Virginia is a beautiful state, full of magnolia trees which fill the air with a perfumy scent that makes me wish I could have one or two of them right in my own backyard. The surroundings are green and lush with flowers everywhere and colorful songbirds flying all around. People love to garden there. And most properties are well kept and very tidy. People are quite friendly, though very openly"godly." It's a big part of the culture there.
Settlers who arrived from the Old World in the midst of springtime must have initially thought they had found paradise. I wonder what the founding fathers who worked and fought so hard to uphold our freedoms and separation of church and state would think about their grand state of Virginia had turned into the headquarters of some of the most intolerant religious fundamentalists on Earth. (Falwell and Robertson to name two of them.)
We stopped at Mt. Vernon first, which is a beautiful mansion and plantation nestled on the hills overlooking the Potomac River. George Washington was a man of many interests and abilities, and he valued knowledge and reason. Not many religious references were to be found amongst the many, many artifacts which remain from the Washington family, except for a family Bible (which belonged to his wife Martha from her first marriage), and a few references in writings by Washington about “Divine Providence”, but nothing about Jesus or Christianity.
As noted by Franklin Steiner in “The Religious Beliefs Of Our Presidents” (1936), Washington commented on sermons only twice. In his writings, he never referred to “Jesus Christ.” He attended church rarely, and did not take communion - though Martha did, requiring the family carriage to return back to the church to get her later.
Washington was, at most, a deist, however fundies are determined to rewrite Washington’s beliefs and his stance on religion to suit themselves. In the museum that is on the grounds of Mt Vernon, there is a mini-sanctuary with pews to throw in a bit of a religious fiction to the whole “educational” experience, trying to make Washington seem like he was a Christian man when he was not (his wife was, but he was not -- it seemed as if he was just going along with her to make her happy). As his writings show evidence of, and as I said before . . . at most, he was a deist. [George Washington and Religion] The experience at the end of the tour was also quite irritating. At the entrance to Washington’s tomb there is a live prayer reading every twenty minutes, a prayer that was delivered by a Rev. Thomas Davis, Rector of Christ Church at his entombment. When the guide called everyone to the area in front of the tomb for the prayer, the sheeple dressed in their “John 3:16” and “Jesus Loves Me” t-shirts all herded in a huddle with eyes closed and faces squinched as if in pain as the guide read the prayer (most Christians seem very sad and in pain when praying). Some of us kept walking around irreverently taking pictures and ignoring the whole oogie boogie recitation. After it was over, I scooted in the out gate and took my photos of the tomb and sarcophagus.
Monticello was similar in the way the preservationists try to highlight Jefferson’s brief references to God, however I was glad to see that they did place emphasis on Jefferson’s adamant stance that knowledge was the key to success and happiness. While Washington kept his beliefs concerning religion private, Jefferson was more outspoken about where he stood, and therefore a bit more difficult to make shit up about his beliefs. However, Jefferson’s true beliefs were downplayed, while anything remotely “godly” he might have said was taken out of context, highlighted and prominently displayed. This following video contains quotes by Jefferson that SHOULD have been displayed, but weren’t.
Gift shops at the Williamsburg tourist trap information center were playing a steady stream of religious music . . . “and he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own” . . .and in most shops and restaurants we stopped at, church music permeated these public places full of tourists from all cultures.
During this trip, I came to realize how fine the line is drawn between church and state in the south, and in the same way they do their Bible, fundamentalist Christians choose to interpret and rewrite history to their own liking in order to force their beliefs upon the rest of us.
Good video in response by Dr. Michael Newdow on separation of church and state:
Going back to our hotel room one evening, there was a woman who scared me. She was standing at the railing of the balcony where our second floor room was located, and she was telling another woman how the “power of the Lawd shot down through her arms” and how she could “feel the heat and tingling as the power of the Lawd” went through her and “traveled out of her fingertips” and into the back of her little dog and healed it! I told my husband to hurry up and get inside our room and barricade the door!
On our way back home we took back roads through western Virginia and through the state of West Virginia. West Virginia is a whole other world, and could write a lengthy post on it's "weirdness". It's like going to another country. Makes Virginia seem like quite a liberal place. At lunchtime we started looking for a place to eat and we came upon a good-sized town with many restaurants and fast food eateries. We decided on Wendy's since we wanted something quick and cheap. The parking lot was jammed. It was around 12:30, and we remembered then that it was Sunday in fundieland. And all there is to do in fundieland is eat, and fundies favorite pastime is eating. We walked into what seemed to be a chapter in a Stephen King horror novel. The place was so full that not one seat remained. (I had never seen that at a Wendy's before at any time of day.) Everyone had on their Sunday-go-to-meetin' clothes . . . men in short-sleeved dress shirts and many with ties, and women in their flowery dresses and skirts. The order line was full and there were people in line to get into the order line similar to Olive Garden on a Saturday night. And all in their Sunday's best. And us in our jeans, t-shirts and Reeboks. We were obvious outsiders. We decided that we better find another place to eat.
Later, around our dinner time in southern Ohio we noticed that all towns seemed deserted. We were still on the back roads and passing in and out of towns along the way. The only way to really get a feel for the different parts of the country is to take the backroads.
We stopped at a Wendy's which was almost deserted. There were two or three workers. We ordered chili and a baked potato. The boy at the counter slowly gave us our change, and then our tray of food. We went to the condiments bar to find spoons. . . no spoons. We asked for spoons and the boy answered "we ain't got any spoons left". How can they sell people chili and Frosties when they have no spoons to eat it with? Lucky we had spoons in our van and my husband went out to get them.
While we sat there eating, we watched a couple people come in and out, and they seemed to know the workers well. That was kind of nice to see, a town where everyone knows each other. That could have a downside though, as with the village I now live in once was. When everyone knows your name, they also seem to be too interested in your personal business. Lots of gossip because there sure isn't anything else to talk about!
Like all vacations, as we got closer and closer to Chicagoland, I felt good. I felt good because of having a great vacation, but also a satisfaction that I was going home to where it is comfortable and familiar to me. And where I can go to Wendy's on a Sunday afternoon, find a seat amongst other heathens who are wearing jeans and Reeboks and don't bother with church.