Faith of Our Fathers:
The Unbelief of America's Founding Fathers
by Jim Peron
Faith of Our Fathers:
The Fanaticism of America's Founding Fathers
A Vine & Fig Tree Rebuttal to Jim Peron
|Vine & Fig
Tree opposes the myth of secular America. Our
Anti-Separation of Church and State Homepage is here. Our Christian America site, also
under construction, is here.
Jim Peron is betting that his article will confirm the myths most people learned in the State's secular schools. His article will not convince anyone who has read David Barton's book Original Intent. Nor would Peron convince the 1892 U.S. Supreme Court, which unanimously concluded that America was "a Christian nation," not just demographically, but legally.
I am a fanatic Christian like Gary North, and I'm not thrilled with the Constitution. By my fanatic standards the Founding Fathers were not "orthodox." But by the ACLU's secularist standards, the Founding Fathers were stark raving fundamentalists, and their Constitution certainly does not require America to be secular, nor prohibit its government from advancing Christian morality. Peron relies on scholars with a secularist axe to grind, but who claim to be "neutral." When he quotes Christians he quotes fanatics, who also have an axe to grind, and thereby make the less-fanatic Founding Fathers seem secular by comparison. The Founders ranged from the fanatic to the less fanatic, but they were all Christian, and none believed that the Constitution forced the government to stop promoting the Christian religion.
|Christian Conservatives have misappropriated both the Constitution and the Founding Fathers to promote an agenda that is fundamentally anti-American. They use religion, particularly their own brand of Christianity, as a weapon in their drive to impose a system of government which does not follow our founding principles. They advocate the scraping of the First Amendment which inconveniently allows for freedom of speech and the press and separates church from state. The Religious Right has waged a long war on the Constitution and on the ideal of an open and free society.||Everything about this first paragraph is
wrong. The purpose of America was to advance the
Christian faith. Christian conservatives are increasingly hostile to government
and are working to take State power out of the hands of those who use it to advance the religion of Secular Humanism.
Many have learned that the power of the Sword is deadly, and cannot be used to any good purpose. But even those
who would use the State to deter anti-Christian actions such as abortion and homosexuality
are not prohibited by the Constitution from doing so.
There is not a single conservative Christian alive today who does not believe in the separation of ecclesiastical and political powers. Peron must create a straw man to advance his secularist agenda.
|Key in their drive to Christianize America is the myth that the nation was founded by Christians. But the Founding Fathers were open, blatant secularists. In fact, few of them could be considered orthodox Christians in any sense of the word.||The Founders were not "open, blatant
secularists," as Peron claims. Virtually no one was. There was intense Christian cultural pressure. Even Franklin urged Tom Paine not to
publish his Age of Reason. Secularists were still in the closet.
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously declared that America was "a Christian nation," and noted that it was founded by Christians for the purpose of establishing the Christian Religion in the New World. When this long Christian history is fully appreciated, it becomes impossible to believe that the Constitution was intended to overthrow Christian America, rather than to build upon it.
|The American Revolution was a revolt against power. But it opposed all power, both political and theological, over the mind and body of man. The Founding Fathers purposely removed all vestiges of religion from American political life and the Falwells of the day hated them for it.||Not a single person who signed the
Constitution believed he was engaged in a revolt against theological power. Every single
one of them believed God had legitimate power over the mind and
body of man, and that a free and prosperous society depended upon universal
acknowledgement of God's rightful Sovereignty.
Peron does not understand the difference between "church" and "God."
The Founders -- a majority anyway -- believed that no ecclesiastical denomination had the right to use the State to coerce assent to its own ecclesiastical sovereignty. Every single one of them believed that America had a theological duty to be a nation "under God."
|The fact is that the American people were
never as religious as today's Religious Right assumed them to be. Felipe
Fernández-Armesto and Derek Wilson, in their provocative book Reformation:
Christianity and the World 1500-2000 point out:
|The American People were clearly far more
religious in 1789 than they are today. More
people listened to sermons in 1789 than people watch TV today. Only about 3% of
Americans who are members of churches today would qualify for church membership in 1789.
Most people in 1789 attended church even though they could not qualify to be voting
Peron's evidence confuses the vitality of Christian faith with the power of ecclesiastical authorities. Secular Humanists do not understand that Christians can be Christians although attached to no ecclesiastical denomination. The "Promise Keepers" movement fills stadiums, not churches. The idea that the frontier was secular is part of the same myth that says the West was violent and lawless and it's a good thing we now have an omnipotent State and lots of gun control laws.
|British historian Paul Johnson, though biased by his own Christian impulses, nevertheless admits that some of the US colonies had very non-religious foundings. The very first colony was established by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584 at Roanoke, 36 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth. Johnson says this about the first colony: it was an entirely secular effort.||By today's ACLU-dominated standards, nothing anyone did in the early days of America would qualify as "entirely secular." Everyone was tainted by Christianity. Sir Walter Raleigh was a Falwelite compared to Jim Peron and the ACLU.|
|Georgia was another secular colony. Johnson admits: This was another utopian venture, though with humanitarian rather than strict religious objectives an 18th century rationalist as opposed to a 17th-century doctrinaire experiment.||Humanism and Christianity are in conflict,
but not humanitarianism and Christianity. A "strict religious objective" is
usually an ecclesiastical objective. Georgia
was a Christian colony. Its 1777 Constitution provided in Article VI:
Can you imagine the electoral forces that would have to be mobilized to put this plank in the present-day Georgia Constitution? But this "Moral Majority" was omnipresent in colonial America. It is not the case that a majority of Americans now oppose such constitutional provisions. Planks like this were removed not because the majority of Americans became Secular Humanists, but the religion of secularism was imposed by the judiciary, and this did not happen until 1961.
This point alone -- the existence of these constitutional provisions limiting political office to Christians, and the fact that they were not abolished until 1961 by judicial activists in the federal judiciary -- shows that Jim Peron's thesis is wildly mistaken.
|He notes, regarding Pennsylvania: One German observer, Gottlieb Mittelberger, summed it up neatly in 1754: Pennsylvania is heaven for farmers, paradise for artisans, and hell for officials and preachers. Philadelphia may have already acquired twelve churches by 1752. But it had fourteen rum distilleries.||Pennsylvania
was clearly a Christian colony. Penn was a Falwellite (in the eyes of the ACLU). Christian
Reconstructionists like Gary North have nothing against a good cigar and the best rum.
Penn was a Christian, and his "Frame of Government" for Pennsylvania clearly favored Christianity and made unbelievers feel like second-class citizens
|Rhode Island, while having a religious founder, was founded on principles more in line with the American Revolution than with colonial Puritanism. Johnson says that to the Puritans of Massachusetts Williams was not merely an antinomian, he was a secularist, almost an atheist, since he wanted to banish God from government.||Roger Williams was a
fanatic Christian who made witchcraft a capital crime. Leo Pfeffer, who argued the
secularist position in the Torcaso
case above, admits that:
From the vantage point of New England ecclesiocracy, Rhode Island was an apostasy. From the secularist standpoint of the ACLU, Roger Williams was a theophany of Jerry Falwell.
|Unbelief was rampant in the United States during these critical years. Harvard University, in the mid 1700s was already openly challenging orthodox Christian teaching and the other centers of higher learning werent far behind. When Lyman Beecher entered Yale in 1793 he said the college was in a most ungodly state. The college church was almost extinct. Most of the students were skeptical... That was the day of the infidelity of the Tom Paine school. Boys that dressed flax in the barn, as I used to, read Tom Paine and believed him; I read, and fought him all the way. Never had any propensity to infidelity. But most of the class before me were infidels... The 1891 History of Dartmouth College lamented: In 1798 the state of religion was so far reduced that but a single member of the class of 1799 was publicly known as a professing Christian. At what become Princeton there were only three or four who made any pretensions to piety. Bishop Mead of Virginia said that the College of William and Mary was regarded as a hotbed of infidelity.||This account omits the fact that virtually all American universities were explicitly Christian in their Founding. It is true that there was a decline in faith, but this account omits the fact that there was a subsequent revival called "the Second Great Awakening." (As war usually does, the Revolution resulted in both monetary and spiritual debasement.) Beecher's daughter, Harriet Beecher Stowe, stirred millions to oppose slavery with her book Uncle Tom. Noah Webster was converted during this revival and wrote his dictionary and other influential school textbooks. Jefferson's attempt at a secular university was a failure, and the Board eventually hired the university's first clergyman: the Rev. William McGuffey.|
|Such unbelief wasnt limited to the
universities either. Rev. Ashbel Green, of the Second Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia
was chaplain of the US Congress from 1792 to 1800. He complained that very few members of
Congress attended prayers and attributed two-thirds of the absence to the prevalence of
free thought among politicians. Such unbelief wasnt limited to the educated either.
The historian of Windham County, Connecticut wrote in 1880 that the post-revolutionary
period was one where,
The philosophy which drove the American Founding Fathers was a coherent philosophy of natural, individual rights. And from this rights perspective the only Constitution they could have created would have been one of a secular nature. As we shall see the Founders werent just compelled by trends to neglect religion. Their Revolution and Constitution were based on well-considered precepts. What they did, they did knowingly and purposefully.
|Rev. Green may have pessimistically
overstated the apostasy, as clergy sometimes do. Had the ACLU been around then, they would
have complained not only that so many Congressmen did
"attend prayers," but that prayers were offered in
Congress at all.
The Founders' philosophy of rights was not secular, but Christian. It was everywhere balanced with the Christian philosophy of duty. A secular theory of rights leads to a socialist system of "entitlements."
|The Constitution did establish a wall
of separation between church and state. Todays Religious Right denies this
fact, and as proof offer that this phrase appears no where in the Constitution itself.
They are correct but the First Amendment still requires religious neutrality by the US
government and the author of the phrase in question was none other than Thomas Jefferson,
the man who embodied the ideals of the American Revolution. Jefferson wrote:
|The phrase "wall of separation"
does not appear in the Constitution. Nor does it appear in the First Amendment. No one who
had a hand in drafting or ratifying the First Amendment believed that it compelled America
to stop being a nation "under God."
The first time Jefferson's "wall" metaphor was used by the U.S. Supreme Court occurred in a case in which it affirmed that America was a Christian nation. Jefferson said the state can't tell people how to believe, but can tell them how to act. Jefferson operated in a Christian milieu, and drafted laws which made sodomy punishable by castration. Christian criminal codes made America the most prosperous and free nation on earth.
A government which is not limited by Christian principles in the actions which it can criminalize is destined to become a fascist dictatorship.
|In 1832 President Andrew Jackson followed Jeffersons lead when a cholera epidemic brought about pleas from the clergy for Congress to pass a prayer resolution. When Congress passed the resolution, Jackson refused to issue it and cited Jeffersons view as his justification that such a measure violated the Constitution.||Jackson and Jefferson were both in the minority. All the other presidents agreed that the Constitution did not permit such national prayers.|
|Right-wing Reconstructionist Gary North accepts that the Constitution separates church and state, though he hates the concept. While the famous phrase of Jeffersons regarding a wall of separation between church and State in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists is not in the Constitution in this familiar form, it is nonetheless in the Constitution judicially.||I consider myself every bit as fanatic as Gary North. The State Bar of California considers me every bit as fanatic as Gary North. Gary North published one of my articles which criticized Jerry Falwell for not being as fanatic a right-winger as he should be. But Gary North is arguably wrong on whether the Constitution mandates a separation. Can "scary" Gary be wrong? Have you seen his y2k web site?|
Religion vs. the Constitution
The Religious Right of early America was not happy with the new Constitution. Many pseudonymous pamphleteers attacked the godless nature of the American Constitution. One writer in the Virginia Independent Chronicle warned the public of the pernicious effects of the Constitutions general disregard of religion. Thomas Wilson of Virginia said the composers of the Constitution had no thought of God in all their consultations. One opponent, calling himself Aristocrotis, said that the American Constitution was the first in human history to ignore religion. He claimed that until 1787, there was never a nation in the world whose government was not circumscribed by religion. One Christian from Massachusetts said the Constitution left religion to shift wholly for itself and as a result the new nation would fail. He claimed it is more difficult to build an elegant house without tools to work with, than it is to establish a durable government without the publick protection of religion. Rev. Timothy Dwight of Yale University was the Jerry Falwell of his day. He said: The nation has offended Providence. We formed our Constitution without any acknowledgement of God.... The Convention, by which it was formed, never asked even once, His direction, or His blessings, upon their labours. Thus we commenced our national existence under the present system, without God.
The clergy were not happy with the Constitution, because they wanted their particular denominations to be legally preferred over the others. America was definitely losing its willingness to be pulled at the bit by clergy. But America was still religious.
Timothy Dwight was not the Jerry Falwell of his day. He was the Gary North of his day. He criticized the Falwells of his day, not the ACLU of his day (nothing even remotely resembling the ACLU existed at the time the Constitution was ratified.
The clergy felt that if ecclesiastical organizations weren't propped up by the Constitution, they would fall, and all religion with it. They were wrong. Ecclesiocracy has probably been the greatest impediment to the spread of true religion.
|The American Constitution did severe all political ties with religion and the Founding Fathers were quite open about this fact. John Adams said The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature. He said it cannot even be pretended that any of the architects of Americas Constitution had interviews with the gods or were in any degree under the inspiration of Heaven and that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. The United States was thirteen governments founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretense of miracle or mystery.||Anybody who claims divine inspiration for
the Constitution is a wacko. Anybody who denies the influence of Christianity upon the
birth of America is equally wacko. John Adams agreed with both of these propositions. To
say that the Constitution was not the product of miraculous or mystical inspiration is not
to say that it bans religion. Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson, June 28, 1813:
|In 1797 the United States Senate unanimously passed a treaty with Tripoli which said: The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion...||These words do not appear in all copies of the Treaty, and in any case do not mean what secularists say they mean. Study the facts.|
|These words were echoed by the Ohio high court in 1853 in the case Bloom vs. Richards. The court said, ...neither Christianity, nor any other system of religion is part of the law of this state.||As I'm not familiar with the case, a citation would be nice. How the Court could say this is unclear, unless the court was referring to a specific denomination of Christianity. Ohio was admitted to the Union under the terms of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. The 1802 Ohio Constitution used language from that ordinance and required religion to be taught in its schools. So some religion was part of the laws of that state. An argument that it was not Christianity would require great effort.|
|President Thomas Jefferson, the author of
the Declaration of Independence, dedicated much of his life to diminishing the political
power of religion in America.
He was constantly attacked by the clergy of the day and he acknowledged that the Religious Right correctly perceived him as their opponent. They believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough too in their opinion.
Paul Johnson says this of Jefferson, The motto of his seal-ring, chosen by himself, was Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God. Yet he shrank from violence and did not believe God existed.
|Jefferson's eccentric views on religion did
not represent the views of the men who signed the Declaration or the Constitution. The
Congress which ratified the Declaration also amended it to make it more theistic.
Nevertheless, Jefferson did not try to diminish the political power of religion, only the political power of the clergy. There was a world of difference in Jefferson's mind. Jefferson was a theist. He believed the prosperity of America depended on the practice of true religion. Although based loosely on the teachings of Christ, his religion was not orthodox Christianity. But he clearly did not believe government could be free from the demands of religion. See Gaustad's book, Sworn on the Altar.
The clergy is often my opponent. This does not make me an atheist. The clergy who opposed Jefferson were often stooges for Federalists.
Paul Johnson exaggerates. Jefferson wrote to John Adams: "An atheist ¼ I can never be." (Bergh 15:425.  cited in The Real Thomas Jefferson, p.602.)
|The artist John Trumbull recounted in his autobiography an incident which happened at a freethinking dinner party at the home of Thomas Jefferson in 1793. According to Trumbull, Sen. Giles of Virginia proceeded so far at last, as to ridicule the character, conduct and doctrines of the divine founder of our religion Jefferson, in the mean time, smiling and nodding approbation on Mr. Giles, while the rest of the company silently left me and my defense to our fate; until at length my friend, David Franks, took up the argument on my side. Trumbull was so upset he turned to Mr. Jefferson and said, Sir, this is a strange situation in which I find myself; in a country professing Christianity, and at a table with Christians, as supposed, I find my religion and myself attacked with severe and almost irresistible wit and raillery, and not a person to aid in my defense, but my friend Mr. Franks, who is himself a Jew. Trumbull says his rebuttal did no good, and that Senator Giles said of Christianity: It is all miserable delusion and priestcraft; I do not believe one word of all they say about a future state of existence, and retribution for actions done here. I do not believe one word of a Supreme Being who takes cognizance of the paltry affairs of this world, and to whom we are responsible for what we do.||Jefferson did not agree with every jot and
tittle of the gospel according to Senator Giles. Read more here.
Franklin publicly asserted that God is not a "deist" God, but actively and supernaturally intervenes in the "paltry affairs of this world."
The Rights of Unbelievers
Jefferson was not an anomaly. The other revolutionaries who established America also made the same points. Oliver Ellsworth, who defended the Constitution from its Christian critics argued, The business of civil government is to protect the citizen in his rights... [it] has no business to meddle with the private opinions of the people. ...Legislatures have no right to set up an inquisition and examine into the private opinions of men. Ellsworth, was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, a Congressman and served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
|Oliver Ellsworth was a Christian slightly to the right of Jerry Falwell.|
|George Washington, while a member of the Episcopal Church, never revealed himself to be a religious man. His extensive correspondence is devoid of any mention of Jesus Christ. One biographer, Barry Schwartz, had this to say: George Washingtons practice of Christianity was limited and superficial because he was not himself a Christian...He repeatedly declined the churchs sacraments. Never did he take communion....Even on his deathbed, Washington asked for no ritual, uttered no prayer to Christ, and expressed no wish to be attended by His representative. Jefferson, in his diary, wrote Gouverneur Morris had often told me that General Washington believed no more of that system [Christianity] than he did himself. In his work, George Washington & Religion, Paul Boiler, Jr., notes, if to believe in the divinity and resurrection of Christ and his atonement for the sins of man and to participate in the sacrament of the Lords Supper are requisites for the Christian faith, then Washington, on the evidence which we have examined can hardly be considered a Christian, except in the most nominal sense.||
Secular Humanists are going to have to get used to the idea that Christians can be Christians although attached to no ecclesiastical denomination, or even without adherence to their sacramental doctrines. The "Promise Keepers" movement fills stadiums, not churches. Participating in episcopalian sacraments, part Roman and part Jewish, is not a requisite for Christian faith.
|In colonial America, the dividing line between believer and unbeliever wasnt church attendance but communion. The question of Washingtons participating in church sacraments was the topic of heated debate in early America. A Colonel Mercer solicited information from Bishop White, who pastored Washingtons church. Mercer wrote asking if Washington was a communicant of the church. White wrote back, ...truth requires me to say that Gen. Washington never received the communion in the churches in which I am the parochial minister. Gary North notes the significance of this: ...Washington... systematically refused to take communion. ...Any church member who refuses to take communion has thereby excommunicated himself. A refusal to take communion or a prohibition against ones taking communion is what excommunication means.||
The Calvinist Gary North has in the past entertained some remarkably Episcopalian/Roman Catholic views on sacraments. His father in law, R.J. Rushdoony, patriarch of the Christian Reconstruction movement, has very different views on the importance of sacraments. The author of this rebuttal, a fanatic Theocrat, is also a preterist, and does not believe in sacraments at all.
|James Madison, the fourth President, after Washington, Adams and Jefferson, also opposed linking Christianity with government. He believed that the First Amendment and disestablishment of religion meant that America had extinguished forever the ambitious hope of making laws for the human mind. Madison felt so strongly on the issue that he insisted that a Congressional chaplain would be a violation of the Constitutional separation of church and state. In 1774 Madison wrote William Bradford, Jr.: Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect.||Madison changed his views late in life. At
the time the Constitution was being framed, when he had his greatest influence, Madison
voted in favor of Congressional Chaplains and denounced legislation which did not advance Christianity.
Madison equated laws which imposed the dictates of clergy as slavery, but not pure Christianity.
|The Founding Fathers were far more critical of religion than is expressed in the documents on which this nation were founded. Because separation of church and state was taken seriously by these men they kept public pronouncements on religion to a minimum. A few of the great American revolutionaries, however, were not hindered by political office and thus felt free to express their opinions. Ethan Allen, of Vermonts famed Green Mountain Boys, published his answer to religion in a book Reason, The Only Oracle of Man. Timothy Dwight called Allens book the first formal publication, in the United States, openly directed against the Christian religion. G. Adolf Koch in Religion and the American Enlightenment said it was difficult to estimate Allens influence but that his book was read throughout New England.||It is the documents that determine the
religious character of the nation, not the secretly-held theological beliefs of a few
Founders. And it is a myth of modern liberalism that the Federal Constitution determines
the religious character of the Union, rather than those of the several States.
Most people who read Thomas Paine's Age of Reason disagreed with it.
Religion and Common Sense
Another revolutionary who didnt hold back his opinions was Thomas Paine who, perhaps more than any single man, was responsible for the American Revolution. It was Paine who authored the stirring pamphlet Common Sense, which aroused the passions of the public and created the popular support for the Revolutionary ideals of Jefferson. Common Sense was the most widely read political treatise in the American Colonies. This one pamphlet sold 500,000 copies in early 1776.
Paine, however, later wrote another book, The Age of Reason, which expressed his views on religion. Paine was quite clear that he did not consider Christianity rational or consistent with nature. While he continued to believe in a God, he did not support religion. He hoped that just as his first book helped create a revolution in government, his second would create a revolution in religion. Paines new book also took America by storm. Paines biographer, John Keane, notes that demand for The Age of Reason,
|Get the facts about Thomas Paine's Age of Reason.|
|There was no conflict in the minds of most Christians of that day between reason and religion. There was a conflict between reason and priestcraft. Many Christians were opponents of priestcraft for very reasonable reasons. To claim that someone who opposed transubstantiation also favored giving the federal judiciary the power to remove the Ten Commandments from municipal schools is the height of sloppy scholarship. But that is the point of the ACLU. Is it Peron's point as well? Does he believe Janet Reno has the power to enforce politically correct liberal religion on localities?|
|The most vicious attacks on Paine came from the Federalist forces which had been deposed in Jeffersons Revolution of 1800. Paine, who was in France at the time received an affectionate letter from Jefferson which riled the anti-libertarians. The Gazette of the United States, a federalist publication reported, that the President of the United States had written a very affectionate letter to that living opprobrium of humanity, TOM PAINE, the infamous scavenger of all the filth which could be raked from the dirty paths which have been trodden by all the revilers of Christianity.... Another federalist publication sarcastically called Jefferson our pious president and Paine was called a loathsome reptile. The federalist press was furious when Jefferson, ignoring their vitriolic attacks, actually invited Paine to visit him at the White House.||
Asking the Federalists for the opinion regarding the religious beliefs of their opponents is like claiming that Algore is a born-again right-winger because of his recent suggestion that the feds should work with religious social service providers.
This is a political war, and does not conclusively reflect on whether America was demographically or legally "a Christian nation."
|Professors Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore, in their excellent study The Godless Constitution correctly understood how the philosophy of the American Revolution carried into all of American life. They wrote:||Here is a response to The Godless Constitution|
|We've already learned about Roger Williams.|
|The principles of natural rights, founded on reason not revelation, required the limitation of government in all spheres. It refused to grant privileges to economic monopolies, social elites, or religious institutions. In each case the marketplace: economic, social or religious, was freed from government manipulation and control. Laissez-faire was a revolutionary principle that was carried into all aspects of American life and the Religious Right didnt like this one bit.||The "Religious Right" back then does not parallel the generally non-denominational Religious Right of today. Newsweek magazine identified the Chalcedon Foundation as the "think tank" of the Religious Right, and that Foundation is a libertarian one, which champions Free Market economics. It is truly a pity that Peron seeks to divide libertarians rather than unite them.|
Many modern Americans would be surprised that the American Founders were so open in their total dedication to separation of church and state. The Constitution gave the federal government the power to establish a system for the delivery of mail. And from the start the federal government refused to acknowledge any sabbath and mail was delivered, and post offices opened, on Sundays. In 1810 Congress passed legislation requiring that all post offices be open every day for at least one hour and that mail be delivered on Sundays. Over the years crusades were launched to end this practice. These was vigorously opposed. The Indiana legislature said: There are no doctrines or observances inculcated by the Christian religion which require the arm of civil power either to enforce or sustain them: we consider every connection between church and state at all times dangerous to civil and religious liberty. Sen. Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky produced his Report on the Subject of Mails on the Sabbath, which said: The framers of the Constitution recognized the eternal principle that mans relation with God is above human legislation and his rights of conscience unalienable. Johnson believed that the line cannot be too strongly drawn between church and state and that a law banning Sunday mail service is legislating upon a religious subject and therefore unconstitutional. Sen. Johnson, even after taking such a strong stand against honoring the Christian sabbath, was elected as Vice President of the United States in 1836. The battle to end Sunday mail service only fully succeeded in 1912 when Congress banned it.
Many modern libertarians would be surprised that the American Founders were so open in their total dedication to a government sponsored postal system.
It is not surprising that when it came to socialist communications systems, there was also confusion about religion. Observance of Sunday is written into the Constitution itself, and Sunday observances have been codified into law since Europeans got off the boats.
|Calvinist Gary North recognizes that the American Revolution overthrew religion in public life. He wrote: The Preamble of the Constitution and the plebiscite of 1788 established a new covenantal foundation for the American republic. It transferred ultimate sovereignty from God to the People. For centuries the dominant political ideology was that political power was derived from God and not from the people. The results are well known. That is the reason the Founders purposely and explicitly created a godless Constitution. The classical liberals of the day advocated free minds and free bodies. They unshackled man politically, economically and intellectually.||Calvinist Gary North believed that Y2k
would be the end of Western Civilization, and especially of the Federal Government. He
wished. He was also a bit reactionary on the issue of the Constitution.
The Founders continually spoke of the duties men and their governments had to God. Their Constitution did not mandate government-imposed secularism. It would not have been ratified if it did.
|Conservative scholar Walter Berns, of the
American Enterprise Institute, admits that the Constitution, and thus the American
Republic, was not Christian in origin. Quite the opposite, says Berns. He believes that
the founders of liberal democracy were enemies of Revealed religion. He says:
The Declaration of Independence does NOT say that government is NOT instituted by God. The Declaration is clearly a theistic document.
The idea that John Locke was an "enemy of revealed religion" is so preposterous that it would cause gales of laughter in any one who was not already saddened by Columbine High and other disasters of modern relativism and secularism. Find out the facts.
The Founders clearly linked Christianity with morality and the preservation of social order. Get the facts.
|There is only one sensible answer: the US Constitution is not Christian. So complete was Americas abandonment of orthodox Christianity that the mournful Timothy Dwight gave his 1798 book the title The Age of Infidelity.||It was truly a tragic mistake for the
Founders not to mention Jesus Christ. Had they foreseen the ACLU and schools stripped of
religion, they would have changed the Constitution.
From a legal perspective, however, the omission of Christ's name from the Constitution did not give the federal judiciary the power to amend state constitutions where they touched on religion, or the power to remove the Ten Commandments from municipal schools. That such egregious constitutional errors could be made is testimony to the ignorance of the Founders' original intent.
Jim Peron is a South African journalist who was interviewed by Alberto Mingardi in a recent issue of The Laissez Faire City Times. He has recently finished a book entitled Two Masters: the Conflict Between Christianity and Capitalism. Email:email@example.com.
from The Laissez Faire City Times, Vol 4, No 8, February 21, 2000
Please click the Laissez-Faire City Times site and add your comments to their page.
Please write to the author of this rebuttal.
Bronner, Edwin B. William Penn's "Holy Experiment": The Founding of Pennsylvania 1681-1701. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1962
Gaustad, Edwin S., Faith of Our Fathers, Harper & Row, 1987.
See also, Portrait of a "Modal Libertarian" - The Strange Case of Jim Peron by Justin Raimondo.
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