Library: Modern Documents: Farrell Till: The Christian Nation Myth

The article on the left is from the website:
Our paragraph-by-paragraph response is in this column:

The Christian Nation Myth

The Christian Nation Fact

Farrell Till

Kevin Craig

Whenever the Supreme Court makes a decision that in any way restricts the intrusion of religion into the affairs of government, a flood of editorials, articles, and letters protesting the ruling is sure to appear in the newspapers. Many protesters decry these decisions on the grounds that they conflict with the wishes and intents of the "founding fathers." The Founding Fathers did not believe that religion "intrudes" into the affairs of government. Churches might try to do that, but true religion was the foundation and basis of government. For full scoop, see:

Anti-Separation of Church and State Home Page

This page only surveys the issues that were raised by Farrell Till; it does not go into great detail. The links on the pages above provide the details.

Such a view of American history is completely contrary to known facts. "Completely contrary?" Perhaps "partially" contrary. Not "completely." But in fact, the "Christian History" position is much closer to the facts than the "Secular History" position.
The primary leaders of the so-called founding fathers of our nation were not Bible-believing Christians; they were deists. Name one. Name one Founding Father who said "I am a deist."

The Founding Fathers and Deism

Not a single one was a "deist" in the sense of believing in a "Clockmaker god" who set the world ticking and now refuses to intervene in human history in any supernatural way. Franklin used the word "deist" on occasion, but he plainly did not endorse "deism" as it is popularly understood:

Dr. Franklin's Plea for Prayer to a Non-Deistic God

The Framers believed in "Providence," which is the opposite of "deism."

Deism was a philosophical belief that was widely accepted by the colonial intelligentsia at the time of the American Revolution. Its major tenets included belief in human reason as a reliable means of solving social and political problems Name one Bible believing Christian from 1750 to 1812 who did not believe "in human reason as a reliable means of solving social and political problems."

"Reason" distinguishes man from the animals. It shows that man is created in the image of God. Christians have always spoken highly of "reason" without intending Enlightenment ideas. Note the use of the word in the Westminster Confession of Faith (1648):

CHAPTER IV  Of Creation 
2. After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls,

Of God's Covenant with Man
1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.

Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience
2. God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in any thing, contrary to his Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship. So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.

Of the Lord's Supper
6. That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of Christ's body and blood commonly called transubstantiation by consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense, and reason; overthroweth the nature of the sacrament, and hath been, and is, the cause of manifold superstitions; yea, of gross idolatries.

Larger Catechism
Question 24
: What is sin? Answer: Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.

A Christian emphasis on the Image of God led America to the greatest levels of literacy. As Madison rightly observed (and it applies to modern secular America) nations without the Gospel are enslaved in ignorance and darkness.

and belief in a supreme deity who created the universe to operate solely by natural laws. The supreme God of the Deists removed himself entirely from the universe after creating it. They believed that he assumed no control over it, exerted no influence on natural phenomena, and gave no supernatural revelation to man. Not a single person who signed the Constitution believed any of this. They all believed in PROVIDENCE, the supernatural intervention of God in the founding of this Christian nation.

Providence in American History

A necessary consequence of these beliefs was a rejection of many doctrines central to the Christian religion. Deists did not believe in the virgin birth, divinity, or resurrection of Jesus, the efficacy of prayer, the miracles of the Bible, or even the divine inspiration of the Bible. Prayer was an essential feature of the Founders' worldview, as Franklin, above, illustrates. Washington, Adams,  and Madison all made prayer a pillar of their administrations.

On the same day that Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, it appointed John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin to draft a national seal. Franklin proposed:

Moses lifting up his wand, and dividing the Red Sea, and Pharaoh in his chariot overwhelmed with the waters. This Motto: "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God."

Jefferson proposed:

The children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night.

(From a letter to Abigail from John Adams, Aug 16, 1776)

Sounds like miracles to me. And they believed these miracles were apt analogies of the miracles which created this Christian nation.

These beliefs were forcefully articulated by Thomas Paine in Age of Reason, a book that so outraged his contemporaries that he died rejected and despised by the nation that had once revered him as "the father of the American Revolution." To this day, many mistakenly consider him an atheist, even though he was an out spoken defender of the Deistic view of God. Other important founding fathers who espoused Deism were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Ethan Allen, James Madison, and James Monroe. The Founders mentioned at the end of this paragraph all opposed Paine's book and urged him not to publish it. Paine's book was indeed an outrage, and he did indeed die rejected by the Founding Fathers and most of America.

Thomas Paine and the Age of Reason

Note: a defender of the Deist view of God is not necessarily a defender of the separation of God and government.

Fundamentalist Christians are currently working overtime to convince the American public that the founding fathers intended to establish this country on "biblical principles," but history simply does not support their view. The men mentioned above and others who were instrumental in the founding of our nation were in no sense Bible-believing Christians. Thomas Jefferson, in fact, was fiercely anti-cleric.      This is what's called a "non sequitur." The conclusion does not follow from the premises. The writer of this rebuttal is fiercely anti-cleric, but that doesn't mean he's anti Christian or anti-Bible.
     America's Founders did not "work overtime" to establish a country on Biblical Principles. That had already been done. America had been Christian since the first Europeans got off the boat. The real question is whether the Founding Fathers worked overtime to change a Biblical, Christian America into a secular, God-ignoring America. Not only did they not work overtime to banish God and secularize America, not one of them was even on the job.
In a letter to Horatio Spafford in 1814, Jefferson said, "In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer for their purposes" (George Seldes, The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey Citadel Press, 1983, p. 371). In a letter to Mrs. Harrison Smith, he wrote, "It is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read. By the same test the world must judge me. But this does not satisfy the priesthood. They must have a positive, a declared assent to all their interested absurdities. My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest" (August 6, 1816). Opposition to clergy does not make one a secularist or a deist. It makes one a Protestant. Bible-believing Christians known as "Protestants" got their name because they protested the Roman Catholic clergy. The most articulate attacks on clergy were made by the Bible-believing Anabaptists, who were also the fountainhead of ideas on religious freedom which were adopted by Jefferson and Madison. (See generally, Harold S. Bender, The Anabaptists and Religious Liberty in the 16th Century, Phila: Fortress Press, 1970, and Franklin H. Littel, From State Church to Pluralism, Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1962). Like a good Protestant, Paine quoted the Bible to oppose catholic hierarchy. As Paine wrote, "monarchy in every instance is the Popery of government."
Jefferson was just as suspicious of the traditional belief that the Bible is "the inspired word of God." He rewrote the story of Jesus as told in the New Testament and compiled his own gospel version known as The Jefferson Bible, which eliminated all miracles attributed to Jesus and ended with his burial. The Jeffersonian gospel account contained no resurrection, a twist to the life of Jesus that was considered scandalous to Christians but perfectly sensible to Jefferson's Deistic mind. In a letter to John Adams, he wrote, "To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, God, are immaterial is to say they are nothings, or that there is no God, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise" (August 15, 1820). In saying this, Jefferson was merely expressing the widely held Deistic view of his time, which rejected the mysticism of the Bible and relied on natural law and human reason to explain why the world is as it is. Writing to Adams again, Jefferson said, "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter" (April 11, 1823). These were hardly the words of a devout Bible-believer. For another side of Jefferson,  click here.

Jefferson was clearly out of step with the rest of the Founding Fathers when it came to theology. But not when it came to the importance of God and the Bible as the foundation of law and social order. The "Jefferson Bible" is not as atheistic as infidels would like us to believe. And Jefferson's intent in compiling it was in part to create a text book which could be used to teach Christian morality to the savage heathen barbarians that were attacking Christians on the frontiers of American expansion. As Justice Rehnquist (now Chief Justice) wrote:

As the United States moved from the 18th into the 19th century, Congress appropriated time and again public moneys in support of sectarian Indian education carried on by religious organizations. Typical of these was Jefferson's treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians, which provided annual cash support for the Tribe's Roman Catholic priest and church.

Jefferson didn't just reject the Christian belief that the Bible was "the inspired word of God"; he rejected the Christian system too. In Notes on the State of Virginia, he said of this religion, "There is not one redeeming feature in our superstition of Christianity. It has made one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites" (quoted by newspaper columnist William Edelen, "Politics and Religious Illiteracy," Truth Seeker, Vol. 121, No. 3, p. 33). Anyone today who would make a statement like this or others we have quoted from Jefferson's writings would be instantly branded an infidel, yet modern Bible fundamentalists are frantically trying to cast Jefferson in the mold of a Bible believing Christian. They do so, of course, because Jefferson was just too important in the formation of our nation to leave him out if Bible fundamentalists hope to sell their "Christian-nation" claim to the public. Hence, they try to rewrite history to make it appear that men like Thomas Jefferson had intended to build our nation on "biblical principles." The irony of this situation is that the Christian leaders of Jefferson's time knew where he stood on "biblical principles," and they fought desperately, but unsuccessfully, to prevent his election to the presidency. Saul K. Padover's biography related the bitterness of the opposition that the clergy mounted against Jefferson in the campaign of 1800 "our superstition of Christianity" means that of the clergy, not that of Jefferson. As the link above demonstrates. Jefferson called himself a Christian. He did not believe in a superstitious Christianity.

Edelen is an unreliable source.






It was not "Christian leaders" who fought against Jefferson, it was the Federalists, who employed clerical cronies to launch slanderous accusations against Jefferson.

The religious issue was dragged out, and stirred up flames of hatred and intolerance. Clergymen, mobilizing their heaviest artillery of thunder and brimstone, threatened Christians with all manner of dire consequences if they should vote for the "in fidel" from Virginia. This was particularly true in New England, where the clergy stood like Gibraltar against Jefferson (Jefferson A Great American's Life and Ideas, Mentor Books, 1964, p.116). Jefferson won the election of 1800 precisely because Protestants rallied to his defense against the false charges of the Federalists, and the public was persuaded that Jefferson was a Christian. Click here for details.

It's ironic that infidels like Farrell Till often say we shouldn't make inquiries into the religious beliefs of political candidates. Jefferson biographer Dumas Malone, in vol 3 at page 481, writes,

The charge of atheism was the one most pressed in this campaign: it was not only made in the public press; it was hurled from pulpits in various places, most of all probably in Connecticut. As the story goes, the time was approaching when Bibles were to be hidden in New England's wells.

Malone acknowledges that the issue of Jefferson's atheism was the major issue in the campaign. Apparently lots of people were reluctant to vote for a candidate if he was not a Christian.

William Linn, a Dutch Reformed minister in New York City, made perhaps the most violent of all attacks on Jefferson's character, all of it based on religious matters. In a pamphlet entitled Serious Considerations on the Election of a President, Linn "accused Jefferson of the heinous crimes of not believing in divine revelation and of a design to destroy religion and `introduce immorality'" (Padover, p. 116). He referred to Jefferson as a "true infidel" and insisted that "(a)n infidel like Jefferson could not, should not, be elected" (Padover, p. 117). He concluded the pamphlet with this appeal for "Christians to defeat the `infidel' from Virginia" Jefferson won largely because these charges were negated by Christians who assured the electorate that Jefferson was a Christian. Tunis Wortman wrote a pamphlet called A Solemn Address to the Christians and Patriots upon the Approaching Election of a President of the United States, in which he declared,

That the charge of deism . . . is false, scandalous and malicious -- That there is not a single passage in the Notes on Virginia, or any of  Mr. Jefferson's writings, repugnant to Christianity; but on the contrary, in every respect, favourable to it.

Will you, then, my fellow-citizens, with all this evidence... vote for Mr. Jefferson?... As to myself, were Mr. Jefferson connected with me by the nearest ties of blood, and did I owe him a thousand obligations, I would not, and could not vote for him. No; sooner than stretch forth my hand to place him at the head of the nation "Let mine arms fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone" (quoted by Padover, p. 117). Dewitt Clinton, well-known New York official who served in the State Constitutional Convention and who introduced the 12th Amendment, defended Jefferson by declaring, "we have the strongest reasons to believe that he is a real Christian." Clinton said, "I feel persuaded that he is a believer" and "I feel happy to hail him as a Christian." He continued:

And let me add . . . that he has for a long time supported out of his own private revenues, a worthy minister of the Christian church -- an instance of liberality not to be met with in any of his rancorous enemies; whose love of religion seems principally to consist in their unremitted endeavors to degrade it into a handmaid of  [political] faction.

There was certainly no question anywhere as to the propriety of inquiring into a presidential candidate's religious beliefs. By law, every state made such inquiry.

Why would contemporary clergymen have so vigorously opposed Jefferson's election if he were as devoutly Christian as modern preachers claim? The answer is that Jefferson was not a Christian, and the preachers of his day knew that he wasn't. Why would anybody have cared about Jefferson's religious views if there were a "separation of church and state?" The answer is that nobody could hold political office unless he were a Christian.
In the heat of the campaign Jefferson wrote a letter to Benjamin Rush in which he angrily commented on the clerical efforts to assassinate his personal character "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." That statement has been inscribed on Jefferson's monument in Washington. Most people who read it no doubt think that Jefferson was referring to political tyrants like the King of England, but in reality, he was referring to the fundamentalist clergymen of his day. "Fundamentalist clergymen" is an inappropriate anachronistic mix.
After Jefferson became president, he did not compromise his beliefs. As president, he refused to issue Thanksgiving proclamations, a fact that Justice Souter referred to in his concurring opinion with the majority in Lee vs. Weisman, the recent supreme-court decision that ruled prayers at graduation ceremonies unconstitutional. Jefferson felt it was in the interests of the security of this Christian nation to send tax-funded missionaries to make Christians out of the Indians so they would stop attacking us. Details
Early in his first presidential term, Jefferson declared his firm belief in the separation of church and state in a letter to the Danbury (Connecticut) Baptists "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only and not opinions, 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." The Baptists had written:

Sir, we are sensible that the President of the United States is not the National Legislator and also sensible that the national government cannot destroy the laws of each State, but our hopes are strong that the sentiment of our beloved President, which have had such genial effect already, like the radiant beams of the sun, will shine and prevail through all these States--and all the world--until hierarchy and tyranny be destroyed from the earth. Sir, when we reflect on your past services, and see a glow of philanthropy and goodwill shining forth in a course of more than thirty years, we have reason to believe that America's God has raised you up to fill the Chair of State out of that goodwill which he bears to the millions which you preside over. May God strengthen you for the arduous task which providence and the voice of the people have called you--to sustain and support you and your Administration against all the predetermined opposition of those who wish to rise to wealth and importance on the poverty and subjection of the people.

And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his Heavenly Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator.

Jefferson replied:

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect and esteem.

Before sending the letter to Danbury, Jefferson asked his attorney general, Levi Lincoln, to review it. Jefferson told Lincoln that he considered the letter a means of "sowing useful truths and principles among the people, which might germinate and become rooted among their political tenets" (quoted by Rob Boston in "Myths and Mischief," Church and State, March 1992). If this was indeed Jefferson's wish, he certainly succeeded. Twice, in Reynolds vs. the United States (1879) and Everson vs. Board of Education (1947), the Supreme Court cited Jefferson's letter as "an authoritative declaration of the scope of the [First] Amendment" and agreed that the intention of the First Amendment was "to erect `a wall of separation between church and state.'" Up until recently, Jefferson's letter was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of the proposition that this was a Christian nation. Details.

Even in the Everson case, the court did not uphold a strict separation of church and state, as the dissenting judges noted.

Confronted with evidence like this, some fundamentalists will admit that Thomas Jefferson was not a Bible-believer but will insist that most of the other "founding fathers"--men like Washington, Madison, and Franklin--were Christians whose intention during the formative years of our country was to establish a "Christian nation." Again, however, history does not support their claim. Evidence like what? There is no evidence here that Jefferson believed America should be an atheistic rather than a Christian nation. Politically he was a conservative libertarian, not a liberal Democrat.

Yet the facts are plain: Jefferson was a complete anomaly. His theological views were completely non-representative of the rest of the Founding Fathers, and he was frequently overruled, even in the case of the Declaration of Independence.

James Madison, Jefferson's close friend and political ally, was just as vigorously opposed to religious intrusions into civil affairs as Jefferson was. In 1785, when the Commonwealth of Virginia was considering passage of a bill "establishing a provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion," Madison wrote his famous "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments" in which he presented fifteen reasons why government should not be come involved in the support of any religion. This paper, long considered a landmark document in political philosophy, was also cited in the majority opinion in Lee vs. Weisman. The views of Madison and Jefferson prevailed in the Virginia Assembly, and in 1786, the Assembly adopted the statute of religious freedom of which Jefferson and Madison were the principal architects. The preamble to this bill said that "to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical." The statute itself was much more specific than the establishment clause of the U. S. Constitution "Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise [sic] diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities". Madison repeatedly and continuously injected religion into civil affairs.


More details.

In his Memorial and Remonstrance, Madison said that legislators should vote against any legislation that does not promote Christianity. Vote against it, he said,

Because, the policy of the bill is adverse to the diffusion of the light of Christianity. The first wish of those who enjoy this precious gift, ought to be that it may be imparted to the whole race of mankind. Compare the number of those who have as yet received it with the number still remaining under the dominion of false Religions; and how small is the former! Does the policy of the Bill tend to lessen the disproportion? No; it at once discourages those who are strangers to the light of (revelation) from coming into the Region of it; and countenances, by example the nations who continue in darkness, in shutting out those who might convey it to them. Instead of levelling as far as possible, every obstacle to the victorious progress of truth, the Bill with an ignoble and unchristian timidity would circumscribe it, with a wall of defence, against the encroachments of error.
Is this supposed to be the rhetoric of someone attempting to overthrow the Christian foundations of America and secularize this Christian nation?
Realizing that whatever legislation an elected assembly passed can be later repealed, Jefferson ended the statute with a statement of contempt for any legislative body that would be so presumptuous "And though we well know this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted with the powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable, would be of no effect in law, yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right" (emphasis added). Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and every other member of the "Religious Right" would have agreed with Jefferson and his statute. Nobody on the right believes that the government should tax Baptists to support the Presbyterian Church.
After George Washington's death, Christians made an intense effort to claim him as one of their own. This effort was based largely on the grounds that Washington had regularly attended services with his wife at an Episcopal Church and had served as a vestryman in the church. On August 13, 1835, a Colonel Mercer, involved in the effort, wrote to Bishop William White, who had been one of the rectors at the church Washington had attended. In the letter, Mercer asked if "Washington was a communicant of the Protestant Episcopal church, or whether he occasionally went to the communion only, or if ever he did so at all..." (John Remsberg, Six Historic Americans, p. 103). On August 15, 1835, White sent Mercer this reply I am a Christian theocrat, but not an ecclesiocrat. I believe society should be Under God, not under clergy. The overwhelming majority of non-Catholic Christians in America today do not attach much importance to sacraments. I myself do not believe in "communion" as a sacrament at all. This does not mean I am not a Christian, nor that I am on the side of the ACLU. Washington believed America was and should be a Christian nation. Washington would have strongly disagreed with ACLU efforts to strip God from the public and religion and morality from schools.
In regard to the subject of your inquiry, truth requires me to say that Gen. Washington never received the communion in the churches of which I am the parochial minister. Mrs. Washington was an habitual communicant.... I have been written to by many on that point, and have been obliged to answer them as I now do you (Remsberg, p. 104). There were a couple of people who attempted to paint Washington as a non-Christian. They were usually clergymen with an ecclesiastical axe to grind. These same people would no doubt tell the ACLU today that Washington believed America should be a Christian Theocracy. There is much stronger testimony from many more people that Washington was a Christian.
In his Annals of the American Pulpit, The Reverend William B. Sprague, D.D., wrote a biographical sketch of the Reverend James Abercrombie, the other pastor of the congregation Washington attended. In this work, Sprague quoted Abercrombie in confirmation of what White had written to Mercer These people were annoyed that Washington didn't kowtow to clergy. These people would not have agreed with the ACLU's agenda to secularize society, and would have said that Washington was a strong believer in America being Under God and a Christian nation.
One incident in Dr. Abercrombie's experience as a clergyman, in connection with the Father of his Country, is especially worthy of record; and the following account of it was given by the Doctor himself, in a letter to a friend, in 1831 shortly after there had been some public allusion to it "With respect to the inquiry you make I can only state the following facts; that, as pastor of the Episcopal church, observing that, on sacramental Sundays, Gen. Washington, immediately after the desk and pulpit services, went out with the greater part of the congregation--always leaving Mrs. Washington with the other communicants--she invariably being one--I considered it my duty in a sermon on Public Worship, to state the unhappy tendency of example, particularly of those in elevated stations who uniformly turned their backs upon the celebration of the Lord's Supper. I acknowledge the remark was intended for the President; and as such he received it" (From Annals of the American Pulpit, Vol. 5, p. 394, quoted by Remsberg, pp. 104-105). Farrell Till is trying to milk this argument for all it's worth, and it just isn't worth much. I believe the Founding Fathers wanted America to be a laissez-faire theocracy. I believe Washington wanted America to be a Christian nation. But with Washington I reject the idea of a clergy-centered society. I was excommunicated from an Orthodox Christian denomination as a result of the conflict I had with clergy. I am not even a member of any church, as Washington was. I denounce the church and clergy. None of this logically demands that I support the separationist agenda of the ACLU. None of Farrell Till's argument supports the idea that Washington believed in the modern myth of Separation of Church and State (separation of God and government into a secular state that believes it is the new god). Washington would have had none of this. Washington was a morally conservative and religiously pious man to the extent that he would be called a fanatic by the ACLU. He would not have supported their agenda at all. Farrell Till's argument is a complete non-sequitur.
Abercrombie went on to explain that he had heard through a senator that Washington had discussed the reprimand with others and had told them that "as he had never been a communicant, were he to become one then it would be imputed to an ostentatious display of religious zeal, arising altogether from his elevated station" (Ibid.). Abercrombie then said that Washington "never afterwards came on the morning of sacramental Sunday" (Ibid.). Opposition to clergy and sacraments does not logically prove opposition to religion and morality.

You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. . . . Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention.
The Writings of GeoWashington, Jared Sparks, ed., (Boston: Ferdinand Andrews, 1838) XV:55, from his speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs, May 12, 1779.

Here is firsthand testimony from the rectors of the church that Washington attended with his wife, and they both claimed that he never participated in the communion service. Writing in the Episcopal Recorder, the Reverend E. D. Neill said that Washington "was not a communicant, notwithstanding all the pretty stories to the contrary, and after the close of the sermon on sacramental Sundays, [he] had fallen into the habit of retiring from the church while his wife remained and communed" (Remsberg, p. 107). In this article, Neill also made reference to Abercrombie's reprimand of Washington from the pulpit, so those who knew Washington personally or who knew those who had known him all seem to agree that Washington was never a "communicant." Remsberg continued at length in his chapter on Washington to quote the memoirs and letters of Washington's associates, who all agreed that the president had never once been known to participate in the communion service, a fact that weakens the claim that he was a Christian. Would preachers today consider someone a devout Christian if he just attended services with his wife but never took the communion? I am a devout Christian and an advocate of Theocracy. I don't even attend "services," and if I did I would probably not take "communion," but then, the vast majority of Protestant churches today don't frequently serve communion. None of this relates in any way to the question of whether there should be a "separation" between government and religion. Washington plainly and emphatically believed there should not be a separation.
As for Washington's membership in the vestry, for several years he did actively serve as one of the twelve vestrymen of Truro parish, Virginia, as had also his father. This, however, cannot be construed as proof that he was a Christian believer. The vestry at that time was also the county court, so in order to have certain political powers, it was necessary for one to be a vestryman. On this matter, Paul F. Boller made this observation Washington's Farewell Address is one of the most important speeches in American history. In it Washington said:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness—these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, "where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?" And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

This is the complete negation and denial of the ACLU's position. Washington did not believe in the modern myth of "separation of church and state." This debate is already over.

Actually, under the Anglican establishment in Virginia before the Revolution, the duties of a parish vestry were as much civil as religious in nature and it is not possible to deduce any exceptional religious zeal from the mere fact of membership.* Even Thomas Jefferson was a vestryman for a while. Consisting of the leading gentlemen of the parish in position and influence (many of whom, like Washington, were also at one time or other members of the County Court and of the House of Burgeses), the parish vestry, among other things, levied the parish taxes, handled poor relief, fixed land boundaries in the parish, supervised the construction, furnishing, and repairs of churches, and hired ministers and paid their salaries (George Washington & Religion, Dallas Southern Methodist University Press, 1963, p. 26).
A footnote where the asterisk appears cited Meade as proof that avowed unbelievers sometimes served as vestrymen "As Bishop William Meade put it, somewhat nastily, in 1857, `Even Mr. Jefferson and [George] Wythe, who did not conceal their disbelief in Christianity, took their parts in the duties of vestrymen, the one at Williamsburg, the other at Albermarle; for they wished to be men of influence'" (William Meade, Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia, 2 vols., Philadelphia, 1857, I, p. 191). I do not support the need to be connected with the clergy or serve as a vestryman in order to be a man of influence. I look forward to the day when clergy and denominations become extinct. That does not mean I believe in a secular society, and Washington emphatically believed in a moral and religious society. Washington's actions as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and as President under the new Constitution did not in any way secularize America, but rather perpetuated and accentuated its Christian character.
Clearly, then, one cannot assume from Washington's presence at church services and his membership in the Truro parish vestry that he was a Christian believer. Is there any other evidence to suggest that he was a Christian? The Reverend Bird Wilson, an Episcopal minister in Albany, New York, preached a sermon in October 1831 in which he stated that "among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism" (Paul F. Boller, George Washington & Religion, pp. 14-15). He went on to describe Washington as a "great and good man" but "not a professor of religion." Wilson said that he was "really a typical eighteenth century Deist, not a Christian, in his religious outlook" (Ibid.). Wilson wasn't just speaking about matters that he had not researched, because he had carefully investigated his subject before he preached this sermon. Among others, Wilson had inquired of the Reverend Abercrombie [identified earlier as the rector of the church Washington had attended] concerning Washing ton's religious views. Abercrombie's response was brief and to the point "Sir, Washington was a Deist" (Remsberg, p. 110). Those, then, who were best positioned to know Washington's private religious beliefs did not consider him a Christian, and the Reverend Abercrombie, who knew him personally and pastored the church he attended with his wife flatly said that Washington was a Deist. The "typical eighteenth century deist" would look a lot like Pat Robertson today. Jerry Falwell and his crowd are lobbying government to have eighteenth century deism taught in public schools. Eighteenth century deists would energetically oppose Farrell Till and his infidel separationist agenda. They did not believe in an atheistic nation, they believed in a Christian nation. Just as Jefferson did:

Sharing a hope nurtured by many Americans in the early nineteenth century, Jefferson anticipated a re-establishment of the Christian religion in its "original purity" in the United States. Although he believed it would not take place until after his death, he had no doubt that it would eventually be accomplished. "Happy in the prospect of a restoration of primitive Christianity," he said, "I must leave to younger athletes to encounter and lop off the false branches which have been engrafted into it by the mythologists of the middle and modern ages."[note 15: TJ to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse (19 July 1822), Bergh 15:391.]
Andrew M. Allison, in Thomas Jefferson: Champion of History (pp.299ff.)

Once primitive Christianity was fully restored . . . Christianity would escape all danger of being eclipsed or superseded. "I confidently expect," Jefferson wrote in 1822, "that the present generation will see Unitarianism become the general religion of the United States."
And to the Harvard professor and Unitarian Benjamin Waterhouse, Jefferson that same year observed: "I trust that there is not a young man now living in the U.S. who will not die an Unitarian.
Gaustad, Faith of our Fathers, p. 105
The Reverend Bird Wilson, who was just a few years removed from being a contemporary of the so-called founding fathers, said further in the above-mentioned sermon that "the founders of our nation were nearly all Infidels, and that of the presidents who had thus far been elected [George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson] _not a one had professed a belief in Christianity_" (Remsberg, p. 120, emphasis added). This clergyman has an axe to grind. There is another side in the debate over whether Washington was a Christian or not. But this debate is actually irrelevant to the "Christian nation" debate. One can believe that America should be a Christian nation without being a "member" of a Christian "denomination." Each of the Presidents listed here violated the mythical requirements of the doctrine of "separation of church and state." They all believed that America should be a Christian nation, even if certain clergymen didn't agree with all the details of their definition of "Christian." They did not believe in an atheistic nation.
Dr. Wilson's sermon, which was published in the Albany Daily Advertiser the month it was delivered also made an interesting observation that flatly contradicts the frantic efforts of present-day fundamentalists to make the "founding fathers" orthodox Christians I don't know a single fundamentalist who would say that Jefferson was an "orthodox" Christian. Washington indisputably perpetuated the "Christian America" ideal, regardless of his very private and personal theological beliefs. It is not hidden mental reservations that determine the legal character of a nation, it is public and official acts. Not a single one of the Founding Fathers believed that the federal government had the power to order local schools to remove copies of the Ten Commandments. None of them were "separationists" in the modern sense of that myth. Not a single one.
When the war was over and the victory over our enemies won, and the blessings and happiness of liberty and peace were secured, the Constitution was framed and God was neglected. He was not merely forgotten. He was absolutely voted out of the Constitution. The proceedings, as published by Thompson, the secretary, and the history of the day, show that the question was gravely debated whether God should be in the Constitution or not, and after a solemn debate he was deliberately voted out of it.... There is not only in the theory of our government no recognition of God's laws and sovereignty, but its practical operation, its administration, has been conformable to its theory. Those who have been called to administer the government have not been men making any public profession of Christianity.... Washington was a man of valor and wisdom. He was esteemed by the whole world as a great and good man; but he was not a professing Christian (quoted by Remsberg, pp. 120-121, emphasis added). This cleric does not understand the nature of the American system. He wanted the Constitution changed in a way that would have been disastrous for religion -- giving the federal government power over religion years before it usurped it anyway. Mention of Christianity in the federal constitution was opposed by those who had made Christianity the cornerstone of all of the state constitutions. The federal government was not given any power to touch the religious character of the states. Secularizing America was not the reason Christians denied any power to the federal government in the area of religion. Some clergy did not understand this, and wanted some kind of ceremonial religious language in the federal constitution, but the Framers believed that would only be a leak in the dike, and would have resulted in a flood of federal aggrandizement of power.

They may have been wrong, but that's what they believed. They were not trying to secularize the government.

The publication of Wilson's sermon in the Daily Advertiser attracted the attention of Robert Owen, who then personally visited Wilson to discuss the matter of Washington's religious views. Owen summarized the results of that visit in a letter to Amos Gilbert dated November 13, 1831  
I called last evening on Dr. Wilson, as I told you I should, and I have seldom derived more pleasure from a short interview with anyone. Unless my discernment of character has been grievously at fault, I met an honest man and sincere Christian. But you shall have the particulars. A gentleman of this city accompanied me to the Doctor's residence. We were very courteously received. I found him a tall, commanding figure, with a countenance of much benevolence, and a brow indicative of deep thought, apparently approaching fifty years of age. I opened the interview by stating that though personally a stranger to him, I had taken the liberty of calling in consequence of having perused an interesting sermon of his, which had been reported in the Daily Advertiser of this city, and regarding which, as he probably knew, a variety of opinions prevailed. In a discussion, in which I had taken a part, some of the facts as there reported had been questioned; and I wished to know from him whether the reporter had fairly given his words or not.... I then read to him from a copy of the Daily Advertiser the paragraph which regards Washington, beginning, "Washington was a man," etc. and ending, "absented himself altogether from the church." "I endorse," said Dr. Wilson, with emphasis, "every word of that. Nay, I do not wish to conceal from you any part of the truth, even what I have not given to the public. Dr. Abercrombie said more than I have repeated. At the close of our conversation on the subject his emphatic expression was--for I well remember the very words--`Sir, Washington was a Deist.'" All of this discussion of Washington's private theological beliefs are completely irrelevant. Nobody is arguing that Washington was a perfect embodiment of Biblical theology. The point is that Washington's actions as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and as President under the new Constitution did not in any way secularize America, but rather perpetuated and accentuated its Christian character. Those two links must be read to understand Washington's place in Christian America. His views about the sacraments are completely irrelevant to an article entitled "The Christian America Myth." A man with an aberrant Christian theology and sub-"orthdox" views of "the Lord's Supper" can still establish a Christian nation, a nation "under God."

Infidels are unable to think logically on this issue.

In concluding the interview, Dr. Wilson said "I have diligently perused every line that Washington ever gave to the public, and I do not find one expression in which he pledges him self as a believer in Christianity. I think anyone who will candidly do as I have done, will come to the conclusion that he was a Deist and nothing more" (Remsberg, pp. 121-122, emphasis added). Again, there are contrary voices. Many other people believed that Washington was a Christian. Let's assume that Washington was an out-and-out atheist. He still believed that religion served a valuable social function, and he believed that "religion and morality were necessary for good government and the happiness of mankind." He did not believe in a secular America.
In February 1800, after Washington's death, Thomas Jefferson wrote this statement in his personal journal  
Dr. Rush told me (he had it from Asa Green) that when the clergy addressed General Washington, on his departure from the government, it was observed in their consultation that he had never, on any occasion, said a word to the public which showed a belief in the Christian religion, and they thought they should so pen their address as to force him at length to disclose publicly whether he was a Christian or not. However, he observed, the old fox was too cunning for them. He answered every article of their address particularly, except that, which he passed over without notice....

I know that Gouverneur Morris [principal drafter of the constitution], who claimed to be in his secrets, and believed him self to be so, has often told me that General Washington believed no more in that system [Christianity] than he did" (quoted in Remsberg, p. 123 from Jefferson's Works, Vol. 4, p. 572, emphasis added).

The "Asa" Green referred to by Jefferson was probably the Reverend Ashbel Green, who was chaplain to congress during Washington's administration. If so, he was certainly in a position to know the information that "Asa" Green had passed along to Jefferson. Reverend Ashbel Green became the president of Princeton College after serving eight years as the congressional chaplain. He was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a prominent figure in the colonial Presbyterian Church (Remsberg, p. 124). His testimony has to be given more weight than what modern day clerics may think about Washington's religious beliefs.
This whole debate over Washington's personal theology is silly. Washington was a public Christian, regardless of what he was in private. And that's the issue in the "Christian America" debate. America's public character is Christian, not secular. When Washington was inaugurated President, he said:

[I]t would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves . . . .  In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and . . . can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage.
[W]e ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained . . . .
Messages and Papers of the Presidents, George Washington, Richardson, ed., vol. 1, p.44-45

Dr. Moncure D. Conway, who was once employed to edit a volume of Washington's letters, wrote an article entitled "The Religion of Washington," from which Remsberg quoted the following Washington's official utterances, as well as the behavior of the entire Congress, were publicly and officially Christian, not secular. These actions made America a Christian nation, not a secular nation. Farrell Till might win the "Was Washington a Christian as defined by a narrow segment of clergy" debate, but he has said nothing to win the "Was America officially and publicly a Christian nation" debate.
In editing a volume of Washington's private letters for the Long Island Historical Society, I have been much impressed by indications that this great historic personality represented the Liberal religious tendency of his time. That tendency was to respect religious organizations as part of the social order, which required some minister to visit the sick, bury the dead, and perform marriages. It was considered in nowise inconsistent with disbelief of the clergyman's doctrines to contribute to his support, or even to be a vestryman in his church. Christianity has long been at the forefront of "liberal tendencies," that is, tendencies which battle the tyranny and totalitarianism of atheistic communism. There is a strong connection between Christianity and Liberty. Christians led the fight against British tyranny. The British called the American Revolution "the Presbyterian junta." Christians have re-defined government and social order in a liberal (libertarian) direction. Today, those who are called "liberals" are secularists who believe in bigger, stronger government. Washington would have opposed the "religious liberals" in our day. Farrell Till does not understand the big issues in this debate.
In his many letters to his adopted nephew and younger relatives, he admonishes them about their manners and morals, but in no case have I been able to discover any suggestion that they should read the Bible, keep the Sabbath, go to church, or any warning against Infidelity. Here is the testimony of Washington's adopted daughter. Washington was a public Christian, and by his actions endorsed Christianity.
Washington had in his library the writings of Paine, Priestley, Voltaire, Frederick the Great, and other heretical works (pp. 128-129, emphasis added). I have tons of heretical works in my personal library of over 10,000 volumes. So what?
In a separate submission to the New York Times, Conway said that "Washington, like most scholarly Virginians of his time, was a Deist.... Contemporary evidence shows that in mature life Washington was a Deist, and did not commune, which is quite consistent with his being a vestryman. In England, where vestries have secular functions, it is not unusual for Unitarians to vestrymen, there being no doctrinal subscription required for that office. Washington's letters during the Revolution occasionally indicate his recognition of the hand of Providence in notable public events, but in the thousands of his letters I have never been able to find the name of Christ or any reference to him" (quoted by Remsberg, pp. 129-130, emphasis added). Washington created a Christian Army to fight the War for Independence. His affirmations of Providence were completely un-deistic. In his handwritten prayer book, which he carried with him, the Name "Jesus Christ" appears sixteen times, and also appeared numerous times in varied forms, including "Lord Jesus." He told the chiefs of the Delaware Indians:

You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. . . . Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention.
The Writings of GeoWashington, Jared Sparks, ed., (Boston: Ferdinand Andrews, 1838) XV:55, from his speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs, May 12, 1779.

The absence of Christian references in Washington's personal papers and conversation was noted by historian Clinton Rossiter See more on Rossiter.
The last and least skeptical of these rationalists [Washington] loaded his First Inaugural Address with appeals to the "Great Author," "Almighty Being," "invisible hand," and "benign parent of the human race," but apparently could not bring himself to speak the word "God" ("The United States in 1787," 1787 The Grand Convention, New York W, W, Norton & Co., 1987, p. 36). Christians in those days were not "slain in the spirit" and didn't continually "name the name of CHEEZUS." The point is, these references to God are plainly religious, and violate the modern Supreme Court's "endorsement test." Washington would have firmly and strongly opposed the modern myth of "separation of church and state." Washington believed America must be a Christian nation.
These terms by which Washington referred to "God" in his inaugural address are dead giveaways that he was Deistic in his views. The uninformed see the expression "nature's God" in documents like the Declaration of Independence and wrongly interpret it as evidence of Christian belief in those who wrote and signed it, but in reality it is a sure indication that the document was Deistic in origin. Deists preferred not to use the unqualified term "God" in their conversation and writings because of its Christian connotations. Accordingly, they substituted expressions like those that Washington used in his inaugural address or else they referred to their creator as "nature's God," the deity who had created the world and then left it to operate by natural law. Orthodox Christians -- the kind Farrell Till says Washington was not -- did not speak in the religious language of our day, they spoke in the language of their day. Their belief in Providence completely refutes the idea that they were "deists." They did not believe that God "left the world." They believed God directly and supernaturally intervened to give the colonies victory over the British and resulted in our Christian form of government. "Nature's God" was terminology which led to Theocratic thinking, not secular thinking. Locke said,

[T]he Law of Nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make for other men's actions must . . . be conformable to the Law of Nature, i.e., to the will of God. [L]aws human must be made according to the general laws of Nature, and without contradiction to any positive law of Scripture, otherwise they are ill made.
Locke, Two Treatises on Government, Bk II sec 135. (quoting Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, 1.iii, § 9 [shows Puritan influence])

Say Locke was a "deist" if you want, but he believed America should be a Christian nation, and its laws should be based on the Bible.

Moncure Conway also stated that "(t)here is no evidence to show that Washington, even in early life, was a believer in Christianity" (Ibid.). Remsberg also noted that Conway stated that Washington's father had been a Deist and that his mother "was not excessively religious" (Ibid.).  
Christians have often claimed that most non-Christians make death-bed professions of faith when they realize that they are dying. These claims almost always turn out to be unverifiable assertions, but Conway made it very clear that Washington, even on his death bed, made no profession of faith  
When the end was near, Washington said to a physician present--an ancestor of the writer of these notes--"I am not afraid to go." With his right fingers on his left wrist he counted his own pulses, which beat his funeral march to the grave. "He bore his distress," so next day wrote one present, "with astonishing fortitude, and conscious, as he declared, several hours before his death, of his approaching dissolution, he resigned his breath with the greatest composure, having the full possession of his reason to the last moment." Mrs. Washington knelt beside his bed, but no word passed on religious matters. With the sublime taciturnity which had marked his life he passed out of existence, leaving no act or word which can be turned to the service of superstition, cant, or bigotry" (quoted by Remsberg, pp. 132-133, emphasis added). So who is arguing that Washington defended "superstition, cant or bigotry"??
Some Christians were of course involved in the shaping of our nation, but their influence was minor compared to the ideological contributions of the Deists who pressed for the formation of a secular nation. In describing the composition of the delegations to the constitutional convention, the historian Clinton Rossiter said this about their religious views There is simply no evidence at all that "deists" were pressing for a "secular" nation. Washington completely denied this.
Whatever else it might turn out to be, the Convention would not be a `Barebone's Parliament.' Although it had its share of strenuous Christians like Strong and Bassett, ex-preachers like Baldwin and Williamson, and theologians like Johnson and Ellsworth, the gathering at Philadelphia was largely made up of men in whom the old fires were under control or had even flickered out. Most were nominally members of one of the traditional churches in their part of the country--the New Englanders Congregationalists, and Presbyterians, the Southerners Episcopalians, and the men of the Middle States everything from backsliding Quakers to stubborn Catholics--and most were men who could take their religion or leave it along. Although no one in this sober gathering would have dreamed of invoking the Goddess of Reason, neither would anyone have dared to proclaim that his opinions had the support of the God of Abraham and Paul. The Convention of 1787 was highly rationalist and even secular in spirit" ("The Men of Philadelphia," 1787 The Grand Convention, New York W. W. Norton & Company, 1987, pp. 147-148, emphasis added).  


The "old fires" were a raging inferno compared to the ACLU of today. Rossiter admits that they were not in the same camp as the French Revolution. The Constitutional Convention was not "secular" in spirit, it was simply pragmatic. It was forming a federal government to further the collective interests of the states. It had limited delegated authority. Basic authority was with the states, and their constitutions were explicitly Christian, and their laws were based on the Bible. Many of the ratifying conventions met in churches and began in prayer.

Needless to say, this view of the religious beliefs of the constitutional delegates differs radically from the picture that is often painted by modern fundamentalist leaders. It doesn't differ radically. Nobody denies that some (though not most) of the Founders entertained, discussed, debated, and often, in the end,  rejected deistic ideas. They didn't even discuss the idea of a secular nation. Nobody believed that. It was not on the table.
At the constitutional convention, Luther Martin a Maryland representative urged the inclusion of some kind of recognition of Christianity in the constitution on the grounds that "it would be at least decent to hold out some distinction between the professors of Christianity and downright infidelity or paganism." How ever, the delegates to the convention rejected this proposal and, as the Reverend Bird Wilson stated in his sermon quoted above, drafted the constitution as a secular document. God was nowhere mentioned in it. A ceremonial recognition of Christianity would have opened the doors to federal intervention in religion. Those who had drafted the explicitly Christian constitutions of the states did not want the federal government to have any such power. Nobody who opposed the motion to put something in the federal constitution did so on the grounds that they wanted an atheistic America. The issue was federalism, not the "separation of church and state."
As a matter of fact, the document that was finally approved at the constitutional convention mentioned religion only once, and that was in Article VI, Section 3, which stated that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." Now if the delegates at the convention had truly intended to establish a "Christian nation," why would they have put a statement like this in the constitution and nowhere else even refer to religion? Common sense is enough to convince any reasonable person that if the intention of these men had really been the formation of a "Christian nation," the constitution they wrote would have surely made several references to God, the Bible, Jesus, and other accouterments of the Christian religion, and rather than expressly forbidding ANY religious test as a condition for holding public office in the new nation, it would have stipulated that allegiance to Christianity was a requirement for public office. After all, when someone today finds a tract left at the front door of his house or on the windshield of his car, he doesn't have to read very far to determine that its obvious intention is to further the Christian religion. Are we to assume, then, that the founding fathers wanted to establish a Christian nation but were so stupid that they couldn't write a constitution that would make their purpose clear to those who read it? The history of Article VI is here.

The nature of the American system is not understood by Farrell Till. He is a liberal democrat who thinks Washington D.C. is the center of the universe. America's Founders had no such vision. The states were the centers of government, not the feds. And the state governments were explicitly Christian, and nobody could hold public office who was not a Christian.

America had been Christian since the first Europeans got off the boat. The Constitution did not change that. The Constitution did not secularize an already-Christian America. Farrell Till probably could not explain why Madison was opposed to the idea of a Bill of Rights being added to the Constitution. But for the same reasons, Christians opposed the idea of religion being placed in the federal constitution. The issue is federalism, not secularism.

Federal Constitution, Product of a Christian Ethos

Second American Revolution: Andrew Sandlin

Clearly, the founders of our nation intended government to maintain a neutral posture in matters of religion. Anyone who would still insist that the intention of the founding fathers was to establish a Christian nation should review a document written during the administration of George Washington. Article 11 of the Treaty with Tripoli declared in part that "the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion..." (Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States, ed. Hunter Miller, Vol. 2, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1931, p. 365). This treaty was negotiated by the American diplomat Joel Barlow during the administration of George Washington. Washington read it and approved it, although it was not ratified by the senate until John Adams had become president. When Adams signed it, he added this statement to his signature "Now, be it known, that I, John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said treaty, do, by and within the consent of the Senate, accept, ratify and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof." This document and the approval that it received from our nation's first and second presidents and the U. S. Senate as constituted in 1797 do very little to support the popular notion that the founding fathers established our country as a "Christian nation." There is nothing "clear" about this idea. The government was never "neutral" between cannibals and Christians, or polygamists and Christians. The government always endorsed Christianity, and continued to do so for generations after the Constitution was ratified.

The line from the Treaty with Tripoli is not a powerful argument. The line is surrounded by obscurity and questions. It is clearly out-of-step with the Christian character of the nation. It was so ambiguous that it was removed from the Treaty when it was re-negotiated a few years later. It has never appeared again. It is dead meat. It has no legal force whatsoever, and should be considered an anomaly, a  mistake, a result of bad draftsmanship, and probably an attempt by an atheist (diplomat Joel Barlow) to slant things in his direction. It does not reflect the official or cultural position of the United States in any way.

Details on the Treaty with Tripoli.

It has no legal force whatsoever.

Confronted with evidence like the foregoing, diehard fundamentalists will argue that even if the so-called founding fathers did not purposefully establish a Christian nation our country was founded by people looking for religious liberty, and our population has always been overwhelmingly Christian, but even these points are more dubious than most Christian-nation advocates dare suspect. America was officially a Christian nation. The U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged this. I will not argue that it is only Christian in a demographic way. It is Christian by virtue of its "organic law," the most fundamental legal foundations of government.
Admittedly, some colonists did come to America in search of religious freedom, but the majority were driven by monetary motives. They simply wanted to improve their economic status. In New England, where the quest for religious freedom had been a strong motive for leaving the Old World, the colonists quickly established governments that were just as intolerant, if not more so, of religious dissent than what they had fled from in Europe. Quakers were exiled and then executed if they returned, and "witches," condemned on flimsy spectral evidence, were hanged. This is hardly a part of our past that modern fundamentalists can point to as a model to be emulated, although their rhetoric often gives cause to wonder if this isn't exactly what they want today. A "monetary motive" is not anti-Christian. This is a silly argument, really. They were fanatic Bible-believing Christians who believed in "exercising dominion over the earth" and making money doing so. They established a Theocracy by every rational definition. If they were only in it for the money, why did they establish strict theocracies, as Farrell Till admits?

Exiled Quakers, such as Roger Williams, were just as intolerant as the Massachusetts theocrats. Williams was just another species of theocrat, and the Rhode Island he created was a theocracy.

Here's how Gary North describes "The Rhode Island Experiment."

Roger Williams fled Massachusetts . . . in the winter of 1636 . . .and headed into the Wilderness of what was to become Rhode Island. Williams successfully created a new colony. . . .
In 1642, the General Court of Rhode Island organized a new government. It required an oath of office from magistrates to "walk faithfully" and [was] taken "in the presence of God." . . . The colony . . . admitted the existence of "our different consciences touching the truth as it is in Jesus," and affirmed "each man's peaceable and quiet enjoyment of his lawful right and liberty. . . ." They enacted civil laws and sanctions for various crimes, including murder, rebellion, misbehavior, witchcraft, adultery, fornication, perjury, kidnaping, whoremongering, etc. [T]hey made this statement:

These are the laws that concern all men, and these are the penalties for transgression thereof, which, by common assent, and ratified and established throughout the whole colony; and otherwise than thus what is herein forbidden, all men may walk as their consciences persuade them, everyone in the name of his god. And let the saints of the most high walk in this colony without molestation in the name of Jehovah, their God for ever and ever, etc., etc. [cf. Micah 4:1-7]

Political Polytheism, p. 313-14
(North's Ph.D. in history was from the University of California, and his specialty was Puritan history. All quotes are from "Organization of the Government of Rhode Island, March 16-19, 1641/42," in Kavenaugh, ed., Foundations of Colonial America: A Documentary History, 3 vols, (NY: Chelsea House, 1973) I, p. 343-9)

This is clearly "theocratic" government. It is not "secular." Nobody -- not even Roger Williams -- would support the ACLU's idea of an omnipotent federal government that is not Under God. Not a single one of the Founding Fathers. NOBODY.

As for the religious beliefs of the general population in pre and post revolutionary times, it wasn't nearly as Christian as most people think. Lynn R. Buzzard, executive director of the Christian Legal Society (a national organization of Christian lawyers) has admitted that there is little proof to support the claim that the colonial population was overwhelmingly Christian. "Not only were a good many of the revolutionary leaders more deist than Christian," Buzzard wrote, "but the actual number of church members was rather small. Perhaps as few as five percent of the populace were church members in 1776" (Schools They Haven't Got a Prayer, Elgin, Illinois David C. Cook Publishing, 1982, p. 81). Historian Richard Hofstadter says that "perhaps as many as ninety percent of the Americans were unchurched in 1790" (Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, New York Alfred A. Knopf, 1974, p. 82) and goes on to say that "mid-eighteenth century America had a smaller proportion of church members than any other nation in Christendom," noting that "in 1800 [only] about one of every fifteen Americans was a church member" (p. 89). Historian James MacGregor Burns agrees with these figures, noting that "(t)here had been a `very wintry season' for religion every where in America after the Revolution" (The American Experiment Vineyard of Liberty, New York Vintage Books, 1983, p. 493). He adds that "ninety percent of the people lay outside the churches." Church membership is a red herring. Only the top few percent of citizens could become "members," but the overwhelming majority still attended church, and society was Christian, both culturally and legally. The Puritan Sermon was more influential in those days than the New York Times is in our day.

Dan Blather vs. the Puritan Sermon

The Church was the dominant cultural institution of the day. To say that 90% of Americans were "unchurched" is ridiculous. See the link above.

What happened after the Revolution was this: most states had a state-established church, usually the Church of England. State-established churches existed despite growing protests by those who were members of different (non-established, non-subsidized) denominations. But when America broke away from Britain, nobody wanted the Church of England to be the state-established church (except Anglicans, and even some of them saw the light). So which church would be state-subsidized after Independence? Answer: none. The majority of Christians agreed that all denominations should be on an equal footing. This was not a mass movement toward secularization. America was a non-denominational theocracy.

Historians, who deal with facts rather than wishes, paint an entirely different picture of the religious composition of America during its formative years than the image of a nation founded on "biblical principles" that modern Bible fundamentalists are trying to foist upon us. Our founding fathers established a religiously neutral nation, and a tragedy of our time is that so many people are striving to undo all that was accomplished by the wisdom of the founding fathers who framed for us a constitution that would protect the religious freedom of everyone regardless of personal creed. An even greater tragedy is that they many times hoodwink the public into believing that they are only trying to make our nation what the founding fathers would want it to be. Separation of church and state is what the founding fathers wanted for the nation, and we must never allow anyone to distort history to make it appear otherwise. Again, this paragraph is hogwash. We end with the webpage with which we started:

Anti-Separation of Church and State Home Page

Hundreds of links which show the Christian character of the American system.