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April 2017 Policy Study, Number 17-6

   

A Commentary on the Bill of Rights

   

Part 3

   

 

It is interesting to note that the “supreme (sic) Court” and capitol buildings are filled with art and symbols religious in nature.  To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a successful Court challenge to remove any of them.  They had government-sponsored days of prayer.  The first three days of the Continental Congress were dedicated to days of prayer.  When it came to the matter of public education, the very first text they chose for instruction was the Bible.  The language for this amendment was finally resolved and passed by the House of Representatives on September 24, 1789.  On the very next day, these same Representatives passed a resolution calling for a day of national prayer and thanksgiving.  The following is the language they adopted:

 

We acknowledge with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peacefully to establish a constitutional government for their safety and happiness.

 

These Representatives then asked President George Washington to issue a proclamation concerning this day.  He willing did so, and this is what he said:

 

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 . . . That great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that ever will be, that we may then unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people. 

 

This information is not fabricated.  It is a matter of history that you can research for yourself.  The fact is, our Founders were adamant in their belief in a superhuman agency and of a moral code.  They were also convinced of the necessity of each for the successful conduct of human affairs:

 

But neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.  He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man . . . While the people are virtuous, they cannot be subdued; but once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.  (Samuel Adams).

 

Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.  As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.  (Benjamin Franklin).

 

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 their liberties are a gift from God?  (Thomas Jefferson).

 

This constitution is designed for a moral people.  I it is wholly unfit for the governance of any other.  (John Adams).

 

Can an individual be virtuous without a belief in superhuman agency and a strong moral code?  Yes, it is possible, though the percentage that are is undeniably much smaller than for those who do believe.  Can a nation be virtuous without this belief and code?  Our Founders thought it unlikely.  Their actions tell us they had little reserve in government exhibiting this belief.  It was only as to the matter of government compelling belief in a “specific” religion that they showed their reserve.

 

The opinion of the Court today seems to go somewhat farther than the opinion of the Courts of the first one hundred and eighty years of this nation.  They protect us against government-compelled belief, which is entirely appropriate.  But they also seem bent on protecting us from even the exposure to any religious belief or attached moral code.  And not just from exposure by our national government; but also from that of the state, or even a local school district.  They prohibit the display of the Ten Commandments or a nativity scene.  They prohibit the utterance of a prayer at graduation exercises and traditional Christmas carols, even when the community desires such.  These would seem to go beyond the constitutional proscription, at least as our Founders understood and acted on it.  It is hard for me to understand how these actions of the Court do not abridge the free exercise of religion on the part of the community and individual alike.

 

A further consequence of the Court’s action, whether intended or not, is the promotion of other religions.  Remember that religion is a belief system.  We generally think of it as a belief system that contains an inference of God; but there are other belief systems.  Atheism is a belief system that contends there is no god.  Nihilism is a belief system that rejects the customary beliefs of morality and religion as we generally think of them.  Government’s actions set a standard.  Like it or not, the government becomes a role model for its citizens in much the same way a professional athlete becomes a role model for a young athlete.  The model the government currently projects is, in the least, agnostic; and in the direction we are currently headed, it will become anti-religious.  Remember . . . Congress is prohibited on all counts concerning the establishment of religion.  This means both theism and atheism.

 

With the government’s prohibition of any government exposition of traditional religion whatsoever, the government promotes other religions by default, and these replace traditional religion.  It is almost as if the agency of government is being used to establish the condition of traditional religion as that of persona non grata.  Our Founders’ actions tell me this isn’t what they had in mind. 

 

There are those who believe that this nation was conceived as a Christian nation.  There are those who believe this nation was to be a nation whose national central government was to be unequivocally and impartially neutral in all matters concerning religion.  There are those who believe that, for all practical purposes and for all the lip service that is paid to it, separation of church and state is not the reality in this nation today. There are those who believe this is a nation whose national central government has actually evolved to a condition that is hostile to religion.  And there are those who believe any number of other things.  To say the least, opinions and perspectives concerning the desired, and de facto, relationship between church and state vary wildly.

 

The author entertains no notion that any of these questions regarding the relationship between church and state will be settled in this tract.  He merely wishes to lay before you some ideas, which you may not have considered heretofore.  In the discussion, it would be extremely difficult and less than effective to attempt the presentation of ideas on this subject without alluding on occasion to matters spiritual, and the reader is so forewarned.  It is inconceivable that any serious student of early American history who is the least bit honest with himself could come to any other conclusion than that this nation was conceived as a Christian nation and perceived as a Christian nation.  Indeed, the authority for this nation’s very existence, as stated in our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, rested upon “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.:  If Nature has a God, then the laws of Nature are His.  That our Founders believed this is evidenced by the fact that they set it down in writing for all posterity to see.

 

We were indeed conceived as a nation under God’s laws.  Further, the derivation of our rights as individuals was attributed to the Almighty when they wrote, “all men . . . are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”  These things, in and of themselves, do not prove an affinity for Christianity; but assuming our Founders were not acting duplicitously, and I do, they do prove a strong belief in God.  The actual proof of this nation’s Christian affinity is to be found in our Founders’ words and deeds.  It is in the history recorded before, during, and after this nation’s genesis.  It is yours for the perusal.  It is to be found in the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, in the proceedings of Congress, in the state constitutions, in their laws, in the writings and speeches of our Founders, and yes, in their prayers.  What follows is an example of what is to be found.

 

   

 

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