FFRF catches Hobby Lobby lying for Jesus and doesn’t let them get away with it.

First, some back story:

The Christian trinket-purveyor Hobby Lobby places religious holiday ads in national newspapers reaching in some cases more than 47 million readers. Hobby Lobby’s July 4, 2013 ad features quotes from the founders scattered around huge font screaming, “In God We Trust.” The quotes are meant to give the false impression that the U.S. is a Christian nation and that our nation “trusts in God.” But, just like Hobby Lobby’s god, the quotes aren’t very trustworthy. They are wildly inaccurate in some cases.

The misrepresentations range from the mild, such as capitalizing “His” to refer to a Christian god when Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson actually wrote “his” to refer to a deistic god, to the outrageous, such as omitting entire sentences without notifying the reader, combining quotes from multiple sources into one quote, omitting thousands of words with an ellipsis, and completely mischaracterizing quotes, speakers and Supreme Court cases.

The FFRF has gone to the trouble of making an interactive site where you can click on a quote from Hobby Lobby’s recent add and be provided with the breakdown of just how Hobby Lobby distorted the truth.  For instance, at one point they quote Alexis de Tocqueville from his most famous work, Democracy in America, as saying “Americans combine the notions of Christianity and liberty.”  It turns out that this is from a translation that de Tocqueville himself criticized for its inaccuracy.  The actual quote reads “Americans so completely confuse [or confound] Christianity with liberty.”  And the context makes it clear that de Tocqueville is not exactly a fan of the equivocation.  Even in the mistranslation it’s clear that de Tocqueville is hacked off about an atheist being mistreated in court.

So if my next post is a little slow coming out, now you know what I’m spending my time doing: being grateful to the FFRF for exposing yet another lie in defense of the conclusions of faith.  Errors like these are not the product of mere mistakes, they are lies.  And if Christianity is as noble and morally necessary as Hobby Lobby believes, other Christians should condemn them for it.  If there’s one place where theists and atheists should intersect, it’s that if the truth cannot benefit us then it is we who must change, not the truth.  If we cannot agree that lying is immoral, how can we even converse?

Seriously, I’m not sure the FFRF could kick any more ass.  High five to them!

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Mike Deangelo

    “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    -John Adams, 1798

    • 23cal

      Adams? Love me some Adams. He is the President who signed the Treaty of Tripoli which stated: “As the government of the United States
      of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion…”
      Here is some more Adams:
      “The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.” — John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787-88)

      “Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.” — John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787-88)

      “We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions … shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for honors and power … we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society.” — John Adams, letter to Dr. Price, April 8, 1785

      “As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?” — John Adams, letter to FA Van der Kamp, December 27, 1816

      • Mike Deangelo

        Very good. And this invalidates the original Adams quote, how?

        • baal

          Your quote suggests John Adams approved or thought we should be a religious country. While he may have said or written that string of words (I haven’t checked and these historical quotes a notorious for being edited – see OP above), 23cal (JT’s dad)’s quotes show clearly that your quote is misleading at best.

          Did you not read, “founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle”?

        • Loqi

          It doesn’t. It just shows that no matter what Adams personally thought about religion, the nation he helped found is a secular one. Your quote has no force of law and doesn’t speak on behalf of the nation. The treaty does.

        • 23cal

          Invalidates? Who said anything about invalidates? Just trying to present a true picture of Adams’ beliefs through his own quotes….which, of course, the one you selected failed miserably to do. These also point out his reference to “religion” isn’t necessarily a reference to Christianity, which my quotes show he held in low esteem and should be separate from our government.
          What you did is called “quote mining”, and is frowned upon by those with intellectual integrity.

          • phantomreader42

            The problem is, the idea of intellectual integrity is something utterly alien to Mike’s worldview. How could he possibly comprehend integrity, when his beliefs are built on a foundation of pure lies?

    • JTEberhard
      • phantomreader42

        JT, don’t you know by now that if you repeat a Lie For Jesus™ enough times, it magically becomes true? :P

  • Mike Deangelo

    “I am sure there never was a people, who had more reason to acknowledge a divine interposition in their affairs, than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe that they have forgotten that agency, which was so often manifested during our Revolution, or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God who is alone able to protect them.”

    - George Washington, 1792

  • Jasper

    Personally, I don’t care for the “Quote Wars”.

    Even if they had established for a theocracy (they didn’t), that still wouldn’t change the fact that we SHOULD be a secular nation. The founding fathers were also slave-owners and decided that women were second-class citizens.

    They were simply wrong about many things… with the religiosity of the nation being in that set.

    We have no obligation to obey their initial ideas.

    • storm

      If you were to post this on certain forums, the neo cons would scream about how anti American you are.

  • Mike Deangelo

    “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

    Article III of “An Ordinance for the government of the Territory of the United States northwest of the River Ohio,” passed by the Continental Congress on July 13, 1787

    • 23cal

      Continental Congress? Nice try. Pre-Constitution, so pre-formation of the United States of America. Interesting for historical purposes, of no importance whatsoever to current US law.

      • baal

        One of the fatal flaws of that first U.S. government were the religious-State based skirmishes between sects.

  • Mike Deangelo

    “[T]he Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government. … and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence.”

    - Noah Webster to James Madison, 1829

    • 23cal

      Can’t speak for Webster, but love me some Madison (Father of the Constitution):

      Nothwithstanding the general progress made within the two last centuries in favour of this branch of liberty, & the full establishment of it, in some parts of our Country, there remains in others a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Gov’ & Religion neither can be duly supported: Such indeed is the tendency to such a coalition, and such its corrupting influence on both the parties, that the danger cannot be too carefully guarded agst.. And in a Gov’ of opinion, like ours, the only effectual guard must be found in the soundness and stability of the general opinion on the subject. Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Gov will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together; [James Madison, Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822, The Writings of James Madison, Gaillard Hunt]

      That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some; and to their eternal infamy, the clergy can furnish their quota of impas for such business…” [James Madison, letter to William Bradford, Jr., Jauary 1774]

      It was the belief of all sects at one time that the establishment of Religion by law, was right & necessary; that the true religion ought to be established in exclusion of every other; and that the only question to be decided was which was the true religion. The example of Holland proved that a toleration of sects, dissenting from the established sect, was safe & even useful. The example of the Colonies, now States, which rejected religious establishments altogether, proved that all Sects might be safely & advantageously put on a footing of equal & entire freedom…. We are teaching the world the great truth that Govts do better without Kings & Nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson that Religion flourishes in greater purity, without than with the aid of Gov. [James Madison, Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822, The Writings of James Madison, Gaillard Hunt]

      [I]t may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov’t from interfence in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespasses on its legal rights by others. [James Madison, in a letter to Rev Jasper Adams spring 1832, from James Madison on Religious Liberty, edited by Robert S. Alley, pp. 237-238]

      Ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects. [James Madison, letter to William Bradford, Jr., Jauary 1774]

      What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not. [Pres. James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1785]

      Experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution. [James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1785]

      It was the Universal opinion of the Century preceding the last, that Civil Government could not stand without the prop of a religious establishment; and that the Christian religion itself, would perish if not supported by the legal provision for its clergy. The experience of Virginia conspiciously corroboates the disproof of both opinions. The Civil Government, tho’ bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success; whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the TOTAL SEPARATION OF THE CHURCH FROM THE STATE. [James Madison, as quoted in Robert L. Maddox: Separation of Church and State; Guarantor of Religious Freeedom]

      The number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the state. [James Madison, 1819, in Boston, Why The Religious Right is Wrong about the Separation of Church and State]

      Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?

      Because finally, the equal right of every citizen to the free exercise of his religion according to the dictates of conscience is held by the same tenure with all our other rights. If we recur to its origin, it is equally the gift of nature; if we weigh its importance, it cannot be less dear to us; if we consult the Declaration of Rights which pertain to the good people of Virginia, as the basic and foundation of government, it is enumerated with equal solemnity, or rather studied emphasis. [James Madison, Section 15 of A Memorial and Remonstrance, June 20, 1785,

      • Jasper

        Pfffff… quotes not supporting his case don’t matter, donchya know?

        I wouldn’t doubt that one can find plenty of quotes from people who disagreed with the secular nature of the constitution… but the bottom line is, that’s what they created, regardless of their personal feelings.

        It makes sense too, given the context in which they produced the constitution, when monarchs and kings were unfavorable.

        And that’s why the U.S. constitution includes things like Separation of Powers (antithesis of Christianity), Freedom of Religion (antithesis of Christianity), Due Process (Antithesis of Christianity), Freedom of the Press (unknown in Christianity), Federalism and Democracy (Antithesis of Christianity)

        … and most important of all, Constitutional Rights (the completely unambiguous total opposite of Christianity).

        To say the U.S. is a Christian nation, outside of maybe an observation that most of the population currently holds a variation on that religion, is nothing short of sheer insanity.

  • JTEberhard

    I can’t help but notice that Mike Deangelo is providing more quotes, not condemning or defending Hobby Lobby’s dishonesty. Maybe if he posts enough quotes it will make the historical community wrong or Hobby Lobby honest.

    • Mike Deangelo

      Apologies. I should have framed my statements better.

      “The quotes are meant to give the false impression that the U.S. is a Christian nation and that our nation “trusts in God.”

      This is 100% demonstrably false.

      • Loqi

        These quotes do nothing to show the US is a Christian nation. Nowhere do you quote the anything with the force of law. You know, like the Constitution. That document which specifically leaves out god, dispite multiple attempts to put religious language in and huge amounts of criticism from the pulpits for writing such a godless document.

      • baal

        Watch carefully Mike. Some founders of the US were Christian* and wanted various sects in charge. Other founders didn’t. Regardless of their personal religions, they founded a secular country. So be careful with “christian nation” and define your terms. Don’t mix the two notions.

        *Calling the some of the founders ‘christians’ is a-historical in any event. They identified more by the predominant sect that they followed ex Catholic, Calvinist etc.

      • phantomreader42

        If the Founding Fathers had wanted the United States of America to be a christian nation, they could have said so, explicitly, in the Constitution. They did not. In fact, the Constitution does not even mention jesus, the christian god, or any god even once. There’s an archaic reference to “The Year of Our Lord” in the date, that desperate christianists point to, but absolutely NOTHING establishing christianity as the official religion of the country, and several statements directly and explicitly FORBIDDING establishment of religion. Hobby Lobby’s claims are false, their goal is dishonest, and their quotes are garbage. Isn’t that imaginary god of theirs supposed to have some sort of problem with bearing false witness?

        • fifthdentist

          A good demolition of the “In the year of our lord” argument is to point out that at the same time bills of sale of slaves also were dated in the same way. So to argue that the phrase meant the Constitution is a holy document, then they would also have to also argue that a receipt for purchasing a human being also is a holy document. There are some examples of slave sale documents to be found by Googling.

      • 23cal

        The Constitution is an entirely secular document. What an insult to our founding fathers! After months of argument, deliberation, and crafting the Constitution, the document that created this alleged “Christian nation”, they accidentally forgot to mention God, Jesus, Yahweh, Jehovah, or anything else AT ALL Christian?!?
        That is a pretty major OOPS!!, isn’t it? “Oh, Gee, we founded a Christian nation but somehow didn’t put anything about Christianity into the document that formed the nation. How ever could we have made this oversight?”
        Anyone who believes we were “founded as a Christian nation” is someone who is willing to lie not only others, but also to himself.
        This is the document that founded the nation, this is where the rubber hits the road. Quote mining from letters or pointing out inspirational quotes on buildings won’t change that.

      • unbound55

        Still waiting for your demonstration on how this is false…

    • islandbrewer

      Kind of like throwing bible quotes at a losing argument.

    • baal

      And I wonder if Mike D’s quotes are honest and true or if they are similarly distorted like Hobby Lobby’s.

      • phantomreader42

        I’ve seen so many distorted or outright fabricated quotes from desperate liars for jesus on this subject that whenever I see a quote from one of the Founding Fathers that seems favorable to religion, I automatically assume it’s a fake until proven otherwise. They keep making shit up, so I think it’s fair to assume every word out of their mouths is a lie.

        • baal

          After reading some of Chris Rodda’s take down of David Barton, I’m similarly skeptical of founding father quotes. I’m also more than a little annoyed that the debunked quotes keep making the rounds as it’s a lot harder for us to dredge up originals and show the deception than it is for them to spam cut & paste all over the place. I suppose the upside is that this behaviour is prime example #1 of our contention that they are ‘Liars For Jesus’ and few people like blatant liars.

          • phantomreader42

            David Barton is living proof that chrisitanity is false. If there were any truth to it, it wouldn’t be necessary to constantly lie to prop it up, so the fact that people like Barton have built their entire careers on making up lies for jesus, without any retribution from god or the pulpit, demonstrates that the christian faith cannot actually be true.

    • storm

      Well, you know the law of the internet right? If someone says something enough, it becomes true.

  • Loqi

    “Religion is bullshit.”

    -Loqi in a comment on WWJTD, 2013

  • islandbrewer

    “The United States is a totally secular nation and has no religious component to it’s government, despite the individuals in government positions belonging to any religion they choose.”

    -Me, Just now

    And this quote has every bit as much weight as the randomly spouted quotes from the founding fathers.

    • phantomreader42

      A little more, actually, since in this case it’s something you actually said, instead of being made up by known liars and falsely attributed to you.

  • Stan Bradley

    I find it interesting that Christians like the people who run Hobby Lobby think they know what the United States is all about. They remind me of a man who 70 years ago thought he knew what Germany was all about and like them he was a good Christian as well, the man was Adolf Hitler.