Fox Viewers Overwhelmingly Think We Should Prepare for Alien Invasion Before Fighting Climate Change

By Alex Seitz-Wald | Sourced from ThinkProgress

“A new (supposedly) NASA-funded study postulating that aliens may attack humans over climate change had all the ingredients for a perfect Fox faux controversy — it bolstered their anti-science narrative, painted their opponents as clownish radicals, and highlighted wasteful government spending on a supposedly liberal casue. Fox reported the “news from NASA” several times several times today, presenting it as official “taxpayer funded research.” A chyron on Fox and Friends read: “NASA: Global warming may provoke an [alien] attack.”

But as Business Insider pointed out, they’re “wrong” — “That report was not funded by NASA. It was written by an independent group of scientists and bloggers. One of those happens to work at NASA.” NASA distanced itself from the report as well, calling reports linking the agency to it “not true.” Host Megyn Kelly finally corrected the record this afternoon, saying, “I was making that up.”

But before she did, she was so bemused by the study that she directed her viewers to complete a poll on her website which asked how we should respond to the study: “Immediately increase efforts to curb greenhouse gases,” “Develop weapons to kill the Aliens FIRST,” or “Gently suggest scientists research how to create job.”

Not surprisingly, most suggested they research something else. But more than six times as many respondents (19 percent to 3 percent) said we should focus on building weapons to kill aliens before curbing greenhouse gases. Watch a compilation:”

(N.B.: click link below to see video)

“The poll is of course not scientific, but you can hardly blame the viewers who did respond, considering Fox’s constant misinformation about climate change. For instance, as she presented the poll, Kelly said of curbing climate change, “just in case, right?” — as in, “just in case” the science is right. She did not make a similar qualifier for alien invasion. Numerous studies consistently show that Fox viewers are among the most misinformed of news viewers, while at least one study has shown that — perversely — watching Fox actually makes people lessinformed than they were to begin with.

“Trust me folks, this story is hard to understand,” Fox and Friends host Gretchen Carlson said of the “NASA study.” Indeed.

Emphasis Mine


Goodbye Religion? How Godlessness Is Increasing With Each New Generation

From Alternet, by Adam Lee

“This demographic transformation has been in progress ever since World War II, but in recent years it’s begun to seriously pick up steam.

Something strange is happening to American teenagers. If you believe popular wisdom, young people are apathetic, cynical and jaded; or, they’re supposed to be conformists whose overriding desire is to fit in and be popular. But if you’ve been paying close attention over the past decade, you might have seen any of a growing number of cases that conspicuously defy these stereotypes: stories of teenagers who have strong principles they’re unashamed to display and which they’re committed to defending, even at great personal cost, against the bullying of a hostile establishment.

For example, in 2002, an Eagle Scout named Darrell Lambert was threatened with expulsion from the Boy Scouts, despite his having earned dozens of merit badges and having held literally every leadership position in his troop. His crime? He’s an outspoken atheist. When the news of his beliefs reached scouting officials, they demanded that he change his mind. He was given a week to think it over. All he had to do was lie, but if he did that, he said, “I wouldn’t be a good Scout then, would I?” For his honesty, he was kicked out of the organization he’d devoted his life to.

In New Jersey in 2006, a public high school teacher named David Paskiewicz was openly preaching Christianity in the classroom, advocating creationism and telling a Muslim student she would burn in hell if she didn’t convert. A junior named Matt LaClair reported this illegal government preaching to the school administration. In a meeting with the principal, Paskiewicz denied everything — whereupon LaClair produced audio recordings of him saying the things he specifically denied having said.

In Indiana in 2009, the senior class at a public school was asked to vote on whether to have a prayer as part of their graduation ceremony. A senior named Eric Workman, knowing full well that school-sponsored prayer is illegal even if a majority votes for it, filed a lawsuit and won an injunction against the prayer. The school administration responded by announcing it wouldn’t review graduation speeches in advance, clearly hoping that some student would use the opportunity to say the same prayer — except that the class valedictorian was Eric Workman, and he used his graduation speech to explain why the school’s actions were unconstitutional and to explain the importance of the First Amendment.

Stories like these are multiplying all over the nation. In South Carolina just this year, a graduating senior named Harrison Hopkins put a stop to school prayer with help from the Freedom from Religion Foundation. In Louisiana, a senior named Damon Fowler fought against similar school-sponsored prayers at his graduation. In Rhode Island, an amazing sophomore named Jessica Ahlquist is leading the fight to get an illegal “School Prayer” banner removed from her school’s auditorium.

Granted, stories like these aren’t entirely a new phenomenon. There have always been brave young free thinkers who dared to stand up for their rights, and there has always been a hostile, prejudiced religious majority that’s tried to silence them with bullying, persecution and harassment.

For instance, when church-state hero Ellery Schempp prevailed in a landmark First Amendment case against school-sponsored Bible reading, his principal wrote to the colleges he had applied to and asked them not to admit him. (It didn’t work: Ellery was accepted to Tufts University, graduated with honors and became a successful scientist.) Likewise, when Jim McCollum and his mother Vashti challenged their school over a released-time program, raving bigots assaulted him, got her fired from her job, pelted their home with rotten fruit and killed their cat. (The McCollums didn’t relent, and won a precedent-setting Supreme Court decision striking down religious instruction on public school time.)

Regrettably, this hasn’t changed as much as I’d like. Most of the student activists I named earlier have faced harassment, some from peers, some from the teachers and authority figures who are supposed to be the responsible ones. Damon Fowler was demeaned by a teacher and disowned by his own parents for opposing prayer at his graduation. But what’s different now is that young people who speak out aren’t left to face the mob alone. Now more than ever before, there’s a thriving, growing secular community that’s becoming increasingly confident, assertive, and capable of looking out for its own.

When Fowler was kicked out of his house, a fundraiser on Friendly Atheist netted over $30,000 in donations to pay for his living expenses and college tuition. The Secular Student Alliance, a national organization that supports student atheist and freethought clubs, is growing by leaps and bounds in colleges and high schools. (This is especially important in the light of psychological experiments which find that it’s much easier to resist peer pressure if you have even one other person standing with you.) Student activists like the ones I’ve mentioned are no longer just scattered voices in the crowd; they’re the leading edge of a wave.

All these individual facts add up to a larger picture, which is confirmed by statistical evidence: Americans are becoming less religious, with rates of atheism and secularism increasing in each new generation. This demographic transformation has been in progress ever since World War II, but in recent years it’s begun to seriously pick up steam. In the generation born since 1982, variously referred to as Generation Y, the Millennials, or Generation Next, one in five people identify as nonreligious, atheist, or agnostic. In the youngest cohort, the trend is even more dramatic: as many as 30% of those born since 1990 are nonbelievers. Another study, this one by a Christian polling firm, found that people are leaving Christianity at four times the rate that new members are joining.

What could be causing this generational shift towards godlessness? There are multiple theories, but only one of them that I’m aware of both makes good sense and is corroborated by the facts.

Over the last few decades, society in general, and young people in particular, have become increasingly tolerant of gays and other minorities. For the most part, this is a predictable result of familiarity: people who’ve grown up in an increasingly multicultural society see less problem with interracial relationships (89% of Generation Nexters approve of interracial marriage, compared to 70% of older age groups) and same-sex marriage (47% in favor among Nexters, compared to 30% in older groups). When it comes to issues like whether gays and lesbians should be protected from job discrimination or allowed to adopt, the age gap in support is even more dramatic (71% vs. 59% and 61% vs. 44%, respectively).

But while American society is moving forward on all these fronts, many churches not only refuse to go along, they’re actively moving backward. Most large Christian sects, both Catholic and Protestant, have made fighting against gay rights and women’s rights their all-consuming crusade. And young people have gotten this message loud and clear: polls find that the most common impressions of Christianity are that it’s hostile, judgmental and hypocritical. In particular, an incredible 91% of young non-Christians say that Christianity is “anti-homosexual“, and significant majorities say that Christianity treats being gay as a bigger sin than anything else. (When right-wing politicians thunder that same-sex marriage is worse than terrorism, it’s not hard to see where people have gotten this impression.)

On other social issues as well, the gap between Gen Nexters and the church looms increasingly wide. Younger folks favor full access to the morning-after pill by a larger margin than older generations (59% vs. 46%). They reject the notion that women should return to “traditional roles” — already a minority position, but they disagree with it even more strongly than others. And they’re by far the least likely of all age groups to say that they have “old-fashioned” values about family and marriage (67% say this, as compared to 85% of other age groups).

In a society that’s increasingly tolerant and enlightened, the big churches remain stubbornly entrenched in the past, clinging to medieval dogmas about gay people and women, presuming to lecture their members about how they should vote, whom they should love, how they should live. It’s no surprise that people who’ve grown up in this tolerant age find it absurd when they’re told that their family and friends don’t deserve civil rights, and it’s even less of a surprise that, when they’re told they must believe this to be good Christians, they simply walk away. This trend is reflected in the steadily rising percentages of Americans who say that religion is “old-fashioned and out of date” and can’t speak to today’s social problems.

The Roman Catholic church in particular has been hit hard by this. According to a 2009 Pew study, “Faith in Flux,” one in ten American adults is a former Catholic, and a majority of ex-Catholics cite unhappiness with the church’s archaic stance on abortion, homosexuality, birth control or the treatment of women as a major factor in their departure. But evangelical and other Protestant denominations are feeling the same sting. According to a survey by the sociologists Robert Putnam and David Campbell, moderates and progressives are heading for the exits as the churches increasingly become the domain of conservatives:

From the early 1970s to the late 1980s the fraction of Americans age 18 to 29 who identified with evangelical Protestantism rose to 25% from 20%, but since 1990, that fraction has fallen back to about 17%….Today, 17% of Americans say they have no religion, and these new “nones” are very heavily concentrated among Americans who have come of age since 1990. Between 25% and 30% of twentysomethings today say they have no religious affiliation — roughly four times higher than in any previous generation.

Even the mainstream, relatively liberal Protestant churches are dwindling and dying at an astonishing rate: collateral damage, perhaps, in a political war that’s led young people to view them as guilty by association. As the journal First Things observes in an article titled “The Death of Protestant America,” the mainline churches have fallen from more than 50% of the American population in 1965 to less than 8% today.

What all this means is that the rise of atheism as a political force is an effect, rather than a cause, of the churches’ hard right turn towards fundamentalism. I admit that this conclusion is a little damaging to my ego. I’d love to say that we atheists did it all ourselves; I’d love to be able to say that our dazzling wit and slashing rhetorical attacks are persuading people to abandon organized religion in droves. But the truth is that the churches’ wounds are largely self-inflicted. By obstinately clinging to prejudices that the rest of society is moving beyond, they’re in the process of making themselves irrelevant. In fact, there are indications that it’s a vicious circle: as churches become less tolerant and more conservative, their younger and more progressive members depart, which makes their average membership still more conservative, which accelerates the progressive exodus still further, and so on. (A similar dynamic is at work in the Republican party, which explains their increasing levels of insanity over the past two or three decades.)

That doesn’t mean, however, that that there’s nothing we freethinkers can contribute. On the contrary, there’s a virtuous circle that we can take advantage of: the more we speak out and the more visible we are, the more familiar atheism will become, and the more it will be seen as a viable alternative, which will encourage still more people to join us and speak out. This is exactly the same strategy that’s been used successfully by trailblazers in the gay-rights movement and other social reform efforts.

At the same time, the churches aren’t entirely oblivious to what’s happening. The rising secular tide of Generation Next hasn’t gone unfelt or unnoticed, but is increasingly being reflected in dwindling donations, graying congregations, and empty churches across the land. As John Avant, a vice president for evangelization of the Southern Baptist Conference, lamented:

A study by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Leavell Center for Evangelism and Church Health showed that only 11 percent of SBC churches are healthy and growing… And we are doing worse with young people, with 39 percent of Southern Baptist churches in 2005 reporting baptizing no teens. (source)

The Catholic church is experiencing a similar slow fade, with declining Mass attendance and a crippling shortage of priests worldwide. Land once owned by religious orders is being sold off for conservation or public use, turned into schools or nature preserves. The Pope’s response, meanwhile, is to accelerate the decline by ordering bishops not even to discuss the possibility of ordaining women or married men, even as he welcomes Holocaust deniers and ex-Angelican misogynists.

And religious giving has declined as well, leaving shrinking churches grappling with layoffs and angry creditors. The recession has worsened this trend, but didn’t create it; like all the other patterns, it’s generational, with each increasingly secular age group giving less than the last. As one conservative rabbi says, the dip in giving stems from a “growing disinterest in organized religion.”

Of course, Christianity is still by far the largest religious affiliation in America, and likely will be for some time. But the numbers don’t lie, and the trends of the last several decades show more and more evidence of the same secularizing wave that’s overtaking most countries in Europe. The major churches, clinging to the inferior morality of long-gone ages, are increasingly out of step with a world that’s more enlightened, rational and tolerant than it once was. And the more they dig in their heels, the more we can expect this process to accelerate. I, for one, can’t wait to see the young atheist activists who will emerge in the next few decades.”

Adam Lee is the author and creator of Daylight Atheism, one of the largest and most popular weblogs on the Internet whose primary focus is on atheism. His original essays written for the site explore issues in politics, science, history, philosophy, and popular culture. Lee is the author of a forthcoming book, also titled Daylight Atheism, which advances the atheist viewpoint and argues that lack of religious belief is a positive liberation and the gateway to a moral life filled with purpose and joy.
Emphasis Mine


Our founding secularist

The Providence Journal,  Friday, June 24, 2011

By J. Stanley Lemons

The greatest contribution that the U.S. has made to world religion is the concept and practice of separation of church and state, and that was started in Providence with Roger Williams in 1636.

Even if nothing in the rest of the history of the state was remarkable, Providence would still have that one world-class contribution to its credit. It was the first place in modern history where citizenship and religion were separated, where freedom of conscience was the rule.

While his ideas were reviled and attacked in the 17th Century, they became embodied in the U.S. Constitution in 1789 and the Bill of Rights, appended to it in 1791.

Have you wondered why there is a Roger Williams Lodge of B’nai B’rith? Why the oldest synagogue (Touro Synagogue, in Newport) in America is in Rhode Island? Have you ever wondered why Rhode Island never had a witch trial? Or blasphemy trials? Nor hanged, whipped or jailed people because of religion? All the other colonies executed witches, but not Rhode Island. Most had blasphemy trials, but not Rhode Island.

Nearly everywhere else in colonial America, people of faith were persecuted, but not in Rhode Island. Massachusetts hanged four Quakers, and Virginia imprisoned dozens of Baptists. Maryland, which was created as a haven for Roman Catholics, came to outlaw Catholic priests and prohibited Roman Catholics from inheriting property. These things did not happen here because Roger Williams founded Providence to be a “shelter for those distressed of conscience.” Rhode Island’s freedom of religion prevented such religious laws and abuses.

It is well to recall how this came about. Roger Williams got into serious trouble in Massachusetts when he challenged both the political and religious establishments by asserting that the government had no role in religion. Moreover, he challenged the legitimacy of the colony itself by charging that it had stolen its land from the Indians. So he was tried and convicted of sedition, heresy and the refusal to take an oath of allegiance to the colony that required him to swear in God’s name. In October 1635 he was ordered banished to England, whence he had fled in 1630 because of religious persecution.

Before the banishment could be carried out, however, he fled from Salem into the snow in January 1636 and trekked to the Narragansett Bay. In June he left the shelter of the Wampanoags and crossed the Seekonk River into the domain of the Narragansetts. From Miantonomi and Canonicus he acquired Providence. His relations with the Narragansetts were so cordial that Providence and the Narragansetts remained allies for the next 40 years against the efforts of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Plymouth colonies to destroy them both.

When the householders first gathered in Providence to form their town government, they agreed that they could make rules and laws in “civil matters only.” In 1644 when Williams secured his charter for the “Province of Providence Plantations in Narragansett Bay in New England,” that charter was for a “civil government.” It did not mention religion because Williams did not believe that government had any role to play in religion. “Soul liberty” was God’s gift to all humanity; it was not something granted by any government.

Soul liberty was the freedom of every person to follow the dictates of conscience. A government could only acknowledge this freedom and stand aside to allow full freedom of religion. This meant that one had to have complete separation of church and state. For Roger Williams, separation of church and state was for the protection of the church from the corrupting effects of government. Williams wrote repeatedly that true religion needs no support of the government and that government support invariably corrupts religion.

All of the neighboring colonies regarded Providence Plantations with undisguised horror and worked for the first hundred years to dismember and destroy this “hive of heretics.” But they failed, and the principle that Roger Williams planted in Providence in 1636 came to be the law of all of Rhode Island and then a basic principle of the United States. And, Roger Williams, whose ideas were roundly rejected by everybody in his lifetime, would be seen by the 20th Century as the quintessential American of the 17th Century. What was the founding principle of Providence — freedom of religion (which demands separation of church and state) — now holds out a hope for the whole world where religious intolerance is the basis of so much strife.

Williams believed that it was God’s command that everyone (including people that he regarded as heretics, pagans, atheists, and infidels) had a right to freedom of conscience. He believed that anyone had a right to be wrong, and that only civil debate could be used to change a heart or mind. The only tools of religion were those of the spirit, never the sword. For him, the state had no role to play in religion. He believed that whenever and wherever the government tried to meddle with religion by trying to define it or control it or enforce it, or even to support it, religion was corrupted by such efforts.

Williams and his good friend John Clarke, of Newport, shared the view that the key to a peaceful society was complete separation of church and state. Nearly everyone else believed just the opposite: They believed that peace was possible only when everyone was united in a single church in a single state. Williams’s core religious principle held that each person had freedom of conscience and freedom to practice their faith. Nearly everyone else thought that the state had to punish and coerce those who had divergent religious beliefs, wrong practices, or wayward ideas.

His position on freedom of religion was wildly radical in his day and, nearly four centuries later, this basic principle is still wildly radical in great swathes of today’s world. Religious freedom does not exist in most nations on the planet.

What would Roger Williams think of the idea that our nation was founded as a Christian nation? Certainly Providence and Rhode Island were not founded as a Christian government. It is deeply troubling to know that a pastor of one of the largest churches in Texas declared on national TV that “separation of church and state is the product of some infidel’s mind.”

To call Roger Williams an infidel reveals profound ignorance of our nation’s history. Roger Williams utterly rejected any such concept and regarded the idea of a “Christian nation” as “blasphemy.” So, he established a government that was confined to “civil matters only,” and this has become a model for the world.

J. Stanley Lemons is an emeritus professor of history, Rhode Island College and church historian for the First Baptist Church in America.

Emphasis  mine

Constitution 1, National Day of Prayer Task Force, 0

From the NY Times:


MADISON, Wis. — Annie Laurie Gaylor clicked through a flurry of e-mail messages warning her to repent or she would burn in hell.

“Herod,” one messenger called her.

Ms. Gaylor leaned back and sipped from a cup of tea, unfazed and even a bit surprised at the relative tameness of the attacks. Fresh from her latest godless triumph, she had expected more vitriol.

“It used to be a lot worse,” said Ms. Gaylor, 54, an atheist whose organization, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, recently won a suit in federal court here that declared the National Day of Prayer to be a violation of the First Amendment. “Things are changing. Society is becoming more secularized. It’s becoming acceptable to be atheist and agnostic. And there are more of us.”

The nation’s population continues to show signs of becoming less religious, according to the American Religious Identification Survey. The number of people in 2008 calling themselves atheist or agnostic, or stating no religious preference, is an estimated 15 percent, nearly double the percentage in the early 1990s. Around the country, nonbeliever clubs are springing up on college campuses.

Headquartered in a former Episcopal rectory in the shadow of the State Capitol, Freedom From Religion was founded in 1976 by Ms. Gaylor — then a student at the University of Wisconsin — and her mother, Anne Nicol Gaylor, who remains a fierce advocate for “free thought” at age 83. The co-president of the group is Annie Laurie Gaylor’s husband, Dan Barker, a former evangelical minister.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation claims a membership of more than 14,000, the largest group in the country advocating for atheists and agnostics. It has doubled its staff to eight in the last year, publishes a newspaper 10 times a year, Freethought Today, and has a weekly radio show. The group counts among its members and vocal supporters Janeane Garofalo, Christopher Hitchens and Ron Reagan.

Over the years, the group has won a suit to stop Bible instruction in a Tennessee school district, overturned a Madison law ordering businesses to close for hours on Good Friday and stopped a Colorado public school from requiring students to do volunteer work at churches.

The group’s biggest victory to date came last week when Judge Barbara B. Crabb of Federal District Court ruled that the federal government could not enact a law in support of prayer any more than it could “encourage citizens to fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge or practice rune magic.” The law, signed by President Harry S. Truman in 1952, calls on the president to sign a proclamation annually in observance of a National Day of Prayer.

The judge said the ruling would be stayed for 60 days to give the Obama administration, whose lawyers defended the prayer day in court, the chance to file an appeal. On Thursday, the White House said it would appeal and that, in the meantime, the president would sign this year’s prayer proclamation, as scheduled, on May 6.

The court ruling drew fire from the private National Day of Prayer Task Force. Michael Calhoun, a spokesman, described it as “an attack upon the religious heritage” of the nation. He criticized the Madison organization.

“It is a sad day in America when an atheist in Wisconsin,” he said, “can undermine this tradition for millions of others.”

It is still not easy being an atheist in public. No corporate group gives money to the foundation. Ms. Gaylor said she typically avoids making her views on political candidates public, calling it “the kiss of death” to be endorsed by an organization of nonbelievers.

She acknowledged voting for Mr. Obama, and expressed disappointment that his administration has defended the prayer day law. “I don’t give him a pass,” she said. “He’s a constitutional scholar. He knows we’re right.”

As a middle school student, young Annie Laurie would travel around the state with her mother, who barnstormed for feminist causes like legal abortion and access to contraceptives.

Children at school would sometimes look askance when they learned that she and her siblings were growing up without religion. “But there was a little envy, too,” she said. “It was like, ‘You mean you don’t have to get up in the morning and go to church?’ ”

The elder Ms. Gaylor, who wrote a book titled, “Abortion is a Blessing,” regarded religion as the enemy of equal rights for women. “I never liked fairy tales,” she said. “And I didn’t like people passing them off as truths.”

For his part, Mr. Barker, 60, grew up in Southern California and began evangelizing as a teenager. He left the ministry in his early 30s after coming to realize that he did not believe the Bible.

“I just had to fess up and say, ‘This is nonsense,’ ” Mr. Barker said.

He travels the country spreading the word of another sort — doing what his wife calls “reverse penance” — engaging in debates, delivering talks and offering musical performances in the name of godlessness. He plays the piano and sings atheist songs. One of his favorite numbers: “You Can’t Win Original Sin.”

emphasis mine


Hamburger in Wilder Hall @ Oberlin -A.K.A the KKK and Separation, or WWJD?

Not a menu item in the canteen, but rather a lecture by Professor Philip Hamburger, Columbia University School of Law: “The KKK and the First Amendment.”

Prof. Hamburger is the Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law and an expert on religious liberty, individual rights, judicial review and censorship.  He has published extensively on constitutional law and history.  His publications include SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE (Harvard, 2002) and LAW AND JUDICIAL DUTY (Harvard, 2008).”

Wilder 101 was filled to near capacity, not only by undergraduate students whose attendance was undoubtedly “encouraged”, but by a few faculty and interested post twenty-something adults as well.

What did we hear? Prof. Hamburger had a warm, open, easy to listen to approach, and the event was (for me) a pleasant experience.  After listening to  him, speaking with him afterwards, and seeing a review of his publications, I came to one conclusion: he does not support Separation of Church and State.

He began by giving a brief history of the second period of the Ku Klux Klan – from the end of the 19th century through the 1920’s – chronicling the KKK as one of the nativist organizations in the US in this period of large immigration from eastern and southern Europe, and giving specific examples of how strongly they supported Separation.    (I might note that my hypothesis is that the KKK’s emphasis on Separation was primarily motivated by animosity toward the Roman Catholic religion practised by many of these immigrants.) Moving on, he  emphasised what he felt are the differences between ‘establishment’ and ‘separation’, observing that the former is a horizontal concept, the latter vertical, and stated that in his opinion Separation was not in the Constitution.  (Full disclosure: as a member of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, I am not in agreement with this conclusion).  More interaction of government and religion would be a good idea, he asserted.  (Disagree strongly, again).  He also raised the issue of politicizing from the pulpit, and to disallow this is – in his opinion – a free speech issue.  It is the money, not the principle of the thing, I reply.  Clergy can – like any tax exempt organization – support specific issues, but not specific candidates.

I spoke to him post event, and suggested that since the phrase “established church” had a specific meaning in the 18th century which is not familiar today, we use “separation of church and state” instead: he did not agree.

Why so much on the connection of the KKK and Separation”  I propose this is an attempt to discredit the latter – shall we say poisoning the well?

He also told me he would sent me some documents which would cause me to remove my ACLU lapel pin: I expect not, but I shall remain open.

It is often of value to clarify one’s mental inventory by hearing a contrarian view, and therefore this was a valuable experience.

N.B.: I wonder if those “social conservatives” who who oppose Separation but insist that “the government” never does anything well, are concerned that “government” might negatively impact their religion(s), if the two became entangled?

In conclusion we might ask WWJD?  (What Would Jefferson Do?)

On his publications:

Separation of Church and State

Philip Hamburger

    In a powerful challenge to conventional wisdom, Philip Hamburger argues that the separation of church and state has no historical foundation in the First Amendment. The detailed evidence assembled here shows that eighteenth-century Americans almost never invoked this principle. Although Thomas Jefferson and others retrospectively claimed that the First Amendment separated church and state, separation became part of American constitutional law only much later.

    Hamburger shows that separation became a constitutional freedom largely through fear and prejudice. Jefferson supported separation out of hostility to the Federalist clergy of New England. Nativist Protestants (ranging from nineteenth-century Know Nothings to twentieth-century members of the K.K.K.) adopted the principle of separation to restrict the role of Catholics in public life. Gradually, these Protestants were joined by theologically liberal, anti-Christian secularists, who hoped that separation would limit Christianity and all other distinct religions. Eventually, a wide range of men and women called for separation. Almost all of these Americans feared ecclesiastical authority, particularly that of the Catholic Church, and, in response to their fears, they increasingly perceived religious liberty to require a separation of church from state. American religious liberty was thus redefined and even transformed. In the process, the First Amendment was often used as an instrument of intolerance and discrimination.