The Christian Nation Myth

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/farrell_till/myth.html

 

 

The Christian Nation Myth

Farrell Till

Whenever the Supreme Court makes a decision that in any way restricts the intrusion of religion into the affairs of government, a flood of editorials, articles, and letters protesting the ruling is sure to appear in the newspapers. Many protesters decry these decisions on the grounds that they conflict with the wishes and intents of the “founding fathers.”

Such a view of American history is completely contrary to known facts. The primary leaders of the so-called founding fathers of our nation were not Bible-believing Christians; they were deists. Deism was a philosophical belief that was widely accepted by the colonial intelligentsia at the time of the American Revolution. Its major tenets included belief in human reason as a reliable means of solving social and political problems and belief in a supreme deity who created the universe to operate solely by natural laws. The supreme God of the Deists removed himself entirely from the universe after creating it. They believed that he assumed no control over it, exerted no influence on natural phenomena, and gave no supernatural revelation to man. A necessary consequence of these beliefs was a rejection of many doctrines central to the Christian religion. Deists did not believe in the virgin birth, divinity, or resurrection of Jesus, the efficacy of prayer, the miracles of the Bible, or even the divine inspiration of the Bible.

These beliefs were forcefully articulated by Thomas Paine in Age of Reason, a book that so outraged his contemporaries that he died rejected and despised by the nation that had once revered him as “the father of the American Revolution.” To this day, many mistakenly consider him an atheist, even though he was an out spoken defender of the Deistic view of God. Other important founding fathers who espoused Deism were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Ethan Allen, James Madison, and James Monroe.

Fundamentalist Christians are currently working overtime to convince the American public that the founding fathers intended to establish this country on “biblical principles,” but history simply does not support their view. The men mentioned above and others who were instrumental in the founding of our nation were in no sense Bible-believing Christians. Thomas Jefferson, in fact, was fiercely anti-cleric. In a letter to Horatio Spafford in 1814, Jefferson said, “In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer for their purposes” (George Seldes, The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey Citadel Press, 1983, p. 371). In a letter to Mrs. Harrison Smith, he wrote, “It is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read. By the same test the world must judge me. But this does not satisfy the priesthood. They must have a positive, a declared assent to all their interested absurdities. My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest” (August 6, 1816).

Jefferson was just as suspicious of the traditional belief that the Bible is “the inspired word of God.” He rewrote the story of Jesus as told in the New Testament and compiled his own gospel version known as The Jefferson Bible, which eliminated all miracles attributed to Jesus and ended with his burial. The Jeffersonian gospel account contained no resurrection, a twist to the life of Jesus that was considered scandalous to Christians but perfectly sensible to Jefferson’s Deistic mind. In a letter to John Adams, he wrote, “To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, God, are immaterial is to say they are nothings, or that there is no God, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise” (August 15, 1820). In saying this, Jefferson was merely expressing the widely held Deistic view of his time, which rejected the mysticism of the Bible and relied on natural law and human reason to explain why the world is as it is. Writing to Adams again, Jefferson said, “And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter” (April 11, 1823). These were hardly the words of a devout Bible-believer.

Jefferson didn’t just reject the Christian belief that the Bible was “the inspired word of God”; he rejected the Christian system too. In Notes on the State of Virginia, he said of this religion, “There is not one redeeming feature in our superstition of Christianity. It has made one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites” (quoted by newspaper columnist William Edelen, “Politics and Religious Illiteracy,” Truth Seeker, Vol. 121, No. 3, p. 33). Anyone today who would make a statement like this or others we have quoted from Jefferson’s writings would be instantly branded an infidel, yet modern Bible fundamentalists are frantically trying to cast Jefferson in the mold of a Bible believing Christian. They do so, of course, because Jefferson was just too important in the formation of our nation to leave him out if Bible fundamentalists hope to sell their “Christian-nation” claim to the public. Hence, they try to rewrite history to make it appear that men like Thomas Jefferson had intended to build our nation on “biblical principles.” The irony of this situation is that the Christian leaders of Jefferson’s time knew where he stood on “biblical principles,” and they fought desperately, but unsuccessfully, to prevent his election to the presidency. Saul K. Padover’s biography related the bitterness of the opposition that the clergy mounted against Jefferson in the campaign of 1800

The religious issue was dragged out, and stirred up flames of hatred and intolerance. Clergymen, mobilizing their heaviest artillery of thunder and brimstone, threatened Christians with all manner of dire consequences if they should vote for the “in fidel” from Virginia. This was particularly true in New England, where the clergy stood like Gibraltar against Jefferson (Jefferson A Great American’s Life and Ideas, Mentor Books, 1964, p.116).

William Linn, a Dutch Reformed minister in New York City, made perhaps the most violent of all attacks on Jefferson’s character, all of it based on religious matters. In a pamphlet entitled Serious Considerations on the Election of a President, Linn “accused Jefferson of the heinous crimes of not believing in divine revelation and of a design to destroy religion and `introduce immorality'” (Padover, p. 116). He referred to Jefferson as a “true infidel” and insisted that “(a)n infidel like Jefferson could not, should not, be elected” (Padover, p. 117). He concluded the pamphlet with this appeal for “Christians to defeat the `infidel’ from Virginia”

Will you, then, my fellow-citizens, with all this evidence… vote for Mr. Jefferson?… As to myself, were Mr. Jefferson connected with me by the nearest ties of blood, and did I owe him a thousand obligations, I would not, and could not vote for him. No; sooner than stretch forth my hand to place him at the head of the nation “Let mine arms fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone” (quoted by Padover, p. 117).

Why would contemporary clergymen have so vigorously opposed Jefferson’s election if he were as devoutly Christian as modern preachers claim? The answer is that Jefferson was not a Christian, and the preachers of his day knew that he wasn’t.

In the heat of the campaign Jefferson wrote a letter to Benjamin Rush in which he angrily commented on the clerical efforts to assassinate his personal character “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” That statement has been inscribed on Jefferson’s monument in Washington. Most people who read it no doubt think that Jefferson was referring to political tyrants like the King of England, but in reality, he was referring to the fundamentalist clergymen of his day.

After Jefferson became president, he did not compromise his beliefs. As president, he refused to issue Thanksgiving proclamations, a fact that Justice Souter referred to in his concurring opinion with the majority in Lee vs. Weisman, the recent supreme-court decision that ruled prayers at graduation ceremonies unconstitutional. Early in his first presidential term, Jefferson declared his firm belief in the separation of church and state in a letter to the Danbury (Connecticut) Baptists “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should `make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”

Before sending the letter to Danbury, Jefferson asked his attorney general, Levi Lincoln, to review it. Jefferson told Lincoln that he considered the letter a means of “sowing useful truths and principles among the people, which might germinate and become rooted among their political tenets” (quoted by Rob Boston in “Myths and Mischief,” Church and State, March 1992). If this was indeed Jefferson’s wish, he certainly succeeded. Twice, in Reynolds vs. the United States (1879) and Everson vs. Board of Education (1947), the Supreme Court cited Jefferson’s letter as “an authoritative declaration of the scope of the [First] Amendment” and agreed that the intention of the First Amendment was “to erect `a wall of separation between church and state.'” Confronted with evidence like this, some fundamentalists will admit that Thomas Jefferson was not a Bible-believer but will insist that most of the other “founding fathers”–men like Washington, Madison, and Franklin–were Christians whose intention during the formative years of our country was to establish a “Christian nation.” Again, however, history does not support their claim.

James Madison, Jefferson’s close friend and political ally, was just as vigorously opposed to religious intrusions into civil affairs as Jefferson was. In 1785, when the Commonwealth of Virginia was considering passage of a bill “establishing a provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion,” Madison wrote his famous “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments” in which he presented fifteen reasons why government should not be come involved in the support of any religion. This paper, long considered a landmark document in political philosophy, was also cited in the majority opinion in Lee vs. Weisman. The views of Madison and Jefferson prevailed in the Virginia Assembly, and in 1786, the Assembly adopted the statute of religious freedom of which Jefferson and Madison were the principal architects. The preamble to this bill said that “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.” The statute itself was much more specific than the establishment clause of the U. S. Constitution “Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise [sic] diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities”.

Realizing that whatever legislation an elected assembly passed can be later repealed, Jefferson ended the statute with a statement of contempt for any legislative body that would be so presumptuous “And though we well know this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted with the powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable, would be of no effect in law, yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right” (emphasis added).

After George Washington’s death, Christians made an intense effort to claim him as one of their own. This effort was based largely on the grounds that Washington had regularly attended services with his wife at an Episcopal Church and had served as a vestryman in the church. On August 13, 1835, a Colonel Mercer, involved in the effort, wrote to Bishop William White, who had been one of the rectors at the church Washington had attended. In the letter, Mercer asked if “Washington was a communicant of the Protestant Episcopal church, or whether he occasionally went to the communion only, or if ever he did so at all…” (John Remsberg, Six Historic Americans, p. 103). On August 15, 1835, White sent Mercer this reply

In regard to the subject of your inquiry, truth requires me to say that Gen. Washington never received the communion in the churches of which I am the parochial minister. Mrs. Washington was an habitual communicant…. I have been written to by many on that point, and have been obliged to answer them as I now do you (Remsberg, p. 104).

In his Annals of the American Pulpit, The Reverend William B. Sprague, D.D., wrote a biographical sketch of the Reverend James Abercrombie, the other pastor of the congregation Washington attended. In this work, Sprague quoted Abercrombie in confirmation of what White had written to Mercer

One incident in Dr. Abercrombie’s experience as a clergyman, in connection with the Father of his Country, is especially worthy of record; and the following account of it was given by the Doctor himself, in a letter to a friend, in 1831 shortly after there had been some public allusion to it “With respect to the inquiry you make I can only state the following facts; that, as pastor of the Episcopal church, observing that, on sacramental Sundays, Gen. Washington, immediately after the desk and pulpit services, went out with the greater part of the congregation–always leaving Mrs. Washington with the other communicants–she invariably being one–I considered it my duty in a sermon on Public Worship, to state the unhappy tendency of example, particularly of those in elevated stations who uniformly turned their backs upon the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. I acknowledge the remark was intended for the President; and as such he received it” (From Annals of the American Pulpit, Vol. 5, p. 394, quoted by Remsberg, pp. 104-105).

Abercrombie went on to explain that he had heard through a senator that Washington had discussed the reprimand with others and had told them that “as he had never been a communicant, were he to become one then it would be imputed to an ostentatious display of religious zeal, arising altogether from his elevated station” (Ibid.). Abercrombie then said that Washington “never afterwards came on the morning of sacramental Sunday” (Ibid.).

Here is firsthand testimony from the rectors of the church that Washington attended with his wife, and they both claimed that he never participated in the communion service. Writing in the Episcopal Recorder, the Reverend E. D. Neill said that Washington “was not a communicant, notwithstanding all the pretty stories to the contrary, and after the close of the sermon on sacramental Sundays, [he] had fallen into the habit of retiring from the church while his wife remained and communed” (Remsberg, p. 107). In this article, Neill also made reference to Abercrombie’s reprimand of Washington from the pulpit, so those who knew Washington personally or who knew those who had known him all seem to agree that Washington was never a “communicant.” Remsberg continued at length in his chapter on Washington to quote the memoirs and letters of Washington’s associates, who all agreed that the president had never once been known to participate in the communion service, a fact that weakens the claim that he was a Christian. Would preachers today consider someone a devout Christian if he just attended services with his wife but never took the communion?

As for Washington’s membership in the vestry, for several years he did actively serve as one of the twelve vestrymen of Truro parish, Virginia, as had also his father. This, however, cannot be construed as proof that he was a Christian believer. The vestry at that time was also the county court, so in order to have certain political powers, it was necessary for one to be a vestryman. On this matter, Paul F. Boller made this observation

Actually, under the Anglican establishment in Virginia before the Revolution, the duties of a parish vestry were as much civil as religious in nature and it is not possible to deduce any exceptional religious zeal from the mere fact of membership.* Even Thomas Jefferson was a vestryman for a while. Consisting of the leading gentlemen of the parish in position and influence (many of whom, like Washington, were also at one time or other members of the County Court and of the House of Burgeses), the parish vestry, among other things, levied the parish taxes, handled poor relief, fixed land boundaries in the parish, supervised the construction, furnishing, and repairs of churches, and hired ministers and paid their salaries (George Washington & Religion, Dallas Southern Methodist University Press, 1963, p. 26).

A footnote where the asterisk appears cited Meade as proof that avowed unbelievers sometimes served as vestrymen “As Bishop William Meade put it, somewhat nastily, in 1857, `Even Mr. Jefferson and [George] Wythe, who did not conceal their disbelief in Christianity, took their parts in the duties of vestrymen, the one at Williamsburg, the other at Albermarle; for they wished to be men of influence'” (William Meade, Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia, 2 vols., Philadelphia, 1857, I, p. 191).

Clearly, then, one cannot assume from Washington’s presence at church services and his membership in the Truro parish vestry that he was a Christian believer. Is there any other evidence to suggest that he was a Christian? The Reverend Bird Wilson, an Episcopal minister in Albany, New York, preached a sermon in October 1831 in which he stated that “among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism” (Paul F. Boller, George Washington & Religion, pp. 14-15). He went on to describe Washington as a “great and good man” but “not a professor of religion.” Wilson said that he was “really a typical eighteenth century Deist, not a Christian, in his religious outlook” (Ibid.). Wilson wasn’t just speaking about matters that he had not researched, because he had carefully investigated his subject before he preached this sermon. Among others, Wilson had inquired of the Reverend Abercrombie [identified earlier as the rector of the church Washington had attended] concerning Washing ton’s religious views. Abercrombie’s response was brief and to the point “Sir, Washington was a Deist” (Remsberg, p. 110). Those, then, who were best positioned to know Washington’s private religious beliefs did not consider him a Christian, and the Reverend Abercrombie, who knew him personally and pastored the church he attended with his wife flatly said that Washington was a Deist.

The Reverend Bird Wilson, who was just a few years removed from being a contemporary of the so-called founding fathers, said further in the above-mentioned sermon that “the founders of our nation were nearly all Infidels, and that of the presidents who had thus far been elected [George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson] _not a one had professed a belief in Christianity_” (Remsberg, p. 120, emphasis added).

Dr. Wilson’s sermon, which was published in the Albany Daily Advertiser the month it was delivered also made an interesting observation that flatly contradicts the frantic efforts of present-day fundamentalists to make the “founding fathers” orthodox Christians

When the war was over and the victory over our enemies won, and the blessings and happiness of liberty and peace were secured, the Constitution was framed and God was neglected. He was not merely forgotten. He was absolutely voted out of the Constitution. The proceedings, as published by Thompson, the secretary, and the history of the day, show that the question was gravely debated whether God should be in the Constitution or not, and after a solemn debate he was deliberately voted out of it…. There is not only in the theory of our government no recognition of God’s laws and sovereignty, but its practical operation, its administration, has been conformable to its theory. Those who have been called to administer the government have not been men making any public profession of Christianity…. Washington was a man of valor and wisdom. He was esteemed by the whole world as a great and good man; but he was not a professing Christian (quoted by Remsberg, pp. 120-121, emphasis added).

The publication of Wilson’s sermon in the Daily Advertiser attracted the attention of Robert Owen, who then personally visited Wilson to discuss the matter of Washington’s religious views. Owen summarized the results of that visit in a letter to Amos Gilbert dated November 13, 1831

I called last evening on Dr. Wilson, as I told you I should, and I have seldom derived more pleasure from a short interview with anyone. Unless my discernment of character has been grievously at fault, I met an honest man and sincere Christian. But you shall have the particulars. A gentleman of this city accompanied me to the Doctor’s residence. We were very courteously received. I found him a tall, commanding figure, with a countenance of much benevolence, and a brow indicative of deep thought, apparently approaching fifty years of age. I opened the interview by stating that though personally a stranger to him, I had taken the liberty of calling in consequence of having perused an interesting sermon of his, which had been reported in the Daily Advertiser of this city, and regarding which, as he probably knew, a variety of opinions prevailed. In a discussion, in which I had taken a part, some of the facts as there reported had been questioned; and I wished to know from him whether the reporter had fairly given his words or not…. I then read to him from a copy of the Daily Advertiser the paragraph which regards Washington, beginning, “Washington was a man,” etc. and ending, “absented himself altogether from the church.” “I endorse,” said Dr. Wilson, with emphasis, “every word of that. Nay, I do not wish to conceal from you any part of the truth, even what I have not given to the public. Dr. Abercrombie said more than I have repeated. At the close of our conversation on the subject his emphatic expression was–for I well remember the very words–`Sir, Washington was a Deist.'”

In concluding the interview, Dr. Wilson said “I have diligently perused every line that Washington ever gave to the public, and I do not find one expression in which he pledges him self as a believer in Christianity. I think anyone who will candidly do as I have done, will come to the conclusion that he was a Deist and nothing more” (Remsberg, pp. 121-122, emphasis added).

In February 1800, after Washington’s death, Thomas Jefferson wrote this statement in his personal journal

Dr. Rush told me (he had it from Asa Green) that when the clergy addressed General Washington, on his departure from the government, it was observed in their consultation that he had never, on any occasion, said a word to the public which showed a belief in the Christian religion, and they thought they should so pen their address as to force him at length to disclose publicly whether he was a Christian or not. However, he observed, the old fox was too cunning for them. He answered every article of their address particularly, except that, which he passed over without notice….

I know that Gouverneur Morris [principal drafter of the constitution], who claimed to be in his secrets, and believed him self to be so, has often told me that General Washington believed no more in that system [Christianity] than he did” (quoted in Remsberg, p. 123 from Jefferson’s Works, Vol. 4, p. 572, emphasis added).

The “Asa” Green referred to by Jefferson was probably the Reverend Ashbel Green, who was chaplain to congress during Washington’s administration. If so, he was certainly in a position to know the information that “Asa” Green had passed along to Jefferson. Reverend Ashbel Green became the president of Princeton College after serving eight years as the congressional chaplain. He was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a prominent figure in the colonial Presbyterian Church (Remsberg, p. 124). His testimony has to be given more weight than what modern day clerics may think about Washington’s religious beliefs.

Dr. Moncure D. Conway, who was once employed to edit a volume of Washington’s letters, wrote an article entitled “The Religion of Washington,” from which Remsberg quoted the following

In editing a volume of Washington’s private letters for the Long Island Historical Society, I have been much impressed by indications that this great historic personality represented the Liberal religious tendency of his time. That tendency was to respect religious organizations as part of the social order, which required some minister to visit the sick, bury the dead, and perform marriages. It was considered in nowise inconsistent with disbelief of the clergyman’s doctrines to contribute to his support, or even to be a vestryman in his church.

In his many letters to his adopted nephew and younger relatives, he admonishes them about their manners and morals, but in no case have I been able to discover any suggestion that they should read the Bible, keep the Sabbath, go to church, or any warning against Infidelity.

Washington had in his library the writings of Paine, Priestley, Voltaire, Frederick the Great, and other heretical works (pp. 128-129, emphasis added).

In a separate submission to the New York Times, Conway said that “Washington, like most scholarly Virginians of his time, was a Deist…. Contemporary evidence shows that in mature life Washington was a Deist, and did not commune, which is quite consistent with his being a vestryman. In England, where vestries have secular functions, it is not unusual for Unitarians to vestrymen, there being no doctrinal subscription required for that office. Washington’s letters during the Revolution occasionally indicate his recognition of the hand of Providence in notable public events, but in the thousands of his letters I have never been able to find the name of Christ or any reference to him” (quoted by Remsberg, pp. 129-130, emphasis added).

The absence of Christian references in Washington’s personal papers and conversation was noted by historian Clinton Rossiter

The last and least skeptical of these rationalists [Washington] loaded his First Inaugural Address with appeals to the “Great Author,” “Almighty Being,” “invisible hand,” and “benign parent of the human race,” but apparently could not bring himself to speak the word “God” (“The United States in 1787,” 1787 The Grand Convention, New York W, W, Norton & Co., 1987, p. 36).

These terms by which Washington referred to “God” in his inaugural address are dead giveaways that he was Deistic in his views. The uninformed see the expression “nature’s God” in documents like the Declaration of Independence and wrongly interpret it as evidence of Christian belief in those who wrote and signed it, but in reality it is a sure indication that the document was Deistic in origin. Deists preferred not to use the unqualified term “God” in their conversation and writings because of its Christian connotations. Accordingly, they substituted expressions like those that Washington used in his inaugural address or else they referred to their creator as “nature’s God,” the deity who had created the world and then left it to operate by natural law.

Moncure Conway also stated that “(t)here is no evidence to show that Washington, even in early life, was a believer in Christianity” (Ibid.). Remsberg also noted that Conway stated that Washington’s father had been a Deist and that his mother “was not excessively religious” (Ibid.).

Christians have often claimed that most non-Christians make death-bed professions of faith when they realize that they are dying. These claims almost always turn out to be unverifiable assertions, but Conway made it very clear that Washington, even on his death bed, made no profession of faith

When the end was near, Washington said to a physician present–an ancestor of the writer of these notes–“I am not afraid to go.” With his right fingers on his left wrist he counted his own pulses, which beat his funeral march to the grave. “He bore his distress,” so next day wrote one present, “with astonishing fortitude, and conscious, as he declared, several hours before his death, of his approaching dissolution, he resigned his breath with the greatest composure, having the full possession of his reason to the last moment.” Mrs. Washington knelt beside his bed, but no word passed on religious matters. With the sublime taciturnity which had marked his life he passed out of existence, leaving no act or word which can be turned to the service of superstition, cant, or bigotry” (quoted by Remsberg, pp. 132-133, emphasis added).

Some Christians were of course involved in the shaping of our nation, but their influence was minor compared to the ideological contributions of the Deists who pressed for the formation of a secular nation. In describing the composition of the delegations to the constitutional convention, the historian Clinton Rossiter said this about their religious views

Whatever else it might turn out to be, the Convention would not be a `Barebone’s Parliament.’ Although it had its share of strenuous Christians like Strong and Bassett, ex-preachers like Baldwin and Williamson, and theologians like Johnson and Ellsworth, the gathering at Philadelphia was largely made up of men in whom the old fires were under control or had even flickered out. Most were nominally members of one of the traditional churches in their part of the country–the New Englanders Congregationalists, and Presbyterians, the Southerners Episcopalians, and the men of the Middle States everything from backsliding Quakers to stubborn Catholics–and most were men who could take their religion or leave it along. Although no one in this sober gathering would have dreamed of invoking the Goddess of Reason, neither would anyone have dared to proclaim that his opinions had the support of the God of Abraham and Paul. The Convention of 1787 was highly rationalist and even secular in spirit” (“The Men of Philadelphia,” 1787 The Grand Convention, New York W. W. Norton & Company, 1987, pp. 147-148, emphasis added).

Needless to say, this view of the religious beliefs of the constitutional delegates differs radically from the picture that is often painted by modern fundamentalist leaders.

At the constitutional convention, Luther Martin a Maryland representative urged the inclusion of some kind of recognition of Christianity in the constitution on the grounds that “it would be at least decent to hold out some distinction between the professors of Christianity and downright infidelity or paganism.” How ever, the delegates to the convention rejected this proposal and, as the Reverend Bird Wilson stated in his sermon quoted above, drafted the constitution as a secular document. God was nowhere mentioned in it.

As a matter of fact, the document that was finally approved at the constitutional convention mentioned religion only once, and that was in Article VI, Section 3, which stated that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Now if the delegates at the convention had truly intended to establish a “Christian nation,” why would they have put a statement like this in the constitution and nowhere else even refer to religion? Common sense is enough to convince any reasonable person that if the intention of these men had really been the formation of a “Christian nation,” the constitution they wrote would have surely made several references to God, the Bible, Jesus, and other accouterments of the Christian religion, and rather than expressly forbidding ANY religious test as a condition for holding public office in the new nation, it would have stipulated that allegiance to Christianity was a requirement for public office. After all, when someone today finds a tract left at the front door of his house or on the windshield of his car, he doesn’t have to read very far to determine that its obvious intention is to further the Christian religion. Are we to assume, then, that the founding fathers wanted to establish a Christian nation but were so stupid that they couldn’t write a constitution that would make their purpose clear to those who read it?

Clearly, the founders of our nation intended government to maintain a neutral posture in matters of religion. Anyone who would still insist that the intention of the founding fathers was to establish a Christian nation should review a document written during the administration of George Washington. Article 11 of the Treaty with Tripoli declared in part that “the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion…” (Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States, ed. Hunter Miller, Vol. 2, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1931, p. 365). This treaty was negotiated by the American diplomat Joel Barlow during the administration of George Washington. Washington read it and approved it, although it was not ratified by the senate until John Adams had become president. When Adams signed it, he added this statement to his signature “Now, be it known, that I, John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said treaty, do, by and within the consent of the Senate, accept, ratify and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof.” This document and the approval that it received from our nation’s first and second presidents and the U. S. Senate as constituted in 1797 do very little to support the popular notion that the founding fathers established our country as a “Christian nation.”

Confronted with evidence like the foregoing, diehard fundamentalists will argue that even if the so-called founding fathers did not purposefully establish a Christian nation our country was founded by people looking for religious liberty, and our population has always been overwhelmingly Christian, but even these points are more dubious than most Christian-nation advocates dare suspect. Admittedly, some colonists did come to America in search of religious freedom, but the majority were driven by monetary motives. They simply wanted to improve their economic status. In New England, where the quest for religious freedom had been a strong motive for leaving the Old World, the colonists quickly established governments that were just as intolerant, if not more so, of religious dissent than what they had fled from in Europe. Quakers were exiled and then executed if they returned, and “witches,” condemned on flimsy spectral evidence, were hanged. This is hardly a part of our past that modern fundamentalists can point to as a model to be emulated, although their rhetoric often gives cause to wonder if this isn’t exactly what they want today.

As for the religious beliefs of the general population in pre and post revolutionary times, it wasn’t nearly as Christian as most people think. Lynn R. Buzzard, executive director of the Christian Legal Society (a national organization of Christian lawyers) has admitted that there is little proof to support the claim that the colonial population was overwhelmingly Christian. “Not only were a good many of the revolutionary leaders more deist than Christian,” Buzzard wrote, “but the actual number of church members was rather small. Perhaps as few as five percent of the populace were church members in 1776” (Schools They Haven’t Got a Prayer, Elgin, Illinois David C. Cook Publishing, 1982, p. 81). Historian Richard Hofstadter says that “perhaps as many as ninety percent of the Americans were unchurched in 1790” (Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, New York Alfred A. Knopf, 1974, p. 82) and goes on to say that “mid-eighteenth century America had a smaller proportion of church members than any other nation in Christendom,” noting that “in 1800 [only] about one of every fifteen Americans was a church member” (p. 89). Historian James MacGregor Burns agrees with these figures, noting that “(t)here had been a `very wintry season’ for religion every where in America after the Revolution” (The American Experiment Vineyard of Liberty, New York Vintage Books, 1983, p. 493). He adds that “ninety percent of the people lay outside the churches.”

Historians, who deal with facts rather than wishes, paint an entirely different picture of the religious composition of America during its formative years than the image of a nation founded on “biblical principles” that modern Bible fundamentalists are trying to foist upon us. Our founding fathers established a religiously neutral nation, and a tragedy of our time is that so many people are striving to undo all that was accomplished by the wisdom of the founding fathers who framed for us a constitution that would protect the religious freedom of everyone regardless of personal creed. An even greater tragedy is that they many times hoodwink the public into believing that they are only trying to make our nation what the founding fathers would want it to be. Separation of church and state is what the founding fathers wanted for the nation, and we must never allow anyone to distort history to make it appear otherwise.

Advertisements

The Arrogance of “I Am Right, You Are Wrong” Thinking

Below is an article a church recently posted about former Pastor Jerry Dewitt’s deconversion from Christianity.  I am pasting the article–then inserting my comments in red as it goes:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Former Pentecostal preacher turned atheist Jerry DeWitt: How Could a former minister of God’s Word Change Into a Nonbeliever?    (My thought is, maybe he took his blinders off???)

 

When we read this article, regarding Jerry DeWitt, we feared for his soul, simply because he once knew the way (the typical Christian assumption that the Christian “way” is THE way and no one else’s “way” can possibly be right), but something must have happened in his life to make him think (my guess is what happened in his life is he stopped ignoring that little voice of reason inside that kept telling him belief & devotion to a genocidal child killer didn’t make sense) God does not exist.  Jerry DeWitt was a Pentecostal preacher for more than 25 years (Well, we all make mistakes in judgement, don’t we?), but eventually became a nonbeliever (like so many of us brainwashed who then finally snapped out of it).  He began ministry when he was 17 years old.  This story is very sad (actually I consider it a huge victory and a triumph–inspiring and very moving), because the Bible (a book of myths and magic very much akin to Harry Potter only instead of a childish, tantrum-prone god we have Voldemort–also very bigoted & having chosen people.  Oh, and Harry is rather the Jesus figure–he more or less dies, then comes back to save the day.  The only difference really is Harry throws away the Elderwand–having no desire to rule over others.) speaks about these sort of individuals (individuals?   We can’t call him a person now or a man?) who once knew the way (the way again.  How arrogant, this “way” of thinking!) but made a choice to turn away from God (that free-will thing Christians like to brag about.  Oh, except if you actually practice it, you get punished and thrown into hell forever). Jerry DeWitt reminds us (us?  Do you have multiple personality disorder?) a lot of Bishop Carlton Pearson, the only difference is Bishop Pearson claims to believe in God, but no Devil and no hell. (oh well, at least Bishop Carlton Pearson is on the right track toward using his brain).  Pearson is yet an unbeliever (how is he an unbeliever for just not believing in god’s creation Satan or god’s creation, hell?   I seem to recall when I was a Christian the only necessary criteria for being saved was belief in the divinity of Jesus and asking him into your heart?) and might as well join atheists in our opinion (and we won’t judge him like Christians do, or threaten him with hell forever for not believing exactly as we do, or tell him he’s an abomination for not believing in a book of fairy tales).  However, we must continue to pray (the Christian’s way of saying fuck you!) for not only Bishop Carlton Pearson, but also this man, Jerry DeWitt. (How patronizing can you get?)

We question any person whom once believed in God, but now is an atheist (I would question too.  I would ask myself, why so many people are starting to actually read the bible and see all those verses you try very hard to steer people away from reading.  Perhaps you should change your approach during your sermons or…rewrite the bible so as to remove all those nasty embarrassing verses about god ordering rape and slavery and the butchery of pregnant women that keep tripping people up?).  If something very bad should happen in Jerry DeWitt’s life, our question is, would he call on God?  (In extreme moments people don’t think rationally so it’s entirely possible he might revert to deeply ingrained supernatural thinking–and then feel embarrassed later that he did.)   We understand there are some backsliders whom once knew God who walked away, because they became bitter (no, that’s not it.  That’s only your assumption of what it is and your assumption is wrong) and felt God did not love them (no, it has more to do with the belief that there is no god and there never was a god and all this bullshit was only contrived to brainwash and rule over people and get their money and not having to pay property taxes) or because maybe God did not give them an answer (it’s really hard for imaginary beings to answer questions.  Santa has tried it, but he hasn’t had much luck either) to their problem or they did not receive a blessing they fasted and prayed for (very hard to receive blessings from Unicorns too, I’ve heard).   However, to not believe in God, after serving him for so long is very scary. (No, it’s called being born again–more born again than the Christian notion of that phrase.  It’s called being liberated from superstition-instilled fear of death, fear of never being good enough, fear of an eye in the sky judging your every mood and policing even your thoughts.)   Then, to invite others to follow your movement (Jerry Dewitt has not invited anyone to become an atheist–that’s what Christians do.  Only Christians go door to door and preach on street corners and try to shove their “way” down other people’s throats) as an atheist is even more scary and also dangerous (dangerous, how?  Oh, you mean that invisible make-believe supernatural being in the sky again?), because people are souls and they have some place to go at the end of their lives (and your proof or evidence of this is where, exactly?)   Here is another interesting question, how would Jerry DeWitt or any other former believer of Christ feel, if they should die and discover their mistake of becoming an atheists?  ( Implying a self-serving reason to be a Christian and love god–so you can go to heaven when you die!   Now that is a kind of love a supernatural being can really respect.  But then that’s what he commands, doesn’t he?  Love me or else burn in hell for ever!   Just what I want to do–love a tyrant and a bully who needs to threaten people to get them to love him.  Personally I would rather go to hell than spend one more minute worshipping a god that did what this monster did as described in the much-ignored (by Christians) Old Testament.)  there would be nothing they can do to save their souls, because God gave them a chance to believe (and this loving god punishes them with an infinite punishment for committing a finite crime!).   Saints, this is a very serious issue, (saints?   LOL!!!!) because after the various testimonies we shared with you on our videos page that revealed people who actually been to heaven and hell (isn’t it funny how, when Catholics die they see Mary, and when Muslims die they see Muhammad and when Christians die they see Jesus?  We never hear about a Muslim who sees Jesus or a Christian who sees Muhammad, no.  It’s always a vision exactly matching that person’s earthly beliefs, no matter what those beliefs are.  Hmmmm…)  , we know God is real.   Although, we cannot see Him, we as true followers of Jesus Christ can feel Him (speaking as a born again Christian for over 30 years I can say I “felt him” too and I can reproduce that feeling right now.  It’s a placebo effect.  Same thing happens to large crowds at rock concerts or football games), and also we know He is real, because of the blessings of being alive (that’s right.  Nature has nothing to do with it!).   Our hearts cannot pump alone (Lol!  Oh, really?  I’m starting to wonder if the author of this article even graduated from High School.)  We cannot wake up without God waking us up (LOL!   And you cannot think without god thinking for you or feel without god feeling for you or move your legs without god moving your legs for you!).   We cannot see, hear or feel things without God.  We cannot walk or move our limbs without God (you actually go on to say this yourselves?  LOL!  Puppets–actually bragging about having strings and a puppeteer controlling them!).   We cannot use our minds and think without God (well, this much IS true for many Christians, unfortunately.)  Those of us whom are born again Christians would not have never been blessed with the free gift of salvation, if Jesus Christ had not of died on the cross (actually I think it happened when Mithras, god’s only son, came into the world and was crucified, dying for our sins and was then resurrected.  Jesus was only a faded copy of Mithras) and took the ridicule.  God gave us a choice to serve His Son (which one again?), if we give up sin (what Christians call doing wrong as opposed to doing right, only “sin” implies consequences that happen in the imaginary world that you live in after this one.   Therefore, God is very real (hmm, maybe if you say it over and over enough it will be true?) and there ought to be nothing negative that happens in our lives to change our belief in Him.   (That’s right.  You want to only surround yourself with happy brainwashed Christians who never challenge your beliefs or pressure you to think on your own!) Yes, we go through pain and cannot understand why there maybe some people that have more than us and  many of us have faithfully been serving the Lord for a longtime, but we cannot risk losing our souls (and um, if you were born in Iran to Iranian parents, for example, would you be saying/believing these same things about Islam?) by making a choice to stop believing in Him.


In the meantime, we will pray that God gives Jerry DeWitt (so magnanimous of you–wow!) and others like him to turn around from atheism (you mean to turn off our brains and blindly believe and follow a god that approves slavery, genocide, infanticide, abortion, etc., etc., )before it is everlasting too late.   We have faith God will reveal to Him, He is real (again!  You keep saying this like you think saying this makes it fact) and loves him very much.   



There was once a true story about an atheist whom went out camping by himself and he fell asleep out in the wilderness and he told the Lord (why would an atheist talk to god?), He said, ‘God if you are real, when I wake up, if that rock is gone, I will believe in you.’  When the man woke up that rock was gone.  (Can you please provide the reference to this “true” story?  Or did it come from Reader’s Digest?) This should reveal to anyone, God exist and has always proved himself to be real (really?  When?  Oh, that’s right.  Before we started actually recording our history in written form).  Therefore, we will have faith for Jerry DeWitt to be proven wrong (yes, when you die and experience the permanent black out that happens after you die I’m sure you’ll have some way of knowing Jerry Dewitt was proven wrong) and return back into the family of God.  (of which I believe Satan belongs to too, doesn’t he?  After all, god made Satan and Satan has carried out all God’s wishes to the letter!)

Note: Since CNN.com did not have a video of Jerry DeWitt explaining why he is no longer a Pentecostal minister and now an atheist, we felt led by God not to post the various videos we found on You Tube.   


If you need God to come into your life, we invite you to go directly to our Salvation page (I have that in my bucket–it’s right up there with stabbing myself in the eye with a knitting needle).  God is real and proved His existence when He created each and every last one of us (actually I think there’s this little fact called evolution…  You know, science?   That thing that requires fact and reproduceable evidence to back it up before it can even call itself a theory).  When He formed the earth, He already had shown us, He is real (did you ever actually take grammar classes in school?).  The sun, moon and the stars cannot hold up in the sky (brilliant display of your knowledge of science here!) without the Lord who created them.   Day cannot turned to night and night cannot change to daytime without God (yes, the creator of all the universe with its billions of galaxies actually hovers above this planet and nudges the planets stars and cosmos to revolve around the earth all just for OUR benefit while he worries about gay people getting married and whether or not so and so will have an abortion.)   We would not have different seasons (this is so incredibly beyond absurd it’s making my brain lock up) and they cannot change without the Lord (says who again?  Oh, yes, the bible.  Written by anonymous men who claimed to have been inspired by god.  Sure, I’ll believe that…)  So, we invite you to make a choice to not only believe in Him, but make a wise (?????) decision and serve Him (and stop thinking for yourself and believe everything we say hook line and sinker and give us your tithe!) before it is everlasting too late.   If after you make a choice for Jesus to come into your life, you are going to have trials (very much like you had before you accepted Jesus, and in fact nothing really changes except that placebo effect I mentioned earlier.  That and the fact that you start thinking that little voice you hear in your head is GOD rather than your own inner dialogue that we all are simply born with!)  God never said our walk as His children would be easy (that’s true, and in fact, God never said anything really because he doesn’t exist), but it does not mean He is not real (actually it does) and it does not mean He does not love you (that’s why he’ll roast you slowly and eternally in hell if you aren’t convinced by us saying he is real over and over and over and over).   Many times, you will go through bad situations, but they happen to make you strong (because god didn’t make you strong enough to begin with, apparently) and so you will have a testimony when you come out.   If you want to be saved (saved from what–oh yes, saved from dying because human beings are so special that they should get to live forever!), you must (absolutely MUST!!!) visit our Salvation page and follow the steps there.  God bless you dear brothers and sisters and welcome to the family of God.

Unbelieving preachers get help to ‘come out’ as open atheists

By Dan Merica, CNN
 

(CNN) – Jerry DeWitt entered the ministry when he was 17, launching a 25-year career as a Pentecostal preacher. He traveled all around his home state of Louisiana, preaching and ministering wherever he could.

All these years later, DeWitt, 42, is still on the road, and now takes his message all over the United States. But the nature of that message, along with his audience, has changed dramatically.

DeWitt is now an avowed atheist, and his audiences are made up of religious “nones,” the growing number of Americans who are atheist, agnostic, humanist or just plain disinterested in identifying with a religion. Today, DeWitt preaches a gospel of disbelief.

During his speeches, he talks about the process of leaving his…Read full article, here.

Source and Photo Courtesy: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com

 

Gender Inequality Was Man’s Idea, Not God’s

Let’s assume the Christian or Jewish YHWH exists.  Let’s assume that the collection of myths and legends are based on actual fact and history.   Well then, riddle me this, Batman.  Why was the story of Adam’s first wife Lilith removed from the bible (almost completely) before the 16 century AD?

So who was Lilith?    Well, according to older translations of the bible, she was the original first woman god made at the same time he made Adam.  Adam and Lilith were both formed from the earth, at the same time, so that neither one came first and neither one was made from the other.  Lilith was, in other words, Adam’s equal.

In the older translations, the first creation story we find in Genesis describes the creation of Lilith.  This has all but been removed (it is widely believed this story was deliberately removed, but I’ll get into that later). 

The only remnant that still gives us a clue something was once there but taken out is this contradiction.  In first Genesis we read this, and it is referring to Adam and the first woman, Lilith:

Genesis 1:27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

In Genesis 2 we read this, and this is the story we have all heard the most and is used as an example to show men were made in God’s image, but woman was made from man:

Genesis 2:18-22: And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help mate for him. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help mate for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

 How interesting, don’t you think, that so many people remember the second story about Eve being created from Adam’s rib, but not the first one. Granted, it’s a more detailed story, but is it mere coincidence that it’s also the story in which woman is portrayed as secondary to man? Is it coincidence that the creation story churches emphasize is the one in which woman was created simply to “help man” while the creation story where woman is created as an equal alongside man is not?

So which story about the creation of Eve is the “correct” one? The order and nature of events in these two Bible stories are contradictory and they cannot both be true, though they can both be false.

The answer?  These stories are not describing the creation of the same woman.  Lilith was created first.  And because she was created from the dirt just like Adam, she considered herself his equal and Adam was displeased. 

I am copying various takes on Lilith’s story I have found online:

 http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1513/whats-the-story-on-lilith-adams-first-wife

On the one hand there are all these (and likely other) interpretations. On the other hand there are the legends themselves, which are also quite varied, from Jewish folklore. Let’s start with a paraphrase of the most familiar legend, which dates to medieval times, from the controversial work known as the Alphabet of Ben Sirah, including a few of our own interjections:

When God created Adam, he was lonely, so God created Lilith from the same dust from which Adam was molded. But they quarrelled; Adam [the proverbial domineering male] wished to rule over Lilith. But Lilith [a militant feminist] was also proud and willful, claiming equality with Adam because she was created from the same dust. She left Adam and fled the Garden. God sent three angels in pursuit of Lilith. They caught her and ordered her to return to Adam. She refused, and said that she would henceforth weaken and kill little children, infants and babes. The angels overpowered her, and she promised that if the mother hung an amulet over the baby bearing the names of the three angels, she would stay away from that home. So they let her go, and God created Eve to be Adam’s mate [created from Adam’s rib, so that she couldn’t claim equality]. And ever since, Lilith flies around the world, howling her hatred of mankind through the night, and vowing vengeance because of the shabby treatment she had received from Adam. She is also called “The Howling One.”

http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/blogpost/23

(Many thanks to Seth Andrews for putting this fascinating article (below) together!)

Adam’s First Wife: The Story of Lilith

The Thinking Atheist    Oct 30, 2011 6:39 PM | Date Modified: Oct 31, 2011 10:01 AM

(Editor’s note:  In a recent podcast entitled “Woman, Be Silent,” the story of Lilith came up, prompting a litany of requests from our users for more information.  TTA guest blogger “Meg” has provided an in-depth look at this fascinating legend in this post.  Many thanks to her for the long hours of research on this one.  -Seth)

“God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

To the faithful of both Christianity and Judaism, from the earliest days of the Bible until quite recently in history, that verse referred to Adam’s first wife, but it wasn’t Eve. It was Lilith.

Lilith (1892) by John Collier in Southport Atkinson Art Gallery

Few Christians in the current age are versed with the story of Lilith despite her being a part of Christianity since its inception. However, even today, Christians (albeit unknowingly) reenact rituals meant to ward off Lilith. Among those who are familiar with the story of Lilith, there is a common belief that she was purposefully removed from scripture.

As we will later see, Lilith does appear in both older and contemporary versions of the Bible, the Jewish Torah, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. And we will examine the possibility that the omission of Lilith omission from the King James Version and other, more recent translations of the Bible might well have been intentional, rather than an error in translation. But for now, here’s an overview of the basic story:

According to the first chapter of Genesis, God created Lilith and Adam both at the same time. Adam felt he was superior to Lilith, and because of this, he insisted on always taking the top position during sexual intercourse. However, Lilith refused to consider herself anything besides equal to Adam. They were, after all, created as equals, and Lilith believed she should take the top position, too. Adam refused and told Lilith, “you are fit only to be in the bottom position.”

Lilith, realizing neither she nor Adam would willingly change their mind, spoke the secret name of YHWH. Transformed into a demon, Lilith flew away from the Garden, leaving Adam behind. And since she had gone without eating from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Lilith would remain immortal.

Adam complained to God that Lilith had left him. God sent out three angels (Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangelof) to return Lilith to Eden. And God told Adam that if Lilith refused to return, she would have to permit one hundred of her children to die every day.

The angels found Lilith in the midst of the Red Sea and informed her of what God had said. Lilith told them she would not return. The angels then threatened Lilith saying, “We will drown you in the sea!” Lilith cursed the angels and demanded they leave. However, Lilith agreed to spare the lives of children protected by amulets bearing the names or images of the three angels: Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangelof.

God watched Adam in the Garden and said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” To avoid a repeat of the Lilith debacle, God decided this time to create a mate who was submissive. So God put Adam to sleep and removed one of his ribs, using it to create Eve. Upon meeting Eve, Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”

At this point, myriad versions of the story begin to branch off. In some accounts, Lilith mates with the archangel Samael, further transforming her into a succubus. In others, Lilith is the evil serpent in the Garden, who tempts Eve into eating from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil so that (unlike the immortal Lilith) Adam, Eve and their offspring could die.

Lilith Tempting Adam and Eve

 Through the Medieval Era and beyond, Lilith was held responsible for miscarriages and the deaths of sleeping infants. To protect babies, parents hung amulets bearing the images and names of the three angels around the child’s room or on a cord around the baby’s neck.

Lilith was also blamed for men ejaculating in their sleep, in the belief Lilith had tricked them into copulating to produce demon spawn, the succubi. To ward off Lilith and her succubi offspring, men slept with their hands crossed over their genitals and clasping a crucifix.

So how did Christians become familiar with the story of Lilith when all one finds of her in the Bible is a single direct mention? Well, there are numerous beliefs that people accept as part of Christianity that do not appear directly in scripture and are drawn instead by inference from particular verses.

You will not find a list of the Seven Deadly Sins in the Bible. The Bible doesn’t give the actual number of wise men (magi) who visited Jesus. There is no mention that there were three of them.   Those are just a couple of examples of many beliefs that do not appear directly in scripture but are based instead on verses from the Bible.

The Book of Genesis, which Christians rely on for the story of Creation, is found in a part of the Bible that Christians know as the Old Testament. Genesis is referred to as one of The Five Books of Moses, which also include Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, and are known to Jews as the Jewish Torah.

The traditional practice of drawing on inference from scripture, known as Midrash, has been employed since the earliest days of the Old Testament of the Bible. In the Bible, one finds there are parts missing from characters who are otherwise well known, as well as names mentioned apparently randomly in only a verse or two. In Rabbinical Midrash tradition, it is believed God does not simply toss a name out; he had some reason for including it. The purpose of Midrash, meaning “investigation,” is to connect the dots between those names and events in other parts of scripture and to resolve conflicting passages in Biblical texts. One such discrepancy arises at the very beginning of the Bible:

Genesis 1:27 God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

In this verse, God creates man and woman at the same time. However, in Genesis 2, we read that Adam is alone.

Genesis 2:18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

So, after already having a mate created at the same time that he was, Adam is alone in Genesis 2. Then the Bible tells us that God made Adam’s wife from his rib. While Christians today apparently choose to ignore the discrepancy, it presented a distinct gap to Rabbinical scholars.

In what was said to be the home town of the Bible’s Abraham, 4,000-year-old stone tablets from the ancient Sumerian city of Ur tell the story of The Epic of Gilgamesh. In developing the Midrash to explain Lilith’s presence in the Bible, the Rabbinical authors returned to the original source for clues; the epic poem of Gilgamesh and the Huluppu-Tree, a creation story of the world that tells of a special garden with a magical tree, and a being who occupied the tree before going to live in the desert, Lilith.

While this is likely news to most Christians, from the time it was written, the originality of the Bible has been a point of contention. The Epic of Gilgamesh predates the Old Testament accounts of Genesis by nearly 1,500 years.

Fortunately for its authors, the Bible was written long before the existence of copyright law. Those who wrote the Bible “borrowed” stories from far older religions and cultures. And the authors of the ancient Rabbinical Midrash regarding Lilith were aware of that fact, which is what led them to connect the Creation story to this verse of the Bible:

Isaiah 34:14 “Wildcats shall meet with hyenas, goat-demons shall call to each other; there too Lilith shall repose, and find a place to rest.”

While Lilith is mentioned by name in the original version of the Garden of Eden in the Gilgamesh poem, in the Bible, she is mentioned by name in Isaiah, and as in the Gilgamesh poem, she is said to live in the desert.

Lilith got her name from the Babylonian lil?tu, desert-dwelling spirits whose breasts produce poison instead of milk. The lil?tu were considered a threat to the very young, the unborn, and their mothers. The related ardat lil? are promiscuous, sexually aggressive succubi to whom men were susceptible, exploited by the succubi to produce offspring.

In the Rabbinical Midrash, further connections are made between the Lilith mentioned in Isaiah 34:14 and Psalm 9:5-6:

Psalm 9:5 will not fear the terror of night… 9:6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness…

So, according to Rabbinical Midrash, Genesis 1 and 2, Isaiah 34, and Psalm 9 provide the canonical scripture behind the Lilith story.

Additional sources regarding Lilith include the Zohar, which is the foundational work of Jewish Mysticism known as Kabbalah, the Alphabet of Ben Sira, the Talmud, and the Dead Sea Scrolls:

 Zohar 3:19 “Come and see: There is a female, a spirit of all spirits, and her name is Lilith…”

 Zohar (19b) “She wanders about at night, vexing the sons of men and causing them to defile themselves…”

Ben Sira 23a-b “Adam and Lilith began to fight. She said, ‘I will not lie below,’ and he said, ‘I will not lie beneath you, but only on top. For you are fit only to be in the bottom position, while am to be in the superior one.’ Lilith responded, ‘We are equal to each other as we were both created from the earth.’”

The Talmud (Niddah 24b) Rab Judah citing Samuel ruled: If an abortion had the likeness of Lilith its mother is unclean by reason of the birth, for it is a child but it has wings.

 The Talmud (Shabbath 151b) R. Hanina said: One may not sleep in a house alone [in a lonely house], and whoever sleeps in a house alone is seized by Lilith.

Dead Sea Scrolls, Songs of Sage (4Q510-511) And I, the Instructor, proclaim His glorious splendour so as to frighten and to terrify all the spirits of the destroying angels, spirits of the bastards, demons, Lilith, howlers, and desert dwellers… and those which fall upon men without warning to lead them astray from a spirit of understanding and to make their heart and their […] desolate during the present dominion of wickedness and predetermined time of humiliations for the sons of light, by the guilt of the ages of those smitten by iniquity – not for eternal destruction, but for an era of humiliation for transgression.

We know where Lilith came from and why she is part of Abrahamic beliefs. So why did Lilith, arguably one of the most interesting characters of the Bible, vanish within relatively recent history from Bible translations and the practice of Christianity?

While in Old and Middle English the spelling of her Hebrew name varies among the texts, Lilith appears in one of the first English translations of the Bible, the Wycliffe Bible of 1395. And she is included in further English translations up to and including the Great Bible and the Taverner Bible, versions of the Bible which appeared in the midst of the Protestant split from the Catholic Church in the Reformation. 

Now this is where it gets interesting — the Geneva Bible from 1587.

King Henry VIII of England broke away from the Catholic Church while the Reformation was in full swing on the European continent. The Protestants, led in Germany by Martin Luther, had rejected the Catholic Church and were establishing their own version of the Christian faith.

However, following the deaths of Henry VIII and her younger brother, Edward VI, Henry’s daughter, Mary, inherited the throne becoming Queen Mary I. Mary was a devout Catholic and, through her restoration of Catholicism in England, became known among Protestants as “Bloody Mary” for the execution of Protestant leaders. To escape persecution, a number of Protestant scholars from both England and France fled to Geneva, in Switzerland. The group is known as the Marian (as in Mary) Exiles.

One of the scholars who landed in Switzerland was John Calvin, founder of the Protestant reform movement of Calvinism. He overtook the theological leadership of the Marian Exiles. Together, Protestant scholars decided to reform the Bible as they had the tenets of their faith. Part of their work is evidenced in the addition of numbers to the verses, the Geneva Bible representing the first time numbered verses were seen in an English language Bible. The Marian Exiles also followed the lead of Martin Luther in the removal of canonical books, which had been present in the Biblical texts since their original compilations, and relegated them instead to the Apocrypha.

Historically, in all former versions of the Bible, Isaiah 34:14 says “…there too Lilith shall repose, and find a place to rest.”

Then we get to the Geneva Bible produced by Calvin and his colleagues in exile, and Isaiah 34:14 reads, “and the shricheowle shall rest there, and shall finde for her selfe a quiet dwelling.”

 As I speak German, it struck me when reading the Geneva Bible version of Isaiah that Lilith’s name had been replaced by a Germanic term. In German, related words are combined to form a single word instead. The term “shricheowle” breaks down into the words “schrei” meaning scream, screech, etc. and the word “eule” meaning owl. In other words, Lilith had, without precedent, been replaced by a screech owl.

Responsible for translating the Old Testament of the Geneva Bible was a British scholar, Anthony Gilby. Gilby was a radical whose beliefs would later become known by the term Puritanism.

Gilby, although he studied in Germany and spoke German, does not typically use Germanic terms in his texts, yet he did so in Isaiah as a means of replacing Lilith’s name. And as it turns out, Gilby was a vocal critic of female monarchs such as Mary being in command of the country.

Anthony Gilby’s Admonition, 634: And doth not Esaie (Isaiah) reckon this also as the extremity of all plagues for the wickedness of the people, to have Women raised up to rule over you? But what saith the same Prophet, in the beginning of his prophesy, for a remedy against these and all other evils?

In demanding equality with Adam, Lilith was demonized in the most literal sense. However, even then and despite the threats issued by the patriarchal figures in the story, Lilith refused to be submissive. In light of her character, it hardly seems a coincidence that Gilby chose Isaiah, the only book where Lilith is mentioned in by name in the Bible, to use in his Admonition against powerful female monarchs, which he termed an evil and counted as a plague.

The evidence indicates Gilby knew exactly what he was doing when he replaced Lilith in the Bible. In the Gilgamesh poem, Lilith is said to live in a tree, and in her image carved onto stone tablets that predate the Bible, she appears pictured as a winged creature with talons, and she is flanked by two large owls.

The Geneva Bible was the Bible of people such as Shakespeare and Oliver Cromwell. Incidentally, screech owls are a species found only on the continents of the Americas, but are also mentioned by Shakespeare.

The screech-owl, screeching loud,
Puts the wretch that lies in woe
In remembrance of a shroud.
-William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Presumably, Europeans who came to the New World brought the name for the screech owl with them in Shakespeare’s work and their Bibles, as decades after the Geneva Bible when the King James Version of the Bible was published, Lilith had gone from shricheowle to screech owl:

KJV Isaiah 34:14 …the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.

The replacement of Lilith with the screech owl in the KJV secured Gilby’s removal of Lilith not only from the Bible, but eventually also from the traditional beliefs of Western Christianity. Though in the nighttime cries of Lilith’s American namesake, the screech owl, Lilith remains part of the same fearful superstitions that have plagued Christians since the inception of their faith. For the first European settlers in the strange, New World, hearing such cries echoing through the night must have been unnerving indeed.

—– END OF ARTICLE—

So.  How interesting that our imaginary Christian and Jewish deity originally intended women to be equal to men, and it was man’s dysfunction, his inability to co-exist with an equal, that brought about a modified, submissive version of woman.  How funny that the church selectively removes the strongest female character in the bible, and the evidence of what god’s original intent was–to create two equal human beings.

I have long suspected that the reason the church, or at least the big patriarchal religions, have sought to suppress women and control them, dominate them, keep them silent, keep them uneducated and from reading, was all about smothering in women their innate sense of strength and power, covering that up with brainwashing that the Almighty made them to be subservient, accepting their position as help mate, created to be at man’s beck and call.

In more ancient cultures deities were often female, and women were often accepted as leaders or revered healers.   After the human contrived teachings of these religions made by men who, just like Adam, wanted woman not as his equal but rather to lord over, now very few women have even heard of the story of Lilith, the very first woman who was proud and unashamed, strong, and indomitable. 

But perhaps she whispers in our ears.  Perhaps she is why more and more are shaking off this notion of Adam’s that women should be inferior–were made inferior.  Maybe more and more women are deciding to be daughters of Lilith, rather than daughters of Eve.  Lilith, being god’s first mistake, and also god’s first conception of how WOMAN should be.

Bold Enough to ASK QUESTIONS!

How much do you know about the origins of the faith you have latched your loyalties to?   How much research have you done?     Have you read about other faiths–studied other faiths?  Sometimes that’s all it takes to unravel everything.

Questions I never asked–

What happened to Jesus family, his mother, his father, after his death?  The bible never mentions them again.  They drop off the face of the earth.  Wouldn’t they have been revered by the early Christians?  Wouldn’t they be an object of interest to any historians during that time?
What is the problem with Bethlehem?  At the time of Jesus’ birth, was there a Bethlehem?   Did it exist?   Was there such a thing as a Nazareth during Jesus’ time?

What about the Roman laws back then?  Why did the Romans not care or react to what was going on?  Why was nothing written down?

I have found two long radio programs (and one short one called To Xmas And Beyond) that really pointed out stuff I didn’t know, and really made me think.   I’m posting their links below.  I would dare any Christian to listen all the way through.   It’s hard I know.  When I was a Christian I never wanted to hear anything else but what I wanted to hear.   Because I knew deep down the moment I did, it would all unravel.  And it did.

The Damage Myths Cause For Our Planet & All Life

I am trying really hard to avoid this current election because it angers me.   The conservative Christian and other groups that we are being told want to discourage contraception or eliminate it completely due to their own person “moral” objections, and in doing so create more unwanted pregnancies to then force women to have to bear for nine months….WTF????  And then what?  What will happen to all those unwanted babies?  Will all these people against women controlling their own bodies line up and offer to adopt?  Or will we see more children stuck their whole first 18 years in foster care, moved from house to house, subjected to carrying their belongings in garbage bags and never knowing what it feels like (many of them) to be loved?

It just floors me that people can be soooo short sighted.   I don’t care if some people believe the myth that a god is going to destroy the earth when it all gets just too bad, then create a new earth, a new Jerusalem for Christians (only) to inhabit for a thousand years, or whatever it is they believe.  It is MY world too.  I would like to live the rest of my life without the prospect of developing worstening claustrophobia issues everywhere I go.  I would like to see the natural world be allowed to continue, and enough natural habitat for other life besides human beings, to be allowed to continue.

When I was in High School I read about a study they made on rats in a cage and overpopulation.  I remember reading, the denser the rat population, the more the rats wanted to kill each other.   Below I found the following, which explains this more.   Yes I do think human beings should wake up to the fact we are also animals.  And this increase in rage we feel on crowded roads and in long lines and over-crowded side-walks–there’s a really big reason for it.  Why do we see more and more school shootings and mall shootings and seemingly normal people suddenly turning on their families, killing their spouses and children?  Is it oh, I don’t know, SATAN????  Or could it be human beings are just as likely to behave as other animals do when conditions become too crowded?

I think religion is fine and well.  But I think just the oppressive doctrine that wants to control not only the members of that religion but EVERYONE, is causing not just women, but all of us, immense harm by hugely contributing to a very overpopulated world.

On Rats:   http://culturechange.org/issue19/overpop_terrorism.htm

Overpopulation & terrorism: rats in a cage

by John Omaha

Many people will find it difficult to compare human populations to rat populations. Many humans will suffer for that cognitive impairment. When a pair of reproductively competent rats are placed in a closed space and provided with sufficient food, they will reproduce and reproduce until the space is filled with rats. At a critical density, wars break out. Some rats, alpha males, claim territory and defend it. Others attack. Sound familiar? Only difference between rats and humans is the language-making capability of the human left brain. We humans give names to our territoriesó “World Trade Center” is one. The right brain, impelled by drives and emotions, is the fundamental force operating here. The left brain makes “reasons” for what the right brain is going to do anyway. Some of these “reasons” are: democracy, Islam, God, Allah, terrorist, Third World, globalization.

 What we are seeing is the result of an exponentially increasing population. This is population biology at work. Anthropologists and population biologists studied all the wars in history for which adequate data were available. They learned that war breaks out when the percentage of the population consisting of single males in the age range 16-26 exceeds a certain fraction of the total population. Whatever Osama bin Laden may call it, whatever Al Fatah, or the PLO, or Jonas Savimbi, or Mexican President Fox, or the Australians who refuse to allow the Indonesian refugees into their country, whatever the East Timorese may call it, the Afghanis, the Pakistanis orwhatever name it is given is not correct; the correct name is overpopulation.

 And this is just the beginning. World population stands at over 6 billion now. Projections differ on how high it will go. At one point it was projected to top out at 15 billion. Then it was reduced to 13 billion. The latest numbers I have seen are 9 billion. This will happen in the next 25 years. What happens after that? Mass die off. Itís a fact of population biology. Eventually the bacteria on the Petri dish use up all the resources and die. We live on a spherical Petri dish. As groups led by alpha males come into unavoidable contact with each other, conflict erupts. Osama bin Laden is an alpha male. Yasser Arafat is an alpha male. The clerics of the Taliban are alpha males. God help us, our alpha male is George W. Bush. The attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and whatever was going on in Pennsylvania are conflicts between population segments assembled behind alpha males in an overpopulated, confined space, in which the segments are seeking to expand into territory that is resource rich compared to their own.

 Unfortunately, all the players are thinking from inside the box. Bush tells us we wíll find the terrorists and punish them. The terrorists are only the proximate problem. The terrorists are the vanguard of the real problem: the surplus billions of people on this spherical Petri dish. Only when the true problem is identified and addressed will we escape the inevitable fate of our species–a mass die off that will sometimes look like terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and will at other times look like AIDS and at other times like “ethnic cleansing” in Serbia. 

Control of our species reproductive drive is the central survival issue our species must solve if Homo sapiens is to be a successful evolutionary experiment. Solving the issue will require the cooperation of all human beings. We are not doing very well.

 John Omaha, Ph.D., is with Chemotion Institute: Treatment, Education & Research for the Ingestive Disorders P.O. Box 528 Chico, CA 95927 530-899-7719 E-mail: jomaha@sunset.net 

 

On Everything Else:    http://www.overpopulation.org/faq.html

1/3 of the population growth in the world is the result of incidental or unwanted pregnancies. December 28, 1998   from the Germany World Population Fund doclink
If fertility remained at current levels, the population would reach the absurd figure of 296 billion in just 150 years. Even if it dropped to 2.5 children per woman and then stopped falling, the population would still reach 28 billion. May 1998   Bill McKibben – Atlantic Monthly doclink

Population (in billions)   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Year   1804 1927 1959 1974 1987 1999 2011 2023
Elapsed   123 33 14 13 12 13 15+

doclink

At least 150 million couples throughout the world want, but do not have, access to reproductive Health Services doclink
For An Additional $1.63 Per U.S. Taxpayer Per Year, 11.7 Million More Couples Would Have Access to Modern Contraception doclink
By 2030, the world’s urban population is expected to reach 4.9 billion, while the rural population is expected to decrease by 28 million. September 2010   Population Reference Bureau doclink

  • 1983 Year that world grain production per person began to decline(ecofuture.org)
  • 1985 Year that humanity’s demand for resources first exceeded supply(mec.ca)
  • 1989 Year that world fish catch per person began to decline(ecofuture.org)
  • 1999 Year that the world population reached 6 billion (US Census Bureau)
  • 2012 Year that the world population will reach 7 billion(US Census Bureau)
  • 2050 Year that the world population will reach 9.2 billion(US Census Bureau)
  • 3 Days for the world population to increase by that of San Francisco
  • 6 Months for the world population to increase by that of California
  • 200,000 World population growth each day
  • 70 Years for population to double, in any country, at a 1% growth rate per year 2009   doclink

  • The richest 20 percent of humanity consumes 86 percent of all goods and services, while the poorest fifth consumes just 1.3 percent.
  • Only 17% of the world’s population lives in industrialized countries
  • The average life expectancy is 61, up from 40 in just 50 years. The numbers of people 65 and older make up 10-15% of the world population today and is expected to increase to 20-30% by 2050. 2009   doclink

1) The use of contraception among couples in developing countries has increased from 10% in the early 1960’s to 60% today.2) During this period, the fertility rate fell from about six births per woman in the mid-1960’s to below three per woman in 2000.3) Global population growth has slowed to an annual rate of 1.35%, the lowest in decades.4) Uncountable numbers of women and children have lived instead of died. doclink

  • The U.S. Census Bureau reported that hunger is a daily concern for 13.8% of Americans
  • There will be 125 million births in the world this year. By the time this group is ready to start school, there will have been another 625 million births.
  • Every 20 minutes, the human population grows by about 3,000. At the same time another plant or animal becomes extinct (27,000 each year).
  • According to the U.N., if fertility were to stay constant at 1995-2000 levels, the world population would soar to 244 billion by 2150 and 134 trillion by 2300.
  • The population of the U.S. tripled during the 20th century, but the U.S. consumption of raw materials increased 17-fold. April 2004   US Census Bureau doclink
End of this page in “Factoids” section, pg 1 … Go to page 1.. 2 3 4 .. 4.6

Does It Matter to You?

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions on Overpopulation

February 26, 2012   WOA website1. What are the biggest issues that arise from overpopulation, and why are they so bad?

a. Food shortages and associated malnutrition, susceptibility to disease, stunted growth and stunted brain power, starvation b. Peak oil, which greatly impacts food supply. c. Per capita water shortage and poor water quality, which greatly impacts food supply and human health d Climate change which creates hotter, more hostile crop growing conditions and flooding, also hostile to crops. e. Shortage of nonrenewable resources, particularly fertilizer, necessary for crop production, but also other resources needed for manufacturing, without which our materialistic civilization will grind to a halt. f. Environmental damage caused by the quest for more fossil fuels and essential metals, destruction of animal habitat caused by urbanization.

2. In the future, do you foresee it getting worse or better, and to what degree?

Going by a. Food shortages alone, it will only get worse unless we quickly stabilize population and find some as-yet-discovered agricutural advancement. The Green Revolution has petered out.

Overpopulation causes rural farming people to outgrow their lands, so the grown children move to cities. Urbanization eats up farmland, reducing crop production. Also growing seasons are becoming hotter, so many crops fail due to heat and drought. Overuse of the soils caused by overpopulation leads poor nourishment for crops and eventually desertification. Overpopulation draws on available water to the point that there is not enough to water crops. Aquifers are overdrawn to the point where they are not replenished fast enough.

3. Is there anything that you believe we can do to help lessen the effects of overpopulation on the environment and other animals?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care – programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world’s fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, male involvement, and women’s empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates. But these programs need more funding and we must push for that funding.

4. Why should people be concerned about overpopulation now, as opposed to waiting until it becomes more apparent?

Slowing population growth takes time unless we resort to drastic, ugly, highly unpopular solutions. We must increase funding for family planning now, because putting babies back in the womb, or even a worse alternative, is not an acceptable solution.

5. Why do you think so many people are ignorant on the topic of overpopulation and it’s effects?

a. Resistance to contraception and the belief that sex is only for procreation by certain Christian religions. b. Belief that population stabilization requires ‘population control’ – the One Child policy in China,for example. Not understanding that there are gentle solutions that will help people live a better life, and that people actually want, and that have been proven to work. c. Inability to connect the dots when 6 billion goes to 7 billion in 12 years and then to 8 billion in 13 years. Belief that ‘God will take care of it’. Cornucopian view of the world fostered by decades of technological advances and materialistic success has caused people to think that the world’s natural resources are unlimited. Forgetting that fossil fuels have allowed the West to advance technologically and live very comfortably, and therefore not really thinking to look at the dim future of fossil fuels.

6. Do you believe overpopulation, or the way we use resources is more of a problem, and why?

There is no doubt that, if the 2 billion people living very comfortably on this earth made sacrifices, then the 2 billion living on the edge could live more comfortably – IF (a very big if) it was practical to transfer the assets of the rich to the poor, and if the rich would willingly give up their comfortable life. Unfortunately many people use the excuse that consumption is a bigger part of the problem (they believe it is) to avoid dealing with population altogether.

Most frequently we hear about overconsumption in the West measured in terms of carbon emissions. However, we must remember that the critical path for humanity is the supply of food. Arable land is fast disappearing due to urbanization, soil erosion/overuse, and water shortages in both rich and poor countries. Both rich and poor countries will suffer, the poor first, but then the poor in the richer countries. Already the middle class is fast disappearing in the U.S., due to loss of jobs to overseas employees. So the U.S. is not immune to the impacts of food shortages.

Unfortunately, population is growing so fast that, whatever advances we make by providing more food to more people eventually ends up at a point where there is not enough food and starvation is nature’s way to equalize supply and demand.

7. When do you think the world’s population will stop growing?

At current fertility rates the world’s population will only stop growing if people die at a faster rate, which is what will happen when we run out of natural resources. No one has predicted when this will happen. Malthus is reputed to believe it would happen in the 1700s (that wasn’t actually what he said); Paul Ehrlich thought it would happen in the 1970s, but both did not see the technological advances that saved the world’s growing population. Unfortunately, this time experts say, it will take a miracle for everyone to survive the perfect storm of resource depletion that is coming.

The good news is that fertility rates are coming down, just not fast enough. If they continue to come down at the same rate as they have been, then the worlds population growth rate will level off by 2010 at 10 billion. That is assuming too many people don’t die of starvation by then, in which case the population will stop growing sooner.

If fertility rates vary by just one half a child (average), we could reach 15.8 billion by 2100 and continue to grow – on the high side, or we could reach 8.1 billion by 2050 and start a decline. Since we went from 6 billion in 1999 to 7 billion in 2011 (12 years), I find it very difficult to believe we will wait until 2050 to have 8.1 billion. Unless we change our ways and increase funding for family planning programs.

8. What motivated you to become involved with the issue of overpopulation?

In the 1980s I noticed how crowded the roads were and whereas, 20 years before my family could go camping in the woods just about anywhere, we now had to make a reservation to camp. I started to become involved after my trip to China in 1995 where I noticed that the farmland I flew over had a whole village for every 40 – 100 acres, but in the U.S. there would be just one farmhouse for the same amount of land. And there were no vacant lots in cities like Shanghai – every space was taken.

9. What do you think is the main factor/factors contributing to overpopulation?

Lack of education and economic opportunity for women; authoritarian households where women don’t have a say about their own lives, their health care or how many children they have; child marriage; lack of maternal health care for women; cultural beliefs in rural areas that say many children are needed to take care of the land, not realizing that too many children will outgrow the land; male preference; contraceptive inaccessability; lack of educational opportunities to learn that smaller families are healthier and more economically feasible.

10. How does overpopulation effect a countries economy?

Overpopulated countries cannot build sufficient infrastructure or provide sufficient services for its population because there is too much competition for natural resources for people to earn enough to support a government. Over 2 billion people earn less than $2 a day.

When a population is growing, however – not yet overpopulated, and there is a high ratio of young people, and opportunities are available for these young people to become educated and have jobs, then an economy will boom. However, when these young people are old, and they will have likely lowered their fertility rate, then there will be more older people than young people, and the economy will suffer. On the other hand, if the country reaches a point where resources in the area are exhausted, and the country cannot buy its resources from other countries, then the country is overpopulated, and poverty will be the result.

11. Why do the most populated countries have their high populations?

High populations result when death rates are brought down while fertility rates remain high. Sanitation, pumping of aquifers, modern medicine, better ways of treating sick infants, and the Green Revolution have brought down mortality. Without a corresponding drop in fertility, population will grow.

12. Are there any solutions to end starvation?

The UN claims that farmers in Africa can be be taught better farm management. Africa is where the highest growth is. It remains to be seen if this will be enough to end starvation.

13. What types of diets have the least environmental impact?

Diets which use plants instead of animals; animals are ok if they feed on land or in water that cannot be used for crops. Some plant diets are better than others, using less resources.

14. Is overpopulation a problem that we need to be worrying about?

Yes, overpopulation is like a runaway train, and the longer we wait to do something about it, the harder it will be to deal with the impacts.

15. Do you feel like it is already a problem or something will happen in the future?

It is already a problem and getting worse. We need to do something about it now.

16. What is the biggest effect of overpopulation?

The most drastic impact so far is food shortages, with one billion people classified as ‘undernourished’ by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2009, and nearly a billion undernourished in each of 2007, 2008, and 2011. 3 billion people in the world today struggle to survive on US$2/day, and food prices are rising. The second and thirds impacts of overpopulation are Peak Oil and Climate Change. Some will argue that climate change is not man made, but it is indeed happening and causing crop failures. The world is producing less oil today than it did last year, and this trend will continue. Both peak oil and climate change result in less food to feed the world, peak oil because food depends on mechanized farm machinery and transport.

17. In what areas of the world is overpopulation having the biggest effects and how?

China, and India are seeing the biggest effects, mostly because of water shortages and deforestation. Africa will soon follow, particularly northern Africa where there is not enough water.

18. Have you been able to see the effects first hand? If so, what is it like?

I have seen deforestation in Nepal and Ethiopia. People have to walk further and further to find firewood. In Nepal they climb up in trees and chop out branches to feed the leaves to their buffalo and the wood fuels their fires. The trees look all mangled. In Ethiopia, people have to walk 3-4 miles for wood to fuel their stoves.

19. How does overpopulation differ here in the United State compared to other countries?

Overpopulation in the U.S. affects the world because the U.S. population exceeds its carrying capacity, getting many of its resources from other countries, often taking advantage of the poverty in the other countries by paying much less than the resource is worth.

20. Many people do not believe overpopulation is a problem. Do you think they are wrong? If so, why?

Many people do not understand the relationship between our Earth’s finite resources and humans existence. They believe that, if we are well-off, everything is OK. They do not see that we have already heavily borrowed against the Earth’s resources: water in ancient aquifers are being overpumped, oil that was stored in the ground for thousands of years is not being replenished. Ancient civilizations who became overpopulated did not see it either.

21. When do you feel overpopulation will grow to where it is affecting the lives of people all over the world?

It already is. The current economic crisis is due to our oil-based, debt-based economy having built up a large bubble and now it has burst. In addition, food prices are rising and some people cannot afford to buy sufficient food to feed their family.

22. What do you feel is the best solution for overpopulation?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care – programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world’s fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, and women’s empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates.

23. Are you doing things yourself to reduce overpopulation? If so, what are you doing?

I am doing the web page at overpopulation.org, promoting other organizations that work on overpopulation, doing slide shows, and supporting a couple of groups of population activists. I have also lobbied my federal representative and senators, and have put together a legislative briefing at the state level. I also do tabling on earth day, and I have been interviewed on internet radio. I donate to my favorite organizations that promote family planning and reproductive health.

24. What can people like me, an eighteen year old, do to help?

You can join an activist group, or do tabling alone if you can’t find a group. You can educate yourself on the subject and all the arguments and issues on the subject (I hope my website will help you there), and participate in letter writing and leaving comments on online newspaper articles about population. You can find WOA’s Facebook page (World Overpopulation Awareness), and share your activist activities with us there. You can look up Population Connection, and find suggestions of what to do there (one of them is making presentations to school teachers, who take the lesson to their students). You can hook up with the Sierra Club and join population activities there: http://www.sierraclub.org/population/

You can also help WOA – we have need of volunteers who do online help for WOA.

25. Why don’t we hear much about this issue on the news and such? It seems like something that should be dealt with immediately, yet i don’t see anyone in power taking action.

I come across over 20 articles a day on population, some of them in important places like the New York Times, the Economist, National Geographic, BBC, Scientific American, and so on. Today food and gas prices are rising, partly due to peak oil, partly due to climate change, partly due to seasonal fluctuation, but mostly due to a shortage of resources per person.

On the other hand, there are conservatives that do not believe in limited resources, overpopulation, “telling people what they should do in their private lives,” contraception, and abortion. Some of these people are in places of high influence, like the U.S. Congress, which has recently contemplated removing Title X funding from Planned Parenthood, claiming the money is going for abortions, which it isn’t. The money goes for family planning services (not abortion) and reproductive health services. These same conservatives control various media such as Fox News.

The United States and other countries HAVE been taking action on this issue for many years. Programs are in place for voluntary family planning and reproductive health, among others that reduce fertility rates. These programs have been instrumental in bringing down world fertility rates, which are now around 2.5 children per woman. But every year there is a battle over how much funding should be put into these programs by the U.S. doclink

Karen Gaia says: any suggestions for these FAQs are welcome. Send to karen4329@karengaia.net

More Faqs

November 23, 2011   WOA!! website – Karen Gaia Pitts1. What motivated you to become involved with the issue of overpopulation?

In the 1980s I noticed how crowded the roads were and whereas, 20 years before my family could go camping in the woods just about anywhere, we now had to make a reservation to camp. I started to become involved after my trip to China in 1995 where I noticed that the farmland I flew over had a whole village for every 40 – 100 acres, but in the U.S. there would be just one farmhouse for the same amount of land. And there were no vacant lots in cities like Shanghai – every space was taken.

2. What do you believe is the worst effect of overpopulation? Why?

By far the worst effect is the inability to feed every one. Overpopulation causes rural farming people to outgrow their lands, so the grown children move to cities. Urbanization eats up farmland, reducing crop production. Also growing seasons are becoming hotter, so many crops fail due to heat and drought. Overuse of the soils caused by overpopulation leads poor nourishment for crops and eventually desertification. Overpopulation draws on available water to the point that there is not enough to water crops. Aquifers are overdrawn to the point where they are not replenished fast enough.

3. What has been done/is being done to slow overpopulation? What would you do to slow overpopulation?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care – programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world’s fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, and women’s empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates.

4. When do you think the world’s population will stop growing?

At current fertility rates the world’s population will only stop growing if people die at a faster rate, which is what will happen when we run out of natural resources. No one has predicted when this will happen. Malthus thought it would happen in the 1700s; Paul Ehrlich thought it would happen in the 1970s, but both did not see the technological advances that saved the world’s growing population. Unfortunately, this time experts say, it will take a miracle for everyone to survive the perfect storm of resource depletion that is coming.

The good news is that fertility rates are coming down, just not fast enough. If they continue to come down at the same rate as they have been, then the worlds population growth rate will level off by 2010 at 10 billion. That is assuming too many people don’t die of starvation by then, in which case the population will stop growing sooner.

If fertility rates vary by just one half a child (average), we could reach 15.8 billion by 2100 and continue to grow – on the high side, or we could reach 8.1 billion by 2050 and start a decline. Since we went from 6 billion in 1999 to 7 billion in 2011 (12 years), I find it very difficult to believe we will wait until 2050 to have 8.1 billion. Unless we change our ways and increase funding for family planning programs.

5. What do you think is the main factor/factors contributing to overpopulation?

Lack of education and economic opportunity for women; authoritarian households where women don’t have a say about their own lives, their health care or how many children they have; child marriage; lack of maternal health care for women; cultural beliefs in rural areas that say many children are needed to take care of the land, not realizing that too many children will outgrow the land; male preference; contraceptive inaccessability; lack of educational opportunities to learn that smaller families are healthier and more economically feasible.

6. How does overpopulation effect a countries economy?

Overpopulated countries cannot build sufficient infrastructure or provide sufficient services for its population because there is too much competition for natural resources for people to earn enough to support a government. Over 2 billion people earn less than $2 a day.

When a population is growing, however – not yet overpopulated, and there is a high ratio of young people, and opportunities are available for these young people to become educated and have jobs, then an economy will boom. However, when these young people are old, and they will have likely lowered their fertility rate, then there will be more older people than young people, and the economy will suffer. On the other hand, if the country reaches a point where resources in the area are exhausted, and the country cannot buy its resources from other countries, then the country is overpopulated, and poverty will be the result.

7. Why do the most populated countries have their high populations?

High populations result when death rates are brought down while fertility rates remain high. Sanitation, pumping of aquifers, modern medicine, better ways of treating sick infants, and the Green Revolution have brought down mortality. Without a corresponding drop in fertility, population will grow. doclink

Questions on Food

November 21, 2011   WOA!! website – Karen Gaia Pitts1. How does overpopulation affect the food industry?

Overpopulation causes rural farming people to outgrow their lands, so the grown children move to cities. Urbanization eats up farmland, reducing crop production. Also growing seasons are becoming hotter, so many crops fail due to heat and drought. Overuse of the soils caused by overpopulation leads poor nourishment for crops and eventually desertification. Overpopulation draws on available water to the point that there is not enough to water crops. Aquifers are overdrawn to the point where they are not replenished fast enough.

2. Are there any foods that are able to feed the world?

Grains are usually the staple used to feed the world: rice, wheat, and corn in particular. But new strains are needed to grow in hotter climates, less water, and/or poor soil. If these strains are not developed by technology, there will not be enough food to feed the world. Today there are 1 billion underfed people in the world. This number is likely to grow if population continues to grow and a solution is not found.

3. Are there any solutions to end starvation?

The UN claims that farmers in Africa can be be taught better farm management. Africa is where the highest growth is. It remains to be seen if this will be enough to end starvation.

4. What types of diets have the least environmental impact?

Diets which use plants instead of animals; animals are ok if they feed on land or in water that cannot be used for crops. Some plant diets are better than others, using less resources. doclink

Population Control?

September 26, 2011   WOA websiteThe world is headed for disaster. If we don’t do something, nature will do something for us. Shouldn’t we be doing some sort of population control like what China did? Maybe a two child or one child policy for the world? doclink

It appears that the three of us are in agreement about the impending consequences of overpopulation.But we must understand the solutions.Fertility rates have been coming down for many years. They are continuing to come down. We are experiencing population momentum, which means that reductions in population growth lag behind reductions in fertility rates. China’s population growth rate is only 0.47%, and its population expected to peak in 2030 at 1.4 billion, then decline.The UN population projections had low, medium, and high scenarios, with the difference between medium and high or low only half a child in fertility rates.So it is EXTREMELY important to sufficiently fund efforts to make contraception accessible to all women of child-bearing age, and at the same time to empower women to make health decisions for themselves, because reproductive health is very closely tied to contraceptive usage. The latter includes such measures as eliminating child marriages, girls education, micro credit, and male involvement.All of these things are being done, and have been done, worldwide, since the 1950s, and have been very successful, but have lacked sufficient funding, which is frequently blocked by conservatives in the U.S. administration and legislature. This year funding is again being attacked by our very conservative legislature.Some people argue that these contraceptives are being forced upon third world women, but in 1994 it was decided that all attempts to meet targets and all coersion would be stopped and women would be encouraged to choose their own family size. It works out because women, on average, do not want large families as long as they can be assured there will be enough children surviving to replacement. In developed countries many women seem to want even fewer than the replacement level number of children. Women in the U.S. are producing 2.09 children on average, just a tad below replacement level, while women in other developed countries considerably fewer. The overall world wide average is 2.52 and comes down every year. Replacement level for all but countries with very female death rates is 2.1

Why is Population Ignored by Human Rights Groups and Democrats?

August 28, 2011   WOA websiteRebecca wrote:

I agree with you about overpopulation. I have no children and have my animals spayed and eat no meat, pork or chicken, leave my car parked, keep lights off, don’t heat or air condition (live in So Cal so that is possible) and don’t buy products excessively, try not to buy products that were tested on animals, clean with baking soda, put groceries in canvas bags etc- so in addition to not adding to population try to be fair about reducing my portion of carbon footprint.

But whenever I bring up overpopulation at Democratic or Labor meetings (not abortion, birth control, which is a two-fer because it also helps prevent spread of STDs in many cases) I get a stunned silence and no one will discuss it thinking they must have a white supremist in their midsts…though the competition for air,water,food, jobs and land has become fierce and is beyond a political party problem, has to have an economic impact too due to “supply and demand”.

I have written to television stations and asked them not to feature “octomom”, “kate plus 8” “19 and counting” etc and they ignore me too.

Somehow the idea of caring for elderly (albeit healthy) persons in excess in the population is considered anethma though one would assume excess children in the population also are being cared for..and also no one seems to get it that if elderly persons were spending less on chidlren being raised during their working years they could save more to take care of themselves in ol d age…

Anyway how do we get this idea across and make it “cool” like recycling to say “three is the new large family” and encourage people to stop at one or two?

~~~

Dear Rebecca,

Thank you for your thoughtful remarks and commend you on your lowered footprint.

Overpopulation has certainly acquired a dirty name, and I think due to lies spread by religious conservatives who believe sex is for procreation, contraceptives are abortifacient, and abstinence is the only good birth control. They think anyone who promotes family planning is evil and must be racist, and they make huge efforts to spread that opinion far and wide. On the other hand, the women of these same religions are using contraception, almost as much as the general population, so maybe we can push for a connect between these women and their priests and husbands.

So I always examine religious objections and detractors and am always looking for evidence to counter whatever misrepresentations they may put out.

In addition, most people do not see the big picture, or at least do not want to think about it. Peak oil and food shortages will affect us all, but people tend to think that their life is secure and nothing will happen to them, so we sound like we are Chicken Little saying the sky is falling.

Then there are those who blame the huge consumption of the Western world for the world’s problems, but in fact, even poor rural people’s lives are not sustainable unless some miracle of technology comes along (the Green Revolution is done what it can, mostly). And it isn’t a problem of distribution because a) it has been found that if you feed a population, that population grows some more (it is only sustainable if people can feed themselves), b) transporting food to famine areas is good for real emergencies, but because of peak oil, is not sustainable as a long term practice.

And where population is growing the fastest – in Sub-Saharan Africa for example, it can be seen that life is already unsustainable in many areas there and I print stories about that.

And I always find new and interesting articles on sustainability (there are plenty of them) that will help prove the point that humanity’s footprint is not sustainable.

I am happy to find so many news articles that reinforce the idea that we are indeed headed for trouble — I am not happy about the bad news, but glad that there are so much in the news.

I agree with you about the elderly. I am a senior myself, but longevity is part of the problem – it adds to the number of people on the planet. If people continue to live longer and longer, at some point we would have to give up having children altogether. Personally I would prefer to give up when I get past a certain point of decrepitude, and let some youngster take my place. We can’t afford to nurture young children and educate them in order to pass on our civilization (hopefully a less destructive one), if at the same time we taking care of so many old ones – I’m thinking of the large number of baby boomers the U.S. now has, compared to the number of working people.

I would not focus on the octomoms because the fertility rate is coming down in the world, and has been at replacement level for some time in the U.S. Instead I would work on the large numbers of unintended pregnancies and meeting the unmet need for contraception, and teen pregnancies, and child brides in the developing countries, and educational soap operas in areas where fertility rates are high due to cultural preferences, and male responsibility.

Fertility rates are coming down due to efforts starting back in the 1950s, and continuing today. Average today is 2.5. But funding has not been adequate and we now need to put about $12 billion towards the areas mentioned in the preceeding paragraph.

Karen Gaia doclink

On Expecting People to Have Fewer Children

May 16, 2011   WOA websiteI have been thinking a lot about population issues lately, and wanted to hear some advice from you. The single worst thing someone in America can do for the environment is to have a child. How can you reconcile talking about this with people without offending them and making them feel persecuted for having children? I feel like this issue really should be discussed more, but I am afraid to say something and hurt someone’s feelings.

I know you have done population activism for a while, so I was wondering if you might have any advice for discussing the subject without acrimony.

Thanks,

Autumn

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi Autumn,

The average fertility rate in this country is about at replacement level. Immigration is the biggest contributing factor to U.S. population, but that does not add anything to the worldwide population, except where it takes the pressure off the resources in Mexico and Central America, which leads to higher birth rates there. Also, immigrants soon assume consumption levels higher than where they come from, but it is difficult to fault people for wanting to achieve a ‘good’ life. If it were not for immigration, our growth rate would be zero, and our population stabilized.

It would be good if Americans dipped down to below replacement level, but this can best be done by addressing the unmet need for contraception. 1/3 of the births in the U.S. are unintended. The teen birth rate in the U.S. is the highest in the developed world. Concentrating on teen pregnancy and fighting the abstinence-only mentality, and using more role models (both good and bad – if done the right way) on television – this will go a long way towards reducing our birth rate.

I no longer get excited about people having 6 or 13 or so kids. They are in a very small minority. Many people have only 1 or even none. It averages out. Many developed countries have such a low birthrate (Spain has a fertility rate of 1.4) that there is concern that they will be sustainable economically. Some even fear that their country will become one of old people, with not enough young people to reproduce. This is a real concern.

In the U.S., our baby boomers are retiring. We will have a huge amount of resources going to old people, and maybe not enough going to the education of our future adults. But of course, having larger families to take care of all these seniors would be a disaster – a giant Ponzi scheme.

Recently attempts have been made to defund Planned Parenthood because some legislators think it does abortions on federal money. The federal program Title X grants money to Planned Parenthood to be used for family planning, but excluding abortions. Planned Parenthood gets less money from Title X than their costs for family planning (excluding abortions), so none of Title X money goes for abortions. There are many Catholic and Evangelical Christians who are against contraception. It is their hidden agenda to make contraception illegal.

So I think where we can do the best good in the U.S. is by making sure that there is sufficient funding for programs that provide contraception, family planning, sex ed, girls self esteem, and male responsibility, which is what Planned Parenthood does. Also social media role models, like televisions’ ’16 and Pregnant’, should continue.

The biggest population growth is in Africa and Central America. Africa’s population is expected to triple by 2100. This is where we need to concentrate with programs like the ones suggested for the U.S. above. Because they are developing countries we also need to add education for girls, raise the age of marriage, and provide microcredit for women.

These programs have already been successful for over 50 years, but funding is inadequate. We need about $2 billion a year for these programs, so little if you compare it to the $2 billion a week that we spend on war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The same kinds of people who stand in the way of contraception and sex ed in the U.S. are the ones who stand in the way of funding for international family planning.

Regarding reproductive health: when more women survive childbirth, they are less likely to think of themselves as baby machines. It gives them some respect getting health care, which saves many lives. Also, when a woman has her postnatal visit, the midwife asks if she wants to space her births, which she almost always does, so that’s when she receives contraception. In, fact, that is almost the same way I got started on contraception, after Rose was born and modern contraception was new.

Anyway, what we need is advocacy for funding – there are many opportunities if you are interested. doclink

Frequently Asked Questions

May 2011   WOA website – asked by Codey1. Is overpopulation a problem that we need to be worrying about?

Yes, overpopulation is like a runaway train, and the longer we wait to do something about it, the harder it will be to deal with the impacts.

2. Do you feel like it is already a problem or something will happen in the future?

It is already a problem and getting worse. We need to do something about it now.

3. What is the biggest effect of overpopulation?

The most drastic impact so far is food shortages, with one billion people classified as ‘undernourished’ by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2009, and nearly a billion undernourished in each of 2007, 2008, and 2011. 3 billion people in the world today struggle to survive on US$2/day, and food prices are rising. The second and thirds impacts of overpopulation are Peak Oil and Climate Change. Some will argue that climate change is not man made, but it is indeed happening and causing crop failures. The world is producing less oil today than it did last year, and this trend will continue. Both peak oil and climate change result in less food to feed the world, peak oil because food depends on mechanized farm machinery and transport.

4. In what areas of the world is overpopulation having the biggest effects and how?

China, and India are seeing the biggest effects, mostly because of water shortages and deforestation. Africa will soon follow, particularly northern Africa where there is not enough water.

5. Have you been able to see the effects first hand? If so, what is it like?

I have seen deforestation in Nepal and Ethiopia. People have to walk further and further to find firewood. In Nepal they climb up in trees and chop out branches to feed the leaves to their buffalo and the wood fuels their fires. The trees look all mangled. In Ethiopia, people have to walk 3-4 miles for wood to fuel their stoves.

6. How does overpopulation differ here in the United State compared to other countries?

Overpopulation in the U.S. affects the world because the U.S. population exceeds its carrying capacity, getting many of its resources from other countries, often taking advantage of the poverty in the other countries by paying much less than the resource is worth.

7. Many people do not believe overpopulation is a problem. Do you think they are wrong? If so, why?

Many people do not understand the relationship between our Earth’s finite resources and humans existence. They believe that, if we are well-off, everything is OK. They do not see that we have already heavily borrowed against the Earth’s resources: water in ancient aquifers are being overpumped, oil that was stored in the ground for thousands of years is not being replenished. Ancient civilizations who became overpopulated did not see it either.

8. When do you feel overpopulation will grow to where it is affecting the lives of people all over the world?

It already is. The current economic crisis is due to our oil-based, debt-based economy having built up a large bubble and now it has burst. In addition, food prices are rising and some people cannot afford to buy sufficient food to feed their family.

9. What do you feel is the best solution for overpopulation?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care – programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world’s fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, and women’s empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates.

10. Are you doing things yourself to reduce overpopulation? If so, what are you doing?

I am doing the web page at overpopulation.org, promoting other organizations that work on overpopulation, doing slide shows, and supporting a couple of groups of population activists. I have also lobbied my federal representative and senators, and have put together a legislative briefing at the state level. I also do tabling on earth day, and I have been interviewed on internet radio. I donate to my favorite organizations that promote family planning and reproductive health.

11. What can people like me, an eighteen year old, do to help?

You can join an activist group, or do tabling alone if you can’t find a group. You can educate yourself on the subject and all the arguments and issues on the subject (I hope my website will help you there), and participate in letter writing and leaving comments on online newspaper articles about population. You can find WOA’s Facebook page (World Overpopulation Awareness), and share your activist activities with us there. You can look up Population Connection, and find suggestions of what to do there (one of them is making presentations to school teachers, who take the lesson to their students).

You can also help WOA – we have need of volunteers who do online help for WOA.

I hope I have been of help.