CPAC: America’s Christian Heritage Denied

CPAC 2015 offered a glimpse into the thinking and worldview of those who would totally secularize America.

The “conservative atheist” who wants to “purge” the GOP of every vestige of Christianity also seeks to throw America’s Christian heritage into an Orwellian memory hole.[1]

CPAC2015-10

David Silverman, President of American Atheists, told me, “America doesn’t have a Judeo-Christian heritage. That’s really a soft term and people are just making it up as they go along.”

Actually, America has a Judeo-Christian heritage going back to its discovery by Columbus in 1492. Columbus was a prayerful Christian who insisted his men treat native populations humanely and he sought to spread the gospel of Christ wherever he went.[2]

Bryan Fischer writes, “The United States was founded as a Christian nation. The historical evidence for this is so overwhelming that only someone resistant to the truth and the facts can refuse to believe it.”

Fischer continues:

“At the time of the founding, 99.8% of the population of the fledgling country identified themselves, to one degree of sincerity or another, as followers of Jesus Christ. And 98.4% identified themselves as Protestants. Catholics represented 1.4% of the population, and the other 0.2% were followers of Judaism. Virtually 100% of those living in America at the time of its founding were adherents of the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

Yes, America’s Founding Fathers were Christians!

Exhibiting multiculturalism and pluralism on steroids, Silverman said, “America is a diverse nation. We are a nation of Christians, and Jews, and Muslims, and Wiccans, and atheists, and Hindus, and Buddhists.”

Why this emphasis? To deny Christians standing in the court of public opinion and to disinherit Christians from their heritage.

To further delegitimize their authority, Silverman twice mysteriously said, “The Founding Fathers were brought.” He obviously wasn’t speaking of slaves. The Founders were all either born in America or freely naturalized. None were “brought.”

As noted by the National Archives, “Most of the delegates were natives of the 13 colonies. Only eight were born elsewhere: four (Butler, Fitzsimons, McHenry, and Paterson) in Ireland, two (Davie and Robert Morris) in England, one (Wilson) in Scotland, and one (Hamilton) in the West Indies.”

Declaration of Independence

Discounting the Declaration of Independence’s core statement of belief in equality under a God who endows human with rights, Silverman emphasized that “the Declaration of Independence is, of course, not the law of the land. It simply declared the colonies independent from England.”

But was it “simply” so? The Heritage Foundation observes that “its true revolutionary significance – then as well as now – is the declaration of a new basis of political legitimacy in the sovereignty of the people.”

That “new basis of political legitimacy” would be profound indeed. “The Americans’ final appeal was not to any man-made decree or evolving spirit but to rights inherently possessed by all men. These rights are found in eternal ‘Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.’ As such, the Declaration’s meaning transcends the particulars of time and circumstances.”

Far too few know that the Declaration was deeply influenced by Scripture. The National Center for Constitutional Studies provides an in-depth analysis of the Declaration’s biblical roots.[3]

The Founders, therefore, saw God as the originator of their rights and the architect of their laws.

First Amendment

To further disassociate the Declaration from any connection with American jurisprudence, Silverman continued, “The Constitution was published nine years later. That is the law of the land.”

He then noticeably misrepresented the First Amendment, saying, “And that is completely free of religion in every respect except to say that Congress shall make no law with respecting the establishment of a religion.”

Did you notice? Silverman quoted the Establishment Clause but did not cite the Free Exercise Clause, which reads: “… or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Why would that be? Because Silverman seeks to prevent Christians from freely exercising their religious rights in the public square. As noted in Part I,[4] Silverman seeks to exclude Christians and other people of faith from the public square, making them second-class citizens.

Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story explained the purpose of the First Amendment:

“The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment which should give to a hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.”[5]

Wall of Separation

According to their website,

“American Atheists, Inc. is a nonprofit, nonpolitical, educational organization dedicated to the complete and absolute separation of state and church, accepting the explanation of Thomas Jefferson that the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was meant to create a ‘wall of separation’ between state and church.”

American Atheists seeks to erect a permanent and immovable wall of separation between government and religion, using Thomas Jefferson’s famous metaphor contained in private correspondence to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802. In that letter, Jefferson sought to reassure Christians that the government would not interfere with their living out their faith, writing,

“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”

The purpose of the wall (Jefferson’s metaphor), in Jefferson’s mind, was to protect the worshippers from the government, not the government from the worshippers. As Heritage puts it, “Jefferson placed the federal government on one side of his wall and state governments and churches on the other.”

Justice Story agreed: “My own private judgment has long been (and every day’s experience more and more confirms me in it) that government cannot long exist without an alliance with religion; and that Christianity is indispensable to the true interests and solid foundations of free government.”[6]

If the Framers of the Constitution intended to divorce religion from government, why were there 15 fasting proclamations from 1777-1863 and 37 thanksgiving proclamations from 1775-1989?

Federalism: State Religions

The Founders, including Jefferson, saw the First Amendment as prohibiting the federal government from establishing a religion while permitting the establishment of state religions. Which is, in fact, what happened.

Silverman skirts around the truth, giving lip service to federalism while claiming that the Constitution neuters state constitutions regarding religion. He asserts, “other states made their own constitutions, and those constitutions had overt references to religion and overt references to God. The United States Constitution, which was made after those – and supersedes all of them at the federal level – specifically and deliberately omits all of that.”

If Silverman were correct, all state religions would have ceased in 1789. As the accompanying chart shows, many state-supported churches continued well into the mid- and late-nineteenth century.

StateChurches

A Completely Secular Nation?

Nope!

According to Silverman, “Some people say that they were Christians. Some people say that they were atheists. And none of it matters. Their personal views don’t matter at all. What matters is the Constitution they put together – the law of the land that they created was completely secular.”

Is it true that who wrote the Constitution does not matter? That is sheer nonsense. To suggest that a nation of Christians would create a secular Constitution opposed to faith is folly. The history of the people, their words, and their deeds tell us otherwise.

Consider President John Adams words: “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; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature.”

Justice Story reveals, “There never has been a period of history, in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundation.”[7]

The very existence of state-sponsored (Christian) religions through much of the 1800s attests to the Christian nature of the American experiment.

America’s Founders (and the population as a whole) were largely religious, mostly Christian, and their faith stirred their endeavors. Looking at the record of the Constitutional Convention – and their subsequent actions upon ratification of the Constitution – we can determine their original intent[8] in creating this law of the land.

In discussing the creation of the Constitution, James Madison wrote, “When the Almighty himself condescends to address mankind in their own language, his meaning, luminous as it must be, is rendered dim and doubtful by the cloudy medium through which it is communicated.”[9]

“It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution.”

The brilliance of the Founders was in humbly seeking the counsel of God, looking for wisdom in Scripture, and creating a governing framework which takes into account the fallen nature of mankind and the world.

Recognizing that power corrupts, the Framers provided a set of checks and balances in the form of the three branches of government, a bicameral legislature, federalism, the electoral college, and the like – all premised on a biblical understanding of human nature.

Treaty of Paris

Of course, Silverman used the Treaty of Paris ploy, arguing,

“Furthermore, the first treaty ever signed by America was the Treaty of Tripoli. It was signed by order of George Washington, signed by John Adams, drafted by order of George Washington, it was ratified unanimously by the founding Senate, and it was read in the Senate, and it specifically states that the government of the Unites States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion. It is in black and white, it is in writing, signed by the Founding Fathers.”

Silverman’s smoking gun is not what it appears.

The Treaty of Tripoli says that the U.S. federal government is not Christian. It says nothing about state governments or the nation as a whole. (So many on the Left confuse “government” with “nation.” A nation has a government but the government is not the nation.)

The Supreme Court has consistently affirmed the United States to be “a Christian country”[10] and “a Christian nation.”[11] Moreover, in 1854, The House Judiciary Committee declared the then-recognized self-evident truth that “In this age there can be no substitution for Christianity … That was the religion of the founders of the republic, and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants.”[12]

America Remains a Christian Nation

Leftist secularists are intent upon removing every vestige of Christianity from America, creating controversies over Columbus Day,[13] Thanksgiving Day,[14] Christmas trees, nativity scenes, public prayer, crosses, Santa Claus, the pledge of allegiance, and “In God We Trust.”

Our Founders embraced those sentiments decried by the Left, just as Americans have for over two hundred years. The American people have always been spiritually oriented and the government was intended to support that biblical culture.

In 2001, 85% of the U.S. population was religious. Of those who are religious, 95% are Christian.

According to Under God in the Pledge: “All 50 state constitutions refer to ‘God’ or some higher power. Forty-three states feature these religious references in the Preamble (introductory clause of explanation) of their constitution. The seven remaining states refer to ‘God’ in their religious freedom provisions.”

There are 68 references to God in the U.S. Code.

Today, Christians in America are under assault as never before. Political correctness in America’s cultural institutions – from academia, to Hollywood, to the media – targets Christians for ridicule and “reeducation.” Mob violence in Indiana during Holy Week – in opposition to religious freedom – starkly exposes the extent to which Christianity is under assault.

American Atheists, with its slick propaganda, is allied with those who would purge Christianity from America.

We need to exhibit courage, speak the truth, and fight for what we believe. Let the truth be known that America was and is a Christian nation, and that we want it to remain so!

Audio files: Clip 1, Clip 2, Clip 3, Clip 4, Clip 5, Clip 6, Clip 7, Clip 8.

Endnotes:

[1]               See “CPAC: Conservative Atheists Fear Theocracy” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-8y.

[2]               See “Columbus Rediscovered” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-4E.

[3]               See also Pauline Maier, American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, Vintage, 1998, and Gary T. Amos, Defending the Constitution: How the Bible and Christianity Influenced the Writing of the Declaration of Independence, Wolgemuth and Hyatt, 1989.

[4]               See “CPAC: Conservative Atheists Fear Theocracy” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-8y.

[5]               See http://www.americanminute.com/index.php?date=09-10.

[6]               Ibid.

[7]               Ibid.

[8]               See David Barton, Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution & Religion, WallBuilder Press, 2008.

[9]               James Madison, The Federalist No. 37, 1/11/1788, http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa37.htm.

[10]             See Vidal v. Girard’s Executors, 43 U. S. 127, 198 (1844), http://vftonline.org/EndTheWall/TrinityHistory.htm.

[11]             See Church of the Holy Trinity v. U. S., 143 U. S. 471 (1892), http://vftonline.org/EndTheWall/TrinityHistory.htm.

[12]             Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives Made During the First Session of the Thirty-Third Congress, Nicholson, 1854, pp. 6, 8.

[13]             See “Columbus Rediscovered” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-4E.

[14]             See “Thanksgiving Day Down the Memory Hole” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-5E.

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