Saturday, February 17, 2007

Presidents Day Quiz

Since Monday is Presidents Day (please note that there is no apostrophe anywhere in the holiday’s name), here’s a little quiz on prezzes and their ideas about religion. You can find the answers by looking at the first comment to this post.

1. Who said:

I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe.

A. Grover Cleveland

B. Franklin Pierce

C. William Howard Taft

D. Rutherford B. Hayes

2. Which two presidents are quoted here?

[O]f course like every other man of intelligence and education I do believe in organic evolution. It surprises me that at this late date such questions should be raised.

Well, it’s a theory, it is a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science and is not yet believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was believed. But if it was going to be taught in the schools, then I think that also the biblical theory of creation, which is not a theory, but the biblical story of creation, should also be taught.

A. Franklin D. Roosevelt and George W. Bush

B. Woodrow Wilson and Ronald Reagan

C. John F. Kennedy and George H. W. Bush

D. Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter

3. George W. Bush said:

I, in the state of Texas, had heard a lot of discussion about a faith-based initiative eroding the important bridge between church and state.

Two of our previous leaders, however, knew the difference between a bridge and a wall. Which presidents said:

Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church and the private school supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate.

Whatever one's religion in his private life may be, for the officeholder, nothing takes precedence over his oath to uphold the Constitution and all its parts -- including the First Amendment and the strict separation of church and state.

A. Ulysses S. Grant and John F. Kennedy

B. William McKinley and Bill Clinton

C. Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt

D. James Garfield and Calvin Coolidge

4. Which presidents could have had the following debate?

We should live our lives as though Christ were coming this afternoon.

The Christian god is a three-headed monster; cruel, vengeful, and capricious ... One only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites.

A. George W. Bush and James Madison

B. Jimmy Carter and Thomas Jefferson

C. George H. W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln

D. Ronald Reagan and John Adams

5. Who said:

I have seldom met an intelligent person whose views were not narrowed and distorted by religion.

A. James Buchanan

B. Franklin Pierce

C. Herbert Hoover

D. Martin Van Buren

6. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and The American Crisis were arguably the most important writings of the Revolutionary War period. Yet, two presidents disagreed about his heritage. Which presidents said:

[He] needs no monument made with hands; he has erected a monument in the hearts of all lovers of liberty.

... that filthy little atheist

A. Thomas Jefferson and Richard Nixon

B. James Monroe and Ronald Reagan

C. James Madison and Harry Truman

D. Andrew Jackson and Theodore Roosevelt

7. What president said the following, and what was the occasion?

In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future.

A. George W. Bush on the funding of faith-based initiatives

B. Abraham Lincoln on the words “In God We Trust” being engraved on coins

C. James K. Polk on the spread of Protestantism as a result of our “manifest destiny”

D. Dwight D. Eisenhower on “Under God” being added to the Pledge of Allegiance

8. Who said:

I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God.

A. George W. Bush

B. Franklin D. Roosevelt

C. George H. W. Bush

D. Theodore Roosevelt

9. Which president wrote:

My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures have become clearer and stronger with advancing years, and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.

A. Abraham Lincoln

B. George Washington

C. Thomas Jefferson

D. Ulysses S. Grant

10. Which president's attitude about religion is expressed by:

Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect.

A. John Quincy Adams

B. James Monroe

C. Warren G. Harding

D. James Madison

For these and many other great quotes, I highly recommend that you read 2000 Years of Disbelief by James A. Haught and The Quotable Atheist by Jack Huberman — or simply visit Positive Atheism.


The Exterminator said...


1.C, 2.B, 3.A, 4.B, 5.A, 6.D, 7.D, 8.C, 9.A, 10.D

Anonymous said...

This is great fun -- I was guessing all the way through, but I enjoyed playing along!


Anonymous said...

I think the most interesting quote you've posted here comes from the mouth of JFK. We often hear today of people pandering to the press views that are in direct opposition to the ones they hold most dear. JFK being the only Catholic president, and during a time when people wondered whether a Catholic would be ruled by the pope, he must've felt a keen need to appease the views of those whose votes and support he needed.

As for the quote directly preceding Kennedy's, I think a polite reminder that one cannot have culture without "cult" is necessary.

And, as for Jefferson's quote, I can see why you picked it. It coincides quite well with your narrow view of religious persons. God forbid there be some good people within that lot, right?

The Exterminator said...


I'd like to think that Kennedy's quote was not mere appeasement, but a genuine statement of his beliefs.

Your reminder about the similar sounds of cult" and "culture" is simplistic and not really apt. Both English words come, ultimately, from the Latin colere, which had many meanings, among them "to inhabit," "to till," and "to worship." The word "cult" reflects the "worship" usage; the word "culture," on the other hand, refers to the "tilling." Think of "cultivation."

If you were merely playing word games, you might just as well have said that there's no "god" without "od," no "messiah" without a "mess," and no "Christianity" without "a nit" to pick. I think slogans like these -- and yours -- are fun for people to say, but add nothing to a dialogue.

Obviously I selected the Jefferson quote because it appealed to me. If you can find a quote from him that speaks to the general intellectual brilliance and sincere truthfulness of Christians, please do post it in the comments here.

Anonymous said...

"I'd like to think that Kennedy's quote was not mere appeasement, but a genuine statement of his beliefs."

You'd like to think? You mean you assume? I thought it was part of the atheist credo that no belief should be held without evidence?

No need for a philology lesson, Ex, but honestly, you don't think that the fact that the two words came from the same root has any significance? None? Not even a little? I mean, c'mon man, you know there are plenty of religious traditions that use the cycle of the crops as something intrinsic and meaningful to their salvation narratives. The parrallels between worship and tillage are quite obvious. Of course, my comment was mere wordplay, but to say there's nothing behind it? I strongly disagree.

As for finding a Jefferson quote to compliment Christians, I can't. He was obviously as close minded as you appear to be (at least on your blog) to some of our better qualities. I don't pay that much mind though.

But can I find other founding fathers who were both Christian, intellectual, and helpful to America's cause? Of course. After all, Charles Carroll was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, if I remember correctly.

Anonymous said...

Well, 2 out of 10 isn't all that good. And yes, that's an overly optimistic assessment. I too was guessing all the way. It was a real education to find out that Andrew Jackson (one of my least favorite presidents) admired Paine enough to stand up for him. Of course, there weren't religious fanatics hounding him about Paine's lack of faith. No doubt if "Old Hickory" had been approached by a group of early Falwells he'd probably have folded like a house of cards. But then those were some of the same people who were so quick to brand him for being a "whore monger" over the deal with his wife. So maybe he'd have evidenced a little backbone on the subject under those circumstances.
Taft was a surprise to me too. But then he was president when a wave of holy rollerism was sweeping the country. So maybe he too had seen enough scoundrels to know them when he saw them.
Teddy Roosevelt has always been an enigma to me. On the one hand he went after the trusts and the robber barons and is really the father of the country's state sponsored environmentalism, such as it is. But he was also such a raving ego maniac and imperialist.
So even though I did poorly I learned a lot. Thanks for the history lesson.