February 11, 2010 by Bob Livingston
It’s amazing the lengths to which some will go in an effort to remove God from public discourse.
Activist liberal judges have tied themselves into knots in order to remove Christianity from public schools and nativity scenes from public property. Individuals have sued government to have the words, “In God We Trust” removed from coinage and to ban prayer, the 10 Commandments, Christmas parties and religious demonstrations from public schools.
And many of the comment strings that follow articles posted on Personal Liberty Digest seem to eventually devolve, at some point, into commenters debating religion and government—even when the original article is on another subject entirely. Inevitably one or more of the posters makes the false claim that the Founding Fathers were primarily somewhere between agnostic (the existence of God is unknown or unknowable) or practiced deism (denying the interference of the Creator with the laws of the universe).
Nothing could be further from the truth. Depending on exactly who you consider to be the Founding Fathers—signers of the Declaration of Independence, signers of the Articles of Confederation, signers of the Constitution, delegates to the Constitutional Convention or all of the above—their religious affiliations were as follows: about 54 percent Epicopalian/Anglican, about 18 percent Presbyterian, about 16 percent Congregationalist and the rest either Quaker, Dutch/German Reformed, Lutheran, Catholic, Huguenot, Unitarian, Methodist or Calvinist.
The First Amendment to the Constitution is very clear, and the Constitution would not have been ratified without the promise of the passage of a Bill of Rights. It says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” While the Founders wanted to make sure that America didn’t become like England with a State Church, they also understood that there was a need for men to keep God in their lives.
Unfortunately, activist judges and Supreme Court Justices have either misunderstood that or deliberately sought to ignore it. As a result, courts have interpreted all manner of government bodies to be Congress. They’ve also placed emphasis on the first part of what has been termed the Establishment Clause while de-emphasizing the second.
The Founders would have objected to this interpretation as much as they would one that allowed Congress to pick a denomination and name it the State religion. The proof of this can be found in their own words.
“It is 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 most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession or sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship.” John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776.
“The liberty enjoyed by the people of these states of worshiping Almighty God agreeably to their conscience, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights.” George Washington, to the Annual meeting of Quakers, September 1789.
“In the supposed state of nature, all men are equally bound by the laws of nature, or to speak more properly, the laws of the Creator.” Samuel Adams, letter to the Legislature of Massachusetts, Jan. 17, 1794.
“All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?” Benjamin Franklin, To Colleagues at the Constitutional Convention.
“Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?" Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virgina, 1782.
While many will claim that Franklin and Jefferson were deists, their writings indicate that they, like the rest of the Founding Fathers, believed God actually had a hand in affairs of men.
That’s something we need to remember as well. If we forget that, we are truly doomed as a nation.