December 20, 2009

This is rich. C-Street Family member Tom Coburn who along with his fellow Family members have been doing their best to inject religion into the health care debate, uses a quote by Thomas Jefferson about separation of church and state, and takes it out of context.

h/t jenyum at Daily KOS who has more -- Dear Senator Coburn: Liberals Can Quote Jefferson, Too:

During today's Senate health care bill debate, Senator Tom Coburn held up a big graphic displaying a quote from Thomas Jefferson:

To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical

This quote resided in the background while Coburn went on and an about earmarks, and abortion, and waste and fraud in the federal government. If Senator Coburn had actually read the original source of the quote, however, I don't think he'd be so quick to use it.

Jefferson's actual words originated in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom:

to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical

The Statute goes on to say...

our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry, that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence, by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages, to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right, that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that very Religion it is meant to encourage.

Obviously among other things too long to list, Tom Coburn's irony alert button is broken. He'd better hope he doesn't wind up in trouble for his part in his buddy John Ensign's affair that the press has been giving him a pass on. As jenyum noted:

Jefferson's words when not taken out of context are hardly a rallying cry for a party that opposes health care reform on religious grounds.

Couldn't have said it any better myself.

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