This Independence Day weekend, let’s envision millions of Americans hazarding a peek at the actual history of their nation — original source documents and all. Their jaws might hit the floor like a burnt out firework.
You see, what they’d find is not the fun-house-mirror portraits of our Founders which have been foisted imperiously on the culture for decades: a collection of rigid, prickly secularists who might tolerate the notion of a god, but certainly have little use for him in any official capacity. What they’d discover, instead? A company of philosophical giants composed uniformly of red-blooded Christians or, at least, individuals for whom a thoroughgoingly “Christianized” take on the world was a given.
As Gary Demar succinctly put it recently: “The Constitution was written against the moral background of a religious worldview that was rooted in the Bible.”
These founding luminaries’ explicit statements, the way they lived, the manner in which they formulated our republican system – – all confirm: not only did they NOT demand the U.S. government cultivate sterile neutrality toward “religion”; they consistently hoped conscientious leaders and public institutions would actively fortify faith and piety within American society.
I won’t enumerate elected officials’ specific calls– easily dozens of them — for periods of public prayer, fasting and/or thanksgiving issued during the Revolutionary era. Authorities local, state and Federal regularly rolled out these summons in the run up to “the Contest with Great Britain”, during that protracted and perilous conflict and throughout the newborn United States’ dicey early days. The infant nation was struggling to get on her feet, our Founders recognized the persistent need for Divine Assistance and they plainly said as much. Period.
I don’t recall colonial versions of the ACLU or Barry Lynn’s bunch crashing the party to make a separation-of-church-and-state stink.
Our Lions of Liberty — Franklin, Washington, Hamilton, Henry, even the spiritually contrarian Paine, among multiple others — traced the revolutionary enterprise’s success directly to God’s hands-on intervention. Their forceful professions of same are abundantly on the record.
Literally, or by their devotion to the cause, these signed on to a tradition-defying proposition: “all men are created equal”. They assumed the involvement of a “Creator” Who “endowed” every man with “certain, inalienable rights”. Their flaming passion for liberty was largely stirred to life from the embers of biblical revelation: “In the beginning … God created Man in His own image”.
Figuring hugely in our Founders’ reasoning regarding freedom and irrevocable rights? The Judeo-Christian belief in a personal God Who made all things.
And: “Natural liberty” and “civil liberty” “is a gift of the Beneficent Creator, to the whole human race.” — Alexander Hamilton.
“The Christian Religion … is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty,” — Thomas Jefferson.
Another counter-balancing, Divinely imparted heads-up urged these statesmen to be wary of their fellow man — because mankind, having become corrupted and alienated from the ways of its Maker, could not be guilelessly trusted. Individuals and nations, left unconstrained, would predictably choose evil, abuse power, conduct themselves short-sightedly, destructively.
Scripture’s accounts of man’s fallenness served meaningfully as backbone to that conviction. And it resulted in the emergence of this country’s birthing covenants and subsequent model of government. Pure democracy? Too combustible in a world stocked with iniquitously flawed individuals. A constitutional republic, composed of three off-setting branches and self-interested states, was the optimum, if imperfect, way they chose.
“The only foundation for … a republic is to be laid in Religion.” — Benjamin Rush