Saturday, February 4, 2017

National Prayer Breakfast

Listening to President Trump's narcissistic speech at the National Prayer Breakfast I developed the feeling of the German painter Max Liebermann. When in 1933 the old man saw the Nazi hordes passing the Brandenburg Gate near his workshop he said in his Berlin dialect: Ick kann jarnich soville fressen, wie ick kotzen möchte (I would like to vomit so much but I can’t eat enough).

This feeling became overwhelming when President Trump said: We had tremendous success on "The Apprentice," and when I ran for president I had to leave the show. That’s when I knew for sure I was doing it, and they hired a big, big movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger to take my place, and we know how that turned out. The ratings went right down the tubes. It’s been a total disaster and Mark [Burnett] will never, never bet against Trump again. I want to just pray for Arnold if we can -- for those ratings.

There was a mild laughter from the audience. Did Trump rather pray for those ratings or for the man Arnie?

Handwritten title page
of Jefferson's synopsis of the gospel,
the so-called Jefferson Bible.
Jefferson was like a modern Luther comparing
 the text of the New Testament in various languages.
Was he looking for differences?
Later in his address, Donald Trump said that President Thomas Jefferson was a defender of free religion but he failed to mention that the great Jefferson shunned organized religion particularly the Anglican Church pressing for the complete separation between church and state.

While the third president was greatly impressed by the wisdom of Jesus (the famous Jefferson Bible) he had been strongly influenced by the Enlightenment of Locke, Hume, Montesquieu, and Voltaire during his Paris years. Although Jefferson said: God who gave us life gave us liberty nobody called him a Christian but some called him an epicurean.

In a previous blog about A Wicked Company you will find the following paragraph:

Count von Holbach's salon members’ writings became an integral part of how the founding fathers thought about the nascent United States. Jefferson’s handwritten catalogue of books lists not only works by British empiricists such as Hume but also titles by Voltaire and a whole list of crucial books of the radical Enlightenment: the famous De l’esprit by Helvétius (the cause of the 1757 crisis of the Encyclopédie), Holbach’s Système de la nature his Théologie portative (here interestingly attributed to Diderot), a set of Oeuvres philosophiques by Diderot, several anonymous or pseudonymous works such as Holbach’s Christianity Unveiled (“by Boulanger,” in Italian) as well as Raynal’s Histoire des deux Indes and Beccaria’s Of Crimes and Punishments, and a wide selection of precursors, such as Montaigne, Francis Bacon, Baruch Spinoza, and Pierre Bayle. Holbach’s Paris library had the same books on its shelves—as philosophers he and Jefferson were speaking the same language. A notion straight from Holbach’s table and the sum of the philosophical ideas defended there is the "pursuit of happiness".

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States clearly shows the handwriting of Thomas Jefferson prohibiting the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. Explicitly this Amendment clearly means that any religion could be exercised in any of the States and implicitly a wall of separation between church and state according to founding father Thomas Jefferson's correspondences in that matter. The precise boundary of this separation however still remains in dispute.

During his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast President Trump mentioned that he will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment: An amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views. You have much to contribute to our politics, yet our laws prevent you from speaking your minds from your own pulpits.

Separation of church and state? Some Americans even regard a National Prayer Breakfast as unconstitutional.

P.S.: Schwarzenegger responded to Trump's remarks on Twitter saying, Hey Donald, I have a great idea. Why don't we switch jobs? You take over TV because you're such an expert in ratings and I take over your job and then people can finally sleep comfortably again, hmm?

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