To replace John Paul Stevens, an atheist
By MARC COOPER - LA TIMES
Added: Fri, 07 May 2010 14:42:18 UTC
It's something Thomas Jefferson might have done: nominate a nonbeliever to the Supreme Court
As President Obama considers nominees to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, a debate bubbles as to whether religion should play a role in his choice.
This is a no-brainer. The religious views of the next justice of the high court must absolutely be a decisive factor.
Though the court without Stevens will be left with six Catholics and two Jews, the open seat should not go to either domination. Nor should it go to a Presbyterian, a Lutheran, a Methodist, a Muslim or even a Zoroastrian. If it did, that would make nine people who all have one religious principle in common: a belief in religion.
Clearly, the next person to take the bench should be an atheist.
While few sitting politicians have the political courage to name a declared nonbeliever, it is something that Thomas Jefferson (and several others among the founders) might well have done.
In an 1823 letter to John Adams, Jefferson was forthright about his views of religion, and Christianity specifically. "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter," Jefferson wrote. "But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors."
In other words, Jefferson liked what Jesus, the man, stood for, but could definitely do without the rest of the bunk.
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