by Bob Johnson
It’s very important to see things as they really are. That is the only way we can make true progress and live a happy and fulfilling life.
One topic which many people unfortunately feel is off limits to honest and objective examination and discussion is religion. This needs to be corrected for the benefit of both society and individuals.
The American Revolutionary and Deist Thomas Paine made this crystal clear when he wrote to the American Deist Elihu Palmer regarding Palmer’s book on God, Deism and religion, Principles of Nature, “I received, by Mr. Livingston, the letter you wrote to me, and the excellent work [Principles of Nature] you have published. I see you have thought deeply on the subject, and expressed your thoughts in a strong and clear style.
The hinting and intimating manner of writing that was formerly used on subjects of this kind, produced skepticism, but not conviction. It is necessary to be bold. Some people can be reasoned into sense, and others must be shocked into it. Say a bold thing that will stagger them, and they will begin to think.”
One great way to make people THINK objectively about religion in the United States, especially as we approach the Fourth of July, is to ask them if they believe America’s Founders, heroes like George Washington, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, etc., as well as the grunts of the Revolution like Joseph Plumb Martin and Isaac Davis are all burning in Hell for their roles in America’s fight for independence. Anyone who believes the Bible is the word of God would have to believe all of these American heroes are burning in Hell for their acts of violence against the legally established government. In fact, based on the Bible, the Declaration of Independence is a very ungodly document.
The Bible teaching that makes this point very clear is Romans 13:1-7 which reads, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good.
But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”
It’s obvious from the actions of not only the Deists who took part in the American Revolution, but also of the Christians who took part, that they did not take this Bible teaching very seriously. This would indicate the Bible was not very high on their priority list. Christianity was probably to them more a traditional part of their lives than a deep meaningful worldview. For if they did take the Bible and Christianity seriously there is no way they would violate this Bible teaching, especially for fear of receiving damnation for doing so.
Any person who values true freedom would be disgusted with Romans 13:1-7 instructing them to be obedient and in fear of the powers that be! By their ACTIONS we know America’s Revolutionaries were not obedient nor fearful of the government. And any fear they may have had they overcame it and did courageous and altruistic acts which we still benefit from to some shrinking degree today.
Comparing this unnatural Bible teaching to the Declaration of Independence we immediately see the two are irreconcilable. To start with, the Romans 13:1-7 is talking about the Bible god while the first sentence of the Declaration makes it clear they are referring to Nature’s God which is a Deistic term. The Declaration states, “When in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.”
This is beautiful Deistic writing which the charlatans like Pat Robertson and John Hagee either ignore or twist. If the signers of the Declaration of Independence took the Bible’s instruction to fear the authorities they never would have started and successfully finished the American Revolution.
More direct assaults on Romans 13:1-7 are found in the next paragraph of the Declaration which says, “. . . whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,” . . . “it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government . . .” Nowhere do they express the idea found in the Bible that governments and the powers that be are “ordained of God.” They knew that idea is pure nonsense.
However, it probably does explain why the government gives such huge tax breaks to Christian churches and the various and contradicting Christian denominations. What better way to keep people under your thumb than to make them believe that that is the way God wants it.
Bob Johnson is a freelance writer in the Tampa area of Florida. He was raised Roman Catholic, but after a stint in Marine Corps infantry and reading Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason he became a Deist.
In 1993 he founded the World Union of Deists, and in 1996 he launched the first website devoted to Deism. He is the author of God Gave Us Reason, Not Religion, Deism: A Revolution in Religion, A Revolution in You and An Answer to C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. He has also written the introduction to Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason, The Complete Edition and Principles of Nature by Elihu Palmer.