The national Freedom From Religion Foundation and its Portland chapter are placing a full-page advertisement in the Sunday Portland Oregonian celebrating “Our godless Constitution” and Constitution Day.
Monday, Sept. 17, is the 231st anniversary of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution.
The ad, featuring six U.S. Founders, proclaims, “In REASON We Trust.”
Cheryl Kolbe, director of FFRF Portland Area, notes that on July 4, Hobby Lobby ran a full-page ad in the Oregonian. “Misleading sources and distortions were used to attempt to falsely imply that we are a Christian nation,” Kolbe says. “Our Portland chapter, with FFRF, is very pleased to record set straight. A secular government gives all of us the freedom to believe or disbelieve as we like. This is true religious freedom for all.”
Adds Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president: “The United States was first among nations to separate religion from government, to adopt a godless Constitution which places sovereignty not in a deity, but in ‘We, the People.’ However, the Religious Right continues to repeat the Big Lie that the U.S. is a ‘Christian nation.’” Nothing could be further from the intent of our Founders, she says.
Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison are featured in the color ad, along with quotes representing either their irreligious views or their strong support for separating religion from government:
“Question with boldness even the existence of a God,” advised Jefferson. Paine wrote: “My own mind is my own church.” Franklin chastised religions for seeking governmental support, saying “When religion is good, it will support itself.” Washington noted, “Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony & irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause.”
Madison, the primary architect of the secular Constitution and Bill of Rights, wrote, “During almost 15 centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial.” The consequences of this union, he said, included “superstition, bigotry and persecution.”
That’s why, FFRF notes, the Constitution’s only references to religion are exclusionary, such as that there shall be no religious test for public office.
The freethought association, with 32,000 nonreligious members — including more than 900 in Oregon — also works as a state/church watchdog.