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    A person who is not a Christian, Moslem, or Jew; heathen. One who has no religion. This also includes those who worshiped gods before the advent of the Judeo-Christian religions. As Mortimer Adler put it: The Western peoples of pre-Christian antiquity were all pagans in the sense defined. Many remained pagans during the early centuries of the Christian era; and from the 16th century on, the number of pagans living in communities that were predominantly Christian or Muslim has steadily increased.

    The lawful documents, symbols and mottoes of the founding government do not contain any mention of Christian, Moslem, or Jewish religions. The documents, symbols and mottoes of the founding government describe Pagan deities and concepts. Since the government in question involves the founding documents and symbols of the United States of America, we must satisfy the above two criteria with evidence for Paganism and a lack of evidence for Christianity, Judaism, or Islam.

    This becomes evermore interesting in light of the recent religious-right movement in their attempt to convince citizens that the American government derived from Christian principles. The inspiration for creating this article came from deceptive claims by right-wing Christians about Moses and the 10 commandments depicted on the Supreme Court building and other state courthouses more about this below.

    This article shows their error by examining the very documents establishing the United States of America the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the symbols and mottoes used by the early Americans.

    In every case, Paganism prevails and Christianity does not. In fact, Paganism reveals itself so predominantly that it should give the reader pause to consider the power of Christian propaganda to deceive and disguise these obvious facts for so long. When I was a boy World was better spot. What was so was so, What was not was not.

    Now I am a man; World have changed a lot. Some things nearly so, There are times I almost think I am not sure of what I absolutely know. Pre-independence America Although the first colonists in America came from Europe mostly Great Britain, Spain, and Hollandmany of them to escape religious persecution Christian persecution no less!

    The religious-right propagandists like to put emphasis on this period of American history because, indeed, these first European-Americans did live under Christian rule and it makes it seem as if these first colonists established the government of the United States.

    Of course the first Americans did not practice Christianity at all. Native Indians lived in America thousands of years before the Christians invaded their land. These original Americans got dispossessed, slaughtered, or segregated to the will of intolerant Christians. Today's religious-right Christians conveniently leave out any mention of the original Americans, Pagan to the very core.

    Only a very brief period before the formation of the United States could Christians call America their land. The following gives a brief historical summary: Augustine, Florida, in Inthe London Company founded the Jamestown colony. In the Mayflower ship lands at Cape Cod, Massachusetts and its colonists formed the Mayflower Compact a true Christian document to establish a form of local government.

    But these early Christian colonies the Puritans became so religiously intolerant that a few of the colonists began to rebel. Because of his "new and dangerous opinions" calling for religious and political freedoms, including separation of church and state. Providence then became a haven for many other colonists fleeing religious intolerance. Just a few years later inthe Massachusetts general court approved a law that made religious heresy punishable by death!

    In hysteria grips Salem, Massachusetts as suspects accused of witchcraft got arrested and imprisoned. These religious Puritans accused one-hundred-fifty people of their own citizens and they executed twenty of them. InMassachusetts passes a law ordering all Roman Catholic priests to leave the colony within three months upon penalty of life imprisonment or execution New York passes a similar law. In in Maryland, the Anglican Church gets established as the official church. In South Carolina also established the Anglican Church as its official church.

    All of this occurred well before the establishment of the United States. These early European Americans began to feel very suspicious of the growing encroachment of Christianity upon government and personal freedoms. By the mid s, a few of the colonists began to introduce heretical ideas. More and more Americans become wary of religious and political impositions on their life. It becomes an instant best-seller. Paine, a Pagan deist would later write "Age of Reason" where he rejected Judeo-Christian tenets and scriptures.

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    Remember that at this time the colonies belonged to Great Britain. Things had come to a head. The most influential American colonists rebelled against Great Britain and their taxes, institutional churches, and desired to form an independent government free from religion and Monarchies. On July 4,The Declaration of Independence written by a Pagan deist announced their independence to the world.

    The Declaration of Independence, a Pagan document Although strictly not a lawful document, the Declaration of Independence, a pre-government document, revealed the first attempt by the American colonists to establish their own independence from Great Britain. The Declaration also mentions god where the religious-right of modern times have tried to use as evidence for their Christian god.

    But does the god of the Declaration speak about a Biblical god? No, not at all. Clearly the god mentioned describes a Pagan concept. Lets look at the Declaration's words directly: When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    Thomas Jefferson thought of himself as a scientist more than he did a politician. Consider that the "Laws of Nature" describe a materialist viewpoint, many times referred to as Newton's laws in the years following Newton's discovery of the laws of gravity, light, and calculus mathematics.

    Thomas Jefferson greatly admired Isaac Newton and anyone who visits Monticello will see the influence he had on Jefferson. Clearly Jefferson intended "Nature's God," not to refer to the personal god of superstitious Christianity, but of a physical god of nature, the laws of physics-- Nature's God. In Jefferson wrote, "Nature intended me for the tranquil pursuits of science, by rendering them my supreme delight.

    But even if you do not feel persuaded that Nature's God means the Laws of Nature and you insist that it refers to a supernatural god, then you still cannot use it to support a Judeo-Christian god. Because to call the God of the Bible as Nature's God would not only contradict the Bible but would constitute heresy in the minds of 18th century Christian leaders of both the Protestant and Catholic faith. Nature's God describes a Pagan concept because nature describes the world.

    The Biblical concept of nature describes the earth the worldthe planets, plant, man and animal as nature, but certainly not as a part of God. According to Christianity God and Jesus come from above. The God of Christianity does not come from this world: The alleged Jesus said, "You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.

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    The Egyptian, Hindu, Greek and Roman religions describe a plethora of gods of nature. Below gives just a few examples of Pagan nature gods from various religions: The Hindus worshiped Vedic Gods: The Pagan nature gods number in the thousands. Clearly then, to worship a god of nature regardless of whether you think it means the laws of nature of a supernatural god of nature means practicing Paganism by the very meaning of the word.

    To continue with words in the Declaration: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

    The Declaration echoes John Locke's idea [1] that in the "state of nature," all human beings lived free and equal Locke would remain a hero of Jefferson throughout his life. The Bible supports inequality from a top down hierarchy: God-man-woman-beast Catholic dogma adds the church and their priests between God and man. Moreover the word "Creator" describes a Deistic term in the s.

    Jefferson, in his many papers and correspondences throughout his life expressed a Deistic view of religion. Deists did not believe in miracles, revealed religion, the authority of the clergy, or the divinity of Jesus. Jefferson regarded ethics, not faith, as the essence of religion. Of course Deists believed in a creator, but thought that the original Creator no longer lived or did not play any part in the world or influenced the lives of people.

    That goes to the very reason why the American founding fathers knew that they We the people had to form the laws of the land, laws based on human reasoning.

    Note also that the Declaration says, "their Creator," not "our Creator. It could mean a personal pagan god as often seen in pagan societies who's members worship their own personal god.

    It could mean their parents, who provided them with their life, rights, and their ability to achieve happiness. It could also mean whatever natural or physical laws created them.

    Nowhere else in the Declaration or any other founding document do we find mention of gods or creators. The entire bases of connecting god with the U. And even these three words come from a deist describing a Pagan concept! The Constitution of the United States, a Pagan document The only mention of religion in the Constitution comes from exclusionary wording: Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

    Frustrating to both Pagans and Christians, nowhere in the Constitution does it mention a god. Fear not my fellow Pagans. Sunday mentioned in Article 1, Sec. Some Christians have tried to claim the ratification date at the end of the document as referring to Jesus [2] but this fails for the reason that no Christian worships dates while nothing prevents Pagans around the world from worshiping the God Janus in January, Mars in March and the Saxon Sun god on Sunday.

    Of course Pagan Enlightenment thinking also influenced the Constitution, as well as many early American Deists. Deism served such a powerful force in the formation of a naturalistic and scientific viewpoint in the minds of our founding fathers that it shouldn't surprise anyone that inopponents frequently argued that the Constitution represented a deistic conspiracy to overthrow the Christian commonwealth.

    Pagan concepts to the very core The formation of the United States began a grand experiment in government.
    Christianity was not influenced by paganism A review and response to claims that Christianity was influenced by paganism and other religions. By Ray Konig About-Jesus. Christianity has been accused of borrowing from paganism virtually every important detail in the New Testament, including the virgin birth, the baptism, the Eucharist, the offer of salvation, the crucifixion, and the resurrection.

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    The implication is that Christianity does not come from God, but from a stew of pagan ideas and concepts. Many of the claims grew out of the 19th and 20th century works of Franz Cumont, James Frazer, and Kersey Graves, who continue to be influential among scholars and writers today who continue a tradition of: Using Christian terminology to describe pagan traditions, 2.

    Then remarking on the alleged similarities, 3. And then claiming that Christianity copied from paganism. With this as an approach, any ancient tradition involving water could be described as a "baptism," any pagan artwork depicting food and beverage could be characterized as a "Eucharist," any tradition involving an unusual birth of a pagan deity could be framed as a "miraculous birth" or as a "virgin birth," and any deity related to the agricultural cycle could be made into examples of "saviors" who "died" and were "resurrected.

    The most commonly cited examples involve the traditions of Adonis, Dionysus, Krishna, Mithras and Osiris, that these pre-Christian deities supposedly had much in common with Jesus Christ. This article will review some of these ancient traditions, showing that they have not influenced the theology of Christianity or the "creation" of Jesus. Adonis Adon Adonis is a good starting point for learning about the more common weaknesses in the claims that Christianity borrowed from pagan traditions.

    Adonis is one of the many pagan deities that some scholars and writers characterize as a pre-Christian god who, like Jesus, was born of a virgin, died and was resurrected. And because of these apparent similarities, some writers claim that he is a prototype on which the New Testament writers based their "creation" of Jesus. For a little background on Adonis, he is often summarized as an annual "life-death-rebirth" vegetation god, meaning that he was associated with the agricultural cycle, during which plants die in the winter and revive in the spring.

    The Adonis tradition is often said to have originated with the Babylonian myth of Tammuz, by way of Syria, before being imported into Greek mythology. It also is claimed that the Etruscan legend of Attunis and the German myth of Baldr were copied from the Adonis tradition. One of the earliest glimpses into the Adonis legend comes from a poem attributed to Sappho, a poet who lived during the 7th century BC, about years ago: Gentle Adonis is dying, O Cythera, what shall we do?

    Beat your breasts, O maidens, and rend your garments. Gentle Adonis wounded lies, dying, dying. What message, O Cythera, dost thou send? Beat, beat your white breasts, O ye weeping maidens, And in wild grief your mourning garments rend. Coming from heaven, clad in a purple mantle.

    Come rosy-armed Graces, virgin daughters of Zeus. But Ares said he would forcibly drag Hephaestus. Innumerable drinking cups thou drainest. But thou shalt ever lie dead nor shall there be any remembrance of thee then or ever, for thou hast none of the roses of Pieria; but thou shalt wander unnoticed, even in the houses of Hades, flitting among the shadowy dead.

    Forever shalt thou lie dead, nor shall there be any remembrance of thee now or hereafter, for never has thou had any of the roses of Pieria; but thou shalt wander, eternally unregarded in the houses of Hades, flitting among the insubstantial shades. Scholars disagree as to which verses truly belong to Sappho and which verses might have been added later from other sources.

    But, the poem as represented above indicates that there was a tradition that Adonis dies. There is, however, no mention in this pre-Christian poem of a resurrection.

    Another ancient text, this one an encyclopedia of Greek mythology called The Library, speaks of Adonis, and of his death, and of his parentage, but mentions nothing of a resurrection or virgin birth.

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    The text is sometimes attributed to Apollodorus, who was a Greek writer born about BC, about years ago. As for the manner of Adonis' death: The earliest known record of a tradition involving a revived Adonis comes from Lucian of Samosata, the author of De Dea Syria. In that work, he wrote of an annual ceremony commemorating the death, or apparent death, of Adonis and that he was killed, or apparently killed, by a boar: And when the breast-beating and weeping is at end, first they make offerings to Adon as if to a dead person; and then, on the next day, they proclaim that he is alive and fetch him forth into the air, and shave their heads as the Egyptians do when Apis dies.

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    The problem is that New Testament was written during the previous century, meaning that Christianity could not have been influenced by De Dea Syria. It should also be noted that the revivification of Adonis is very different than the resurrection of Jesus. Theocritus, a Greek poet during the third century AD, after the time of Jesus, indicates in his Psalm of Adonis that Adonis is revived for a single day each year and then is carried out to the sea.

    In contrast, the New Testament, which was written two centuries earlier, portrays Jesus as being resurrected once, and for eternity. In Christianity, Jesus is not only "revived," he is also resurrected.

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    He returns to life, completely and permanently. He defeats death, completely and permanently. And he promises a resurrection for anyone who has faith in him.

    In contrast, the mythical revivification of Adonis is temporary. He does not defeat death. In fact, he returns to death. His "death and revivification" mirrors that of plants, not people. Plants die in the winter and are revived in the spring. But after the plants are revived, they die again - they return to death, as does the mythical Adonis.

    Resurrection and revivification are not the same. They are as different as people are from plants. Despite the historical record involving Adonis, and the nature of his revivification, and the actual meaning of the word resurrection, scholars and writers continue to incorrectly claim Adonis' tradition included a "resurrection. The online Encyclopedia Mythica, for example, portrays the conception of Adonis as something other than virginal: Her nurse helped her with this trickery to become pregnant, and when Theias discovered this he chased her with a knife.

    To avoid his wrath the gods turned her into a myrrh tree. The tree later burst open, allowing Adonis to emerge. Another version says that after she slept with her father she hid in a forest where Aphrodite changed her into a tree. Theias struck the tree with an arrow, causing the tree to open and Adonis to be born. Yet another version says a wild boar open the tree with its tusks and freed the child; this is considered to be a foreshadowing of his death.

    And, The Library also confirms this tradition, in gentler terms: But when he was aware of it, he drew his sword and pursued her, and being overtaken she prayed to the gods that she might be invisible; so the gods in compassion turned her into the tree which they call smyrna myrrh. Ten months afterwards the tree burst and Adonis, as he is called, was born The Adonis tradition provides an overview of common weaknesses of "copycat" claims - the claims that Christianity copied from other religions or traditions: The alleged similarities between Christianity and paganism often prove to be inconsequential, superficial, or non-existent.

    Both Adonis and Jesus die, but this much we all have in common. Adonis' annual one-day-only revivification, however, is substantially different in detail, nature and theology to the one-time-for-always resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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    And the claim that Adonis was born of a virgin is flatly contradicted by pre-Christian texts that discuss his birth. While it is true that many pagan deities pre-date the time of Jesus, many of their so-called similarities to Christianity don't exist in literature or artwork until after the time of Christianity. In the case of the Adonis tradition, the literature alluding to his revivification is too recent to have influenced Christianity's resurrection.

    Pagan traditions were constantly adopting and adapting, changing and updating. We see this with Adonis in a very fundamental way, in that he was grafted into Greek mythology from a Syrian tradition, which had evolved from the Babylonian legend of Tammuz.

    So even if we have evidence that a pagan cult believed in a particular doctrine after the time of Christianity, we cannot conclude that it held that same belief prior to the time of Christianity.

    Dionysus also known as Bacchus The mythology of Dionysus has many striking similarities to Christianity, according to some scholars and writers, who claim that Dionysus had a miraculous birth, a mortal mother, a god for a father, as well as a death and resurrection.

    He is even said to have performed a miracle in which he changed water into wine - at a wedding. And, there is actual pre-Christian evidence that scholars and writers can use when attempting to support their claims involving Dionysus. One example of this pre-Christian evidence is a play called the The Bacchae, written about BC, about years ago, by a Greek writer named Euripides.

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    In the context of this play, Dionysus disguises himself as a man and returns to the village where his mother died, to avenge her honor. The play makes it clear that Dionysus is a god, that his father is a god, and that his mother was mortal. In the mind of some scholars and writers, we have these and other "striking" similarities, neatly packaged in a well-known pre-Christian source. But, as is often the case, a closer look at the "similarities" often reveals striking differences. There are conflicting traditions within the Dionysus mythology as to who his mother is said to be.

    As claimed by Frazer in The Golden Bough, some traditions say that he was born of a deity, such as Persephone, the Greek mythical queen of the underworld, or Demeter, a Greek goddess of agriculture who is sometimes revered as the Mother Goddess.

    Neither of these traditions allow for any meaningful comparison to the birth of Jesus through a human mother. But, in another branch of the Dionysus myth, he is born of a mortal woman named Semele.

    Aside from his maternal lineage, Dionysus' father is usually said to be Zeus, who in Greek mythology is the king of gods, the ruler of Mount Olympus, as well as the god of the sky and thunder. In Roman mythology, Zeus' name is often given as Jupiter. Many pagan deities were known by more than one name. But even the Semele branch of the Dionysus mythology poses problems for people attempting to make comparisons with Jesus.

    And there are differing versions as to how his remains were transferred. In this case, Semele doesn't actually conceive Dionysus, for he had already been conceived, and birthed, by Demeter or Persephone.

    And there also was a tradition that Semele never actually gives birth to Dionysus, as we learn from Ovid, a first century Roman poet who wrote Metamorphoses. Ovid informs us that Semele asks to see the god who impregnated her.

    The god presents himself as a storm. Although the god tries to restrain himself, he inadvertently kills Semele: The infant Bacchus, still unfinished, is torn from the mother's womb, and if it can be believed is sewn into his father's thigh to complete his full term. Even aside from the mythical traditions in which Semele neither conceives nor gives birth to Dionysus, there remains one more critical difference between her and Mary, the mother of Jesus.
    The Harvard Pluralism Project An April survey by CAIR found 69 percent of Muslims in America saying it is "absolutely fundamental" or "very important" to have Salafi similar to radical Wahhabi Islamic ideology teachings at their mosques 67 percent of respondents also expressed agreement with the statement "America is an immoral, corrupt society".

    Moorthy Muthuswamy The Qur'an tells us: The Qur'an demands that we fight the unbelievers, and promises "If there are twenty amongst you, you will vanquish two hundred: This subject is highly important not only because of Islam's expansion and the coming together of its leaders from around the world, but also because certain Muslim leaders, anxious to rectify Islam's bad rep, are making statements such as, "There are 1.

    Were this statement true, it would be both frightening in its enormity and reassuring in its docility. However, Islamic doctrine is anything but "peace-loving," as it constantly calls for the slaying of "idolaters" and "infidels" e. In Islam, this god is interpreted through the minds of Muslims as being an Arab or Persian man, as opposed to the Jewish man of the Judeo-Christian ideology.

    Like their Jewish brothers and sisters, the Semitic Arabs trace their lineage to the biblical patriarch Abraham, who is depicted in the Bible as having mated with Hagar the Egyptian, producing the progenitor of the Arab race, Ishmael. While the Jewish contingent interprets this tale to justify its own ethnocentric ideology, Muslims interpret it to fit theirs, claiming that "God" would make of Ishmael's people a "great nation" Gen The Fictional Patriarch Like numerous biblical characters, Abraham is evidently a mythological construct, not a "real person.

    But Islamic legends say Abraham was a late intruder into the shrine of the Kaaba. He bought it from priestesses of its original Goddess. Sarah, 'the Queen' was one of the Goddess's titles, which became a name of Abraham's biblical 'wife.

    Jehovah first appeared to Abraham at the sacred oak of Shechem, where Abraham built his altar. Later Abraham build an altar to the oak god of Mamre at Hebron.

    Even in the 4th century A. As concerns the god of Islam, Allah, Walker 22 has this to say: It has been shown that 'the Allah of Islam' was a male transformation of 'the primitive lunar deity of Arabia.

    When Mohammed overthrew the old religion of Arabia, he did not dare get rid of the moon cult in a radical manner. Only much later was he powerful enough to forbid prostration before the moon Koran Sure 4: Before Islamic times the moon deity was the most prominent object of cults in ancient Arabia. Arab women still insist that the moon is the parent of mankind.

    Rawlinson traces the name Chaldeans back to the designation of the ancient capital Ur Chur to be translated as moon-worshipers. The Semitic moon-god was 'the special deity and protector of women. She also has the title Queen of Heaven, which really means the Queen of the Stars. She was horned and was, as all lunar goddesses, represented by a heavenly cow. The cult of their god was associated with Mount Sinai—the mountain of the moon.

    The experts assume that the name Sinai derived from Sin, the name of the Babylonian moon-god. This suggests that it has long been sacred. Traces of ancient moon-worship were energetically removed from the text by later editors.

    A few remained, however, and can be recognized in the prohibitions of Deuteronomy. The Sarazens gave her the epithet of Cabar or the Great; her Crescent adorns to this day the religious monuments of the Turks.

    Her elevation under the sign of the Bull, constituted one of the principal feasts of the Saracens and the sabean Arabs. Each Arab tribe was under the invocation of a constellation Each one worshipped one of the celestial bodies as its tutelar genius.

    The black stone which the Musulmans kiss with so much devotion to this day, is, as it is pretended, an ancient statue of Saturnus. The walls of the great mosque of Kufah, built on the foundation of an ancient Pyrea or temple of the fire, are filled with figures of planets artistically engraved. The ancient worship of the Arabs was the Sabismus, a religion universally spread all over the Orient. Heaven and the Stars were the first objects thereof. There is still to be seen at Hella, over the ruins of the ancient Babylon, a mosque called Mesched Eschams, or the mosque of the Sun.

    It was in this city, that the ancient temple of Bel, or the Sun, the great Divinity of the Babylonians, existed; it is the same God, to whom the Persians erected temples and consecrated images under the name of Mithras. Regarding the Kaaba of Mecca, that holiest of Muslim holies, Walker writes: The stone bore the emblem of the yonilike the Black Stone worshipped by votaries of Artemis.

    Now it is regarded as the holy center of patriarchal Islam, and its feminine symbolism has been lost, though priests of the Kaaba are still known as Sons of the Old Woman. Dawood 1says: At the Ka'bah the Meccans worshipped not only Allah, the supreme Semitic God, but also a number of female deities whom they regarded as daughters of Allah. His parents' marriage was matrilocal. His mother remained with her own family and received her husband as an occasional visitor Marriages were matrilocal, inheritance matrilineal.

    Polyandry—several husbands to one wife—was common. Men lived in their wives' homes. Divorce was initiated by the wife. If she turned her tent to face east for three nights in a row, the husband was dismissed and forbidden to enter the tent again.

    A Moslem husband could dismiss his wife by saying 'I divorce thee' three times. As in Europe, the change from matriarchate to patriarchate came about only gradually and with much strife. However, the history of early-medieval Arabia is nearly all legend. Like Buddha, Confucius, Jesus and other founders of patriarchal religions, Mohammed lacks real verification. There is no reliable information about his life or teachings.

    Most stories about him are as apocryphal as the story that his coffin hangs forever in mid-air 'between heaven and earth,' like the bodies of ancient sacred kings. Islamic mosques still bear signs reading: Like the virgin Mary, Arabia's Queen of Heaven received a mortal form and a subordinate position as Fatima, Mohammed's 'daughter.

    She was known as Mother of her Father, and Source of the Sun Moslems don't believe this. But many don't know the Koran was an enlarged revised version of the ancient Word of the Goddess Kore, revered by Mohammed's tribe, the Koreshites Children of Korewho guarded her shrine at Mecca. It was said they took the scripture from a prototype that existed in heaven from the beginning of eternity, 'Mother of the Book'—i.

    Sometimes the celestial Koran was called the Preserved Tablet. There was some resemblance between this and other legendary books of divine origin, such as the Ur-text, the Book of Thoth, and the Emerald Tablet of Hermes.

    He called himself 'the illiterate prophet. Regarding the unoriginality of the Koran, Islam expert Dr. Many of them may even be a hundred years older than Islam itself. Even within Islamic traditions there is a huge body of contradictory information, including a significant Christian substrate The Yemeni Koran Adding significantly to this important scholarship was the discovery in at Sana'a, Yemen, of thousands of parchment fragments from the Koran, consisting of possibly the oldest extant quranic manuscript ever found, dating to the 7th-8th centuries.

    Regarding these fragments, the professor who photographed them, Dr.

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    They like to quote the textual work that shows the Bible has a history and did not fall straight out of the sky, but until now the Koran has been out of this discussion. The only way to break through this wall is to prove that the Koran has a history too. Such aberrations, though not surprising to textual historians, are troublingly at odds with the orthodox Muslim belief that the Koran as it has reached us today is quite simply the perfect, timeless, and unchanging Word of God What the Yemeni Korans seems to suggest, Puin began to feel, was an evolving text rather than simply the Word of God as revealed in its entirety to the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century A.

    Andrew Rippin, a professor of Islamic Studies: Their variant readings and verse orders are all very significant. Everybody agrees on that. These manuscripts say that the early history of the Koranic texts is much more of an open question than many have suspected: Stephen Humphreys summarizes the importance of the study of how the Koran was created and the Yemeni hoard in this quest: The Koran is the charter for the community, the document that called it into existence.

    And ideally though obviously not always in reality Islamic history has been the effort to pursue and work out the commandments of the Koran in human life. If the Koran is a historical document, then the whole Islamic struggle of fourteen centuries is effectively meaningless. Like that of Buddha, Jesus, Moses, et al. His "history" is full of fantastic legends, but even if we were to find a "historical person" there, it would not be one of very high or affable character.

    For recreation he delighted in cobbling shoes. Perhaps his greatest joy was when he beheld the severed heads of his enemies. He detested silk-lined clothes, interest charges, dogs, others' lies, Jews and Christians. He hated poets, and said, 'Every painter will be in hell. A clever woman poet satirized him. She was slain when asleep with her child at her breast, and the vengeful Muhammad praised her murderer.

    Once he tortured a Jew to find the location of hidden treasure and then had him killed and added the widow to his harem. Strange indeed was the character of the prophet. How could such a person inspire such reverence and devotion? It is one of the puzzles of history. Various Islamic authorities have also claimed that Mohammed began "thighing" 'Aisha when he married her at the age of six.

    As to how such a character could inspire such reverence and devotion, we would submit that it was because Mohammed and Islam were created by yet another faction of "the brotherhood" for purposes of competition with JudaismChristianityZoroastrianism and other religions. As Gerald Berry says, in Religions of the World
    For a critical Christian response to these claims, see: The ancient polytheistic religions of Egypt, Persia, Babylonia and eventually Rome increasingly consolidated their pantheons of deities under a single primary god, usually a Sun-god.

    Humans could choose between good light or evil darkness and on judgment day be sent to Heaven or Hell based on their choices. Mithras was identified as the redeemer prophesied by Zoroaster: As an adult, Mithras healed the sick, made the lame walk, gave sight to the blind and raised the dead. Before returning to heaven at the Spring Equinox Mithras had a last supper with 12 disciples representing the 12 signs of the Zodiac. This militaristic black-and-white morality including a final judgment affecting an afterlife of heaven or hell probably accounted for the popularity of Mithraism among Roman soldiers.

    Mithraism was like an ancient fraternity: Commodus became the first Roman emperor to be initiated into Mithraism. The attempts by Diocletian to impose the state religion on everyone led to the last and most terrible of all persecutions. But many people saw the Roman State as a greater enemy than the Christians, who were respected for their willingness to die for their beliefs. Despite the intense persecutions of Christians in the Roman Empire, Christianity continued to win many converts from paganism.

    Many of the former pagans were unwilling to relinquish their traditional winter solstice celebrations. Constantine sought to unify Sun-worship and Christianity into a single monotheistic state religion.

    Although Constantine was baptized on his deathbed, this was not an indication of his insincerity — it was a common practice of early Christians to delay baptism so as to die without sin. Although the Bible sanctifies Saturday as the Sabbath, many Christians regarded Sunday the day of the resurrection of Christ as the new holy day — especially because this distanced Christianity from Judaism.

    Constantine made Sunday rather than Saturday Saturn's Day the weekly holiday of the state religion of Sun-worship. Christian art began to adopt the pagan practice of depicting holy figures with crowns of sun rays the crown of Mithras or Sol invictusor with a halo. The Statue of Liberty wears a crown of sun rays. Constantine regarded himself to be the supreme spiritual leader of both the Sun-cults and of Christianity.

    Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to Constantinople, a city he immodestly renamed after himself. Constantine called himself "first of the apostles" and he did not recognize the papacy of the bishop of Rome. Constantine called the first Council of Nicea Nicaea to resolve controversy and establish Christian orthodoxy. The Council of Nicea was the first ecumenical conference of Christian bishops, the nucleus of the institution which was to become the hierarchical Roman Catholic Church, dominated by celibate male priests.

    Celibate priests had not been part of the teachings of Jesus — many of his apostles, including Peter, were married. The Council sanctioned the efforts of IrenaeusEusebius and others who were establishing certain scriptures as the infallible canon of the New Testamentwhile declaring other scriptures to be heresy — notably Gnostic Gospels such as the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Thomaswhich support the idea that Mary Magdalene was an apostle and that salvation is possible without a church.

    With orthodox Christianity incorporated into the monolithic state religion, Christian "heretics" were heavily persecuted. The Church was pushed by political forces and pulled by the desire to co-opt a popular pagan holiday, despite a lack of evidence that Christ was born in December. Constantine built the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, one of the oldest continually operating churches in the world currently administered by a coalition of Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox clerics.

    Gnostics believed that spiritual is more important than physical, that the knowledge Christ brought to the world is far more important than his physical birth or crucifixion and that direct personal experience of God is of greater importance than churches or other institutions. The rebirth of the Greek god Dionysus had been celebrated on January 6th.

    Epiphany for Western churches means the visit of the Magi, whereas for the Eastern churches Epiphany is the anniversary of Christ's baptism. At age 30 he became the bishop of Myra now the city of Demre on the south coast of Turkey near the beginning of the fourth century.

    Soon after his appointment, the government of the Eastern Roman Empire jailed all Christian bishops who did not publicly sacrifice to the gods of Rome. Nicholas remained in prison for nearly ten years until Constantine conquered the East — ending the persecution of Christians. So many Christians had defected that the sacrament of confession was created, so that the "traitors" could cleanse their souls before re-entering the Christian Church.

    Nicholas was a vigorous opponent of Arianism, the belief of the Alexandrian bishop Arius that Christ was created by God and therefore independent of God and inferior to God — a form of polytheism intended to explain how Christ could be both human and divine.

    Nicholas reputedly not only attended Nicea, but physically accosted Arius there. The Nicene Creed supported the unity of God, Christ and the Holy Ghost as a single Being with God and Christ equally divine, but of the same divine substancethereby affirming the monotheism of Christianity. Constantine exiled Arius and ordered his books to be burned. Physicist Isaac Newton was probably secretly an Arianwith Newton regarding the worship of Jesus Christ as God to be sinful idolatry.

    Saint Nicholas became the subject of many legends. A sailor who fell overboard was reputedly saved by Nicholas when the saint walked on water, retrieved the sailor and carried him back to the ship.

    Nicholas took pity on a poverty-stricken family with 3 daughters who faced the threat of being forced into prostitution because they had no wedding dowries. For two daughters he crept-up to their house at night and threw bags of gold through a bedroom window.

    For the last daughter, he threw a bag of gold down the chimney — which landed in a stocking she had set by the fireplace for drying. The bones of Saint Nicholas lay in his tomb in Myra until The Basilica di San Nicola was completed in the middle of the 12th century where the crypt was located. The legend of Nicholas made him so popular that more European churches bore his name than that of any of the apostles. He was made patron saint of Greece and Russia.

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    The 3-ball symbol of pawnshops represents the three bags of gold he threw as dowries. On February 14, the Pope removed Nicholas from the calendar of saints — there are no records of Nicholas ever having been canonized. The Eastern Orthodox Church continues to recognize the sainthood of Nicholas. The fact that the date coincided with the completion of farm-work, the slaughtering of animals for the winter and a period of idleness, abundant food and celebration may actually be the real reason why it was celebrated with such enthusiasm.

    But the feast of Saint Nicholas was abolished in many European countries as part of Martin Luther's effort to stop the veneration of saints. Amsterdam has historically been a great seaport, and Saint Nicholas Sinterklaas as the protector of sailors has been its patron saint.

    In Germany the assistant of St. Nicholas was Knecht Ruprecht, a "wild man" who was condemned as a manifestation of the devil by the Catholic Church. In Washington Irving, a member of the New York Historical Society which promoted a Dutch Saint Nicholas as its patron saintcreated a tale of a chubby, pipe-smoking little Saint Nicholas who road a magic horse through the air visiting all houses in New York.

    The elfish figure was small enough to climb down chimneys with gifts for the good children and switches for the bad ones.

    Moore may have been inspired by the Finnish legend of Old Man Winter, who drove reindeer down from the mountain, bringing the snow. Following Irving's example, Moore's St. Nick was more an elf than a bishop. Unlike the earlier St. Nicks, this one brought no birch switches, only presents. And it was Moore who established that St. Nick brings presents on the night before Christmas rather than on Saint Nicholas Day or any other time. Nast transformed Santa into a full-sized human who somehow retained the ability to climb through chimneys, but who had a team of elf assistants.

    By Nast had drawn Santa as a large man with a white beard in a red suit trimmed with white fur. Thirty-five years of annual advertising by the Coca-Cola company using Sundblom's Santa solidified the contemporary image of Santa Claus but without the Coke. The first department store Santa Claus was at J. Parkinson's store in Philadelphia in Kriss Kringle dramatically came down a chimney for the children and Parkinson's became "Kriss Kringle Headquarters".

    The second department store to feature a Santa was in Massachusetts in By dozens of American department stores had Santas. In the s Gimbel's department store in Philadelphia, Macy's in New York, Hudson's in Detroit and many other department stores sponsored Thanksgiving parades that featured Santa Claus.

    As a compromise, a act of Congress established Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday in November. The story was patterned after The Ugly Duckling, turning a genetically defective glowing nose into a foggy-night navigation asset. Originally distributed to children as an illustrated story, a decade later it became the theme of a song which was sung by Gene Autry, the "Singing Cowboy".

    Katherine Lee Bates who wrote the song " America the Beautiful " is credited with the invention of Mrs. Santa Claus in a poem written in Since that time Mrs. Claus has often been depicted as a cheerful portly woman who spends her time at the north pole preparing Christmas foods.

    In England, as elsewhere, many churches had been dedicated to Saint Nicholas, but with the elimination of Catholicism "Father Christmas" reverted to associations with a green-clad elfish figure associated with pagan mid-winter festivals. Father Christmas did not distribute gifts and he was often the master of ceremonies for mummer's plays.

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    Francis Church, one of the Sun's editorial writers wrote a "Yes, Virginia" reply which has become a classic example for adults fostering children's belief in Santa Claus. As children begin to question how Santa can visit every house, how a large man can fit in a chimney, how Santa can be in so many shopping malls at the same time, etc — many parents resort to increasingly strained explanations to maintain the fiction.

    The uncritical belief of children can be touchingly cute. The temptation to build a poetic fantasy-world in formative minds — removed from the harsh realities of life — can be great. Potential damage can result from erosion of trust when parents seriously try to convince their children that Santa Claus is a fact rather than a fairy tale. But if a parent can experience sentimental enchantment and love attached to the "game" of Santa Claus it would be hard to find much intention to deceive when no effort is made to mislead a child who begins to question.

    Some Christians can become uncomfortable with the God-like qualities of Santa Claus. He is all-knowing, has magical powers and distributes reward or punishment but nearly always reward, irrespective of how good or bad the child has been.

    For parents to lie to children to encourage them to believe in a false god in a red suit is viewed as a blasphemous substitute for recognition of the true God. Men interested in playing Santa Claus at Christmas-time are coming under increasing scrutiny. In some cases Santa is prohibited from being in the company of a child without a third adult apart from the parent being present. Santa must not make promises to a child. Santa must keep both hands in plain view at all times. And Santa must not straddle a child on the knee — or perhaps not touch a child at all.

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