Subject: The American Revolution: A Faith-Based Initiative
Date: 2/26/2001 11:56 AM Pacific Standard Time
I am against federal funds being given to churches to help the poor, because I am against federal funds being given to ANYTHING. But the objections against "faith-based initiatives" based on the myth of "separation of church and state" don't hold water.
America IS a "faith-based initiative."
From George Bancroft, History of the United States, Vol.3, p.143-145:
In a more solemn tone, the convictions and purposes of America found utterance through the press. John Adams, of Massachusetts, a fiery Protestant, claiming intellectual freedom as the birthright of man, at once didactic and impetuous, obeying the impulses of "a heart that burned for his country's welfare," summoned the whole experience of the human race, and human nature herself, to bear witness that, through the increase and diffusion of intelligence, the world was advancing toward the establishment of popular power. He set liberty and knowledge in opposition to authority and ignorance; America to Europe; the modern principle of popular freedom to the middle age and its tyrannies; the New World over against the Old.
"The people," thus he continued, "the populace, as they are contemptuously called, have rights antecedent to all earthly government; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the great Legislator of the universe." Tracing the gradual improvement of human society from the absolute monarchy of the earliest ages, and from the more recent tyrannies of the canon and the feudal law, he saw in the reformation the uprising of the people, under the benign providence of God, against the confederacy of priestcraft and feudalism, of spiritual and temporal despotism.
"This great struggle," these are his words, "peopled America. . . . After their arrival here, the Puritans formed their plan, both of ecclesiastical and civil government, in direct opposition to the canon and feudal systems. They demolished the whole system of diocesan episcopacy. To render the popular power in their new government as great and wise as their principles of theory, they endeavored to remove from it feudal inequalities, and establish a government of the state, more agreeable to the dignity of human nature than any they had seen in Europe.
"Convinced that nothing could preserve their posterity from the encroachments of the two systems of tyranny but knowledge diffused through the whole people, they laid very early the foundations of colleges, and made provision by law that every town should be furnished with a grammar school. The education of all ranks of people was made the care and expense of the public, in a manner unknown to any other people, ancient or modern; so that a native American who cannot read and write is as rare an appearance as a comet or an earthquake.
"There seems to be a direct and formal design on foot in Great Britain to enslave all America. Be it remembered, Liberty must at all hazards be defended. Rulers are no more than attorneys, agents, and trustees for the people; and, if the trust is insidiously betrayed or wantonly trifled away, the people have a right to revoke the authority that they themselves have deputed, and to constitute abler and better agents. We have an indisputable right to demand our privileges against all the power and authority on earth.
"The true source of our sufferings has been our timidity. Let every order and degree among the people rouse their attention and animate their resolution. Let us study the law of nature, the spirit of the British constitution, the great examples of Greece and Rome, the conduct of our British ancestors, who have defended for us the inherent rights of mankind against kings and priests. Let us impress upon our souls the ends of our own more immediate forefathers in exchanging their native country for a wilderness. Let the pulpit delineate the noble rank man holds among the works of God. Let us hear that consenting to slavery is a sacrilegious breach of trust. Let the bar proclaim the rights delivered down from remote antiquity; not the grants of princes or parliaments, but original rights, coequal with prerogative and coeval with government, inherent and essential, established as preliminaries before a parliament existed, having their foundations in the constitution of the intellectual and moral world, in truth, liberty, justice, and benevolence. Let the colleges impress on the tender mind the beauty of liberty and virtue, and the deformity and turpitude of slavery and vice, and spread far and wide the ideas of right and the sensation of freedom. No one of any feeling, born and educated in this happy country, can consider the usurpations that are meditating for all our countrymen and all their posterity without the utmost agonies of heart and many tears."
These words expressed the genuine sentiments of New England; and extracts from them were promptly laid before the king in council.
Yale Professor Harry Stout shows the degree to which the American pulpit accepted John Adams' assignment and worked to foment revolution against the British Tyranny. Churches today say nothing against the government for fear of losing their tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status.
The most important military strategies and legal documents that gave birth to the American Revolution were drafted and approved in churches. The Revolutionary Army fought the war as a Christian Army.
America was a vision of a decentralized, libertarian theocracy. They were captivated by Micah's Vine & Fig Tree vision. The principles of the American Revolution were set forth during the Protestant Reformation, as Adams said, in such treatises as A Short Treatise on Political Power, John Ponet, D.D. (1556). Gardiner writes:
President John Adams credited this Calvinist document as being at the root of the theory of government adopted by the the Americans. According to Adams, Ponet's work contained "all the essential principles of liberty, which were afterward dilated on by Sidney and Locke" including the idea of a three-branched government. (Adams, Works, vol. 6, pg. 4). Published in Strassbourg in 1556, it is one of the first works out of the Reformation to advocate active resistance to tyrannical magistrates, with the exception of the Magdeburg Bekkentis (the Magdeburg Confession).
The idea that there is something wrong with Bush using the Presidency to rally churches around a worthy cause because of "the separation of church and state" is Orwellian in the extreme.
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares
and sit under their Vine & Fig Tree.
Adams added at this point, "Not religion alone, a love of universal liberty projected, conducted, and accomplished its settlement." At this point in history, atheists and secular humanists had not yet reached "epistemological self-consciousness," and instead of being committed to infanticide, genocide, and homosexuality, as they are today, non-theists were still part of a "Christian consensus" which Adams described here. Adams is by no means denying that the impetus was overwhelmingly Christian, he is merely graciously including the contributions of non-Christians to the American cause.
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