Skip to comments.One Nation Under God - America's Christian Heritage - Joseph Story
Posted on 08/18/2004 5:24:44 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
A Congressman and Professor of Law at Harvard, Joseph Story was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1811 by James Madison, the Father of the U.S. Constitution. He served on the Court for 34 years. Story's great work, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, is considered a classic of American jurisprudence. He was instrumental in establishing the illegality of the slave trade. He also convincingly argued that the United States of America was built on the principles of Christianity. In a speech at Harvard, Story stated bluntly:
There never has been a period of history, in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundation.
In his work, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States, Justice Story, had this to say about the purpose the First Amendment:
We are not to attribute this prohibition of a national religious establishment [in the First Amendment] to an indifference to religion in general, and especially to Christianity (which none could hold in more reverence than the framers of the Constitution)....
Probably, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the Amendment to it now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship.
Any attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.
In other words, the purpose of the First Amendment was to protect a religious people from the government -- not to protect the government from a religious people. It is perfectly all right, under the First Amendment, for the Government of the United States to favor Christianity over other faiths -- so long as other faiths are not persecuted by the government, and so long as the national government does not attempt to set up a national church, such as the Anglican Church in England. In his Commentaries on the Constitution, Justice Story stated:
It yet remains a problem to be solved in human affairs, whether any free government can be permanent where the public worship of God, and the support of religion, constitute no part of the policy or duty of the state in any assignable shape.
In fact, in his commentary on the purpose of First Amendment, Justice Story stated:
The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects [denominations] and to prevent any national ecclesiastical patronage of the national government.
Justice Story was quite mistaken.
Of the greatest leaders of our American Republic, only Ronald Reagan was unquestionably a Christian. Franklin, Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln were all Deists.
Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli, unanimously approved by the US Senate on June, 7, 1797, reads:
"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; ..."
Like all ratified treaties, this language is the law of the land here in the USA.
The seemingly endless struggle of Christian fundamentalists to rewrite history, with the aim of establishing Chritianity as the official state religion of the United States, is quite tiresome. They should at least stop asking why so few Jews vote Republican. The reason may be that they don't wish their children to be forced to recite Christian prayers in the public schools, as used to be the case not so long ago. Apparently American Jews fear Christian fundamentalists even more than Yassir Arafat.
You need to check your facts. All the men you listed considered themselves Christians.
Here's a couple of links on Washington:
Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Adams:
"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter" (Works, Vol. iv, p. 365).
"Mr. Lincoln was never a member of any Church, nor did he believe in the divinity of Christ, or the inspiration of the Scriptures in the sense understood by evangelical Christians." (Col. Ward H. Lamon's Life of Lincoln, p. 486.)
Col. Lamon, a close friend and long-term associate of Lincoln, was himself a Christian, and considered Lincoln's lack of belief a defect of his otherwise great character.
While some argue the contrary, the evidence is pretty persuasive that these men were not in fact Christians.
Lincoln and Ghandi, who'da thunk it?
More Lincoln lore:
"In 1846, when he was a candidate for Congress against a Methodist minister, the Rev. Peter Cartwright, his opponent openly accused him of being an unbeliever, and Lincoln never denied it. A story is told of Mr. Cartwright's holding a revival meeting while the campaign was in progress, during which Lincoln stepped into one of his meetings. When Cartwright asked the audience, "Will all who want to go to heaven stand up?" all arose except Lincoln. When he asked, "Now, will all who want to go to hell stand up?" Lincoln still remained in his seat. Mr. Cartwright then said, "All have stood up for one place or the other except Mr. Lincoln, and we would like to know where he expects to go." Lincoln arose and quietly said, "I am going to Congress," and there he went.
"On March 26, 1843, at the time Lincoln was attempting to obtain the nomination for Congress, he wrote to Martin M. Morris, of Petersburg, Ill.:"
"There was the strangest combination of church influence against me. Baker is a Campbellite; and therefore, as I suppose with few exceptions, got all of that Church. My wife had some relations in the Presbyterian churches, and some in the Episcopal churches; and therefore, wherever it would tell, I was set down as either one or the other, while it was everywhere contended that no Christian ought to vote for me because I belonged to no Church, was suspected of being a Deist and had talked about fighting a duel." (Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, Nicolay & Hay edition, vol. 1, p. 80.)
Oh...for a minute there I thought this was going to be a thread about a multicolored coat. :o)
Protestant ministers were the class most fervently Whig, as all the British commanders noted. But to taken the case of Lincoln, it is anachronistic to speak of him as a Deist, if only because of the role that Providence played in his last thinking. Even so, Lincon was out of sorts with the religiosity of his period. Story reflects the opinion of his time as we can confirm by reading Tocqueville. During the first half of the 19th century, as Ray Billington pointed out, the Protestant religion became unoffically established religion, and for more than a century thereafter the Establishment of the country was Protestant. You are confused by the fact that that Establishment has now become
indifferent or hostile to the churches.
I'll tell you something else that's tiresome--members of minority religions (or no religion) telling Christians that listening to a Christian prayer at a high school graduation or commemorative ceremony is a "shocking violation" of their religious and civil rights. Just because the government has no right to endorse any particular religion (or demomination) doesn't mean that someone else has the right to repress it.
"... the government has no right to endorse any particular religion ..."
Correct. And the public schools are agencies of the government. Sectarian prayers should not be led by public officials acting in their official capacity.
"Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"
IOW, you spout typical ACLU crap...
Not so. They were Christians.
If you want the entire story check out Tree Farm Communication's web site which handles Michael Medved's historical tapes.
"Apparently American Jews fear Christian fundamentalists even more than Yassir Arafat."
"You sound just like a lawyer for the ACLU".
Actually I'm a regsitered Republican, but I must admit it's becoming a strain sharing a political party with the likes of you.
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