Were the Founders Religious? Was America Founded to Be Secular?

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Did the Founding Fathers want American society to be religious or secular? Joshua Charles, author of Liberty’s Secrets, explains.

What did the Founding Fathers believe about religion? Were they Christians, or just deists? Did they believe in secularism, or did they want Americans to be religious? Joshua Charles, New York Times bestselling author and researcher at the Museum of the Bible, explains.


UPDATED w/ Combined Posts


A Facebook friend posts a lot of stuff from the Left. And while I could spend all day refuting in similar fashion much of it (like the below), this topic caught my eye. Here is the FB graphic she posted on her wall:

So, let’s deal with these in order, shall we?

THOMAS JEFFERSON

This is the headline at THE JEFFERSON MONTICELLO site: “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man (Spurious Quotation)” — spurious indeed. They follow this with the fuller quote:

This comment on Christianity is a somewhat paraphrased excerpt from the following letter written by Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley:

“this was the real ground of all the attacks on you: those who live by mystery & charlatanerie, fearing you would render them useless by simplifying the Christian philosophy, the most sublime & benevolent, but most perverted system that ever shone on man, endeavored to crush your well earnt, & well deserved fame.” – Jefferson to Priestley, March 21, 18011 (entire letter)

There are other useful links at MONTICELLO’S link to this topic. Even CHECK YOUR FACT has this regarding the Jefferson quote:

Verdict: False

There is no evidence that Jefferson ever said or wrote this. His estate at Monticello includes the saying on its list of “spurious quotations.”

Fact Check:

The quote has been frequently attributed to Jefferson on social media, appearing in numerous memes and posts on Facebook.

However, the Daily Caller found no record of Jefferson ever saying or writing this expression. A search of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson returned no results matching the alleged saying. It doesn’t appear in a collection of his quotes and letters either.

His estate at Monticello also includes the statement on its list of “spurious quotations.” The first known appearance in print dates back to 1996, according to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation…..

Did Thomas Jefferson dislike religion? Ben Shapiro speaks with author and Wallbuilders founder David Barton about Jefferson and his version of the Bible.

Sorry Charlie.

But history is more complex than your meme.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

The fuller quote reads… and note, many say this about their youth as well. I say similar things — as I stayed out of the church as a youth when I could.

  • “I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies.”

Later in life however, Franklin (and I would say myself) wrestled with religious matters well, and came out on the theistic end of life. Here, for example, is a letter from Benjamin Franklin to the “atheist” Thomas Paine:

TO THOMAS PAINE.

[Date uncertain.]

DEAR SIR,

I have read your manuscript with some attention. By the argument it contains against a particular Providence, though you allow a general Providence, you strike at the foundations of all religion. For without the belief of a Providence, that takes cognizance of, guards, and guides, and may favor particular persons, there is no motive to worship a Deity, to fear his displeasure, or to pray for his protection. I will not enter into any discussion of your principles, though you seem to desire it. At present I shall only give you my opinion, that, though your reasonings are subtile and may prevail with some readers, you will not succeed so as to change the general sentiments of mankind on that subject, and the consequence of printing this piece will be, a great deal of odium drawn upon yourself, mischief to you, and no benefit to others. He that spits against the wind, spits in his own face.

But, were you to succeed, do you imagine any good would be done by it? You yourself may find it easy to live a virtuous life, without the assistance afforded by religion; you having a clear perception of the advantages of virtue, and the disadvantages of vice, and possessing a strength of resolution sufficient to enable you to resist common temptations. But think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women, and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes, who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great point for its security. And perhaps you are indebted to her originally, that is, to your religious education, for the habits of virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. You might easily display your excellent talents of reasoning upon a less hazardous subject, and thereby obtain a rank with our most distinguished authors. For among us it is not necessary, as among the Hottentots, that a youth, to be raised into the company of men, should prove his manhood by beating his mother.

I would advise you, therefore, not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person; whereby you will save yourself a great deal of mortification by the enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of regret and repentance. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it. I intend this letter itself as a proof of my friendship, and therefore add no professions to it; but subscribe simply yours,

B. Franklin

Other interesting items of Mr. Franklin’s faith in God can be found here: Benjamin Franklin Was Not A Secularist

I start out this upload with a call into the show this week… after a little back-n-forth it ends. BUT, I include a bit of the show Dennis Prager speaks about during the call. That is from late February. A great topic covered well. Here is the creed spoken of:

✦ I believe in one God, the creator of the universe.
✦ That he governs by his providence.
✦ That he ought to be worshipped.
✦ That the most acceptable service we render to him is doing good to his other children.
✦ That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this.

For a very good discussion of the influence of the Calvinistic tradition on the thinking of Benjamin, see:

  • John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of Our Founding Fathers (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987), 191-213.

JOHN ADAMS

The fuller quote from Adam’s sheds some light on Calvinism’ influence on the founders. The quote was taken out of context from a letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 19 April 1817 (entire letter):

  • Twenty times, in the course of my late Reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, “This would be the best of all possible Worlds, if there were no Religion in it”!!! But in this exclamati[on] I Should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without Religion this World would be Something not fit to be mentioned in polite Company, I mean Hell. So far from believing in the total and universal depravity on human Nature; I believe there is no Individual totally depraved.

A slightly more English friendly version is this:

“Twenty times, in the course of my late reading, have I been on the point of breaking out, ‘this would be the best of all possible Worlds, if there were no Religion in it!!!’ But in this exclamation, I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in public company – I mean hell.” (Charles Francis Adams [ed.], The Works of John Adams, 10 vols. [Boston, 1856], X, p. 254.)

  • Taken from They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions, by Paul F. Boller, Jr. & John George, p. 3.

Adam’s was using the quote as a hyperbolic analogy to make a larger point. The opposite point as displayed in the meme. And the point was the depravity of mankind in a VERY Calvinistic structure. Here, as a way to drive the point home that this topic — that is, religious influences on the founding of America — is a topic I have for seminary studied well. Here is a bibliography of books used for a class. Books that sit on my shelves, I will highlight one in particular I recommend:

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Atkinson, James. The Great Light: Luther and the Reformation (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2006).

Barton, David. America’s Godly Heritage (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilders Press, 1993).

___________. Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution, & Religion, 3rd ed. (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilders Press, 2000).

Belloc, Hilaire. The Protestant Reformation (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, 1928).

___________. Characters of the Reformation: Historical Portraits of 23 Men and Women and Their Place in the Great Religious Revolution of the 16th Century (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, 1936).

Berman, Harold J. Law and Revolution II: The Impact of the Protestant Reformations on the Western Legal Tradition (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003).

_____________. Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983).

Eidsmoe, John. Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of Our Founding Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1987).

Esolen, Anthony. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2008).

Estep, William R. Renaissance and Reformation (Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1986).

Evans, M. Stanton. The Theme is Freedom: Religion, Politics, and the American Tradition (Washington, DC: Regnery, 1994).

George, Timothy. Theology of the Reformers (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1988).

Hannah, John D. Charts of Reformation and Enlightenment Church History (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2004).

Hillerbrand, Hans J. The Reformation: A Narrative History Related by Contemporary Observances and Participants (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1964).

___________. How the Reformation Happened (New York, NY: Harper Perennial, 1968).

Hoffecker, W. Andrew. Revolutions in Worldviews: Understanding the Flow of Western Thought (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R, 2007).

House, Wayne H. Charts of Christian Theology & Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992).

_____________. Charts on Systematic Theology ( Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2006).

Lowenthal, David. No Liberty for License: the Forgotten Logic of the First Amendment (Dallas, TX: Spence Publishing, 1997).

MacCullouch, Diarmaid. The Reformation: A History (New York, NY: Penguin, 2004).

Marshall, Paul. God and the Constitution: Christianity and American Politics (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002).

McGrath, Alister E. Reformation Thought: An Introduction, 3rd ed. (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 1999).

______________, ed. The Christian Theology Reader (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1995).

Nichols, Stephen J. The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007).

Noll, Mark A. America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln (New York, NY: Oxford University Press).

Olberman, Heiko A. The Dawn of the Reformation: Essays in Late Medieval and Early Reformation Thought (Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992).

Parker, G.W.H. The Morning Star: Wycliffe and the Dawn of the Reformation (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2006).

Pelikan, Jaroslav, Reformation of Church and Dogma (1300-1700), vol. 4 (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1984).

Sandoz, Ellis, ed. Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730-1805 (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 1991).

Sharansky, Natan. Defending Identity: It’s Indispensible Role In Protecting Democracy (New York, NY: Public Affairs, 2008).

Skinner, Quentin. The Foundations of Modern Political Thought: The Age of Reformation, vol. 2 (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1978).

_____________. The Foundations of Modern Political Thought: The Renaissance, vol. 1 (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

_____________. Liberty Before Liberalism (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Spellman, W.M. John Locke and the Problem of Depravity (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1988).

Stark, Rodney. The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success (, New York, NY: Random House, 2006).

_____________. For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery (Princeton, NJ: Princeton university Press, 2004)

Tomkins, Stephen. A Short History of Christianity (Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005).

Walton, Robert C. Chronological and Background Charts of Church History: Revised and Expanded (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2005).

Witte, John Jr. Religion and American Constitutional Experiment (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2005).

___________. The Reformation of Rights: Law, Religion, and Human Rights in Early Modern Calvinism (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

___________., and Frank s. Alexander, eds. Christianity and Law: An Introduction (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

___________. From Sacrament to Contract: Marriage, Religion, and Law in the Western Tradition (Louisville, KY: WJK, 1997)

___________. God’s Joust, God’s Justice: Law and Religion in the Western Tradition (Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006).

___________. Law and Protestantism: The Legal Teachings of the Lutheran Reformation (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

Woods, Thomas J. Jr. The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2004).

Later in life, Adams wrote:

  • “I love and revere the memories of Huss, Wickliff, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Melancton, and all the other Reformers, how muchsoever I may differ from them all in many theological metaphysical & philosophical points. As you justly observe, without their great exertions & severe sufferings, the USA had never existed.” — John Adams to F. C. Schaeffer, November 25, 1821, in James Hutson, ed., The Founders on Religion: A Book of Quotations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), 15–16.

GEORGE WASHINGTON

The quote by our first official President does not even hint at secular thought? The entire letter in fact does not. An excellent site recording the non-secular events surrounding the Constitution, also note the following — to use just one example from the many via Is the Constitution a “Secular Document?”

After being sworn in, George Washington delivered his “Inaugural Address” to a joint session of Congress. In it Washington declared:

[I]t 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, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves . . . . In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. 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 . . . can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage.

[W]e 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….

    • Messages and Papers of the Presidents, George Washington, Richardson, ed., vol. 1, p.44-45

Following his address, the Annals of Congress reported that:

The President, the Vice-President, the Senate, and House of Representatives, &c., then proceeded to St. Paul’s Chapel, where Divine service was performed by the chaplain of Congress.

These people obviously didn’t get the memo about the Constitution creating a secular government…..

More on Washington can be found HERE.

In recent conversation a similar meme was sent to me that added Thomas Pain. So here is a quick dealing with this that should add more context to Mr. Pain’s complexity that is not represented in the “out of context” thoughts in full he had about the subject.

THOMAS PAIN UPDATE

Many posit that Thomas Pain was a deist. The problem is that Pain had issues with God, yes, but “deism” represented in thought of the 1700’s is a bit different than what the 21st century mind posits. Obviously he is no Evangelical Christian, but neither is he “anti-God.” For instance:

Even Thomas Paine, in his discourse on “The Study of God,” forcefully asserts that it is “the error of schools” to teach sciences without “reference to the Being who is author of them: for all the principles of science are of Divine origin.” He laments that “the evil that has resulted from the error of the schools in teaching [science without God] has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism.” Paine not only believed in God, he believed in a reality beyond the visible world.

I wrote a post defining deism through a debate I had in the very early 2000s, here is a snippet of thought from that POST:

“A being who could [as deists believe] bring the universe into existence from nothing could certainly perform lesser miracles if He chose to do so. A God who created water could part it or make it possible for a person to walk on it. The immediate multiplication of loaves of bread and fish would be no problem to a God who created matter and life in the first place. A virgin birth or even a physical resurrection from the dead would be minor miracles in comparison to the miracle of creating the universe from nothing [as deists believe]. It seems self-defeating to admit a great miracle like creation and then to deny the possibility of lesser miracles.”

(Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, by Norman L. Geisler, p. 189.)

Author Joshua Charles also succinctly catalogued Thomas Pain’s complexity of thought on the matter:

Even Thomas Paine, who in the second half of his life was an ardent opponent of orthodox Christianity (mostly Catholicism) and the clergy and did not believe the Bible was divinely inspired, wrote at the same time, “All the principles of science are of divine origin. Man cannot make or invent or contrive principles. He can only discover them, and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.”

Paine criticized any teaching of “natural philosophy” (i.e., science) that asserted that the universe was simply “an accomplishment” (i.e., self-existent). He also criticized those teachers who “labor with studied ingenuity to ascribe everything they behold to innate properties of matter and jump over all the rest by saying that matter is eternal” and thereby encouraged the “evil” of atheism. “Instead of looking through the works of creation to the Creator Himself, they stop short and employ the knowl­edge they acquire to create doubts of His existence,” he lamented. “When we examine an extraordinary piece of machinery, an astonishing pile of architecture, a well-executed statue, or a highly-finished painting… our ideas are naturally led to think of the extensive genius and talent of the artist. When we study the elements of geometry, we think of Euclid. When we speak of gravitation, we think of Newton. How, then, is it that when we study the works of God in creation, we stop short and do not think of God?”….


For more context, read Joshua Charles, Liberty’s Secrets: The Lost Wisdom of America’s Founders (Washington, DC: WND Books, 2015), 82-91.

Here is some more in-depth study of God and shows that what is ripped out of a lifetime does not do justice to the topic but merely reinforces presuppositions. First, a definition for the below:

  • theophilanthropist: a member of a deistic society established in Paris during the period of the Directory aiming to institute in place of Christianity

Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vol. III: Literature of the Revolutionary Period, 1765–1787

The Study of God
By Thomas Paine (1737–1809)

[A Discourse delivered to the Society of Theophilanthropists at Paris.]

RELIGION has two principal enemies, Fanaticism and Infidelity, or that which is called atheism. The first requires to be combated by reason and morality, the other by natural philosophy.

The existence of a God is the first dogma of the Theophilanthropists….

The universe is the Bible of a true Theophilanthropist. It is there that he reads of God. It is there that the proofs of his existence are to be sought and to be found. As to written or printed books, by whatever name they are called, they are the works of man’s hands, and carry no evidence in themselves that God is the author of any of them. It must be in something that man could not make that we must seek evidence for our belief, and that something is the universe; the true Bible; the inimitable work of God.

Contemplating the universe, the whole system of creation, in this point of light, we shall discover that all that which is called natural philosophy is properly a divine study. It is the study of God through his works. It is the best study by which we can arrive at a knowledge of his existence, and the only one by which we can gain a glimpse of his perfection.

Do we want to contemplate his power? We see it in the immensity of the creation. Do we want to contemplate his wisdom? We see it in the unchangeable order by which the incomprehensible whole is governed. Do we want to contemplate his munificence? We see it in the abundance with which he fills the earth. Do we want to contemplate his mercy? We see it in his not withholding that abundance even from the unthankful. In fine, do we want to know what God is? Search not written or printed books, but the scripture called the Creation.

It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles. He can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.

When we examine an extraordinary piece of machinery, an astonishing pile of architecture, a well executed statue, or a highly finished painting, where life and action are imitated, and habit only prevents our mistaking a surface of light and shade for cubical solidity, our ideas are naturally led to think of the extensive genius and talents of the artist. When we study the elements of geometry, we think of Euclid. When we speak of gravitation, we think of Newton. How then is it, that when we study the works of God in the creation, we stop short, and do not think of God? It is from the error of the schools in having taught those subjects as accomplishments only, and thereby separated the study of them from the Being who is the author of them.

The schools have made the study of theology to consist in the study of opinions in written or printed books; whereas theology should be studied in the works or books of the creation. The study of theology in books of opinions has often produced fanaticism, rancor, and cruelty of temper; and from hence have proceeded the numerous persecutions, the fanatical quarrels, the religious burnings and massacres that have desolated Europe. But the study of theology in the works of the creation produces a direct contrary effect. The mind becomes at once enlightened and serene; a copy of the scene it beholds: information and adoration go hand in hand; and all the social faculties become enlarged.

The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only, has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of the creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of his existence. They labor with studied ingenuity to ascribe everything they behold to innate properties of matter; and jump over all the rest, by saying that matter is eternal.

In a great synopsis of how complex people change over time, Pain’s pro-God arguments happened during the American Revolution and independence. Only later did he become more secular and defended atrocities like those in France. CHRISTIAN HERITAGE FELLOWSHIP opines well (the entire article is worth reading as well as following up with the footnotes):

….What many now fail to realize is that the Thomas Paine of the 1770s and 1780s (or the era of the American Revolution) was not the later Thomas Paine of the 1790s and early nineteenth century. Characteristic of much of his life, Paine soon found himself at odds with leading figures of the American Revolution. Following the War of Independence, he returned to England, where he was born. A few years later, he ventured to France (1790) where he was caught-up in the events of the French Revolution. Unlike the American Revolution, the French Revolution of 1789 and the many years that followed were the result of the godless influence of Voltaire, Rousseau, and the European “Intellectuals.” From these wells of irreligion that sprang from the French Revolution, Paine drank freely and deeply—a fact that was reflected in his subsequent writings.

Though Paine produced other works, two writings defended the anti-Christian French Revolution and the philosophy that justified its horrors. The first of these two works, Rights of Man (1791), included thirty-one articles that argued in defense of revolution when a government does not safeguard the natural rights of its people.[5] The second work, The Age of Reason—published in three parts in 1794, 1795, and 1807, was a traditional deistic attack upon Christianity, institutional religion, and denied the legitimacy of the Bible. Particularly the latter work amounted to a betrayal of the Founding Father’s understanding of the foundation of human government.

No King, But God!

It is not possible to argue that the latter Thomas Paine was the “real” influence upon the origin of America. No; it was the younger, Thomas Paine who exerted a religious influence upon the formation of America that was consistent with the Christian convictions of other Founding Fathers. Paine’s Common Sense made no attempt to disparage or ridicule the Bible, but rather, employed Scripture and Christian thought to develop his arguments in favor of American independence. While a detailed analysis of this book would further support this claim, only a couple of extended quotes should be sufficient to convince the most candid readers.

First, the fact that the Bible is used favorably by Paine as part of his collage detailing his understanding of human government which began with the “Sovereign, the King of heaven”:

The children of Israel being oppressed by the Midianites, Gideon marched against them with a small army, and victory, thro’ the divine interposition [providence], decided in his favor. The Jews elate with success, and attributing it to the generalship of Gideon, proposed making him a king, saying, Rule thou over us, thou and thy son and thy son’s son. Here was temptation in its fullest extent; not a kingdom only, but a hereditary one, but Gideon in the piety of his soul replied, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you. The Lord shall rule over you. Words need not be more explicit; Gideon doth not decline the honor, but denieth their right to give it; neither doth he compliment them with invented declarations of his thanks, but in the positive stile of a prophet charges them with disaffection to their proper Sovereign, the King of heaven.[6]

Second, Paine extended his argument in favor of the rule of the “Sovereign, the King of heaven” to include his right to rule in America. Writing eleven years prior to the drafting of the United States Constitution, Paine referred to a written form of government he called a “Charter.” What is critical to Paine’s understanding of human government is the fact that he believed the supreme law giver was the One who “reigns above,” and He has made his law known through “the Divine Law, the Word of God.”

But where, say some, is the King of America? I’ll tell you, friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Great Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the Charter; let it be brought forth placed on the Divine Law, the Word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the Crown at the conclusion of the ceremony be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is.[7]

Conclusion

For Thomas Paine, there was “No king, but God!” He believed that human government must proceed from divine government, or “the Charter” (or Constitution) must be founded upon or arise out of, or be “placed on the Divine Law, the Word of God.”

Thomas Paine did have a great impact upon the origin of America as an independent nation, but it was the religious, not irreligious Thomas Paine that exercised this influence. And, given the fact that Americans were Trinitarians (believing in God the Father, Son, and Spirit), they believed Jesus was God, and, therefore, there was little or no difference between the expressions, “No king, but Jesus” and “No king, but God.”

So the meme is lacking context, obviously.

JAMES MADISON UPDATE

Another new portion of a meme I hadn’t seen before dealt with a portrayal of Madison and the “separation of religion and state.” You wanna talk about “ripped out of context”? Hoo boy.

  • “There is no principle in all of Madison’s wide range of private opinions and long public career,” writes biographer Ralph Ketcham, “to which he held with greater vigor and tenacity than this one of religious liberty.” (HERITAGE FOUNDATION)

While Madison fought against anti-Catholic sentiments and inserting the word “Jesus Christ” in an amended preamble of Virginia’s Bill for Religious Liberty, he was not for separation of church n state as progressives see it. For instance, in a letter of Madison to William Bradford (September 25, 1773), Madison spoke of the desire that all public officials – including Bradford – would declare
openly and publicly their Christian beliefs and testimony:

  • I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way.

James Madison is the author of how we view “conscience” in our public life. To wit:

In addition to his passion for religious liberty, Madison underscored that “conscience is the most sacred of all property.” Because religious rights were central to Madison’s worldview, he saw the inherent link between freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

In particular, Madison was convinced that keeping government out of the affairs of the church (or religion) was the only way that people could follow the dictates of their conscience. He viewed established state religion as a denial of the fundamental, God-given right of conscience. Due to this, he concluded that the institution of the church should be separate from the state and not directed by the government in any way, a principle that was enshrined in his original draft of the First Amendment.

Expanding a bit on this is my post from years back, SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE:

The First Amendment never intended to separate Christian principles from government. Yet today we so often hear the First Amendment coupled with the phrase “separation of church and state. The First Amendment simply states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Obviously, the words “separation,” “church,” or “state” are not found in the First Amendment; furthermore, that phrase appears in no founding document! While most recognize the phrase “separation of church and state,” few know its source; but it is important to understand the origins of that phrase. What is the history of the First Amendment?

The process of drafting the First Amendment made the intent of the Founders abundantly clear; for before they approved the final wording, the First Amendment went through nearly a dozen different iterations and extensive discussions.

Those discussions – recorded in the Congressional Records from June 7 through September 25, 1789 – make clear their intent for the First Amendment. For example, the original version (followed by later versions) introduced in the Senate on September 3, 1789, stated:

  • “Congress shall not make any law establishing any religious denomination.”
  • “Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination.”
  • “Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination in preference to another.”
  • “Congress shall make no law establishing religion [denomination] or prohibiting the free exercise there of.”

By it, the Founders were saying: “We do not want in America what we had in Great Britain: we don’t want one denomination running the nation. We will not have Catholics, or Anglicans, or any other single denomination. We do want God’s principles, but we don’t want one denomination running the nation.”

Of interest is the proposal that George Mason – a member of the Constitutional Convention and “The Father of the Bill of Rights” – put forth for the First Amendment:

  • “All men have equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that no particular sect or society of Christians [denomination] ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.”

Their intent was well understood, as evidence by court rulings after the First Amendment. For example, a 1799 court declared:

  • “By our form of government, the Christian principles – we do want God’s principles – but we don’t want one denomination to run the nation.”

Again, note the emphasis: “We do want Christian principles – we do want God’s principles – but we don’t want one denomination to run the nation.”

[….]

On the day the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, they underwent an immediate transformation. The day before, each of them had been a British citizen, living in a British colony, with thirteen crown-appointed British state governments. However, when they signed that document and separated from Greta Britain, they lost all of their State governments.

Consequently, they returned home from Philadelphia to their own States and began to create new State constitutions. Samuel Adams and John Adams helped write the Massachusetts constitution; Benjamin Rush and James Wilson helped write Pennsylvania’s constitution; George Read and Thomas McKean helped write Delaware’s constitution; the same is true in other States as well. The Supreme Court in Church of Holy Trinity v. United States (1892) pointed to these State constitutions as precedents to demonstrate the Founders’ intent.

Notice, for example, what Thomas McKean and George Read placed in the Delaware constitution:

  • “Every person, who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust… shall… make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit: ‘I do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed forever more, and I acknowledge the Holy Scripture of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.’”

Take note of some other State constitutions. The Pennsylvania constitution authored by Benjamin Rush and James Wilson declared:

  • “And each member [of the legislature], before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz: ‘I do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the Universe, the rewarded of the good and the punisher of the wicked, and I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration.’”

The Massachusetts constitution, authored by Samuel Adams – the Father of the American Revolution – and John Adams, stated:

  • “All persons elected must make and subscribe the following declaration, viz. ‘I do declare that I believe the Christian religion and have firm persuasions of its truth.’”

North Carolina’s constitution required that:

  • “No person, who shall deny the being of God, or the truth of the [Christian] religion, or the Divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office, or place of trust or profit in the civil department, within this State.”

You had to apply God’s principles to public service, otherwise you were not allowed to be a part of the civil government. In 1892, the Supreme Court (Church of Holy Trinity v. United States) pointed out that of the forty-four States that were then in the Union, each had some type of God-centered declaration in its constitution. Not just any God, or a general God, say a “higher power,” but thee Christian God as understood in the Judeo-Christian principles and Scriptures. This same Supreme Court was driven to explain the following:

  • “This is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation…. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people…. These and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”

Madison was intimately involved in those iterations. Remember as well that Madison was a member of the committee that authored the 1776 Virginia Bill of Rights and approved of its clause declaring that:

  • It is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.

In 1789, Madison served on the Congressional committee which authorized, approved, and selected paid Congressional chaplains. in 1812, President Madison signed a federal bill which economically aided a Bible Society in its goal of the mass distribution of the Bible. Throughout his Presidency (1809-1816), Madison endorsed public and official religious expressions by issuing several proclamations for national days of prayer, fasting, and thanksgiving. (Much more can be found at WALLBUILDERS)

An Olympian Should Be Honored to Represent the USA (Fireside Chat)

Folks, this might be the most important Independence Day to celebrate than ever before. It doesn’t (and never did) mean that you agree with every single thing that America has done. But what this country HAS gotten right is a miraculous achievement, and we are all unfathomably lucky beneficiaries. Have a happy and reflective Fourth!

A Tale of Two Revolutions

There is besides something special in this malady of the French Revolution that I feel without being able to describe it well or to analyze its causes. It is a virus of a new and unknown kind. There were violent revolutions in the world, but the immoderate, violent, radical, desperate, audacious, almost mad, and nonetheless powerful and effective character of these revolutionaries is without precedent, it seems to me, in the great social agitations of past centuries. From whence came this new race? What produced it? What made it so effective? What is perpetuating it? For we are still faced with the same men, although the circumstances are different, and they have founded a family in the whole civilized world. My mind is worn out with forming a clear notion of this object and with looking for ways of painting it well. Independent of every thing that is accounted for in the French Revolution, there is something unaccounted for in its spirit and its acts. I sense where the unknown object is, but try as I may, I cannot raise the veil that covers it. I feel this object as if through a strange body, preventing me from either touching it well or seeing it.

Alexis de Tocqueville, Selected Letters on Politics and Society, ed. Roger Boesche, trans. James Toupin and Roger Boesche (Berkeley, CA: The Regents of the University of California, 1985), 373 (SITE TO ACCESS)

This weekend we celebrate America’s birthday. But how many more will she have? We Christians will have to make some clear choices if the founders’ vision for America is to continue into the future. Discover the tale of two incompatible visions, on this week’s Truths That Transform.

Dialogue, debate, reasonableness… versus anarchy

Ezra Levant of TheRebel.media and Andrew Klavan, of the Daily Wire, compare the American and French Revolution. Not a “radical break with the past or history/tradition”

This following excerpt from Liberty’s Secrets is one that squarely displaces the typical secular attack on Jefferson being a man of faith to some degree. In this excerpt Thomas Paine’s position on Christianity and God is dealt with as an extra bonus, as well as some of the Founders predictions of the then young French Revolution. This is a really good read, and I highly recommend the book.

Before the excerpt, I want to share a favorite sentence that I think best defines the Founders accomplishments in the Constitution. Here it is:

  • The Constitution is the integration of ideals with reality, the ideal being human liberty, the reality being human nature. (p. 69)

If that isn’t the best definition in one sentence of the Constitution, I don’t know what is!

GOD AND THE HUMAN SOUL: THE EXISTENCE OF THE UNIVERSE AND MORALITY

Belief in God and the immortality of the human soul was universal among the Founders, which is incontrovertibly evident from the most cursory review of their writings. While not all of them were orthodox Christians, their thoughts on atheism ranged from extreme caution to outright disdain. For them, belief in God was natural to man because it was in accordance with his nature, and they agreed with Tocqueville when he noted (while describing the virtual absence of atheism in America) that “men cannot detach themselves from religious beliefs except by some wrong-headed thinking, and by a sort of moral violence inflicted upon their true nature Unbelief is an accident; faith is the only permanent state of mankind.”

They saw the fingerprints of God everywhere they looked, and their conclusion that He existed was not even necessarily dependent on the Bible or any specific set of religious dogma but on the very nature of the cosmos. Writing to his friend John Adams toward the end of his life, Jefferson explained his views:Josh Charles Liberty Secret Book 300

I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in its parts general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consum­mate skill, and the indefinite power in every atom of its compositionWe see, too, evident proofs of the necessity of a superintending power to maintain the Universe in its course and order So irresistible are these evidences of an intelligent and powerful Agent that, of the infinite numbers of men who have existed through all time, they have believed, in the proportion of a million at least to unit, in the hypothesis of an eternal pre-existence of a creator, rather than in that of a self-existent Universe. Surely this unanimous sentiment renders this more probable than that of a few in the other hypothesis Even Thomas Paine, who in the second half of his life was an ardent opponent of orthodox Christianity (mostly Catholicism) and the clergy and did not believe the Bible was divinely inspired, wrote at the same time, “All the principles of science are of divine origin. Man cannot make or invent or contrive principles. He can only discover them, and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.”

Paine criticized any teaching of “natural philosophy” (i.e., science) that asserted that the universe was simply “an accomplishment” (i.e., self-existent). He also criticized those teachers who “labor with studied ingenuity to ascribe everything they behold to innate properties of matter and jump over all the rest by saying that matter is eternal” and thereby encouraged the “evil” of atheism. “Instead of looking through the works of creation to the Creator Himself, they stop short and employ the knowl­edge they acquire to create doubts of His existence,” he lamented. “When we examine an extraordinary piece of machinery, an astonishing pile of architecture, a well-executed statue, or a highly-finished paintingour ideas are naturally led to think of the extensive genius and talent of the artist. When we study the elements of geometry, we think of Euclid. When we speak of gravitation, we think of Newton. How, then, is it that when we study the works of God in creation, we stop short and do not think of God?”

For these reasons, among others, Jefferson rejected being an atheist, “which,” as he put it, “I can never be.” His friend John Adams noted, “I never heard of an irreligious character in Greek or Roman history, nor in any other history, nor have I known one in life who was not a rascal. Name one if you can, living or dead.”” Nor did the Founders see sci­ence and religion as opposed to one another, as is all too common today. Rather, as President Adams asserted in a letter to university students, they were not only mutually compatible, but mutually necessary for one another: “When you look up to me with confidence as the patron of science, liberty, and religion, you melt my heart. These are the choicest blessings of humanity; they have an inseparable union. Without their joint influence no society can be great, flourishing, or happy.”

Just as much as the existence of God was essential to their under­standing of the physical constitution of the universe, its combination with their belief in the immortality of the soul was crucial to their understanding of the moral constitution of the world, as it was the means by which God judged the good and evil acts committed in this life, whether noticed by man or not. Tocqueville ascribed a great deal of the accomplishments of the Puritans/Pilgrims and their progeny (the Founders) to this belief, which he described as so “indispensable to man’s greatness that its effects are striking,” for it kept him morally anchored, never able to escape ultimate justice. It was for this reason that the Founders considered belief in God as the cornerstone of all morality, but not because man could do no good apart from God commanding him to do so. Quite the contrary: part of their conception of the “law of nature and nature’s God” was the idea that all men had at least portions of this law inscribed into their very being, and that most men knew the basics of right and wrong because God had given them a conscience. The problem was that, because of their fallen nature, they did not obey their consciences as they should. Adams elaborated:

The law of nature would be sufficient for the government of men if they would consult their reason and obey their consciences. It is not the fault of the law of nature, but of themselves, that it is not obeyed; it is not the fault of the law of nature that men are obliged to have recourse to civil government at all, but of themselves; it is not the fault of the ten commandments, but of themselves, that Jews or Christians are ever known to steal, murder, covet, or blaspheme. But the legislator who should say the law of nature is enough, if you do not obey it, it will be your own fault, therefore no other government is necessary, would be thought to trifle.

This brings us to a very important fact that we must remember when it comes to the Founders: they did not believe that religion made men good, but rather that it provided the best encouragement and incentive to be good, for it taught them that their choices had consequences in eternity, not just in the moment. Even if consequences could be avoided in the now, God would exact justice in the hereafter.

This had been a Judeo-Christian teaching from time immemorial and was well known to the Founders. The problem was not that man had no knowledge of good and evil and therefore needed a religious commandment to tell him, but rather that human nature commonly bowed to the dictates of the passions, rather than reason, and thereby abandoned conscience and committed evil anyway. The Founders realized that our human nature could, and often did, pervert the plain dictates of conscience, allowing us to convince ourselves that right is wrong and wrong is right if it suits our own desires. As Adams noted, “Human reason and human conscience, though I believe there are such things, are not a match for human passions, human imaginations, and human enthusiasm.” Our passions would corrupt our minds, our minds would justify our passions, and in turn our passions would become even more corrupt, a deadly cycle with horrific consequences for indi­viduals and society. “Our passions, ambition, avarice, love, resentment, etc. possess so much metaphysical subtlety and so much overpowering eloquence that they insinuate themselves into the understanding and the conscience and convert both to their party,” Adams wrote. “And I may be deceived as much as any of them when I say that power must never be trusted without a check.”

That “check,” at least as far as voluntary self-restraint was concerned, was religion. The Founders understood that mankind’s capacity for self-delusion was boundless; therefore, moral obligations must be placed on a divine rather than a humanistic footing if anyone could assert any truth or notion of right and wrong at all. It was for this reason that religious commandments such as “do not murder,” “do not steal,” and “do not commit adultery” were necessary, not because man was completely incapable of avoiding these sins without God commanding him to, but because, since He had commanded them, man had no intellectual excuse for ever allowing his passions or personal desires to blind his judg­ment and excuse him of his moral obligations. Religion thus anchored the definition of morality on God and asserted its obligations on man by acting as a powerful regulator of the inherently negative aspects of human nature. James Madison explained the importance of this truth: “The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities to be impressed with it.”

Adams asserted the same thing and specifically acknowledged that Judaism, through the Bible, had bequeathed to the world what he con­sidered the most essential ingredient of human civilization:

I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations. If I were an atheist of the other sect, who believe or pretend to believe that all is ordered by chance, I should believe that chance had ordered the Jews to preserve and propagate to all mankind the doctrine of a supreme, intelligent, wise, almighty sovereign of the universe, which I believe to be the great essential principle of all morality, and consequently of all civilization.

For the Founders, the most effective catalyst of virtue was religion, for it reminded man that he is not God and he therefore cannot shape morality according to his own selfish desires. It was the subversion of this principle that they identified as the cause behind the American and French Revolutions taking such radically different courses: it was ultimately a difference of theology.

GOD AND THE AMERICAN AND FRENCH REVOLUTIONS

The Founders believed in the existence of a God, which they deemed the most rational basis for the existence of the universe, morality, and reason itself. The French Revolution was predicated on almost the exact opposite idea.

While many today assume that the notion of blind chance being the operative force in the universe’s creation and development arrived on the scene with Charles Darwin, this is not the case. In fact, it was a notion quite popular among many of the continental European intellectuals of the time, most of whom were French, and most of whom tended to be atheists and/or materialists (which were practically the same). They contended that the universe had not been created but had either existed eternally or was the result of inherent properties in matter itself. But among the French intelligentsia, the one who had the most profound effect on the Founders, Montesquieu, directly contradicted this position in his famous work, The Spirit of the Laws: “Those who have said that a blind fate has produced all the effects that we see in the world have said a great absurdity,” he wrote, “for what greater absurdity is there than a blind fate that could have produced intelligent beings?”

For Montesquieu and the Founders, the universe was simply too full of information, order, and harmony to ascribe it to blind chance. “What is chance?” asked Adams. “It is motion; it is action; it is event; it is phenomenon without cause. Chance is no cause at all; it is nothing.”

In addition to their denial, or at least extreme doubt of the exis­tence of a Creator, many of the French intellectuals in like manner either doubted or denied the existence and immortality of the human soul. They therefore denied the two theological pillars upon which the Founders based their ideas of virtue, and as such, it was no surprise that the French Revolution, which claimed to be the heir of the American Revolution, devolved into a bloodbath of violence and oppression unrestrained by any religious principle.

While both revolutions were similar in their assertion of human rights, they offered fundamentally different explanations of the origin of such rights. The American Revolution was premised on men being “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” while the French Revolution asserted man’s rights were based purely on reason, apart from any notions of divinity or religion. A statue of a deified “Reason” was erected in the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, and the revolution was predicated upon principles that were explicitly and directly opposed to religion, Christianity in particular. Adams noted the differences between the two revolutions when he wrote to his friend Richard Price that “Diderot and D’Alembert, Voltaire and Rousseau,” all French atheists and materialists, “have contributed to this great event more than Sidney, Locke, or Hoadly,” English political philosophers who explicitly asserted that the “laws of nature and nature’s God” were the foundation of man’s rights and moral obligations, and who had a profound impact on the American Revolution. The French, on the other hand, based man’s rights on the consensus of “the nation.” The rights of man were what man, through the nation, had decided they would be. For this reason, Adams admitted to Price as early as 1790, “I own to you, I know not what to make of a republic of thirty million atheists,” and he predicted there would be rampant violence and bloodshed.

But that was not all. Several of the Founders, Adams in particular, believed that the principles of the French Revolution not only directly undermined the basis of human rights and obligations but also destroyed the very idea of human liberty. If man was simply matter in motion, then his entire destiny had already been determined by physical laws and constants (today known as “determinism”), making liberty a mean­ingless idea. And yet, this was the view of many of the leading French intellectuals. “And what was their philosophy?” Adams inquired:

Atheism—pure, unadulterated atheism…. The universe was matter only, and eternal. Spirit was a word without a meaning. Liberty was a word without a meaning. There was no liberty in the universe; liberty was a word void of sense. Every thought, word, passion, sentiment, feeling, all motion and action was necessary [determinism]. All beings and attributes were of eternal necessity; conscience, morality, were all nothing but fate. This was their creed, and this was to perfect human nature, and convert the earth into a paradise of pleasureWhy, then, should we abhor the word “God,” and fall in love with the word “fate”? We know there exists energy and intellect enough to produce such a world as this, which is a sublime and beautiful one, and a very benevolent one, notwithstanding all our snarling; and a happy one, if it is not made otherwise by our own fault.

Alexander Hamilton, who described the French Revolution as “the most cruel, sanguinary, and violent that ever stained the annals of mankind,” also predicted its failure due to the fact that it was explicitly

opposed to Christianity, “a state of things which annihilates the foun­dations of social order and true liberty, confounds all moral distinc­tions and substitutes to the mild and beneficent religion of the Gospel a gloomy, persecuting, and desolating atheism:’

It was precisely because the French Revolution rejected the Judeo-Christian notion of the fallen nature of man in exchange for the idea that he could be perfected by reason that they engaged in the wanton violence and cruelty of the guillotine: it was all worth it because they were creating a new, ideal world that had to be purged of its impure elements.

The French Revolution was thereby founded on principles that fun­damentally contradicted the divine basis of the existence of the universe, man’s rights, his moral obligations, and his very liberty, upon which the Founders, partaking of both the classical and Judeo-Christian tradition, asserted them. With God removed, several of the Founders, Adams in particular, predicted the French Revolution would operate according to the bloody principles of “might makes right.” “A nation of atheists,” he had warned, would likely lead to “the destruction of a million of human beings.” Adams explained his prophecy of a forthcoming deluge of blood in biblical terms and ascribed it to the utter rejection of religion by the leaders of the French Revolution:

The temper and principles prevailing at present in that quarter of the world have a tendency to as general and total a destruction as ever befell Tyre and Sidon[,] Sodom and Gomorrah. If all religion and governments, all arts and sciences are destroyed, the trees will grow up, cities will molder into common earth, and a few human beings may be left naked to chase the wild beasts with bows and arrows…. I hope in all events that religion and learning will find an asylum in America.

In this, he disagreed (at the time) with Jefferson. But even Jefferson was forced to admit decades later, after the Reign of Terror, the Napoleonic Wars, and the other violent outbursts that came out of the French Revolution, that Adams had been completely right in his assessment, acknowledging, “Your prophecies proved truer than mine.” When Jefferson asked Adams why he had predicted what he did, Adams explained that the power of God had been replaced by the arrogant, usurping power of man, and conscience was thereby discon­nected from its transcendent anchors. Thus, those in power believed whatever they did was moral: “Power always sincerely, conscientiously, de tres bon foi [“in very good faith”], believes itself right. Power always thinks it has a great soul, and vast views, beyond the comprehension of the weak, and that it is doing God’s service, when it is violating all his laws.” It was for this reason that, as much as religion had been abused for centuries in European history, Adams argued it could not compare with the atrocities committed in the name of “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” during the French Revolution: “It is a serious problem to resolve whether all the abuses of Christianity, even in the darkest ages when the Pope deposed princes and laid nations under his interdict, were ever so bloody and cruel, ever bore down the independence of the human mind with such terror and intolerance, or taught doctrines which required such implicit credulity to believe, as the present reign of pretended philosophy in France.”

As president, Adams had to deal directly with the revolutionary French government and easily noted the difference between an American society that assented to general religious principles and a French society that rejected them:

You may find the moral principles, sanctified and sanctioned by reli­gion, are the only bond of union, the only ground of confidence of the people in one another, of the people in the government, and the government in the people. Avarice, ambition, and pleasure, can never be the foundations of reformations or revolutions for the better. These passions have dictated the aim at universal domination, trampled on the rights of neutrality, despised the faith of solemn contracts, insulted ambassadors, and rejected offers of friendship.

For the Founders, the purpose of reason—which Adams referred to as “a revelation from its maker” and Jefferson as an “oracle given you by heaven”-was to better align human actions with the “law of nature and nature’s God” by the taming of human passions and the application of knowledge. The leaders of the French Revolution believed precisely the opposite, that God didn’t really exist (and if He did, He was largely irrelevant), and that reason was man’s alone, and thus his to utilize toward whatever ends he himself determined. Though the Founders knew perfection “falls not to the share of mortals,” the French believed that man could be perfected through reason, and therefore any bar­riers to creating the world of their dreams needed to be destroyed, for this was tantamount to obstructing man’s perfection. The differences between the two revolutions thus turned out to be theological at root, and for this reason, while on the surface they were superficially similar, they were in fact fundamentally different, as Adams prophesied, other Founders criticized, and the facts of history verified.

Joshua Charles, Liberty’s Secrets: The Lost Wisdom of America’s Founders (Washington, DC: WND Books, 2015), 82-91.

Dennis Prager interviews Ann Coulter in regards to her new book, Demonic.” Ann points out a fact I wasn’t aware of in regards to the mob mentality that set the standard for the French Revolution. Much like the misunderstanding in regards to the Crusades, the witch trials, and the like, numbers are not the forte of the left. Nor is putting into context meaning behind them.

Majority of Democrats Are NOT Proud To Be Americans

(Originally Posted July 2018)

UPDATERepublicans, Holding the Patriotic Line!

…Currently, 32% of Democrats — down from 43% in 2017 and 56% in 2013 — are extremely proud. The decline preceded the election of Donald Trump but has accelerated in the past year.

Less than half of independents, 42%, are also extremely proud. That is down slightly from 48% a year ago, and 50% in 2013.

As has typically been the case, Republicans are more inclined to say they are extremely proud to be Americans than are Democrats and independents. Seventy-four percent of Republicans are extremely proud, which is numerically the highest over the last five years….

(GALLUP)

This is the Democrat base… and influences Democratic politics. It boos God/Israel being in the Democrat platform. It tries to get rid of God from the pledge (“Democrats and independents were more likely than Republicans to think the phrase should be taken out”). It tries to force religious people to pay for abortions. Here is BREITBART:

This Fourth of July, according to a recent Pew survey, 60% of full-spectrum “Solid Liberals” are not proud to be Americans.

The Pew Research survey found that just 40% of so-called Solid Liberals “often feel proud to be American” while “60% say that characterization does not fit them.”

According to the comprehensive survey, 69% of Solid Liberals are white, and 41% are under 40 years of age. They make up 15% of the general public and 17% of registered voters. Almost unanimously they love President Barack Obama – 84% approve Obama’s job performance, “with 51% approving very strongly.”

Among all Americans, Obama is considered to be the worst president since World War II, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll (2014).

In addition, 80% of this group believe that “racial discrimination is the main reason why many blacks can’t get ahead these days,” 87% think abortion should be legal in almost all circumstances, and 83% say “the government should do more to help the needy, even if it means going deeper into debt.”

Pew also found that 52% of Solid Liberals “have college degrees and 21% have graduate degrees” while “45% say if they could live anywhere they wanted, they would live in a city.” While 93% of Solid Liberals believe that “stricter” environmental regulations are worth the cost, only “12% say the description ‘hunter, fisher or sportsman’ fits them well, the lowest share of any typology group.”

(Click Graph To Enlarge)

Conservatives are significantly prouder to be Americans.

Pew’s survey found that “81% of Business Conservatives and 72% of Steadfast Conservatives say the phrase ‘often feel proud to be American’ describes them well.” Pew also concluded that the “feelings of pride in being American – and a belief that honor and duty are core values – are much more widespread among the two conservative groups than the other typology groups.”

An excerpt from the book, Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History: 1585-1828 (found here), by Walter A. McDougall. (H/T Michael Medved)

…The creation of the United States of America is the central event of the past four hundred years. If some ghostly ship, some Flying Dutchman, were transported in time from the year 1600 into the present, the crew would be amazed by our technology and the sheer numbers of people on the globe, but the array of civilizations would be recognizable.

There is today, as there was then: a huge Chinese Empire run by an authoritarian but beleaguered bureaucracy; a homogeneous, anxious, suspicious Japan; a teeming crazy-quilt of Hindus and Muslims in India attempting to make a state of themselves; an amorphous Russian empire pulsing outward or inward in proportion to Muscovy’s projection of force; a vast Islamic crescent hostile to infidels but beset by rival centers of power; a dynamic, more-or-less Christian civilization in Europe aspiring to unity but vexed by its dense congeries of nations and tongues; and finally an Iberian/Amerindian culture in South America marked by relative poverty and strategic impotence.

The only continent that would astound the Renaissance time-travelers would be North America, which was primitive and nearly vacant as late as 1607, but which today hosts the mightiest, richest, most creative civilization on earth – a civilization, moreover, that perturbs the trajectories of all other civilizations just by existing.

One might object that the most salient features of modern history have not been territorial and demographic, but intellectual and political: the invention and spread of enlightened ideas of human rights and democratic self-government on the one hand, and the scientific and technological explosions in human power on the other hand. That is so, but the rise of America goes far to explain the rapidity and scale of their triumphs…

Progressivism vs. Declaration (4th of July Primer)

(School is in!) Mark Levin shares his study of the U.S. Constitution and it’s Founding. The American Founding. Levin discusses the miracle of the death of the two men key to the Declaration’s appearance (Jefferson and Adams) on the Fourth of July. He then treads into progressive waters and the current dislike of our American Founding as compared to history. He reads from Woodrow Wilson (our first Ph.D. President) and his disdain for the Founding document and Principles. Then a reading from — really a counter point — Calvin Coolidge to cement the idea that these are eternal principles. Levin wonders aloud how Leftists can even celebrate the 4th in good conscience.

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers. — Calvin Coolidge (POWERLINE)

BTW, if one does not know the history of the fourth in regard to Jefferson and Adams, or the eternal principles BEHIND the Declaration, here are some decent videos:

Stossel Discusses Our Freedoms Mentioned in Founding Documents

(Originally Posted July 2018)

This 4th of July, when you watch the fireworks, will you think about the Declaration of Independence? No other country was founded on limited government and free speech.

This Constitution Day, John Stossel asks: what’s the most important part of the 230-year-old document?

John interviews Collin Lehmann, the winner of the “Censored in America” essay contest. Lehmann’s essay makes an eloquent advocacy for maximum First Amendment freedom.

 

FLASHBACK: Trump’s July 4th Was Like A Banana Republic?

(Originally posted July of 2019)

TRUMP’s July 4th celebration:

ZERO HEDGE notes the media’s slam of Trump’s 4th of July celebration:

“Putin’s America,” tweeted Anand Giridharadas, a pundit who was genetically engineered in a Monsanto laboratory to appeal to NPR listeners on every possible level.

Giridharadas used these words yesterday to caption a short video clip of two tanks being carted through the streets of DC in preparation for their appearance in a parade for Independence Day, a holiday in which Americans gather to eat hot dogs and drink Mountain Dew in celebration of the anniversary of their lateral transfer from monarchy to corporatist oligarchy.

The military hardware parade is taking place at the behest of President Bolton’s social media assistant Donald Trump, and critics have been vocally decrying it as alien and un-American. Pundits like Giridharadas and Steve Silberman have been saying it’s something Russia would do. The Independent said it’s a spectacle you’d see in “authoritarian regimes such as North Korea, Iran and China.” Adam Best and Charles Pierce both likened it to something that would be done in a “banana republic”, an interesting choice of phrase for a gratuitous display of American military bravado given that term’s blood-soaked origins in US corporate colonialism.

All of these people are of course being ridiculous. There’s nothing alien or un-American about Trump’s parade at all. Jingoistic fetishization of the military is as American as a deep-fried trademark symbol.

All this parade is, actually, is just one of the many, many, many many times over the last two and a half years that Trump has shown America its true face, and Americans haven’t liked what they’ve seen.

“That’s not my reflection!” the Americans scream at the mirror he holds up for them. “That’s Putin!”

“That’s not my reflection!” they protest. “That’s North Korea!”

“That’s not my reflection!” they say. “That’s a banana republic!”

No, America. That’s you. It’s been you all along……..

FDR’s third inaugural parade:

EISENHOWER’s inaugural parade:

JFK’s inauguration:

George W. Bush’s military parade:


MEDIA HYPE


NEWSBUSTERS has a montage of media predictions that were in reality, just a projection of how the view Republicans:

The media hastily have distanced themselves from their projections of street brawls and naked partisanship at the Salute to America event following a largely patriotic, unobjectionable July 4 speech by President Trump. Since TV news audiences are unlikely to hear talking heads acknowledge their numerous false predictions, here is a reminder of the worst of the bunch — ranging from the cynical to the absurd.

[….]

Matthews also foresaw Trump supporters causing violence and chaos in the streets of D.C.:

A lot of people are gonna show up who are pro-Trump. They’re gonna have their Confederate flags flying and their license plates and all kinds of trouble making. There’ll be a lot of other people, they’re gonna meet like in a storm, and you’re gonna have a real conflict.

Perhaps the most absurd concerns about the event were voiced by Esquire writer Charlie Pierce, who appeared to worry that tanks would be falling into the Potomac. “The speech is gonna be dreadful, and there’s all kinds of catastrophes. They’re not sure if the bridges over the Potomac can handle the tanks,” Pierce pontificated on the July 2 All In. He also implied that some unspecified disaster might befall F-35 pilots during their scheduled flyover, citing “the inability to eject” from the plane “without beheading yourself.”

They collect some other craziness from the media as well:

Another Fail is this story about AOC saying the event was poorly attended:

4th of July ~ History 101

VIDEOS OF PEOPLE WHO DO NOT KNOW HISTORY…

FOLLOWED BY SOME HISTORY,

PATRIOTISM, REMEMBREANCE

Just a quick word regarding Mark Dice — who is the guy in the first video (and 3rd n 4th):

While I like their rants (Paul Watson, Mark Dice, and others) and these commentaries hold much truth in them, I do wish to caution you… he is part of Info Wars/Prison Planet network of yahoos, a crazy conspiracy arm of Alex Jones shite. Also, I bet if I talked to him he would reveal some pretty-crazy conspiratorial beliefs that would naturally undermine and be at-odds-with some of his rants. Just to be clear, I do not endorse these people or orgs.

Media analyst Mark Dice asks beachgoers in San Diego, California some basic questions about America’s 4th of July Independence Day celebration and their answers are quite disturbing.

MORE SADNESS:

FOR THE HISTORICAL RECORD:

The signers of the Declaration of Independence (ALL BIOS HERE)

Delaware

George Read | Caesar Rodney | Thomas McKean

Pennsylvania

George Clymer | Benjamin Franklin | Robert Morris | John Morton | Benjamin Rush | George Ross | James Smith | James Wilson | George Taylor

Massachusetts

John Adams | Samuel Adams | John Hancock | Robert Treat Paine

New Hampshire

Josiah Bartlett | William Whipple | Matthew Thornton |

Rhode Island

Stephen Hopkins | William Ellery |

New York

Lewis Morris | Philip Livingston | Francis Lewis | William Floyd |

Georgia

Button Gwinnett | Lyman Hall | George Walton |

Virginia

Richard Henry Lee | Francis Lightfoot Lee | Carter Braxton | Benjamin Harrison | Thomas Jefferson | George Wythe | Thomas Nelson, Jr. |

North Carolina

William Hooper | John Penn |

South Carolina

Edward Rutledge | Arthur Middleton | Thomas Lynch, Jr. | Thomas Heyward, Jr. |

New Jersey

Abraham Clark | John Hart | Francis Hopkinson | Richard Stockton | John Witherspoon |

Connecticut

Samuel Huntington | Roger Sherman | William Williams | Oliver Wolcott |

Maryland

Charles Carroll | Samuel Chase | Thomas Stone | William Paca |


Reagan, Cash, and Harvey



Dennis Prager


Video Description:

Dennis Prager reads from the popular leftist website, VOX. From newspapers such as the N.Y. TIMES, the L.A. TIMES, and the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. These mainstream opinion pieces bemoan and degrade America to the point of hatred. Anti-Americanism is growing on the Left, and in taking these positions these people benighted themselves as our cultural commissars… dishing out their version of history to those unintelligent lap-dog readers they call customers.


Some More History


I want to thank Israel Matzav for the following, good stuff!

With thanks to the Heritage Foundation:

During the 1700s, Philadelphia was an unpleasant place in the summer. Malaria and yellow fever were rampant. There were no cures and no known ways to prevent infection. Most people of means tried to escape the city, if they could.

But in the scorching summer of 1776, scores of our country’s leading men remained behind closed doors in Philadelphia. They were kept there by their work. And what a monumental work it turned out to be.

The 56 leaders, representing all 13 British colonies, signed a declaration that would birth a great nation and illuminate the very future of humankind. It’s this Declaration of Independence that Americans celebrate each July 4.

The document’s first job was to officially announce to the world that all the colonies had decided to declare themselves free and independent states, absolved from any allegiance to Great Britain. That was momentous enough for the years ahead, since in order to make good on that declaration, the colonies would have to defeat the British in a war that stretched until 1783.

But the greater meaning of the Declaration — then as well as now — is as a statement of the conditions that underlie legitimate political authority and as an explanation of the proper ends of government.

The signers proclaimed that political power would spring from the sovereignty of the people, not a crowned hereditary monarch. This idea shook Europe to its very core.

The Declaration appealed not to any conventional law or political contract but to the equal rights possessed by all men and “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and nature’s God” entitled them.

What is revolutionary about the Declaration of Independence is not that a particular group of Americans declared their independence under particular circumstances. It’s that they did so by appealing to –and promising to base their particular government on — a universal standard of justice.

It is in this sense that Abraham Lincoln praised “the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times.”

Of course, it required another war to extend those rights to all Americans, but the fact that they were written down in the Declaration was crucial in 1865, in 1965 and remains so today as well.

“If the American Revolution had produced nothing but the Declaration of Independence,” wrote noted historian Samuel Eliot Morrison, “it would have been worthwhile.”

As Thomas Jefferson, lead author of the Declaration, put it in 1821, “The flames kindled on the 4th of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them.”

Those flames, the flames of freedom and opportunity, continue to spread. That’s a truth worth celebrating on the Fourth — and all year ’round.

From, The Spirit of the American Revolution:

Even the Minutemen reflected strong religious involvement. While they are generally recognized for their exploits as a group, few today know many specifics about them. For example, these men who stood to fight for their liberties and defend their town were often groups of laymen from local congregations led either by their pastor or a deacon! Records even indicate that it was not unusual that following their militia drills they would go to church “where they listened to exhortation and prayer.”

The spiritual emphasis manifested so often by the Americans during the Revolution caused one Crown-appointed British governor to write to Great Britain complaining that:

If you ask an American who is his master, he’ll tell you he has none. And he has no governor but Jesus Christ.

Letters like this, coupled with statements like that delivered by Ethan Allen, and sermons like those preached by the Reverend Peter Powers (“Jesus Christ the King”), gave rise to a motto of the American Revolution. Most of us are unaware that the American Revolution even had a motto, but most wars do (e.g., World War II—”Remember Pearl Harbor”; the Texas’ war for independence—”Remember the Alamo”; etc.). The motto of the American Revolution was directed against King George III—considered the primary source of the conflict; for it was he who was arbitrarily, capriciously, and regularly violated “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” The motto was very simple and very direct:

No King but King Jesus!

Media Fails Regarding July 4th

NEWSBUSTERS has a montage of media predictions that were in reality, just a projection of how the view Republicans:

The media hastily have distanced themselves from their projections of street brawls and naked partisanship at the Salute to America event following a largely patriotic, unobjectionable July 4 speech by President Trump. Since TV news audiences are unlikely to hear talking heads acknowledge their numerous false predictions, here is a reminder of the worst of the bunch — ranging from the cynical to the absurd.

[….]

Matthews also foresaw Trump supporters causing violence and chaos in the streets of D.C.:

A lot of people are gonna show up who are pro-Trump. They’re gonna have their Confederate flags flying and their license plates and all kinds of trouble making. There’ll be a lot of other people, they’re gonna meet like in a storm, and you’re gonna have a real conflict.

Perhaps the most absurd concerns about the event were voiced by Esquire writer Charlie Pierce, who appeared to worry that tanks would be falling into the Potomac. “The speech is gonna be dreadful, and there’s all kinds of catastrophes. They’re not sure if the bridges over the Potomac can handle the tanks,” Pierce pontificated on the July 2 All In. He also implied that some unspecified disaster might befall F-35 pilots during their scheduled flyover, citing “the inability to eject” from the plane “without beheading yourself.”

They collect some other craziness from the media as well:

Another Fail is this story about AOC saying the event was poorly attended:

America’s Original Sin (Michael Medved)

Medved starts out the show by talking about Alex Rosenberg New York Times article dated July 3rd, called, “The Making of a Non-Patriot.” This is merely a call which is primarily about that article… here is a good, short-n-concise comment from my YouTube:

  • The great sin was Jim Crow not Slavery [to which I add — via Democrats]
  • The other guy bringing up Gay Rights….Oy Veyyyy!
  • Medved is correct Slavery was around long before….We got rid of it.
  • Brazil was the last country in the Americas to outlaw the practice.
  • Muslims castrated their male slaves.