Disputing Separation Church/State Part 2


Decl of Indep Signger - half Seminarian Grads

By John R. Houk

© March 19, 2014

 

IN 1639, a group of New England Puritans drafted a constitution affirming their faith in God and their intention to organize a Christian Nation. Delegates from the towns of Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield drew up the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, which made clear that their government rested on divine authority and pursued godly purposes. The opening lines express the framers’ trust in God and their dependence on his guidance: “Forasmuch as it hath pleased the All-mighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to Order and dispose of things, . . . [and] well knowing where a people are gathered togather the word of God requires that to mayntayne the peace and vnion of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affayres of the people.” Moreover, the aim of the government so instituted was religious: “to mayntayne and presearue the liberty and purity of the gospell of our Lord Jesus which we now professe, as also the disciplyne of the Churches, which according to the truth of the said gospell is now practised amongst vs.”1 Like their neighbors in Massachusetts Bay, the Connecticut Puritans determined to plant a “Christian Commonwealth,” what Governor John Winthrop hoped would become a “City upon a Hill” that would inspire believers everywhere as a model Christian Nation.2 (The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America; By Frank Lambert; Princeton University Press; © 2003; Excerpt quotes of New England colonial intentions to establish Christian government)

 

In Part One I began refuting dougindeap’s arguments that the Constitution and the U.S. Judiciary have affirmed the principle that the Separation of Church and State was the design of the Founding Fathers in the two-way scenario of keeping the government out of religion and keeping religion as anathema toward touching anything to do with taxpayer money.

 

For reference purposes if you desire to read dougindeap’s essay it as at the end of my thoughts on the post “The Commonality between Leftist Paradigms & Scientific Theories”. In Part One I merely had expounded on dougindeap’s first sentence:

 

Separation of church and state is a bedrock principle of our Constitution, much like the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances.”

 

I pointed out that the First Amendment in no way demonstrates that religion should be separated from the government but only that the government cannot establish a Religion/Church institution. I then pointed out the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution implied Christian Morality as the foundation of the rule of law:

 

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (Bold emphasis mine)

 

I discussed the Christian intonations of the concept of “the general welfare”. I even confronted the miss assertion of Left Wingers that the Founding Fathers were Deists and as such intended the Church to stay out of government. My refutation even if it is true that the majority of the Founding Fathers were Deists, they were Christian Deists placing great stock in Christian Morality as a necessity for a Just and well-ordered society that will thwart anarchy.

 

Now I have to wonder the intentions of the words “secure the blessings of Liberty”. What were the thoughts of the Founding Fathers on the origin of Liberty?

 

“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts in the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. — Every step, by which they have been advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.” George Washington (Quote found, “SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF LIBERTY: I LIBERTY IS OF DIVINE ORIGIN; By J. David Gowdy; Institute for American Liberty; Copyright © 1996)

 

As far as Liberty is concerned the Founding Fathers in the majority that religion (meaning Christianity in the 1780s) was essential for a virtuous and moral society to remain cohesive in the practice of Liberty or chaos will ensue that will only despotic rule could quell. I found an amazing webpage of Founding Father quotes. Check it out:

 

 

John Adams in a speech to the military in 1798 warned his fellow countrymen stating, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

 

Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence said. [T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be aid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments. Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind.”

 

Noah Webster, author of the first American Speller and the first Dictionary said, [T]he Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government. . . . and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence.”

 

Gouverneur Morris, Penman and Signer of the Constitution. [F]or avoiding the extremes of despotism or anarchy . . . the only ground of hope must be on the morals of the people. I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments. [T]herefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God.”

 

Fisher Ames author of the final wording for the First Amendment wrote, “[Why] should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book? Its morals are pure, its examples captivating and noble. The reverence for the Sacred Book that is thus early impressed lasts long; and probably if not impressed in infancy, never takes firm hold of the mind.”

 

John Jay, Original Chief-Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court , “The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.”

 

James Wilson, Signer of the Constitution; U. S. Supreme Court Justice, “Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. . . . Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other.”

 

Noah Webster, author of the first American Speller and the first Dictionary stated, “The moral principles and precepts contained in the scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. . . All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”

 

Robert Winthrop, Speaker of the U. S. House, “Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet.”

 

George Washington, General of the Revolutionary Army, president of the Constitutional Convention, First President of the United States of America, Father of our nation, “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.”

 

Benjamin Franklin, Signer of the Declaration of Independence [O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

 

 

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim tribute to patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness — these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. . . . reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.” George Washington

 

 

“. . . Virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone that renders us invincible. These are the tactics we should study. If we lose these, we are conquered, fallen indeed . . . so long as our manners and principles remain sound, there is no danger.” Patrick Henry

 

“Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.” Patrick Henry

 

“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.” John Adams

 

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams

 

“Liberty can no more exist without virtue and independence than the body can live and move without a soul.” John Adams

 

“Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics.” John Adams

 

“[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.” John Adams

 

“The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.” John Adams

 

“Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, they may change their rulers and the forms of government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.” John Adams

 

“Honor is truly sacred, but holds a lower rank in the scale of moral excellence than virtue. Indeed the former is part of the latter, and consequently has not equal pretensions to support a frame of government productive of human happiness.” John Adams

 

 

“In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate — look at his character. It is alleged by men of loose principles, or defective views of the subject, that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations. But the scriptures teach a different doctrine. They direct that rulers should be men who rule in the fear of God, men of truth, hating covetousness. It is to the neglect of this rule that we must ascribe the multiplied frauds, breaches of trust, speculations and embezzlements of public property which astonish even ourselves; which tarnish the character of our country and which disgrace our government. When a citizen gives his vote to a man of known immorality, he abuses his civic responsibility; he not only sacrifices his own responsibility; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country. “Noah Webster

 

“…if the citizens neglect their Duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the Laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizen will be violated or disregarded.” Noah Webster

 

 

“The only foundation for… a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.” Benjamin Rush

 

“Righteousness exalteth a nation.” Proverbs 14:34 (Excerpts from: [100+ FREEdom Quotes] The Founding Fathers & Others: LIBERTY REQUIRES VIRTUE —; By Jeff Fenske; ToBeFree; 7/30/11)

 

Out of the mouths of the Founding Fathers. True Liberty exists because of virtue (See Also PDF – “Liberty and Virtue in the American Founding”, 26 pp.). Virtue exists due to the Divine Will of the Creator. Whether Christian or Christian Deist the Founders in the hand of God on his creation. Traditional/Orthodox (orthodox as in the agreed tenants of faith across Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant and any sect holding the basic doctrines of Christ) believe in the Word of God miracles and all. Christian Deists believe a Personal God created the rules for Nature to exist. Either way, morality stems from the Creator.

 

So yes, Part Two is more of a list of quotations rather than a treatise on Church/State separation. Nonetheless it is important to perceive that the Founding Fathers did not believe that the Christianity stay out of government. The Founders were only concerned in the government controlling Christianity at the expense of the Liberty of individuals’ civil rights.

 

End Part Two

 

 

JRH 3/19/14

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About oneway2day

I am a Neoconservative Christian Right blogger. I also spend a significant amount of time of exposing theopolitical Islam.

Posted on March 19, 2014, in Christian Politics, Conservative, Constitution and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. You offer a string of contextless quotations with the evident aim of showing the religious views of various founders–as if that is the way history is understood or the Constitution is interpreted. Hardly.

    While the religious views of various founders are subjects of some uncertainty and controversy, it is safe to say that many founders were Christian of one sort or another and held views such as you note regarding religion. In assessing the nature of our government, though, care should be taken to distinguish between society and government and not to make too much of various founders’ individual religious beliefs. Their individual beliefs, while informative, are largely beside the point. (Thus, whether you offer one or one hundred quotations of the sort you have presented, matters not one wit.) Whatever their religions, they drafted a Constitution that establishes a secular government and separates it from religion as noted in earlier comments. Indeed, that aspect of the Constitution was noticed and discussed in the debates about its ratification, since some were disappointed the Constitution did not acknowledge a deity. Imagine their surprise at all you would now make of the Constitution’s allusion to the “blessings of liberty.” Suffice it to say that the term “blessing” has religious and non-religious meanings and usages. See Webster’s Dictionary (1828).

    The Constitution’s establishment of a secular government is entirely consistent with the fact that some founders professed their religiosity and even their desire that Christianity remain the dominant religious influence in American society. Why? Because religious people who would like to see their religion flourish in society may well believe that separating religion and government will serve that end and, thus, in founding a government they may well intend to keep it separate from religion. It is entirely possible for thoroughly religious folk to found a secular government and keep it separate from religion. That, indeed, is just what the founders did.

    Lest there be any doubt on this score, note that shortly after the founding, President John Adams (a founder) signed, with the unanimous consent of the Senate (comprised in large measure of founders), the Treaty of Tripoli declaring, in pertinent part, “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” No need to resort to reading tea leaves to understand that. This is not an informal comment by an individual founder, but rather an official declaration of the most solemn sort by the United States government itself. Note that the Constitution provides that treaties, apart from the Constitution itself, are the highest law of the land.

    It is instructive to recall that the Constitution’s separation of church and state reflected, at the federal level, a “disestablishment” political movement then sweeping the country. That political movement succeeded in disestablishing all state religions by the 1830s. (Side note: A political reaction to that movement gave us the term “antidisestablishmentarianism,” which amused some of us as kids.) It is worth noting, as well, that this disestablishment movement was linked to another movement, the Great Awakening. The people of the time saw separation of church and state as a boon, not a burden, to religion.

    This sentiment was recorded by a famous observer of the American experiment: “On my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention. . . . I questioned the members of all the different sects. . . . I found that they differed upon matters of detail alone, and that they all attributed the peaceful dominion of religion in their country mainly to the separation of church and state. I do not hesitate to affirm that during my stay in America, I did not meet a single individual, of the clergy or the laity, who was not of the same opinion on this point.” Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835).

    • I began this post as a short introduction to Dougindeap’s comment on the post “Disputing Separation Church/State Part 2” left on my NCCR blog. However as I kept going and going (sorry about the length) I realized I just had to simply add this to the already part’s I had begun which prior to this post had reached Part Five. The way I handled this current post is by responding to Dougindeap’s Part Two comment in stages. If you wish to read Dougindeap’s Part Two comment before commencing my thoughts simply scroll down to the end of these thoughts where it is in entirety.

      http://oneway2day.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/disputing-separation-churchstate-part-6/

  1. Pingback: Disputing Separation Church/State Part 2 | Those Damn Liars

  2. Pingback: Disputing Separation Church/State Part 6 | The NeoConservative Christian Right

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