July, 2006

IS THE U.S. A CHRISTIAN NATION?

Dear Friend of Radio Liberty,

Most Americans believe the United States was founded as a Christian nation, but some Christian leaders, and almost all Masons, atheists, and humanists say that isn't true. They claim most of the Founding Fathers were deists or Masons who wanted to establish a secular nation, and offer convincing arguments that support that view. Some people believe the United States was founded as a Christian nation, some people believe the United States was founded as a secular nation, and some people believe the United States was founded by Masons. Which assessment is correct? This and subsequent Radio Liberty letters will address that question.

I will discuss two of the best arguments used to support the belief that the Founding Fathers established a secular nation.

(1) "Most of our influential Founding Fathers, although they respected the rights of other religionists, held to deism and Freemasonry tenets rather than to Christianity."
www.nobeliefs.com/Tripoli.htm [1]

(2) "The United States Constitution serves as the law of the land for America and indicates the intent of our Founding Fathers. The Constitution forms a secular document, and nowhere does it appeal to God, Christianity, Jesus, or any supreme being."
www.nobeliefs.com/Tripoli.htm [2]

Before we can examine those concepts, we must establish the identity of the "Founding Fathers." Who were they? David Barton claims they were men who:

"exerted significant influence, provided prominent leadership for, or had a substantial impact upon the birth, development, and establishment of America as an independent, self-governing nation." [3]

They were:

1: The fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence.
2: The fifty-five men who signed the U.S. Constitution.
3: The fourteen men who served as President of the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1789.
4: The ninety members of the First Congress that ratified the Bill of Rights.
5: Several dozen military leaders who fought in the Revolutionary War.
6: Some members of President George Washington's administration.
7: State leaders (governors) who helped ratify the Constitution.
8: The initial Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.
9: Patrick Henry, Noah Webster, and several other men who helped establish our nation, but didn't hold office [4]

David Barton claims there were approximately two-hundred and-fifty Founding Fathers. If we accept his assessment, we can address the first argument.

(1) "Most of our influential Founding Fathers, although they respected the rights of other religionists, held to deism and Freemasonry tenets rather than to Christianity." [5]

Tim LaHaye researched the religious beliefs of the men who created our nation, and found:

"Of the fifty-five men who wrote and signed the U.S. Constitution of 1787, all but three were . . . orthodox members of one of the established Christian communions: approximately twenty-nine Anglicans, sixteen to eighteen Calvinists, two Methodists, two Lutherans, two Roman Catholics, one lapsed Quaker and sometime-Anglican, and one open Deist - Dr. Franklin who attended every kind of Christian worship, called for public prayer, and contributed to all denominations." [6]

Some atheists claim the Founding Fathers were predominantly Masons, but when David Barton researched the historical records of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Massachusetts, and several other Masonic Lodges in New England, he found:

"Of those who signed the Declaration of Independence, a maximum of one in six (16%) could have been Freemasons; and of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention that formed the U.S. Constitution, a maximum of one in four (25% ) could have been Freemasons. These numbers represent the maximum number possible and include not only the inactive Masonic Founders but also those with inconclusive evidence of alleged Masonic activity; those with indisputable evidence of having been Freemasons actually represent a much lower percentage than the maximum indicated." [7]

Why did some Founding Fathers join the Lodge? Because during that era Freemasonry promoted Christianity, and the secrecy promoted by the organization helped them plan the American Revolution. Sometime later the religious thrust of the organization changed. David Barton wrote:

"From the 1730s, through the American Revolution, and until approximately 1813, American Freemasonry was an organization that not only adhered to, but even required orthodox Christian doctrinal teachings as part of its practices. . . . Following a major philosophical shift in English Freemasonry in 1813, a few lodges in American Freemasonry began to embrace a less Christian and more pluralistic belief system. It was during that time that Freemasonry began aggressively moving forward and overtly describing itself as a system of 'speculative masonry,' attaching an esoteric 'spiritual' meaning to all aspects of operative masonry." [8]

These facts invalidate the first argument. The second argument contends:

(2) "The United States Constitution serves as the law of the land for America and indicates the intent of our Founding Fathers. The Constitution forms a secular document, and nowhere does it appeal to God, Christianity, Jesus, or any supreme being." [9]

Since fifty-three of the fifty-five men (Founding Fathers) who drafted the U.S. Constitution were members of Christian denominations, and most of them represented States that had an official religion, the delegates didn't want the Federal government to determine the religion practiced in the States. [10] The atheists, humanists, Masons, and liberal clergymen never mention that historic fact.

Does the U.S. Constitution mention God? It alludes to our obligation to God in several places. Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states:

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." (italics added) [11]

In 1787, when a person swore an oath, they declared their belief in God. George Washington confirmed that view in his "Farewell Address" when he stated:

"Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths. . . ? [12]

Rufus King signed the U.S. Constitution, and wrote:

"[In o]ur laws . . . by the oath which they prescribe, we appeal to the Supreme Being so to deal with us hereafter as we observe the obligation of our oaths." [13]

The last sentence of Article VII of the U.S. Constitution contains a direct reference to Jesus Christ, and an indirect reference to God. The sentence states:

"Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth IN WITNESS whereof. . . . " (italics added) [14]

The phrase "the year of our Lord" refers to the year that Jesus Christ was believed to have been born, and the capitalization of the word "Lord" denotes His deity. The reference to "The Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth" refers to July 4, 1776, when the Founding Fathers signed The Declaration of Independence because that document was the "Articles of Incorporation" of the Constitution, and the foundation of our nation. [15] The Declaration of Independence refers to God as "Nature's God," "Creator," "Supreme Judge of the Universe," and "Divine Providence."

The Founding Fathers acknowledged the importance of Christianity when they honored the Christian Sabbath. Article I, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution states:

"If any Bill should not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law. . . ." [16]

Is the U.S. a "Christian nation"? Before we can answer that question, we must define the term "Christian nation." The Founding Fathers didn't want the Federal government to determine how people worshipped Jesus Christ. They wanted the States and the people to choose the form of worship they desired, so the First Congress enacted the First Amendment to prevent Congress from passing a law that would favor one Christian denomination over the others. The First Amendment stated:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;. . . ." [17]

At this point I want you to read Justice John Brewer's summary of the unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of The Church of The Holy Trinity VS. The United States (1892). The decision confirmed the widely held belief of the American people that the Founding Fathers created a Christian nation. Justice Brewer wrote:

     "But beyond all these matters no purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation. The commission to Christopher Columbus, prior to his sail westward, is from 'Ferdinand and Isabella, by the grace of God, King and Queen of Castile,' etc., and recites that 'it is hoped that by God's assistance some of the continents and islands in the ocean will be discovered,' etc. The first colonial grant, that (was) made to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584, was from 'Elizabeth, by the grace of God, of England, Fraunce (France-ed) and Ireland, queen, defender of the faith,' etc; and the grand(t) authorizing him to enact statutes for the government of the proposed colony provided that 'they be not against the true Christian faith now professed in the Church of England.' The first charter of Virginia, granted by King James I in 1606, after reciting the application of certain parties for a charter, commenced the grant in these words: 'We, greatly commending, and graciously accepting of, their Desires for the Furtherance of so noble a Work, which may, by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of his Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian Religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness and miserable Ignorance of the true Knowledge and Worship of God, and may in time bring the Infidels and Savages, living in those parts, to human Civility, and to a settled and quiet Government; Do, by these our Letters-Patents, graciously accept of, and agree to, their humble and well-intended Desires.'
     Language of similar import may be found in the subsequent charters of that colony, from the same king, in 1609 and 1611; and the same is true of the various charters granted to the other colonies. In language more or less emphatic is the establishment of the Christian religion declared to be one of the purposes of the grant. The celebrated compact made by the Pilgrims in the Mayflower, 1620, recites: 'Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politic, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and furtherance of the Ends aforesaid.'
     The fundamental orders of Connecticut, under which a provisional government was instituted in 1638-1639, commence with this declaration: 'Forasmuch as it hath pleased the Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to Order and dispose of things that we the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield and now cohabitating and dwelling in and upon the River of Conectecotte (Connecticut-ed) and the Lands thereunto adjoining; And well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; do therefore associate and conjoin our souls to be as one Public State or Commonwealth; and do, for our souls and our Successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation together, to maintain and pressure the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess, as also the discipline of the churches, which according to the truth of the said gospel is now practised amongst us.'
     In the charter of privileges granted by William Penn to the province of Pennsylvania, in 1701, it is recited: 'Because no People can be truly happy, though under the greatest Enjoyment of Civil Liberties, if abridged of the Freedom of their Consciences, as to their Religious Profession and Worship; And Almighty God being the only Lord of Conscience, Father of Lights and Spirits; and the Author as well as Object of all divine Knowledge, Faith and Worship, who only doth enlighten the Minds, and persuade and convince the Understandings of People, I do hereby grant and declare,' etc. Coming nearer to the present time, the Declaration of Independence recognizes the presence of the Divine in human affairs in these words: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and pursuit of Happiness.' 'We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the recititude of our intentions, do, in the Name and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare,' etc.; 'And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives our fortunes, and our sacred Honor.'
     If we examine the constitutions of the various States we find in them a constant recognition of religious obligations. Every constitution of every one of the forty-four States contains language which either directly or by clear implication recognizes a profound reverence for religion and an assumption that its influence in all human affairs is essential to the well being of the community. This recognition may be in the preamble, such as is found in the constitution of Illinois, 1870: 'We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political 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,' etc.
     It may be only in the familiar requisition that all officers shall take an oath closing with the declaration 'so help me God.' It may be in clauses like that of the constitution of Indiana, 1816 Article XI, section 4: 'The manner of administering an oath or affirmation shall be such as is most consistent with the conscience of the deponent, and shall be esteemed the most solemn appeal to God.' Or in provisions such as are found in Articles 36 and 37 of the Declaration of Rights of the Constitution of Maryland, 1867: '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 despensation, such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefore, either in this world or the world to come. That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this constitution.' Or like that in Articles 2 and 3, of Part 1st, of the Constitution of Massachusetts, 1780: '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. . . . As the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality, and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community but by the institution of the public worship of God and of public instructions in piety, religion and morality: Therefore, to promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts and other bodies-politic or religious societies to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.' Or as in sections 5 and 14 of Article 7, of the constitution of Mississippi, 1832: 'No person who denies the being of a God, or a future state or rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this State . . . . Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government, the preservation of liberty, and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education, shall forever be encouraged in this State.' Or by Article 22 of the constitution of Delaware, 1776, which required all officers, besides an oath of allegiance, to make and subscribe the following declaration: 'I, A.B., do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.'
     Even the Constitution of the United States, which is supposed to have little touch upon the private life of the individual, contains in the First Amendment a declaration common to the constitutions of all the States, as follows: 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' etc. And also provides in Article 1, section 7, (a provision common to many constitutions,) that the Executive shall have ten days (Sundays excepted) within which to determine whether he will approve or veto a bill.
     There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and reaffirm that this (is) a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people. While because of a general recognition of this truth the question has seldom been presented to the courts, yet we find that in Updegraph v. The Commonwealth, 11S.&R,394,400, it was decided that, 'Christianity, general Christianity, is, and always had been, a part of the common law of Pennsylvania; . . . not Christianity with an established church, and tithes, and spiritual courts; but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.' And in The People v. Ruggles, 8 Johns.290,294, 295, Chancellor Kent, the great commentator on American law, speaking as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New York, said: 'The people of this State, in common with the people of this country, profess the general doctrines of Christianity, as the rule of their faith and practice; and to scandalize the author of these doctrines is not only, in a religious point of view, extremely impious, but, even in respect to the obligations due to society, is a gross violation of decency and good order . . . . . . The free, equal and undisturbed enjoyment of religious opinion, whatever it may be, and free and decent discussions on any religious subject, is granted and recurred; but to revile, with malicious and blasphemous contempt, the religion professed by almost the whole community; is an abuse of that right. Nor are we bound, by any expressions in the Constitution as some have strangely supposed, either not to punish at all, or to punish indiscriminately, the like attacks upon the religion of Mahomet of the Grand Lama; and for this plain reason, that the case assumes that we are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity, and not upon the doctrines or worship of those impostors.' And in the famous case of Vidal v. Girard's Executors, 2 How.127,198, this court, while sustaining the will of Mr. Girard, with its provision for the creation of a college into which no minister should be permitted to enter, observed: 'It is also said, and truly, that the Christian religion is a part of the common law of Pennsylvania.'
     If we pass beyond these matters to a view of American life as expressed by its laws, its busines, its customs and its society, we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth. Among other matters note the following: The form of oath universally prevailing, concluding with an appeal to the Almighty; the custom of opening sessions of all deliberative bodies and most conventions with prayer; the prefatory words of all wills, 'In the name of God, amen;' the laws respecting the observance of the Sabbath, with the general cessation of all secular business, and the closing of courts, legislatures, and other similar public assemblies on that day; the churches and church organizations which abound in every city, town and hamlet; the multitude of charitable organizations existing everywhere under Christian auspices; the gigantic missionary associations, with general support, and aiming to establish Christian missions in every quarter of the globe. These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation. . . . " [18]

Despite the skillfully crafted efforts of liberal clergymen, atheists, humanists, Masons, and the powerful men who control the wealth of our nation, 80% of the American people claim they are Christians, and over 90% of the populace believes in God. The progressive deterioration of the military situation in the Middle East, the increasing impact of illegal immigration, the continued transfer of American jobs and factories to foreign nations, and the coming economic contraction will help us reach the public, and tell them about the conspiracy against Christianity and God.

I conclude this letter with the fifth stanza of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. I think it best describes the battle that lies before us:

"In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me: As he died to make men holy, let us live to make men free; [originally . . .let us die to make men free] While God is marching on." [19]

Barbara and I appreciate your continued support, and your faithful prayers.

Yours in Christ,

Stanley Monteith




REFERENCES

1. www.nobeliefs.com/Tripoli.htm
2. Ibid.
3. David Barton, Original Intent, WallBuilder Press, Aledo, TX, 1997, p. 123. Available from Radio Liberty.
4. Ibid.
5. www.nobeliefs.com: op. cit.
6. Tim LaHaye, Faith of our Founding Fathers, Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 1994, p. 30. Available from Radio Liberty.
7. David Barton, The Question of Freemasonry and the Founding Fathers, WallBuilder Press, Aledo, TX, 2005, p. 24.
8. Ibid., pp. 28-9.
9. www.nobeliefs.com, op. cit.
10. David Barton, Original Intent, op. cit., pp. 21-74.
11. The Constitution of the United States.
12. David Barton, Original Intent, op. cit., p. 36.
13. Ibid.
14. The Constitution of the United States.
15. David Barton, Original Intent, op. cit., pp. 247-251.
16. The Constitution of the United States.
17. The Constitution of the United States, First Amendment, Article I.
18. U.S. Supreme Court decision, The Church of the Holy Trinity vs. the United States; Text found in "Millennium Summit" syllabus from Radio Liberty.
19. www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/b/h/bhymnotr.htm


Return to Radio Liberty home page