Posted by: Randall Niles | May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day!

“We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs, but to secure liberty for their souls.” (Robert McCracken) 

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.” (General George Patton)

Although recent twisting of history declares that America was founded on a basic principle of “freedom from religion,” historic reality is that America was founded on the right of religious expression known as “freedom of religion.” A quick history lesson will reveal that there is no concept of “freedom FROM religion” in our Constitution, nor is there one implied. Our Founding Fathers quoted thousands of Bible scriptures, opened and closed sessions with prayer to God, and openly stated that they used the Ten Commandments in writing the laws of this great nation. Actually, they were standing on government lands while they read directly from the Bible, while they quoted scripture in speeches, and while they stood praying together.

If our country was founded on a principle of “freedom from religion”, our Founding Fathers would not have practiced their religion so openly on government lands. There are more than 4,500 recorded public quotes by our Founding Fathers about the Bible, God, and yes, the importance of ethics based on Christian principles. All of these statements were delivered while government leaders stood on government properties.

There is absolute historic proof that the founders of this nation and the writers of the Constitution never believed in a “freedom from religion”, nor a silencing of free speech concerning things of a religious nature while on government lands. This is a recent concept. A recent twisting of history that started in the early 1960’s when the U.S. courts started redefining our moral compass as a nation. The notion of “separation of church and state” was popularized at that time, and over 6,000 higher court cases removing Judeo-Christian principles from the public arena have followed since.

Yes, Judeo-Christian ethics are at the foundation of this great nation. Morality was never seen as relative — it was always based on the authority of scripture. As hard as it is for some to accept in this 21st century pop-techno-culture, this country and its moral backbone were founded on biblical principles.

Check this out…

– God is mentioned in stone all over Washington D.C., on its monuments and buildings.

– Emblazoned over the Speaker of the House in the US Capitol are the words In God We Trust.

– The Supreme Court building built in the 1930’s has carvings of Moses and the Ten Commandments.

– Oaths in courtrooms have invoked God from the beginning.

– Every president that has given an inaugural address has mentioned God in that speech.

– Prayers have been said at the swearing in of each president.

– Each president was sworn in on the Bible, saying the words, “So help me God.”

– Our national anthem mentions God.

– The liberty bell has a Bible verse engraved on it.

– Our nation’s birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence, mentions God four times.

– The original constitution of all 50 states mentions God.

– Chaplains have been on the public payroll from the very beginning.

– In fact, the Bible was used as the first textbook in our public schools.

This is historic truth. Some in our secular culture may not like God as the foundation of this great country, but He is… So stop whining to activist judges, and deal with it!

Happy Memorial Day indeed!

Keep Thinking,

Randall Niles

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Responses

  1. The principle of separation of church and state is derived from the Constitution (1) establishing a secular government on the power of the people (not a deity), (2) saying nothing to connect that government to god(s) or religion, (3) saying nothing to give that government power over matters of god(s) or religion, and (4), indeed, saying nothing substantive about god(s) or religion at all except in a provision precluding any religious test for public office and the First Amendment provisions constraining the government from undertaking to establish religion or prohibit individuals from freely exercising their religions.

    James Madison, who had a central role in drafting the Constitution and the First Amendment, confirmed that he understood them to “[s]trongly guard[] . . . the separation between Religion and Government.” Madison, Detached Memoranda (~1820). He made plain, too, that they guarded against more than just laws creating state sponsored churches or imposing a state religion. Mindful that even as new principles are proclaimed, old habits die hard and citizens and politicians could tend to entangle government and religion (e.g., “the appointment of chaplains to the two houses of Congress” and “for the army and navy” and “[r]eligious proclamations by the Executive recommending thanksgivings and fasts”), he considered the question whether these actions were “consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom” and responded: “In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the United States forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion.”

    During his presidency, Madison also vetoed two bills, neither of which would form a national religion or compel observance of any religion, on the ground that they were contrary to the establishment clause. While some in Congress expressed surprise that the Constitution prohibited Congress from incorporating a church in the town of Alexandria in the District of Columbia or granting land to a church in the Mississippi Territory, Congress upheld both vetoes. He pocket vetoed a third bill that would have exempted from import duties plates to print Bibles. Separation of church and state is not a recent invention of the courts.

    You seem bothered by the phrase “freedom from religion,” and emphasize instead “freedom of religion.” Neither phrase, of course, is an exact quotation of the Constitution. Freedom “of” religion properly encompasses each individual’s freedom “to” exercise his or her religion and freedom “from” government established religion. There, all prepositions are fairly represented.

    You allude to the religious views of various founders. While those views are subjects of some uncertainty and controversy, it is safe to say that many founders were Christian of one sort or another. In assessing the nature of our government, though, care should be taken not to make too much of various founders’ individual religious beliefs. Their individual beliefs, while informative, are largely beside the point. Whatever their religions, they drafted a Constitution that plainly establishes a secular government and separates it from religion as noted above. This is entirely consistent with the fact that some founders professed their religiosity and even their desire that Christianity remain the dominant religious influence in American society. Why? Because religious people who would like to see their religion flourish in society may well believe that separating religion and government will serve that end and, thus, in founding a government they may well intend to keep it separate from religion. It is entirely possible for thoroughly religious folk to found a secular government and keep it separate from religion. That, indeed, is just what the founders did.

    The Constitution, including particularly the First Amendment, embodies the simple, just idea that each of us should be free to exercise his or her religious views without expecting that the government will endorse or promote those views and without fearing that the government will endorse or promote the religious views of others. By keeping government and religion separate, the establishment clause serves to protect the freedom of all to exercise their religion. Reasonable people may differ, of course, on how these principles should be applied in particular situations, but the principles are hardly to be doubted. Moreover, they are good, sound principles that should be nurtured and defended, not attacked. Efforts to undercut our secular government by somehow merging or infusing it with religion should be resisted by every patriot.

    Wake Forest University recently published a short, objective Q&A primer on the current law of separation of church and state–as applied by the courts rather than as caricatured in the blogosphere. I commend it to you. http://tiny.cc/6nnnx

  2. @Doug Indeap, yours is an excellent rejoinder. Mr. Niles, in his enthusiasm, apparently wishes to shape the historical milieu of our Founders into a form more palatable to his present-day faith. Whether a Christian or not, one must be honest AND diligent in representing the ideas of historical figures. I would recommend “The Search for Christian America” by Mark Noll, Nathan Hatch, and George Marsden, all of whom are openly evangelical Christians, yet hold a high standard of professional integrity as historians. Another work one might consider is “The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America” by Frank Lambert.

    Mr. Niles, Channeling David Barton’s quote-mining, spliced, decontextualized, and omission-laden material will not do. As a teacher of history at a local college, and one whose bailiwick is the colonial period, I can assert with considerable confidence that Mr. Niles’s glib assumptions and happy neat construction is indicative of a casual reading of selected documents. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson would be especially shocked to hear that “freedom from religion” is not guaranteed by our Constitution. Mr. Niles – had you read the writings of Madison and Jefferson, thoroughly and in good faith, you would have a much more nuanced position on the matter. As it is, you are saying, “I reject your reality and substitute my own.”

    Neither of the works I suggested are anti-Christian screeds. Both are judicious and balanced approaches to the topic. One can certainly make the opposite and equally absurd claim that would eradicate the cultural influence of Christianity from our history. I however fail to see how making an equal error in opposite direction serves as a useful corrective to error. I contend that you have engaged in just such a distortion, whether owing to an agenda or simple enthusiasm. I hope, for the sake of intellectual honesty, that you will consider them before you presume to editorialize with authority about the Founders. Let us not make history the slave to our own philosophies or ideas.

    I will leave you with words of wisdom from Thomas Jefferson:

    “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

    “It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”

    Be well


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