The Freedom From Religion Foundation is celebrating Constitution Day, Sept. 17, marking the 226th anniversary of adoption of the U.S. Constitution, with a full-page color ad celebrating “our Secular Constitution” in the Sunday Bloomington Times-Herald., Ind.
FFRF, a state/church watchdog based in Madison, Wis., serves as the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics) with nearly 20,000 members, including more than 300 in Indiana.
The ads quote U.S. Founders and Framers on their strong views against religion in government, and their often critical views on religion in general. The ad features two revolutionaries and Deists, Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin, and the first four presidents: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
Thomas Paine, who penned “The Age of Reason” criticizing the bible, wrote: “Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize. . .”
Franklin is quoted noting that “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; . . . [when] its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil power, ’tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”
The ad documents that not only is the U.S. Constitution entirely secular — with no reference to a deity —but that there was no prayer during the Constitutional Convention. The Constitution’s primary architect, Madison, opposed government days of prayer, congressional chaplaincies and even “three pence” of tax dollars used in support of religion. The ad includes a website link that not only documents the quotations, but takes the reader to the original script in most cases.
Indiana FFRF members Paul Newman, Charlie Sitzes and donor Jim Vaughan graciously helped underwrite the advertisement.