How did we get to this place? How did this countries morals become so corrupted? How did we become so divided? How did our debt become so huge, our politicians so unresponsive, and government so large and powerful? One only needs to read the writings of our founding fathers to see and understand.
We have strayed far from the ideals and foundations upon which this country became great. We have ignored our Christian heritage in the name of tolerance, perverting the intent of our founders. Much has been made of “The wall of separation between church and state,” yet how many of us know where that phrase came from? It did not come from the constitution, the first amendment states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Nothing is said there of prohibiting public religious displays, prayer in schools or government, or of a religious leaders participation as such in governmental or political issues. To the contrary, it seems to prohibit the government from passing such rules. But, what did our founders have to say? The “wall” quote comes from a letter Jefferson wrote in response to concerns expressed by the Baptist congregation Danbury Ct. in 1802. They were concerned that their faith might be regulated and controlled as it had been in Europe. (In reality, there were likely many who were so concerned, as that was a prime reason many came here in the first place.) In his letter, Jefferson stated:
“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 the 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, of prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and state. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore man to all of his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”
But did Jefferson mean this to be a total ban on expression of and participation in Christian faith in government? What else might he have had to say about this? He also wrote:
“I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in religious discipline has been delegated to the General Government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority.” Letter to Samuel Miller, 1808.
But, what about the courts? Was he addressing them as well? Well it turns out Jefferson had something to say there as well:
“To suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own.” Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779
“The rights [to religious freedom] are of the natural rights of mankind, and… if any act shall be… passed to repeal [an act granting those rights] or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.” Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779
So then we can conclude that his intent at least was to prevent the Federal Government from exercising religious authority or control, that is, the establishment of a state religion. Notice as well that he considered religious freedom to be on of the “Natural Rights” so often referred to in the writings of our founders. One last quote before we move on:
“One of the amendments to the Constitution… expressly declares that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,’ thereby guarding in the same sentence and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press; insomuch that whatever violates either throws down the sanctuary which covers the others.” Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798
Now let’s look at the context of these concerns. Many of our founders came here to escape religious persecution. As you read and study their writings, it is very clear that was foremost upon their minds. Europeans in that day were very familiar with the dangers of a state religion and many had suffered at the hands of such. Most were also religiously devout men with strong Christian beliefs. Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 24 held religious degrees. Some have tried to cast Jefferson as a nonbeliever, but what did he say about His beliefs?
“I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.”
Jefferson, like all of the founders was a believer in God. Some were Christian, and some Jewish, but all shared a common belief in God, and our dependence upon Him. All lived lives predicated by the same Judeo-Christian beliefs. Benjamin Franklin is considered by many to be one of the least religious of our founders. Yet he wrote to Ezra Stiles, President of Yale University on March 9, 1790:
“Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is in doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them.”
I could go on and on, quoting Madison, Sam Adams, John Adams, Benjamin Rush, Monroe, Hancock, Washington, Roger Sherman, and many others. All believed in God, all believed in the necessity of Christian beliefs, and in the necessity that those Christian beliefs and character were essential to the continued success of this nation. Nor is this the only place where our values have strayed from the original intents of our founders, but for now, this is enough to ponder. I will close with a quote from a man who was not a founder, but who nevertheless must be numbered as one of our great leaders:
“We the People are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts–not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” Abraham Lincoln
Am I advocating revolt? Yes, but not one of violence, for that is not the answer. Instead let us revolt in the polls, town meetings, and public venues. Let us take a stand for what is right, not what the media tells us is right, nor what the government tells us is right, or what others may say is right, but for what GOD says is right. Let us take the time to learn our Constitution, what our founders said, and what God says. Then let us take our stand armed with knowledge and the sure leading of the Holy Spirit. It is late; much damage has been done to our nation, its morals, its financial stability, and its strength. Our government is rift with waste, and corruption, but if we stand together and say thus far and no further, we can make a difference and we can return this nation to its true roots.