August 01, 2002
Notes on the Founding Fathers and the Separation of Church and State.

The above is the title for a rather interesting essay I came across on that topic in a most unlikely place. The essay is hosted at the Quartz Hill School of Theology which would incline one to think it would be arguing that this country was founded as a Christian nation. You can imagine my surprise when I read the piece and found that it puts forth a rather well argued explanation as to why this country was not founded on Christian belief. A small excerpt from the introduction sets the tone quite nicely:

Many well-meaning Christians argue that the United States was founded by Christian men on Christian principles. Although well-intentioned, such sentiment is unfounded. 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.

Why do some Christians imagine these men are Christians? Besides a desperate desire that it should be so, in a selective examination of their writings, one can discover positive statements about God and/or Christianity. However, merely believing in God does not make a person a Christian. The Bible says that "the fool says in his heart, there is no God." Our founding fathers were not fools. But the Bible also says "You say you believe in God. Good. The demons also believe and tremble."

Merely believing in God is insufficient evidence for demonstrating either Christian principles or that a person is a Christian.

Perhaps, to start, it might be beneficial to remind ourselves of what a Christian might be: it is a person who has acknowledged his or her sinfulness, responded in faith to the person of Jesus Christ as the only one who can redeem him, and by so doing been given the Holy Spirit.

The early church summarized the Christian message in six points:

1. Jesus came from God.
2. You killed him.
3. He rose again on the third day.
4. He sent the Holy Spirit
5. Repent and be baptized.
6. He's coming back.

An individual who would not acknowledge this much of the Christian message could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be called a Christian. The founding fathers of this country did not acknowledge this message. In fact, they denied it.

The essay then goes on to look at some of the men involved in the creation of our country whom many Christian apologetics often like to claim as one of their own including Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. I particularly like this passage:

Why do Christians want the founding fathers to be Christians?

Is it because they wish the best for these people?

Hardly.

It is because they hope that by demonstrating they were Christians, they can justify their political agenda. Rather than wanting something new (the injection of Christianity into government) they seek to restore something they imagine has been lost.

Reality: nothing has been lost. It wasn't there to start with. Therefore the whole concept of "taking back America" is a lie. America was never Christian.

The essay continues on to blast several recent myths with regards to the Separation of Church and State including the popular notion that the concept as it's currently interpreted by the Supreme Court came about in the late '50s and early '60s. An argument I hadn't heard used before involved the idea that the American revolution was, in and of itself, unscriptural:

At its foundation, our American revolution was unscriptural. Therefore I have a hard time seeing how our government could have been founded on Christian principles, when its very founding violated one:
Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. (1 Peter 2:13-14)

No matter how you cut it, the founding fathers were revolting against the King of England. It should be remembered that Peter wrote these words while Israel was suffering under the domination of government far more oppressive than England ever was. In fact, compared to current taxes, our forefathers had nothing to complain about.

What Peter wrote seems perfectly clear and unambiguous; furthermore, it is consistent with what Jesus said about his kingdom not being a part of this world (John 18:23 and 36).

As a Christian, it would be very difficult to justify armed revolt against any ruler. Passive resistance to injustice and evil, as embodied in the concept of civil disobedience, however, does have Scriptural precedent (as for instance in the case of the early Christians described in Acts 5:28-29:

"We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name," he said. "Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood."

Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men!" (see also Acts 4:18-20)

Civil disobedience means obeying a higher, moral law, but willingly suffering the consequences of your actions and submitting to the authority of those in power to arrest or even kill you for your disobedience. Peter and the others were arrested, and many of them were ultimately martyred. But they never participated in violent protest, nor did they resist those in authority by violence.

I must say that the whole essay is a worthy read for anyone with the misguided notion that America was founded as a Christian nation.

Posted by at August 01, 2002 06:03 PM
Comments
Actually, the United States was founded as a Christian nation. I do agree with the essay regarding true Christianity. Not that there is a formula for being saved, but that one must acknowledge one's sinful state, understand that they can do NOTHING to earn their way into God's good graces, and accept the gift that God offers in the form of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Jesus came to earth to die in our place and he did not just die on the cross, he was punished on the cross for our sins. It was that punishment that allows all people to come to Him and receive forgiveness, for all time, from their sin. With all that said, the essay posted on the Quartz Hill School of Theology website has some glaring problems. Let me list the problems I have with this essay: 1) First of all, there were many founders who were Christians. Just because they did not write specific statements of faith does not mean they were not Christians. Even the essay acknowledges that the writings of the founders were full of Christian sentiments. Christianity was THE religion of the colonies, and many of the so-called "provincials" in the colonies were devout believers. 2) The reason that you don't see specific statements of faith from many founders is that Christianity was SO accepted and pervasive in early American society that it was simply part of the fabric of society. Even many of those who were not Christians accepted the moral standards of the Christian religion. So, in that sense, you did not have to be a true believer to live by Christian principles because they were the principles of the day, and all the local laws were a reflection of those principles. 3) The American colonies did have just cause to seperate from England, and it was not the colonies that declared war on England, it was England who declared war on the colonies. Do you really think that the authors of the Declaration wanted to take on the world's mightiest army? Besides, England did appoint legal governing bodies in the colonies, but would revoke, amend, or ignore the rights of those governing bodies as they chose. Please remember that it was one of the main grievances of the colonies that they were not properly or fairly represented by the King and the Parliament. If we were not part of England and did not have fair representation, then what were we to do? What we actually did do, eventually, was to write the Declaration of Independence, and in the Declaration, we said some VERY radical things. One of the most radical things declared was this: "We hold these TRUTHS (emphasis mine) to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." So, what was so radical about that statement? There are two main thrusts to this statement, which, in total, amounted to one big slap in the face to both the King and the Parliament. First, they were declaring that ALL people were of equal status in the eyes of God, a concept which is clearly upheld by the Bible, especially in the New Testament. Secondly, they were declaring this equality be a "self-evident truth." Basically, these lowly provincials were saying, "hey King, not only are WE your equals, but this is a self-evident truth!" The only answer to such a radical assertion is exactly the answer the King and the Parliament gave to the colonies, all out war! So, ultimately, the colonies simply stated to England why they felt it necessary to cut governmental ties, and, of course, England sent lots of war ships and troops to assert their disagreement with that idea. The American colonies then, tentatively, united behind a common cause to defend themselves and eventually managed to force England, with the help of France, to recognize their independence. 4) Both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of The United States have Christian principles built directly into them. As I said before, the concept of the equality of all people is found throughout the Bible; everywhere from the fact that God took a humble shepherd, David, and turned him into one of Israel's greatest kings, to the fact that Paul exhorts Christian men to treat women as co-heirs to the kingdom of God. Did the founders TRULY give independence to all people? No, they did not. There was much debate, and many arguments regarding giving freedom to the slaves and regarding whether women would have the right to vote, but, unfortunatly, the culture of the time would not allow for either of those options. BUT, what the founders did do is write the Constitution in such a way that, as society advanced and matured, we could push those freedoms out to everyone, which is what has happened and continues to happen today. Please don't think that we are a truly equal society yet. We still have many problems and a long way to go; and our children, and their children, will most likely judge us just as harshly as we judge pro-segregation, racists from 50 years ago. We have a long way to go. What is our biggest threat today? Let me bring the debate right back to where it began, with one radical court's decision to declare the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional because of the statement "Under God." Our biggest threat today is not from people of faith; whether it is Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, etc. Our biggest threat comes from secularist philosphy which, at its core, intends to sterilize all forms of religion and faith from this society. To a secularist, religion and faith belong in a dark closet, far from the rest of society, and should only be brought out on special occasions, if at all. Remember, they tried this in the Soviet Union and look what happened there! US society is premised on the free expression of religion, and the principle of equality of all people is based upon our belief in an objective third party in the form of God, who upholds the value and equality of all people. If there is no God, then there is no truth, and if there is no truth, then there is no true equality. This also means that the moral decisions made by societies in the past were okay, because that was the morality of the day. It means, basically, that slavery was not evil, that it was alright for a male-dominated society to oppress women, that it was fine for us to massacre and push Native Americans from their land, that Nazi Germany was within its rights to mercilessly slaughter seven million jews and the Soviet Union to slaughter 12 million of its citizens and modern-day China is within its rights to roll over citizens with tanks and force women to abort their children. If you forget all else that I'm writing here, please remember this one thing: If there is no God, then we are in BIGGGGGG trouble! Finally, I was listening to a popular radio personality yesterday (I listen to him every day on my way home from work), Sean Hannity. Hannity actually had Michael Newdow (you know, the one who started the whole controversy by asserting that his daughter was being "harmed" by the Pledge) on his show. Hannity started with Newdow's ex-wife, who recently came forward to assert that Michael had no legal right to represent his daughter in court because she has sole legal custody. the ex Mrs. Newdow also asserts that her daughter is distraut over this controversy, and actually had no problem with reciting the Pledge; rather, it was her DAD who had the problem, and forced the issue upon her against her will. The interesting thing was that Hannity then had Michael Newdow on the show, and Newdow ADMITTED (during an argument with Hannity) that he used his daughter for his own purposes. Newdow is an athiest and wanted to see the phrase "under God" expunged from the Pledge. He admitted that he used his daughter to make an issue of the Pledge and to bring it to court and defended this action even though his daughter really did not have a problem with the pledge! So, this whole situation could really blow up in Newdow's face if it turns out that he exercised legal authority that he did not actually have and misrepresented his daughter in a court of law. His court documents assert she was being emotionally harmed, etc., but she and her mother now say that this is completely untrue. Hmmm... the plot thickens. Film at 11! Sincerely, David Flanagan Annapolis, MD Posted by: David on August 7, 2002 09:00 AM
Extra note: There is an article out now regarding Sandra Banning's (Michael Newdow's ex-wife) request to have her daughter removed as a plaintiff in the Pledge decision. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20020806/ts_nm/life_pledge_dc_1 Posted by: David Flanagan on August 7, 2002 09:14 AM
The United States was in no way founded as a Christian nation. Not only is there no evidence to support the conclusion that this country was founded as a Christian Nation, but one of our earliest treaties with Tripoli, which was formerly ratified by the Senate and signed by President John Adams on the 10th of June, 1797, states quite plainly that the U.S. was not founded as a Christian nation. Being a treaty it carries the full weight of law. "As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries." -- Treaty of peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary. Article 11. In response to your first assertion that many of the founders of the country were Christian I would reply that you are overstating the case. According to historian Robert T. Handy, "No more than 10 percent-- probably less-- of Americans in 1800 were members of congregations." Certainly one could claim that the writings of the Founding Fathers were full of Christian sentiments, but then one could also write that the Christian Bible is full of Zoroastrianist sentiments. That doesn't make the Bible a Zoroastrianist document nor does it make the early writings of the Founding Fathers Christian in nature. It is also generally agreed by historians that most of the major players in the formation of the U.S. Government were not, as Christians like to think, Christian in their beliefs. In fact several were openly hostile to that particular belief system. Most of the Founding Fathers were, in fact, Deists. According to Professor Clinton Rossiter: "Although it had its share of strenuous Christians... the gathering at Philadelphia was largely made up of men in whom the old fires were under control or had even flickered out. Most were nominally members of one of the traditional churches in their part of the country.. and most were men who could take their religion or leave it alone. Although no one in this sober gathering would have dreamed of invoking the Goddess of Reason, neither would anyone have dared to proclaim his opinions had the support of the God of Abraham and Paul. The Convention of 1787 was highly rationalist and even secular in spirit." -- Clinton Rossiter, 1787; The Grand Convention, pp. 147-148. You fail to cite any sources to support your claim that "Christianity was THE religion of the colonies, and many of the so-called "provincials" in the colonies were devout believers." Such claims carry a burden of proof. In response to assertion #2, well, a good deal of it is already covered by my response to assertion #1. You claim that Christianity was so common as to be accepted as the de facto standard by the early colonists yet you once again cite no sources for such a statement. Your statement that "even many of those who were not Christians accepted the moral standards of the Christian religion" begs the question: So what? There are morals in the Christian religion that I agree with, but that does not make me a Christian nor does it place Christianity in some special light beyond the idea that I agree with some of the morals it espouses. Many of the morals proscribed in the Christian religion are not unique nor original as the early Christian religion borrowed heavily from many religions including Mithraism, Buddhism and the aforementioned Zoroastrianism among many others. Not just morals, but whole stories such as the purported virgin birth sound remarkably similar to stories from other religious beliefs that predate-date Christianity by hundreds of years. Your claim that all the laws of the day were based specifically on Christian morals is, at best, suspect. As for assertion #3 allow me to point out that it was not my claim that the American colonies didn't have just cause to separate from England or that it was a violation of Christian belief. Rather it was the claim of the folks at the Quartz Hill School of Theology. I do think the folks at Quartz have a valid argument. The Bible does state that Christians should turn the other cheek. Last I checked, that didn't mean taking up arms and conducting a war regardless of who started it. It meant taking whatever brutality was visited upon you and then turning the other cheek in anticipation of receiving some more. In that respect Gandhi was more Christian than most Christians I know. In regards to assertion #4, the statement that "both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of The United States have Christian principles built directly into them" doesn't really say much as there are principles from a number of religions that one could claim were built right into both of those documents. Your claim that "the concept of the equality of all people is found throughout the Bible" doesn't hold up to scrutiny, however. Unless you consider passages on how and where to buy slaves and how to properly mark them as your property as a sterling example of equality let alone the passages that clearly state that women are inferior to men. Take for example: "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man;.... (1 Cor. 11:3)." "Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man (1 Cor. 11:9)." "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husband, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife.... Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husband in every thing (Eph. 5:22-24)." Anyone desiring more proof should read: Deut. 21:10-14, 24:1-4, Judges 5:30, Esther 1:20-22, Rom. 7:2, 1 Col. 3:18, Titus 2:4-5, 1 Peter 3:1, Lev. 12:2, 5, Gen. 3:20. Ah! Such equality led feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton to say: "The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling-blocks in the way of woman's emancipation -- Free Thought Magazine, Vol. 14, 1896." "I know of no other book that so fully teaches the subjection and degradation of women --Eight Years and More, Elizabeth C. Stanton, p. 395." This is but only two small examples of the equality the Bible promotes. As an example of morality and equality, the Bible is often sorely lacking in my eyes. Now then, let's move on to the rest of your argument: Our biggest threat today is not from people of faith; whether it is Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, etc. Our biggest threat comes from secularist philosophy which, at its core, intends to sterilize all forms of religion and faith from this society. My first thoughts on this statement go something like this: It wasn't a bunch of secularists who flew the planes into the Twin Towers. You won't find any secularists shooting doctors at abortion clinics. Last I checked there weren't any secularists blowing up Federal buildings. I don't recall any secularists drowning their children and then claiming they were instructed by God to do so. Most secularists don't really care what faith or religion other people practice until said people attempt to have their religious beliefs gain favoritism from the Government. You could believe we're all the result of some genetic experiment by Space Elves from the Planet Pluto for all most secularists care. Hey, if it makes you happy and helps you to be a better person, more power to you. That doesn't mean that our currency should contain the phrase IN SNUFFLAGPIS THE BRIGHTLY PURPLE WE TRUST! Just as it shouldn't proclaim a trust in a God either. To a secularist, religion and faith belong in a dark closet, far from the rest of society, and should only be brought out on special occasions, if at all. I've yet to meet a secularist who held that viewpoint. But then, isn't that the sentiment to be found in the Bible itself? Allow me to quote to you from Matthew, Chapter 6, 5-6. "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." Sounds to me like your God would prefer you did keep your faith in the closet. Remember, they tried this in the Soviet Union and look what happened there! Indeed, though I'd hazard a guess that the failure of the Soviet Union had more to do with the economic and political failure of the Marxist approach to society more so than any attempt to sterilize the country of religious belief. Religious belief was never eradicated from their society, it just went underground. I also note, with no small amount of humor, that the fall of the Soviet Union and the resultant increase in the number of people claiming to be Christian (37,400,000 as of 1997 in Russia alone according to Russell Ash in The Top 10 of Everything, DK Publishing, Inc.: New York (1997); pg. 160-161.) doesn't seem to have improved their situation much. Perhaps the success or failure of a country depends on something more than whether or not it's inhabitants are Christian? Honestly, do you really think such a simplistic argument holds much water? US society is premised on the free expression of religion, and the principle of equality of all people is based upon our belief in an objective third party in the form of God, who upholds the value and equality of all people. No, free expression of religion is but only one part of the premise as is evidenced by the fact that it is the first amendment to the Constitution as opposed to being in the main body directly. Yes, the Founding Fathers did consider free expression of religion important, but it's not the sole premise of our society as you would imply. Your claim that the principle of equality is based on a belief in God is only partially correct. The Founding Fathers concept of equality was in the sense of equal before God, equal before the law, and equal access to opportunity. That didn't believe that God upheld equality, simply that in God's eyes all men were equal. If there is no God, then there is no truth, and if there is no truth, then there is no true equality. Sorry, but that's just absolute rubbish. Truth is not dependent on the existence of God. According to the The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, the definition for truth is as follows: truth Pronunciation Key (trth) n. pl. truths (trthz, trths) Conformity to fact or actuality. A statement proven to be or accepted as true. Sincerity; integrity. Fidelity to an original or standard. Reality; actuality. often Truth That which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence. [Middle English trewthe, loyalty, from Old English trowth. See deru- in Indo-European Roots.] Synonyms: truth, veracity, verity, verisimilitude These nouns refer to the quality of being in accord with fact or reality. Truth is a comprehensive term that in all of its nuances implies accuracy and honesty: “We seek the truth, and will endure the consequences” (Charles Seymour). Veracity is adherence to the truth: “Veracity is the heart of morality” (Thomas H. Huxley). Verity often applies to an enduring or repeatedly demonstrated truth: “beliefs that were accepted as eternal verities” (James Harvey Robinson). Verisimilitude is the quality of having the appearance of truth or reality: “merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative” (W.S. Gilbert). Hmmm. Don't see anything there defining truth being reliant upon anything other than reality. This also means that the moral decisions made by societies in the past were okay, because that was the morality of the day. It means, basically, that slavery was not evil, that it was alright for a male-dominated society to oppress women, that it was fine for us to massacre and push Native Americans from their land, that Nazi Germany was within its rights to mercilessly slaughter seven million jews and the Soviet Union to slaughter 12 million of its citizens and modern-day China is within its rights to roll over citizens with tanks and force women to abort their children. Slavery was endorsed by the Bible going as far as to provide specific instructions on how to treat them and mark them as your property as well as how to sell your own children into slavery (Exodus 21:20-21, Exodus 21:2- 6,7). The Bible also endorses a male-dominated social structure and instructs women to always maintain a subservient role when oppressed by their male partners(1 Cor. 11:3, 1 Cor. 11:9, Eph. 5:22-24). The Bible was used often as justification for the theft of land from the Native Americans. Hitler was a Catholic and believed he was acting as the avenging hand of God against the Jews. How do you know that Hitler wasn't right in his belief? Did God not assist Joshua to destroy the Gibeonites (JS 10:10-27), the Libnahites (JS 10:30), the Eglonites (JS 10:34-35), the Hebronites (JS 10:36-37), the Debirites (JS 10:38-39), the people of Makkedah (JS 10:28), the people of Lachish (JS 10:32-33), the city of Jericho (JS 6:21-27) and some 12,000 men and women of Ai (JS 8:22-25)? Hitler was a slacker in comparison. If I hadn't already spent a few hours working on this reply I'm sure I could come up with some Biblical justifications for both the Soviet Union and China as well. If you forget all else that I'm writing here, please remember this one thing: If there is no God, then we are in BIGGGGGG trouble! And why is that? Because it means there isn't some old man sitting on a cloud picking and choosing which wishes he's going to grant today? Near as I can see if he does exist then he's pretty ineffectual at making things better. If anything, disagreement over what he is and what he wants seems to be a leading cause of much of the death and destruction that takes place in the world today. Finally, I was listening to a popular radio personality yesterday (I listen to him every day on my way home from work), Sean Hannity. Hannity actually had Michael Newdow (you know, the one who started the whole controversy by asserting that his daughter was being "harmed" by the Pledge) on his show. Hannity started with Newdow's ex-wife, who recently came forward to assert that Michael had no legal right to represent his daughter in court because she has sole legal custody. the ex Mrs. Newdow also asserts that her daughter is distraut over this controversy, and actually had no problem with reciting the Pledge; rather, it was her DAD who had the problem, and forced the issue upon her against her will. The interesting thing was that Hannity then had Michael Newdow on the show, and Newdow ADMITTED (during an argument with Hannity) that he used his daughter for his own purposes. Newdow is an athiest and wanted to see the phrase "under God" expunged from the Pledge. He admitted that he used his daughter to make an issue of the Pledge and to bring it to court and defended this action even though his daughter really did not have a problem with the pledge! So, this whole situation could really blow up in Newdow's face if it turns out that he exercised legal authority that he did not actually have and misrepresented his daughter in a court of law. His court documents assert she was being emotionally harmed, etc., but she and her mother now say that this is completely untrue. Hmmm... the plot thickens. While it is true that Newdow has misrepresented his case, that doesn't diminish the merit of the debate. Nor does it change the un-Constitutional nature of the Pledge as it currently stands. From a legal standpoint it will probably get the decision overturned on a technical point, but it doesn't mean the case was without merit or that someone else who does feel they have been harmed won't step forward to take up the cause. This doesn't excuse Newdow from his transgression, but he's certainly not alone in his crime. Plenty of Christians have done the same to their own advantage. Posted by: Les on August 7, 2002 09:29 PM
Les, all I can say is, "Wow." Very thorough and well thought out. Remind me to never get into an opposing viewpoints debate with you. You'd eat most people who I know alive. Posted by: Brian Peace on August 8, 2002 09:19 AM
Yeah, I was on a bit of a roll last night. Started shortly after I got in from work around 5:30 and didn't finish until almost 10:30. A bit more work than I had intended to put into it, but when it's something I consider important that sometimes happens. Posted by: Les on August 8, 2002 09:37 AM
Wow! You really gave me the courtesy of a huge and detailed response. I'm afraid that, based upon your request for evidence, I will have to make my reply even longer and in multiple parts. Let me first start with the overall influence of Christianity in early America, as well as its influence in general on western society. First of all the colonists were definitely religious, though, on various levels and across various denominations. They knew the 10 commandments, the apostles creed and all the bible stories. They named their children Israel, Nathan, Benjamin, Adam, Samuel, Hannah, Ezra, Noah, etc. THe British said "God save the King", our colonials made recruiting posters that said "God save the United States". Washington ordered his men to NOT swear, go to church, and announced that our fate was to be decided by God. Congress prayed as a group, daily, and announced national days of prayer and fasting. The evidence speaks huge volumes that the men and women were knowledgeable of the bible and practicing of their Christian faith. Also, the flag of our mother country was made of 2 Christian crosses representing 2 Christian superstars (saints) in 1776. Now because you have done, I think, an excellent job of supporting your position with quotes, I will return the favor. Here are some evidential details of Christian morality amongst the early founders: The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.--vol. 04 George Washington, March 6, 1776, General Orders Parole Letchmore. Countersign Putnam. Stephen Moylan and William Palfrey Esqrs. are appointed Aids-De-Camp, to his Excellency the Commander in Chief; they are to be obeyed as such. Thursday the seventh Instant, being set apart by the Honourable, the Legislature of this province, as a day of fasting, prayer, and humiliation, "to implore the Lord, and Giver of all victory, to pardon our manifold sins and wickedness's, and that it would please him to bless the Continental Arms, with his divine favour and protection"--All Officers, and Soldiers, are strictly enjoined to pay all due reverance, and attention on that day, to the sacred duties due to the Lord of hosts, for his mercies already received, and for those blessings, which our Holiness and Uprightness of life can alone encourage us to hope through his mercy to obtain. Here is yet another of Washington's writings: George Washington, July 9, 1776, General Orders The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor. Head Quarters, New York, July 9, 1776. Parole Manchester. Countersign Norfolk. "The Hon. Continental Congress having been pleased to allow a Chaplain to each Regiment, with the pay of Thirty-three Dollars and one third pr month--The Colonels or commanding officers of each regiment are directed to procure Chaplains accordingly; persons of good Characters and exemplary lives--To see that all inferior officers and soldiers pay them a suitable respect and attend carefully upon religious exercises. The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger--The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavour so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country." Here's a quote from bolton's "The Private Soldier Under Washington," by Nat Greene from Providence, RI: "There was no doubt 'a dirty, mercenary spirit' which to some extent made possible "stock-jobbing and fertility in all low arts to obtain advantages of one kind and another," but that it 'pervaded the whole' one must doubt. The diaries of officers and privates, written with no thought of publication, show a loyalty and in some instances a religious earnestness that must indicate widespread moral purpose." 78 Just because early Americans didn't all go running to church every Sunday, leaping for joy and throwing rose petals, does not mean that they were not religious. Why would Americans build such extravagant buildings, such as the ones in New York City, as well as plenty of regular common church buildings, at least one in every town, if the folk were not religious? For those who don't know, both local, state and federal government declared national days of prayer, prayed in public and wrote declarations and constitutions that all included God and or Christian principles such as the 10 commandments, a rather strange behavior for an atheist/secularist nation, don't you think? One of the earliest "National Day of Prayer" declarations was made in May of 1779. I recommend you read the document, which is incredibly specific in its application to Christianity. The document can be found at the following address:http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/bds:@field(FLD001+90898103+):@@@$REF$. Furthermore, Benjamin Franklin mentioned a specific, but not well-know Bible verse at the Constitutional Convention and everyone knew what he was talking about ("If He knows when a sparrow falls...."). This is not a common verse and supports the assertion that most or all of those at the convention knew the Bible well. Those attending the convention also had all received some degree of religious instruction in life, not only in youth, but in college. Harvard, Yale, Prineton, etc. (most, if not all, founded first as religious schools), expected statements of faith and/or agreements related to the Christian faith, including such statements of faith as, "EVERYONE SHALL CONSIDER THE MAIN END OF HIS LIFE AND STUDIES TO 'KNOW GOD AND JESUS CHRIST, WHICH IS ETERNAL LIFE.'" John 17:3 George Washington requested a Bible on the day of his inauguration as President... Hale asked for a bible before his hanging... There is documentation showing that founders sought direction by reading Bible passages during the constitutional convention... It was not unusual for Washington to promise to be trustworthy by putting his hand on a bible. He even opened it to Genesis 49-50 at times, and he followed up his inauguration by praying in a pew in St. Pauls Chapel As for my assertion that Christianity was THE religion in early America, here are a few supporting quotes: God and Politics: Lessons from America's Past by John G. West, Jr. "In many ways, America in the early 1800s--for that is when these events occurred--was remarkably like America today. Yet most historians would not describe 19th century America as godless and amoral. If anything, the period is often held up as the epitome of a Christian America, when Christianity--or at least the Protestant variety of Christianity--was all but the de facto religion of the state, and when Biblical ethics supplied the basis for social relations." And another quote: WHY RELIGION MATTERS: THE IMPACT OF RELIGIOUS PRACTICE ON SOCIAL STABILITY By Patrick F. Fagan William H.G. FitzGerald Senior Fellow in Family and Cultural Issues1 The Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1064 January 25, 1996 America has always been a religious country. "Its first Christian inhabitants were only too anxious to explain what they were doing and why," explains historian Paul Johnson. "In a way the first American settlers were like the ancient Israelites. They saw themselves as active agents of divine providence."4 Today, he adds, "it is generally accepted that more than half the American people still attend a place of worship over a weekend, an index of religious practice unequaled anywhere in the world, certainly in a great and populous nation."5 4. Paul Johnson, "God and the Americans," Commentary, January 1995, pp. 25-45. 5. Kenneth L. Woodward et al., "Talking to God," Newsweek, January 6, 1992, pp. 39ff. And another: Chuck Colson - Prison Fellowship Ministries: "From its founding, America was heavily influenced by Christianity. As A. James Reichley, a senior fellow of The Brookings Institution, a left-leaning think tank, points out, 'Almost all of the principal founders of the United States, including Thomas Jefferson, were convinced that the health of republican government depends on moral values derived from religion.' For instance, Jefferson wrote, 'And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that they are of the gift of God?' In his second inaugural address, Jefferson said, 'I shall need the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life.'" Warren Nord of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Charles Haynes of the First Amendment Center, in their book, 'Taking Religion Seriously Across the Curriculum,' comment that it is important for students to understand this unique influence of Christianity that is deeply rooted in the American experience. 'Modeling themselves on ancient Israel,' write Nord and Haynes, 'the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony saw themselves as called by God to change the course of history. Without exposure to this conception of history, much in the rest of the American story is difficult to comprehend.' Here also is a quote from Samuel Huntington of Harvard University: "Christianity is historically the single most important characteristic of Western Civilization." I also assert that Christianity has been the basis for, or has strongly influenced, such concepts as individualism, entrepreneurship, capitalism, the rule of law, constitutionalism, representative government, social pluralism, and equality before the law. The influence of Christianity led to the founding of hospitals, hospices, and schools, the abolition of slavery, the elevation of the status of women and much more. I'll get to my points on women and slavery in my next post. However, one last quote to assert my position in this paragraph: One sociologist, Alvin Schmidt, said this of Christianity: "On the basis of historical evidence, I am fully persuaded that had Jesus Christ never walked the dusty paths of ancient Palestine, suffered, died, and risen from the dead, and never assembled around him a small group of disciples who spread out into the pagan world, the West would not have attained its high level of civilization, giving it the many human benefits it enjoys today. One only needs to look to sectors of the world where Christianity has had little or no presence to see the remarkable differences." Okay, I've gone on long enough to support my points and opinions regarding the influence of Christianity and its presence in early American thought and society. I'll post later regarding your points regarding women, slavery, and historical writings related to the Bible. Thanks. :-) David Flanagan Annapolis, MD Posted by: David Flanagan on August 8, 2002 10:27 AM
Les, I'm sorry, one last thing that I forgot to ask that is very important to me. The question is, what is truth? I know that we can define truth from a dictionary, but can we actually say that there are fixed moral and cultural truths without first asserting that there is some ultimate standard of truth? If there is, where does that ultimate standard originate? I know that many in society today believe that there is truth, but that its all relative. Is this perhaps what you meant when you said, "Hmmm. Don't see anything there defining truth being reliant upon anything other than reality." The only problem with that is that there can be no such thing as relative truth because, if you make such a statment, then you are making an absolute statement of truth. Basically, this statement is saying that it is always true that there is no permanent truth. This statement cannot be supported in light of its contradictory nature, i.e., you cannot use a truth to deny all truths. Even the statement that there is no truth at all can be argued. The statement, "there is no truth," actually shows that there must be truth in order for us to make this assertion. Again, you cannot use a truth to deny truth. So, if there is truth, then what is it? How do we find it? Who or what determined "true" from "false?" Anway, thanks again for your excellent reply and I look forward to our continued chat. Sincerely, David Flanagan Annapolis, MD Posted by: David Flanagan on August 8, 2002 10:42 AM
David, I was struck by your supposition that - "The statement, "there is no truth," actually shows that there must be truth in order for us to make this assertion. Again, you cannot use a truth to deny truth.". By using that logic I should be able to deny that a thing exists in order to prove that it does (very Orwellian), because if I can conceive of it then you have to agree it must in fact be 'true'. My assertion that "There are no lime green subterranean apes eating the homeless under the streets of New York." proves the existence of said apes because in order for me to refute their existence they must first exist. In my opinion it is just as silly to argue that truth exists because we can say it does not. Since you based the rest of your argument - "So, if there is truth, then what is it? How do we find it? Who or what determined "true" from "false?"" on a fallacious assumption, then it is by default invalid. Nobody determined that this thing is true and the other is false. Truth does not exist because I might be able to make the arguement that it does not. Posted by: Eric Paulsen on August 9, 2002 11:20 PM
I just posted an article on my blog at http://patriotforum.blogspot.com where I discuss the issue of the First Amendment and freedom of religion. Ironically, though I still hold to all my arguments made in previous posts, I now also believe that the proposed constitutional amendment designed to protect the "under God" statement in the Pledge is unconstitutional. Here is where I need to ask for some assistance. Does anyone know of a federal law that MANDATES the "under God" statement, or the "In God We Trust" statement on US currency? If there is such a thing, then I may have to eat my words and call them unconstitutional. However, if there are no laws then there is no constitutional issue. Why? Because as long as there are no laws involved, the First Amendment has not been violated. Unless, of course, you argue that mentioning the generic word "God" does not constitute the establishment of a religion. Really, though, passing a constitutional amendment in regards to the Pledge is the wrong thing to do. At best, its not the place of the federal government to do so. Being conservative, both politically and in my personal nature, I think it best that we just ignore the 9th Circuit Court ruling and not amend the Constitution. Thanks. David Posted by: David Flanagan on October 7, 2002 02:26 PM
David, I regret not having had the time to keep up with this debate. However, I can provide you with the info you are requesting. I will email you a copy of this info to ensure that you receive it. Here is the information you're requesting: “The national motto of the United States is declared to be `In God We Trust”, Law 31 U.S.C. Section 324a, titled “Inscription on currency and coins,” states in its entirety, At such time as new dies for the printing of currency are adopted, the dies shall bear, at such place or places thereon as the Secretary of the Treasury may determine to be appropriate, the inscription “In God We Trust” and thereafter this inscription shall appear on all United States currency and coins. (P.L. 84-140) Law 36 U.S.C. 186, passed by the 84th Congress on July 30, 1956 Taken from The United States' National Mottoes at http://www.geobop.com/Symbols/World/NA/US/motto/. As for the Pledge, it's covered under the Flag Code that was modified on June 22, 1942 when Congress passed a joint resolution which was amended on December 22, 1942 to become Public Law 829; Chapter 806, 77th Congress, 2nd session. Exact rules for use and display of the flag (36 U.S.C. 173-178) as well as associated sections (36 U.S.C. 171) Conduct during Playing of the National Anthem, (36 U.S.C. 172) the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, and Manner of Delivery were included. As you can see, both of these matters have been made into official Federal law. Posted by: Les on October 7, 2002 04:47 PM
Les, Thanks very much for the quick reply. Okay, yeah, I have a problem with federal law mandating the "In God We Trust" motto. As a Christian, I do trust in God, but, as an American and a conservative, I think we need to be very cautious about such things. I've argued before -- and still assert -- that many Americans, as well as many of the authors of the Declaration and Constitution, were religious in one manner or another. As a people who were already demonstrating an impressive diversity of faiths, they were more than eager to shed the state-run church system of England, as well as other European powers. The state-run-religion model was one that was perfected with the rise of the Catholic church and then duplicated in England as the Anglican Church, and settlers came here, in large part, to get away from from mandated religions such as those. So, in that sense, you can see the desire on the part of many to MAKE SURE that the new American government would never be able to make those same mistakes. The First Amendment, then, was meant to act as a restraining order against the federal government, preventing it from supporting or hindering any establishment of religion. In my opinion, officials of the federal government were and are free to express their religious convictions as they see fit, they are just not free to create laws that further religions or faiths of any kind, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Atheism, etc. The only argument I can think of to support the use of "In God We Trust" is that the use of the word "God" does not, in the technical sense, respect an establishment of religion. Instead, this motto and the "Under God" phrase in the Pledge express a general belief in a higher power of some sort. I've argued before that the assumption of there being a higher power is central to our belief in the equality of all people; a concept which took the place of the old view of a God-ordained heirarchy. Imagine being the King of England, the most powerful man alive and brought up believing that his authority was God-given and irrefutable, only to be told by a bunch of provincials that he was no more valuable or worthy to lead than anyone else. Worse, the Declaration asserted that our equality was God-ordained truth, NOT the rule-by-inheritance model. Was it self-evident in those days that all people were created equal? Not to the King of England. To the King, saying such a thing was more like heresy than truth; which is probably why his response to the Declaration was a declaration of his own... a declaration of war. Anyway, there I go again, writing too much. Thanks again, Les, for the info and I look forward to talking to you again soon. Sincerely, David Posted by: David on October 8, 2002 02:58 PM
I refute you thus: John Adams, for instance, spoke favorably of Christianity, the Bible, the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus Christ in letters to Thomas Jefferson on July 26, 1796, June 28, 1813, Dec. 25, 1813, Nov. 4, 1816, and Oc. 7, 1818. The great constitutional historian Forrest McDonald has written in "Novus Ordum Seclorum" that the other writers of the Constitution did not share James Madison's views of separation of Church and State (page 45). He also writes that "so habituated were Americans in thinking in Protestant terms that few could conceive of a civil order in any other way (page 42)." In fact, the Virginia Declaration of Rights says, "It is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other (page 43)." Madison wrote favorably of the importance of God to moral order in a letter to Frederick Beasley on Nov, 20, 1825. He also wrote favorably of the Christians in Berea in the New Testament (see Vol. I, pages 33-34 of "Biography of James Madison" by William C. Rives and page 307 of "A Cloud of Witnesses" by Stephen Abbott Northrop). Americans rejected Thomas Paine when he publicly declared his deism. "Common Sense," his famous pamphlet, favorably mentions the Bible, as I wrote in my other article, and says nothing against Christianity or for deism. Franklin talked publicly about the Providence of God. Finally, Washington issued orders to his troops urging them to be good Christians! He also went to church. America’s Religious Heritage Copyright © 1998 by Tom Snyder Introduction Some people claim that the religious faith of the Founding Fathers of the United States was deism -- the view that God created the universe but does not or cannot take an active role in guiding the universe or interfering in the affairs of men. This claim is completely false. It is time to confront this lie and those who propagate it. The best way to fight falsehood is by showing the truth. That truth can be tested by using logical arguments and factual evidence. The Faith of Our Founding Fathers According to Gary DeMar in America’s Christian History, “A study of America’s past will show that a majority of Americans shared a common faith and a common ethic. America’s earliest founders were self-professing Christians and their founding documents expressed a belief in a Christian worldview (DeMar, America’s Christian History, 5).” The late scholar M. E. Bradford spent much of his academic career examining all of the private and public writings of the Founding Fathers. According to Bradford in A Worthy Company, all but about five of the 55 Framers of the U.S. Constitution were orthodox Christians. These men had no intention of abolishing the Anglo-Christian culture which they had inherited, says Bradford. In Original Intentions, Bradford notes, “The concept of the Framers as ordinary Christians, as members in good standing of the various Christian communions found in early America, is supported by the recorded pattern of their lives....The assumption that this majority was likely to agree to totally secular institutional arrangements in the very structure of American politics contradicts almost everything we know about human nature, as well as the most self-evident components of Christian teaching concerning the relation of the magistrate to the ultimate source of his authority in God (Original Intentions, 88-89).” “Of course,” adds Bradford, “the most unmistakable evidence of orthodoxy comes in references made by the Framers to Jesus Christ as Redeemer and Son of God. These are commonplace in their private papers, correspondence and public remarks -- and in the early records of their lives....Such declarations are so frequent in the papers of the Framers as to belie the now familiar theory that our Republic came into being in a moment of absolute tolerance, of religious neutrality qua indifference or deistic rationalism....And not all of this evidence is relegated to wills or very private documents (Original Intentions, 89-90).” Many of the Framers speak explicitly “of the promise of the Cross,” Bradford states (Original Intentions, 90). “The variety of surviving Christian witness in the papers and sayings of the Framers is indeed astonishing,” Bradford concludes (Original Intentions, 91). DeMar and Bradford's research is confirmed by other fine scholars. M. Stanton Evans in The Theme Is Freedom: Religion, Politics, and the American Tradition proves, by citing many historical sources, that America’s political traditions and governmental institutions are rooted in the Bible and in medieval and Protestant Christianity. Among the traditions and institutions he cites are the right to own property, the right to buy and sell freely, the notion that the powers of all rulers and all government institutions should be limited, the idea of representative government, and traditions of economic and scientific progress. “All of these conceptions,” Evans says, “come to us from the religion of the Bible (Evans, 307).” The Christian era of the Middle Ages in Europe “nourished the institutions of free government,” Evans shows (150). Biblical ideas about kingship and the separate but overlapping duties of Church and State led to the medieval idea of constitutionalism, which established limits “on the power of kings, and on the scope of government in general (Evans, 151).” The rejection of this medieval doctrine by the leaders of the Renaissance and the French Enlightenment put Western liberties in jeopardy. The Protestants in Colonial America, however, kept this idea alive. They were influenced by Calvinist notions of covenental government, a network of social, political, moral, and theological contracts between God and Man and between people and their government. In their view, kings, presidents, legislators, and judges derive their sovereignty first from God and then from the people under them. Evans shows how this view led first to the Declaration of Independence then to the United States Constitution, and finally to the Bill of Rights. In other words, our whole system of government was founded by the religious right of the 18th century, not by deists, not by French intellectuals, and certainly not by pagans or atheists. Christian faith and American freedom must go together, Evans concludes. “The spiritual world of the Founding Fathers was one of Protestantism,” Saul Padover declares in The World of the Founding Fathers (Padover, 43). Padover also notes that, despite some of the Founding Fathers' antagonism toward traditional orthodox Christianity, “a residue of iron Calvinism remained in their souls, nourishing their stubborn sense of personal independence and giving moral support to their systematic refusal to accept [human] authority without questioning it (Padover, 44).” Padover adds that the Founding Fathers were, for the most part, Anti-Roman Catholic, Anti Church of England, and Anti Puritan theocracy. In The Roots of American Order, the late Russell Kirk, the father of the modern conservative political movement, also shows how great the Christian influence was on the Founding Fathers. In that book, he also says the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are “more nearly related to the Hebrew understanding of the Covenant (Kirk, 364)” than to Thomas Hobbes' or John Locke's ideas about the social contract. According to Kirk, the preaching of Jonathan Edwards and others led America away from deism: “The New England mind, which had been sliding into Deism, returned under Edwards' guidance to its old Puritan cast. For the rest of the eighteenth century, and for long thereafter, an evangelical Christian revival rooted in Calvinistic doctrines [my emphasis] spread through New England and presently throughout the rest of America (Kirk, 340).” Kirk points out that Thomas Jefferson had to hide his personal religious views because “it was not in 'Nature's God' that the American people generally believed, by the end of the colonial period: they believed in Jonathan Edwards' absolute God, the source of all goodness, the being of beings. Later it would be said that Jonathan Edwards' philosophy was the foundation of the Democratic party -- during the administration of President Jackson: Jeffersonian Deism was defeated even within the political organization that Jefferson had created (Kirk, 343).” “Although Deism in America would seem to be at floodtide during the American Revolution,” writes Kirk, “actually a revived Christian orthodoxy already was vigorous then -- and would be stronger still by the time of the Constitutional Convention. The American people came to expect their public men to be Christians, or at least give lip-service to Christianity (Kirk, 342).” Six other scholars support Kirk’s statements on American deism. Ernest Campbell Mossner in the Encyclopaedia of Philosophy says, “Before the Revolution, deism made relatively little progress (Mossner, 333).” Rousas J. Rushdoony writes, “Actually, Deism was a late arrival in America, and very slight in extent and influence prior to the American Revolution (Rushdoony, 2).” Historians Forrest McDonald and Ellen Shapiro McDonald point out that not only did the French Enlightenment have no impact on America but also the Founding Fathers “cited the Bible more than any other source (Requiem, 6).” Most Americans “shared a Protestant Christian world view (Requiem, 12),” add the McDonalds. Finally, in 1989, the Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company published God and Politics: Four Views on the Reformation of Civil Government. Both Gary DeMar and John Eidsmoe, in two separate chapters, present evidence which denies the charge that the Founding Fathers were mostly deist (see pages 200-212 and 221-230). Besides Thomas Jefferson, many people cite Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine as well-known deists. Even the evidence for this is faulty. For instance, Franklin admits in his autobiography that although he thought deism was true when he was a teen, he later found it not to be practical. Also, later in his life, Franklin publicly expressed a belief in Divine Providence and said so publicly at the Constitutional Convention. Such a belief is certainly not common to deists. Franklin was also one of the signers of the 1783 Treaty of Paris, a public treaty between the United States and Great Britain. This treaty opens with the phrase, “In the Name of the most Holy & undivided Trinity.” Even if Franklin privately was a deist and a Unitarian, he publicly signed a Christian document supporting the traditional doctrine of the Trinity, an essential doctrine for believers! Ernest Campbell Mossner in the Encyclopaedia of Philosophy says that Thomas Paine was not “overtly” a deist until 1794-96 when he published The Age of Reason in France (Mossner, 334). Paine's pamphlet Common Sense which was published anonymously in 1776 and which helped spur the Revolution, only had a temporary popularity, and Paine didn't even live in America until 1774 (Rushdoony, 25). Jerome D. Wilson and William F. Ricketson in their biography Thomas Paine assert that, in Common Sense, Paine “gives throughout the pamphlet the impression of being a very devout Christian (Wilson, 26)” because he knew that most of his readers were raised Protestant. In that pamphlet, Paine also “shows a very deep respect for the Bible, a hatred of the devil, distrust of Roman Catholics, and himself to be a God-fearing man. In fact, he rested his case against monarchy almost entirely on scriptural authority. Furthermore, the character he projects is one who subscribes to the Puritan work ethic (Wilson, 26).” These comments about Common Sense can be confirmed if you actually read the document. For instance, at one point in Common Sense, after Paine urges the framing of a Continental Charter among the Thirteen Colonies, he writes, “Let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God (Paine, 98).” Here, Paine makes a statement affirming the divinity of the Bible which he would later apparently condemn in his other, certainly more radical writings! Thus, Paine's privately-held belief in deism did not really affect the American Revolution or the U.S. Constitution. Paine was not a signer of the Declaration of Independence nor was he a signer of the U.S. Constitution. It is therefore not even accurate to call him a true Founding Father. Sometimes people say that John Adams, one of the leaders of the American War for Independence, was not a Christian. Such statements are based on a series of private letters Adams wrote to Jefferson between 1812 and 1814, where Adams attacks the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. These letters, however, although they probably represent Adams’ personal view throughout most of his life, are a private correspondence. Publicly, Adams behaved differently. For instance, he was one of the main negotiators and signers of the 1783 Treaty of Paris which opens with a statement supporting the doctrine of the Christian Trinity. Here again, we have an example of a Founding Father who keeps his unorthodox religious views private. Thus, it is completely inappropriate to use these private writings as evidence because they contradict Adams’ public actions. Admittedly, the Founding Fathers were not solely influenced by Christian doctrine. They also had a great knowledge of history and political science, from the Ancient Roman Republic to their own century. Not only Russell Kirk but also Bernard Bailyn in The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution and Gordon Wood in The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 point this out. Bailyn writes that the leaders of the American Revolution not only had great fears of a national body of bishops like that of the Church of England, they also had a great fear of parliamentary power and of using taxes to support national churches. This doesn’t mean, however, that they had a problem with using public funds to support Christianity because they did indeed occasionally use public money for that purpose. Bailyn also says the revolutionary leaders sometimes showed a superficial knowledge of Locke, Montesqieu, and Voltaire. Wood writes in his book that they found no problem combining the ideas of such writers with all sorts of facts from history and all sorts of quotes from the Bible to support their politics. Just because they used unorthodox writers to support their politics, therefore, does not mean that they were not founding a Christian nation. Significantly, Bailyn adds that the leaders of the Revolution believed “that America had a special place, as yet not fully revealed, in the architecture of God's intent (Bailyn, 33).” In no way can such a belief be called deist. A deistic god does not have an architecture or design for a nation’s history. The Christian Faith of the American Public The Christian faith of most of the Founding Fathers was pretty much the same as that of the American people at the time and for many years thereafter. In Democracy in America, first published in 1835 and 1840, Alexis de Tocqueville declares, “For the Americans the ideas of Christianity and liberty are so completely mingled that it is almost impossible to get them to conceive of the one without the other (de Tocqueville, 293).” Adds the great historian, who traveled throughout America in the 1800s, “In the United States...Christianity itself is an established and irresistible fact which no one seeks to attack or defend....the Americans have accepted the main dogmas (my emphasis) of the Christian religion without examination [and] receive in like manner a great number of moral truths derived therefrom (de Tocqueville, 432).” Could someone please explain to me how deism supposedly flourished in such an atmosphere as this? Christian historian Kenneth Scott Latourette describes the Christian influence on the founding of the United States in A History of Christianity: “In general, perhaps because of its predominantly Reformed heritage, American Protestantism was activistic....This extreme Protestantism with its strong Reformed strain was helping to shape the nascent nation. Even though those with a formal church membership constituted only a small fraction of the population, ideals and institutions were being moulded by their faith. Moral standards were set by it....The Protestantism of the Thirteen Colonies was laying the foundations for the democracy which found expression in the American Revolution and the United States (Latourette, 963).” This quote from Latourette's book, a classic work on the history of Christianity, is echoed by Earle E. Cairns in Christianity Through the Centuries, who praises Protestant reformer John Calvin's influence on education in America and on the growth of democracy and capitalism (Cairns, 312). Rousas J. Rushdoony discusses the strong Christian influence on the founding of the United States in This Independent Republic: Studies in the Nature and Meaning of American History. He writes, “The American political system, thus, is, first, a development of Christian feudalism, with, as shall be noted, Reformation concepts. Second, it is therefore markedly different from the doctrines of John Locke, Whig politics, and the political faith of the Enlightenment. Third, while rooted in the English tradition, it represented a new development in political and constitutional theory (Rushdoony, 22).” After discussing the legality and morality of the American Revolution, Rushdoony declares, “Basic to all colonial thought was the ancient and Christian sense of the transcendence and majesty of law. According to John Calvin, 'the law is a silent magistrate, and a magistrate a speaking law.' In terms of the authority of this silent magistrate, the rebelling colonials moved, and in terms of this faith, their magistrates became speaking laws. Constitutionalism, for the colonials, meant, as Baldwin has demonstrated with reference to the New England clergy, the absolute and sovereign God and His law undergirding the silent magistrate and the speaking law (Rushdoony, 32).” Rushdoony adds that the colonials were inspired by the Christian notion that government power and sovereignty should be limited. “This meant, first, a division of powers, which naturally implied, second, a multiplicity of powers, and, third, a complexity of powers (Rushdoony, 33).” Their esteem for complexity “had more than Calvinistic roots,” Rushdoony asserts. “It was deeply imbedded in the Augustinian and feudal inheritance of the Colonists (Rushdoony, 34).” Rushdoony concludes: “The colonial denial of [absolute governmental] sovereignty was an aspect of the Christian faith of the day (Rushdoony, 40).” M. Stanton Evans in his recent book The Theme Is Freedom: Religion, Politics, and the American Tradition also lends much factual support to the view that the roots of many of America’s political traditions and governmental institutions can be found in the Bible and in medieval and Protestant Christianity. Among the traditions and institutions he cites are the right to own property, the right to buy and sell freely, the notion that the powers of all rulers and all government institutions should be limited, the idea of representative government, and traditions of economic and scientific progress. “All of these conceptions,” Evans says, “come to us from the religion of the Bible (Evans, 307).” Christian faith and American freedom must go together, Evans concludes. Much more evidence about the Christian faith of our Founding Fathers and the rest of their fellow citizens can be given, but I trust the reader will find the evidence above to be more than sufficient to show that the United States of America was indeed founded as a Christian nation. The Two Kingdoms of God Several times I have cited evidence that the religious and political ideology of the Founding Fathers stems from the ideas of one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, John Calvin. Here’s what Calvin says about church and state: There is a twofold government in man: one aspect is spiritual, whereby the conscience is instructed in piety and in reverencing God; the second is political, whereby man is educated for the duties of humanity and citizenship that must be maintained among men...the former sort of government pertains to the life of the soul while the latter has to do with concerns of the present life...the former resides in the inner mind, while the latter regulates only outward behavior (McNeill, Calvin, 847). At one point, Calvin calls these two governments “the spiritual kingdom” and “the political kingdom (Calvin, 847). Although he makes a distinction between these two kingdoms, Calvin also declares, “They are not at variance (Calvin, 1487)” because they are both instituted by God. That is why he admonishes his readers, “We are not to misapply to the political order the gospel teaching on spiritual freedom (Calvin, 847).” In other words, although we are saved by grace through faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-10), God still makes certain moral demands on the political order or the civil government, and on all believers and nonbelievers who live under that political order. The civil government “pertains only to the establishment of civil justice and outward morality,” Calvin asserts, but “is ordained by God (Calvin, 1485 and 1489).” Therefore, we should not think of civil government as “a thing polluted, which has nothing to do with Christian men (Calvin, 1487).” We need the civil government to restrain sin even among Christians, contends Calvin. To think of doing away with civil government “is outrageous barbarity (Calvin, 1488).” According to Calvin, the civil government “prevents idolatry, sacrilege against God's name, blasphemies against his truth, and other public offenses against religion from arising and spreading among the people; it prevents the public peace from being disturbed; it provides that each man may keep his property safe and sound; that men may carry blameless intercourse among themselves; that honesty and modesty may be preserved among men (Calvin, 1488).” The civil government also ought to hand out justice, deliver the oppressed, protect the alien, the widow and the orphan, stop murder, and “provide for the common safety and peace of all (Calvin, 1496).” Calvin condemns stealing, murder, adultery, and promiscuity. He admits that the Mosaic penalties for such crimes should be geared to the people, time and place but that times of great social stress require harsher penalties from the state. Thus, Calvin strongly implies that the Church, as well as individual Christians, should work together to promote these biblical principles concerning the civil government, the political kingdom ordained by God. Historian John T. MacNeill confirms this understanding of Calvin’s writings. “It was Calvin’s aim,” he says, “to bring religious influences to bear upon magistrates....Calvin attempted to call forth among all citizens a political conscience and a sense of public responsibility....God, he said, should be held ‘the president and judge of our elections’ (McNeill, The History and Character of Calvinism, 187).” (See also pages 224 and 225 of McNeill’s book.) Calvin concludes: “No one ought to doubt that civil authority is a calling, not only holy and lawful before God, but also the most sacred and by far the most honorable of all callings in the whole life of mortal men (Calvin, 1490).” In “Temporal Authority: To What Extent It Should Be Obeyed,” Martin Luther makes the same distinction between a spiritual government or kingdom and a temporal government. He says there will be few people who actually live a truly Christian life. “For this reason,” he declares, “God has ordained two governments (Lull, 665).” Both governments are necessary, Luther contends: “the one to produce righteousness, the other to bring about external peace and prevent evil deeds (Lull, 666).” Christians may quibble with some aspects of Calvin and Luther's thinking about the Protestant doctrine of the Two Kingdoms of God, but their viewpoint is mostly a biblical one, as passages like Matthew 22:22, Acts 4:19, Romans 13:1-7, and 1 Peter 2:13-17 appear to demonstrate. Our Founding Fathers operated under this same sacred principle, as do many of the people in the so-called religious right today. Conclusion The United States Constitution actually says “in the year of our Lord,” a direct reference to Jesus Christ as God. This phrase was not a “mere convention” as some people claim; it was an expression of honor to the one true God. We can know this to be true because we know that many atheists today hate to make any such reference to Christianity. If references to Christianity in 1787 were mere convention, then lack of reference to Christianity today would also have to be mere convention. Just ask atheists why they want to remove “In God we trust” from our coins if such a removal represents “mere convention.” The Constitution also requires elected officials to take an oath of office. According to Bradford in Original Intentions, at the time the Constitution was written, to take an oath of office was to swear publicly by Almighty God. That is one reason the framers and ratifiers of the Constitution felt it unnecessary to require elected officials to also take a religious test in order to run for office. Why take a religious test when you have already sworn by God to uphold a document that expresses an explicit belief in the Christian Trinity? Although the Constitution forbids the federal government from mandating a religious test, it does not prohibit state or local governments or American voters from applying a religious test. Therefore, it is fully constitutional for a state or local government or any Christian political group to require candidates to believe in the Trinity or any other doctrine. If other people don’t like the test, then they can fight it in the political arena, through the ballot box. David Barton shows in Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution, & Religion that the idea of having no religious test meant only that the federal government could not force political candidates to become members of one Protestant denomination. Thus, when the Constitution forbids making a religious test, it did not mean that candidates must be non-Christians. It meant they could be Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian, or a member of any other orthodox Christian denomination. The United States Constitution and the American political system were based on Christian principles. Included in those Christian principles are the following theological and moral imperatives: · Government power and sovereignty should be limited to the specific theological and moral commands of the Christian God. · There should be a balance and separation of powers within the government so that a small group of evil people will be unable to tyrannize others. · All citizens should have the right to own property and to buy and sell freely, according to the moral law of the Christian God. · The right to life and property cannot be abridged without due process. · The ultimate source of all authority lies with the God of the Bible. · The American Government was designed to be a sacred covenant between the people, the state, and God. If the state breaks this covenant, then the people have the right, and the duty, to oppose the state but to use violence only as a last resort. · As the Constitution clearly states, Jesus Christ is our Lord because He is the second member of the “most Holy and undivided Trinity.” · Although the Constitution affirms a belief in the deity of Christ and in the Holy Trinity, neither the church nor the state is allowed to physically force people to believe these biblical teachings. The state should, however, do everything it can to facilitate the spread of the Christian Gospel and to place moral limits on the behavior of people. As the last constitutional, and biblical, principle shows, a truly Christian government should not really frighten atheists or non-Christians because a truly Christian government would recognize that people must have freedom to reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A truly Christian nation would thus actually demand a high degree of religious freedom for everyone. A non-Christian government, however, as the current situation in our public schools demonstrates, violates this law of God. Our public schools may pretend to be neutral when it comes to Christianity, the Bible and politics, but such pretensions do not match reality. Separation of church and state does not mean separation between politics and religion or politics and the Bible. As Gary DeMar recently pointed out, there is a difference between an ecclesiocracy where “the Church rules in society with religious leaders (ministers and priests as the government officials) DeMar, “Theocracy,” 11)” and a theocracy, where God rules the outward behavior of all people through the civil government. Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and People for the American Way may want to completely separate Christian theology and morality from the government’s social policy, but such a separation is not only impossible it is also unconstitutional. All these groups will ever end up doing is replacing one theology and morality with another. In effect, they are guilty of doing the same thing they accuse other people of doing. Their agenda is filled with intellectual and moral hypocrisy! The Christian republic founded in America in 1776 and 1787 was not a perfect one, but it was eminently preferable to the bloated, atheistic government that radical liberals and other extremists, backed by an ignorant and increasingly totalitarian Supreme Court, have established in this century. We must oppose the tyranny of the Supreme Court and the theological and moral corruption of the American legal system. Let us return to the Christian vision of our Founding Fathers! Let us free all Americans from their ignorance of the Christian heritage which formed this once-mighty nation. True love does not delight in evil but rejoices with God’s truth. Rejoice in the Christian heritage of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America! Remember the words of Jesus Christ in Mark 1:15: The reign of God is near. Repent and believe the Gospel! ### BIBLIOGRAPHY Ahlstrom, Sydney. A Religious History of the American People. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972. Bailyn, Bernard. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967. Barton, David. The Myth of Separation. Aledo, TX: WallBuilder Press, 1992. -----. Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution, & Religion. Aledo, Texas: WallBuilder Press, 1996. Boller, Paul F., Jr. George Washington & Religion. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963. Bradford, M.E. A Worthy Company: Brief Lives of the Framers of the United States Constitution. Marlborough, New Hampshire: Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1982. -----. Original Intentions: On the Making and Ratification of the United States Constitution. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1993. Cairns, Earle E. Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church. 2nd revised edition. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1981. Cousins, Norman, editor. In God We Trust: The Religious Beliefs and Ideas of the American Founding Fathers. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1958. Dawson, Christopher. Religion and the Rise of Western Culture. New York: Doubleday, 1991. de Tocqueville, Alexis. Democracy in America. New York: Harper & Row, 1988 edition. De Mar, Gary. America’s Christian History: The Untold Story. Atlanta: American Vision, 1993. -----. “Theocracy: The Rule of God Not the Rule of the Church.” Biblical Worldview. Sept. 1994, 11-12. Evans, M. Stanton. The Theme Is Freedom: Religion, Politics, and the American Tradition. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway, 1994. Gaustad, Edwin S. Neither King Nor Prelate: Religion and the New Nation 1776-1826. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1993. Hofstedter, Richard. The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It. New York: Vintage Books, 1989. Ketchum, Ralph, ed. The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates. New York: Penguin Books, 1986. Kirk, Russell. The Roots of American Order. 3d edition. Washington, DC: Regnery Gateway, 1991. Latourette, Kenneth Scott. A History of Christianity. Revised edition. New York: Harper & Row, 1975. Lull, Timothy F., editor. Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989. McDonald, Forrest. Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1985. McDonald, Forrest, and Ellen Shapiro McDonald. Requiem: Variations on Eighteenth-Century Themes. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1988. McNeill, John T., editor. Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion. Philadelphia: Westminster Press. -----. The History and Character of Calvinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967. Mossner, Ernest Campbell. “Deism.” Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Padover, Saul K. The World of the Founding Fathers. New York: A.S. Barnes, 1960. Paine, Thomas. Common Sense. London: Penguin Books, 1986 edition. Rossiter, Clinton, ed. The Federalist Papers. New York: Penguin Books, 1961. Rushdoony, Rousas J. This Independent Republic: Studies in the Nature and Meaning of American History. Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1978. Schmidt, Alvin J. The Menace of Multiculturalism: Trojan Horse in America. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1997. Smith, Gary Scott, editor. God and Politics: Four Views on the Reformation of Civil Government. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1989. Wilson, Jerome D., and William F. Ricketson. Thomas Paine. Updated edition. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1989. Wood, Gordon S. The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1969. Posted by: Tom Snyder on January 18, 2003 01:51 PM
John Adams – His Writings By Ronald G. Parks John Adams was elected in 1779 to a special convention to draft a constitution for Massachusetts. Although a copy of Adam’s original draft is not known to exist, it is generally acknowledged that the draft report sent to the convention differs little from his original. As other states began to revise their constitutions in the post-Revolutionary period, they turned to the Massachusetts model for guidance, as did the framers of the United States Constitution. So, to understand some of the thoughts of John Adams and more importantly what the framers of the U. S. Constitution put into their minds for guidance, we will look at some of the statements in the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution. I have also listed below statements from other writings of John Adams. The Massachusetts Constitution 1780 A.D. “… acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the goodness of the great Legislator of the universe, in affording to this people, in the course of His providence… a new constitution of civil government….” “It is the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the SUPREME BEING, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe.” “Good morals being necessary to the preservation of civil society; and the knowledge and belief of the being of God, His providential government of the world, and of a future state of rewards and punishment, being the only true foundation of morality, the legislature hath, therefore, a right, and ought to provide, at the expense of the subject, if necessary, a suitable support for the public worship of God, and the teachers of religion and morals;…” “...that no person shall be capable of being elected as a senator, who is not of the Christian religion.…” “...no person shall be qualified or eligible to be a member of the said house, unless he be of the Christian religion....” “The governor… shall be eligible to this office… unless he shall be of the Christian religion.” “The person chosen governor… shall… take the following oaths… do now declare, that I believe and profess the Christian religion, from a firm persuasion of its truth….” “... whereas the encouragement of arts and sciences, and all good literature, tends to the honor of God, the advantage of the Christian religion,…” I will stop here, but there is much more to this Constitution. But the point I would like to bring up now is that some people have said John Adams was a deist. To this I would like to expand upon his usage of the words like God and Christian religion etc.. Now let’s look at statements from some of his other writings. Essays and Controversial Papers 1763 A.D. “As he (man) comes originally from the hands of his Creator….” “… the extreme difficulty of introducing civility and Christianity among them.” (them being barbarous nations) A Dissertation on the Cannon and Feudal Law 1765 A.D. “To render the popular power in their new government as great and wise as their principles of theory, that is, as human nature and the Christian religion require it should be.…” “A native of America who cannot read and write is a rare an appearance … as a comet or an earthquake. It has been observed, that we are all of us lawyers, divines, politicians, and philosophers.” “Be it remembered… That liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker.” “Let the pulpit resound with the doctrines and sentiments of religious liberty… that God Almighty has promulgated from heaven, liberty, peace, and good will to man.” Miscellaneous statements from John Adams In concern for his sons, John Adams advised his wife Abigail to “ Let them revere nothing but Religion, Morality and Liberty.” “The Christian religion is, above all the Religions that ever prevailed or existed….” “The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence… what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity... Now I will avow, that I then believe, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God….” “I have examined all religions... and the result is that the Bible is the best Book in the world.” “If ‘Thou shalt not Covet’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.” “ Suppose a nation in some distant Region, should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. Every member would be obliged in Conscience to temperance and frugality and industry, to justice and kindness and Charity towards his fellow men, and to Piety and Love and reverence towards almighty God. In this Commonwealth, no man would impair his health by Gluttony, drunkenness, or Lust – no man would sacrifice his most precious time to cards, or any other trifling and mean amusement – no man would steal or lie or any way defraud his neighour, but would live in peace and good will with all men – no man would blaspheme his maker or profane his worship, but a rational and manly, a sincere and unaffected Piety and devotion, would reign in all hearts. What a Eutopa, what a Paradise would this region be.” “ Let me conclude, by advising all men to look into their own hearts, which they will find to be deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” “Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.” John Adams, June 21, 1776 Bibliography Eidsmoe, John. Christianity and the Constitution, Grand Rapids: Baker House Co., c1987 Federer, William J. America’s God and Country, Coppell: Fame Publishing Inc., c1994 Spalding, Matthew (Edited by) The Founder’s Almanac, Washington: The Heritage Foundation, c2001 Thompson, C. Bradley (Foreword by) The Revolutionary Writings of John Adams, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund Inc., c2000 Also, Please Visit: www.wallbuilders.com www.mayflowerinstitute.com www.providencefoundation.com Posted by: Ron Parks on June 18, 2003 03:48 PM
If we were asked today, which were the three most respected Founding Fathers of "there" day. The response would most probability be: 1. George Washington 2. Benjamin Franklin 3. Thomas Jefferson However, those three would not be the correct answer. The correct answer would be: 1. George Washington 2. Benjamin Franklin 3. Benjamin Rush Now, the real question is: Who is Benjamin Rush, and why don't we here much about him? Overview of Dr. Benjamin Rush  Singer of the Declaration of Independence.  He is titled as “The Father of American Medicine”.  He helped establish at least five universities, colleges, or academies.  He authored numerous textbooks (some are still used in colleges today).  He was a leading educator of his day and is also titled as “The Father of Public Schools”.  He pioneered educational opportunities for both women and Black-Americans.  He helped found and guide numerous societies, to end slavery, to promote science, to distribute Bibles and to provide relief for the insane, ECT.  He founded the First Day Society, which is what we now call Sunday School and he help found the nation’s first Bible Society.  He was a statesman, invaluable leader, a philanthropist, served under three Presidents and as a physician his discoveries benefited all of humanity.  He served as the Surgeon General of the Continental Army.  He helped write the Pennsylvania Constitution and was the Treasurer of the U. S. Mint.  He established the first free medical clinic.  He helped found the first American anti-slavery society.  He also wrote the treatise entitled, “A Defence Of The Use Of The Bible As A School Book”, and let’s not forget that one of the titles given him was “The Father of Public Schools”. Next are some quotes of Dr. Rush "I proceed...to enquire what mode of education we shall adopt so as to secure to the state all the advantages that are to be derived from the proper instruction of youth; and here I beg leave to remark, that the only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments." Benjamin Rush “Let the children who are sent to those schools be taught to read and write... and above all, let both sexes be carefully instructed in the principles and obligations of the Christian religion. This is the most essential part of education—this will make them dutiful children, teachable scholars, and afterwards good apprentices, good husbands, good wives, honest mechanics, industrious farmers, peaceable sailors, and in everything that relates to this country, good citizens.” Benjamin Rush “It will be necessary to connect all these [academic] branches of education with regular instruction in the Christian religion... whether parents or schoolmasters, who neglect the religious instruction of their children and pupils, reject and neglect the most effectual means of promoting knowledge in our country... upon the necessity and advantages of teaching children to read by means of the Bible...” Benjamin Rush “The great enemy of the salvation of man, in my opinion, never invented a more effectual means of extirpating [extinguishing] Christianity from the world than by persuading mankind that it was improper to read the Bible at schools.” Benjamin Rush “It is now several months since I promised to give you my reasons for preferring the Bible as a schoolbook to all other compositions.... Before I state my arguments... I shall assume the five following propositions: 1. That Christianity is the only true and perfect religion; and that in proportion as mankind adopt its principles and obey its precepts, they will be wise and happy. 2. That a better knowledge of this religion is to be acquired by reading the Bible than in any other way. 3. That the Bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state than any other book in the world. 4. That knowledge is most durable, and religious instruction most useful, when imparted in early life. 5. That the Bible, when not read in schools, is seldom read in any subsequent period of life.” Benjamin Rush “I have been alternately called an aristocrat and a democrat. I am either. I am a Christocrat. I believe all power . . . will always fail of producing order and happiness in the hands of man. He alone who created and redeemed man is qualified to govern him.” Benjamin Rush “We profess to be republicans, and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government, that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible. For this Divine Book, above all others, favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and those sober and frugal virtues, which constitute the soul of republicanism.” Benjamin Rush “By renouncing the Bible, philosophers swing from their moorings upon all moral subjects. . .It is the only correct map of the human heart that ever has been published. . .All systems of religion, morals, and government not founded upon it [the Bible] must perish, and how consoling the thought, it will not only survive the wreck of these systems but the world itself. "The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it." [Matthew 1:18]” Benjamin Rush “In contemplating the political institutions of the United States, I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes, and take so little pains to prevent them. We profess to be republicans [believers in a republic] and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government; that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible.” Benjamin Rush “...the study of the Scriptures be necessary to our happiness at any time of our life, the sooner we begin to read them, the more we shall be attached to them...a knowledge of the contents of the Bible is acquired in school...the Bible contains more truth than any other book in the world: so true is the testimony that it bears of God in His works of creation, providence, and redemption, that it is called Truth itself...where will the Bible be read by young people with more reverence than in a school...for this Divine book [is] above all others... Benjamin Rush v A Final Note, if you would like to learn more about Benjamin Rush, David Barton has a book that is titled, Benjamin Rush: Singer of the Declaration of Independence, it is an excellent book, and is printed by WallBuilder Press, Aledo, Texas (800-873-2845). Also, Wallbuilders sells the booklet, A Defense Of The Use Of The Bible As A School Book, by Benjamin Rush; and they have a video/CD titled, Education and the Founding Fathers. v Interesting Fact: Roger Sherman, who served on the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence was the only person to sign all four major founding documents; 1. The Articles of Association, 1774 2. The Declaration of Independence, 1776 3. The Articles of Confederation, 1777 4. The Constitution of the United States, 1787 Of his many accomplishments, he was also a self-educated Bible Theologian. Also, Please Visit: www.wallbuilders.com www.mayflowerinstitute.com www.providencefoundation.com Posted by: Ron Parks on June 18, 2003 04:05 PM
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