To deny religion, and specifically Christianity—because, let’s face it, that’s what we’re really talking about here—a role in our government today would be to ignore our Constitution, and turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the plain and simple history of this great nation.
Time and again, our Founders looked to the Word of God, and sought His Divine guidance. They understood well that their efforts without God were in vain. As John Adams noted, “It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.” In fact, long before the winds of revolution began to blow in
the early settlers accepted and operated from this premise. America
For example, ten years after the Pilgrims landed at
, the Puritans
founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Under
the leadership of their ministers, the Puritans established a representative
government with annual elections. By 1641 they had a “Body of Liberties”
(essentially a Bill of Rights), which was penned by the Rev. Nathaniel Ward.
This was the first legal code established by the colonists. Plymouth
In 1636 the Rev. Thomas Hooker, along with other Puritan ministers, founded
. They also established an
elective form of government. In 1638, after Hooker preached a sermon from the
first chapter of Deuteronomy on the fair and just principles of government
practiced by the nation of Connecticut ,
Roger Ludlow wrote the Fundamental
Orders of Connecticut. This was the first constitution written in Israel . It
served as a model of government for other colonies and, eventually, a union of
colonies. It also served as a model for the U.S. Constitution. America
After writing the Declaration of Ind. (which references God 4 times), Thomas Jefferson, along with Ben Franklin and John Adams, was appointed to a special committee to create an official seal for the
Jefferson and Franklin proposed that one side of the seal portray Moses leading
the nation of United States .
Adams wrote, “Mr. Jefferson proposed: The children of Israel in the
wilderness, led by a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night…” Israel
In his inaugural address to Congress George Washington stated:
“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the
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…We
ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be
expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right,
which Heaven itself has ordained.” United States
Writing to his son, the sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams said, “The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes . . . of universal application-laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation which ever professed any code of laws.”
John Adams noted that, “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were…the general principles of Christianity.”
Noting the direct influence of religion upon politics in the young U.S., French social philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville concluded that “In the United States the sovereign authority is religious…there is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth…The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.”
In what sense, then, does religion play a roll in the
government? To paraphrase Supreme Court Justice David Brewer: Not in the sense
that the U.S. United States has
an established religion, or that people of the are compelled to support any
religion. Americans profess a wide variety of religions, and some reject all.
Americans are free to decide such matters for themselves. The role that
religion HAS played in U.S.
government, and hopefully will continue to play, is that of a potter’s wheel.
Religion—most specifically the Christian religion—was the foundation upon which
our forefathers molded and shaped U.S. into what she is today. Our
Constitution, laws, values, and institutions reflect this, and our history
bears it out. America