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Seeking the Political Truth

Seeking the Political Truth

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Seeking the Political Truth

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Mar 20, 2016


The citizens of the United States have forgotten their country’s roots and the US news media has done little to educate listeners. Americans have a right to be angry. People are worried about the US economic future, terrorism, and the planet. As others talk about our founding fathers being the basis of where we are today, EJ Thomas believes in standing up to these false prophets. Information is given on the US past and current events for you to realize that what is happening in the world is the beginning of Armageddon, the final battle between the forces of good and evil.

In your quest for the truth, you will find the Republican Party (GOP) of today is NOT the party of Abraham Lincoln. Just as today, the issue of class was a priority over someone’s race about 140 years ago. Currently, taxes on the rich are lower than they were 53 years ago and some multi-millionaires pay NO federal tax. Read about how the Snowden leaks led to the rise of ISIS/ISIL.    

Because of world changes, this election is probably more important than those that came before. Discover which candidate has made the most false statements and who told more truths. The answer may surprise you. The author’s journey for the truth took years of researching information and the conclusions drawn are sure to make you mad but they are intended to give everyone something to think about before voting.

Mar 20, 2016

Über den Autor

E. J. Thomas grew up in a Massachusetts low income project and was raised in a large Catholic family. She joined the US Air Force, went on to work for the State of California and upon retirement, moved to New Mexico. EJ's experience allowed her to work with large and small groups of people of varied religions and cultures. Her understanding of people came with being an employee as well as a manager dealing with union issues. Like most working people with a family, she did not have the opportunity to research information prior to voting so her decisions were based on gut feelings. With the presidential campaign of 2011/12, she began fact checking what was said in the media, on talk shows and in debates. Taking the same approach as she did while working, EJ researched US history, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and more. The honesty of the candidates as well as the interpretation of the various documents was considered. The information was weighed and counterweighed before a reasonable conclusion on who to vote for was made. As a second generation American, EJ strongly feels that the principles and values of the Constitution should be the driving force behind the candidate for which she votes. 

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Seeking the Political Truth - EJ Thomas


Chapter 1 – Colonies to Freedom of Religion

Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean in 1492 and discovered the New World land now called the Caribbean. Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, on behalf of Italian King Ferdinand II, left the colony of Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic) and on April 2, 1513 he disembarked on the undiscovered land he claimed for Spain, not Italy, and named Florida (FL). De Leon was the first European to land on what is now the United States (US) of America. Years later, after the British defeated the Dutch, Swedes, Finns and French, there were 13 colonies: New Hampshire (NH), Massachusetts (MA), Connecticut (CT), Rhode Island (RI), New York (NY), New Jersey (NJ), Pennsylvania (PA), Delaware (DE), Maryland (MD), Virginia (VA), North Carolina (NC), South Carolina (SC) and Georgia (GA). The colonies included the area of Maine (ME), Vermont (VT), West Virginia (WV), and parts of Ohio (OH), Kentucky (KY), Tennessee (TN) and Alabama (AL).

The slave trade began in 1526 with people being bought from local tribes, family or neighbors. However, the colonies were made up of many people escaping the European religious wars and most of the early settlers came from Protestant backgrounds of multiple denominations. A smaller population was Catholic (mainly in MD) and a few were Jewish (centered in NY and RI). In the 17th and 18th centuries, western European countries vied with each other to create overseas empires and slavery became crucial (far more slaves were taken to South America than to North America). The first slaves to reach the colonies are thought to arrive in Jamestown, VA in 1619. The 19 or 20 Blacks were exchanged for food and supplies from Dutch traders who had seized them from a captured Spanish ship and some historians believe they were considered indentured servants and actual slavery did not begin in the US until later (the evidence is insufficient to make a definite conclusion). An indentured servant was someone who agreed to work for an employer for a certain number of years for passage to the New World. Like the workers coming from England, Ireland and other European countries, the first Africans coming to the colonies were classified as indentured. Some indentured, both Black and White, were called ‘apprentices for life’. About half of the White immigrants in the 17th and 18th centuries were indentured and in the early period, free Blacks enjoyed relative equality with the White community; in VA about 20% of the free Blacks owned their own homes.

The Puritan Protestants landed in Plymouth, MA in 1620 and took control of New England. They expelled dissenters from their colonies, a fate that in 1636 befell Roger Williams and in 1638 Anne Hutchinson, America's first major female religious leader. Those who defied the Puritans by returning to their original jurisdictions risked capital punishment, a penalty imposed on the Boston martyrs and four Quakers from 1659 – 1661 (the Salem, MA witch trials occurred from February 1692 - May 1693). During the time of Queen Elizabeth I (a Protestant ruling England and Ireland from November 1558 until her death in March 1603) Catholics were harassed and had largely been stripped of their civil rights. Driven by finding a refuge for his Roman Catholic brethren, George Calvert obtained a charter from Charles I in 1632 for the territory between PA and VA. The MD charter offered no guidelines on religion, although it was assumed that Catholics would not be molested in the new colony. In 1634, Charles’ Catholic son Lord Baltimore sent two ships with the first 200 settlers, including two priests, to MD. He thought religion was a private matter and rejected the need for an established church. Lord Baltimore embraced pluralism (a condition or system in which two or more states, groups, principles, sources of authority, etc., coexist) and guaranteed liberty of conscience to all Christians. However, after the 1689 Glorious Revolution in England, the Church of England was legally established in the colony and English penal laws, which deprived Catholics of the right to vote, hold office, or worship publicly, were once again enforced. Many colonists considered Quakers as radical Puritans because they carried to extremes many Puritan convictions. Beginning in 1659, VA enacted anti-Quaker laws, including the death penalty for unruly or disobedient Quakers. Thomas Jefferson, reflecting on the intolerance, was unwilling to concede to Virginians any moral superiority to the Puritans; he surmised that if no capital execution took place here, as did in New England, it was not owing to the moderation of the church, or the spirit of the legislature. In 1681, King Charles II handed over a large piece of his American land holdings to William Penn. This land included PA and DE; Penn immediately sailed to America and his Quaker government was not viewed favorably by the Dutch, Swedish and English settlers; in 1704 DE split off. Penn also believed in pluralism and encouraged immigration to PA by circulating promotional literature touting the economic advantages of the state as well as the religious liberty available there. In addition to Quakers, PA was home to Lutherans, Mennonites, Baptists and other offshoot religions. It was said that the appearance in PA, with so many religious groups, made the province resemble an asylum for banished sects.

The Black Angolan indentured servant, Antonio Johnson, went on to become a successful tobacco farmer. Johnson was captured by an enemy tribe, sold to Arab slave traders and became the servant of a merchant working for the Virginia Company. In 1623, Antonio married Mary an indentured servant from England. Sometime after 1635, Antonio and Mary gained their freedom and he changed his name to Anthony Johnson. After paying off his contract via labor, Johnson received a large plot of farmland; he first enters the legal record as a free man when he purchased a calf in 1647. On July 24, 1651, Johnson acquired 250 acres and the services of four White and one Black indentured servant (he also bought his son Richard’s contract).  On February 28, 1652, due to an unfortunate fire causing great losses for the family and Johnson’s request for tax relief, the court not only reduced the family’s taxes but exempted his wife and two daughters from paying taxes during their natural lives (gave them the same social standing as White women). The justices noted that Anthony and Mary lived in VA (above thirty years) and had been respected for their hard labor and known service In 1653, Johnson’s Black servant, John Casor, approached Captain Goldsmith telling him his service to Johnson had expired 7 years earlier (contract up in 1646 so he was purchased in the late 1630s or early 1640s) and he was being held illegally. Johnson’s White neighbor, Robert Parker, intervened and persuaded Johnson to release Casor (he then signed a contract with Parker). Johnson sued Parker for the return of Casor and lost his case in 1654. He appealed and in 1655 the court reversed its ruling requiring Parker to return Casor and pay the court fees; Casor was sentenced to a lifetime of servitude to Johnson. This was the first time an indentured servant, who had not committed a crime, was declared a slave in a civil case. As a result, Johnson won over his White neighbor and enslaved a fellow Black.

In 1640, a VA court sentenced John Punch to slavery (for life) after he fled to MD from Hugh Gwyn (a justice and member of the House of Burgesses). The two Whites with whom he fled were only sentenced to an additional year of their indenture, and three years' service to the colony. This marked the first legal sanctioning of slavery in the English colonies and was one of the first legal distinctions made between Europeans and Africans. (Some time in the 1630s, Punch married a White woman, likely an indentured servant. He and his wife are known as the first black and white couple in the colonies who left traceable descendants. It is thought that President Barack Obama, through his mother, is a descendent of Punch.)

In VA in 1656, Elizabeth Key Grinstead, a mixed-race woman, successfully gained her freedom and that of her son by making her case as the daughter of the free Englishman Thomas Key and a baptized Christian. (Her attorney was an English subject, the father of her son, they married after Key was freed.) Due to number of challenges by mixed-race children of Englishmen to being enslaved, in 1662 VA incorporated the principle of ‘partus sequitur ventrem’ into its slave law. This law held that children of slave mothers were born into slavery, regardless of whether their fathers were free and/or European; thus slavery was made a racial caste associated with people of African ancestry. It overturned the English common law applicable to the children of two English subjects, in which the father's social status determined that of the child. At the same time, use of this principle meant that mixed-race children of White women were born into their mother's free status. It was not until 1665 that racism seemed to become commonplace. The 1705 VA Slave codes further defined as slaves those people imported from nations that were not Christian. Native Americans, who were sold to the colonists by rival tribes or captured by Europeans during village raids, were also defined as slaves; this established the basis for the legal enslavement of any non-Christian foreigner. In 1724, France’s ‘Code Noir’ regulated the slave trade and slavery in the French colonies. It gave Louisiana (LA) a different pattern of slavery compared to the rest of the US. Although it authorized and codified cruel corporal punishment on slaves under certain conditions, it forbade slave owners from torturing them or separating married couples or separating young children from their mothers. It also required the owners to instruct slaves in the Catholic faith, implying that Africans were human beings endowed with a soul, an idea that had not been acknowledged until then. RI stopped the import of enslaved people in 1774. (The 1790-1810 US censuses show that most families of free people of color could be traced to unions between White women and African men whether free, indentured, or slave in the colonial US; their children were born free and the families were established as free before the American Revolution of 1765-1783.)

Starting with the Quartering Act of 1765 which required the American colonies to provide British soldiers needed accommodation or housing as well as food for any British soldiers in the area, the Americans began to reject the authority of Britain’s Parliament.

In 1767, the Townshend Acts were enacted that included 6 new laws. The purpose of the Townshend Acts was to raise revenue in the colonies to pay the salaries of governors and judges so that they would remain loyal to Britain, create a more effective means of enforcing compliance with trade regulations, punish the province of NY for failing to comply with the Quartering Act, and to establish the precedent that the British Parliament had the right to tax the colonies. The Townshend Acts were met with resistance in the colonies, prompted the 1768 occupation of Boston by British troops and resulted in the 1770 Boston Massacre. On June 9, 1772, American merchant John Brown and about 67 colonists blackened their faces, rowed out to the armed British customs schooner HMS Gaspee that had run aground off Namquit Point, RI when pursuing American Captain Thomas Lindsey from Newport. The Americans seized control of the ship, had the Scottish captain and his crew leave at Pawtuxet and then set the Gaspee on fire. The protests to the British taxing Americans without elected representation escalated into the Boston Tea Party (initially referred to by John Adams as the Destruction of the Tea in Boston). The Boston Sons of Liberty on December 16, 1773 disguised themselves as American Indians and threw all the chests of tea sent by the East India Company into the Boston Harbor. The British government responded by imposing punitive laws on MA in 1774. Thomas Paine immigrated to the colonies in 1774 with the help of Benjamin Franklin. He promoted reason and free thought, stressed morality and argued against institutionalized religion. The colonists set aside their differences and joined forces. They began having secret meetings. On June 14, 1775, they voted to create the Continental Army led by George Washington of VA. While the precise proportions are not known, about 40% of the colonists were Patriots, 20% were Loyalists (loyal to the British) and 40% were neutral or kept quiet. Washington worked with the newly formed Congress and the states to raise armies and neutralize the influence of Loyalists. 

Virtually every rebel read or listened to a reading of Thomas Paine’s powerful pamphlet ‘Common Sense’ (1776), part of his pro-revolutionary pamphlet series ‘The American Crisis’ (1776–83).

The pamphlet crystallized the rebellious demand for independence from Britain; John Adams said, Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain. They created the Declaration of Independence of the 13 United States of America (USA) that was unanimously signed and adopted by 56 delegates on July 4, 1776. The Declaration states: When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness —That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. It went on to list the evidence for independence; guns were not listed.

The colonists did not forego their belief in God but instead embraced their religious differences. During the Revolution, ministers served as military chaplains, scribes for the correspondence of committees, they were members of state legislatures, constitutional conventions and the Continental Congress, and some took up arms leading Continental Army troops in battle. Americans objected to having no elected representation – not to being taxed; we have had taxes with representative voting for 240 years. They also objected to inequality, not to the lack of weapons.

As slavery had been practiced, it was accepted in the 13 Colonies at the time of the Declaration. The 1777 VT Constitution banned slavery, freeing males over the age of 21 and women over the age of 18. In 1780, PA passed an Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery, which declared all children born after the act to be free. MA, via the Quock Walker Case of 1783, ended slavery based on its statement of human equality in its constitution. All of the colonies except GA had banned or limited the African slave trade by 1786; GA did so in 1798. Some of the laws were later repealed but many Northern states took actions for emancipation. In 1789, there were 8 slave states and 5 Free states.

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution which stated: "Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation." 

Tradition holds that a new flag was first hoisted in June 1777 by the Continental Army at the Middlebrook encampment. There were several flag designs. One called the Betsy Ross featured 13 five-pointed stars arranged in a circle, with the stars arranged pointing outwards from the circle (as opposed to up). Francis Hopkinson's flag for the US Navy featured 6-pointed stars arranged in rows.

The US Constitution drafted by 55 delegates, was adopted on September 17, 1787 and ratified by conventions. In December 1787 and January 1788, 5 states (DE, PA, NJ, GA, and CT) ratified the Constitution with relative ease. On September 13, 1788, Congress certified that the new US Constitution had been ratified and the new government was inaugurated with 11 of the 13 states; NC and RI waited for amendments from Congress before ratifying.

The US Constitution provided for a much stronger national government with a chief executive (the president), courts, and taxing powers. Washington became the first President of the US (1789–1797). The Constitution originally consisted of a preamble and 7 Articles. It has since become the supreme law of the US and is the oldest written constitution still in use. The US Constitution Preamble states - We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. Since the Constitution was adopted, it has been amended 27 times. The first 10 amendments (two others concerning the number of constituents for each Representative and the compensation of Congressmen were not ratified) were proposed on September 25, 1789 by Congress and ratified by the necessary three-fourths of the States on December 15, 1791. These first 10 amendments are known as the Bill of Rights. Of the ten, there are two that are consistently in question.

Amendment I – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Freedom of Religion - Figures on church attendance and church formation indicate that from 1700-1740, an estimated 75-80% of the population attended churches that were built at a swift pace. The First Great Awakening (1730-1755), focusing on church goers, occurred while the colonies were under European rule. It left an impact on American Protestantism by encouraging a commitment to a new standard of personal morality. The movement challenged established authority and incited a division between traditional Protestants who insisted on the continuing importance of ritual and doctrine and the revivalists who encouraged emotional involvement. It had a major impact in reshaping the Congregational, Presbyterian, Dutch Reformed and German Reformed denominations. It had little impact on most Anglicans, Lutherans, Quakers and non-Protestants. The Methodists surfaced in Britain in 1760 and quickly came to the US; the Awakening strengthened the small Baptist and Methodist denominations. (In the 1780s, traveling Methodist preachers carried copies of an anti-slavery petition in their saddlebags but at the same time, counter-petitions were circulated.) Religious practice suffered in certain places because of the absence of ministers and the destruction of churches, but in other areas, religion flourished. In the Southern back country, most families had no religious affiliation. By 1780, the adult percentage attending church is said to be between 10-30%, not counting slaves or Native Americans; NC had the lowest percentage at about 4%, while NH and SC were tied for the highest at about 16%. MD's 1776 state constitution was the first to restore the freedom of religion. In 1777, Jefferson completed his first draft of a VA state bill for religious freedom, which stated: No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever; it became the VA Ordinance for Religious Freedom that was adopted in 1786.

After the Treaty of Paris (1783) documenting British recognition of American independence, the Church of England split and the Episcopal Church of the US was founded in 1789; it is a cross between Protestant and Catholic. Throughout the colonies, especially in the south, the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and other evangelicals challenged the Southern back country’s lax moral standards and refused to tolerate them in their ranks. The evangelicals identified as sinful the traditional standards of masculinity which revolved around gambling, drinking, and brawling, and arbitrary control over women, children, and slaves. The religious communities enforced new standards, creating a new male leadership role that followed Christian principles and became dominant in the 19th century. Throughout the colonies, especially in the south, the revivalist movement increased the number of African slaves and free blacks who were exposed and converted to Christianity; the evangelical Baptist and Methodist preachers sought to include every person in conversion, regardless of gender, race, and status. (Scholars disagree about the extent of Black Christianity as it emerged in 18th century America, but there is no dispute that the Christianity of the Black population was grounded in evangelicalism.) Many were disappointed at the treatment they received from their fellow believers and at the backsliding in the commitment to abolish slavery. When their discontent could not be contained, forceful black leaders followed what was becoming an American habit—they formed new denominations. In 1787, Richard Allen and his colleagues in Philadelphia, PA broke away from the Methodist Church and in 1815 founded the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, which, along with independent Black Baptist congregations, flourished as the century progressed. In 1787, Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance, primarily a law establishing government guidelines for colonization of a new territory. It provided that religion, morality and knowledge being necessary also to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.

The Second Great Awakening (1790–1840) has been described as a reaction against the Age of Enlightenment (1620s-1780s). During these years deism (a belief that God created the universe but permits his creation to administer itself through natural law) stressed the importance of ethical conduct and rejected the supernatural aspects of religion. There was much talk of ways to reform society with toleration, science and skepticism.) This Awakening sparked revivals reaching out to the un-churched. It enrolled millions of new members in existing evangelical denominations and led to the formation of new denominations. It stimulated the establishment of many reform movements designed to remedy the evils of society before the anticipated Second Coming of Jesus. Peaceful Quakers, who believed that all people were equal in the eyes of God, had been speaking out against slavery since the 1600s; in the 1790s they formed the first abolitionist group. Others began to see slavery as a sin, with emancipation as the only way to atone for the sin. After 1820, membership rose rapidly among Baptist and Methodist congregations whose preachers led the movement. As slave trade had been limited or banned, after 1800 there was less and less religious opposition to slavery. Many abolitionists helped form the Underground Railroad (1830-1865) leading slaves northward to freedom. (An underground railroad also ran south toward FL, a Spanish possession until shortly after the American Revolution.)

The Treaty of Tripoli, between the US and Tripolitania (coastal region of today’s Libya that was ruled by the Ottoman Empire from 1551-1911), was submitted to the Senate by President John Adams. It received unanimous ratification on June 7, 1797 and was signed by Adams, taking effect as the law of the land on June 10, 1797. The treaty was a routine diplomatic agreement but the English version included the following clause about religion in the US.

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen (Muslims),—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan (Mohammedan) nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

The assurances contained in the treaty were intended to relieve the fears of the Muslim state by insisting that religion would not govern how the treaty was interpreted and enforced. John Adams and the Senate by their actions, they made it clear that their primary concern was religious freedom, not the advancement of a state religion and the pact was between two sovereign states, not between two religious powers. With this, the country assured the world that the US was a secular state, and that its negotiations would adhere to the rule of law, not the dictates of the Christian faith.

The Third Great Awakening (1850–1900) was part of a much larger movement that was sweeping across Europe. Some scholars say there was not a third awakening in the US as the separation of the Lutherans from the more pious Protestants began in the late 17th century, reached its peak in the mid-18th century and declined through the 19th century. Additionally, the actions resulting in the creation of the abolitionists had begun in the second awakening. During this awakening it is said that strength was gathered from the belief that the Second Coming of Christ would occur after mankind had reformed the entire earth. As such, it was affiliated with the Protestant Social Gospel Movement (1870-1920) that was prominent in the US and Canada (it was dedicated to the betterment of the industrialized society through the biblical principles of charity and justice). A worldwide missionary movement is said to have begun during this awakening (Salvation Army founded in 1878). During this awakening it is said that the Methodists split with the Holiness Movement and the Nazarene and Christian Science religions emerged. This era continued the moral cause of the abolition of slavery (in 1870, the 15th Amendment gave Black men the right to vote) and began the push for prohibition (18th Amendment passed in 1913 was repealed with the 21st Amendment in 1933).

The start of the Fourth Great Awakening is said by some to have occurred after WW II (late 1940s), some say it began in the late 1960s and lasted until 1980 and others say it never occurred as the changes were not as great as the prior awakenings. Whether or not it is identified as an awakening, many changes did take place. The ‘mainline’ Protestant churches weakened sharply in both membership and influence while the most conservative denominations (e.g. the Southern Baptists and Missouri [MO] Synod Lutherans) grew rapidly. The conservatives spread across the US; they had theological battles and splits but became politically powerful. Evangelicals and fundamentalists also expanded rapidly as did secularism (worldly beliefs). The more conservative churches saw themselves battling secularism in terms of issues such as: Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender (LGBT) rights, abortion, and creationism.

Because the US has no religion, the divergence of religions continued. Joseph Smith founded the Mormon Church of Christ in 1830. Jehovah Witnesses emerged from the Bible Student movement founded in the late 1870s by Charles Russell (the name was adopted in 1931). After the Civil War, Black Baptists desiring to practice Christianity away from racial discrimination rapidly set up separate conventions. In 1866, Black Baptists of the South and West combined and in 1895 three conventions merged to create the National Baptist Convention; considered the largest Black-American religious organization in the US. The Church of Scientology began in December 1953 with L. Ron Hubbard. In January 2005, Bobby Henderson, an Oregon (OR) State University physics graduate, sent a satirical letter about the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) to the Kansas State Board of Education. The letter was sent prior to the hearings and decision to permit teaching intelligent design (creationism) as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes. Henderson argued that whenever a scientist carbon dates an object, a supernatural creator closely resembling spaghetti and meatballs is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage and professed that his belief was just as valid as intelligent design. Henderson published the letter on his Church of the FSM website and the FSM rapidly became an Internet phenomenon and a symbol of opposition to the teaching of intelligent design in public schools. On Henderson's website, where he is described as prophet, is The Gospel of the FSM written in 2006. The central belief is that an invisible and undetectable FSM created the universe and asserts that a decline in the number of pirates over the years is the cause of global warming. The FSM community congregates at Henderson's website.

Issues surrounding religion began appearing in the US Supreme Court in 1878 (Reynolds v. United States) due to polygamy and continue today (Warren Jeffs was convicted in 2011 of sexual assault on 12 and 15-year-old girls). During the Fourth Awakening, the Supreme Court in 1973, Roe v. Wade, established a woman's right to safe and legal abortion.

Despite the separation of government and religion, the predominant cultural and social nature of the nation did become strongly Christian. While other countries have limited faiths, the US pretty much has them all.

The latest information I could find on US religions was a Gallup survey taken in 2011. All in all, 82.5% of American adults said they have some form of religious identity and 92% said they believe in God. Of those surveyed, 2.5% gave no response, 78% identified with some form of Christian religion (Catholic 23.6%, Mormon 1.9%, 52.5% were other Christians: Protestant, Baptist, Lutheran, Jehovah Witness, Methodist, Jesuit, etc.), 1.6% were Jewish, 0.5% were Muslim, 2.4% were non-Christians (Buddhist, Hindu, Hare Krishna, Tribal, Chinese Folk, etc.) and 15% did not have a religious identity. This means that 95% of all Americans who have a religious identity are Christian. In another 2011 survey, 55% said religion is very important in their lives, 26% said it is fairly important, and 19% said it is not very important. Looking at this information, I wonder how a country with so many saying they believe in God and religion being at least fairly important (81%) has the crimes rate it does and why criminals do not admit to a crime (by not admitting to the crime it suggests it was committed by someone else and therefore violates Commandment #9 - bearing false witness of a neighbor).

There is no condition in the Declaration to separate us by color, gender, sexual orientation, wealth, health or religion. However, today we do not have the ideals of the Constitution’s Preamble partly because we do not set aside our religious convictions.

However, with the Fourth Awakening, religious extremists appear to pick and choose what parts of the Bible they support and as such the nation has not been able to attain the ideals established with the Declaration or Constitution. With Ronald Reagan, Christians seem to forget that Jesus said (Mark 12:15-17 and Matthew 22:17-21) - Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s. They have tattoos (Leviticus 19:28), wear jewelry (removal in Genesis 35:2-4, Exodus 33:5, Deuteronomy 7:25; it later became somewhat acceptable), indulge themselves in material things - greed is the sin mentioned throughout the Bible and/or are condescending to others (Donald Trump is a great example. In October, GOP Black Ben Carson felt Trump took a potshot at him being a Seventh Day Adventist; Trump said he is a Presbyterian. Galatians 6:3 says - For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself), all of which is against their religion. (Note: Biblical references are from the Family Devotional Bible printed in 1960)

On September 3, 2015, KY clerk Kim Davis was put in jail for contempt of court. The comments by GOP candidates Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz implied the Constitution provided her a religious liberty to ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling on issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The White House appropriately responded with: Democracy depends on the rule of law and there is no public official above the law. Davis in taking a government job is to uphold the Constitution; she chose to defy it and be put in jail instead of quit her job (made $80,000 a year in a community that averages only $14,000). On September 8, just 5 days later, the judge released Davis from jail on the condition she would not in any way interfere with the 5 deputy clerks issuing same-sex licenses. Huckabee, beside her when released, said: We do not want to see this country become the smoldering remains of what was once a great republic. (I believe you are a hypocrite if you say the Constitution gives the right to judge others while disregarding its other principles.) Davis was married four times and had an adulterous affair that resulted in twins before becoming a ‘born again’ Christian. Through the grace and forgiveness of Christianity, being born again is to give you a second chance at making your life better (being raised Catholic, growing up I hated hearing people say they were sorry and because of confession they turned right around and did the same thing again). Being a Christian does not give you God’s right to judge or support for breaking the law. The Court, like Christianity, gave her a second chance but she chose to keep her job, appeal the court’s decision and alter the marriage license forms. Davis’ ignorance shows when telling her version of meeting the Pope. My favorite line was – he wanted to talk to me and I’m not even Catholic; neither is he – he is a Jesuit, a different branch of Christianity. Davis said the Vatican wanted the meeting quiet but she ignored it as she does the Constitution and the Supreme Court. The official October 2 statement from the Vatican said the only real audience granted by the Pope was with a former student (in a Gay relationship). His meeting with her is not to be construed as support for her. Carlo Maria Vigano, the Vatican US ambassador who arranged the meeting, turned 75-years-old in January 2016 and as required by canon law submitted a formal request for permission to resign. By October 21, the LDS/Mormon Church criticized Davis for not issuing the licenses. Being hypocritical they do not perform or accept same-sex marriage and a new policy prohibits natural or adopted children from such marriages from being baptized. As such, in mid-November about 1,500 resigned from the church.

A lawsuit that began in 2009 with two residents (one said to be Jewish, the other an atheist) in Greece, NY (with about 97,000 residents, 30 churches, one Baha’i congregation and no synagogue) resulted in the US Supreme Court’s May 5, 2014 ruling that basically concluded that prayer could be held at public meetings and whatever God called upon (Jesus, Jehovah, Allah) could be tolerated by adults. In my opinion, we all need to get over ourselves. A rotation of religious prayer in community meetings in  conjunction with the population would be fair.

I believe that any religious symbol on government property is okay as long as it does not violate the federal or a state constitution. An example is the steel beams in the shape of a cross that were found in the 9/11 wreckage of the Twin Towers. On June 30, 2015, the OK Supreme Court determined that a 10 Commandment monument at its State Capitol violated the OK, not federal, constitution and ordered it removed. The monument was purchased with private funds and installed in 2012. Its placement prompted requests from several groups to have their own monuments installed (NY satanic church, NV Hindu leader, an animal rights group and the Church of the FSM). The OK American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the lawsuit prompted by a Baptist minister who said: ...I'm not opposed to the 10 Commandments... I'm just opposed to it being on public property. Protestors of the monument’s removal have indicated they want the OK constitution changed and the ACLU promises another lawsuit if it is. The 10 Commandments are a part of Christianity so it is interesting that a Baptist minister originated the case; I personally think we all could learn better behavior from them. In August 2015, the town of Belen, NM (founded in 1740) was requested to remove the nativity at its city park. Belen in Spanish means Bethlehem so the nativity represents the town’s name. However, a WI group said one resident brought the nativity to their attention and having it on government property does not allow for religious separation from the city. I find the cases cited as ridiculous as the WA Bremerton High School assistant football coach, Joe Kennedy, in mid-October, being punished because he prayed on the field after a game, something he had been doing for 7 years; he was alone until others voluntarily joined him, including the team’s agnostic leader. I like others do not mind as those that do not want to participate can walk away or have a moment of silence. However, the community must allow the same freedom for everyone including a Muslim. In my opinion, you are free to practice in your religious abode (church, synagogue, mosque, home, etc.) and at religious functions. Speech outside these realms must be within the law – the same law(s) that gives you freedom of religion.

Although I do not agree with Pope Francis 100%, I love this guy. He preaches love, is against greed, is in favor of helping the poor, believes we are all God’s children and knows it is up to God to judge us. The Pope reaches out to all Abrahamic religions and others because he knows we are all God’s children. On October 4, the Pope in the World Bishops on Family Issues meeting asserted that marriage is an indissoluble (forever) bond between man and woman but the church doesn't judge and must seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy (be tolerant of others). In a clear challenge to that teaching, a mid-level official in the Vatican's orthodoxy office, Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, announced that he was a proud Gay priest (with a boyfriend) and denounced homophobia throughout the church; he was fired. (Priests are not to be in a relationship and thankfully for us, our US Constitution does not allow for such inequality.)

To learn from our past and move forward, an American does not support religious discrimination (Romans 13:8 says - Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law) any more than they support Muslim jihad. Religious fanatics go against everything our forefathers embraced (pluralism) and wanted - the pursuit of happiness without being judged by religious convictions. I believe that these people are not Christians but bigots using religion to excuse their evil ways. (There is more on this in the chapter on US Morals.) A poll, reported September 3, 2015, showed only 66% of Americans liked the Pope (29% of the GOP); some of those polled are like me - do not believe in today’s organized religions.

Chapter 2 – Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech or of the press – Was to eliminate the unjust prosecutions that were being inflicted on the early colonists by the British when the truth was told. The origins of the US defamation laws (slander and libel) pre-date the American Revolution. In 1734, NY publisher John Peter Zenger was imprisoned for 8 months for (libel) printing attacks on the governor of the colony. In 1735, Zenger was acquitted by jury. The case established a precedent that ‘the truth’ should be an absolute defense against libel charges (in other words, the truth is not slander or libel). Zenger's case also established that libel cases, though they were civil rather than criminal cases, could be heard by a jury which would have the authority to rule on the allegations and to set the amount of damages awarded. Our forefathers wanted to assure that people speaking the truth were no longer imprisoned for libel or slander as previous English defamation law had not provided this guarantee. Our freedom of speech laws began with honesty and the premise that truth would prevail but this was not the case.

Benjamin Franklin Bache (1769–1798) went with his grandfather Benjamin Franklin to France when he was 7-years-old (1776). Franklin enrolled him in the Le Coeur boarding school where he attended with other students (such as John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams) from the colonies. After a few years at Le Coeur’s, Franklin had Bache train for a career as a printer-publisher, as he had been. Upon returning to Philadelphia, Bache began working as a printer at his grandfather's shop. He attended the University of PA; graduating in 1787. Following his grandfather's death in 1790, Bache inherited Franklin's printing equipment. On October 1, 1790, he started a paper: General Advertiser and Political, Commercial, Agricultural and Literary Journal. In 1794, he cofounded The Philadelphia Aurora (1794-1824) that was published 6 days a week. After three months, Bache dropped the word ‘Agricultural’ from the paper’s title and removed the motto – Truth, Decency, Utility from the nameplate; later the same year he dropped the words ‘Political, Commercial and Liberty Journal’ from the nameplate. Bache was a supporter of Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic Republican Party who supported the ideals of the French. His persistent theme was that the federal government had fallen into the hands of an aristocratic party aligned with Britain and that the Federalists were hostile to the interests of the general public. Bache thought the problem was less the form of governance than the beliefs and behavior of those who governed. He objected to the US Senate's holding its meetings behind closed doors as he thought it showed contempt for the public. He thought discussion about the Jay Treaty (1795, between the US and Britain that led to resolving some issues with them) and the 1783 Treaty of Paris (which ended the American Revolution and facilitated 10 years of peaceful trade with Britain) should have been open to the public. As Bache increased his favoritism for Jefferson, he became more hostile to Adams. Bache denounced the Federalists made attacks against President John Adams and George Washington; suggested that Washington had secretly collaborated with the British during the American Revolution. With this Bache provoked hostility from both sides. It is thought that the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts, signed by Adams, may have been written to suppress opponents such as Bache. The Acts allowed people to be punished if they uttered or published false, scandalous, and malicious writings against the government. In response, Jefferson introduced the ‘Kentucky Resolution’ and James Madison issued the ‘Virginia Resolution’ to give states the power to determine the constitutionality of the Acts. After the passage of the act, several writers along with Bache were arrested. Bache died on September 10, of yellow fever before he could be tried. The worst punishment was incurred by David Brown who was tried in June 1799. He pled guilty but refused to name others who helped him when asked by Justice Samuel Chase; Brown was fined $480 and sentenced to 18 months in prison. The Acts were a major issue during the 1800 election of Jefferson. In 1801, Congress let the Sedition Act expire and Jefferson pardoned all persons convicted under the Act.

In 1863, General Ambrose Burnside of the Union Army ordered the suspension of the Chicago Times because of repeated expressions of disloyal and inflammatory sentiments. President Lincoln rescinded Burnside’s order three days later. In 1864, by order of Lincoln, General John A. Dix suppressed the NY Journal of Commerce and the NY World and arrests the newspapers’ editors after both papers published a forged presidential proclamation purporting to order another draft of 400,000 men. Lincoln withdrew the order for the arrests and the papers resumed publication two days later. In 98 years (1791-1889), less than 12 1st Amendment, freedom of speech and assembly, cases came before the US Supreme Court; this is thought to be due to the prevailing view that the Bill of Rights did not apply to the states. A freedom of speech case was heard in the US Supreme Court in 1915. The state of OH had passed a statute in 1913 forming a board of censors which had the duty of reviewing and approving all films to be shown in the state. The board charged a fee for the service and could order the arrest of anyone showing an unapproved film. In 1915, in Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of OH, the US Supreme Court (236 US 230), in a 9-0 vote, ruled that the free speech protection of the OH Constitution, which was substantially similar to the 1stAmendment of the US Constitution, did not extend to motion pictures. In 1919, the Court heard Debs v. United States (249 US 211). Eugene V. Debs was a labor and political leader as well as a 5-time Socialist Party of America candidate for the presidency. On June 16, 1918, in Canton, OH Debs made an anti-war speech protesting US involvement in World War I (WW I). He was arrested, convicted, sentenced to serve 10 years in prison and be disenfranchised for life. The Federal Government argued that Debs was attempting to arouse mutiny and treason by preventing the drafting of soldiers into the US Army and this type of speech was outlawed with the Espionage Act of June 15, 1917. The defense argued that Debs was entitled to the rights of free speech by the 1st Amendment. This was one of three cases decided in 1919 in which the Court had upheld convictions that restricted free speech.

The US has not continued to make ‘truth’ a factor in our way of life or speech. The US has not implemented an ‘honesty’ clause or amendment that requires the news media to tell the truth which infects our sense of right and wrong as well as our ability to make good decisions. As Rupert Murdoch has been at the heart of news media controversies throughout the world and is mainly judged by US law, I choose to focus on him to show that it is hypocritical to hold companies liable for false advertising while false statements by the media and ordinary people seem free of responsibility.

Murdoch’s company owns Fox News in the US and was unable to establish Fox News Canada in 2003 due to Canadian laws regarding foreign ownership of print and broadcast media. However, the Canadian Radio-TV and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved their application in November 2004 and the Fox News Channel was included in Canada’s digital TV line-up. Fox transmitted through several US stations located near the Canadian border via satellite and cable (not over Canada’s public airwaves) and was carried by dozens of providers throughout Canada. Canada's Radio Act required that a licenser may not broadcast...any false or misleading news. After failing to receive a category 1 (later classified as A), license the Sun News network did receive a category 2 (later called a C) from the CRTC and began broadcasting in Canada in April 2011. Sun News was based in Toronto, with additional studios in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Calgary with news bureaus in Edmonton, Montreal and DC (the network's first foreign bureau). Fox Canada/Sun News had several broadcasts that were called ‘blunders’. In 2011, the CRTC declined to narrow its regulations to apply only to news that the licensee knows is false or misleading and that endangers or is likely to endanger the lives, health or safety of the public. The CRTC denied them a guaranteed spot on basic cable TV packages in August 2013 (data shows that while the network was available to 5.1 million households it was only attracting an average 8,000 viewers at any given time). One of its anchors also had a blog and in November 2014 a Canadian court Judge found the reporter, a lawyer, had a reckless disregard for the truth... he had little regard for the facts...He did little or no fact-checking before or after receiving complaints. On February 13, 2015, the Sun News Network went off the air. The President and CEO of Media Group and Sun Media Corp. issued a statement saying This is an unfortunate outcome; shutting down Sun News was certainly not our goal,...Over the past four years, we tried everything we could to achieve sufficient market penetration to generate the profits needed to operate a national news channel. Sadly, the numerous obstacles to carriage that we encountered spelled the end of this venture. Sun News supporters blamed the CRTC for not giving it the same access enjoyed by other news channels (2013 decision) but I believe the real issue was found in a couple of comments that followed their closure: (a) I blame the right wing ideologues who mistakenly believed there was a huge market in Canada of poorly-educated, angry, gullible hicks who could be led around by the nose by a lying, manipulative propaganda arm, as they are in the US and (b) good riddance to the ‘we don't report the news we make the news up’ channel.

In 2009, Murdoch’s News of the World (News Corp, News International) journalists were accused of phone hacking to get stories in the United Kingdom (UK) but the investigation into the allegations was dropped as the case was portrayed as an isolated incident. In December 2010, News of the World was forced to disclose information due to a lawsuit. Scotland Yard reopened its investigation in January 2011 and due to evidence showing corruption had been going on since 2006 there were three separate criminal investigations; phone hacking, computer hacking and bribery of public officials as well as a fourth being conduct by the Lord Justice of Appeal and a fifth investigation by England’s Parliament. The May 2012 Parliament report criticized son James Murdoch of exhibiting willful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications and added that his father Rupert was not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company. The trials and convictions were still going on in 2014. 

There have been many lawsuits against the Murdoch companies here in the US and elsewhere. US rating studies released in 2009 showed that the Fox Network was responsible for 9 of the top 10 programs in the "Cable

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