Thoughts and Truth from the Impossible Life

USA founded as a Christian nation

 I wish to provide a few historical quotes from our Founding Era that lend credence to the supposition that we indeed were founded as a Christian nation.

Granted, God is not mentioned in the Constitution, but He is mentioned in every major document leading up to the final wording of the Constitution. For example, Connecticut is still known as the “Constitution State” because its colonial constitution was used as a model for the United States Constitution. Its first words were: “For as much as it has pleased the almighty God by the wise disposition of His Divine Providence…”

Most of the fifty-five Founding Fathers who worked on the Constitution were members of orthodox Christian churches and many were even evangelical Christians. The first official act in the First Continental Congress was to open in Christian prayer, which ended in these words: “…the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Savior. Amen”. Sounds Christian to me.

Ben Franklin, at the Constitutional Convention, said: “…God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”

John Adams stated so eloquently during this period of time that; “The general principles on which the fathers achieved Independence were … the general principles of Christianity … I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that the general principles of Christianity are as etemal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”

Later, John Quincy Adams answered the question as to why, next to Christmas, was the Fourth of July this most joyous and venerated day in the United States. He answered: “…Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?” Sounds like the founding of a Christian nation to me. John Quincy Adams went on to say that the biggest victory won in the American Revolution was that Christian principles and civil government would be tied together In what he called an “indissoluble” bond. The Founding Fathers understood that religion was inextricably part of our nation and government. The practice of the Christian religion in our government was not only welcomed but encouraged.

The intent of the First Amendment was well understood during the founding of our country. The First Amendment was not to keep religion out of government. It was to keep Government from establishing a ‘National Denomination” (like the Church of England). As early as 1799 a court declared: “By our form of government the Christian religion is the established religion; and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed on the same equal footing.” Even in the letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Baptists of Danbury Connecticut (from which we derive the term “separation of Church and State”) he made it quite clear that the wall of separation was to insure that Government would never interfere with religious activities because religious freedom came from God, not from Government.

Even George Washington who certainly knew the intent of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, since he presided over their formation, said in his “Farewell Address”: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars.” Sure doesn’t sound like Washington was trying to separate religion and politics.

John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and one of the three men most responsible for the writing of the Constitution declared:

“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is their duty-as well as privilege and interest- of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” Still sounds like the Founding Fathers knew this was a Christian nation.

This view, that we were a Christian nation, was hold for almost 150 years until the Everson v. Board of Education ruling in 1947. Before that momentous ruling, even the Supreme Court knew that we were a Christian nation. In 1892 the Court stated:

“No purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people…This is a Christian nation.” There it is again! From the Supreme Court of the United States. This court went on to cite 87 precedents (prior actions, words, and rulings) to conclude that this was a “Christian nation”.

In 1854, the House Judiciary Committee said: “in this age, there is no substitute for Christianity…That was the religion of the founders of the republic, and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants.’

It should be noted here that even as late as 1958 a dissenting judge warned in Baer v. Kolmorgen that if the court did not stop talking about the “separation of Church and State”, people were going to start thinking it was part of the Constitution.

It has been demonstrated in their own words: Ben Franklin, George Washington and John Adams, to the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court, how our founding fathers felt about the mix of politics and religion.

When we read articles such as “What’s God got to do with it?” (Primack, 5/4) and “The wall between state and church must not be breached” (Tager, 5/7) it just reaffirms how little, even intelligent people, understand about the founding of our great Republic. To say that this nation was not founded as a Christian nation or that the Constitution was not founded on Christian principles is totally at odds with the facts of history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at the Mayflower compact for starters.

In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, 1620

July 25, 2012 - Posted by | Christianity / God, Constitutional Issues, Politics/Government/Freedom, Societal / Cultural Issues | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Comments »

  1. Thank you for posting; people need to read the quotes of these famous men and realize we did indeed begin as a nation believing in God’s importance in society. The first amendment is grossly misunderstood by so many in our culture today. People who deny our Christian roots as a nation do not realize how slippery the slope is when we stray from this heritage.

    Comment by Brooke | December 16, 2011 | Reply

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  3. While our nation’s people are predominantly Christian, our government most definitely is not founded on Christianity. Separation of church and state is a bedrock principle of our Constitution much like the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances. In the Constitution, the founders did not simply say in so many words that there should be separation of powers and checks and balances; rather, they actually separated the powers of government among three branches and established checks and balances. Similarly, they did not merely say there should be separation of church and state; rather, they actually separated them by (1) establishing a secular government on the power of “We the people” (not a deity), (2) saying nothing to connect that government to god(s) or religion, (3) saying nothing to give that government power over matters of god(s) or religion, and (4), indeed, saying nothing substantive about god(s) or religion at all except in a provision precluding any religious test for public office. Given the norms of the day, the founders’ avoidance of any expression in the Constitution suggesting that the government is somehow based on any religious belief was quite a remarkable and plainly intentional choice. They later buttressed this separation of government and religion with the First Amendment, which constrains the government from undertaking to establish religion or prohibit individuals from freely exercising their religions. The basic principle, thus, rests on much more than just the First Amendment.

    While the religious views of various founders are subjects of some uncertainty and controversy, it is safe to say that many founders were Christian of one sort or another and held views such as you note regarding religion. In assessing the nature of our government, though, care should be taken to distinguish between society and government and not to make too much of various founders’ individual religious beliefs. Their individual beliefs, while informative, are largely beside the point. Whatever their religions, they drafted a Constitution that establishes a secular government and separates it from religion as noted earlier. This is entirely consistent with the fact that some founders professed their religiosity and even their desire that Christianity remain the dominant religious influence in American society. Why? Because religious people who would like to see their religion flourish in society may well believe that separating religion and government will serve that end and, thus, in founding a government they may well intend to keep it separate from religion. It is entirely possible for thoroughly religious folk to found a secular government and keep it separate from religion. That, indeed, is just what the founders did.

    Lest there be any doubt on this score, note that shortly after the founding, President John Adams (a founder) signed, with the unanimous consent of the Senate (comprised in large measure of founders), the Treaty of Tripoli declaring, in pertinent part, “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” No need to resort to reading tea leaves to understand that. Note too that the Constitution provides that treaties, apart from the Constitution itself, are the highest law of the land.

    Comment by dougindeap | December 17, 2011 | Reply

    • I stand on my post, that the USA was founded as a Christian nation based on the values of Christianity.

      Comment by Paul Marcel-Rene | December 22, 2011 | Reply

  4. I agree with your overarching thesis that the founders would not establish a government that is inherently at odds with their religious convictions, which were largely Christian in nature. Moreover, given the republican nature of our government, I think it is only natural and expected that the laws enacted by our government–in both the founders’ time and today–largely reflect Christianity’s dominant influence in our society.

    That said, there is no reason to suppose that Christianity or theism is an inherent aspect of our constitutional government. Indeed, any such claim is antithetical to the constitutional principle against government establishment of religion. By founding a secular government and assuring it would remain separate, in some measure at least, from religion, the founders basically established government neutrality in matters of religion, allowing individuals to freely choose and exercise their religions and thus allowing Christianity (and other religions) to flourish or founder as they will. As noted above, it is to be expected that the values and views of the people, shaped in part by their religions, will be reflected in the laws adopted by their government. There is nothing in the Constitution that requires or calls for this; it is simply a natural outgrowth of the people’s expression of political will in a republican government. To the extent that the people’s values and views change over time, it is to be expected that those changes will come to be reflected in the laws adopted by their government. There is nothing in the Constitution to prevent this; indeed, just the opposite–the Constitution establishes a government designed to be responsive to the political will of the people. It is conceivable, therefore, that if Christianity’s influence in our society wanes relative to other influences, that may lead to changes in our laws. Nothing in the Constitution would prevent that–and moreover the establishment clause would preclude Christians from using the government to somehow “lock in” (aka establish) Christianity in an effort to stave off such an eventuality.

    Comment by dougindeap | December 25, 2011 | Reply

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  8. […]  I wish to provide a few historical quotes from our Founding Era that lend credence to the supposition that we indeed were founded as a Christian nation. Granted, God is not mentioned in the Consti…  […]

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