I grew up in the 1950’s in a small rural church. Back then, it seemed like everyone attended Sunday school, church, and went to VBS during the summer. Sunday mornings were sacrosanct. There were never any organized activities on Sunday mornings because that time was for going to church. To me, America was a Christian nation. Then, in the 1980’s and 1990’s, I started hearing America being described as a post-Christian nation.
Indeed the population was increasing, but the percentage of church-goers was decreasing substantially. Driving to church past soccer fields and softball and baseball diamonds where games were going on and having to avoid bicyclists participating in road rallies; it was obvious that Sunday mornings were no longer sacred. It was painful to see that we were becoming a post-Christian nation, but were we ever a Christian nation?
We were being told, even from the pulpit, that the founding fathers were deists and not Christians (a deist is defined as someone who believes in the existence of a Supreme Being, specifically a creator who does not intervene in the universe).
We are very fortunate that we have many written documents and letters that give first-hand and unimpeachable information about the founding fathers. George Washington said:
“Providence has at all times been my only dependence, for all other resources seemed to have failed us.”
“It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”
“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to emplore His protection and favor.”
Those words are definitively not the words of a deist. But, surely Ben Franklin was a deist – or was he? The Constitutional Convention was in serious deadlock. Among other problems, the large states wanted more representation than the small states, and the small states wanted a one-state one-vote rule. Ben Franklin said very little during the first four or five weeks of the convention, but the 81-year-old statesman was ever observant. He then addressed the President as follows according to the notes taken by James Madison:
“…In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor.”
He went on to say:
“I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this – that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?”
No, Benjamin Franklin was not a deist. Well, you ask, “What about Thomas Jefferson?”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation and the ACLU have made Jefferson their poster boy. But is that warranted? Among other things (please do some research yourself), Jefferson was a student of Scripture, was an active member of the Anglican Church, married in the church, and sent his children to Christian schools. He also gave liberally to missionaries for the Indians.
But, what about the Jefferson Bible where he cut out all of the miracles? Another myth.
It wasn’t a Bible. It was an abridgment of the Gospels created in 1804 for the benefit of the Indians. There is no early evidence of his skepticism, but there are many evidences of his agreeing with the truth of the Christian faith.
The skepticism came after his two terms as President when he rejected the deity of Jesus Christ. Most conservative scholars agree that he never had a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Rather he, like so many people today, was a Christian in name only (see RINO). But he was not a deist.
Moving forward past the founders, consider Abraham Lincoln. In his first inaugural address he said:
“Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.”
And in a private letter in 1863 he wrote, “Let us diligently apply the means, never doubting that a just God, in his own good time, will give us the rightful result.”
Next, consider the Supreme Court of the United States. In an 1892 case before the Supreme Court, Justice David Josiah Brewer writing for the majority said that we are “A Christian Nation.” And he clarified this in his 1905 book The United States: A Christian Nation where he acknowledged that Christianity is not the established religion nor is anyone compelled to be a Christian to engage in public service. He states:
“Nonetheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian Nation—in fact, as the leading Christian Nation of the world. This popular use of the term certainly has significance. It is not a mere creation of the imagination. It is not a term of derision but has substantial basis—one which justifies its use.”
Obviously, this list of individuals and their quotes is nowhere near exhaustive, but I believe shows without a doubt that we were a Christian nation.
So what has happened? The churches must bear a large part of the responsibility. But, politically speaking, SCOTUS “has happened” as evidenced by their legislation from the bench and their propensity to select precedents that suit their judicial goals.
The slippery slope started in 1947 when the Supreme Court ruled that Jefferson’s wall of separation between church and state “must be kept high and impregnable.” Most of you know the history, but I will repeat it anyway in as concise a way as possible.
The Congregationalist Church dominated New England. The Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut wanted to be assured that they would continue to have religious freedom (i.e., they wanted confidence that there would not be a national religion). In Jefferson’s letter back to the Danbury Baptists, he used the metaphor “wall of separation”. (Please note, this was a private letter and separation of church and state is nowhere to be found in the Constitution). It is obvious from Jefferson’s writings and speeches that he was saying that there was a wall to keep the federal government from interfering with the church and not vice versa.
Justice Hugo L. Black in writing the majority opinion regarding Everson v. Board of Education (1947) found Jefferson’s metaphor compelling (as though it was a legal precedent) and concluded that the separation “must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.”
Building on that “precedent”, on June 25, 1962 the U.S. Supreme Court removed prayer from our nation’s schools. The result: since there is no morality without God the increase in immorality is shocking, and the education system has declined at an alarming rate.
Then on January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. They atrociously abused the 14th Amendment which was written to protect freed slaves. The result: life is no longer sacred, and we have not just a totally unacceptable murder rate, but a myriad of other consequences.
This website is devoted to starting a viable third party and much has been written about the need to get back to the Constitution. But we must heed the words of George Washington in his proposed address to Congress in April, 1789. Knowing from scripture the spiritual condition of fallen man, he said that the Constitution with all its wisdom could come to be meaningless because of man’s depravity, thereby making the document a “wall of words” or a “mound of parchment”.
Truly, unless we get back to being a Christian nation, all of our efforts will be for naught.