Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In God We Trust




I wanted to continue on a topic over which I have had many debates over the years. I have many friends and acquaintances over the years that have argued that we are not a Christian nation, were not founded as a Christian nation, and that the founders specifically did not want religion intertwined within the governance of our nation. Often times these misguided people will cite specifically Thomas Jefferson’s quote taken horribly out of context from his letter to the Danburry Baptists stating that there must be a “separation between church and state”. I had one very intelligent friend even insist this was a part of the U.S. Constitution, which of course it absolutely is not. Indeed the first amendment to the Bill of Rights specifically states:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Note that nowhere is the verbiage of the “separation of church and state” to be found in the Constitution. The text of the first amendment was meant to ensure that the United States of America would not ever have a specifically state-sponsored religion. The intent was such that our nation would not have a national church such as the British had with their Anglican Church of England. This amendment, and indeed as the many following quotes will firmly establish, was NEVER intended to remove any mention of God and Christ from the public realm, including and even especially in the governance of our country.

Indeed, many of our Founding Fathers rather insisted on a moral Christian people to lead and govern our newly founded nation, and to have a robust reliance on God and His Divine providence to guide and govern our country. Too bad many, especially many on the left, have forgotten or indeed were never taught our history about this in its true context. Enjoy!


John Adams and John Hancock:

We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus! [April 18, 1775]


John Adams:

“ The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
• “[July 4th] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”
–John Adams in a letter written to Abigail on the day the Declaration was approved by Congress

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." --October 11, 1798


Samuel Adams: Portrait of Sam Adams

“ He who made all men hath made the truths necessary to human happiness obvious to all… Our forefathers opened the Bible to all.” [ "American Independence," August 1, 1776. Speech delivered at the State House in Philadelphia]

“ Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity… and leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system.” [October 4, 1790]


John Quincy Adams:

• “Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day [the Fourth of July]?" “Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity"?
--1837, at the age of 69, when he delivered a Fourth of July speech at Newburyport, Massachusetts.

“The Law given from Sinai [The Ten Commandments] was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code.” John Quincy Adams. Letters to his son. p. 61


Elias Boudinot: Portrait of Elias Boudinot

“ Be religiously careful in our choice of all public officers . . . and judge of the tree by its fruits.”


Charles Carroll - signer of the Declaration of Independence Portrait of Charles Carroll

" Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure...are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments." [Source: To James McHenry on November 4, 1800.]

Benjamin Franklin: Portrait of Ben Franklin

“ God governs in the affairs of man. 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 in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel” –Constitutional Convention of 1787 original manuscript of this speech

“In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered… do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?” [Constitutional Convention, Thursday June 28, 1787]

In Benjamin Franklin's 1749 plan of education for public schools in Pennsylvania, he insisted that schools teach "the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern."
In 1787 when Franklin helped found Benjamin Franklin University, it was dedicated as "a nursery of religion and learning, built on Christ, the Cornerstone."


Alexander Hamilton:

• Hamilton began work with the Rev. James Bayard to form the Christian Constitutional Society to help spread over the world the two things which Hamilton said made America great:
(1) Christianity
(2) a Constitution formed under Christianity.
“The Christian Constitutional Society, its object is first: The support of the Christian religion. Second: The support of the United States.”

"For my own part, I sincerely esteem it [the Constitution] a system which without the finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests." [1787 after the Constitutional Convention]


John Hancock:

• “In circumstances as dark as these, it becomes us, as Men and Christians, to reflect that whilst every prudent measure should be taken to ward off the impending judgments, …at the same time all confidence must be withheld from the means we use; and reposed only on that God rules in the armies of Heaven, and without His whole blessing, the best human counsels are but foolishness… Resolved; …Thursday the 11th of May…to humble themselves before God under the heavy judgments felt and feared, to confess the sins that have deserved them, to implore the Forgiveness of all our transgressions, and a spirit of repentance and reformation …and a Blessing on the … Union of the American Colonies in Defense of their Rights [for which hitherto we desire to thank Almighty God]…That the people of Great Britain and their rulers may have their eyes opened to discern the things that shall make for the peace of the nation…for the redress of America’s many grievances, the restoration of all her invaded liberties, and their security to the latest generations.
"A Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, with a total abstinence from labor and recreation. Proclamation on April 15, 1775"


Patrick Henry: "Orator of the Revolution."

“It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” [May 1765 Speech to the House of Burgesses]


Thomas Jefferson:

“ The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend to all the happiness of man.”

“Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus.”

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. 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 these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.” (excerpts are inscribed on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial in the nations capital) [Source: Merrill . D. Peterson, ed., Jefferson Writings, (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 1984), Vol. IV, p. 289. From Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, 1781.]

James Madison:

“ We’ve staked our future on our ability to follow the Ten Commandments with all of our heart.”

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” [1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia]

• I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare the unsatisfactoriness [of temportal enjoyments] by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way.
Letter by Madison to William Bradford (September 25, 1773)

• In 1812, President Madison signed a federal bill which economically aided the Bible Society of Philadelphia in its goal of the mass distribution of the Bible.
“ An Act for the relief of the Bible Society of Philadelphia” Approved February 2, 1813 by Congress

At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, James Madison proposed the plan to divide the central government into three branches. He discovered this model of government from the Perfect Governor, as he read Isaiah 33:22;
“For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver,
the LORD is our king;
He will save us.”
[Baron Charles Montesquieu, wrote in 1748; “Nor is there liberty if the power of judging is not separated from legislative power and from executive power. If it [the power of judging] were joined to legislative power, the power over life and liberty of the citizens would be arbitrary, for the judge would be the legislature if it were joined to the executive power, the judge could have the force of an oppressor. All would be lost if the same … body of principal men … exercised these three powers." Madison claimed Isaiah 33:22 as the source of division of power in government
See also: pp.241-242 in Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History: The Principle approach by Rosalie


Thomas Paine: (my blog namesake)

“ It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences, and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles: he can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.”

“ The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools, in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only, has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of his existence. They labour with studied ingenuity to ascribe every thing they behold to innate properties of matter, and jump over all the rest by saying, that matter is eternal.” “The Existence of God--1810”

George Washington:

Farewell Address: The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion" ...and later: "...reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle..."

“ It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible.”

“What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ.” [speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs May 12, 1779]

"To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian" [May 2, 1778, at Valley Forge]

During his inauguration, Washington took the oath as prescribed by the Constitution but added several religious components to that official ceremony. Before taking his oath of office, he summoned a Bible on which to take the oath, added the words “So help me God!” to the end of the oath, then leaned over and kissed the Bible.


In closing this blog posting, I wonder if we as a nation will ever truly and wholly embrace our national motto once more in the spirit of Christianity as our Founders would have wanted and indeed had intended. In God We Trust!

7 comments:

Annie said...

I do not believe our nation will return to the faith of its youth. Sad, but true.

T. Paine said...

I fear you are correct, Annie. I am always vaguely hopeful, but I suspect some tremendous world-changing event would have to occur before we as a nation and a world ever return to such faith again.

Dave Splash said...

Two can play at that game.

George Washington, May 1789: every man "ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience."

Thomas Jefferson June 25, 1819: "I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know."

Jan 1, 1802: "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State."

John Adams: "I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved -- the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!"

"Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind."

James Madison, 1785: "What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not."

Benjamin Franklin: "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my church."

T. Paine said...

Mr. Splash, I suspect you didn't read each of the quotations I listed because ironically you help to make my point, sir.

Our Founders did not want a theocracy or a state-sponsored church like the Anglican Church was in England. They did indeed want people to be able to worship (or not) as they chose.

HOWEVER, they gave credit to the Judeo-Christian God, His commandments, and principles when forming our country and its government.

They did NOT want every sign or mention of God erased from public view as do the militant left and the ACLU today.

For crying out loud, read the quote from George Washington about how during his inauguration, he added the words "so help me, God" to his oath of office after retrieving a Bible. The ACLU and the atheist left are probably still having conniption fits because Washington started that tradition.

Further, look at the quotation under Madison and how he used the book of Isaiah to help him frame the United States Constitution.

These were not anti-Christian or anti-religious men, nor did they intend for the nation to be so.

They simply wanted people to be able to worship as they chose.

The 1st amendment promises freedom OF religion; NOT freedom from religion, sir.

J. Marquis said...

I think things started to go downhill when we elected a papist to the presidency in 1960. You let the Catholics get a little power and it's a slippery slope from there on...

T. Paine said...

Marquis, I am not following you there at all. JFK was hardly taking orders from Vatican City if that is your point.

The Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian Church in the world, but in the modern era they don't run other nations.

That is not to say that they shouldn't have influence on people that claim to be Catholics when it comes to moral issues. For instance, I think it is right that the Bishop of the Saint Louis Diocese stated he would not give Holy Communion to those politicians that were publicaly supporting abortion. Is this the type of thing to which you are referring, sir? If so, that is not "power" but rather enforcing Christ's teachings on the sanctity of life.

I am not really sure what you are saying there. Would you please expand on your comment, sir?

J. Marquis said...

Just having some fun with you, TP. I don't really feel that way about Catholics but I do think it's important to keep in mind that up until fairly recently you folks were considered a less legitimate wing of the Judeo-Christian team here in America. Maybe you shouldn't get so high and mighty about who should be in charge...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Catholicism#United_States