Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Joseph Farah and Secularism:

Joseph Farah of World Net Daily has a piece lamenting the fact that both Afghanistan and Iraq are being founded as “official Islamic Republics.”

I emailed him this:

As a secularist, I agree with your article one-hundred percent. Iraq and Afghanistan ought to enact, in Madison's words, "a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters." I only wish that this website were so enthusiastic about maintaining the separation of Church & State in America.

Farah and his web site officially posit the “Christian Founding” myth (they recently featured a publication, which I can’t find online, claiming to smash the "myth of Separation of Church & State”).

Farah replied, “Please provide citation for that quote from Madison?” So I did and here it is (Note this is also relevant to my reader's erroneous claim that “Jefferson's letter [to the Danbury Baptists] to reassure them…contained the one and only reference to the concept of "separation of church and state"—no, our founders often used the term “separation of Church & State,” which is what Madison’s term is virtually identical to):

Nothwithstanding the general progress made within the two last centuries in favour of this branch of liberty, & the full establishment of it, in some parts of our Country, there remains in others a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Gov' & Religion neither can be duly supported: Such indeed is the tendency to such a coalition, and such its corrupting influence on both the parties, that the danger cannot be too carefully guarded agst.. And in a Gov' of opinion, like ours, the only effectual guard must be found in the soundness and stability of the general opinion on the subject. Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Gov will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together;

James Madison, Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822, The Writings of James Madison, Gaillard Hunt.

You can find that quote here with a bunch of other quotes by Madison that support the separation of Church and State (this is where I copied the first quote from—I did a search for the quote—I was already familiar with it and it has been substantiated by many scholars and can be found all over the Internet. I always substantiate before I quote—because there are tons of phony or unsubstantiated quotes by our Founders about religion—many of which have been pushed by World Net Daily).

Farah has yet to respond back. I was sort of surprised that Farah had never heard of Madison’s “a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters” quote. It’s commonly cited and Farah, who seems to be an intelligent man, has written as if he were some sort of lay-expert on our Founders and Religion. I guess I shouldn't overestimate people.

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