And That Is Per The Words Of The Men Who Framed It
This is a subject that comes up more and more frequently these days. If you pay attention, you will hear the claims such as “Our founders were not Christians.” Or you will hear something like “The founders deliberately designed a secular government.” And worse, you will hear people saying that they have a right to freedom from religion and that this means the government must be secular. It is sad that the majority of those who make such claims also think they are grounded in logic and reason. It is sad because the truth is that none of these claims are true, and that means nothing about them is grounded in reason. It is sadder still that this is not my opinion; it is the bold and clear assertion of the men whose character is being maligned and whose history is being re-written to push these lies. And that leads to the most ironic aspect of this issue. The people pushing these lies are actually doing the very thing they claim they want protection from: using the government to push their religion onto the whole of the American people.
Let me start by sharing just a couple stories that illustrate the problem:
“I’m Ron Reagan, an unabashed atheist, and I’m alarmed by the intrusions of religion into our secular government,” he proclaims in the radio spot, which is airing all month on “The Randi Rhodes’ Show,” a progressive radio program.
The banner reads: “At this season of the Winter Solstice, we celebrate the birth of the Unconquered Sun — the TRUE reason for the season. As Americans, let us also honor the birth of our Bill of Rights, which reminds us there can be no freedom OF religion, without having freedom FROM religion in government.”
It is fitting that these people should invoke Jefferson, Adams and Franklin and our Bill of Rights, because there can be no better or more damming witnesses against their claim than these three men and the Bill of Rights. So let’s start here, with the idea that these men did not believe in God and that they wanted a secular government and freedom from religion.
First, it needs to be pointed out that, if these men are correct, then they have no rights and no liberty save that which the government grants them. And, if the government gives them, the government can take them away which – by definition – means they are neither rights nor liberty at all. True rights and liberty are found only in God, and Franklin said so:
“Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.”
So did Jefferson:
“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
And so did Adams:
“You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments: rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the universe.”
With those words, all three men testify that they both believe in God and that our rights and liberty come from Him and cannot exist apart from Him. What’s more, with these words, all three men testify that they were not Deists. A Deist believes in a ‘watch maker’ god, and a watch maker god has no interest in the affairs of man. And a god with no interest in the affairs of man cannot and does not grant rights and liberty. Rights and liberty can only be secured by a God who is involved in the affairs of man and Who will judge us in the next life according to how we treat each other in this life.
This bring us to the second point that we need to understand: that our founders knew a free and self-governing nation can only exist if its people are moral, and that morality is only found in religion. Here again, all three of the men these Atheist have chosen to represent their cause testify against them:
“Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, they may change their rulers and the forms of government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.”
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
“Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”
But what did these three men think about Christianity? Once more, I let them testify for themselves:
“The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
“[My views on Christianity] are the result of a life of inquiry & reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other.”
“Here is my creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the universe. That he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshiped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is in 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. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion.”
“As to Jesus of Nazareth … I think the system of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw or is likely to see;…”
So there remains but one point left to discredit: that the men who said these things would then turn and design a secular government. That is more difficult to do, not because they wanted a secular government, but because the proof they did not is found in their actions and not their words. Jefferson started Sunday worship services in the capital building and attended for years. Perhaps the best evidence that the Bill of Rights was never intended to prevent religion from being a part of our government is found in the words of those who opposed the ratification of the Constitution until the Bill of Rights was added – and even then they warned that it would not be sufficient to stop people such as modern Atheists from destroying the rights and liberty they sought to protect:
“Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is impossible that a nation of infidels or idolaters should be a nation of freemen. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.”
“The only foundation for… a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.”
–Dr. Benjamin Rush
It was because of men such as Hamilton and Rush that the Bill of Rights was written, and anyone who reads the notes from that time will know the 1st Amendment was intended to prohibit the federal government from ever doing what the Atheists are now demanding it do: favor one religion over another. And yes, Atheism is a religion, and has been recognized as such by the Supreme Court. So they are guilty of advocating a State-sponsored religion in the name of being ‘free from all religion.’ What they want is the government to trample on the rights of the majority so they can appease their conscience, and the founders had a few words about people who do just this sort of thing. I start with the closest kin to themselves, Thomas Paine:
“An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates his duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”
“What is true of every member of the society, individually, is true of them all collectively; since the rights of the whole can be no more than the sum of the rights of the individuals.”
“No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.”
“Bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”
“A nation of well informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins.”
These Atheists are advocating that the rights of others be trampled so they can enjoy something to which they have no right. There is no ‘right’ to be free of religion, nor of offense or any such thing. One has the right not to listen, or to walk away, but not to force another to be quiet. This applies to religion. The Atheists are not harmed by people living their faith – even in government. But those who are of a different faith are harmed when the Atheists use government to silence all but their own religion – as they are trying to do. They are violating Natural Law — and the Constitution. They are seeking to empower government to do that which they do not have the right to do themselves. And they are seeking to destroy the rights — not of a minority — but of the majority in this nation. And it is all in connection to their religion. This is exactly what Franklin meant when he said:
“It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins.”
Now I ask you — and be honest with yourself — do you really think Jefferson, Adams and Franklin would have supported what these Atheists are trying to do?
[NOTE: I could have easily written ten times the number of pages with quotes just from these men saying the same thing over and over again. If I expand out to the whole of the founders, I can fill books with words such as these — because the founders believed in God and did not intend for this nation to be ruled by a secular government. It is the truth, which is why it is so easy to disprove these lies.]
ADDENDUM — ADDED May 8, 2017
TO THOSE WHO FOCUS ONLY ON JEFFERSON AND FRANKLIN
There have been many readers who have objected to my argument in this post. Inevitably, they seem to want to focus on Jefferson and Franklin to make what they believe are definitive refutations of my argument. Sadly, they do nothing of the sort. Instead, all they do is prove to the rational reader that they are — at best — wholly ignorant of what our founders believed in this matter, and of what they clearly and forcefully spoke to it. But I fear this is far too kind to the majority of people who use Franklin and Jefferson to refute the facts: that our founders were Christians, and that they did not intend to create a secular government. No, sadly, it would appear that the majority of those making such arguments are not only irrational, but malevolent to the Truth.
Now, I just used harsh words to reject what has become a rather large part of the population. Fortunately for me, while my sentiment may be opinion, the facts are not. The Truth on this issue is a matter of public record, and I — not my objectors — happen to be standing with it. Allow me to demonstrate.
First, there were more than 260 men who — collectively — are referred to as “the founders.” Franklin and Jefferson are two of 260+, yet — for some irrational reason – they are treated as the only founders who mattered. Since when does 0.01% of the whole speak for the whole? It does not! No, there is a reason that the people who object to the founders ignore everyone but Franklin and Jefferson. It is because, in one way or another, nearly every one of the other 258+ founders expressly stated that God had a hand in the making of this nation, and that the government our founders created was meant for and would only work for a religious people. But let’s set all this aside and look at the two men who are constantly singled out as “proof” this nation’s founders were not religious and wanted a secular government..
Franklin is the easiest to deal with. He flat-out appealed to God, and not a ‘clock-maker’ God, but a God who pays attention to and works His will into the affairs of man. What’s more, Franklin made this appeal in the Second Constitutional Convention. More than that, he made this appeal to save the Convention at a time when it appeared it was doomed to fail. Christian or not, this is absolute, irrefutable evidence that Franklin was not a ‘deist.’ In fact, it is “religion in government.” Franklin was making an appeal to the God of the Bible when he said these words, and he did so as an official officer of his State (i.e. member of the Pennsylvania government). This means Franklin not only stated his beliefs, he demonstrated them by his actions. Anyone who comes along afterword and tries to change the clear meaning of Franklin’s words and deeds is not only a liar, but utterly contemptible: of the same sort as any slave owner in history. I say that because, by trying to put words contrary to a man’s expressed beliefs into his mouth, a person seeks to seize ownership of the man’s will. Therefore, by trying to make Franklin into a deist — when Franklin, himself, confessed that his beliefs did not meet that definition — is to seize ownership of Franklin’s will. Not only is this fallacious (i.e. irrational), but it is utterly despicable: of the sort of action which civilized society should count right along side Hitler, Stalin and Mao!
This brings us to Jefferson. Jefferson has been elevated to a position among our founders which he did not enjoy in his lifetime. True, he penned the first draft of the Declaration, and we owe him a fair measure of gratitude for that. But he did not pen the final draft: the draft that was approved and signed. That was a collaborative work, a work that had been somewhat modified by Adams, Franklin, Sherman and Livingston even before it was presented for consideration by the entire body!
Next — and most important to the subject at hand — the whole body added the references to God in the second and last paragraphs! These were not in Jefferson’s original draft:
We hold these truths to be [sacred and undeniable] selfevident, that all men are created equal and independent; that from that equal creation they derive in rights inherent and inalienables,… [Jefferson]
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. [Entire Delegation]
And for the support of this declaration we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor. [Jefferson]
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. [Entire Delegation]
Understand, these references to the Creator are not “deist.” They are an acknowledgement of a Creator Who pays attention to and acts in the affairs of man.
The body thought that it was important enough that they rejected Jefferson’s draft and added these words to the document. This is an affirmative declaration that this nation was — at the very least — founded by religious men who looked to, pointed to and depended upon God to favor and aid them in their actions. This is not “deism,” and that is by definition! That means is is a fact and not opinion. And anyone who argues with fact is — by definition — irrational!
Now, it could be that the people who want to claim our founders were deists do not know the definition of the term — especially as it was understood in the founders’ time. Unfortunately for these people, ignorance of the meaning of words does not make their objections true, it just adds to the weight of evidence against their argument!
I’ll end with one final note about Jefferson. I have never stated that he was a Christian — not in the sense that Christ and the Apostles defined the term. I merely quoted Jefferson saying that — by his understanding — he was a ‘Christian’ in that he (Jefferson) agreed with and tried to live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, anyone who bothers to investigate will find that Jefferson’s religious beliefs seemed to vacillate throughout his lifetime. However, for the majority of his life, Jefferson accepted the prevailing or ‘main stream’ views of Biblical teachings. Now, what does this all mean? Who can be sure? But one thing we can know for sure is this: Jefferson was no deist. heck, his quote on the Jefferson monument proves this. Jefferson said he feared for this nation because he knew God was just and would not sit still forever. That implies a God who watches and acts in the affairs of man, and that is no deist! This means that Jefferson was — at best — confused as to what he believed or didn’t believe about God. But the evidence shows that Jefferson did hold a general belief in the God of the Bible.
Now, for those who see with spiritual eyes, this is actually the most telling event of all. Look at what happened during the formation of this nation. Jefferson penned a draft of the Declaration which did not mention God, but his fellow countrymen rejected it and added God to the document in at least 2 prominent places. Then, when the Constitution was being drafted, God saw to it that this religiously confused man was totally absent. The best he could do was offer opinions — through Madison — from an ocean away (Remember, Jefferson was in France at the time). That is just another of the many signs of God’s Providential hand acting in the formation of this nation — just as Madison said it did!
“It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it [the Constitution] a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution.”