9:24 PM