America – A Christian Nation?
“In fact, every American colony, from its foundation down to the revolution…did openly, by the whole course of its laws and institutions, support and sustain, in some form, the Christian religion; and almost invariably gave a peculiar sanction to some of its fundamental doctrines. And this has continued to be the case in some of the states down to the present period, without the slightest suspicion, that it was against the principles of public law, or republican liberty.”
~~ Joseph Story (1833)
For those of you who believe that these United States of America was created as a secular society by our Constitution, you have no idea as to the REAL HISTORY of this country. While certainly, not everyone associated with the Constitution and the founding of this country can be labeled as “Christian,” it was generally accepted that this was in fact, a Christian Nation.
I will be quoting from six important and credible sources:
- The first one is from Benjamin Franklin, a man many call a Deist.
- The second one comes from the first president of these United States of America, George Washington, another man, many call a Deist.
- The third source is John Jay, the first U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
- The next two sources come from two distinctly separate positions and points of view, Joseph Story and Alexi de Tocqueville, yet, both say virtually the same thing regarding the religious founding of our Country, and the observed and expected influences of Christianity.
- The sixth source comes from a man in a similar situation to that of Joseph Story and that is Justice Brewer.
During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, there was a stalemate and we almost did not have a constitution or a country as the Articles of Confederation had been cast into the waste bin. The Larger states were insisting that Congressional representation be based on population, while the smaller states were insisting upon a “one-state one-vote” representation. Wise Benjamin Franklin realized that if something were not done soon, this fledgling nation was about to be disintegrated. At that point, he stood up and made the following speech:
“In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. - Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor.
To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that "except the Lord build the House they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.
I therefore beg leave to move-that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that Service.”
John Jay was the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court (1789-1795). He was responsible for writing Federalist Papers 2-5 dealing with "Concerning Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence." In a letter addressed to Pennsylvania House of Representatives member John Murray, dated October 12, 1816, Jay wrote:
"Real Christians will abstain from violating the rights of others, and therefore will not provoke war. Almost all nations have peace or war at the will and pleasure of rulers whom they do not elect, and who are not always wise or virtuous. Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."
Now I know that I do not really need to introduce who George Washington was. But let me remind the reader that in addition to having been a General in the Revolutionary War and 1st President of these United States of America, he was also president (or chairman) of the Constitutional Convention which created our beloved Constitution. Believe it or not, the principles that are espoused in his “Farewell Address,” were also present with him during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The following comes from his farewell address:
“…Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens? The mere Politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
’Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free Government. Who that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric….”
The second source comes from Joseph Story, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1811. Joseph Story wrote a three-volume commentary on the founding of these United States of America and the Constitution, which was published in 1833. In that commentary (Volume 3, Chapter 44, Paragraph 1867), Story wrote:
“Now, there will probably be found few persons in this, or any other Christian country, who would deliberately contend, that it was unreasonable, or unjust to foster and encourage the Christian religion generally, as a matter of sound policy, as well as of revealed truth. In fact, every American colony, from its foundation down to the revolution, with the exception of Rhode Island, (if, indeed, that state be an exception,) did openly, by the whole course of its laws and institutions, support and sustain, in some form, the Christian religion; and almost invariably gave a peculiar sanction to some of its fundamental doctrines. And this has continued to be the case in some of the states down to the present period, without the slightest suspicion, that it was against the principles of public law, or republican liberty. Indeed, in a republic, there would seem to be a peculiar propriety in viewing the Christian religion, as the great, basis, on which it must rest for its support and permanence, if it be, what it has ever been deemed by its truest friends to be, the religion of liberty. Montesquieu has remarked, that the Christian religion is a stranger to mere despotic power. The mildness so frequently recommended in the gospel is incompatible with the despotic rage, with which a prince punishes his subjects, and exercises himself in cruelty. He has gone even further, and affirmed, that the Protestant religion is far more congenial with the spirit of political freedom, than the Catholic. "When," says he, "the Christian religion, two centuries ago, became unhappily divided into Catholic and Protestant, the people of the north embraced the Protestant, and those of the south still adhered to the Catholic. The reason is plain. The people of the north have, and will ever have, a spirit of liberty and independence, which the people of the south have not. And, therefore, a religion, which has no visible head, is more agreeable to the independency of climate, than that, which has one." Without stopping to inquire, whether this remark be well founded, it is certainly true, that the parent country has acted upon it with a severe and vigilant zeal; and in most of the colonies the same rigid jealousy has been maintained almost down to our own times. Massachusetts, while she has promulgated in her BILL OF RIGHTS the importance and necessity of the public support of religion, and the worship of God, has authorized the legislature to require it only for Protestantism. The language of that bill of rights is remarkable for its pointed affirmation of the duty of government to support Christianity, and the reasons for it. "As," says the third article, "the happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend upon piety, religion, and morality; and as these cannot be generally diffused through the community, but by the institution of the public worship of God, and of public instructions in piety, religion, and morality; therefore, to promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government the people of this Commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize, and require, and the legislature shall from time to time authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, etc., to make suitable provision at their own expense for the institution of the public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily." Afterwards there follow provisions, prohibiting any superiority of one sect over another, and securing to all citizens the free exercise of religion.”
Alexis de Tocqueville
The third source comes from Alexis de Tocqueville, who was an enormously influential French political philosopher, politician, and historian. Tocqueville made a trip to the U.S. in 1831 to observe the penal system and from that experience he published his work “Democracy in America” in 1835.
In a Letter to Édouard, June, 20 1831, about his trip to America, Alexis de Tocqueville made this observation:
“Never have I felt so much the influence of religion on the mores and the social and political state of a people than since I have been in America, and it is impossible here to ignore the necessity of this force for motivating and regulating human actions.”
In his work, Democracy in American, Tocqueville wrote about the “Christian” influence on politics in America. In Volume 2, Chapter 9 – “Of the Principal Causes That Tend to Maintain the Democratic Republic in the United States”; de Tocqueville writes these two following paragraphs (under the noted subheadings):
Subheading: Of Religion Considered as a Political Institution, How It Serves Powerfully to Maintain the Democratic Republic among the Americans:
“Christianity, even when it demands passive obedience in matters of dogma, is still of all religious doctrines the one most favorable to liberty, because it appeals only to the mind and heart of those whom it wants to bring into subjection. No religion has so disdained the use of physical force as the religion of Jesus Christ. Now, wherever physical force is not honored, tyranny cannot endure. Therefore, you see that despotism has never been able to be established among Christians. It has always lived there from day to day and in a state of alarm. When we say that a Christian nation is enslaved, it is in comparison to a Christian people that we judge. If we compare it to an infidel people, the Christian nation would seem free to us.”
Subheading: Indirect Influence Exercised by Religious Beliefs on Political Society in the United States:
“You are free to think that a certain number of Americans, in the worship they give to God, follow their habits more than their convictions. In the United States, moreover, the sovereign is religious, and consequently hypocrisy must be common; but America is still the place in the world where the Christian religion has most retained true power over souls; and nothing shows better how useful and natural religion is to man, since the country where today it exercises the most dominion is at the same time the most enlightened and most free.”
The fourth and last source that I will quote comes from Justice Brewer. Like Joseph Story, Justice David Brewer was a Supreme Court Justice. It was from this position of authority that he makes some pretty astounding claims about America.
In the United States Supreme Court unanimous decision, Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457 (1892), Justice David Brewer made the following statement regarding American as a “Christian nation:”
“These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”
Additionally, in a book (The United States: A Christian Nation) that was published in 1905, Justice Brewer made the following statement:
“But in what sense can it be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that people are in any matter compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.' Neither is it Christian in the sense that all of its citizens are either in fact or name Christian. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact, the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions. Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian Nation--in fact, as the leading Christian Nation of the world. This popular use of the term certainly has significance. It is not a mere creation of the imagination. It is not a term of derision but has substantial basis--one which justifies its use.”
MY (Randy's) SUMMARY
From Benjamin Franklin, who was quoting from both the Old Testament and the New Testament, comes a speech that if not given, would probably have seen the demise of the Country that had united to fight the greatest force this world had ever seen at that time. Benjamin Franklin is accused of being a Deist, though there is no evidence to suggest that he ever considered himself to be. What’s ironic is that one of the tenants of a Deist, is that they believe that God created the heavens and the earth and then went away and was no longer concerned about humanity. The speech that he gave, clearly defeat the notion that he was a Deist. Franklin made another statement that having recognized Providence in the Revolutionary war that had he been an Atheist, he would have converted. Not only the speech was important to keep all there at the convention and work through the issue which yielded what we now know as “The Great Compromise,” but also was the implementation of the Chaplaincy in Congress, which could arguably make the point that Religion was inserted into government at that point.
Next, from the man that was one of the MOST IMPORTANT influencers in the establishment of these United States of America, Washington, comes the opinion that religion and morality (and that the two could not be separated) did and must continue to be a dominant influence in our government. Interestingly, so many would cast Washington as a Deist. What I find interesting is that Washington’s Deism (if that’s what it truly was), had a far more Christian foundation that most of the Christians that I know of in America today. Let me also make a point here; while he did not use the terms “Christian” or “Christianity,” it was NOT an “Eastern” religion, nor was it a “Middle Eastern” religion, and it was not “Judaism,” and it definitely was not “atheism” or “secularism (which incidentally has been declared a religion).”
Additionally, you can see from an “insider” (Story) and an “outsider” (Tocqueville) that lived during the same time that Christianity was not only observed to have played an important role in this country and that our Constitution was built upon the principles of Liberty encapsulated in Christianity, it was further observed that if Americans were to continue to enjoy freedom and liberty in these United States of America, it would be because America remained a Christian nation.
Further we can see that the opinion that these United States of America was indeed “A Christian Nation” did NOT change over the first hundred years of American History. It is only in these “enlightened” times of secularism that people have the opinion that this country should not now be influenced, nor has it ever been influenced by Christianity.
As a pastor that I had at one time said, “OH, the stupidity of the smart guys.”
2004 Constitution Party Presidential Nominee, Michael Peroutka, gave a speech entitled: “It ain’t what a man don’t know that makes him a fool; it’s the things that he does know, that just ain’t so.”
While I am a person who solidly believes our nation was founded and based upon the Christian principles of freedom and liberty, I believe that we are now living in a post-Christian nation and consequently have lost many of those freedoms and liberties that most of us “Old-Timers” have enjoyed.
If we want to see the Freedoms and Liberties, restored to this nation, then CHRISTIANS must rise up in her defense.
Certainly, many CINOs (Christians In Name Only) have given Christianity a bad name. However, there are probably many more well-meaning Christians who have no idea what it really means to be a Christian that has done far more damage.
FOR REAL CHRISTIANS:
- We must stand
- We must be counted
- We must be able to answer people regarding our Christianity as demanded by the Apostle Peter; “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
- We must be well informed of the truth, both within scripture and within the civil arena, so as to not be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;”
I want to know if there are any REAL CHRISTIANS that understand their duties as Christians and also understand REAL HISTORY and REAL DOCTRINE and understand the principles of FREEDOM and LIBERTY. If so, let me hear from you.