Saturday, February 16, 2008

Second Annual Presidents Day Quiz

Last year for Presidents Day (please note once again that there is no apostrophe anywhere in the holiday’s name), I presented a little multiple-choice quiz on our presidents and their ideas about religion.

This year, given the theocratic claptrap being spouted by all candidates of both parties, such a quiz is even more desperately needed. You can find the answers by looking at the first comment to this post.


1. Who said:

I am tolerant of all creeds. Yet if any sect suffered itself to be used for political objects I would meet it by political opposition. In my view church and state should be separate, not only in form, but fact. Religion and politics should not be mingled.
A. John Quincy Adams

B. Millard Fillmore

C. Franklin Pierce

D. Martin Van Buren


2. Which two presidents might have had this debate about morality:

The truth is, politics and morality are inseparable. And as morality's foundation is religion, religion and politics are necessarily related. We need religion as a guide. We need it because we are imperfect.

Twenty times in the course of my late reading, I have been upon the point of breaking out: This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!

A. George H. W. Bush and James Madison

B. Herbert Hoover and Thomas Jefferson

C. Ronald Reagan and John Adams

D. Lyndon B. Johnson and Abraham Lincoln


3. Which little-known president is responsible for the following amazing quote?

The United States has adventured upon a great and noble experiment, which is believed to have been hazarded in the absence of all previous precedent — that of total separation of Church and State. No religious establishment by law exists among us. The conscience is left free from all restraint and each is permitted to worship his Maker after his own judgment. The offices of the Government are open alike to all. No tithes are levied to support an established Hierarchy, nor is the fallible judgment of man set up as the sure and infallible creed of faith. The Mohammedan, if he will to come among us would have the privilege guaranteed to him by the Constitution to worship according to the Koran; and the East Indian might erect a shrine to Brahma if it so pleased him. Such is the spirit of toleration inculcated by our political institutions… The Hebrew persecuted and down trodden in other regions takes up his abode among us with none to make him afraid… and the Aegis of the government is over him to defend and protect him. Such is the great experiment which we have tried, and such are the happy fruits which have resulted from it; our system of free government would be imperfect without it.
A. John Tyler

B. Chester Alan Arthur

C. James K. Polk

D. Benjamin Harrison


4. Which two presidents of two different parties could have agreed on these ideas?

No matter what other personal desires or crises we have faced, I've never forgotten that this is the time to celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus, and the impact of this event on the history of the world.

It is only when men begin to worship that they begin to grow.

A. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton

B. Warren G. Harding and Woodrow Wilson

C. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover

D. Jimmy Carter and Calvin Coolidge


5. Who said:

Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither justice nor freedom can be permanently maintained. Its interests are intrusted to the States and the voluntary action of the people. Whatever help the nation can justly afford should be generously given to aid the States in supporting common schools; but it would be unjust to our people and dangerous to our institutions to apply any portion of the revenues of the nation or of the States to the support of sectarian schools. The separation of Church and State in everything relating to taxation should be absolute.
A. Andrew Johnson

B. Rutherford B. Hayes

C. William McKinley

D. James A. Garfield


6. Which two presidents could have had this discussion about education?

I believe God did create the world. And I think we're finding out more and more and more as to how it actually happened.

There is no need to teach that stars can fall out of the sky and land on a flat Earth in order to defend our religious faith.

A. Richard Nixon and Lyndon B. Johnson

B. John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman

C. George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter

D. Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan


7. Which two presidents had the following different ideas about religious sensitivity?

The Jews, I find are very, very selfish. They care not how many Estonians, Latvians, Finns, Poles, Yugoslavs or Greeks get murdered or mistreated as D[isplaced] P[ersons] as long as the Jews get special treatment. Yet when they have power, physical, financial, or political, neither Hitler nor Stalin has anything on them for cruelty or mistreatment to the underdog.

If they are good workmen, they may be of Asia, Africa, or Europe. They may be Mohometans, Jews or Christians of any Sect, or they may be Atheists.

A. Harry Truman and George Washington

B. Franklin D. Roosevelt and James Monroe

C. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Grover Cleveland

D. Richard M. Nixon and Theodore Roosevelt


8. These two presidents would be horrified at all the faith talk in this year’s political arena. Who are they?

Voters ... make up their minds for many diverse reasons, good and bad. To submit the candidates to a religious test is unfair enough — to apply it to the voters is divisive, degrading and wholly unwarranted.

If there is one thing for which we stand in this country, it is for complete religious freedom, and it is an emphatic negation of this right to cross-examine a man on his religion before being willing to support him for office.

A. William Howard Taft and William McKinley

B. John F. Kennedy and Theodore Roosevelt

C. Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman

D. Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln


9. The country lucked out when neither of these two religious nuts were elected. What two losing candidates said:

If we have to give up either religion or education, we should give up education.

I believe that the purpose of life is to glorify God.

A. Charles Evans Hughes and Alfred E. Smith

B. Alf Landon and Barry Goldwater

C. William Jennings Bryan and Al Gore

D. Bob Dole and George McGovern


10. Who said:

We have the most religious freedom of any country in the world, including the freedom not to believe.

A. Richard M. Nixon

B. Lyndon B. Johnson

C. George W. Bush

D. Bill Clinton


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.

35 comments:

The Exterminator said...

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

PhillyChief said...

Well I did terribly.

Nevermind if any of the candidates fully comprehend the separation of church and state and that there's no religious test for office, let's see how many actually know who some of these guys who once held the job they seek are.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

I got one right, and I'm kind of proud of that. Those quotes are not, for the most part common knowledge. I was surprised by #7 at first, but I read McCullough's "Truman" (loved it) and he was a very tight-assed protestant from the Midwest; just the type of upbringing that would lead to that opinion.

I do see a pattern here, though. Generally, the farther we get from the creation of our country and the enactment of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, the more we tend to lose the immediacy of the rationale for the concept of separation of church and state. This was a BIG deal back then, but isn't seen as much of one now. Our early leaders knew what it was like to live under religious oppression. They knew what it was like to have a government that was also the head of the church; in effect a theocracy. We have no personal experience with that, nor do our living ancestors, so it's so much easier for theocrats to spout their nonsense and sound reeasonable.

PhillyChief said...

If only someone had once warned what would happen to those who ignore history...

The Ridger, FCD said...

I got a couple right (Washington and Adams and TR), but I have to disagree with you that we "lucked out" when Al Gore lost.

The Ridger, FCD said...

Damn. I meant to add that Inquistor is right. Like much else (anti-vaxers, for instance), the further away we get from the terrible truths of yesterday, the more likely we are to forget them. Masses of chidren dying are a thing of the past now, so people act like children have always grown up healthy. And real religious persecution? Ditto.

John Evo said...

I got 4 right, but admit I really had no idea. I was just trying to make educated guesses (I DID have somewhat of a strategy).

Yes, Ex... we ARE "so lucky" that the religious nut Al Gore didn't get elected.

Imagine what the world MIGHT have been like had we elected a guy who says "The purpose of life is to glorify god" and by that he means that glorifying god is to live in harmony with nature and fellow man. Crap. Scary.

The Exterminator said...

Philly:
Well I did terribly.
Yeah, I would have done terribly, too. There were a few quotes that I would have recognized, but probably only because I actually read strings of quotations for "enjoyment" every once in a while.

If only someone had once warned what would happen to those who ignore history...

When I looked up that exact quote, I was quite surprised to discover that I've always misstated it. Here's the original Santayana version: Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

SI:
I do see a pattern here, though. Generally, the farther we get from the creation of our country and the enactment of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, the more we tend to lose the immediacy of the rationale for the concept of separation of church and state.
Yes, I see that pattern, too. It's a sad statement about how our ignorant masses -- and the people who strive to lead them -- pay little attention to history. That's why it's easy for theocratic scoundrels to pass off the bullshit that America was founded as a Christian nation.

Ridger:
I have to disagree with you that we "lucked out" when Al Gore.
Well, I'm not claiming that the alternative was better. But at least the current preacher-in-chief is not an example of a god-pushing Democrat. And please stick around for the following response to ...

Evo:
Imagine what the world MIGHT have been like had we elected a guy who says "The purpose of life is to glorify god" and by that he means that glorifying god is to live in harmony with nature and fellow man.
Well, it's a good thing that Al Gore has clairvoyant people like you to translate what he has said for people like me who can't read plain English.

Maybe you'd like to translate these Al Gore quotes:

Those who are quick to feel disrespected often have a spiritual vacuum in their lives, because they feel disconnected to the love of their Father in Heaven.

I strongly believe in the separation of church and state. But freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion; there is a better way.

Everything in the Bible makes sense to me. I interpret it my own way, and that's what my tradition teaches me to do. There are poetic passages that speak eloquently to me with meanings that transcend the literal words. In Genesis, for example, God creates this, that and the other in one day, two days, and that represents an order in creation that's perfectly evident to my heart.

I'm asking you in your sermons to do the work of the Lord here on earth. I ask for your help in getting that message out urgently tomorrow.

Now, I'm gonna translate that last one for you before you mistakenly link it to some statement about environmental concerns. Here's how Positive Atheism attributes that quote:
Al Gore, in a conference call with African-American ministers October 14, 2000, during which he discussed the need for their support in his campaign, quoted from The New York Times, October 15. The Times further remarked, "With the presidential election in a dead heat, Vice President Al Gore sought to mobilize his campaign's 'get out the vote' drive today by imploring black preachers to push for his election from their pulpits." Americans United director Barry Lynn reminded Gore that "federal tax law prohibits churches and other non-profit organizations from endorsing or oppos[ing] candidates for political office"; thus, Gore was asking the pastors to violate federal tax law.

Have you got some positive way to spin that one, Evo & Ridger? Not only was the guy pushing religion where it didn't belong, but he was blatantly violating federal law in doing so.

The Exterminator said...

I want to add one more question for Ridger and Evo.

If I had given you those Al Gore quotes, but told you they came from George Bush or John McCain or Mike Huckabee ... wouldn't you have been pissed off? Wouldn't you have had something nasty to say about them?

PhillyChief said...

1. Al Gore was clearly wrong
2. What an fine art it is to be able to hear a candidate like Gore's words and then Huckleberry's and see that one could be relatively harmless and the other would wipe his ass with the Constitution.

PhillyChief said...

Doh! Get out of my mind you infernal owl!

John Evo said...

If I had given you those Al Gore quotes, but told you they came from George Bush or John McCain or Mike Huckabee ... wouldn't you have been pissed off? Wouldn't you have had something nasty to say about them?

No. But I wouldn't have defended them (especially Huckabee) because I know the fuller context of how he thinks.

I don't get as upset about religious throw-away lines as you do. They grate a bit. But I don't always see them as a threat.

John Evo said...

@ Philly - you're right about Gore being wrong. But it does not take my fine artistry to recognize the difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush. We'd live in a significantly different world today by change of a single vote.

Only in the worlds of those obsessed with the evils of any and all religion could an equivalency be drawn between those two men.

Psychodiva said...

Not being from the USA I have absolutely no idea about any of the questions- but it made for interesting reading- I'd be interested to see the answers :)

John Evo said...

psychodiva - the answers are in Comment #1.

Psychodiva said...

DOH! *slaps forehead!* I'll go look :)

the chaplain said...

I only got a couple of right answers, but those were because I was familiar with one quote in a pair and could eliminate other choices.

I knew Gore was religious, but I didn't realize how much. Given his track record, though, I think he's committed to separation of church and state, secularism, etc., in ways that Dumbya, Huckleberry and others are not. Therefore, I'm more willing to cut him more slack than others. The things people say have to be taken within their contexts, which include the histories of the speakers.

This is a thought-provoking, educational post. Thanks for taking the time to research it and put it together.

The Ridger, FCD said...

I didn't say Gore was the best choice. What I said was that we didn't get lucky when we got the guy who was running against him.

Ordinary Girl said...

I got 3 correct (3, 5, and 6) just through who I thought might likely say it. But I got too many wrong to say I know much about our presidents.

Thanks for the quiz, Ex. It was educational.

Lynet said...

See, I had a funny feeling that would be the answer to 9 just from what I know about you, Ext. Same goes for 7 (I have to cheer when I read statements inclusive of atheists from pre-Darwinian times when atheists were incredibly rare. It says a lot about the speaker).

The Exterminator said...

Psycho:
I assume you found the answers OK. Now, since I know you live across the pond, I want to avoid any confusion about our presidents. So I'll tell you that the first letter of the first name of our twelfth president is known where you live as "zed." But it's almost always called "zee" here.

Question for Everyone:
Without looking it up, what's that president's full name? Honorable mention for the first person to write it -- correctly spelled of course -- here in the comments.

chappy:
The things people say have to be taken within their contexts, which include the histories of the speakers.

I agree. That's why I'll remind you that Al Gore studied the important non-subject, Theology, at the Divinity School of Vanderbilt University from 1971-1972. He earned no degree.

I don't know specifically where Mike Huckabee studied Theology and earned no degree.

Ridger
What I said was that we didn't get lucky when we got the guy who was running against him.

Actually, you didn't say that. But it doesn't matter, because I never claimed that. I merely claimed that we got lucky when religious wackjob Gore didn't become president. We might have been even more lucky if religious wackjob Bush hadn't become president. That's why we badly need viable third parties in this country, so we don't have to depend on luck.

Lynet:
I think it's fair for you to intuit a correct answer just by relying on what you know about the way the questioner's mind works. It's nice for me to be able to think there's someone who actually gets what I say.

And, I agree with you about the second quote in number 7. It's very impressive to run across a true product of the Enlightenment, a man who could embrace atheists along with other exotics.

Ordinary Girl said...

Zachary Taylor?

I had to memorize them as a child, but I don't know if I'm forgetting some odd spelling. Plus it's the only zee name I can think of for a president.

The Exterminator said...

Honorable Mention for OG.

You'll be pleased to know, OG, that I had in my mind four people I thought might possibly be first. I won't name the other three, but you were one of the quartet.

By the way all four of those potential mentionees were women.

John Evo said...

By the way all four of those potential mentionees were women.

Then you would have been at least partially wrong.

Ordinary Girl said...

But Evo, I thought you were one of the girls.

Ex, my favorite history teacher only gave essay exams with occasional fill-in-the blank. He said he wasn't too concerned with us memorizing dates that we could look up, as long as we knew them in general. But he damn well wasn't going to be giving good grades to students who couldn't write intelligently about the topic.

I actually admitted on one of my papers that I hasn't finished reading the source book because I knew he'd know. And he gave me a slightly higher (though not great) grade because of it. Now in high school I could BS a discussion never having read the book.

PhillyChief said...

I didn't know we were supposed to report our scores. I had 4 right but they were guesses. I figured the last one had to be Clinton, #9 was a guess because of Bryan, #6 I chose because W is an idiot and not because I knew about Carter, and #2 was a complete guess.

You start quote mining Tyler, Polk, Harrison or even recent obscurities like Coolidge or Hoover and I have no idea what they said.

PhillyChief said...

I had a phenomenal AP US History teacher and aced the AP exam, but come on! Tyler? Fuck me. Plus, they tend to avoid teaching stances of religion of past political figures in school.

The Exterminator said...

Evo:
Then you would have been at least partially wrong.

I think you misunderstood what I said. So I'll repeat it in a more articulate way. The honorable mention was offered to the first person who correctly spelled Zachary Taylor. I'm not saying that there aren't dozens of my readers who could have identified and spelled his name. But I was looking for the first. Yes, there was a chance that you, out there in California, might have noticed my comment before retiring for the night, but I mentally "gambled" that you wouldn't. If you didn't, I was pretty sure the winner would be a woman.

OG:
I think your history teacher sounds like a very smart guy. Not enough students get an overview of the past; they're too busy memorizing picayune details. On the other hand, I do think that knowing the order of the presidents, as tedious as it is to learn, is worthwhile. It helps one mentally organize the chronology of U.S. history.

Philly:
Well, I wasn't expecting readers to start listing how many they got right. This quiz was not really intended as a competition; it was meant to be more of an "Oh, wow, did a president say that?" Still, I think four right is pretty fucking good.

As far as quote-mining goes: Of course that's what I did. If all the quotes had been by well-known presidents, the quiz would have been pretty damn uninteresting. Wasn't Tyler's quote amazing? That was a guy who wasn't even elected president; he just took over the office when Harrison croaked. And yet, talk about multi-culturalism! It's only through collecting quotes that I learned how strongly opposed Garfield -- Garfield! -- was to giving churches a free, nontaxable ride. (I have other great quotes by him on this topic.) And what about ol' George Washington not giving a shit about the religion, or lack of it, practiced by his workmen?

You're right. We didn't study a lot of this stuff in history class. I think the philosophies of our presidents should be open to discussion, particularly as an honest examination of how those philosophies affected historical events. If teachers dwelt on this a little bit more, schools could easily dispel the ugly myth that "America was founded as a Christian nation."

PhillyChief said...

I said I was guessing, and I know more about Garfield the cat than I do Garfield the human, and I don't even like cats.

the chaplain said...

Doggone it! I spend another weekend out of town (my son's auditioning for admission into music schools this month) and I miss your "Name the Obscure President" contest. Shoot!

On a more serious note, Ex said: I agree. That's why I'll remind you that Al Gore studied the important non-subject, Theology, at the Divinity School of Vanderbilt University from 1971-1972. He earned no degree.

I commenced (but never completed) work on a nearly equally useless Master of Religion degree at the University of Toronto (take your pick from: a few years - some years - many years - eons) ago. Now look at where I am, belief-wise! There may yet be hope for Al (not likely, but one never knows).

PhillyChief said...

I don't know, not with that freaky wife of his.

The Exterminator said...

chappy:
I commenced (but never completed) work on a nearly equally useless Master of Religion degree at the University of Toronto (take your pick from: a few years - some years - many years - eons) ago. Now look at where I am, belief-wise! There may yet be hope for Al (not likely, but one never knows).

To be fair to Al: At the very moment that he comes to No More Hornets -- or any of the other Atheosphere blogs I check every day -- and announces his freedom from faith, I'll begin to respect his intellect and integrity as much as I respect yours.

By the way, that offer is open to Mike Huckabee, too.

Babs said...

I got five right, and I guessed on every one of them, because I seriously don't know my presidents.

You know what this means, don't you? I'm psychic.

Where the hell is James Randi with my million bucks?

The Exterminator said...

Babs:
Where the hell is James Randi with my million bucks?

Well, if you were really psychic you'd know the answer to that question, wouldn't you?

PhillyChief said...

BING!