Millions Murdered By Christians

Posted: September 3, 2009 in Category - Thomas Jefferson, Millions Murdered By Christianity

Millions Murdered By Christianity
Bo Perrin

The real issues within the battle of church and state are often clouded by the imposition of statements and quotes which have little or nothing to do with the actual issue itself.  In their jihad against religion in the public square, Skeptics parade a host of quotations in front of the reader from the Founders, Framers and Presidents in which negative or disparaging statements are made about religious issues. The Skeptic draws from these quotes draw their typical conclusions that these men were deists, not Christians and believed religion had no place in the public square and political arena. 

Well, ask I the Skeptic, so what?  Actually, their argument is disingenuous at the least.  Skeptics cowardly hide behind the phrase “separation of church and state” because what they really are after is the removal of faith from the public square and decision making.  They want a secular government and they have redefined the term secular to mean a government in which faith is not used to make decisions.  When you read secular, read French revolution! 

But still, I ask the Skeptic, so what?  Almost every sensible and informed religious person believes in the what Jefferson actually meant by his original phrase.  Very few religious people want a government-run church or  a church-run government anymore than they will want a government-run health care system. The polls show this to be true.

Interestingly, Thomas Jefferson is the main person Skeptics’ use in their jihad to remove faith from the public square and its use in governmental decisions.  One issue Skeptics raise is Jefferson’s statement that millions of people have been killed through Christianity.  Jefferson stated:

“Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced an inch towards uniformity.  What has been the effect of coercion?  To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites.  To support roguery and error all over the earth.”

As is almost always the case Skeptics do not provide the context in which the statement they quote is found.  I can only gather the reason for this rather important omission is that they would rather you accept their somewhat slanted interpretation of the statement rather than to know why Jefferson actually said what he did.  In essence Jefferson was not against faith in the public square nor faith being used to guide governmental decisions but he was against the attempt of a religion to use the government to create uniformity.

Jefferson made this statement in Query XVII in the Notes On The State of Virginia.  This query is a response to a inquiry about the different types of religions in the state of Virginia.  Jefferson is discussing the inadequacy or inability of the government to actually accomplish much of anything especially its inability to determine what is truth. He jokes that if the government were to regulate our medical facilities our bodies would be in as bad a shape as he believed our souls were at the time and Jefferson did not believe the souls of most were in good shape.  It is too bad that the very skeptics who use Jefferson so often as their poster-child to remove faith from the public square did not listen to his advice about government-run health care.

Jefferson continues to explain how the government had failed truth when it condemned Gallio’s statement that the earth was round not flat as the government pontificated.  Yet the government in power during Descartes’ day was wise enough to stay out of the fray when Descartes declare the earth whirled around a vortex. He applauded the government for realizing Descartes statement was not a matter of civil jurisdiction despite the fact that Descartes’ belief eventually was proven to be wrong.  He also applauded the fact that an issue, in this case the vortex, came before reason and experiment and was found to be wrong without the interposition of the government into the affair.

Jefferson states “Truth can stand by itself.”  He then asks, “Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors?”  His answer is, fallible men.  He proceeds to ask, “And why subject it to coercion?”  Jefferson’s answer is to produce uniformity.  It is at this point in his discussion that Jefferson makes the statement that millions have been killed by Christianity.  He argues that differences of opinion in religion are advantageous and asks, “Is uniformity attainable?”  Jefferson is asking if uniformity in religion is attainable through coercive governmental measures and his quote is evidence that he believes such coerced uniformity has failed in the past and will fail in the present and future. 

The most important part of Jefferson’s quote used by Skeptics is the phrase “yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.”  But Skeptics leave it out. Until you understand why Jefferson said this you cannot fully understand what Jefferson meant by what he said.  This crucial omission allows Skeptics to import into the quote any meaning they wish.  But unlike the Skeptic Jefferson does not stop there.  He argues that any attempt a religion might make to use the government to coerce religious uniformity will ultimately fail.  Instead Jefferson states if a person believes that his religion is the right religion then he ought to use reason and persuasion to produce uniformity as these “are the only practicable instruments” to do so.

Jefferson believed in a separation of church and state in the sense that the government was not to create or meddle within a religious organization. As we have learned he was also against a religious organization using the government to create religious uniformity. 

But, again, I ask the Skeptic, so what?  Almost every religious person who has studied the subject agrees.  This argument is a straw man. The Skeptics create the straw by refusing to provide the context or the whole quote, then mightily defeat their newly formed argument and then, obviously, to no one’s surprise, claim the moral high ground.

But that is not the Skeptic’s real intent.  The Skeptic believes that by providing evidence that Jefferson believed in the separation of church and state that ipso facto he also believed in the separation of faith and state or in a secular state where faith is not used to make decisions.  Jefferson did not for he believed in and lived out Jesus’ moral dictates and for this reason he calls himself a Christian.  He also argued that morality is an absolute  necessity for the government to operate properly.  Granted Jefferson’s idea of  what a Christian is was not mainstream but neither was his theory of Deism.  But here is what is important to realize and what Skeptics do not want you to know.  The only morals Jefferson argues for are those he believes in and these are the morals referred to as Judeo-Christian values.

In actuality, Jefferson’s quote is merely historical evidence that he presents to show that governmental coercion will not produce religious uniformity.  To this all agree! Instead, he argues, if religious uniformity is to exist then the religion’s adherents ought to use reason and persuasion.  Again, to this all agree! So, despite the Skeptic’s mighty attempt to twist Jefferson’s words, Jefferson’s quote does not  provide any reasonable evidence that he believed in the Skeptic’s secular state.

Endnotes.

1. Merrill D. Peterson, Thomas Jefferson, Writings. (Literary Classics of the United States, Inc.: New York, N.Y.)

2. See https://theamericanheritageproject.wordpress.com/category/jefferson/jefferson-deism-judeo-christian-values/

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