One of the most common myths about America is that the people who founded it were dyed in the wool Christians. In truth, many of them were not. The most obvious of these non-Christians was Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense. It was written in plain language (as were all of his works) and thus accessible to all Americans. It was the first work of its kind to openly speak of rebellion and it was an inspiration to none other than George Washington.
But his influence went deeper than that. He also wrote the collection of essays we know as The Crisis. As a matter of fact, the phrase my title alludes to is the opening line of the first essay ‘These are the times that try mens souls“. These essays were written during the war with George Washington ordering the first one to be read to troops. It has been suggested that more people read those essays than people who watch the Super Bowl currently.
So why is it that Thomas Paine has all but been stricken from American history? The reason is that not only was he a non-Christian, he was a non-Christian that openly criticized organized religion in his work The Age of Reason. Contrary to popular opinion, Thomas Paine was not an atheist. He was a deist and organized religion offended him.
I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.
I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist of doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow creatures happy.
But, lest it should be supposed that I believe many other things in addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the things I do not believe, and my reasons for not believing them.
I do not believe in the the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my my own church.
All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit. (pg8-9)
Thomas Paine was not stricken from our history for not having a major role as has been implied. He was striken for the words above. This whitewashing of American history and the slandering of his reputation began in his lifetime and it continues today with the latest being the state of Arkansas.
“He did some good things for the nation, but the book that he wrote was anti-Christian and anti-Jewish,” Mr. Rosenbaum said. “I don’t think we should be passing things out like this without at least debating it and letting people in the House know what we’re voting on.”
There are many things that can be said about The Age of Reason. “Anti-Christian” and “anti-Jewish” is not amongst them. Thomas Paine believed in freedom and considered the ‘priests’ to be the enemies of freedom. He was angered by what he saw as the browbeating of the common people by religious leaders whom he considered slanderers of God.
He was, to no small degree, no different than any other religious reformer past and present. The continued tarring of his life and his beliefs coupled with the attempt of the new generation of priests to keep him from the American public is wrong.
Thomas Paine was a great man whose tireless efforts on behalf of the American people should be recognized and honoured whether those in the priestcraft like it or not.