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Anti-Separation
of Church and State Page


Catholic Nations vs. Christian Nations


Some secularists have posted attacks on David Barton's use of John Jay, co-author of the Federalist Papers and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, because he was an "anti-Catholic bigot."

Jay was not against catholic religion (liturgy) so much as he was against catholic politics. Jay's position was well stated some years ago by a Secular Humanist named Paul Blanshard, in a book on American Freedom and Catholic Power. It is truly ironic that Secularists would now turn around and welcome "papists" with open arms, and sweep both Blanshard and Jay under the carpet.

This is not anti-catholic bigotry. The question on this webpage is not whether a Bible-believing, Trinitarian Christian who happens to be a member of the Roman Catholic Church is actually a real Christian. The question is whether Jay and other Founding Fathers were justified in drawing a distinction between Christian nations and Catholic nations. I personally believe that Bible-believing Trinitarians who are members of the Roman Catholic church are Christians. And I would rather have public offices filled by a catholic like Joan Andrews (who was imprisoned for a decade by anti-Christian Secular Humanist bigots for protesting abortion) than a "church-going Southern Baptist" like Bill Clinton. The Founding Fathers, regardless of whether they believed an individual papist could be a Christian, wrote laws excluding them from public office because they believed papist political principles were antithetical to the American principles of liberty. Papal political theory, according to the Founders, was monarchical, and subversive of the form of government established in this country. To accuse John Jay or other Founders of "bigotry" is simply a demonstration of one's ignorance of historical and political realities

The Founders agreed with the theories of Max Weber or R.H. Tawney (which would be written generations later) whose works explore the relationship between The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (to use the title of Weber's thesis). The Founding Fathers knew all of this. They knew that Catholic countries were backward, economically and politically. The distinction between catholic and Christian nations emerged in the following way on a "Separation of Church and State" bulletin board:

In article <19990125223809.14196.00003500@ng-fa1.aol.com>, kathyp11@aol.com (Kathy P 11) writes that since I have so many complaints about our government, I should leave America:

><<There are plenty of other politically Christian nations to choose from,
>after all.>>
>
>And Kevin replied:

><<Really? I sure can't think of any.>>
>
>How about the U.K., Mexico, and Italy to name a few.

I responded:

Mexico and Italy are at best roman catholic nations, not Christian nations,
and they are actually mafia or drug cartel nations.
I grant the U.K. but wouldn't describe that as "plenty of nations."

In article <19990126225652.24022.00003730@ng03.aol.com>, witchward@aol.com (Witchward) writes:

>I hate to burst your bubble, Kevin, but by definition, Roman Catholicism IS a
>Christian religion, ergo, Roman Catholic nations ARE Christian Nations!

My response:

The question is not whether a person who is a member of the Roman Catholic Church can have his sins atoned for by Jesus. The question is whether the political principles of papism are compatible with the political principles of a Christian nation like America. The Founding Fathers were virtually unanimous in their answer: NO. Even those men who were members of the Roman Catholic Church and signed America's founding documents downplayed their political allegiance to the Pope, in much the same way John F. Kennedy did during his presidential campaign. They adhered to Protestant principles of freedom, not monarchical principles of papal submission.

Alexis de Tocqueville remarked that "Puritanism . . . was scarcely less a political than a religious doctrine." The Puritans established schools because they believed that knowledge of the Bible would lead to political liberty. Papists believed that the laity should not study the Bible, because they might get out from under papal domination. Tocqueville says of the Puritans of 1642:

But it is by the attention it pays to Public Education that the original character of American civilization is at once placed in the clearest light. "It being," says the law, "one chief project of Satan to keep men from the knowledge of the Scripture by persuading from the use of tongues, to the end that learning may not be buried in the graves of our forefathers, in church and commonwealth, the Lord assisting our endeavors..." Here follow clauses establishing schools in every township, and obliging the inhabitants, under pain of heavy fines, to support them. Schools of a superior kind were founded in the same manner in the more populous districts. The municipal authorities were bound to enforce the sending of children to school by their parents; they were empowered to inflict fines upon all who refused compliance; and in case of continued resistance society assumed the place of the parent, took possession of the child, and deprived the father of those natural rights which he used to so bad a purpose. The reader will undoubtedly have remarked the preamble of these enactments: in America religion is the road to knowledge, and the observance of the divine laws leads man to civil freedom.

The Puritan religion, says de Tocqueville,

perceives that civil liberty affords a noble exercise to the faculties of man, and that the political world is a field prepared by the Creator for the efforts of the intelligence. Contented with the freedom and the power which it enjoys in its own sphere, and with the place which it occupies, the empire of religion is never more surely established than when it reigns in the hearts of men unsupported by aught beside its native strength. Religion is no less the companion of liberty in all its battles and its triumphs; the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims. The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law and the surest pledge of freedom.

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Reeves, Trans. vol.1, p.40 - p.41

The roots of America's "democratic republic" are in Puritanism, and they conflict with papism. Another great American historian, George Bancroft, in History of the United States, vol.1, p.317 - p.318, says:

The principles of Puritanism proclaimed the civil magistrate subordinate to the authority of religion. . . . In the firmness with which their conviction was held, the Puritans did not yield to the Catholics; and, if the will of God is the criterion of justice, both were, in one sense, in the right. The question arises, Who shall be the interpreter of that will? In the Roman Catholic Church, the office was claimed by the infallible pontiff, who, as the self-constituted guardian of the oppressed, insisted on the power of dethroning kings, repealing laws, and subverting dynasties. The principle thus asserted could not but become subservient to the temporal ambition of the clergy. Puritanism conceded no such power to its spiritual guides; the church existed independent of its pastor, who owed his office to its free choice; the will of the majority was its law; and each one of the brethren possessed equal rights with the elders. The right, exercised by each congregation, of electing its own ministers was in itself a moral revolution; religion was now with the people, not over the people. Puritanism exalted the laity. Every individual who had experienced the raptures of devotion, every believer, who in moments of ecstasy had felt the assurance of the favor of God, was in his own eyes a consecrated person, chosen to do the noblest and godliest deeds. For him the wonderful counsels of the Almighty had appointed a Saviour; for him the laws of nature had been suspended and controlled, the heavens had opened, earth had quaked, the sun had veiled his face, and Christ had died and had risen again; for him prophets and apostles had revealed to the world the oracles and the will of God. Before Heaven he prostrated himself in the dust; looking out upon mankind, how could he but respect himself, whom God had chosen and redeemed? He cherished hope; he possessed faith; as he walked the earth, his heart was in the skies. Angels hovered round his path, charged to minister to his soul; spirits of darkness vainly leagued together to tempt him from his allegiance. His burning piety could use no liturgy; his penitence revealed itself to no confessor. He knew no superior in holiness. He could as little become the slave of priestcraft as of a despot. He was himself a judge of the orthodoxy of the elders; and, if he feared the invisible powers of the air, of darkness, and of hell, he feared nothing on earth. Puritanism constituted not the Christian clergy, but the Christian people, the interpreter of the divine will; and the issue of Puritanism was popular sovereignty.

George Bancroft, History of the United States, Vol.4, p.81:

Protestantism, in the sphere of politics, had hitherto been the representative of that increase of popular liberty which had grown out of free inquiry, while the Catholic church, under the early influence of Roman law and the temporal sovereignty of the Roman pontiff, had inclined to monarchical power.

Therefore, Catholics were generally excluded from political office, just as any Confederate might have been unable to get elected in post-Civil War America. The 1776 Constitution of North Carolina (32) prohibited from office those who denied "the truth of the Protestant religion," because they held "religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State."

Jonathan Elliot, Debates on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Vol. 4, p.191, records the Debates in the Convention of North Carolina, Wednesday, July 30, 1788

Mr. HENRY ABBOT, after a short exordium, which was not distinctly heard, proceeded thus: Some are afraid, Mr. Chairman, that, should the Constitution be received, they would be deprived of the privilege of worshipping God according to their consciences, which would be taking from them a benefit they enjoy under the present constitution. They wish to know if their religious and civil liberties be secured under this system, or whether the general government may not make laws infringing their religious liberties. The worthy member from Edenton mentioned sundry political reasons why treaties should he the supreme law of the land It is feared, by some people, that, by the power of [p.192] making treaties, they might make a treaty engaging with foreign powers to adopt the Roman Catholic religion in the United States, which would prevent the people from worshipping God according to their own consciences.

Loyalty to the Pope was considered treasonous, and also inconsistent with loyalty to a republican form of government. John Adams and the framers of the Massachusetts constitution explained:

[W]e have . . . found ourselves obliged . . . to provide for the exclusion of these from offices who will not disclaim these principles of spiritual jurisdiction which Roman Catholics in some centuries have held and which are subversive of a free government established by the people.
John Adams and John Bowdoin, An Address of the Convention for Framing A New Constitution of Government for the State of Massachusetts-Bay to their Constituents (Boston: White and Adams, 1780), p. 17.

They were not alone. The greatest authority on the US Constitution, founder of Harvard Law School and Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, explains the rationale: It was their political loyalty to the Pope.

[If] men quarrel with the ecclesiastical establishment, the civil magistrate has nothing to do with it unless their tenets and practice are such as threaten ruin or disturbance to the state. He is bound, indeed, to protect . . . papists . . . . But while they acknowledge a foreign power superior to the sovereignty of the kingdom, they cannot complain if the laws of that kingdom will not treat them upon the footing of good subjects.
Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (Boston: Hilliard, Gray & Co., 1833) vol. III, p.383 400.

It is no surprise that Virginia was one of the last states to separate state and clergy, because Episcopalianism is merely a modified papism. As George Bancroft wrote in History of the United States, Vol.3, p.327-28:

Its [Massachusetts'] ecclesiastical polity was in like manner republican. The great mass were Congregationalists, of whom each church formed an assembly by voluntary agreement, self-constituted, self-supported, and independent. They were clear that no person or church had power over another church. There was not a Roman Catholic altar in the place; the usages of "papists" were looked upon as worn-out superstitions, fit only for the ignorant. But the people were not merely the fiercest enemies of "popery and slavery," they were Protestants even against Protestantism; and, though the English church was tolerated, Boston kept up the fight against prelacy. Its ministers were still its prophets and its guides; its pulpit, in which now that Mayhew was no more Cooper was admired above all others for eloquence and patriotism, inflamed by its weekly appeals alike the fervor of piety and of liberty. In the "Boston Gazette" it enjoyed a free press, which gave currency to its conclusions on the natural right of man to self-government.
EPOCH SECOND Britain Estranges America -- From 1763 to 1774
Chapter 25: The King and Parliament Against the Town of Boston, Hillsborough Secretary for the Colonies, October 1768-February 1769

Thomas Paine (who in 1776 was not an atheist) wrote against Popery in Common Sense. After discussing the Bible and its condemnation of monarchy, (1 Samuel 8) Paine says,

These portions of scripture are direct and positive. They admit of no equivocal construction. That the Almighty hath here entered his protest against monarchical government, is true, or the scripture is false. And a man hath good reason to believe that there is as much of kingcraft, as priestcraft, in withholding the scripture from the public in Popish countries. For monarchy in every instance is the Popery of government.

Finally, for Catholics, "religion" is liturgy, ritual, bead-counting, and ceremony.
For Christians,

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
James 1:27

This is the religion which created literacy, hospitals, orphanages, and other charities which were lauded by the U.S. Supreme Court as evidence that America is a Christian nation and which distinguish a Christian nation from slavish and medieval Catholic nations.



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