Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Mexico Constitution - Grateful to Almighty God

The Constitution of New Mexico (1911) says in its Preamble:

"We, the people of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty, in order to secure the advantages of a state government, do ordain and establish this Constitution."

See the whole New Mexico Constitution

Friday, January 30, 2009

William Henry Harrison Inaugural - Reverence for the Christian Religion

Our 9th President, William Henry Harrison, said the following in his Inaugural Address (1841):

"I deem the present occasion sufficiently important and solemn to justify me in expressing to my fellow-citizens a profound reverence for the Christian religion and a thorough conviction that sound morals, religious liberty, and a just sense of religious responsibility are essentially connected with all true and lasting happiness; and to that good Being who has blessed us by the gifts of civil and religious freedom, who watched over and prospered the labors of our fathers and has hitherto preserved to us institutions far exceeding in excellence those of any other people, let us unite in fervently commending every interest of our beloved country in all future time."

Read the entire address here

New Jersey Constitution - Grateful to Almight God

The New Jersey Constitution (from 1844) says in its Preamble:

"We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and transmit the same unimpaired to succeeding generations, do ordain and establish this Constitution."

Article 1, 3:
"No person shall be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshipping Almighty God in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience;..."

Note that in the passage above they refer to "Almighty God" rather than simply saying "worshipping his own god" or something equally generic. It would seem that in this constitution they recognize there IS an Almighty God by wording it that way.

See the whole New Jersey Constitution

Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Hampshire Constitution - Worship God Freely

In the New Hampshire Constitution (1792), Article 5 says:

"Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and reason; and no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his peers on, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession, sentiments, or persuasion; provided he doth not disturb the public peace or disturb others in their religious worship."

Read the New Hampshire Constitution here

Martin Van Buren Inaugural - Ardent Prayers

Martin Van Buren was our 8th President. In his Inaugural address of 1837, he said:

"But to me, my fellow-citizens, look ing forward to the far-distant future with ardent prayers and confiding hopes, this retrospect presents a ground for still deeper delight."

See President Van Buren's Inaugural Address

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Andrew Jackson Second Inaugural (1833) - Praying to Almighty God

Andrew Jackson was the 7th President of the United States. In his Second Inaugural address from 1833, he said:

"Finally, it is my most fervent prayer to that Almighty Being before whom I now stand, and who has kept us in His hands from the infancy of our Republic to the present day, that He will so overrule all my intentions and actions and inspire the hearts of my fellow-citizens that we may be preserved from dangers of all kinds and continue forever a united and happy people."

Read the entire address here

Nevada Constitution - Grateful to Almight God

The Nevada Constitution, from 1864, has as its Preamble:

"We the people of the State of Nevada Grateful to Almighty God for our freedom in order to secure its blessings, insure domestic tranquility, and form a more perfect Government, do establish this Constitution."

Read the entire Nevada Constitution

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nebraska Constitution - Grateful to God; Schools Teach Religion

Nebraska Constitution, from 1875

"We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, do ordain and establish the following declaration of rights and frame of government, as the Constitution of the State of Nebraska."

Section 4:
"All persons have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences. ... Religion, morality, and knowledge, however, being essential to good government, it shall be the duty of the legislature to pass suitable laws to protect every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship, and to encourage schools and the means of instruction."

See the whole Nebraska Consitution

John Quincy Adams Inaugural - Heaven and Religious Obligation

John Quincy Adams was out 6th President. In his Inaugural Address (1825) he began:

"In compliance with an usage coeval with the existence of our Federal Constitution, and sanctioned by the example of my predecessors in the career upon which I am about to enter, I appear, my fellow-citizens, in your presence and in that of Heaven to bind myself by the solemnities of religious obligation to the faithful performance of the duties allotted to me in the station to which I have been called."

See the whole address here

Monday, January 26, 2009

Montana Constitution - Grateful to God

The Montana Constitution, from 1889, had as its Preamble:

"We the people of Montana grateful to God for the quiet beauty of our state, the grandeur of our mountains, the vastness of our rolling plains, and desiring to improve the quality of life, equality of opportunity and to secure the blessings of liberty for this and future generations do ordain and establish this constitution."

Then in Section 3, the Oath of office, it says that members of the legislature and all executive, ministerial and judicial officers will take an oath that ends with the words " help me God."

See the whole Montana Constitution

James Monroe Inaugural - Protection of Almight God

James Monroe was the 5th President of the United States. In his Second Inaugural (1821) he said:

"...and with a firm reliance on the protection of Almighty God, I shall forthwith commence the duties of the high trust to which you have called me."

Read the whole address here

George Washington Inaugural - Do Not Ignore the Rules of Heaven

Our 1st President was George Washington. In his Inaugural address of 1789 he said:

"…it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge."
"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."

(This information is re-printed from a previous post to isolate it for organizational purposes)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Heritage Guide to the Constitution

The well-regarded Heritage Foundation has published a great book on the U.S. Constitution, called The Heritage Guide to the Constitution. It is available on this special collection from the First Amendment Store:

U.S. History Perspective

Missouri, Constitution - Reverence for God

The documentation of God in state constitutions continues with Missiouri (from 1845). The Missouri Constitution's Preamble contains:

"We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness..."

See the entire Missouri Constitution

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Mississippi Constitution - Bibles in School

The Mississippi Constitution, from 1890, says in its Preamble:

"We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work..."

In Section 40, the Constitution provides the oath of office for the state legislature, judges, and all other state offices. The required texts all end with, "So help me God."

In Section 18 (boldface added):

"No religious test as a qualification for office shall be required; and no preference shall be given by law to any religious sect or mode of worship; but the free enjoyment of all religious sentiments and the different modes of worship shall be held sacred. The rights hereby secured shall not be construed to justify acts of licentiousness injurious to morals or dangerous to the peace and safety of the state, or to exclude the Holy Bible from use in any public school of this state."

Note that the state Constitution says the government may not prevent the Bible from being used in school.

See the whole Mississippi Constitution

James Madison Inaugural - Freedom of Religion

Our 4th President was James Madison. In his First Inaugural (1809), he said:

" support the Constitution, which is the cement of the Union, as well in its limitations as in its authorities; to respect the rights and authorities reserved to the States and to the people as equally incorporated with and essential to the success of the general system; to avoid the slightest interference with the right of conscience or the functions of religion, so wisely exempted from civil jurisdiction..."

Note his emphasis: the limits of government influence over religion, not a limit on religion itself or on its practice. Those are outside government (civil) jurisdiction. This is quite different from today's common belief that religion is strictly limited by the Constitution.

Read the whole address here

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thomas Jeffersons Inaugural Addresses and Religion

While the Inauguration of our 44th President, let's examine some quotes from previous Inaugurals. Here are quotes from each of Thomas Jefferson's Inaugural addresses.

Thomas Jefferson was our 3rd President. In his First Inaugural (1801) he said:

"...freedom of religion; freedom of the press, and freedom of person..."

Note that his words used "freedom of religion," not "separation of church and state" to paraphrase the First Amendment. This is consistent with other of his writings.

The complete address is here

From Thomas Jefferson's Second Inaugural (1805)

"...In matters of religion I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the General Government. I have therefore undertaken on no occasion to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it, but have left them, as the Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of the church or state authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies..."

Note that he leaves religious exercise to various authorities, including the states! This was the general understanding at the time, not that religion is to be kept away from the public sphere, but simply that the Federal Government must not try to control it.

Read the whole address here

Thursday, January 22, 2009

John Adams, Inaugural Address (1797)

John Adams was our nation's 2nd President. Here is an excerpt from his Inaugural address in 1797. Notice the passage about spreading religion mentioned near the end of this excerpt (boldface is added):

"...On this subject it might become me better to be silent or to speak with diffidence; but as something may be expected, the occasion, I hope, will be admitted as an apology if I venture to say that if a preference, upon principle, of a free republican government, formed upon long and serious reflection, after a diligent and impartial inquiry after truth; if an attachment to the Constitution of the United States, and a conscientious determination to support it until it shall be altered by the judgments and wishes of the people, expressed in the mode prescribed in it; if a respectful attention to the constitutions of the individual States and a constant caution and delicacy toward the State governments; if an equal and impartial regard to the rights, interest, honor, and happiness of all the States in the Union, without preference or regard to a northern or southern, an eastern or western, position, their various political opinions on unessential points or their personal attachments; if a love of virtuous men of all parties and denominations; if a love of science and letters and a wish to patronize every rational effort to encourage schools, colleges, universities, academies, and every institution for propagating knowledge, virtue, and religion among all classes of the people, not only for their benign influence on the happiness of life in all its stages and classes, and of society in all its forms, but as the only means of preserving our Constitution from its natural enemies, the spirit of sophistry, the spirit of party, the spirit of intrigue, the profligacy of corruption, and the pestilence of foreign influence, which is the angel of destruction to elective governments;..."

Read the whole address here

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Inaugural History

As mentioned in my post from Inaugural day, 2009, our presidents have a history of invoking God in their speeches. This is not necessarily taught in our schools or noticed by most people. Here are some more examples.

President George W. Bush, Second Inaugural Address (1985):

God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind . . . the longing of the soul.
The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: 'Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it.'

President Ronald Reagan, First Anaugural (1981):

Your dreams, your hopes, your goals are going to be the dreams, the hopes, and the goals of this administration, so help me God.
We are a nation under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free. It would be fitting and good, I think, if on each Inaugural Day in future years it should be declared a day of prayer.
It does require, however, our best effort and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds, to believe that together with God's help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.

President Woodrow Wilson's Second Inauguration Address (1917)

In their ardent heat we shall, in God's Providence, let us hope, be purged of faction and division, purified of the errant humours of party and of private interest, and shall stand forth in the days to come with a new dignity of national pride and spirit.
I pray God I may be given the wisdom and the prudence to do my duty in the true spirit of this great people.

President Herbert Hoover (1929)

This occasion is not alone the administration of the most sacred oath which can be assumed by an American citizen. It is a dedication and consecration under God to the highest office in service of our people. I assume this trust in the humility of knowledge that only through the guidance of Almighty Providence can I hope to discharge its ever-increasing burdens.
I ask the help of Almighty God in this service to my country to which you have called me.

President Lyndon B. Johnson (1965)

On this occasion, the oath I have taken before you and before God is not mine alone, but ours together.
But we have no promise from God that our greatness will endure. We have been allowed by Him to seek greatness with the sweat of our hands and the strength of our spirit.
If we fail now, we shall have forgotten in abundance what we learned in hardship: that democracy rests on faith, that freedom asks more than it gives, and that the judgment of God is harshest on those who are most favored.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, First Anaugural Address (1953)

And I ask that you bow your heads:
Almighty God, as we stand here at this moment my future associates in the executive branch of government join me in beseeching that Thou will make full and complete our dedication to the service of the people in this throng, and their fellow citizens everywhere.
Give us, we pray, the power to discern clearly right from wrong, and allow all our words and actions to be governed thereby, and by the laws of this land. Especially we pray that our concern shall be for all the people regardless of station, race, or calling.
May cooperation be permitted and be the mutual aim of those who, under the concepts of our Constitution, hold to differing political faiths; so that all may work for the good of our beloved country and Thy glory. Amen.
We are summoned by this honored and historic ceremony to witness more than the act of one citizen swearing his oath of service, in the presence of God.
In our quest of understanding, we beseech God's guidance.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Second Anaugural Address (1957)

Before all else, we seek, upon our common labor as a nation, the blessings of Almighty God. And the hopes in our hearts fashion the deepest prayers of our whole people.
And so the prayer of our people carries far beyond our own frontiers, to the wide world of our duty and our destiny.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural History

As we get ready for today's inauguration ceremonies, one has to wonder what the unique tone of this one will be. Certainly a celebration of our first black President. Certainly a celebration of our way of peacefully passing power with each new President. And there will be a prayer or two, which is likely to be where at least some of the discussion will center. The original words our Constitution specified for swearing in our President did not include the ending, "so help me God." That was added by President Washington and has been used by every President since then. I am sure it will be used today as well.

I'm writing this post before the real activities start, so I do not know what exactly will transpire. But here is a look at some pieces of history.

According to House Resolution 888:

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;

Of course this all began with George Washington. Some suggested he should be King of this country, but he knew that was not to be our course. In President Washington's Inaugural (1789):

"…it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge."
"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."

Then in 1853 were the words of President Franklin Pierce:

"It must be felt that there is no national security but in the nation's humble, acknowledged dependence upon God and His overruling providence."

Today I am sure we will hear a bit about Abraham Lincoln. In President Lincoln's Second Inaugural:

"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.' If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether'. With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."

Then is the man for whom my elementary school was named, President Rutherford B. Hayes (1877 Inaugural):

[Hayes acknowledged that he was] "... Looking for the guidance of that Divine Hand by which the destinies of nations and individuals are shaped."

I am using quotes from both Inaugural addresses by President Grover Cleveland:

(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."

(1893): "Above all, I know there is a Supreme Being who rules the affairs of men and whose goodness and mercy have always followed the American people, and I know He will not turn from us now if we humbly and reverently seek His powerful aid."

Then President Harry Truman's Inaugural (1949):

"We believe that all men are created equal, because they are created in the image of God."

Then from January 20, 1961, are these words from the Inaugural Address of President John F. Kennedy:

"For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago."
"...the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe -- the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God."
"With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own."

I suppose we will see the elder President Bush at the ceremonies today. In his own 1989 address President George H.W. Bush said:

"Heavenly Father, we bow our heads and thank You for Your love. Accept our thanks for the peace that yields this day and the shared faith that makes its continuance likely. Make us strong to do Your work, willing to heed and hear Your will, and write on our hearts these words: "Use power to help people." For we are given power not to advance our own purposes, nor to make a great show in the world, nor a name. There is but one just use of power, and it is to serve people. Help us to remember it, Lord. Amen."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Samuel Adams - We Are Accountable to God for Our Vote

According to Wikipedia:

Samuel Adams (September 27 – October 2, 1803) 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. He was the second cousin of John Adams.

Adams said:

"Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he
is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country."

Samuel Adams, Boston Gazette, April 16, 1781.

The above from Liberty Counsel

Minnesota Constitution - Grateful to God for Liberty

The Constitution of Minnesota, dating from 1857, has in its Preamble:

"We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings..."

Later, in Article 1, Section 16, it says:
"...The right of every man to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience shall never be infringed;..."

See the entire Minnesota Constitution

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Michigan Constitution - Religion Necessary to Good Government

The Michigan Constitution dates from 1908. It's Premable says:

"We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom, and earnestly desiring to secure these blessings undiminished to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution"

Then later we find the portion that follows the Northwest Ordinance:

Article VIII - Encouragement of education.
Sec. 1. Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged

Read the entire Michigan Constitution

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Massachusetts Constitution - Grateful to the Great Legislator of the Universe

The Massachusetts Constitution, from 1780, has the following in its Preamble:

"We... the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe..."

And then later we find this:

Massachusetts Bill of Rights, Part the First

"It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religion profession of sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship...."

Read the whole Mass. Constitution

Friday, January 16, 2009

Maryland Constitution (1776) - Grateful to God, Duty to Worship God

Maryland's Constitution dates back to 1776. In its Declaration of Rights it opens with:

"We, the People of the State of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty, and taking into our serious consideration the best means of establishing a good Constitution in this State for the sure foundation and more permanent security..."

And in Article 36 it spells out religious protections, rights and obligations. It requires a belief in God and a system of afterlife rewards and punishments. Despite that, the article declares that it is not establishing a religion by those requirements:

"That as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to Him, all persons are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore, no person ought by any law to be molested in his person or estate, on account of his religious persuasion, or profession, or for his religious practice, unless, under the color of religion, he shall disturb the good order, peace or safety of the State, or shall infringe the laws of morality, or injure others in their natural, civil or religious rights; nor ought any person to be compelled to frequent, or maintain, or contribute, unless on contract, to maintain, any place of worship, or any ministry; nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious belief; provided, he believes in the existence of God, and that under His dispensation such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefor either in this world or in the world to come.

"Nothing shall prohibit or require the making reference to belief in, reliance upon, or invoking the aid of God or a Supreme Being in any governmental or public document, proceeding, activity, ceremony, school, institution, or place.

"Nothing in this article shall constitute an establishment of religion (amended by Chapter 558, Acts of 1970, ratified Nov. 3, 1970)."

And when you look at the controversy over President-Elect Obama's choice of pastor for his swearing-in, and the fact that some groups think the President should not swear and oath that mentions God, consider Article 39:

"That the manner of administering an oath or affirmation to any person, ought to be such as those of the religious persuasion, profession, or denomination, of which he is a member, generally esteem the most effectual confirmation by the attestation of the Divine Being."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Maine's Godly Constitution

The Constitution of our state of Maine (1820, updated 2003) has this for its Preamble:

"Objects of government. We the people of Maine, in order to establish justice, insure tranquility, provide for our mutual defense, promote our common welfare, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty, acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity, so favorable to the design; and, imploring God's aid and direction in its accomplishment, do agree to form ourselves into a free and independent State, by the style and title of the State of Maine and do ordain and establish the following Constitution for the government of the same."

See the entire Maine Constitution

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

John Adams on Government and the Holy Ghost

Often we hear that most of our Founders were not "really" Christian. To go along with many other examples on this site refuting that, here is a quote from our second President, John Adams. He was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. He said the following in a letter to Benjamin Rush (December 21, 1809):

"The Holy Ghost carries on the whole Christian system in this earth. Not a baptism, not a marriage, not a sacrament can be administered but by the Holy Ghost. ... There is no authority, civil or religious – there can be no legitimate government but what is administered by this Holy Ghost. There can be no salvation without it. All without it is rebellion and perdition, or in more orthodox words damnation."

Read more on the Wallbuilders Site (which is in possession of the original letter)

Louisiana Constitution - Grateful to Almighty God for Liberty

The Constitution of Louisiana, from 1921, says in its Preamble:

"We, the people of the State of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy . . ."

Notice later in Section 8 where the Constitution has its own Establishment and Free Exercise clauses. As in our own Constitution, the restriction here is on the making of laws, not on common practice or ceremonial recognition of religion:

"No law shall be enacted respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

See the whole Louisiana Constitution

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kentucky Constitution - Grateful to Almighty God for Liberties

In covering the state constitutions alphabetically, we are now at 17 and the state of Kentucky. The Preamble to their Constitution (from 1891) says:

"We, the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy, and invoking the continuance of these blessings, do ordain and establish this Constitution."

See the entire Kentucky Constitution

Monday, January 12, 2009

Kansas Constitution - Grateful to Almighty God

As with all the other state constitutions, Kansas recognizes the blessings of God in theirs. The Preamble contains:

"We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges, in order to insure the full enjoyment of our rights as American citizens, do ordain and establish this constitution of the state of Kansas..."

Read the whole Kansas Constitution

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Must Government Do Everything for Us? A Foreigner's Opinion

These days in the news there is a lot of talk about what the Federal Government is going to do to help us. Even before the Presidential campaign of 2008, this was a popular topic. How will the Gederal Government take care of our health care? How will they fix education? How will they take care of widows, children, the poor, the retired, the...?

Our Founding Fathers did not look to the Government for answers to these problems. In fact, their intent was to limit the power of the Government over our lives. If we want the Big G to do everything for us, we give them a lot of power over us.

In the early 1800's, French observer and writer Achille Murat wrote "A Moral and Political Sketch of the United States," where he said, "There is no country in which the people are so religious as in the United States; to the eyes of a foreigner they even appear to be too much so..." But that very quality drove many of the things he admired about America.

Consider this quote from Murat's book:
The great number of religious societies existing in the United States is truly surprising: there are some of them for every thing; for instance, societies to distribute the Bible; to distribute tracts; to encourage religious journals; to convert, civilize, educate the savages; to marry the preachers; to take care of their widows and orphans; to preach, extend, purify, preserve, reform the faith; to build chapels, endow congregations, support seminaries; catechize and convert sailors, Negroes, and loose women; to secure the observance of Sunday and prevent blasphemy by prosecuting the violators; to establish Sunday schools where young ladies teach reading and the catechism to little rogues, male and female; to prevent drunkenness.... it is curious to observe the tranquillity which prevails in the United States."

See the quote in context on Google Books

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Iowa Constitution - Depending on a Supreme Being for Blessings

The Iowa Constitution (from 1857), in its Preamble, says:

"We, the People of the State of Iowa, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings..."

See the whole Constitution of Iowa

Friday, January 9, 2009

Indiana Constitution - Grateful to ALMIGHTY GOD

The Indiana Constitution (from 1851) contains several clauses recognizing the faith on which the country was founded. Interesting is their use of CAPS. The upper-case and lower-case words below are presented just as they are found in Indiana's Constitution:

...WE, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to ALMIGHTY GOD for the free exercise of the right to choose our own form of government, do ordain this Constitution.

Article 1 (Bill of Rights)

Section 1. WE DECLARE, That all people are created equal; that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that all power is inherent in the people; and that all free governments are, and of right ought to be, founded on their authority, and instituted for
their peace, safety, and well-being. For the advancement of these ends, the people have, at all times, an indefeasible right to alter and reform their government.

Section 2. All people shall be secured in the natural right to worship ALMIGHTY GOD, according to the dictates of their own consciences.

See the whole document here

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Illinois Constitution - Grateful to God for Liberty

The Preamble of Illinois' Constitution says:

"We, the People of the State of Illinois - grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He has permitted us to enjoy and seeking His blessing upon our endeavors..."

See the whole Constitution here

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Idaho Constitution - Grateful to God for Freedom

The Idaho Constitution dates from 1889. In its Preamble we find:

"We, the people of the state of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and promote our common welfare do establish this Constitution."

The section below is part of the paragraph that serves much the same purpose as the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, but it spells it out in more detail.

Article 1 (Declaration of Rights), Sec. 4
"The exercise and enjoyment of religious faith and worship shall forever be guaranteed;... No person shall be required to attend or support any ministry or place of worship, religious sect or denomination, or pay tithes against his consent; nor shall any preference be given by law to any religious denomination or mode of worship..."

Because of that, I think the common dispute (these days) of prohibiting Nativity scenes or other Christian displays at Christmas time should not even come up. It does not say that religion will not be recognized. It says no preference may be given to any religion BY LAW. A courthouse or other public facility allowing a Nativity scene would not seem to be prohibited unless there were a law requiring such a display. Section 5 of the Constitution is pretty clear that no public funds should be used to aid religions, but these displays are not intended to give financial aid to religion; they simply recognize the great number in the community who celebrate Christmas. Also, in many of the cases in the news this past Christmas, the religious displays were paid for by private funds.

I further do not think that Idaho was intending to rewrite or change the First Amendment. They are simply clarifying what the Founders intended when the U.S. Constitution was created.

The entire Idaho Constitution can be seen here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hawaii Constitution - Grateful for Divine Guidance

Hawaii's constitution is unusual in that it doesn't use the word "God" or "Creator," but rather refers to "Divine Guidance." The "D" and "G" are upper case letters in the sentence of the preamble where the phrase is used.

The Preamble begins with:

We, the people of Hawaii, grateful for Divine Guidance, and mindful of our Hawaiian heritage and uniqueness as an island State, dedicate our efforts to fulfill the philosophy decreed by the Hawaii State motto, "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono."

The state motto translates to "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness."

Read the entire constitution

Monday, January 5, 2009

Georgia Constitution - Protection and Guidance of Almighty God

The Constitution of Georgia has, as do other state Constitutions, a strong statement about a respect for God. Georgia also provides for using state funds for religious organizations (to help the poor).

To perpetuate the principles of free government, insure justice to all, preserve peace, promote the interest and happiness of the citizen and of the family, and transmit to posterity the enjoyment of liberty, we the people of Georgia, relying upon the protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

Section I, Paragraph III.
Freedom of conscience. Each person has the natural and inalienable right to worship God, each according to the dictates of that person´s own conscience; and no human authority should, in any case, control or interfere with such right of conscience.

Section I, Paragraph IV.
Religious opinions; freedom of religion. No inhabitant of this state shall be molested in person or property or be prohibited from holding any public office or trust on account of religious opinions; but the right of freedom of religion shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the state.

Article III., Section IX., Paragraph IV.
(d) Funds appropriated to or received by the State Housing Trust Fund for the Homeless... may be expended for programs of purely public charity for the homeless, including programs involving the participation of churches and religious institutions...

See the entire Georgia Constitution

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Florida Constitution - Grateful to God for Liberty

The Constitution of Florida, originally from 1845, contains in its preamble a statement of gratitude to God:

"We, the people of the State of Florida, being grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty, in order to secure its benefits, perfect our government, insure domestic tranquility, maintain public order, and guarantee equal civil and political rights to all, do ordain and establish this constitution."

See the entire Florida Constitution

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Delaware Constitution - Divine Goodness of God and Serving our Creator

The Constitution of Delaware (from 1897) is a little more bold than some others in tipping its hat to God. Here is the entire Preamble:

"Through Divine goodness, all men have by nature the rights of worshiping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences, of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring and protecting reputation and property, and in general of obtaining objects suitable to their condition, without injury by one to another; and as these rights are essential to their welfare, for due exercise thereof, power is inherent in them; and therefore all just authority in the institutions of political society is derived from the people, and established with their consent, to advance their happiness; and they may for this end, as circumstances require, from time to time, alter their Constitution of government."

See the whole Delaware Constitution

Friday, January 2, 2009

Foreigners Recognize the Value of Religion in America

Roger Lundin wrote a book called "There Before Us: Religion, Literature, and Culture from Emerson to Wendell Berry," which offers some perspectives on our past. The book recounts a visit to the U.S. by the Marquis de Lafayette in 1824-25. He was concerned because on a Sunday he had been invited to two different services, one Congregationalist and one Episcopalian. He decided to attend both services because he didn't want to offend either group.

On pages 1-2 Mr. Lundin says, "A foreigner surveys the American religious scene and marvels at the combination of religious toleration with religious zeal. The citizens are so pious that an invitation to church is their highest sign of respect, yet so little given to bigotry that they happily share Lafayette between them and shake hands at the conclusion of the second service. Had Americans really managed to tame the religious passions that had to often laid Europe to waste without falling to religious skepticism?"

Then in describing the experience of two other Frenchmen's trip to the USA a few years later, the author says, "Americans agreed, first of all, that religious faith was essential in a Republic. A trustee of the College of New Jersey, the Rev. James Richards, told them that he regarded 'the maintenance of the religious spirit' as one of the country's 'greatest political interests,' since no nation could be moral if it was not religious."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Connecticut Constitution - Recognizes the Good Providence of God

The Preamble of the Constitution of Connecticut says:

"The People of Connecticut acknowledging with gratitude, the good providence of God, in having permitted them to enjoy a free government; do, in order more effectually to define, secure, and perpetuate the liberties, rights and privileges which they have derived from their ancestors; hereby, after a careful consideration and revision, ordain and establish the following constitution and form of civil government."

Found at Megalaw

According to Harbornet, the original version also included this phrase:

"No preference shall be given by law to any Christian sect or mode of worship."

Note that discrimination was prohibited among Christian sects.

Connecticut, our Constitution State, has a very religious background. It was a group of Baptists in CT who wrote to Thomas Jefferson, fearing they would be discriminated against. Jefferson wrote back his famous (recently, anyway) letter of reassurance that talked about a wall of separation. But also, according to Wikipedia,

Connecticut was originally founded by Congregationalists who split away from the Massachusetts colony between 1635 and 1636. The first settlers founded three towns on the Connecticut river in Windsor, Wethersfield, and Hartford. One of the main purposes of the Fundamental Orders was to formalize the relationship between these three towns. The core foundation of the Fundamental Orders incorporates the ingrained religious background of the colony’s founders. They called for “an orderly and decent government according to God” in attempts to pursue “The liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” Until 1818, the Congregational Church stood as the established church of the state. All Connecticut residents were required to attend church and/or pay taxes to support the Congregational faith. Anyone belonging to another Christian sect such as Baptist, Episcopal, or Quaker, had to provide documentation signed by a church officer indicating attendance and financial support of their separate church in order to avoid paying taxes to the Congregationalists.