Lee v. Weisman


Vine & Fig Tree's
of Church and State Page

Freedom for Non-Christian Religions
in a Christian Nation

We have seen that

But some have attacked the "Christian America" thesis by arguing that the Founding Fathers clearly spoke of the need to give "religious freedom" to all, regardless of their beliefs. There is truth to this statement, even thought the majority of times the phrase "religious freedom" was used it referred to freedom for all denominations of Christians. But no one who signed the Constitution believed that pure religious freedom was a possibility. We will see more of this in another paper. On this page we wish to re-assure those of non-Christian religions that living in a Christian Theocracy is better than living in an Islamic theocracy, a Jewish theocracy, or a Secular Humanist theocracy. Living in a Christian nation means enjoying greater freedom and economic prosperity than any other nation on earth. But if your religion requires you to engage in the sacrifice of your virgin daughter to the sun-god, or if your religion requires you to marry as many wives as you can before you die, you will not be allowed to practice these aspects of your religion

Even though they believed in a nation "under God," that is, the Christian God, the Founding Fathers were not vicious Christian bigots who persecuted non-Christian religionists. They gave all religions rights within Christian social norms. But it was clear that one religion was preferred.

On October 9 the Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in North America sent an address to Washington, the answer to which is undated, but recorded immediately, following the address in the "Letter Book" in the Washington Papers. In the answer Washington stated:

"I readily join with you that 'while just government protects all in their religious rights, true religion affords to government its surest support.'"

Sparks. ed.,  12:167. (1789)

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1844 held that the Bible must be taught by the City of Philadelphia in city-operated schools, even in the case where the funds for the school were given by a private citizen whose ambiguous last will and testament seemed to indicate that no religion at all be taught in the school:

Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament? Where are benevolence, the love of truth, sobriety, and industry, so powerfully and irresistibly inculcated as in the sacred volume?

Vidal v. Executors of Girard (1844)
43 U.S. 127; 1844 U.S. LEXIS 323; 11 L. Ed. 205; 2 HOW 127

Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence and close friend of Thomas Jefferson, explaining the practice of schools in America teaching the Christian religion, implied that this practice was not wholly incompatible with non-Christian religions:

Such is my veneration for every religion that reveals the attributes of the Deity, or a future state of rewards and punishments, that I had rather see the opinions of Confucius or Mohammed inculcated upon our youth than see them grow up wholly devoid of a system of religious principles. But the religion I mean to recommend in this place, is that of the New Testament.

Benjamin Rush, Essays, Literary, Moral and Philosophical
(Philadelphia: Thomas and William Bradford, 1806), p. 8.

It would be appropriate to spend some time discussing the accommodation of Jews in a Christian nation, since the attack on the religion of the Founding Fathers has been spearheaded in large part by secular Jews, who are quick to make accusations of "anti-semitism." Jews in particular were welcomed in America. Benjamin Rush, who spearheaded the drive for Christianity to be taught in public schools (in the face of growing opposition from deistic and atheistic forces), commented thusly while describing a federal parade in Philadelphia:

The rabbi of the Jews locked in the arms of two ministers of the Gospel was a most delightful sight. There could not have been a more happy emblem.

To Elias Boudinot on July 9, 1788
Letters, Vol. I, p.474

George Washington's letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Savannah showed a similar warmth:

May the same wonder-working Deity who long since delivered the Hebrews from their Egyptian oppressors and planted them in the promised land, whose providential agency has lately been conspicuous in establishing these United States as an independent nation, still continue to water them with the dews of Heaven, and to make the inhabitants of every denomination participate in the temporal and spiritual blessings of that people whose God is Jehovah.

Writings, ed. Sparks 12:186. (May, 1790.)

As did his blessing in 1790 to the Hebrew congregation of Newport, Rhode Island;

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants, while everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. [Micah 4] May the Father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.
—. Philip S. Foner, ed., George Washington: Selections from His Writings
(New York: International Publishers, 1944), p. 87

George Washington's Vine & Fig Tree Longings.

Of the Hebrews, John Adams had declared:

I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation . . . . [They] preserve and propagate to all mankind the doctrine of a supreme, intelligent, wise, almighty Sovereign of the Universe, which I believe to be the great essential principle of all morality, and consequently of all civilization.

to F.A. Vanderkamp on February 16, 1809
Works, vol IX, p. 609-610

Madison's mentor John Witherspoon also complimented the Jews:

To the Jews were first committed the care of the sacred Writings . . . .  [Y]et was the providence of God particularly manifest in their preservation and purity. The Jews were so faithful in their important trust.

Introduction to The Holy Bible
(Trenton: Isaac Collins, 1791)


See the will of Elias Boudinot in the New Jersey State Archives. Excerpts in Geo.Adams Boyd, Elias Boudinot: Patriot and Statesman (Princeton Univ. Press, 1952) p. 261.

Elias Boudinot, President of Congress, was so fond of the "Hebrews" that he served as president of the "Society for Ameliorating the State of the Jews," and made personal provision to bring persecuted Jews to America where they could have an "asylum of safety" and have the opportunity, if they so chose, to inquire into Christianity "without fear or terror."

Subject: Re: America and the God of Abraham
To: Separation of Church & State
Date: 3/26/99

In article <>, (Kathy P 11) writes:

>I looked at this header "America and the God of Abraham."  I saw Kevin
>rambling on about why he feels that America is a Christian nation, but he
>forgets:  The God of Abraham was first and foremost the God of the Jews.
>Gee, thanks for cutting us off from our own God, Kev!

Sorry Kathy, but the Jews cut themselves off from Abraham and his God when they rejected the Messiah promised to Abraham. I wonder if you really want to claim the God of the Founding Fathers as "your own God." I would hope so. I'm not trying to cut you off from Him.

I'm not a nazi. I have no animosity toward you. I like teachers. I'd be delighted to get together for a burger and a coke and talk about the subject.

But I did not cut you all off from your own God.

Matthew 3:9-10 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. {10} And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

The Jews and their temple were given the axe and destroyed by fire in A.D. 70

Matthew 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
Luke 13:28 "There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.

The Gentiles did not cut the Jews off from the God of Abraham, the Jews attempted to cut the Gentiles off. But the Gentiles heard the loving voice of God and joined the Kingdom, while the Pharisees were cast out of the Kingdom and gnashed their teeth unto death in A.D. 70.

Christmas is the fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham, as Mary sang:

Luke 1:46-47, 54-55 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
{47} And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
{55} As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

But the Jews of Jesus' day were Scrooges, and rejected God's Mercy:

Luke 13:10-17 Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. {11} And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. {12} But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, "Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity." {13] And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. {14} But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, "There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day." {15} The Lord then answered him and said, "Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? {16} "So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound; think of it; for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?" {17} And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.

The Jews denied what Abraham knew, that

"The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath."
Mark 2:27

The Jews did not have the mercy of Abraham, and condemned Abraham's Messiah to die:

Matthew 12:7-8 "But if you had known what this means, (Isa 1:11-17 Ho 6:6 Mic 6:6-8 ) 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. {8} "For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

In Remarks to Members of the Congregation of Temple Hillel and Jewish Community Leaders in Valley Stream, New York, October 26, 1984, President Reagan said:

And we're also remembering the guiding light of our Judeo-Christian tradition. All of us here today are descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, sons and daughters of the same God. I believe we are bound by faith in our God, by our love for family and neighborhood, by our deep desire for a more peaceful world, and by our commitment to protect the freedom which is our legacy as Americans. These values have given a renewed sense of worth to our lives. They are infusing America with confidence and optimism that many thought we had lost.
Public Papers of the Presidents, Reagan, 1984, p.1653

But the Jews who executed Jesus did not have faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, and John Witherspoon. They did not love their families (Matthew 15:4-9). They did not really desire a peaceful world, but only peace for themselves. In a spiritual sense, they were not sons of Abraham:

John 8:37-44 "I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My Word has no place in you.
{38} "I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father." {39} They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham.
{40} "But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this.
{43} "Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.
{44} "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.

John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad.

Romans 2:28-29 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh;
{29} but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

Please don't accuse me of being "anti-Semitic."
I am not against the descendants of Shem (or Ham or Japheth).
I am anti-Humanist, whether you are a "secular" Humanist or a secular "Jewish" Humanist.

I am a true Jew, a son of Abraham.

Those who founded America believed they were the true descendants of Abraham, and their settlement of America was the receiving of a promised land.

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol.1, p.31 - p.32:

The emigrants, or, as they deservedly styled themselves, the Pilgrims, belonged to that English sect the austerity of whose principles had acquired for them the name of Puritans. Puritanism was not merely a religious doctrine, but it corresponded in many points with the most absolute democratic and republican theories. It was this tendency which had aroused its most dangerous adversaries. Persecuted by the Government of the mother-country, and disgusted by the habits of a society opposed to the rigor of their own principles, the Puritans went forth to seek some rude and unfrequented part of the world, where they could live according to their Own opinions, and worship God in freedom.

A few quotations will throw more light upon the spirit of these pious adventurers than all we can say of them. Nathaniel Morton, the historian of the first years of the settlement, thus opens his subject:

"Gentle Reader,—I have for some length of time looked upon it as a duty incumbent, especially on the immediate successors of those that have had so large experience of those many memorable and signal demonstrations of God's goodness, viz., the first beginners of this Plantation in New England, to commit to writing his gracious dispensations on that behalf; having so many inducements thereunto, not onely otherwise but so plentifully in the Sacred Scriptures: that so, what we have seen, and what our fathers have told us (Psalm lxxviii. 3, 4), we may not hide from our children, showing to the generations to come the praises of the Lord; that especially the seed of Abraham his servant, and the children of Jacob his chosen (Psalm cv. 5, 6), may remember his marvellous works in the beginning and progress of the planting of New England, his wonders and the judgments of his mouth; how that God brought a vine into this wilderness; that he cast out the heathen, and planted it; that he made room for it and caused it to take deep root; and it filled the land (Psalm lxxx. 8, 9). And not onely so, but also that he hath guided his people by his strength to his holy habitation and planted them in the mountain of his inheritance in respect of precious Gospel enjoyments: and that as especially God may have the glory of all unto whom it is most due; so also some rays of glory may reach the names of those blessed Saints that were the main instruments and the beginning of this happy enterprise."

It is impossible to read this opening paragraph without an involuntary feeling of religious awe; it breathes the very savor of Gospel antiquity. The sincerity of the author heightens his power of language. The band which to his eyes was a mere party of adventurers gone forth to seek their fortune beyond seas appears to the reader as the germ of a great nation wafted by Providence to a predestined shore.

Russell Kirk, writes in The Roots of American Order, p.48:

That said, nevertheless American political theory and institutions, and the American moral order, cannot be well understood, or maintained, or renewed, without repairing to the Law and the Prophets. "In God we trust," the motto of the United States, is a reaffirmation of the Covenants made with Noah and Abraham and Moses and the Children of Israel, down to the last days of prophecy. The earthly Jerusalem never was an immense city: far more Jews live in New York City today than there were inhabitants of all Palestine at the height of Solomon's glory. But the eternal Jerusalem, the city of spirit, still has more to do with American order than has [p.49] even Boston which the Puritans founded, or New York which the Dutch founded, or Washington which arose out of a political compromise between Jeffersonians and Hamiltonians. Faith and hope may endure when earthly cities are reduced to rubble: that, indeed, is a principal lesson from the experience of Israel under God.

The debates concerning the ratification of the Constitution recognized that as a Christian nation we were sons of Abraham, and had to answer to the God of Abraham for our actions:

Rev. Mr. BACKUS. Mr. President, I have said very little in this honorable Convention; but I now beg leave to offer a few thoughts upon some points in the Constitution proposed to us, and I shall begin with the exclusion of any religious test. Many appear to be much concerned about it; but nothing is more evident, both in reason and the Holy Scriptures, than that religion is ever a matter between God and individuals; and, therefore, no man or men can impose any religious test, without invading the essential prerogatives of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ministers first assumed this power under the Christian name; and then Constantine approved of the practice, when he adopted the profession of Christianity, as an engine of state policy. And let the history of all nations be searched from that day to this, and it will appear that the imposing of religious tests hath been the greatest engine of tyranny in the world. And I rejoice to see so many gentlemen, who are now giving in their rights of conscience in this great and important matter. Some serious minds discover a concern lest, if all religious tests [p.149] should be excluded, the Congress would hereafter establish Popery, or some other tyrannical way of worship. But it is most certain that no such way of worship can be established without any religious test.

Much, sir, hath been said about the importation of slaves into this country. I believe that, according to my capacity, no man abhors that wicked practice more than I do; I would gladly make use of all lawful means towards the abolishing of slavery in all parts of the land. But let us consider where we are, and what we are doing. In the Articles of Confederation, no provision was made to binder the importation of slaves into any of these states; but a door is now open hereafter to do it, and each state is at liberty now to abolish slavery as soon as they please. And let us remember our former connection with Great Britain, from whom many in our land think we ought not to have revolted. How did they carry on the slave trade? I know that the bishop of Gloucester, in an annual sermon in London, in February, 1776, endeavored to justify their tyrannical claims of power over us by casting the reproach of the slave trade upon the Americans. But at the close of the war, the bishop of Chester, in an annual sermon, in February, 1783, ingenuously owned that their nation is the most deeply involved in the guilt of that trade of any nation in the world; and, also, that they have treated their slaves in the West Indies worse than the French or Spaniards have done theirs. Thus slavery grows more and more odious through the world; and, as an honorable gentleman said some days ago, "Though we cannot say that slavery is struck with an apoplexy, yet we may hope it will die with a consumption." And a main source, sir, of that iniquity, hath been an abuse of the covenant of circumcision, which gave the seed of Abraham to destroy the inhabitants of Canaan, and to take their houses, vineyards, and all their estates, as their own; and also to buy and hold others as servants. And, as Christian privileges are greater than those of the Hebrews were, many have imagined that they have a right to seize upon the lands of the heathen, and to destroy or enslave them as far as they could extend their power. And from thence the mystery of iniquity carried many into the practice of making merchandise of slaves and souls of men. But all ought to remember that, when God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and his seed, he [p.150] let him know that they were not to take possession of that land until the iniquity of the Amorites was full; and then they did it under the immediate direction of Heaven; and they were as real executors of the judgment of God upon those heathens as any person ever was an executor of a criminal justly condemned. And in doing it they were not allowed to invade the lands of the Edomites, who sprang from Esau, who was not only of the seed of Abraham, but was born at the same birth with Israel; and yet they were not of that church. Neither were Israel allowed to invade the lands of the Moabites, or of the children of Ammon, who were of the seed of Lot. And no officer in Israel had any legislative power, but such as were immediately inspired. Even David, the man after God's own heart, had no legislative power, but only as he was inspired from above; and he is expressly called a prophet in the New Testament. And we are to remember that Abraham and his seed, for four hundred years, had no warrant to admit any stranger into that church, but by buying of him as a servant, with money. And it was a great privilege to be bought, and adopted into a religious family for seven years, and then to have their freedom. And that covenant was expressly repealed in various parts of the New Testament, and particularly in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, where it is said, "Ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." And again, "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping of the commandments of God. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men." Thus the gospel sets all men upon a level, very contrary to the declaration of an honorable gentleman in this house, that "the Bible was contrived for the advantage of a particular order of men."
Debates in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, of the Adoption of the Federal Constitution
In Convention, Boston, Monday, February 4, 1788
Jonathan Elliot, Debates on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Vol. 2, p.149

"The Politician," Gen. Eisenhower, had this to say:

Rosh Hashana is significant to every American for, in the deepest spiritual sense, we are all of the seed of Abraham and Isaac. Our moral code, the ideals that animate us, the faith in God that strengthens us--all these were most clearly and most inspiringly proclaimed many centuries ago by men of Jewish blood.
President Eisenhower, Statement by the President on the Occasion of Rosh Hashana. September 5, 1956,
Public Papers of the Presidents, 1956, No. 200, p.746.

Jews should welcome the creation and prosperity of a Christian nation like America. Christianity guarantees liberty through morality. The Founding Fathers all recognized this, and sensible Jews today recognize this:

Toward Tradition's Vision

Toward Tradition sees the United States as both the final guarantor of liberty and justice throughout the world, and the best home Diaspora Jews have ever known. We therefore believe that we have a duty to acknowledge the catastrophic failure of modern liberalism, and to join the conservative movement in rebuilding American civilization. While we wholeheartedly agree that conservatism is in the practical interests of the Jewish community (and that monolithic devotion to the Left is suicidal), we believe the more important point to stress is that Jewish principles are fundamentally conservative and that conservatism is superior morally to liberalism. Our argument with the Left is not on whether Judaism has a moral message to humanity but on what that message is.

No group has done more for the restoration of traditional morality than conservative Christians. We therefore believe that we, as American Jews, owe a great debt of honor and respect to our Christian brothers. We should strive to work together for the moral renewal of American civilization.

We also believe that the conservative movement needs us. Conservatives will continue, unfairly, to face charges of particularism. To refute such charges, as well as for its own long-term vitality, the movement must remain open and diverse. Conservatism needs the active participation of ethnic, racial, and religious minorities, including Jews. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the over 3000-year-old Jewish religious tradition has much to offer the conservative movement intellectually. In fact, the Jewish emphasis on the constant fusing of the material and the spiritual makes it uniquely capable of carrying a practical moral message and of resolving intra-conservative rifts.

Finally, our country needs us. Both Christians and Jews believe God's promise to Abraham, "I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse." (Genesis 12:3) We must so conduct ourselves so that our countrymen will bless us; in blessing us, our fellow citizens will help insure the prosperity of our country.

Toward Tradition
Contact Information
P.O. Box 58
Mercer Island, WA 98040
Phone: (206) 236-3046
Fax: (206) 236-3288

Although Jews have more peace and freedom in America than they do in Secular Humanist nations like the Soviet Union, they were not allowed to hold public office in many states in the union at the time the Constitution was ratified, and if the Constitution had given the federal government the power to change state constitutions which excluded Jews from office, the Constitution would not have been ratified. The Supreme Court, egged on by the ACLU, has now altered the legal system in a way that would be repugnant to any true son of Abraham:

that brings to mind a quip by Cardinal Newman when an avowed atheist was elected to Parliament. Asked if it would not be a scandal for such a person to take the oath of office, thereby evoking the name of God, Newman replied that it really made no difference, since whenever the word "God" was used in that assembly, he had no idea of what the speaker had in mind; certainly not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob Who became incarnate.

George Sire Johnston
A Civilization of Love: Some Notes on John Paul II's "Letter to Families"
Crisis Magazine, December 1994, p.34

Even though Jews and members of other faiths enjoy all the blessings of life in a Christian nation, they are in fact limited in their religious freedoms by Christian standards. The Founding Fathers did not believe in pure pluralism. Continue reading on next page.

Christmas Conspiracy


Vine & Fig Tree

Paradigm Shift


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Micah 4:1-7