Skip to comments.Our nation's strength springs from founders' Christian principles
Posted on 03/15/2002 11:03:09 AM PST by 2banana
Our nation's strength springs from founders' Christian principles
Research shows that 54 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were Christians, and 27 had a theological education.
By BOB SCHEUER
In response to Bill O'Neill's Guest Opinion that our country was not founded as a religious nation, I would like to apply some facts from our nation's history.
Mr. O'Neill claims that we who believe that this country was founded on Christian principles are "wrong." While he is entitled to his opinion, consider some of the facts. Research shows that 54 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were Christians, and 27 had a theological education. These men went on to establish more than 100 Bible societies.
Patrick Henry said, "It cannot be said too often or too loudly, that America was founded not by religionists, but by Christians, and not upon religion, but upon the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."
If, as Mr. O'Neill states, "the Constitution . . . bans prayer in public schoolrooms," why did we take 175 years to figure that out and remove prayer in 1962?
It is often said that we don't really know the intent of the founding fathers. I beg to differ. Gouveneur Morris was the apparent author of the Constitution, a signer of it, and the most active voice at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 (speaking 173 times). In his commentaries of 1790 and 1791, Morris wrote, "Religion is the only solid basis of good morals. Therefore, education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man toward God."
Fisher Ames, the author of the First Amendment, wrote in 1801 that it would be a grave mistake to let the Bible out of the public schools.
It is not just the founders who supported Christian principles. Each branch of our government held to them. Consider the Trinity decision of the Supreme Court in 1892. After 10 years of examining hundreds of documents on the foundation of the country, they came to a unanimous decision, saying the documents "add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a religious people, a Christian nation."
Mr. O'Neill concludes that religion and government "must be free from each other lest they destroy each other." Here's what George Washington thought about the subject: "True religion offers the government its surest support."
President John Adams, another founder, said: "Our Constitution is for a moral and religious people." President John Quincy Adams said: "The highest glory of the American Revolution was that it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity."
President Thomas Jefferson held another job at the time he was president. He was the superintendent of schools in Washington, D.C. He required only two books to be taught in the schools: The Holy Bible and Watts' Hymnal (any Christian principles in those books?).
The first session of Congress in September of 1774 began with three hours of prayer (I wonder to whom they were praying?). The day after the Bill of Rights was passed in 1789, Congress voted to have a "day of thanksgiving and praise unto almighty God."
The House Judiciary Committee in 1854 was asked to remove religion from public affairs. After investigating for one year, the committee concluded that at the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the Amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, but not any one denomination. In this age, they said, there can be no substitute for Christianity. Benjamin Franklin, often thought of as one of the least religious founding fathers, said, "The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men."
Mr. O'Neill claims that "the Constitution bans religion from all government rooms." On the contrary; government was banned from religion. That is, the Constitution prohibits the government from establishing a national religion. The reason people left England was that the king was telling them how to worship God, and forcing them into a particular denomination.
Mr. O'Neill bases his opinion on a small portion of Article 6. Here is the full paragraph, including the first half which Mr. O'Neill omitted:
"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." There is nothing about a "ban" on religious activity, but rather a prevention from religion as being a requirement in holding public office.
After looking at some of the facts, and not just spouting opinion, it is more than clear that this great country was indeed founded by Christian men who believed the Christian principles they held would be the strength of this new country.
Mr. O'Neill was listed in his Guest Opinion as a "student of constitutional law." I pray that he will continue to study until he actually comes across some facts.
If you take time to research the actual historic record, you will find that the evidence is not only overwhelming, but conclusive, that the United States of America was founded by Christian men on Christian principles.
Bob Scheuer, Newtown, is a retired specialty food salesman and is currently a stay-at-home dad. Thursday, March 14, 2002
-- George Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, October 20, 1792
Who was the other, if Washington was indeed not a Christian?
The change was voted down. While many founders were indeed Christians, they wanted to create a secular government.
Anybody remember the part in the Constitution about "no religious test"?
Our nation's strength springs from freedom, and respect for individual rights.
"The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles, which enjoins humility, piety and benevolence; which acknowledges in every person a brother, or a sister, and a citizen with equal rights. This is genuine Christianity, and to this we owe our free constitutions of government..."
Really? Wow, I had no idea. I'd better quit volunteering and start raping, robbing and pillaging. I sure wouldn't want to disappoint the old Gouverenuer.
The American nation from its first settlement at Jamestown to this hour is based upon and permeated by the principles of the Bible
The Bible or Christianity?
At this point the Demoncrats all go back to smokin' crack.
And it's a good thing, too, because it's theologically illiterate. The Word, the second Person of the Trinity, is eternal, and all creatures have their existence THROUGH the eternal Word. The Word became Flesh 2,000 years ago, and only THEN was there a "Lord Jesus Christ." It is GOD who is the Creator--all three Divine Persons. Jesus Christ is God, but it is absurd to ascribe creation to "the Lord Jesus Christ," for even though Christ is the eternal Word made Flesh, "Jesus Christ" did not exist when the universe was made.
First Amendment of the Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof
Regards -- J.R.
LOL - I think you've answered w_over_w's question in the negative.
I'm a Christian and I believe that also.
Really? The how were "all things made through Him and by Him"?
Bickersteth lines up prophecies with fulfillments and shows how, *many* times, things that were prophecied for the Father to do, the Son actually fulfilled.
All three members of the Trinity are One. And they aren't just eternal, because "time" is a part of God's creation. He (They) live outside of that.
George Washington, the first president of the United States, never declared himself a Christian according to contemporary reports or in any of his voluminous correspondence. Washington Championed the cause of freedom from religious intolerance and compulsion. When John Murray (a universalist who denied the existence of hell) was invited to become an army chaplain, the other chaplains petitioned Washington for his dismissal. Instead, Washington gave him the appointment. On his deathbed, Washinton uttered no words of a religious nature and did not call for a clergyman to be in attendance.
From: George Washington and Religion by Paul F. Boller Jr., pp. 16, 87, 88, 108, 113, 121, 127 (1963, Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, TX)
"Tuesday, September 6, 1774. Resolved, That the Rev. Mr. Duché be desired to open the Congress tomorrow morning with prayers, at the Carpenter's Hall, at 9 o'clock."
Here's that prayer:
The First Prayer in Congress
O - Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech thee, on these our American States, who have fled to thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee, to Thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support, which Thou alone canst give; take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their Cause and if they persist in their sanguinary purposes, of own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved bands in the day of battle! Be Thou present, 0 God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honroable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst The people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask In the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior. Amen
The First Prayer offerred in Congress September 7, 1774 by Jacob Duché
RESOLVED, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States, to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, that many signal favors of almighty God, especially by affording them the opportunity peaceably to establish a Constitution of government for their safety and happiness.
US Congress, 25 Sep 1789 (immediately AFTER approving the final wording of the our First Amendment)
Delaware; Article 22 (1776) "Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust . . . shall . . . also make and subscribe the following declaration, to whit:
'I,_____, do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost , one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration'"
Delaware; Article VIII, Section 9 (1792) ". . . No clergyman or preacher of the gospel, of any denomination, shall be capable of holding any civil office in this State, or of being a member of either branch of the legislature, while he continues in the exercise of the pastoral or clerical functions."
Georgia; Article VI (1777) "The representatives shall be chosen out of the residents in each county . . . and they shall be of the Protestant religion . . . "
Georgia; Article LXII (1777) "No clergyman of any denomination shall be allowed a seat in the legislature."
Georgia; Article VI (1777) "The representatives shall be chosen out of the residents in each county, . . . and they shall be of the Protestant religion. . . "
Kentucky; Article II, Section 26 (1777) "No person, while he continues to exercise the functions of a clergyman, priest, or teacher of any religious persuasion, society of sect . . . shall be eligible to the general assembly . . . "
Maryland; Article XXXII (1776) " . . . All persons, professing the Christian religion, are equally entitled to protection their religious liberty. . . the Legislature may, in their discretion, lay a general tax and equal tax, for the support of the Christian religion. "
Maryland; Article XXXIV (1776) "That every gift, sale or devise of lands, to any minister, public teacher or preacher of the gospel, as such, or to any religious sect, order or denomination [must have the approval of the Legislature]"
Maryland; Article XXXV (1776) "That no other test or qualification ought to be required . . . than such oath of support and fidelity to this State . . . and a declaration of a belief in the Christian religion."
Massachusetts; First Part, Article II (1780) "It is the right as well as 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. . . "
Massachusetts; First Part, Article II (1780) "The governor shall be chosen annually; and no person shall be eligible to this office, unless . . . he shall declare himself to be of the Christian religion."
Massachusetts; Chapter VI, Article I (1780) "[All persons elected to State office or to the Legislature must] make and subscribe the following declaration, viz.
'I,_____, do declare, that I believe the Christian religion, and have firm persuasion of its truth. . . '"
New Hampshire; Part 1, Article 1, Section 5 (1784) " . . . the legislature . . . authorize . . . the several towns . . . to make adequate provision at their own expense, for the support and maintenance of public protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality. . . "
New Hampshire; Part 2, (1784) "[Provides that no person be elected governor, senator, representative or member of the Council] who is not of the protestant religion."
New Jersey; Article XIX (1776) " . . . no Protestant inhabitant of this Colony shall be denied the enjoyment of any civil right . . . ; all persons, professing a belief in the faith of any Protestant sect. . . shall be capable of being elected into any office of profit or trust, or being a member of either branch of the Legislature."
New York; Section VIII (1777) " . . . no minister of the gospel, or priest of any denomination whatsoever, shall, at any time hereafter, under any pretense or description whatever, be eligible to, or capable of holding any civil or military office or place within this State."
North Carolina; Article XXXI (1776) "That no clergyman, or preacher of the gospel, of any denomination, shall be capable of being a member of either the Senate, House of Commons, or Council of State, while he continues in the exercise of the pastoral function,"
North Carolina; Article XXXII (1776) "That no person, who shall deny the being of God or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments, . . . shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the civil department within this State.
Pennsylvania; Declaration of Rights II (1776) " . . . Nor can any man, who acknowledges the being of a God, be justly deprived or abridged to any civil right as a citizen, on account of his religious sentiments or peculiar mode of religious worship. "
Pennsylvania; Frame of Government, Section 10 (1776) "And each member [of the legislature] . . . shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz.:
'I do believe in one God, the creator and governor of the universe, the rewarder to the good and the punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration. '"
Pennsylvania; Article IX, Section 4 (1790) "that no person, who acknowledges the being of a God, and a future state of rewards and punishments, shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this commonwealth."
South Carolina; Article III (1778) "[State officers and privy council to be] all of the Protestant religion. "
South Carolina; Article XII (1778) " . . . no person shall be eligible to a seat in the said senate unless he be of the Protestant religion."
South Carolina; Article XXI (1778) " . . . no minister of the gospel or public preachers of any religious persuasion, while he continues in the exercise of his pastoral function, and for two years after, shall be eligible either as governor, lieutenant-governor, a member of the senate, house of representatives, or privy council in this State."
South Carolina; Article XXXVIII (1778) "That all persons and religious societies who acknowledge that there is one God, and a future state of rewards and punishments, and that God is publicly to be worshipped, shall be freely tolerated. The Christian Protestant religion shall be deemed . . . to be the established religion of this State. "
Tennessee; Article VIII, Section 1 (1796) ". . . no minister of the gospel, or priest of any denomination whatever, shall be eligible to a seat in either house of the legislature."
Tennessee; Article VIII, Section 2 (1796) ". . . no person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this State. "
Vermont; Declaration of Rights, III (1777) " . . . nor can any man who professes the protestant religion, be justly deprived or abridged of any civil right, as a citizen, on account of his religious sentiment. . . ; nevertheless, every sect or denomination of people ought to observe the Sabbath, or the Lord's day . . . "
Vermont; Frame of Government, Section 9 (1777) "And each member [of the legislature], . . . shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz.:
'I do believe in one god, the Creator and Governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the scriptures of the old and new testament to be given by divine inspiration, and own and profess the protestant religion.'"
"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."
John Jay, first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
Arthur, I've also heard the Trinity described as the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
It's immaterial. The point is that they had an explicit opportunity to insert Christianity into the Declaration, and they did not. Jefferson, a Deist by his own claim, writes about this incident quite a bit. One of the three things he aked to be remembered for was his "Statute on Religious Freedom" in Virginia. It codified freedom of religion for everybody, including those who held no religious views.
There is no doubt that Christians had a positive influence on the founding of our country. But I'll repeat, our strength comes from freedom and respect for individual rights. The founders could have held Christian principles and expressed them in a monarchy. They didn't. They were trying to create the best government they knew how, not trying to express their religious points of view.
In the political documents, correspondence, and other writings of Washington, few references to the prevailing religion of his day are found. In no instance has he expressed a disbelief in the Christian religion, neither can there be found in all his writings a single sentence that can with propriety be construed into an acknowledgment of its claims. Once or twice he refers to it in complimentary terms, but in these compliments there is nothing inconsistent with the conduct of a conscientious Deist. Religions, like their adherents, possess both good and bad qualities, and Christianity is no exception. While there is much in it deserving the strongest condemnation, there is also much that commands the respect and even challenges the admiration of Infidels. Occupying the position that Washington did, enjoying as he did the confidence and support of Christians, it was not unnatural that he should indulge in a few friendly allusions to their religious faith.
In his "Farewell Address," the last and best political paper he gave to the Christian religion is not once named. In this work he manifests the fondest solicitude for the future of his country. His sentences are crowded with words of warning and fatherly advice. But he does not seem to be impressed with the idea that the safety of the government or the happiness of the people depends upon Christianity. He recommends a cultivation of the religious sentiment, but evinces no partiality for the popular faith.
It would appear that we'll never know if Washington was a Christian or not. But, do you not find it somewhat strange that, if he was a Christian, he never declared so (even on his deathbed)? From my experience, people of faith tend not to be so secretive about their beliefs...<
While good generalities it would be equally true that the American Revolution and resulting independent nation sprang from preservation of The Rights of Englishmen, which to the overwhelming Whiggish tendancies of the colonists meant freedom from Arbitrary Power (as execised by the democratic instituion of Parliment) and the established Common Law (which dealt with Presciptive Law and not metaphysical rights).
Now I am not responding to you to claim that we are "a Christian Nation", but instead to share with you that my readings in history have lead me to believe that the assesment made by the article of this thread is not very far off the mark. The big question is, if we were so profoundly a nation brought into being by our Christian heritage, coupled with the Judeac underpinnings, what does that mean for us today in analyzing where our nation has had some obvious wrong turns in the march to the brink of world socialism?
One place to start to answer that question is in Michael Novak's recent book On Two Wings : Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding . Novak makes no belittlement of the Common Sense wing and does a fine job of showing the background of Madison defending the Baptists and the other things going on at the time that preserved the secular nature of our Constitution.
Kirk's first principle for Conservatism was the belief in an Enduring Moral Order. Sowell's belief (in A conflict of Visions) that the believers in the Constrained view of man hold the same issue central also affirms this. Conservatives want no Test Law....but we do want an shared understanding that without a common acceptance of a general Enduring Moral Order we are left standing defenseless against the onslaught of the Enlightenment Metaphysics right down through Marx and Choamsky of today.
In an age where every socialist talks more of various "rights" than any libertarian leaning conservative, we can only get Rights correctly confined back to 'individual rights' if the historical foundations of their value and there moral (and Christian) origination can be understood by all the citizenry.
Because someone who compiled a report claims that he can find no reference to GW declaring himself Christian is proof of nothing other than what this person could not find. Most Christians probably do openly declare their Christianity, but many don't, or don't do it so often that there would be references of it from his contemporaries or in correspondence, etc.
As I said earlier, the fact that Washington championed the cause of freedom from religious intolerance and compulsion is certainly not indicative that the man was not a Christian. In fact, many (probably most) Christians feel the same way.
When John Murray (a universalist who denied the existence of hell) was invited to become an army chaplain, the other chaplains petitioned Washington for his dismissal. Instead, Washington gave him the appointment.
So? That doesn't mean that GW was not a Christian. Many Christians do believe in Hell, but believing or not believing in Hell is not what makes one a Christian, and certainly being tolerant of someone who does not believe that Hell exists does not make one non-Christian.
On his deathbed, Washington uttered no words of a religious nature and did not call for a clergyman to be in attendance.
Do you think that every Christian who ever lived has uttered words of a religious nature and/or called for a clergyman to be in attendance on their death beds?
And no, I don't find it strange. Some people are more introspective about their faith than others.
What I see is some people trying to make something out of nothing.
I agree with your statement. The rights as defined don't conflict with Christianity, they support it. But they are arguably moral without reference to religion.
But they are arguably moral without reference to religion.
and I would agree if we are careful not to only underpin them with metaphysical construct but to also use virtue, order and good old common sense, a distinction Novak makes much better than I.
All branches of Conservatism from Libertarian to Paeleo share one simple group of goals, they just see them in a different order as Storm Orphan and I used to agree. Libertarians see Freedom ==> Order ==> Virtue, while traditionalists see Virtue ==> Order ==> Freedom. All the factions have those amongst them that see government far too much used in facilitating the Order part, when it really should be a product of each of us brought about by Freedom and Virtue.