Mike Deangelo sees Hobby Lobby’s dishonest quote-mining and raises us…the same dishonest quote.

Earlier I posted about the FFRF’s glorious smackdown of Hobby Lobby’s dishonesty regarding the founding fathers.  It wasn’t long before a believer by the name of Mike Deangelo found his way into the comments and, rather than condemning or defending Hobby Lobby’s dishonest quote mining, started throwing out more quotes.  This was apparently done in attempt to validate the claim of Hobby Lobby, only in a presumably more thorough and academically honest fashion.

One of the first ones he fired off was:

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

-John Adams, 1798

Ironically, this is one of the very quotes Hobby Lobby used and was rebutted on the FFRF site that my whole post was about.

So clearly Mike didn’t read the rebuttal to the quote, but he sure had it on hand and was willing to use it as if its veracity was unquestioned.  Let’s see what the FFRF’s site has to say about it:

Hobby Lobby alters Adams’ original quote, from a letter written on October 11, 1798, to the officers of the Massachusetts militia:

“But should the people of American once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candour, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in the rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world.  Because we have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.  Avarice, ambition, revenge, and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net.  our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” _ John Adams: Signer of the Declaration of Independence; One of Two Signers of the Bill of Rights; Second President of the United States

Hobby Lobby left out an entire sentence of Adams’ words without notifying the reader.  It is an important sentence.  Adams uses “moral” and “religious” as synonyms and the missing sentence goes to that point.  Adams does not mention ungodliness or blasphemy or sin, he focuses on moral issues, “avarice, ambition, revenge, etc.”  Adams may have equated religion and morality, but thought that neither was divine or supernatural.  Writing to Jefferson on December 12, 1816, he mentioned that he had “devoted” himself to theological study for “the last year or two” and listed more than 20 volumes of religious writing and history he read: “Romances all!  I have learned nothing of importance to me, for they have made no change in my moral or religious creed, which has, for fifty or sixty years, been contained in four short words, “Be just and good.’  In this result they all agree with me.”

The conclusion Adams drew from his study of religious texts was simple: “universal toleration.”  Something that can only be achieved when we have a government that is truly secular, that is truly free from religion.

Incidentally, a full reading of both the militia’s and Adams’s letters makes it clear that they were discussing fidelity to their country and government, not religion.

So, Mike, here’s the deal: whoever fed you that quote was wrong or, in the case of people like those behind Hobby Lobby, they were deliberately lying to you.  Because you didn’t take the time to read the thing you were attempting to rebut, you wound up looking very silly.  This is largely your fault for having a canned response and not first taking steps to listen to your opposition before seeing if they’d addressed the contents of your metaphorical can.  That is not the behavior of someone seeking the truth, it is the behavior of somebody trying to “win”.  Stop doing it.  How can you expect us to take the rest of your arguments seriously when this is how you approach them?

But also, I’d encourage you to cultivate a bit of disdain for the people who sent you into the fray armed with a lie – in this case, the people behind Hobby Lobby.  They fed you a lie, expected you to not do any research, and to unwittingly help them spread that lie even further.  You did not disappoint them.  In short, they played you like a cheap fiddle.  This not only says a tremendous amount about them, it says a tremendous amount about what they think of you.

In the future you’d do well to remember who they are and how they operate.

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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.

  • JFields

    Oh, let me respond on behalf of Hobby Lobby fanboys/girls everywhere (including Mike Deangelo):



  • Daniel Schealler

    “The problem with quotes on the Internet is that you can’t always depend on their accuracy.” – Abraham Lincoln, 1864.

  • Mike Deangelo

    Really? Seriously?

    Hobby Lobby is “guilty” of nothing. The FFRF is full of absolute bullshit.

    The FFRF’s “refutation” of the Adams quote is buffoonish and embarrassing. The conclusion that Adams’ proclamation of “universal toleration” is somehow a validation of a 21st century definition of a secular, irreligious government so utterly misses the mark as to be laughable. It demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the person and character of John Adams.

    There is no “out of context” reading to Adams’ quote regarding the Constitution being made for a “moral and religious people.” It states exactly what he believes. The assertion that Adams thought that neither morality or religion was divine or supernatural is wrong. The FFRF is quote-mining out of context. They are making shit up for their own biased agenda.

    How can we know this? How can we be sure that the character of John Adams was undeniably Christian? That his Christian faith informed his thinking and his ideas?

    Here’s an idea: instead of masturbating to some hack interpretation of history on teh interwebs, let’s consult a book from my library. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book by an esteemed historian with impeccable credentials: John Adams by David McCullough.

    Right off the bat, McCullough makes one thing about Mr. Adams very clear: “As his family and friends knew, Adams was both a devout Christian and an independent thinker, and he saw no conflict in that.” (p. 19)

    Speaking proudly of being a descendant of a long line of New England stock, Adams once wrote to friend Benjamin Rush, “What has preserved this race of Adamses in all their ramifications in such numbers, health, peace, comfort, and mediocrity? I believe it is religion, without which they would have been rakes, fops, sots, gamblers, starved with hunger, or frozen with cold, scalped by Indians, etc., etc., etc., been melted away and disappeared…” (p. 30)

    Of Adams’ time in Philadelphia during the 1776 Continental Congress, McCullough writes, “On Sundays, the one day of respite from Congress, he was at church most of the day, attending services twice, even three times. With numerous denominations to choose from (everything except Congregational), he tried nearly all — the Anglican Christ Church, the meetinghouses of the Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Quakers, the German Moravians — and passed judgement on them all, both their music and the comparative quality of their preaching.” (p. 83)

    Continuing this train of thought on page 84, McCullough writes, “One Sunday, ‘led by curiosity and good company,’ which included George Washington, Adams crossed a ‘Romish’ threshold, to attend afternoon mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Fifth Street, an experience so singular that he reflected on it at length both in his journal and in a letter to Abigail.”

    One particularly fascinating moment during the Congress involved Thomas Jefferson. Starting on page 113, McCullough writes “…[Jefferson] stood in opposition to a proposal for a fast day, and in so doing appeared to cast aspersions on Christianity, to which Adams reacted sharply. Benjamin Rush reminded Adams of the incident in a letter written years later.

    ‘You rose and defended the motion, and in reply to Mr. Jefferson’s objections to Christianity you said you were sorry to hear such sentiments from a gentleman who you so highly respected and with whom you agreed upon so many subjects, and that it was the only instance you had ever known of a man of sound sense and real genius that was an enemy to Christianity. You suspected, you told me, that you had offended him, but that he soon convinced you to the contrary by crossing the room and taking a seat in the chair next to you.’”

    Finally, after Adams’ public service had come to an end, he renewed his correspondence with old friend Benjamin Rush in 1805. McCullough writes, “He wrote of his renewed enjoyment of Shakespeare…and in his continued devotion to Cicero and the Bible. And he dwelt much on ideas. The ideal of the perfectibility of man as expounded by eighteenth-century philosophers — perfectibility ‘abstracted from all divine authority’ — was unacceptable, he declared.

    ‘It is an idea of the Christian religion, and ever has been of all believers of the immortality of the soul, that the intellectual part of a man is capable of progressive improvement for ever. Where then is the sense of calling the perfectibility of man an original idea or modern discovery….I consider the perfectibility of man as used by modern philosophers to be mere words without a meaning, that is mere nonsense.’” (pp. 590-591)

    So the FFRF would have us believe that John Adams does not believe in the divine and supernatural origin of morality and religion? They would have us believe that John Adams does not mean what he says in describing the connection between “moral and religious people” and the Constitution of the United States? Really? Seriously?

    Yes, it is clear that Adams is discussing fidelity to country and government. It is also clear that this country and government are at their best when informed by religious principle. Or did the FFRF deliberately leave out the references to the nation’s “destination” being assigned by “Providence,” or that oaths in the United States are considered “sacred obligations?”

    This isn’t that difficult. As expressed in his letter to the Massachusetts militia, Adams was of the belief that liberty required responsibility. The kind of responsibility fostered by religion, in the forming of character, virtue, and morals. Without religion, a citizenry may choose, to their detriment, immorality and irresponsibility. The Constitution is not constructed for a society cut loose from the context and guidance of religion. The survival of the Constitution is dependent upon the religious character of its people. Period.

    Your ejaculatory enthusiasm for the FFRF, J.T., is, dare I say, premature. I’d encourage you to cultivate a bit of disdain for the people who sent you into the fray armed with a lie – in this case, the FFRF. They fed you a lie, expected you to not do any research, and to unwittingly help them spread that lie even further. You did not disappoint them. In short, they played you like a cheap fiddle. This not only says a tremendous amount about them, it says a tremendous amount about what they think of you.

    Or, as Mr. Adams said himself in regards to the French Revolution in 1790, “I know not what to make of a republic of 30 million atheists.”


    • colnago80

      Here we see a textbook example of the Gish Gallop, isolated statements taken out of context, outright lies, distortions, and quote mining. Apparently, Deangelo is a disciple of David Barton.

      I find the notion that Adams was a devout Christian rather interesting. Adams was a Unitarian, which most Christian churches would not consider a Christian church. Further, in his letters he exchanged with Thomas Jefferson after both had retired from public life, it would seem that the two had no serious disagreements on the subject of religion. Jefferson was, of course, not even close to being a believing Christian. Among other things, he rejected the miracle stories in the scriptures, the divinity of Yeshua ben Yesuf of Nazareth, the Trinity, and the Resurrection of Yeshua.

      • Marky Mark da Funq

        You find Adams being described as a devout Christian “interesting” because you’ve never been taught any differently by the swamp fever-inflicted whack jobs you hang out with.

        • colnago80

          Better the the fu*king born again bigoted bible backed Barnum bunkum bastards you hang out with.

          • Daniel Schealler

            *golf clap for alliteration*

    • Spuddie

      You know what would make you sound even remotely not full of shit?

      Providing links to your cut and paste quotes so we can all see the full context they are used in.

      Using large blocks of unattributed quotes in defense of people who dishonestly use large blocks of unattributed quotes is like defending charges of public indecency by exposing yourself public.

      • Mike Deangelo

        You know what would make you sound remotely not stupid? Understanding that the quotes are taken from a book and are thus not linkable to teh interwebs.

        Here’s a clue: drive to your local library. Check out a copy of John Adams. Trust me, they’ll have a copy. Use the page notations I provided to read the quoted passages. Better yet, read the whole book.

        Let me know when you’ve read the passages. I’ll wait for your informed and incisive rebuttal.

        (I will admit that the blockquote formatting is clumsy in this application. Not quite academic standard, but there you go for my level of HTML skill.)

        • Spuddie

          You are still full of shit. Quoting large blocks of text without website attribution tells us that you don’t want people to read a passage in context.

          People who quote mine with always say they just typed it from a book. This way they hide the fact that they used dishonest sources to cut and paste from. I sincerely doubt you thumbed through the book to find the appropriate passages. In your case every one of your quotes shows up in a search engine for sites of ill repute.

          All you have done is given us a demonstration of typical dishonest quoteminer tactics.

          • Mike Deangelo

            You are, without a doubt, one of laziest, most stupid fucks in the history of lazy, stupid fucks.

            That you can’t be bothered to actually crack a book is pathetic. That you would jump to the conclusion that every single quote is dishonest is pathetic. That you can’t be bothered to do research that requires you to leave your mother’s basement is pathetic.

            Every quote shows up in “search engines for sites of ill repute?” I don’t even know what that means. I took the very first quote:

            “As his family and friends knew, Adams was both a devout Christian and an independent thinker, and he saw no conflict in that.”

            …and entered it into Google, exactly as you see here. The very first hit was to an excerpt on a site called bookbrowse.com. The quote in question was right there, leading off the second paragraph of the excerpted text.

            If you are so lazy and so stupid as to not be able to A) go find the book yourself and read it, or B) execute a competent Google search, then really, I think you’ve embarrassed yourself enough for this week.

          • Spuddie

            You have done everything possible to give the impression that you are being dishonest.

            EVERY person who quote mines uses the same excuse that you used. They make the bullshit argument that they typed everything by hand from reading select passages of a book. Its not credible. I don’t believe you actually typed it. I don’t believe you picked those passages entirely on your own volition. I don’t have to take any of it at face value.

            Never mind that those passages coincidentally are quoted verbatim by sources of ill repute. Never mind this article began because were caught quote mining by the author in a very obvious way. How stupid do you have to be to engage in quote mining in articles describing and eviscerating quote mining practices?

            You want to sound credible when you make a block quote, link to web sources. This way people can see the text in context as intended. You want to sound like a lying sack of shit who is covering up for his dishonesty, continue doing what you are doing.

          • Mike Deangelo

            Spuds, I have no idea what you’re talking about regarding “sources of ill-repute.”

            You’re all pissy because I didn’t indulge your Millennial Entitlement Syndrome by serving up exactly what you want on a platter when you want it. Then you whine because you don’t like where the quotes are showing up. I was unaware that Amazon excerpts and Google Books were such declassé sources for the fashionably atheistic set.

            Stamp your feet and throw a tantrum if you must. It doesn’t change the fact that you’re only digging yourself a larger hole.

            Forming your own opinion is big boy work, Spuddie. It’s never too late to start.

          • Spuddie

            There are people who make efforts to try to appear credible in an online discussion, especially when referencing outside sources and there are people like yourself, who don’t. =)

            Its not my fault you are doing everything in your power to appear like a liar.

            As I said before, if you want to appear credible when quoting someone, ESPECIALLY if the topic is dishonest quote mining, you need to step up and show people you are worth taking seriously. Links to your quotes is the most credible way to do it.

            If you do not want to bother with web links to your quotes, then you should not expect people to take it at face value. Expect to be considered a joke.

            Your credibility was already in the crapper when you started. The author of the article called you out on an obvious quote mining effort and you responded with what appears to be more quote mining. Whining, hurling insults and flinging poo like a rabid chimpanzee about it isn’t making you any more believable.

          • Mike Deangelo

            Here’s a dishonest source: http://goo.gl/FNd0TT

            Here’s another: http://goo.gl/nYHE31

            Ooo, and that totally reprehensible Book Browse: http://goo.gl/afQlPY

            I can’t believe I actually let myself get so aggravated that I did your work for you. Criminey.

            …and let’s be clear: the FFRF is a lying sack of shit. There is nothing dishonest in the original Adams quote. Seems to me you’re suffering from this: http://goo.gl/Z3WUBP

          • Spuddie

            You did it to yourself. Fact of the matter was, you still got caught quote mining and continued to do so afterwards. Complaining about methods which would have improved your credibility made it even worse.

            You were using the playbook of every person with a less than credible agenda. Creationists, holocaust deniers, conspiracy theorists, etc, they all do the same thing you did. They all use the same lame excuse “I was quoting directly from a book”. Its never a credible argument. It tells everyone, “I don’t want people to see whom I am cutting and pasting from”

            Lets be clear, your opinion about FFRF makes you sound like a Christian Dominionalist lying sack of shit like David Barton and his followers. Like Hobby Lobby, they have been caught fabricating enough alleged quotes from “the founders” that anyone doing so without some form of attribution is considered suspect on its face.

            I would trust people at the FFRF quicker than yourself. They haven’t been caught using dishonest altered quotes. You were (probably still are). =)

          • Spuddie

            I don’t believe you. I have no reason to. You got caught. The article made that plain as day. Get the net.

            Other posters caught you quote mining in the prior thread as well. They brought up links to the quotes in context. You ran off. Lets face it, you have a history of using phony quotes, you desperately avoided giving attribution for them, there is no reason to take a word you say at face value. When have you stopped lying?

            Use of phony quotations or ones taken far out of context is a regular practice for people who are making phony claims about Christianity and its role in our nation’s founding. Their crap gets repeated ad nauseum. It is
            frequently debunked by people like the FFRF and real historians.

            People with a long history of lying don’t get the benefit of a doubt. You fall on the side of the people most likely to be the liars not those who expose the lies. Your comments about FFRF sound like so much sour grapes

            “So exactly how have I been caught using dishonest, altered quotes? Can you prove it?”

            Its your role to prove the quote is honest and in context. If you don’t do that from the start, I don’t have to give a flying crap. It can be dismissed out of hand as typical quote mining bullshit.

            When one is chiming in on an article concerning dishonest quote mining, doing more of the same does nothing to make you sound credible.

            Btw McCullogh’s book is a tertiary source at best, it is not a reliable source for the actual quotes by the speaker. Check the notes section for the source he used. I am sure it is available online ;)

          • Guest

            Obviously there are people who want to appear credible in an online
            discussion when referencing an outside source and then there is you. =)