Thursday, November 12, 2009

John Adams on the influence of Judaism on human affairs

From one of our most important founding fathers and the second president of the United States:
I will insist the Hebrews have [contributed] more to civilize men than any other nation. If I was an atheist and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations ... They are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited this Earth. The Romans and their empire were but a bubble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three-quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of mankind more and more happily than any other nation, ancient or modern.
- John Adams, Letter to F.A. Van der Kemp, dated Feb. 16, 1808.


Anonymous said...

Were Jews allowed to hold office in federal government in 1808?

Mark D. said...

Yes -- the Constitution specifically included a clause prohibiting religious tests for office.

Eric Alan Isaacson said...

Since John Adams penned those words, American Judaism has continued to exercise a salutary influence upon our democracy.

Liberal Jews have played -- and continue to play -- an utterly critical role in our civil rights movements, insisting upon equal rights under law for religious minorities, for racial minorities, for women, and for homosexuals.

As a Unitarian Universalist, I thank the heavens for America's Jews!