May 15th, 2015 by Michael Sauers

One Nation Under God

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March 31st, 2015 by Michael Sauers

The words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and the phrase “In God we trust” on the back of a dollar bill haven’t been there as long as most Americans might think. Those references were inserted in the 1950s during the Eisenhower administration, the same decade that the National Prayer Breakfast was launched, according to writer Kevin Kruse. His new book is One Nation Under God.

In the original Pledge of Allegiance, Francis Bellamy made no mention of God, Kruse says. Bellamy was Christian socialist, a Baptist who believed in the separation of church and state.

“As this new religious revival is sweeping the country and taking on new political tones, the phrase ‘one nation under God’ seizes the national imagination,” Kruse tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “It starts with a proposal by the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic lay organization, to add the phrase ‘under God’ to the Pledge of Allegiance. Their initial campaign doesn’t go anywhere but once Eisenhower’s own pastor endorses it … it catches fire.”

Kruse’s book investigates how the idea of America as a Christian nation was promoted in the 1930s and ’40s when industrialists and business lobbies, chafing against the government regulations of the New Deal, recruited and funded conservative clergy to preach faith, freedom and free enterprise. He says this conflation of Christianity and capitalism moved to center stage in the ’50s under Eisenhower’s watch.

Source: NPR

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October 7th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

Jefferson BibleIn 1820 — six years before his death at the age of 83 — Jefferson produced a leather-bound, 84-page volume titled The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, Extracted Textually From the Gospels in Greek, Latin, French & English. Jefferson eliminated everything in the Bible concerning miracles. He ended the Gospel story with the execution and burial of Jesus, omitting the resurrection. The retained passages, Jefferson explained in an 1813 letter to John Adams, contain “the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.”

You can read the original online at The Smithsonian, via

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August 30th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

American Massacre: The Tragedy at Mountain Meadows, September 1857

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July 9th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

Miniature Cathedral of TrierWe worked this stuff out during the civil rights movement, because all the same ideas show up with regard to race.

Plenty of people claim a sincere religious belief in white supremacy, and root it in Biblical texts like the Curse of Ham. (This goes way back: American slave-owners found Biblical license for keeping their “property”.) But the law does not honor these claims, and somehow religion in America survives.

Here’s the principle that has served us well: In private life, you can associate with anybody you like and avoid anybody you don’t like. But if you offer goods or services for sale to the public, you don’t get to define who “the public” is. So when you’re making lunch at your house, you can invite anybody you like and snub anybody you don’t like, but if you run a lunch counter you have to serve blacks.

We’ve been living with principle for decades, and (other than Rand Paul) no one worries much about the racists’ loss of freedom.

That should apply to same-sex couples now: If your chapel is reserved for members of your congregation, fine. But if you rent it to the public for wedding ceremonies, same-sex couples are part of the public just like interracial couples are. You don’t get to define them away.

If that makes you reconsider whether you want to be open to the public, well, that’s your decision.

Read the full article @

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June 27th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

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February 17th, 2012 by Michael Sauers

Bill Moyers Essay: Freedom of and From Religion from on Vimeo.

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April 13th, 2009 by Michael Sauers

Thanks Diane!

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November 11th, 2008 by Michael Sauers

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November 7th, 2008 by Michael Sauers

Rabi Wolpe: "Do you believe in free will?"
Christopher HItchens: "I think we have no choice."

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