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After decade in storage, Washington letter on religious freedom will go public
George Washington's letter will go on display after being out of public view for almost a decade.
May 23rd, 2012
02:18 PM ET

After decade in storage, Washington letter on religious freedom will go public

By Alex Zuckerman, CNN

Washington (CNN) – After sitting in storage for nearly a decade, George Washington’s signature statement on religious liberty will go on display this summer in the city where freedom of religion was enshrined in the Constitution: Philadelphia.

America’s first president wrote the letter to a Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1790, assuring American Jews that their freedom of religion would be protected. The document will go on display this summer for the first time since 2002 in an exhibition at Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History.

For nine years, the letter has been kept out of public view, in storage at a sterile Maryland office park a few hundred feet from FedEx Field, where the Washington Redskins play. CNN took an inside look at the document in September.

But the Morris Morgenstern Foundation, which owns the letter, has agreed to put the historic document on public display, officials at the National Museum of American Jewish History said.

“Our institution as well as others have been trying to have access to (this) for a long time,” said museum director and CEO Ivy Barsky. “We feel fortunate that the Morgenstern Foundation thought us worthy.”

The loan agreement between the museum and the foundation is unusual. The museum will have the letter for three years but will be allowed to show it for just three months per year. The letter will be kept in a dark storage area for preservation for the other nine months.

An excerpt of the letter showing George Washington's signature.

The document will be accompanied by an exhibit called “To Bigotry No Sanction: George Washington and Religious Freedom,” which will run June 29 to September 30. Barsky said the exhibit came together only after the museum was certain it could showcase Washington’s letter.

Before going into storage in 2002, the letter was on display at the Klutznick Museum at B’nai B’rith International Headquarters in Washington. It was on display there for 45 years before the organization downsized, closing its museum. The letter went into storage.

After that,  many people did not realize where the letter had gone, according to Jane Eisner, editor of  Forward, a Jewish newspaper. Eisner dedicated a series of editorials over the last year to lobbying for public display of the letter. She also sent a reporter, Paul Berger, to research the history of the letter.

“This is one of those rare moments as a journalist where you can see the fruits of your labor,” Eisner said. “All we had was all Washington had, which was words. We just have our words and arguments that we try to put out in the public sphere as best we could.”

Morris Morgenstern, center, showed a number of notable people his prized letter, including then-Sen. John F. Kennedy.

The letter is considered to be Washington’s key public statement on religious freedom. Eisner and Barsky say that the document signaled a welcoming of all people to America in pursuit of freedom.

“May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths,” the letter reads, “and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.”

The letter addressed the congregation’s fears that Jews could face discrimination in the new nation. “The letter starts off to the Hebrew congregation of Newport, Rhode Island,” said Mordechai Eskovitz, rabbi of the Touro Synagogue in Newport. “It was meant for the congregation. It is addressed to the congregation.”

The Touro Synagogue, in Newport, Rhode Island, where Washington sent his letter.

The Library of Congress had asked to display the letter during a 2004 exhibit on the 350th anniversary of Jewish life in America. When the loan was not completed, many historians speculated that no one would be able to meet the standards of the Morgenstern Foundation for exhibiting the letter.

“Usually people would die just to be invited to display their property,” said Jonathan Sarna, professor at Brandeis University and a pre-eminent scholar on Jewish-American history. “If the Library of Congress wanted something of mine, they would have it the next day with insured mail.”

Berger, the Forward reporter, says the letter’s placement at another Jewish museum could mean the Morgenstern family would like to see the letter stay in a Jewish facility. “Nobody knows why the family chose the museum in Philadelphia over the Library of Congress,” he said.

The Morgenstern Foundation did not respond to requests for comment.

It is unclear where the document will go after its three-year loan at the Museum of American Jewish History.

- CNN’s Dan Merica contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: History • Judaism

soundoff (869 Responses)
  1. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    "Proven..."
    Powerful and effective

    May 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Moe Smith

      religion has caused MORE DEATH THROUGHOUT THE WORLD than Atheism.

      yea, that's great for our children.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Hitchens

      More people have been murdered by atheists in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Hitchens

      More people have been murdered by atheists in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries

      May 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Snow

      @hitchins.. you are funny!

      May 24, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Surviving the World

      Hitchens

      Please elaborate, are you saying that atheists (I'm as.suming you are talking about Mao and Stalin here) killed people because they were atheists, or that these people, who happened to be atheists killed a lot of people.

      It's sort of an important distinction has the comment above yours is discussing how people have been killed in the name of christianity, islam, hinduism, etc... whereas to date, no one one has amas.sed an army and left a trail of death because people believed in a god/gods.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    "Proven..."

    May 24, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    May 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • TahoePadreFan

      There isnt one myth in the bible that cant be placed thousands of years before the birth of christ. But keep believing the lie.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Tahoe

      I wouldn't bother, this troll doesn't say anything else.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      "Proven"

      May 24, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • darth cheney

      Apparently, it does not change your 3 word vocabulary.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  4. YBP

    I am trying to decide if religion is more of a blindfold, a straightjacket or a wrestler that as the believer in a headlock, cutting off the oxygen to his brain. I'm leaning toward the latter.

    May 24, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • RealityChecker

      You sound brain damaged.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • darth cheney

      None of the above. The answer we were looking for was – it's a crutch.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  5. cd

    Maybe some of you @s s holes have missed the POINT,the GOVERNMENT works for the Tax payers just like the Union workers and a Union boss work for there BOSS the MAN the OWNER. This Nation doesn't run on 9 little rut's who make NOTHING making a DECISION its RUN by the "GOLDEN RULE". Those who own the "GOLD RULE",go away little RUT'S 0BAMA gone!

    May 24, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • YBP

      I thought you were instructed to remain medicated at all times.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • darth cheney

      The government works for "We the People" which includes both taxpayers and non-taxpayers.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  6. combatkelly

    What a fine bunch of m o r o n s post on these articles. You people think you are so clever. But you are just hating m o r o n s .

    May 24, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  7. jpl89

    I read the full letter posted elsewhere. It's amazing how far communication has deteriorated over the years. Imagine a politician capable of such eloquence today.

    May 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  8. Ellas

    If the Jews of Newport owned about 300 slave-transporting ships, why should we be excited about this letter and Washington's relationship with them?

    May 24, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Michael

      Washington owned slaves too. What's your point?

      May 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • God

      Everyone should own slaves. I told someone to write that down in the bible a long time ago. My word.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Ellas

      You make my point for me Michael. A slave owner writing a letter about bigotry not having any sanction. Really?

      May 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Michael

      @Ellas. Indeed he did. And Jefferson. And Madison. Slavery is one of the two greatest iniquities of the colonists, the other being the systematic extermination of the locals.

      Sad as it is, it doesn't change the idea that this country was indeed founded with the idea of freedom of religious expression, even if they failed in living up to freedom in other forms.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • mfmaine

      @Michael.....Actually, this country was founded by the wealthy as a tax dodge. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Michael

      @mfmaine, I certainly don't object to your as-ertion about the revolution being a 'tax dodge' (and I would add 'land grab' too).

      The whole "taxation without representation" thing is pretty hollow when most of the so-called taxes were repealed before they went into effect.

      However they got there, the Const.tution is magnificent, all the more so since it was written by committee.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
  9. amjp

    I haven't read through all of the previous comments, but I'll add my understanding of the "Founding Fathers" here. I've done a great deal of reading on the subject. Most of them have been considered "deists," including Jefferson and Franklin. Paine was one of the few who would probably be called an "atheist;" the few quotes attributed to him here would attest to that. If you don't know the difference, look it up. Many, if not most of the FFs belonged to churches, particularly the Anglican (later: Episcopal) church, but were not necessarily dedicated members.

    May 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • Michael

      Indeed. And many of them lived in colonies with "established" churches, what today we would call a "state religion".

      Virginia and the Massachusetts Bay Colony each had established churches – Anglican and Congregational, respectively. In societies with established churches, EVERYONE was a member of the one church and religious freedom was not theoretically possible, so it's no surprise that they were all at least nominally "Christians" – a word which to them did not mean Evangelicalism, but being "Christ-like" in one's behavior.

      Catholics in particular were kept underground in most English societies of the 18th Century.

      Franklin moved from Boston to Philadelphia as a young man to escape from the Boston Puritans. Even though Pennsylvania was run by Quakers, they espoused religious tolerance.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  10. kamarasune

    UNALIENABLE RIGHTS

    "If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renounciation. The right to freedom being the gift of God, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave." – Samuel Adams

    They have to get God out of the way to finish undermining the remainder of American rights.

    May 24, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • SkepticOne

      You throw a quote up there with the word God in it to try and prove a point, but don't even read the actual quote.

      "If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation."- In other words, to surrender any right is to in effect call for the end of society itself. Including the right to practice or not practice ANY religion.

      "The right to freedom being the gift of God, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave."
      – He's not saying in order to be free, but that freedom is a natural right "bestowed by our creator" (to borrow words from another wise man); whether that creator is GOD, gods or nature is a personal belief, the rights of man to be free, including the right to believe what they will, that is in effect our only common belief in this country. And to give up those rights is to become a slave.

      Unless you are a christian fundamentalist and want to impose your beliefs into law.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  11. Christians think Sharia Law is immoral but impose their own Sharia Law in America.

    No matter what version, it's immoral to impose your religion and deny others civil rights.

    May 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • jpl89

      Maybe you can tell us where adulterers are being stoned to death in America then...oh wait...there aren't any.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • n8362

      Christianity is being imposed on the American public. Denying the right to same sеx marriage is a good present day example.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Catholic Clarity

      Oh really? What in the world are you talking about? The HHS mandate is trying to force Catholic Christian organizations to go against their beliefs and teachings to provide birth control and abortion-inducing drugs and also to prerform abortions even though these products/services can be obtained elsewhere. There is no religious freedom for Christians. Everyone just wants to throw up a smoke screen because there's a monument with the ten commandments on it. Give me a break. You can walk away from a monument. You can't walk away from having been forced to abort a child against your conscience and values!!!

      June 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  12. Michael

    Here's some more revolutionary era thoughts on freedom of religion. This is from James Madison and George Mason in 1776. It is the final article in the Virginia Declaration of Rights and is quite consistent with Geo. Washington's message.

    XVI That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore, all men are equally ent.tled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.

    It would be so nice if a greater number of modern Christians understood that beliefs cannot be forced on others, and acted with forbearance and love, much like these people living in the 18th Century people expected they would.

    May 24, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Killdeer

      I agreee\, but try to tell that to the Virginia Legislature today...

      May 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Michael

      @Killdeer, I thought "Virginia is for lovers"?

      May 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  13. leggs

    CNN Would it have killed you to put the text of the letter in the article? I know very little more about the letter after having read your article than I did before.

    May 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Michael

      Ask an you shall receive, so long as it gets through the filter.

      http://www.gwirf.org/index.php/component/content/article/84-washingtons-letter.html

      May 24, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Michael

      Can I code this as a link? Washinton's Lettter to Newport

      May 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  14. retphxfire

    I had hope that the words of Washington, Jefferson and Adams (hey, even Barry Goldwater) would get through to the extreme Christian Right, but from the comments I've read there is little hope. Barry called it decades ago :The Advocate, "I don't have any respect for the Religious Right. There is no place in this country for practicing religion in politics" .Religious Right's long-term impact on his beloved GOP. "If they succeed in establishing religion as a basic Republican Party tenet," he told U.S. News & World Report in 1994, "they could do us in." 9/15/81 US Senate ;The uncompromising position of these groups is a divisive element that could tear apart the very spirit of our representative system, if they gain sufficient strength." "The religious factions will go on imposing their will on others," { he said,} "unless the decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy. They must learn to make their views known without trying to make their views the only alternatives. . . We have succeeded for 205 years in keeping the affairs of state separate from the uncompromising idealism of religious groups and we mustn't stop now" { he insisted}. "To retreat from that separation would violate the principles of conservatism and the values upon which the framers built this democratic republic."
    from CHURCH & STATE July / August 1998"

    May 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • One one

      Interesting. This is the 2nd time today I have heard this sort of view from Goldwater. My impression of him has always been a hard core segregationist.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • SkepticOne

      He actually voted for most of the early civil rights laws passed in the Senate, he didn't vote for the 1964 act because of his stance against Federal intervention into states rights, not because he was pro segregation.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  15. Johnny America

    There were no athiests who lead the abolition movement. All the major leaders were religious leaders.

    May 24, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • One one

      And how do you know what was in the minds of the people involved back then. There have always been atheists. And there always will be. But if a Christian dominated society punishes them, they kept it private. IMO, many Christians don't really believe, not deep down inside. But they won't admitt it to their fellow Christians, or even to themselves.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Jon

      But all the slave owners well also very devout. The South of that time was the most pious in the history of this country.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Matt

      Admitting to being an atheist in antebellum America would be similar to admitting to being a witch in medieval Europe

      May 24, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Damo

      There were no atheists among the slaveholders in the South either.

      And there's plenty of us atheists active in Civil Rights at the moment.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Frank

      @Matt...awesome observation. Is that your original quote?

      May 24, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Johnny America

      None of you ever provided any proof of your worthless rantings. You simply do not have anything to refute my point.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Johnny America

      @damo, there were atheists who owned slaves....according to the idiot below this post, Thomas Jefferson was an atheist and he owned many slaves....you need to get educated. All of your arguments are weak.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  16. Jt_flyer

    Our nations founders had many thoughts about religion. Here are a few:

    1.  History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government.  This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose.  Thomas Jefferson

    2. "The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs." -Thomas Jefferson

    3. "It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticism's that three are one, and one is three; and yet the one is not three, and the three are not one- Thomas Jefferson

    4. "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 cla.ssed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors."- Thomas Jefferson

    5. "There is not one redeeming feature in our supersti.tion of Christianity. It has made one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites."- Thomas Jefferson

    6. "Lighthouses are more useful than churches."- Ben Franklin
    .
    7. "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."- Ben Franklin

    8. "I looked around for God's judgments, but saw no signs of them."- Ben Franklin

    9. "In the affairs of the world, men are saved not by faith, but by the lack of it."- Ben Franklin

    10. "This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it"- John Adams

    11. "The New Testament, they tell us, is founded upon the prophecies of the Old; if so, it must follow the fate of its foundation.'- Thomas Paine

    12. "Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst."- Thomas Paine

    13. "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."- Thomas Paine

    14. "Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange belief that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies."- Thomas Paine

    15. "All national inst.itutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."- Thomas Paine

    16. "It is the fable of Jesus Christ, as told in the New Testament, and the wild and visionary doctrine raised thereon, against which I contend. The story, taking it as it is told, is blasphemously obscene.”- Thomas Paine

    17. "Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by the difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be depreciated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society."- George Washington

    18. "The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession."- Abraham Lincoln

    19. "It may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interference in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespa.sses on its legal rights by others."- James Madison

    20. "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise."- James Madison

    21. "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man"- Thomas Jefferson

    May 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • CBKidder

      Awesome reply. It's so refreshing to encounter a rational non-mystical thinker.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Johnny America

      I would like to point out that most of your quotes are not real. You should really stop going to internet sites for them.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • One one

      Nice work. I've added these to my collection.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • ElGiblet

      Well, I was hoping to find a nugget of helpfulness here, but, as it turns out, most of what you have shared is either out of context, misquoted or misattributed. Sorry, but, you're going to have to do more research on these.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • ElGiblet

      ... also... Thomas Paine? Apple, orange, banana, Pluto...

      May 24, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Vivian

      Thomas Paine and Abraham Lincoln were not founders of the nation.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Jon

      @Vivian-Thomas Paine was indeed a Founding Father. Of course Lincoln was not but he was the most important president of his time and perhaps of all time.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • SkepticOne

      @ElGiblet
      How can any of these be out of context??? They are all direct quotes by founding fathers (I consider Lincoln one because he re-founded the Union) on Religion. Is it that far-off to think that radical minds that founded a free society might have been against organized religion and some of the tenants of the Christian faith? If there have been mis-quotes, please enlighten us, we're all ears.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • RdWhtNBlu

      ...and these thoughts before they knew the universe was 150 billion lights years in diameter and there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on the Earth. Before all of these recent (last 90 years) facts one could see how religeon could accidentally be thought to be true, but now? Really? It's been a scam that has negatively affected most peoples of Earth for far too long. Enough all ready. The billions and billions of people that have faithfully wasted so much time and energy on lies. I hope we can someday be rid of those that claim to 'know', as they are the perpetrators.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Johnny America

      Thomas Paine was a deist. Not an atheist. He would look down upon the idiots who call themselves atheists. He believed in a god,just not GOD.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • want2believe

      @SkepticOne Some of these statements are out of context such as the one from John Adams:

      "Twenty times, in the course of my late Reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible Worlds, if there were no Religion in it"!!! But in this exclamati[on] I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly [Adams' boyhood parish priest and Latin school master]. Without Religion this World would be Something not fit to be mentioned in polite Company, I mean h**l."

      Meaning without religion, there would be nothing to guide the behavior of the majority.

      I am an atheist. But copying and pasting random quotes like this is just as bad as those that cherry pick the bible.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  17. TDP

    Too bad Washington didn't write one for Catholics. Wonder what George would think of today's squabble between the Church and the POTUS.

    May 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • RayJacksonMS

      He would wonder why the POTUS hadn't sent drones to killed the pedophiles at the Vatican.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Steve

      I think he would be absolutely disgusted. I also think that he would be disappointed in those who were atheists, but that he would also believe that freedom of religion also means freedom FROM religion if one chooses.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • One one

      He would see it for what it is. The church making a stand to stop the excelerating erosion of the power and influence they have enjoyed for centuries, but now appears to be rapidly warning.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • len

      laugh at there stupidity!

      May 24, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Craig

      @One one: I agree. He would understand the church's position as exactly that. Religion has always been about power, and always will be. The "witch trials"...both here and in Europe...were not about fear of the supernatural. The church not only believed in the supernatural, they reveled in it. However, they didn't want anyone thinking that such powers were available to others. The church wanted to maintain their monopoly. The church, and only the church, could utter some words in Latin and magically change bread into human flesh, and wine into human blood...both from a body that had been dead for centuries.

      Religion remains focused on proclaiming that you must do as they say, with the threat of eternal damnation if you don't. And...each religion claims to be "the only right one." "My invisible friend can beat up your invisible friend." Yeah, I'm really good with that idea.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Michael

      @TDP, that's an amusing idea.

      Catholics were despised in most English communities in the 18th century. I don't have handy facts to back it up but suspect there were relatively few of them in the colonies, except perhaps in Maryland which was founded as a haven for Catholics; and of course Canada where among other things, the freedom to express Catholicism was obliquely referred to in the Declaration of Independence as "abolishing the free system of English laws":

      For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

      One hopes that Washington, despite his (mostly social) Anglican observances, would extend the same freedoms to the Catholics.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  18. Rothschild

    Does Freedom of Religion also included the right of Hebrew bankers to bilk tax payers in bank heist bailouts?

    May 24, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • ohioleft

      No, but it allows you to sound like a racist idiot.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Moe

      Racist idiot? I don't see it......I do see a well-informed, able-to-think-for-himself individual, unlike you. You just parrot what Maddow, O'Reilly, Beck, Matthews, Maher, or whatever other kosher clown tells you to think.

      LOL racist? That term is as meaningless today as 'heretic" was during the middle ages.

      Idiot.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Michael

      You are right. (pun) "Racist" is perhaps the wrong word. How about "anti-semitic"?

      May 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • MiddleMan

      Sorry Moe, but I'm gonna have to agree with Ohioleft – how do you justify an anti-semetic comment as being "well-informed, able-to-think-for-himself" – spewing hatred toward someone of a different religion is as far as "well informed" or free thinking as you can possibly get.
      I am so proud to be from a country whose founding fathers had so much integrity – and did not display the same kind of prejudice as Rothchild and Moe.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  19. Moe

    Ah, the Jews........as they say, "there's no business like SHOAH-business!"

    Folks, stop buying into their lies. Go to prothink.org to learn the real truth......

    May 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Ben

      They make more money and control more than the rest of us because they're smarter than the rest of us. we could all learn a lot from them.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Moe

      Smarter....LOL that's a good one. Not smarter, my friend, but cleverer.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Snoozie

      Oh, goodie. Another "hate" website that you can get "the truth" from. Yup, only there, folks.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Mike, Albany

      Ah the Moe's. People who themselves by this stupid monosyllabic hick name who think stupid thoughts and should probably have never been born. I call for a "Moe-ah" to round all of you up and send you to camps where you will be subjects of cruel medical experiments, separated from your families, and ultimately executed or simply starved to death. It's a ridiculous notion, of course, but just imagine for one moment what it would be like for something like to happen to you, and then you'll realize that the Shoah is not something about which to make jokes.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • len

      Moe, you’re an ignorant fool.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Moe

      Mike, Albany

      Considering your precious 'Shoah' wasn't nearly as grand as you believe it was, I do think we should tolerate some humor on the subject. Come on, 6 million? The Nazis weren't even in control of 6 million Jews.
      The real 'Shoah' happened in Dresden, when the UK and USA incinerated over 500,000 INNOCENT women, children, old men, and wounded soldiers.
      So yeah, I think I'll make jokes about your 'Shoah' as much as I damn well please.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • RdWhtNBlu

      Moe is a Middle Easterner that hates the Jews and keeps his wife tied up in the closet.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Moe

      Does the thought of that excite you, RdWhtNBlu?

      May 24, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Mike, Albany

      I I suspect "Moe" is one of these vile, worthless white supremacists without whom the country, and the world, would be a much better place. Personally, I suspect "Moe" will continue spewing his hateful rhetoric but will never contribute anything useful to society (much like a parasite), he'll die in utter obscurity, nobody will miss him, and the world will continue on exactly the same as it did before he passed. Moe, I don't know you, and I certainly would not want to, but just based on your comment and your responses, I'm pretty sure I'm dead on with this description of you.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Mike, Albany

      Oh, and by the way, "Moe", before you start spouting off about the holocaust, maybe try reading something other than "The Turner Diaries" and maybe turn off Fox News. Maybe try reading some actual WWII history. Try, William Shirer's "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" (It's over 1,000 pages, but maybe you can make as far as page 5 if you really push your puny brain). Try reading the letters of Albert Speer (although I doubt that you are fluent in German like I am). Once you've actually acquired some real information rather than your bogus propaganda, maybe you'll have a different perspective.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Moe

      Mike,

      You read a biased account of history written by a journalist....congratulations. Now that you have become the omniscient source on all things WW2 (due to your reading of Shirer's 'history', LOL), explain why Hitler never issued an extermination order. You can't because he didn't. Please don't say Wannsee, which merely confirmed the fact that the final solution was EMIGRATION, not extermination. Your German bashing makes me sick. The victors write the history books, son. They'll let you what what they want you to know, and obviously you haven' been as subjective as you should have been. I've spoken to men who were there, genius. The holocaust is a giant lie - the sooner you accept this the sooner you'll find some inner peace......

      May 24, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  20. Al

    I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation." –George Washington, circular letter of farewell to the Army, 1783

    Washington, you were a great man. Your legacy lives on.

    May 24, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Nope

      Nope, it doesnt.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • QS

      And therein lies the problem with how the founders of this country thought of religion....unfortunately, they apparently made the same mistake most people make when it comes to religion – they gave it the benefit of the doubt....and religion took full advantage of its new "freedom".

      May 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.