The Freedom From Religion Foundation is celebrating Constitution Day today — marking the 226th anniversary of ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, with a full-page color ad celebrating “our Godless Constitution” in Lancaster Eagle Gazette, Lancaster, Ohio.
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 500 in Indiana.
The ad features two deistic revolutionaries, Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin, and the first four presidents: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
Washington is quoted warning about “religious controversies” being the primary source of “acrimony & irreconcilable hatreds.” Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli stating that the U.S. government “is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” Jefferson is featured advocating that one should “Question with boldness even the existence of a God” and Madison in deploring nearly 1500 centuries showing the “legal establishment of religion” has produced “superstition, bigotry and persecution.”
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.
Cost of the ad was underwritten by a generous Lancaster FFRF member.
Versions of the “godless constitution” ad first ran in The New York Times and 24 other newspapers on July 4 to directly challenge annual July 4 ads by Hobby Lobby craft store, which paint a false picture that the United States government is predicated on a deity and Jesus.
“This ad will also be timely on Bill of Rights Day, Dec. 15, anniversary of ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791. FFRF would be delighted to work with members to run this ad in their area on any occasion,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.