Skip to comments.Our 'Godless Constitution': The Complicated Truth
Posted on 07/17/2013 10:10:28 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
This Fourth of July, I opened up the New York Times, and whammo! I found an extremely misleading ad sponsored by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. "Celebrate Our Godless Constitution," it read. The ad featured pictures of six founding fathers, and cherry-picked quotes that made it appear that these men were die-hard atheists-or at least, did not approve of Christianity influencing our nascent nation's government.
Now, it's quite true our Constitution is secular; the founders were well aware of what can happen when kings and countries force a particular religion on its citizens. Think Iran today.
But there's a big difference between believing a Constitution should be secular, and believing that religion-in this case, Christianity-should have no influence on one's country and its laws. Five of the six founders listed in the ad strongly believed that America would not survive if her people were godless.
For instance, John Adams warned in 1798, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
George Washington shared this view. In his Farewell Address, the old general said, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports." And, he added, "Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
Benjamin Franklin-no doubt a rather worldy man-urged participants in the Constitutional Convention to pray, because, he said, "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?"
While James Madison, like Franklin were against a state-imposed religion, as of course I am, our fourth president also noted that "before any man can be considered as a member of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the governor of the universe"-that is, God.
So while the Constitution cannot be considered a religious document, many of our founders' religious views deeply informed their thinking about the kind of government America should embrace. To suggest otherwise is intellectually dishonest.
They also considered freedom of religion so important that they enshrined it in First Amendment to the Constitution. This includes the right to bring our beliefs into the public square to influence our fellow citizens on issues like slavery, as antebellum believers did, and abortion, as Christians in Texas recently did, and as many are trying to do with marriage.
Ironically, the New York Times itself revealed how silly and misleading the Freedom from Religion Foundation ad is just a few pages later. Every Fourth of July, it reprints the Declaration of Independence-and kudos to them for doing it.
Allow me to read from the text: "We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America... [appeal] to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions."
But wait, there's more! The Declaration's signers wrote that they were acting "with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence."
We need to help our kids understand the complicated truth about religion and America's founders-and with "firm reliance" appeal to God to both bless America, and to forgive the sins of our nation.
Because Franklin was right: God does govern the affairs of men.
Our Constitution is founded in religious values; it is just not a document that enshrines any particular religion. And that is as it should be.
The Founders created a secular government for people who followed Judeo-Christian ideals and beliefs, in order to avoid things like the Thirty Years War. Unfortunately, as the people become more secular, the government becomes more dysfunctional, because they lose touch with the ideals and beliefs underpinning the system.
“Our Constitution is founded in religious values . . ..”
Quite so, but it matters fundamentally that those be essentially the values of Christianity, and not of Islam, for example. I believe our founders had in mind, broadly speaking, the values embraced and preached generally by all “mainstream” Christian denominations, while opposing the establishment of a “national” or “state” church..
“I believe our founders had in mind, broadly speaking, the values embraced and preached generally by all mainstream Christian denominations, while opposing the establishment of a national or state church..”
I think you are correct.
More specifically, regardless what FDR's activist justices wanted everybody to believe about "atheist" Thomas Jefferson's "wall of separation," the real Jefferson had clarified that the following about government power to address religious issues. The Founding States had made the 10th Amendment to clarify that the states had reserved government power to regulate religion to themselves regardless that they had made the 1st Amendment to prohibit such powers entirely to Congress.
"3. Resolved that it is true as a general principle and is also expressly declared by one of the amendments to the constitution that the powers not delegated to the US. by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively or to the people: and that no power over the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, or freedom of the press being delegated to the US. by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, all lawful powers respecting the same did of right remain, & were reserved, to the states or the people: that thus was manifested their determination to retain to themselves the right of judging how far the licentiousness of speech and of the press may be abridged without lessening their useful freedom, and how far those abuses which cannot be separated from their use should be tolerated rather than the use be destroyed (emphasis added); " --Thomas Jefferson, Kentucky Resolutions, 1798.
Bear in mind that FDR's puppet justices wrongly ignored that 10th Amendment protected state power to regulate religion is what gives a given state the power to authorize public schools to teach things like creationism, for example, as long as nobody's 14th Amendment protections are violated.
The bottom line concerning the Constitution and religion is not that the Constitution is Godless, but that Godless parents have unsurprisingly not been making sure that their children are being taught the Constitution.
I agree with this except for the last two words. The states were left to do as they thought fit in this regard.
More specifically, regardless what FDR’s activist justices wanted everybody to believe about “atheist” Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation,” the real Jefferson had clarified that the following about government power to address religious issues. The Founding States had made the 10th Amendment to clarify that the states had reserved government power to regulate religion to themselves regardless that they had made the 1st Amendment to prohibit such powers entirely to Congress.
A careful reading and reflection upon Jefferson’s coinage of the phrase, “wall of separation” will reveal that he intended to assure the Danville Baptists, and indeed all Americans then and now that government would be barred from encroaching upon the preaching and teaching prerogatives and practices of “churches,” broadly construed. He did not intend it to isolate and insulate the workings of government from the religious impulses of the people.
He did not intend it to isolate and insulate the workings of government from the religious impulses of the people.
And that is if there are any laws regarding religion they must be made by the people of the states for that particular state.
Some how the first amendment has became known as separation of Church and state, but the law is only for congress, not the states, it is plainly telling Congress that they can not infringe on the rights of the states.
The 10th amendment makes it clear that the state or the people of that state which are the same make their own laws where not prohibited by the constitution.
The first amendment does not prohibit the state from doing anything, but only prohibits The congress of the united states.