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Old 19 February 2007, 07:46 PM
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Icon402 James Madison on church and state

Comment: Is the following a correct statement by James Madsion?

"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from
these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in
blood for centuries."

- James Madison, 4th president of the United States
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Old 19 February 2007, 08:13 PM
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Whalephant

Apparently So A quick Google search (at the level of which even I am capable, and I am rather a Google moron) shows numerous attributions.

Silas
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Old 19 February 2007, 11:41 PM
Steve Steve is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silas Sparkhammer View Post
Apparently So A quick Google search (at the level of which even I am capable, and I am rather a Google moron) shows numerous attributions.

Silas
Do any of the attributions give specifics of where it can be found? All the sites I find say that it appears in a letter from 1803, but none gives a more exact date or says who the correspondent was.

This blog: http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/madison.htm

has moved the quote to it's "phony James Madison quotes" section on the grounds that a source can't be found, and here's another discussion of it:
http://candst.tripod.com/quotpurp.htm
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Old 20 February 2007, 12:14 AM
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Silas Sparkhammer Silas Sparkhammer is offline
 
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Whalephant

Fascinating! I had (naively?) thought that the large number of sources was at least a rough indication of validity.

Also, to James Madison, the English Civil War was about as recent a memory as WWI is to us; religious civil war was one thing our framers knew full well they did *not* want happening here. This, too, led me to believe the quote.

Ah, well! Phooey on those who would poison the waters of truth with shoddy scholarship!

Silas (having done it at least once himself...)
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Old 20 February 2007, 03:19 AM
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Judge

Steve's post ultimately points to the late Molly Ivins's role as a prominent vector of this alleged Madison quote, which appears to have first seen the light of day in the early 1990s.

Interestingly, I think, Ivins's use of that particular passage way back in 1991 certainly raised some suspicions at the offices of The Columbia Journalism Review. It appeared in a piece she wrote for the November/December issue,
Quote:
More of us need to read Madison on the reason for the separation of church and state: "To keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries."
A CJR footnote reads,
Quote:
Ivins says broadcaster John Henry Faulk, since deceased, gave her the quote and attribution. CJR's researcher and two interns spent hours trying to track it down, in vain. We leave it as is, inviting confirmation or correction.
Despite the CJR's concerns about the passage's provenance, Ivins forged ahead and used the quote, well, a lot in opinion pieces that appeared elsewhere over the next few years.

Who knows, perhaps Faulk, an admirer of Madison, had merely paraphrased something found in Madison's writings; Ivins may have misinterpreted the sentiment as a direct quote.

(For what it's worth, the only thing Madisonian I can find that bears some vague similarity is his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments [1785], particularly paragraph 11, which contains a mention that "[t]orrents of blood have been split in the old world, by vain attempts of the secular arm, to extinguish Religious discord, by proscribing all difference in Religious opinion." Actually, other printings have "split" as "spilt," which makes more sense to me. Other than that, I got nothing.)

-- Bonnie
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