Lee v. Weisman

Vine & Fig Tree's
of Church and State Page

A Nation "Under God"
No Separation of True Religion and Government

There are several lines of evidence which show that the Constitution was never intended nor understood to deny the fact that both human beings and their institutions (such as "the State") have duties given them from God which they are obligated to obey. Until the rise of the ACLU and the myth of the "separation of church and state," the Constitution never prevented a politician from publicly acknowledging God or performing his public duties in accord with God's Commandments. Not just individuals "down in their hearts," but our nation was to be "under God." Ecclesiastical and political power could be kept separate, but there is nothing in the Constitution which separates America from God and from True Religion.

Our laws were patterned after the Ten Commandments. In this way our legislators acknowledged their duty to conform their political acts to the will of God. By making laws for the nation which conformed to the Higher Law of God, legislators acknowledged that this was a nation "under God."

In Engel v Vitale, 370 U.S. 421, 440, Justice Douglas, concurring, provided the following in note 5:

The Pledge of Allegiance, like the [voluntary New York public school] prayer [which the Court in this case banned], recognizes the existence of a Supreme Being. Since 1954 it has contained the words "one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." 36 U.S.C. 172. The House Report recommending the addition of the words "under God" stated that those words in no way run contrary to the First Amendment but recognize "only the guidance of God in our national affairs." H. R. Rep. No. 1693, 83d Cong., 2d Sess., p. 3. And see S. Rep. No. 1287, 83d Cong., 2d Sess. Senator Ferguson, who sponsored the measure in the Senate, pointed out that the words "In God We Trust" are over the entrance to the Senate Chamber. 100 Cong. Rec. 6348. He added:

"I have felt that the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag which stands for the United States of America should recognize the Creator who we really believe is in control of the destinies of this great Republic.

"It is true that under the Constitution no power is lodged anywhere to establish a religion. This is not an attempt to establish a religion; it has nothing to do with anything of that kind. It relates to belief in God, in whom we sincerely repose our trust. We know that America cannot be defended by guns, planes, and ships alone. Appropriations and expenditures for defense will be of value only if the God under whom we live believes that we are in the right. We should at all times recognize God's province over the lives of our people and over this great Nation." Ibid. And see 100 Cong. Rec. 7757 et seq. for the debates in the House.

The Act of March 3, 1865, 13 Stat. 517, 518, authorized the phrase "In God We Trust" to be placed on coins. And see 17 Stat. 427. The first mandatory requirement for the use of that motto on coins [370 U.S. 421, 441] was made by the Act of May 18, 1908, 35 Stat. 164. See H. R. Rep. No. 1106, 60th Cong., 1st Sess.; 42 Cong. Rec. 3384 et seq. The use of the motto on all currency and coins was directed by the Act of July 11, 1955, 69 Stat. 290. See H. R. Rep. No. 662, 84th Cong., 1st Sess.; S. Rep. No. 637, 84th Cong., 1st Sess. Moreover, by the Joint Resolution of July 30, 1956, our national motto was declared to be "In God We Trust." 70 Stat. 732. In reporting the Joint Resolution, the Senate Judiciary Committee stated:

"Further official recognition of this motto was given by the adoption of the Star-Spangled Banner as our national anthem. One stanza of our national anthem is as follows:

"`O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto - "In God is our trust."
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.'

"In view of these words in our national anthem, it is clear that `In God we trust' has a strong claim as our national motto." S. Rep. No. 2703, 84th Cong., 2d Sess., p. 2.

As to the phrase "under God," consider the following:

Gettysburg, Nov. 19. 1863:

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us —that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

You may have heard these words from Abraham Lincoln -- unless you went to a government school.

And the line about government of by and for the people -- it comes from the early Protestant Reformer John Wycliffe. He was referring to the Bible.

It was therefore not without reason that the colony foreboded collision with the crown; and, after a full report from a numerous committee, of which Bradstreet, Hawthorne, Mather, and Norton were members, the general court, on the tenth of June, 1661, published a declaration of natural and chartered rights. In this paper, which was probably written by Thomas Danforth, they declare their liberties under God and their patent to be: to choose their own governor, deputy governor, and representatives; to admit freemen on terms to be prescribed at their own pleasure; to set up all sorts of officers, superior and inferior, and point out their power and places; to exercise, by their annually elected magistrates and deputies, all power and authority, legislative, executive, and judicial, without appeal, so long as the laws were not repugnant to the laws of England; to defend themselves by force of arms against every aggression; and to reject, as an infringement of their right, any parliamentary or royal imposition prejudicial to the country, and contrary to any just act of colonial legislation." The duties of allegiance were narrowed to a few points, which conceded neither revenue nor substantial power.
George Bancroft, History of the United States, Vol.1, p.368-69

On the first of August, the general court of Massachusetts, as petitioners, thus addressed their complaints to the king: "Your poor subjects are threatened with ruin, reproached with the name of rebels, and your government, established by charter, and our privileges, are violated and undermined; some of your faithful subjects dispossessed of their lands and goods without hearing them speak in their cases; the unity of the English colonies, which is the wall and bulwark under God against the heathen, discountenanced, reproached, and undermined; our bounds and limits clipped and shortened. A just dependence upon and allegiance unto your majesty, according to the charter, we have, and do profess and practice, and have by our oaths of allegiance to your majesty confirmed; but to be placed upon the sandy foundations of a blind obedience unto that arbitrary, absolute, and unlimited power which these gentlemen would impose upon us, who in their actings have carried it not as indifferent persons toward us, this as it is contrary to your majesty's gracious expressions and the liberties of Englishmen, so we can see no reason to submit thereto."
George Bancroft, History of the United States, Vol.1, p.378

While America generally was so tranquil, Samuel Adams continued musing, till the thought of correspondence and union among the friends of liberty ripened in his mind. "It would be an arduous task," he said, meditating a project which required a year's reflection for its maturity, "to awaken a sufficient number in the colonies to so grand an undertaking. Nothing, however, should be despaired of." Through the press, in October, he continued: "We have nothing to rely upon but the interposition of our friends in Britain, of which I have no expectation, or the LAST APPEAL. The tragedy of American freedom is nearly completed. A tyranny seems to be at the very door. They who lie under oppression deserve what they suffer; let them perish with their oppressors. Could millions be enslaved, if all possessed the independent spirit of Brutus, who, to his immortal honor, expelled the tyrant of Rome and his royal and rebellious race The liberties of our country are worth defending at all hazards. If we should suffer them to be wrested from us, millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers in the event. Every step has been taken but one; and the last appeal would require prudence, unanimity, and fortitude. America must herself, under God, work out her own salvation."
George Bancroft, History of the United States, Vol.3, p.406-7

You are in my opinion perfectly right in your supposition, that "the redress of American grievances likely to be proposed by the ministry will at first only be partial; and that it is intended to retain some of the revenue duties, in order to establish a right of Parliament to tax the colonies." But I hope that, by persisting steadily in the measure you have so laudably entered into, you will, if backed by the general honest resolution of the people to buy British goods of no others, but to manufacture for themselves, or use colony manufactures only, be the means, under God, of recovering and establishing the freedom of our country entire, and of handing it down complete to posterity
Benjamin Franklin, Smyth 5:220. (1769.)

The congress of Massachusetts, though destitute of munitions of war, armed vessels, military stores, and money, had confidence that a small people, resolute in its convictions, out weighs an empire. On the return of Samuel Adams, they adopted all the recommendations of the continental congress. They established a secret correspondence with Canada. They entreated the ministers of the gospel in their colony "to assist in avoiding that dreadful slavery with which all were now threatened." "You," said they to its people, "are placed by Providence in the post of honor, because it is the post of danger; while struggling for the noblest objects, let nothing unbecoming our character as Americans, as citizens, and Christians, be justly chargeable to us. Whoever considers the number of brave men inhabiting North America will know that a general attention to military discipline must so establish their rights and liberties as, under God, to render it impossible to destroy them. But we apprise you of your danger, which appears to us imminently great." With such words they adjourned, to keep the annual Thanksgiving which they them selves had appointed, finding occasion in their distress to rejoice at "the smiles of Divine Providence on the union in their own province and throughout the continent."
George Bancroft, History of the United States, Vol.4, p.94

"The minister must recede," wrote Garnier to Vergennes, "or lose America forever." "Your chief dependence," such were Franklin's words to Massachusetts, "must be on your own virtue and unanimity, which, under God, will bring you through all difficulties."
George Bancroft, History of the United States, Vol.4, p.115

When the quiet of a week had revived ancient usages, Washington attended the Thursday lecture, which had been kept up from the days of Winthrop and Wilson, and all rejoiced with exceeding joy at seeing this New England Zion once more a quiet habitation; they called it "a tabernacle of which not one of the stakes should ever be removed, nor one of the cords be broken." [Isaiah 33:20] The Puritan ancestry of Massachusetts seemed holding out their hands to bless the deliverer of their children.

On the twenty-ninth the two branches of the legislature addressed him jointly, dwelling on the respect he had ever shown to their civil constitution, as well as on his regard for the lives and health of all under his command. "Go on," said they, "still go on, approved by heaven, revered by all good men, and dreaded by tyrants; may future generations, in the peaceful enjoyment of that freedom which your sword shall have established, raise the most lasting monuments to the name of Washington." And in his answer he renewed his pledges of "a regard to every provincial institution." When the continental congress, on the motion of John Adams, voted him thanks and a commemorative medal of gold, he modestly transferred their praises to the men of his command, saying: "They were, indeed, at first a band of undisciplined husbandmen; but it is, under God, to their bravery and attention to duty that I am indebted for that success which has procured me the only reward I wish to receive, the affection and esteem of my countrymen."
George Bancroft, History of the United States, Vol.4, p.330-31

Special Session Message, May 16, 1797.
Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:
* * *
Convinced that the conduct of the Government has been just and impartial to foreign nations, that those internal regulations which have been established by law for the preservation of peace are in their nature proper, and that they have been fairly executed, nothing will ever be done by me to impair the national engagements, to innovate upon principles which have been so deliberately and uprightly established, or to surrender in any manner the rights of the Government. To enable me to maintain this declaration I rely, under God, with entire confidence on the firm and enlightened support of the National Legislature and upon the virtue and patriotism of my fellow-citizens.
Messages and Papers of the Presidents, John Adams, vol. 1, p.229

The New England Puritans not only ordered their commonwealth by the Ten Commandments and the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, but constantly drew parallels between themselves and the people of Israel and Judah. The Puritans thought of themselves as experiencing afresh, under God, the tribulations and the successes of the Hebrew people. "For answers to their problems," says Daniel Boorstin, "they drew as readily on Exodus, Kings, or Romans, as on the less narrative portions of the Bible. Their peculiar circumstances and their flair for the dramatic led them to see special significance in these narrative passages. The basic reality in their life was the analogy with the Children of Israel. They conceived that by going out into the Wilderness, they were reliving the story of Exodus and not merely obeying an explicit command to go into the wilderness. For them the Bible was less a body of legislation than a set of binding precedents.
[Daniel Boorstin, The Americans: the Colonial Experience (New York: Random House, 1958), p. 19.]
Russell Kirk, The Roots of American Order, p.46

Clinton Rossiter expresses succinctly the cardinal point [p.48] that American democratic society rests upon Puritan and other Calvinistic beliefs—and through those, in no small part upon the experience of Israel under God. "For all its faults and falterings, for all the distance it has yet to travel," Rossiter states, "American democracy has been and remains a highly moral adventure. Whatever doubts may exist about the sources of this democracy, there can be none about the chief source of the morality that gives it life and substance..."From this Puritan inheritance, this transplanted Hebrew tradition, there come "the contract and all its corollaries; the higher law as something more than a 'brooding omnipresence in the sky'; the concept of the competent and responsible individual; certain key ingredients of economic individualism; the insistence on a citizenry educated to understand its rights and duties; and the middle-class virtues, that high plateau of moral stability on which, so Americans believe, successful democracy must always build.''
[Clinton Rossiter, Seedtime of the Republic: the Origin of the American Tradition of Political Liberty (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1953), p. 55.]
Russell Kirk, The Roots of American Order, p.48

Where in the Constitution is America's status as a nation "under God' repudiated? Where is this Christian heritage replaced with ACLU-brand secularism?

It was Christians of various denominations, not atheists, who worked to create a government which separated ecclesiastical power from political power. But NOBODY -- Christian or atheist -- advocated a government which would claim godhead for itself.

And if the common law was the foundation of order, also it was the foundation of freedom. The high claim of the old commentators on the common law was this: no man, not even the king, was above or beyond the law. "The king himself," Bracton wrote, "ought not to be under man but under God, and under the Law, because the Law makes the king. Therefore, let the king render back to the Law what the Law gives to him, namely, dominion and power; for there is no king where will, and not Law, wields dominion." The Law is a bridle upon the king. Though the king may not be sued, he may be petitioned; if he will not do justice upon receiving a reasonable petition, the king's own Great Council, or the barons and the people, then may restrain his power. Just that had been done to King John, less than half a century before Bracton wrote, and would be done to later kings who tried to set themselves above the Law. Here are the beginnings of the principle of a government of laws, not of men.'
Kirk, The Roots of American Order, p.190

Without Authority vested somewhere, without regular moral principles that may be consulted confidently, Justice [p.463] cannot long endure anywhere. Yet modern liberalism and democracy are contemptuous of the whole concept of moral authority; if not checked in their assaults upon habitual reverence and prescriptive morality, the liberals and democrats will destroy Justice not only for their enemies, but for themselves. Under God, the will of the people ought to prevail; but many liberals and democrats ignore that prefatory clause. In America, particularly since 1825, there had been distressingly obvious a tendency to make over the government into a pure and simple democracy, centralized and intolerant of local rights and powers, upon the model of Rousseau. That "pure" democracy, if triumphant, would destroy the beneficent "territorial democracy" (a phrase Brownson borrowed from Disraeli) of the United States, with its roots in place. This would be a change from a civilized constitution to a barbaric one. The Civil War, said Brownson, had accelerated the process.
Yet Brownson labored on, an old man in Detroit, exhorting Americans to vigor. Under God, said Brownson in his emphatic way, the American Republic may grow in virtue and justice. A century later, the words "under God" would be added to the American pledge of allegiance. Brownson's principles of justice, after all, expressed those American moral habits of thought and action that Tocqueville had found strong. The violence and confusion of Brownson's time would diminish somewhat; Marxism would make little headway in the United States. So thoroughly American himself, Orestes Brownson knew that there was more to America's great expectations than the almighty dollar.
Kirk, The Roots of American Order, p.462, 468

For more than half a century, the public school children of Baltimore had opened their school day by hearing two or three verses from the Bible, saying the Lord's Prayer, and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance—which, since 1954, included the words "under God." This was in compliance with a rule adopted in 1905 by the Baltimore Board of Education, pursuant to the authority vested in it by state statute, requiring each public school within its jurisdiction to open each school day with exercises consisting primarily of the "reading, without comment, of a chapter in the Holy Bible and/or the use of the Lord's Prayer." The Baltimore school authorities now informed [Madalyn Murray O'Hair] that all students must participate in the morning exercises.
George Goldberg, Church, State and the Constitution, p.73-74

The Court requires government at all levels to maintain a neutrality between theism and non-theism which results, in practical effect, in a governmental preference of the religion of agnostic secularism. Justice Brennan argued, in his concurrence in the 1963 school prayer case, that the words "under God" could still be kept in the Pledge of Allegiance only because they "no longer have a religious purpose or meaning." Instead, according to Brennan they "may merely recognize the historical fact that our Nation was believed to have been founded 'under God."[Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 304, (1963).] This false neutrality would logically prevent an assertion by any government official, whether President or school teacher, that the Declaration of Independence—the first of the Organic Laws of the United States printed at the head of the United States Code—is in fact true when it asserts that men are endowed "by [p.156] their Creator" with certain unalienable rights and when it affirms "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God," a "Supreme Judge of the world" and "Divine Providence." If a pupil asks his public school teacher whether God exists, as the Declaration affirms He does, and if the teacher says, '"Yes," that is unconstitutional as a preference of theism; if the teacher says, "No," that is unconstitutional as a preference of atheism. The only thing the teacher can do, according to the theory of the Court, is to suspend judgment, to say, "I (the State) do not know." But this is an affirmation of the religion of agnosticism.
Edward B. McLean, Derailing the Constitution, p.155

My countrymen:
This occasion is not alone the administration of the most sacred oath which can be assumed by an American citizen. It is a dedication and consecration under God to the highest office in service of our people. I assume this trust in the humility of knowledge that only through the guidance of Almighty Providence can I hope to discharge its ever-increasing burdens.

Public Papers of the Presidents, Hoover, 1929, p.1
Inaugural Address. March 4, 1929

Well, there are over 300 more references in my computer search through US documents and selected other publications. I hope this will disabuse anyone of the idea that America as a nation "under God" was invented by Cold War anti-communists.

Even if it was invented by them, they were right to do so.

Part Two: For more on the religious foundations of American Government.

Christmas Conspiracy


Vine & Fig Tree

Paradigm Shift


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Micah 4:1-7