A Godless Constitution?
By Paul Viggiano
July 4, 2013 the Los Angeles Times ran a full page ad (though nowhere on the page indicates it to be an ad) encouraging the people of the United States to “Celebrate Our Godless Constitution.” The ad frames six founding fathers accompanied by dubious, out of context, quotations designed to enlighten the reader to the general disdain these fathers had when it came to God’s unwanted intrusion into the political affairs of men. The ad was sponsored by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
This splash of tabloid revisionist history would be humorous if it didn’t seem to be effectively dismantling the fabric of American culture. Whatever one thinks this country is, or should be, the notion that the founders and their predecessors did not view America as a Christian enterprise requires a tower of suspended disbelief.
An immense volume of photos, along with an exhaustive textual record of the holocaust was secured to the end that people would not doubt that the event occurred (though in one generation there are many who do just that), we have even greater assurance and evidence that our founders understood the disastrous consequences of a nation that appealed to anyone less than the “Supreme Judge of the world” to justify their political transactions, to wit, our founding documents and the very buildings where our political leaders engage in their deliberations.
E.g. Moses, holding the Ten Commandments, is the central figure atop the building where the U.S. Supreme Court meets; The Ten Commandments are also found in the Supreme Court courtroom; Bible verses are etched in stone in virtually every federal building and Monument in our nation’s capital. James Madison stated that “We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
Patrick Henry said “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Since 1777, every session of congress has opened with prayer by a preacher subsidized with tax dollars. 52 of the 55 founders of the Constitution were members in good standing of orthodox Christian churches.
The Mayflower Compact opens with the words “In the name of God, Amen” followed by “Having undertaken, for the glorie of God, and the advancement of the Christian faith and honour of our king & country, a voyage to plan the first colonie in the Northerne parts of Virginia.”
The introductory paragraph of The Declaration of Independence appeals to the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Jefferson found it fitting, and within the boundaries of his views of politics to indicate that “men…are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” He justified his intentions by “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world.”
It is certainly true that the establishment clauses of the First Amendment indicate that “Congress will make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” And to this I say ‘Amen,’ for no clear thinking person would desire a state run church. But the separation of church and state, at least according to the founders, was quite different than the separation of God and state.
It was clear to Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address that “this nation [was] under God,” as well as in his Emancipation Proclamation where he appeals to “the gracious favor of Almighty God.” I am halted now merely by space and not further content of the founders recognition of a country’s need for the ultimate and transcendent authority found in the God of the Holy Scriptures.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation boasts in their appeal to reason as they seek to beguile us toward the notion of a godless constitution and the liberty thereof. Perhaps we would do well to ponder the godless political systems of the 20th century under Sung, Minh, Pot, Lenin, Stalin, Mao et al. The only liberty the tens of millions of innocent found under these godless systems was liberation from their own lives. That doesn’t sound reasonable to me.