Friday, May 30, 2008

Grover Cleveland - First Inaugural Address

The following is from Grover Cleveland's First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1885:

"And let us not trust to human effort alone, but humbly acknowledging the power and goodness of Almighty God, who presides over the destiny of nations, and who has at all times been revealed in our country's history, let us invoke His aid and His blessings upon our labors."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) - The Bible in Our History

From one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "Fireside Chat" broadcasts in 1935:

"We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a nation, without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic. Where we have been the truest and most consistent in obeying its precepts, we have attained the greatest measure of contentment and prosperity."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

House Resolution 888

House resolution 888 was introduced Dec 18, 2007 and has been referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. It says, in part:

Whereas religious faith was not only important in official American life during the periods of discovery, exploration, colonization, and growth but has also been acknowledged and incorporated into all 3 branches of American Federal government from their very beginning;

Whereas the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed this self-evident fact in a unanimous ruling declaring `This is a religious people ... From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation';

Whereas political scientists have documented that the most frequently-cited source in the political period known as The Founding Era was the Bible;

Whereas the first act of America's first Congress in 1774 was to ask a minister to open with prayer and to lead Congress in the reading of 4 chapters of the Bible;

Whereas Congress regularly attended church and Divine service together en masse;

Whereas throughout the American Founding, Congress frequently appropriated money for missionaries and for religious instruction, a practice that Congress repeated for decades after the passage of the Constitution and the First Amendment;

Whereas in 1776, Congress approved the Declaration of Independence with its 4 direct religious acknowledgments referring to God as the Creator (`All people are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'), the Lawgiver (`the laws of nature and nature's God'), the Judge (`appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world'), and the Protector (`with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence');

Whereas upon approving the Declaration of Independence, John Adams declared that the Fourth of July `ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty';

Whereas 4 days after approving the Declaration, the Liberty Bell was rung;

Whereas the Liberty Bell was named for the Biblical inscription from Leviticus 25:10 emblazoned around it: `Proclaim liberty throughout the land, to all the inhabitants thereof';

Whereas in 1777, Congress, facing a National shortage of `Bibles for our schools, and families, and for the public worship of God in our churches,' announced that they `desired to have a Bible printed under their care & by their encouragement' and therefore ordered 20,000 copies of the Bible to be imported `into the different ports of the States of the Union';

Whereas in 1782, Congress pursued a plan to print a Bible that would be `a neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools' and therefore approved the production of the first English language Bible printed in America that contained the congressional endorsement that `the United States in Congress assembled ... recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States';

Whereas in 1782, Congress adopted (and has reaffirmed on numerous subsequent occasions) the National Seal with its Latin motto `Annuit Coeptis,' meaning `God has favored our undertakings,' along with the eye of Providence in a triangle over a pyramid, the eye and the motto `allude to the many signal interpositions of Providence in favor of the American cause';

Whereas the 1783 Treaty of Paris that officially endied the Revolution and established America as an independent begins with the appellation `In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity';

Whereas in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin declared, `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? ... Without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel';

Whereas the delegates to the Constitutional Convention concluded their work by in effect placing a religious punctuation mark at the end of the Constitution in the Attestation Clause, noting not only that they had completed the work with `the unanimous consent of the States present' but they had done so `in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven';

Whereas James Madison declared that he saw the finished Constitution as a product of `the finger of that Almighty Hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the Revolution,' and George Washington viewed it as `little short of a miracle,' and Benjamin Franklin believed that its writing had been `influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent Ruler, in Whom all inferior spirits live, and move, and have their being';

Whereas from 1787 to 1788, State conventions to ratify the United States Constitution not only began with prayer but even met in church buildings;

Whereas in 1795 during construction of the Capitol, a practice was instituted whereby `public worship is now regularly administered at the Capitol, every Sunday morning, at 11 o'clock';

Whereas in 1789, the first Federal Congress, the Congress that framed the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment, appropriated Federal funds to pay chaplains to pray at the opening of all sessions, a practice that has continued to this day, with Congress not only funding its congressional chaplains but also the salaries and operations of more than 4,500 military chaplains;

Whereas in 1789, Congress, in the midst of framing the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment, passed the first Federal law touching education, declaring that `Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged';

Whereas in 1789, on the same day that Congress finished drafting the First Amendment, it requested President Washington to declare a National day of prayer and thanksgiving, resulting in the first Federal official Thanksgiving proclamation that declared `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 implore His protection and favor';

Whereas in 1800, Congress enacted naval regulations requiring that Divine service be performed twice every day aboard `all ships and vessels in the navy,' with a sermon preached each Sunday;

Whereas in 1800, Congress approved the use of the just-completed Capitol structure as a church building, with Divine services to be held each Sunday in the Hall of the House, alternately administered by the House and Senate chaplains;

Whereas in 1853 Congress declared that congressional chaplains have a `duty ... to conduct religious services weekly in the Hall of the House of Representatives';

Whereas by 1867, the church at the Capitol was the largest church in Washington, DC, with up to 2,000 people a week attending Sunday service in the Hall of the House;

Whereas by 1815, over 2,000 official governmental calls to prayer had been issued at both the State and the Federal levels, with thousands more issued since 1815;

Whereas in 1853 the United States Senate declared that the Founding Fathers `had no fear or jealousy of religion itself, nor did they wish to see us an irreligious people ... they did not intend to spread over all the public authorities and the whole public action of the nation the dead and revolting spectacle of atheistical apathy';

Whereas in 1854 the United States House of Representatives declared `It [religion] must be considered as the foundation on which the whole structure rests ... Christianity; in its general principles, is the great conservative element on which we must rely for the purity and permanence of free institutions';

Whereas, in 1864, by law Congress added `In God We Trust' to American coinage;

Whereas in 1864, Congress passed an act authorizing each State to display statues of 2 of its heroes in the United States Capitol, resulting in numerous statues of noted Christian clergymen and leaders at the Capitol, including Gospel ministers such as the Revs. James A. Garfield, John Peter Muhlenberg, Jonathan Trumbull, Roger Williams, Jason Lee, Marcus Whitman, and Martin Luther King Jr.; Gospel theologians such as Roger Sherman; Catholic priests such as Father Damien, Jacques Marquette, Eusebio Kino, and Junipero Serra; Catholic nuns such as Mother Joseph; and numerous other religious leaders;

Whereas in 1870, the Federal government made Christmas (a recognition of the birth of Christ, an event described by the U.S. Supreme Court as `acknowledged in the Western World for 20 centuries, and in this country by the people, the Executive Branch, Congress, and the courts for 2 centuries') and Thanksgiving as official holidays;

Whereas beginning in 1904 and continuing for the next half-century, the Federal government printed and distributed The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth for the use of Members of Congress because of the important teachings it contained;

Whereas in 1931, Congress by law adopted the Star-Spangled Banner as the official National Anthem, with its phrases such as `may the Heav'n-rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation,' and `this be our motto, `In God is our trust!';

Whereas in 1954, Congress by law added the phrase `one nation under God' to the Pledge of Allegiance;

Whereas in 1954 a special Congressional Prayer Room was added to the Capitol with a kneeling bench, an altar, an open Bible, an inspiring stained-glass window with George Washington kneeling in prayer, the declaration of Psalm 16:1: `Preserve me, O God, for in Thee do I put my trust,' and the phrase `This Nation Under God' displayed above the kneeling, prayerful Washington;

Whereas in 1956, Congress by law made `In God We Trust' the National Motto, and added the phrase to American currency;

Whereas the constitutions of each of the 50 states, either in the preamble or body, explicitly recognize or express gratitude to God;

Whereas America's first Presidential Inauguration incorporated 7 specific religious activities, including--

(1) the use of the Bible to administer the oath;

(2) affirming the religious nature of the oath by the adding the prayer `So help me God!' to the oath;

(3) inaugural prayers offered by the President;

(4) religious content in the inaugural address;

(5) civil leaders calling the people to prayer or acknowledgement of God;

(6) inaugural worship services attended en masse by Congress as an official part of congressional activities; and

(7) clergy-led inaugural prayers, activities which have been replicated in whole or part by every subsequent President;

Whereas President George Washington declared `Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports';

Whereas President John Adams, one of only 2 signers of the Bill of Rights and First Amendment, declared `As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him';

Whereas President Jefferson not only attended Divine services at the Capitol throughout his presidency and had the Marine Band play at the services, but during his administration church services were also begun in the War Department and the Treasury Department, thus allowing worshippers on any given Sunday the choice to attend church at either the United States Capitol, the War Department, or the Treasury Department if they so desired;

Whereas Thomas Jefferson urged local governments to make land available specifically for Christian purposes, provided Federal funding for missionary work among Indian tribes, and declared that religious schools would receive `the patronage of the government';

Whereas President Andrew Jackson declared that the Bible `is the rock on which our Republic rests';

Whereas President Abraham Lincoln declared that the Bible `is the best gift God has given to men ... But for it, we could not know right from wrong'

Whereas President William McKinley declared that `Our faith teaches us that there is no safer reliance than upon the God of our fathers, Who has so singularly favored the American people in every national trial and Who will not forsake us so long as we obey His commandments and walk humbly in His footsteps';

Whereas President Teddy Roosevelt declared `The Decalogue and the Golden Rule must stand as the foundation of every successful effort to better either our social or our political life';

Whereas President Woodrow Wilson declared that `America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture';

Whereas President Herbert Hoover declared that `American life is builded, and can alone survive, upon ... [the] fundamental philosophy announced by the Savior nineteen centuries ago';

Whereas President Franklin D. Roosevelt not only led the Nation in a 6 minute prayer during D-Day on June 6, 1944, but he also declared that `If we will not prepare to give all that we have and all that we are to preserve Christian civilization in our land, we shall go to destruction';

Whereas President Harry S. Truman declared that `The fundamental basis of this Nation's law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul';

Whereas President Harry S. Truman told a group touring Washington, DC, that `You will see, as you make your rounds, that this Nation was established by men who believed in God. ... You will see the evidence of this deep religious faith on every hand';

Whereas President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared that `Without God there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first,the most basic, expression of Americanism. Thus, the founding fathers of America saw it, and thus with God's help, it will continue to be' in a declaration later repeated with approval by President Gerald Ford;

Whereas President John F. Kennedy declared that `The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God';

Whereas President Ronald Reagan, after noting `The Congress of the United States, in recognition of the unique contribution of the Bible in shaping the history and character of this Nation and so many of its citizens, has ... requested the President to designate the year 1983 as the `Year of the Bible',' officially declared 1983 as `The Year of the Bible';

Whereas every other President has similarly recognized the role of God and religious faith in the public life of America;

Whereas all sessions of the United States Supreme Court begin with the Court's Marshal announcing, `God save the United States and this honorable court';

Whereas a regular and integral part of official activities in the Federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court, was the inclusion of prayer by a minister of the Gospel;

Whereas the United States Supreme Court has declared throughout the course of our Nation's history that the United States is `a Christian country', `a Christian nation', `a Christian people', `a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being', and that `we cannot read into the Bill of Rights a philosophy of hostility to religion';

Whereas Justice John Jay, an author of the Federalist Papers and original Justice of the United States Supreme Court, urged `The most effectual means of securing the continuance of our civil and religious liberties is always to remember with reverence and gratitude the Source from which they flow';

Whereas Justice James Wilson, a signer of the Constitution, declared that `Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is Divine ... Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants';

Whereas Justice William Paterson, a signer of the Constitution, declared that `Religion and morality ... [are] necessary to good government, good order, and good laws';

Whereas President George Washington, who passed into law the first legal acts organizing the Federal judiciary, asked, `where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths in the courts of justice?';

Whereas some of the most important monuments, buildings, and landmarks in Washington, DC, include religious words, symbols, and imagery;

Whereas in the United States Capitol the declaration `In God We Trust' is prominently displayed in both the United States House and Senate Chambers;

Whereas around the top of the walls in the House Chamber appear images of 23 great lawgivers from across the centuries, but Moses (the lawgiver, who--according to the Bible--originally received the law from God,) is the only lawgiver honored with a full face view, looking down on the proceedings of the House;

Whereas religious artwork is found throughout the United States Capitol, including in the Rotunda where the prayer service of Christopher Columbus, the Baptism of Pocahontas, and the prayer and Bible study of the Pilgrims are all prominently displayed; in the Cox Corridor of the Capitol where the words `America! God shed His grace on thee' are inscribed; at the east Senate entrance with the words `Annuit Coeptis' which is Latin for `God has favored our undertakings'; and in numerous other locations;

Whereas images of the Ten Commandments are found in many Federal buildings across Washington, DC, including in bronze in the floor of the National Archives; in a bronze statue of Moses in the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress; in numerous locations at the U.S. Supreme Court, including in the frieze above the Justices, the oak door at the rear of the Chamber, the gable apex, and in dozens of locations on the bronze latticework surrounding the Supreme Court Bar seating;

Whereas in the Washington Monument not only are numerous Bible verses and religious acknowledgements carved on memorial blocks in the walls, including the phrases: `Holiness to the Lord' (Exodus 28:26, 30:30, Isaiah 23:18, Zechariah 14:20), `Search the Scriptures' (John 5:39), `The memory of the just is blessed' (Proverbs 10:7), `May Heaven to this Union continue its beneficence', and `In God We Trust', but the Latin inscription Laus Deo meaning `Praise be to God' is engraved on the monument's capstone;

Whereas of the 5 areas inside the Jefferson Memorial into which Jefferson's words have been carved, 4 are God-centered, including Jefferson's declaration that `God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever';

Whereas the Lincoln Memorial contains numerous acknowledgments of God and citations of Bible verses, including the declarations that `we here highly resolve that ... this nation under God ... shall not perish from the earth'; `The Almighty has His own purposes. `Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh' (Matthew 18:7); `as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said `the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether' (Psalms 19:9); `one day every valley shall be exalted and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh see it together' (Dr. Martin Luther King's speech, based on Isaiah 40:4-5);

Whereas in the Library of Congress, The Giant Bible of Mainz, and The Gutenberg Bible are on prominent permanent display and etched on the walls are Bible verses, including: `The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not' (John 1:5); `Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom and with all thy getting, get understanding' (Proverbs 4:7); `What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God' (Micah 6:8); and `The heavens declare the Glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork' (Psalm 19:1);

Whereas numerous other of the most important American government leaders, institutions, monuments, buildings, and landmarks both openly acknowledge and incorporate religious words, symbols, and imagery into official venues;

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The 28th Amendment

Here is an interesting opinion about separation of church and state.

Fort Wayne Gazette

Friday, May 23, 2008

New Hampshire, August 1639

Long before our country was separated from England, colonists in Exeter, New Hampshire defined the purpose of government. The said:

"...Considering with ourselves the holy will of God and our own necessity, that we should not live without wholesome laws and civil government among us, of which we are altogether destitute, do, in the name of Christ and in the sight of God, combine ourselves together to erect and set up among us such governments as shall be, to our best discerning, agreeable to the will of God..."

A replica of the original document is linked from this page:

Combination at Exeter (1639)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Does the ACLU Have a Particular Agenda?

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has existed for many decades. The title of the organization sounds pretty good to most of us. After all, who is against civil liberties? But they do not apply their considerable force uniformly. Consider the following post from National Alliance Against Christian Discrimination:

"A constitutional attorney says a lawsuit filed by the ACLU over Florida's Pledge of Allegiance law is 'much ado about nothing.' With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, 17-year-old Cameron Frazier has sued the Palm Beach County School Board, alleging his teacher punished him when he refused to stand for the Pledge. The suit claims the student's First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated, and seeks to overturn a state law that requires students to show written permission from their parents before abstaining from reciting the Pledge.

"The ACLU recently ignored a request from Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo to defend an Illinois student who was disciplined for refusing to stand for the Mexican national anthem. Brian Fahling,an attorney with the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy, says the liberal ACLU group is employing an obvious double standard. 'For the ACLU to come in on one case and not the other, or to hold the view that somehow they're different, would be hypocritical,' said Fahling."

(Agape Press, January 3, 2006)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Madison Wisconsin - Censor the Pledge?

From the website of National Alliance Against Christian Discrimination:

"The Madison (Wisconsin) school Board is taking heavy criticism for a decision effectively barring children from saying the Pledge of Allegiance in class. Saying The Pledge is a daily part of class for Mrs. Weiss' second-graders at Rawson Elementary in South Milwaukee. But, it's the 'one nation under God' line that the Madison School Board found offensive.

'What I wanted to do was eliminate that which would be repugnant to those who believe very strongly and would have their personal and political beliefs violated by group coercion,' Madison School District board member Bill Keys said.

J. J. Sprague of South Milwaukee said, 'It's poor timing, very poor timing. This is a time when the entire country is uniting and we are all praying for the survivors and the victims of the recent national disaster.' On 10/9/2001, The Madison School Board announced that it will reconsider its decision after the school district received 426 e-mails and phone calls with only five supporting their decision."

(The Milwaukee Channel. 10/11/2001.)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Does the First Amendmant Protect Speech on a City Bus?

According to the website National Aliance Against Religioius Discrimination:

A woman was forced off a Seattle bus for having a private conversation about God. Michelle Shocks was traveling on a city bus April 2 when a man embarked and, thankful to be out of the rain, said, "Praise the Lord." Shocks and the man reportedly began to discuss their churches, their Christian faith, and other religions.

The driver called Shocks to the front of the bus and told her she could not talk about religion because other passengers might be offended, the Rutherford Institute said. The rights group is considering a lawsuit on Shocks' behalf.

Shocks moved closer to the man so she could speak more quietly, but was again called to the front of the bus and ordered to get off. Shocks, who is five months pregnant, reportedly had to walk along a highway during rush hour in the rain for about a mile.

(Current News Summary. 4/16/99.)

The First Amendment certainly protects most kinds of speech. There are exceptions when that speech would call for a violent overthrow of the government or might cause physical harm (the "Yelling 'FIRE' in a crowded theater" argument). Sometimes courts have allowed some forms of censorship when speech might be too offensive to the public at large, although they also allow speech that is offensive, such as flag burning (which courts consider a form of speech, which is therefor protected by the First Amendment).

It seems clear that to ban discussions of religion in a public arena or a city bus, one would have to consider religion an offensive topic, one that should be reserved for a more private venue. Or one would have to think that the amendment banning the government from establishing a religion would extend to private citizens discussing religion on a tax-supported vehicle. Neither of those idea is logical or supported by our Constitution. I believe the attitude that leads to such incidents is mostly due to news accounts of court actions that "over-apply" the First Amendment. Even if lower court actions are later overturned, the impression remains in the mind of many.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Censor the Pledge in Junior High School?

(From the site: National Aliance Against Religioius Discrimination)

A teacher attempted to censor the Pledge of Allegiance. An instructor at Faust Junior High School in Chambersburg, Pa., told students he was eliminating the words "under God" from the pledge, which is recited every day at the school. He explained that the school was a public facility and that mentioning the name of God was unacceptable. A parent contacted the Rutherford Institute, which contacted the school's principal, who quickly made sure there would be no censorship of the pledge. "Students and teachers have the right to recite the pledge in its entirety," the institute's Ron Rissler said.

(Religion Today. Current News. 10-16-98)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Abuse through Neglect on TV

In 1992, professors from Northwestern University, University of Dayton, and Duke University Medical Center did a study on television and its use or treatment of religion. They said:

"Television's treatment of religion tends to be best characterized as abuse through neglect."

According to Sermon Illustrations:

Religion is virtually invisible on network television, a recent study concludes. Scholars from three universities who monitored 100 prime-time TV shows aired by ABC, NBC, CBS, and the Fox Network determined that references to religion rarely appear on the screen, and when they do, religious beliefs or practices are seldom presented in a positive light. The survey found that 95% of all speaking characters on TV programs have no identifiable religious affiliation.

(From National & International Religion Report, March, 1992)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Abuse through Neglect in School Textbooks

Paul C. Vitz is a professor of psychology at New York University. He wrote the book "Censorship: Evidence of Bias in Our Children's Textbooks" (Servant Books, 1986), which says on page 1:

"Are public school textbooks biased? Are they censored? The answer to both is yes. And the nature of the bias is clear: Religion, traditional family values, and conservative political and economic positions have been reliably excluded from children's textbooks."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More of Jefferson's Actions

I often point to actions of Jefferson for one simple reason. His metaphor, separation of church and state, has been used very often in the last 50-60 years to put limits on religious activity if it in any way touches or is touched by the government at any level.

Consider Jefferson's actions as President of the United States. These acts would no doubt be found unconstitutional by current thinking and interpretation, which is supposedly based on the very words that Jefferson penned.

On April 26, 1802, Jefferson extended a 1787 act of Congress where lands were designated "...For the sole use of Christian Indians and the Moravian Brethren missionaries for civilizing the Indians and promoting Christianity."

And on Dec. 3, 1803, Congress ratified Jefferson's treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians, which stated:

"Whereas the greater part of the said tribe have been baptized and received into the Catholic Church ... the United States will give annually, for seven years, one hundred dollars toward the support of a priest of that religion, who will engage to perform for said tribe the duties of his office, and also to instruct as many of their children as possible. ... And the United States will further give the sum of three hundred dollars, to assist the said tribe in the erection of a church."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

President Theodore Roosevelt - Church's Importance to Community

President Theodore Roosevelt said:

"A churchless community, a community where men have abandoned and scoffed at or ignored their religious needs, is a community on the rapid downgrade."

From The Sayings of Theodore Roosevelt

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Woodrow Wilson: Our Christian Heritage

Wilson was president from 1913 to 1921. He said:

"America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture."

From: Kingdoms at War by Bill Bright. 1986.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


During the trials of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said:

"[The U.S.] is the lasting concord between men and nations founded on the principle of Christianity."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

George Washington's Inagural Address (1789)

On April 30, 1789, President Washington said the following in his Inaugural Address:

"No people can be found to acknowledge and adore the invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States... We 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 Heaven itself ordained."

From: Gary deMar, God and Government Vol.1 (Atlanta, Ga: American Press 1982) p.127

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Massachusetts Constitution - Provision for Worship

In the early days of our new country, the Constitution of Massachusetts directed local political bodies to "... make suitable provisions, at their own expense, for the institution of public worship of God..." *

* Kennedy, D. James. What If Jesus Had Never Been Born. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1994) p. 164

Monday, May 5, 2008

Washington Monument: Praise Be to God

Many who visit Washington, D.C. are not familiar with the fact that so many of our buildings and monuments have scripture on them. One of the best examples is the Washington Monument. It is the tallest structure in D.C. because it is mandated to be so. On the very top of the monument is the Latin phrase Laus Deo, which means "praise be to God."

Read more about the monument and the significance of its placement here:

Laus Deo!

James Madison: Religion and Government

James Madison (4th President of the United States) is regarded as the "father of the First Amendment." On June 20, 1785, Madison said:

"Religion [is] the basis and Foundation of Government"

From Robert Rutlend ed. The Papers of James Madison, (Chicago; University of Chicago Press) 1973, Vol. VIII p.299.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Samuel Adams on Education

According to Wikipedia:

"Samuel Adams ... was an American statesman, politician, writer and political philosopher, brewer, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Adams was instrumental in garnering the support of the colonies for rebellion against Great Britain, eventually resulting in the American Revolution, and was also one of the key architects of the principles of American republicanism that shaped American political culture."

On October 4, 1790, Samuel Adams said:

"Let divines and philosophers, statesmen, and patriots unite their endeavors to renovate the age, by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, of inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity and universal philanthropy... In short, of leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system." *

* From Marshall Foster & Mary E. Swanson, The American Covenant (Santa Barbara, CA: The Mayflower Institute) p. XIV

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Meaning of a Religious Test

What is "religion" in the way our founders understood it? According to Webster's 1828 Dictionary, "RELIGION. Includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of his will to man, and in man's obligation to obey his commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man's accountableness to God; and also true godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties... the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion."

Now consider wording found in the 1796 Tennessee constitution:

Article VIII, Section II. "No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this State."

Article XI, Section IV. "That no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this state."

By today's understanding those two sections seem in conflict with each other. Yet this document, written only a few years after the First Amendment was ratified, did not see a conflict. Requiring a belief in God is not what the founders meant by a religious test.

Even if we understand the historical basis for all this, few people today (even strict constructionists) would want to say that an atheist could not hold office. But according to history it would not be unconstitutional to do so.

Friday, May 2, 2008

How We Elect Our Representatives

I collected the following quote in reference to the backlog of judicial appointments of President Bush. He is trying to appoint constructionist judges (ones who base their interpretation of law on the Constitution rather than other opinion pieces or foreign laws), but his appointments for district courts are being help up for a year or more. (President Clinton's appointees were approved in an average of 77 days.)

My original point was that if people who believe in the Constitution as our basis for law are disappointed with this record, they need to look at who the are electing or re-electing to the House and especially the Senate. Many people who hold fairly strong feelings about this issue do not even vote.

However, the advice of President Garfield (who was, interestingly, an ordained minister) is just as applicable for any frustrations we might feel with the Congress. Are you not happy with your taxes; or gas prices; or trade imbalance; or the morality of laws; or Federal aid to ____; or our use of the military; or disaster reactions; or...? Then look at who is being elected and what your own voting record is.

President James A. Garfield said this a century ago:

"Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If that body be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. If the next centennial does not find us a great nation, it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces."


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Jefferson on Interpreting the Constitution

President Jefferson is often quoted when discussing religion and government, but it is almost always only his brief metaphor "separation of church and state." That metaphor has been used in court decisions without any other justification from Jefferson or other founders. But Jefferson gave his thought on interpretation of the Constitution in his June 12, 1823 letter to U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Johnson:

"On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed."

From Jefferson Writings, Merril D. Peterson ed. (NY; Literary Classics of the United States, Inc.) 1984, p. 1475