During a visit to our favorite Chapin bar, the Tipsy Toad, I noticed a recent addition to the scenery. A bumper sticker attached to the cooler glass quoted Thomas Jefferson as saying;”The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”

I’m a fan of Jefferson’s forethought, belief system, and writings. None of this seemed authentic to me. Looked more like Late Sixties Conservative rhetoric. So I fact checked it. Turns out to be a bogus quote attributed to our third president, designed to sell bumper stickers to those among us that believe the government is giving too much away to the poor in America, especially the dark skinned poor.

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Not Thomas JeffersonOne would think that with the ability to verify everything so easily, we would be more careful about who we quote and what stands as words to live by for so many of us. One would be wrong. It is much easier to grab the idea we agree with and assume it belongs to someone of substance. Simpler to buy into supposedly validated suspect ideas than to search out the truth.

Words are important to me. Not sure if I’ve always felt this way or began to worship the freedom associated with speech when I started sweating over just the right word to improve an otherwise meaningless sentence. I’m big on words to live by and even bigger on verifying their authenticity.

So last week when Suzy pointed out a Facebook post with words shoe-polished onto the back of a pickup truck quoting the Bible and demanding that women shut the Hell up and do what their man says, I immediately checked out the quote. I couldn’t wait to prove this asshole wrong.

Problem is, I underestimated the Holy Bible. That’s the problem with ancient religious scriptures. There are lots of idiotic things written down from those times. Some were extreme to begin with. Others got altered during the thousands of translations through the centuries. That’s why we should rarely accept Biblical quotes as words to live by unless we are trying to confirm a bias and make it acceptable.

Old folks can likely remember devout Christians defending slavery, and later racism in America by quoting Genesis and claiming that the “Mark of Cain” and the “Curse of Ham” were both references to black skin color.

As religious leaders pontificate against LGBT people with claims of abomination from a Biblical quote, no one mentions killing anyone associated with sex outside marriage and stoning uncircumcised boys, divorced women, and children that don’t respect their parents.

Getting religion involved in politics, and being rich, are two of the most stringently opposed activities in the Holy Book. Yet politicians have embraced both those activities with relish. Ignoring many instances where God tells us to take in the poor, strangers, and those in need, current politicians and their followers, especially Conservative ones, not only worship the wealthy and heartless, they deify them.

And now our fine Attorney General is quoting Biblical scripture to justify ripping screaming immigrant children from their mothers’ breasts. And we’re doing it as a policy to deter people from coming to The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Wonder if that stanza still applies to America.

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Image: the image in this story was based on a painting of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, 1800 (Wikimedia Commons) - the animation was created by LikeTheDew.com.
Mike Cox

Mike Cox

Mike Cox currently writes a weekly column in South Carolina for the Columbia Star called "It's Not a Criticism, It's an Observation." He is trying to grow old as gracefully as possible without condemning the current generation in charge to doom. Each day this task gets harder as the overwhelming evidence mounts. He currently has two published books; Finding Daddy Cox, and October Saturdays. His columns have won three South Carolina Press Association awards since 2003. Mike has three sons and two grandchildren and lives in Irmo, Sc, just outside of Columbia.