Was America founded as a Christian nation or conceived as a secular state.
That question has been argued in the courts, the classrooms, and on cable TV for the past few decades, and it still causes heated debate wherever it is raised. Secularists claim that there is no evidence for America’s Christian roots and deny the evidence presented. Most American’s, however, still believe that our nation owes its existence and its prosperity to our Founder’s allegiance to Christianity its teachings.
America stands alone as the longest enduring constitutional republic. But any nation that forgets its roots cannot long endure. Even one of America’s most “progressive” presidents, Woodrow Wilson, acknowledged, “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do.”
The question that we must answer is, “What is America trying to do today?” Will we forsake the principles of our Christian heritage and abandon our forefather’s aims to establish a place where freedom reigns and the rights of every man, women, and child are protected by a Constitution inspired by the principles of Christianity?
Get the facts. Get the truth. Discover America’s unique Christian heritage – and why it’s worth defending.
The Bible is the most often cited source in Founding era political documents. President Andrew Jackson said in reference to the Bible: “That book, Sir, is the Rock upon which our republic rests.”
President Calvin Coolidge stated: “The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.”
In 1982, Newsweek magazine published an article, “How the Bible Made America,” which concluded that “historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution, is our founding Document.”
Nevertheless, modern secularists claim that our nation’s founding was completely divorced from religion. The ACLU contends, “The Founders did not see law as biblically-based…. Neither the Ten Commandments nor biblical law get mentioned anywhere in the debates and publications surrounding the founding documents.” Likewise, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State claims that “the U.S. Constitution is a wholly secular document….” Books, such as The Godless Constitution or The Myth of a Christian Nation, are devoted to painting a secular view of our nation’s founding.
The Bible’s Role in Founding America
Political philosophers Donald S. Lutz and Charles Hyneman set out to investigate the sources of our nation’s Founding era political literature. After reviewing an estimated 15,000 written documents from the period between 1760 and 1805, professors Lutz and Hyneman determined that the Bible was, by far, the most cited source, comprising some 34% of all quotations. In fact, the Bible was cited four times as often as the next most commonly referenced source.
As for the ACLU’s claim that America’s founding documents do no mention biblical law, this study showed that the book of the Bible most commonly cited was, in fact, the one that contains the majority of the laws given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai. “Deuteronomy is cited more that John Locke or anyone else.” Noted Professor Lutz.
Significantly, the next most commonly cited sources came from the political philosophers Baron Charles Montesquieu, Sir William Blackstone, and John Locke – each of whom encouraged the incorporation of biblical law into civil law.
- Montesquieu, in his classic 1748 treatise, The Spirit of the Laws, “We owe to Christianity, in government, a certain political law.”
- Blackstone, in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, wrote, “Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws.”
- Locke, in his Second Treatise on Civil Government, stated, “Laws … must be made according to the general Laws of Nature, and without contradiction to any positive Law of Scripture, otherwise they are ill made.”
As Dr. D. James Kennedy noted, “The Constitution is largely the product of Christian men with a biblical worldview.”
James McHenry, a Constitution signer from Maryland, held such a high view of God’s revelation of Scripture that he proclaimed, “The Holy Scriptures … can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability, and usefulness.”
Their Scripture-saturated thinking led our Founders to follow biblical principles in the establishment of America’s governmental form and structure. They feared the consolidation of too much power into the hands of any one man or entity, believed the words of the Prophet Jeremiah, who declared that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked….”
James Madison saw the implications of this clearly, and in arguing for the ratification of the Constitution in the Federalist Papers, he stated, “It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government …. If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”
Madison proposed a “separation of powers,” dividing the government into three separate branches – an idea that mirrored the three functions of government ascribed to the Lord in Isaiah 33:22: “For the Lord is our Judge [judicial], the Lord is our lawgiver [legislative], the Lord is our King [executive].”
God – Given, Not Government Granted
Although we associate the Declaration of Independence with the proclamation that all men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” the next sentence of the Declaration explains that “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.” Futhermore, it asserts that governments are instituted in order to secure the rights that flow – not from men or documents – but solely from our Creator. Thus idea is likewise woven into the Constitution.
The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution addresses this issue at the onset, explaining – in language similar to the Declaration – that the document was adopted to “secure the blessings of liberty.” The framers of the Constitution recognized that neither they, nor the government they were establishing, could create the blessings of liberty. Rather, they wrote the Constitution in order to form a government that would acknowledge that its task is to secure those
blessings, which come from a higher source – Almighty God.
The Constitution gave deference to America’s Christian tradition. For example, in Article I, Section 7, when speaking of the legislative process, the Constitution specifies that the President has ten days to sign a bill into law, “Sundays excepted.” Why does the Constitution exclude Sundays? The Founders wanted to ensure that the Christian Sabbath was honored by the nation’s government. To this day, the Sabbath is observed by the various departments of government.
Our “Guiding Geniuses”
The evidence proves that our nation was founded with reverence for the principles of Scripture. Our presidents and political leaders have continued to recognize the importance of maintaining that reverence. President Franklin D. Roosevelt told Americans:
We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a nation, without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic…. [W]here we have been the truest and most consistent in obeying its precepts, we have attained the greatest measure of contentment and prosperity.”
While speaking with a reporter from Time magazine, former Chief Justice Earl Warren stated:
I believe no one can read the history of our country… without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses…. I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it.”
Dr. D. James Kennedy author of What if America Were A Christian Nation Again, wrote, “Our nation was founded upon the principles of the Bible and a reliance upon Almighty God.” Indeed, one would have to ignore a great deal of America’s history to deny the central role the Scriptures had in our nation’s founding.
By: Sam Kastensmidt