Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Todd Mayo, More on Jesus and Founding Fathers

There are serious plagiarism questions about the post below by Todd Mayo. Todd and I have not been able to resolve the issue. As a result, I've decidee to leave the post up along with the criticism of an anonymous commenter and my response.


"Todd Mayo wrote a particularly apt comment on my Jesus and the Founding Fathers post. I'm repringing almost all of it below.

"It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt"-Unkown.

This quote perfectly describes Governor Huckabee. I do not know whether he is unaware that his statement is incorrect of not. What I do know is that the men who lead the United States in its revolution against England, who wrote the Declaration of Independence and put together the Constitution were not Christians by any stretch of the imagination. Merely believing in God does not make a person a Christian. I do consider myself a Christian but one of the tenets of my faith is that all people should have the right to "worship how, where, or what they may."

The extreme religious right is trying to rewrite the history of the United States as part of their campaign to force their religion on others. They try to depict the founding fathers as pious Christians who wanted the United States to be a Christian nation, with laws that favored Christians and Christianity. This is patently untrue. The early presidents and patriots were generally Deists or Unitarians.

Some examples:

Benjamin Franklin: "As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion...has received various corrupting Changes." (Benjamin Franklin, A Biography in his Own Words, edited by Thomas Fleming).

George Washington: Never declared himself a Christian according to contemporary reports or in any of his voluminous correspondence. On his deathbed, Washington uttered no words of a religious nature and did not call for a clergyman to be in attendance. (George Washington and Religion by Paul F. Boller Jr., pp. 16, 87, 88, 108, 113, 121, 127).

John Adams in his later years wrote, "Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!" It was during Adam's administration that the Senate ratified the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which states in Article XI that "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion." (The Character of John Adams by Peter Shaw)

Also, consider in reference to this the 1797 American treaty with (Muslim) Tripoli, declaring that "the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." The treaty was written under Washington's presidency, and approved by the Senate under John Adams.

Finally here is what Roger Williams,Founder of Rhode Island and a devout Baptist wrote:"The Church and State need not be, Williams insisted, inextricably linked: 'A Pagan or Antichristian Pilot may be as skillful to carry the Ship to its desired Port, as any Christian Mariner or Pilot in the World, and may perform that work with as much safety and speed.' 'God requireth not an Uniformity of Religion to be inacted and inforced in any Civill State,' he declared. Rather, the tares in the field of Christian grain must be left alone; let man hold whatever religious opinions he chooses provided he does not 'actually disturb civil peace."

So there we have it. Over and over again. These people were not hostile to Christianity at all. It is clear that they were hostile to no faith. It is equally clear however that in affairs of state, religion was not to be a consideration and the state was, under no circumstances to interfere with religious observance assuming that observence did not harm others or involve human or animal sacrifices."

What follows is the discussion concerning Todd's post by Anonymous and myself.

Anonymous said...
Actually, I think that it is the height of hubris to copy something from another website, paste it into a blog's comment board, and then, when the blogger thinks it is good, you comment on something you claim to have written. A majority of that post was copied from http://dim.com/~randl/founders.htm almost word for word. Changing a word here and there does not make it your own. And posting it on a professor's blog makes that hubris even worse.
5:56 PM

7:52 AM
Ric Caric said...
I thought this comment from "Anonymous" belonged here.

"ok, since the great professor needs some help on spotting the plagiarism a few posts down from a Todd Mayo, I'll help.

Todd's comment says:"The extreme religious right is trying to rewrite the history of the United States as part of their campaign to force their religion on others. They try to depict the founding fathers as pious Christians who wanted the United States to be a Christian nation, with laws that favored Christians and Christianity. This is patently untrue. The early presidents and patriots were generally Deists or Unitarians.

"http://dim.com/~randl/founders.htm says:"The Christian right is trying to rewrite the history of the United States as part of its campaign to force its religion on others. They try to depict the founding fathers as pious Christians who wanted the United States to be a Christian nation, with laws that favored Christians and Christianity. This is patently untrue. The early presidents and patriots were generally Deists or Unitarians, believing in some form of impersonal Providence but rejecting the divinity of Jesus and the absurdities of the Old and New testaments."

Todd says:"George Washington: Never declared himself a Christian according to contemporary reports or in any of his voluminous correspondence. On his deathbed, Washington uttered no words of a religious nature and did not call for a clergyman to be in attendance. (George Washington and Religion by Paul F. Boller Jr., pp. 16, 87, 88, 108, 113, 121, 127)."

Site says:"George Washington, the first president of the United States, never declared himself a Christian according to contemporary reports or in any of his voluminous correspondence...On his deathbed, Washinton uttered no words of a religious nature and did not call for a clergyman to be in attendance. From: George Washington and Religion by Paul F. Boller Jr., pp. 16, 87, 88, 108, 113, 121, 127 (1963, Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, TX) "

Todd says: John Adams in his later years wrote, "Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!" It was during Adam's administration that the Senate ratified the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which states in Article XI that "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion." (The Character of John Adams by Peter Shaw)"

Site says: John Adams, the country's second president, was drawn to the study of law but faced pressure from his father to become a clergyman. He wrote that he found among the lawyers 'noble and gallant achievments" but among the clergy, the "pretended sanctity of some absolute dunces". Late in life he wrote: "Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!" It was during Adam's administration that the Senate ratified the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which states in Article XI that "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion." From: The Character of John Adams by Peter Shaw, pp. 17 (1976, North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC) Quoting a letter by JA to Charles Cushing Oct 19, 1756, and John Adams, A Biography in his Own Words, edited by James Peabody, p. 403 (1973, Newsweek, New York NY) Quoting letter by JA to Jefferson April 19, 1817, and in reference to the treaty, Thomas Jefferson, Passionate Pilgrim by Alf Mapp Jr., pp. 311 (1991, Madison Books, Lanham, MD) quoting letter by TJ to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, June, 1814.

Todd says:Also, consider in reference to this the 1797 American treaty with (Muslim) Tripoli, declaring that "the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." The treaty was written under Washington's presidency, and approved by the Senate under John Adams.

Site says:The Treaty of Tripoli, passed by the U.S. Senate in 1797, read in part: "The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion." The treaty was written during the Washington administration, and sent to the Senate during the Adams administration.

Some amazing coincidences there to ignore. Funny how todd has been able to channel this other writer so throughly. Granted there are some word changes, but I would think that a professor wouldn't think that that made it his own work. And then the gloating that he has to be all pious and talk about how stupid it is for someone to do that, WHEN IT'S OBVIOUS HE'S THE ONE WHO DID IT!If you let this slide, then all that stuff you posted about your university and JMU, you can forget it.

8:26 PM
Ric Caric said...
I'm writing to acknowledge the validity of Anonymous' claim that important parts of Todd's post are taken "almost word for word" from http://dim.com/~randl/founders.htm. What I would like to see happen is for Todd to respond to Anonymous' claim and indicate himself how he developed his formulations. I think it's a very healing thing to be able to deal with these kinds of difficulties when they arise. Until then, I've decided to leave the post up along with the comments from Anonymous and my responses. Until I can see an opening for a more satisfactory resolution, I believe that it's best to just let the whole exchange stand where it is.

15 comments:

Todd Mayo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Todd Mayo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Actually, I think that it is the height of hubris to copy something from another website, paste it into a blog's comment board, and then, when the blogger thinks it is good, you comment on something you claim to have written. A majority of that post was copied from http://dim.com/~randl/founders.htm almost word for word. Changing a word here and there does not make it your own. And posting it on a professor's blog makes that hubris even worse.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ric Caric said...

I thought this comment from "Anonymous" belonged here.

ok, since the great professor needs some help on spotting the plagiarism a few posts down from a Todd Mayo, I'll help.

Todd's comment says:

"The extreme religious right is trying to rewrite the history of the United States as part of their campaign to force their religion on others. They try to depict the founding fathers as pious Christians who wanted the United States to be a Christian nation, with laws that favored Christians and Christianity. This is patently untrue. The early presidents and patriots were generally Deists or Unitarians."

http://dim.com/~randl/founders.htm says:
"The Christian right is trying to rewrite the history of the United States as part of its campaign to force its religion on others. They try to depict the founding fathers as pious Christians who wanted the United States to be a Christian nation, with laws that favored Christians and Christianity.

This is patently untrue. The early presidents and patriots were generally Deists or Unitarians, believing in some form of impersonal Providence but rejecting the divinity of Jesus and the absurdities of the Old and New testaments."

Todd says:

"George Washington: Never declared himself a Christian according to contemporary reports or in any of his voluminous correspondence. On his deathbed, Washington uttered no words of a religious nature and did not call for a clergyman to be in attendance. (George Washington and Religion by Paul F. Boller Jr., pp. 16, 87, 88, 108, 113, 121, 127)."

Site says:

"George Washington, the first president of the United States, never declared himself a Christian according to contemporary reports or in any of his voluminous correspondence...

On his deathbed, Washinton uttered no words of a religious nature and did not call for a clergyman to be in attendance.
From: George Washington and Religion by Paul F. Boller Jr., pp. 16, 87, 88, 108, 113, 121, 127 (1963, Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, TX) "

Todd says:
John Adams in his later years wrote, "Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!" It was during Adam's administration that the Senate ratified the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which states in Article XI that "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion." (The Character of John Adams by Peter Shaw)"

Site says:
John Adams, the country's second president, was drawn to the study of law but faced pressure from his father to become a clergyman. He wrote that he found among the lawyers 'noble and gallant achievments" but among the clergy, the "pretended sanctity of some absolute dunces". Late in life he wrote: "Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!"

It was during Adam's administration that the Senate ratified the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which states in Article XI that "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion."
From: The Character of John Adams by Peter Shaw, pp. 17 (1976, North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC) Quoting a letter by JA to Charles Cushing Oct 19, 1756, and John Adams, A Biography in his Own Words, edited by James Peabody, p. 403 (1973, Newsweek, New York NY) Quoting letter by JA to Jefferson April 19, 1817, and in reference to the treaty, Thomas Jefferson, Passionate Pilgrim by Alf Mapp Jr., pp. 311 (1991, Madison Books, Lanham, MD) quoting letter by TJ to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, June, 1814.

Todd says:

Also, consider in reference to this the 1797 American treaty with (Muslim) Tripoli, declaring that "the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." The treaty was written under Washington's presidency, and approved by the Senate under John Adams.

Site says:
The Treaty of Tripoli, passed by the U.S. Senate in 1797, read in part: "The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion." The treaty was written during the Washington administration, and sent to the Senate during the Adams administration.

Some amazing coincidences there to ignore. Funny how todd has been able to channel this other writer so throughly. Granted there are some word changes, but I would think that a professor wouldn't think that that made it his own work. And then the gloating that he has to be all pious and talk about how stupid it is for someone to do that, WHEN IT'S OBVIOUS HE'S THE ONE WHO DID IT!

If you let this slide, then all that stuff you posted about your university and JMU, you can forget it.

Ric Caric said...

I'm writing to acknowledge the validity of Anonymous' claim that important parts of Todd's post are taken "almost word for word" from http://dim.com/~randl/founders.htm. What I would like to see happen is for Todd to respond to Anonymous' claim and indicate himself how he developed his formulations. I think it's a very healing thing to be able to deal with these kinds of difficulties when they arise.

Until then, I've decided to leave the post up along with the comments from Anonymous and my responses. Until I can see an opening for a more satisfactory resolution, I believe that it's best to just let the whole exchange stand where it is.

Irrelevant said...

You need not know my identity. Todd is a relative, a very close relative, that's all you need to know.

Having spoken with Todd, and consulting with the rest of the family, I can tell you that publicly humiliating him will not obtain for you, "a more satisfactory resolution." Our understanding is that you Dr. Caric, and Todd were good friends until you acknowledged any validity to these charges. We are aware that Todd has informed you that this friendship has ended. Even if Todd had been inclined to engage in any sort of dialogue with you concerning the statements made about him here or about the status of your former friendship, we, as a family cannot tolerate any disrespect or disloyalty to be directed at any one of us. This may be an alien concept to someone from another state where family bonds are less secure but here, in our case, you insult one of us, you have insulted all of us.

We are aware that Todd asked you remove the offending posts, or if you so choose, all his posts. We are aware that he asked this of you with the promise that he would not return to this forum. I have been designated by the Family to monitor whether you have complied with this request as Todd will not be viewing this site anymore. This is the first time I have looked and imagine my surprise to find that you appear to now be going out of your way to further embarrass him. In this you have insulted us all. I am going to ask you again, please remove all references to Todd or this issue from your Blog. We have not yet consulted our attorney to determine if this public humiliation of our family member is actionable or not. If it is, and if this remains here, then you leave us little alternative than to take this to court.

I am very displeased that you lack the basic honor to just remove this and let it go. I read everything as did the rest of the family. From what I can determine, Todd took some questionable liberties but he is not a student and this forum is not a class. Even if this were plagarism, I am not here to talk about whether he is right or wrong but rather to defend the honor and the public perception of a beloved family member. This type of thing could damage his name and thereby his future career. Is it really worth destroying his future and possibly going to court just to show how tough you can be when you think someone is dishonest?

So, I ask you, please remove all references to this and if you so desire every single comment Todd has ever made.

Ric Caric said...

My e-mail address is riccaric@hotmail.com. It would be more appropriate for you to contact me there with your concerns. You'll find that threats aren't welcome though.

Anonymous said...

Wow, is Todd in the Mafia or something? The point is, Todd plagarized, tried to play it off as his own, bragged about how intellectual he was, then got busted. What more does he deserve? Though this is a blog and not a class, I think it does call into question the academic prowess of Mr. Mayo. Who knows what he may or may not have gotten away with in the past?

Anonymous said...

One further thought... 99% of the time, I completely disagree with Ric Caric. But it is important to defend his reputation as he is a professor who should take plagiarism very seriously. IMO, he looked like a fool when he praised Todd for the original comments. He HAD to acknowledge the validity of the plagiarism claim, and I respect him for that. What about the "public perception" of Ric? Todd took "questionable liberties?" C'mon now.... if anyone has "insulted you all" it was Todd.

Anonymous said...

"Never go against the family...!"
:)

Todd Mayo said...

Ric Caric has given me permission to make a statement regarding allegations of plagarism on my part. I was in error, but not in the manner which it has been portrayed in this forum. In order to understand how we got here, it is necessary to recount the harsh tactics often employed to discredit people with whom they disagree. Many conservatives who made comments here on a regular basis seemed almost outraged that my view-point is left of center. Things had a tendency to get very personal. At first when insulted, I simply insulted in return. That quicky proved to be an excercise in futility so my approach was to read Ric's posts, then comment if I chose and leave it at that. This was not a good move either.
contd below:

Todd Mayo said...

contd...
Cut-to: the issue at hand. Ric posted on here, the fact that Framers of our Constitution were not Christians. Most were Deists, etc. I knew this to be the case already. I had little more to add though I believe I may have made a few comments in support of the facts. Two or three lines perhaps. There seemed to be little to add as I recall. [this was over 18 months ago so I beg your indulgence if my statement seems a bit vague.] After I'd read Ric's post and added a few lines of approval I thought nothing more of the matter until Ric asked me via email if he could use "my" comments on the subject in next post. I was a bit puzzled as I didn't recall having written anything especially profound but my thinking was, "why the hell not?" So I said, "of course, go right ahead. Now we come to my next mistake. It was brought to my attention a few days later that had the comments in "my" post been subjected to academic standards, they would have constituted plagarism. (This is where my personality tends to get me in trouble.) I went to RSI, I looked at the comments in question, I googled them myself, and indeed that was plagarized material. The thing is, I didn't post those comments. Someone decided to copy and paste something from a website, change a few words around, and stick my name on it. Then, on cue, someone would point out that the material was not original. This happened to be once before on a very conservative blog so I recognized the M.O. I suppose as tactics go it was a good gamble in that it had the desired effect. A publicly discredited Liberal. In one sense, I must tip my hat to the perpetrator. The strategy worked...for a long while. I must add that whoever actually posted those words must have known me or been around when I got particularly worked up about politics. My weakness is my anger coupled with a sense that somehow, I am entitled to never be questioned even if the questions are legitimate. A normal person would have simply explained, "yes that is plagarism, but I didn't put it there." Instead, I became angry. I don't recall the exact wording of my responce all this but it was NOT contrite. I have no doubt that I overeacted with bellicose melodramatic language with a "how dare you THINK this of me?" kind of tone. In hindsight I see that I was expecting far too much considering how things looked. I didn't explain any of this at the time because I felt that I should not be required to do so. I felt entitled to the assumption that I was somehow above suspicion and that anyone should be able to see that this was a ploy on the part of overzealous conservatives and that to even consider validating anything one of them said was unthinkable. For anyone to honestly believe I would do such a thing, I felt at the time, was unthinkable. So, I just went off and refused to explain what really happened.
Someone plagarized in my name. I should have worked with Ric to set the record straight and I did not. For this I was very wrong and I apologize to Ric and to anyone else who may have been damaged by my arrogance. This has weighed heavily upon my mind for quite some time and I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight, own up to the part I played in excacerbating the situation and for putting a fine man, and most excellent instructor in an untenable position. How was he to tell the truth when I did not give it to him. So, now I have told the truth. I am guilty not of plagarism, but rather my own arrogant narcicissm. So, that's the story. The subject is concluded and I'm grateful I was given a chance to explain. And so we're done with it.

Ric Caric said...

In my initial response, I indicated that I was waiting for a "more satisfactory resolution." In giving the explanation immediately above, Tod is providing the "more satisfactory resolution" and I am glad to see the close of this episode.

Todd Mayo said...

Thank you again Ric. I should have detailed everything far sooner. It is good to be back to RSI.