God established the United States of America (for his purpose).
There are many today who will dispute that statement and attack (verbally) anyone who would make such a declaration.
In today’s normalcy, when such a belief is expressed in a dozen words or less, the expected “debate” would begin. Either one or both antagonists would fortify their emotional retorts based strictly on personal preferences and diminutive pieces of information taken out of context, thereby never reaching a judgment based on truth. Some who reject a spiritual influence in the country’s founding may be honest victims of insidious measures that have been exercised to instill that denial.
This writing attempts to lay before the reader a factual presentation which supports the position of the opening remark. The length of some offerings is necessary to avert a charge of insufficiently supported “emotional retorts” noted above.
To begin, our culture was permeated with the belief in a supreme Creator and reliance on aid from that source. The people who settled the land, devised the form of government and subsequently governed were profoundly influenced by that supernatural entity. Their expressions of that belief were quite varied. Numerous Protestant Christian denominations, Catholics, Puritans, Quakers, Masonic devotees and others proclaimed that basic tenet. Proclamations indicating that common belief can be found in the speeches and correspondence of many of the founders as well as the founding documents.
With the differences of spiritual expressions and the personal imperfections of the founders acknowledged, God was not unlike a high school football coach. “Game Time for America” had arrived, and He took the field with the available talent. The world has never considered the establishment of the U.S.A. to have been accomplished by Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims or atheists. The predominant religious persuasion of the populace has always been considered to be Judeo-Christian.
As early as the country’s infancy, the Barbary pirates, through whom their rulers were enriched, claimed the U.S. resistance to their destructive plundering was a Christian war against Islam. The U.S. initially agreed to treaties (with demands for “jizya”, or actually extortion), one of which noted that the federal government was in no way a national Christian theocracy such as the Moslem countries had been Islamic theocracies for a thousand years.
Be all that as it may, the founders and people of the country were well aware of the dangers if one sect (Catholic, Puritan, Baptist, etc.) should be established by federal law as the national religion. That term, “national religion”, was universally understood to be that which was demanded by the central government (kings and parliaments). Those demands were laws which included financial contributions as well as observance of doctrinal practices. The assurance against that and only that occurrence is concisely expressed in Amendment I of the U. S. Constitution.
There are many historical observations that can arguably indicate some degree of Providential influence and aid. Here are a few:
-It is notable that the USA is the only country in the world whose first official document acknowledged that the rights of its people are derived from a superintending Creator and are “unalienable”. The Declaration of Independence continues to cite the entity three more times. Those who approved that declaration were so devoted to the premise of their purpose that they knew they had just signed their death warrant if the coming war with the empire of Britain was lost.
-Acknowledgements of a superintending entity are contained in founding documents of all fifty states.
-Church fellowships based in America began worldwide missionary programs less than twenty five years after the ratification of the Constitution.
-From the best information I can find, America still leads the world in total missionaries sent abroad.
-Scattered (like the salt that preserves meat) throughout the settlement of this country, there seems to have been no objection when towns were given names such as Providence, Trinity, Bible Grove, Galilee, Calvary, Bethlehem, Nazareth, St Louis, St. Mary’s, St. Paul, San Francisco, San Antonio, Los Angeles and Mt. Zion. Today, any group seeking approval of similar names would be pressed into litigation by some offended organization or an individual who may not even reside in the area.
– Less than four decades after the founding, the USA joined the world’s economic and military powers that had been a thousand or more years in the making.
-Considering the evil of slavery in the USA, evangelical leaders such as Lyman Beecher, Charles Finney, Theodore Weld and Christian fellowships not directly connected with the traditional churches were in the forefront of the abolition movement.
-The people of the world receive more economic and humanitarian aid from the American people than from those of any other country.
-The people of many nations have been made more prosperous through trade with the United States.
-The USA has twice been the pivotal agent in preventing totalitarian dominance over untold millions of the world’s population.
-When the USA so notably sprang upon the world scene at the turn of the 19th century, France commissioned the distinguished Alexis de Tocqueville to tour America and report what he found to be the cause of such success. Tocqueville reported extensively on his impressions, but rarely do we see the following:
“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in her fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
-Tocqueville’s assessment of America’s unique goodness could have no greater example than the events following World War II. At that time the US military was deployed around the globe, and America was the soul possessor of a weapon that could annihilate tens of thousands of people in an instant. The development of a more destructive weapon was on the horizon. Had the US government and the people of the US possessed the same motives and aspirations as their opponents and so many of history’s previous conquers, the USA could have sought to own the planet … but the thought never occurred to any American. The action that America did choose was profoundly unique in world history. The United States of America sought to insure its own future security by devoting effort and treasure to the rebuilding of the countries of friend and foe alike.
It is demonstrable that public education has long ignored many obvious indications of a spiritual influence that has been a significant part of our history.
One American history textbook informs the students that the material includes eyewitness accounts, poems, song lyrics, diary entries, and excerpts from a variety of sources. The authors encourage the students to develop their critical thinking skills, but fail to note that the choice of selected material and its interpretation are their own.
Having enjoyed the occupation of a public school mentor (so to speak) for an excess of forty years and the preceding obligatory years as a student, it is safe to make an anecdotal assertion. To wit, none of the following “eyewitness accounts” have been offered in any textbook during that period of personal experience and certainly not in any current such publication. Nor have I talked to any teacher who has shared this which is to follow with any student.
Let us begin with Benjamin Franklin who rose to speak at the Constitutional Convention at the point of its near dissolution. Oh yes, the aforementioned textbook’s authors did think it significant to inform the students that Franklin relieved tensions by relating some amusing stories. However, the authors chose not to include any of the following which
James Madison claimed to have placed in his notes from Franklin’s own handwriting.
The small progress we have made after 4 or five weeks close attendance & continual reasonings with each other-our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ays, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of Government, and examined the different forms of those Republics which having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all round Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable to our circumstances. In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection.- Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it’. I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest. I therefore beg leave to move-that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that Service.”
Shame on those authors for diminishing the importance of Franklin’s roll at the convention to that of a comedian.
One of the most prominent cases of obfuscation of truth and omission is found in the expression, “wall of separation between church and state”. Some folks believe it is found in the US Constitution. It is not. The only mention of religion in the original document is that no religious test can be required to hold federal office. Subsequent to ratification of the original constitution, Amendment I specifically denied Congress the power to establish a national religion. Everyone knew what that meant.
Strained extrapolations of the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution have been successful only because the people of our country have not known those interpretations to be wrong. Amazingly, falsehoods have been presented and accepted as truth for so long that many who are shown evidence to the contrary tend to fearfully cover their eyes, ears and mouths.
That “separation” thing actually came from a letter Pres. Jefferson wrote in response to the Baptist Association of Danbury, Conn. The Baptists, who were under religious oppression by their state legislature, had written to Jefferson (emphases added):
“Sir, we are sensible that the President of the United States is not the National Legislator and also sensible that the national government cannot destroy the laws of each State, but our hopes are strong that the sentiment of our beloved President, which have had such genial effect already, like the radiant beams of the sun, will shine and prevail through all these States…”
To which Jefferson replied (parenthetical expressions added):
“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act (Amendment I) of the whole American people which declared that their legislature (Congress) would ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between Church and State (the federal government). Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights… I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man…”
It must be emphasized that the Baptists did not appeal for constitutional enforcement by the President, the Attorney General or the Supreme Court. Neither did any of those entities consider it within their constitutional authority to do so. At that time, everyone knew the First Amendment restriction applied, as plain English clearly states, only to acts of Congress.
About a decade later, as intended by the framers of the US Constitution, the people of Connecticut were able to correct the matter through their votes for state legislators.
For further confirmation of Jefferson’s opinion that any form of religious expression is beyond federal control, we note his second inaugural address:
“In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the constitution independent of the powers of the general government. I have therefore undertaken, on no occasion, to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it; but have left them, as the constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of state or church authorities.”
Over 150 years were required for the SCOTUS to invent the current “separation” interpretation. If we are to meekly acquiesce to that view as the “law of the land”, we have a problem. We are forced to accuse Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe, as well as the Congresses and Supreme Courts of their day, of being incapable of understanding the document they had ratified and exercised.
A few more views of eye witnesses of the founding:
(From George Washington’s 1st inaugural address) “… it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect … No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency …”
(And Washington closes) “I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication that … His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.”
(Thomas Jefferson, 1st Message to Congress, or State of the Union Address) “While we devoutly return thanks to the beneficent Being who has been pleased to breathe into them (the warring European countries) the spirit of conciliation and forgiveness, we are bound with particular gratitude to be thankful to him that our own peace has been preserved through so perilous a season, and ourselves quietly to cultivate the earth and to practice and improve those arts which tend to increase our comforts.”
President John Adams in his inaugural address, began by noting the magnitude of the task that had confronted the men who devised the structure of this historically unique nation and then described the founders’ approach to the task thusly:
(Adams) “… Relying, however, on the purity of their intentions, the justice of their cause, and the integrity and intelligence of the people, under an overruling Providence which had so signally protected this country from the first, the representatives of this nation … launched into a sea of uncertainty.”
If this and other similar information had been made available to history students for the last two hundred years, our current understanding of the relationship between the spiritual foundation of our country and our government would probably be quite different.
Two prescient statements:
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.” Thomas Paine
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of society, it expects what never was and never will be.” Thomas Jefferson