Quotes; left and right
(A work in progress. Best viewed in Firefox)
Quotes regarding a Biblical/Christian Foundation in America, contrasted by quotes of Hitler, along with some by Marx, and Nietzsche, and which also serve to refute the contrived historical revisionist view of strict separationists who see the First Amendment as forbidding any Federal or State general sanction of the Christian faith over that of others, and even that it is antagonistic toward religion (at least Christianity). Considering which see commentary below.
Web sources for most of the American authors are provided (I need to work on the others), and more also can be found at such sources as Wall Builders, which provides many referenced quotes (though Barton — as with some strict separatists — sometimes goes too far with his conclusions, which I hope to avoid). Note that content from Hitler's Table Talk is disputed by some. Defense of that is offered by an article at Rutgers here.
On one hand (the Left):
Karl Marx —Communism begins where atheism begins… (Fulton J. Sheen in “Communism and the Conscience of the West,” translating from an untranslated work, as reported by Paul Kengor in “the Communist,” p. 346)
Karl Marx —The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion. (Marx in “Contribution to the Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right,” quoted in “The Encarta Book of Quotations,' p. 617)
Karl Marx — I wish to avenge myself against the One who rules above.” (Attributed to Marx by Richard Wurmbrand, and quoted Ronald J. Lawrence in “The Marxist Goliath Among Us”)
Karl Marx — “The hellish vapors rise and fill the brain, till I go mad and my heart is utterly changed. See this sword? The prince of darkness sold it to me.” (quoted by Robert Payne , in “Marx.” pp. 62, 130)
Karl Marx — With disdain I will throw my gauntlet full in the fact of the world and see the collapse of this pygmy giant. Then will I wander god-like and victorious through the ruins of the world. And giving my words an active force, I will feel equal to the Creator. (From his poem,” “Human Pride quoted by Erwin W. Lutzer, “Exploding the myths that could destroy America” - , p. 134)
Atheism is a natural and inseparable part of Marxism. (Introduction to Lenin on Religion in the “Little Lenin Library,” reported by Gray, Alexander, in S”ocialist Tradition: Moses to Lenin, “ p. 481)
Hitler on Religion: (http://library.flawlesslogic.com/religion.htm)
"So it's not opportune to hurl ourselves now into a struggle with the churches. The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death. A slow death has something comforting about it."
"Christianity, of course, has reached the peak of absurdity in this respect. And that's why one day its structure will collapse. Science has already impregnated humanity. Consequently, the more Christianity clings to its dogmas, the quicker it will decline."
"We'll see to it that the churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State. We shall continue to preach the doctrine of National Socialism, and the young will no longer be taught anything but the truth."
"Indeed, it's most important that the higher belief should be well established in them before the lower belief has been removed. We must finally achieve this."
"We do not want to educate anyone in atheism."
"The observatory I'll have built at Linz, on the Pöstlingberg, I can see it in my mind ... In future, thousands of excursionists will make a pilgrimage there every Sunday. They'll thus have access to the greatness of our universe. The pediment will bear this motto: 'The heavens proclaim the glory of the everlasting.' It will be our way of giving men a religious spirit, of teaching them humility — but without the priests."
"The final state must be: in St. Peter's Chair, a senile officiant; facing him, a few sinister old women, as gaga and as poor in spirit as anyone could wish."
"For my part, in his place [the Duce] I'd have taken the path of revolution. I'd have entered the Vatican and thrown everybody out — reserving the right to apologize later: 'Excuse me, it was a mistake!' But the result would have been, they'd have been outside!"
"But a pope, even a criminal one, who protects great artists and spreads beauty around him, is nevertheless more sympathetic to me than the protestant minister who drinks from the poisoned spring."
"I have six Divisions of SS composed of men absolutely indifferent in matters of religion."
"The soul and the mind migrate, just as the body returns to nature. Thus life is eternally reborn from life. As for the 'why' of all that, I feel no need to rack my brains on the subject. The soul is unplumbable."
Hitler's Table Talk
The following were recorded by his secretary and published in a book called Hitler's Table Talk (Adolf Hitler, London, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1953). I have lifted the text of these from the soc.religion.christian newsgroup's Hitler FAQ.
Hitler's Table Talk is a series of informal, private conversations among Hitler and his closest associates, as recorded by Martin Bormann. The ex tempore remarks excerpted above are from July 1941 to June 1942, most late at night or in early morning.
Night of 11th-12th July, 1941:
"National Socialism and religion cannot exist together....
"The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity....
"Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things." (p 6 & 7)
10th October, 1941, midday:
"Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure." (p 43)
14th October, 1941, midday:
"The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death.... When understanding of the universe has become widespread... Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity....
"Christianity has reached the peak of absurdity.... And that's why someday its structure will collapse....
"...the only way to get rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little....
"We'll see to it that the Churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State." (p 49-52)
21st October, 1941, midday:"Originally, Christianity was merely an incarnation of Bolshevism, the destroyer....
"Didn't the world see, carried on right into the Middle Ages, the same old system of martyrs, tortures, faggots? Of old, it was in the name of Christianity. Today, it's in the name of Bolshevism. Yesterday the instigator was Saul: the instigator today, Mardochai. Saul was changed into St.Paul, and Mardochai into Karl Marx. By exterminating this pest, we shall do humanity a service of which our soldiers can have no idea." (p 63-65)
13th December, 1941, midnight: "When all is said, we have no reason to wish that the Italians and Spaniards should free themselves from the drug of Christianity. Let's be the only people who are immunised against the disease." (p 118-119)
14th December, 1941, midday: "Kerrl, with noblest of intentions, wanted to attempt a synthesis between National Socialism and Christianity. I don't believe the thing's possible, and I see the obstacle in Christianity itself...
"Pure Christianity-- the Christianity of the catacombs-- is concerned with translating Christian doctrine into facts. It leads quite simply to the annihilation of mankind." (p 119 & 120)
27th February, 1942, midday: "It would always be disagreeable for me to go down to posterity as a man who made concessions in this field. I realize that man, in his imperfection, can commit innumerable errors-- but to devote myself deliberately to errors, that is something I cannot do. I shall never come personally to terms with the Christian lie."
"Our epoch in the next 200 years will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity.... My regret will have been that I couldn't... behold <its demise>." (p 278)
The philosophic basis of the Nazi campaign has been firmly laid by Dr. Alfred Rosenberg, arrogant right-hand idea-man to the Realmleader. In his The Myth of the Twentieth Century he laughs the Old Testament out of court by describing its most famed characters as "pimps and cattle-dealers." Jesus he takes seriously but concludes:
"The religion of Jesus was undoubtedly the preaching of love . . . but the German religious movement, which wishes to develop into a people's church, must declare that it unconditionally subordinates the ideal of neighborly love to the ideal of national honor . . . The churches, handed over to it again, will, little by little, put the fiery spirit of the hero . . . in place of the crucifixion."
Youth. The principal agent of the Rosenberg philosophy is the Nazi Youth organization. Youth spoke thrice last week:
1) "Besides the rock of Jesus Christ there is another: Adolf Hitler. It remains to be seen which of the two is stronger. On the one sit the old women. On the other stands the young generation." (Youth Leader Hartmann-Lautenbacher).
2) "The number of those who have decided to turn away from Christianity entirely is greater than is generally realized. Dr. Alfred Rosenberg's Twentieth Century is a book that . . . points the way. . . . The religious faith of the German people must be decided by political elements, the Storm Troops and the Hitler Youth." (Youth Leader Hartmann-Lautenbacher).
3) "The time has come to take up the fight against Christianity. Germans! Liberate yourselves from the cultures of alien priests! . . . Abandon the Jewish-Christian conception of sin, pity and loving the enemy! Be hard! Pity and mercy be damned! Praise that which steels. Christianity's totality claim is a thing of the past. Germans shall and must realize their conversion to Christianity was a crime against the race and the people which put them completely at the mercy of powers outside the State." (Youth Leader Hartmann-Lautenbacher). http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,747864,00.html
Hitler’s aim was to eradicate all religious organizations within the state and to foster a return to paganism” (Dimont, 1994, p. 397). http://www.trueorigin.org/hitler01.asp
Hitler claimed that during the time he served in World War I, he had a religious awakening; specifically when he was in the hospital, temporarily blinded from an enemy gas attack in October 1918. This religious awakening may be attributed to a hallucination, possibly induced by a Dr. Forster. Another alleged incident was that a mysterious voice told Hitler to leave a crowded trench during a minor barrage. Moments after he left the area, a shell fell on that particular spot. Hitler saw this experience as a message that made him believe that he was a uniquely illuminated individual who had a special task to fulfill.
Joseph Goebbels notes in a diary entry in 1939: "The Führer is deeply religious, but deeply anti-Christian. He regards Christianity as a symptom of decay." Albert Speer reports a similar statement: “You see, it’s been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn’t we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?"
Among eastern religions, Hitler described religious leaders such as "Confucius, Buddha, and Mohammed" as providers of "spiritual sustenance". In this context, Hitler's connection to Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the Mufti of Jerusalem — which included asylum in 1941, the honorary rank of a SS Major, and a "respected racial genealogy" — has been interpreted more as a sign of respect than political expedience. Hitler's choice of the Swastika as the Nazis' main and official symbol, was linked to the belief in the Aryan cultural descent of the German people. They considered the early Aryans of India to be the prototypical white invaders and the sign as a symbol of the Aryan master race. — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler%27s_religious_beliefs
Adolf Hitler was politically astute enough to maintain some public distance between himself and the Neo-Pagan ideologues of the Nazi Party. But he was not far from them at heart. After his death documentation became available showing that Hitler had approved grandiose plans to wean the German churches away from Christianity and into the Neo-Pagan fold: "...under the leadership of Rosenberg, Bormann and Himmler, who were backed by Hitler, the Nazi regime intended eventually to destroy Christianity in Germany, if it could, and substitute the old paganism of the early tribal Germanic gods and the new paganism of the Nazi extremists. As Bormann, one of the men closest to Hitler, said publicly in 1941, 'National Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable.'
"What the Hitler government envisioned for Germany was clearly set out in a thirty-point program for the 'National Reich Church' drawn up during the war by Rosenberg, an outspoken pagan...
"The National Reich Church of Germany categorically claims the exclusive right and the exclusive power to control all churches within the borders of the Reich: it declares these to be national churches of the German Reich.
"The National Church is determined to exterminate irrevocably...the strange and foreign Christian faiths imported into Germany in the ill-omened year 800...
"The National Church has no scribes, pastors, chaplains or priests, but National Reich orators are to speak in them.
"The National Church demands immediate cessation of the publishing and dissemination of the Bible in Germany...'"
"On the altars there must be nothing but 'Mein Kampf' (to the German nation and therefore to God the most sacred book) and to the left of the altar a sword.
"On the day of its foundation, the Christian Cross must be removed from all churches, cathedrals and chapels...and it must be superseded by the only unconquerable symbol, the swastika." (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer, P. 240).
Martin Bormann was faithful to Hitler till the end, sprinkling gasoline on the bodies after Hitler's suicide. This true believer put it this way:
"National Socialist and Christian concepts are incompatible. The Christian Churches build upon the ignorance of men and strive to keep large portions of the people in ignorance because only in this way can the Christian Churches maintain their power. On the other hand, National Socialism is based on scientific foundations. Christianity's immutable principles, which were laid down almost two thousand years ago, have increasingly stiffened into life-alien dogmas. National Socialism, however, if it wants to fulfill its task further, must always guide itself according to the newest data of scientific researches.
"The Christian Churches have long been aware that exact scientific knowledge poses a threat to their existence. Therefore, by means of such pseudo-sciences as theology, they take great pains to suppress or falsify scientific research...No one would know anything about Christianity if pastors had not crammed it down his throat in his childhood. The so-called loving God by no means reveals the knowledge of His existence to young people, but amazingly enough, and despite His omnipotence, He leaves this to the efforts of a pastor. When in the future our youth no longer hear anything about this Christianity, whose doctrine is far below our own, Christianity will automatically disappear.
"[...] When we National Socialists speak of a belief in God...[we mean] [t]he force which moves all these bodies in the universe, in accordance with natural law, is what we call the Almighty or God. The assertion that this world-force can worry about the fate of every individual, every bacillus on earth, and that it can be influenced by so-called prayer or other astonishing things, is based either on a suitable dose of naivete or on outright commercial effrontery."
"Any influence that would impair or damage the leadership of the people exercised by the Fuhrer with the aid of the NSDAP has to be eliminated. To an ever increasing degree the people must be wrested from Churches and their agents, the pastors...Only the Reich leadership, together with the party and the organs and associations connected with it, has a right to lead the people. Just as the harmful influence of astrologists, soothsayers, and other swindlers has been suppressed by the state, so it must be absolutely impossible for the Church to exercise its old influence." (Martin Bormann, Reich Leader, 1942, 'National Socialist and Christian Concepts are Incompatible', From Kirchliches Jahrbuch fur die evangelische Kirche in Deutschland, 1933-1944, pp. 470-472, quoted pp. 245-247, George L. Mosse, Nazi Culture: A Documentary History).
Hitler's contempt for Christians and the Bible was genuine and well-attested. Of Roman Catholic upbringing, he was, however, a theist, who seems to have had a vague religious faith, attributing his escape from Stauffenberg's bomb to "Providence." (Colonel Stauffenberg had placed a briefcase containing a bomb at the Fuhrer's feet, then hastily departed. Not owing to any break in the course of nature, but simply because somebody found the clumsy briefcase to be in the way, it had been moved before exploding, and Hitler survived.) He spoke to the nation: "The bomb planted by Colonel Count Stauffenberg exploded two meters to the right of me...I myself an entirely unhurt, aside from some very minor scratches, bruises and burns. I regard this as a confirmation of the task imposed upon me by Providence..." (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer, p. 1069). He considered this "Providence" to favor the strong over the weak:
"...I may be no pious churchgoer, but deep within me I am nevertheless a devout man. That is to say, I believe that he who fights valiantly obeying the laws which a god has established and who never capitulates but instead gathers his forces time after time and always pushes forward---such a man will not be abandoned by the Lawgiver. Rather, he will ultimately receive the blessing of Providence." (Adolf Hitler, in his June 26, 1944 speech to industrialists, quoted by Albert Speer, p. 555, Inside the Third Reich.)
But He was no Christian, and his movement was no celebration of Christianity. He thought ill of Christianity, preferring Islam for its warrior spirit:
"You see, it's been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn't we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?" (Adolf Hitler, quoted by Albert Speer, p. 96, Inside the Third Reich.)
The "meekness and flabbiness" to which Hitler objected in Christianity fell straight from the lips of its Founder:
"The German people is no longer blinded by illusions as at the time of the Reformation. It has come to recognize not only Judaism, but Christianity too, as foreign to its genius. (Der Blitz, January 12, 1936, quoted p. 6, The War Against God, edited by Carl Carmer).
"But today a new faith is awakening: the myth of the blood...Then in place of the Old Testament stories of cattle breeders and the exploitation of prostitutes, we shall have the Nordic sagas and fairy tales, at first simply recounted, later assuming the form of symbols." (Alfred Rosenberg, Myth of the Twentieth Century, 1932, quoted p. 6, The War Against God, edited by Carl Carmer).
"The teaching of mercy and love of one's neighbor is foreign to the German race and the Sermon on the Mount is according to Nordic sentiment an ethic for cowards and idiots. (Hans Hauptmann, Bolshevism in the Bible; Nazi textbook), 1937, quoted p. 28, The War Against God, edited by Carl Carmer).
"If Jehovah has lost all meaning for us Germans, the same must be said of Jesus Christ, his son...He certainly lacks those characteristics which he would require to be a true German. Indeed, he is as disappointing, if we read his record carefully, as is his father. (E. K. Heidemann, 'What the Christian Does not Know about Christianity,' September, 1935, quoted p. 105, The War Against God, edited by Carl Carmer; http://thriceholy.net/bible.html
I’m going to become a religious figure. Soon I’ll be the great chief of the Tartars. Already Arabs and Moroccans are mingling my name with their prayers.” (Adolf Hitler, cited in Waite, Robert, Adolf Hitler: The Psychopathic God [NY: Basic Books, 1977) p. 261; Lutzer, pp. 62-63])
“In passing, we should note that [Hitler] banned prayer in schools, changed Christian holidays into pagan festivals, and eventually forced the church leadership to accept his outrageous demands. His political machine swallowed the church whole because the church had lost its biblical mission. Thus the state not only interfered with religious practices but controlled them.” (Lutzer, p. 19)
“Hitler also accepted Charles Darwin’s theory of “the survival of the fittest” and asserted that man had every right to be “as cruel as nature.” Detailed lectures were given in schools and to SS troops to prove the inferiority of the Jews. Aryan skulls were compared with those of Jewish ancestry to prove on a scientific basis that the latter were hopelessly inferior. Only the “fittest” had the right to survive.” (Lutzer, p. 80)
“Extensive research by Kevin E. Abrams has revealed that whereas homosexuals were put into death camps, they were never targeted for extermination as a class and were treated far better than most other concentration camp victims. Two years after Hitler’s victory [the 1933 election], the term “unnatural” was purged from the definition of homosexuality in the German Criminal Code.
“One is either a Christian or a German. You can’t be both.” — Adolf Hitler (Lutzer, 113-114)
See much more on Hitler and the German (Lutheran) Church, by Lutzer, Erwin W., Hitler’s Cross (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), 216 pages, at http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2132855/posts?page=101#101
“The doctrine of equality! There exists no more poisonous poison: for it seems to be preached by justice itself, while it is the end of justice.”
"Equality is a lie concocted by inferior people who arrange themselves in herds to overpower those who are naturally superior to them."
The poisonous doctrine, "equal rights for all," has been propagated as a Christian principle...
On the other hand (the Right):
George Washington (1732—1731. First President. Presided over the convention that drafted the Constitution) — It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe without the agency of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being. (James K. Paulding, A Life of Washington [New York: Harper & Brothers, 1835], Vol. II, p. 209)
• I now make it my earnest prayer that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection...that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation. (The Last Official Address of His Excellency George Washington to the Legislature of the United States (Hartford: Hudson and Goodwin, 1783), p. 12; see also The New Annual Register or General Repository of History, Politics, and Literature, for the Year 1783 [London: G. Robinson, 1784], p. 150; http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=8755#)
• While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian. (The Writings of Washington, John C. Fitzpatrick, editor (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1932), Vol. XI, pp. 342-343, General Orders of May 2, 1778; http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=8755#FN123)
• ...there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness...we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people…. (John Witherspoon, The Works of John Witherspoon [Edinburgh: J. Ogle, 1815], Vol. VII, p. 139, from his “Lectures on Moral Philosophy,” Lecture 16 on Oaths and Vows.
• ...it would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government. (This nations first Inaugural Speech, April 30, 1789. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Joseph Gales, editor [Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834], Vol. I, p. 27. See also George Washington, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, James D. Richardson, editor [Washington, D.C.: 1899], Vol. 1, pp. 44-45, April 30, 1789; http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=19942#R21)
Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation, New York, 3 October 1789 — By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation:
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness. (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/GW/gw004.html)
Washington's Farewell Address, 1797 — Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. . . . And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. (Farewell Address, 1797; http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp)
• I am sure there never was a people, who had more reason to acknowledge a divine interposition in their affairs, than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe that they have forgotten that agency, which was so often manifested during our Revolution, or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God who is alone able to protect them. (From a letter to John Armstrong; http://memory.loc.gov/mss/mgw/mgw2/018/1110109.jpg).
Rules for the Regulation of the Navy of the United Colonies of North-America, 1775 — ART. 2. The Commanders of the ships of the Thirteen United Colonies are to take care that divine service be performed twice a day on board, and a sermon preached on Sundays, unless bad weather or other extraordinary accidents prevent it.
ART. 3. If any shall be heard to swear, curse or blaspheme the name of God, the Captain is strictly enjoined to punish them for every offence, by causing them to wear a wooden collar or some other shameful badge of distinction, for so long a time as he shall judge proper...
ART. 42. All witnesses, before they may be permitted to give evidence, shall take the following oath, viz. "You swear, the evidence you shall give in the cause now in hearing, shall be the whole truth and nothing but the truth; so help you God." (Rules for the Regulation of the Navy of the United Colonies of North-America... (Philadelphia: William and Thomas Bradford, 1775; reprinted Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Foundation, 1944; http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq59-5.htm)
Congress, Sept. 11, 1777 — ....the use of the Bible is so universal, and its importance so great, that your committee refer the above to the consideration of Congress, and if Congress shall not think it expedient to order the importation of types and paper, your committee recommend that Congress will order the Committee of Commerce to import 20,000 Bibles from Holland, Scotland, or elsewhere, into the different ports of the states in the Union.” “Whereupon, the Congress was moved, to order the Committee of Commerce to import twenty thousand copies of the Bible.” (Worthington C. Ford, ed., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, vol. 8, (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1907), 733-734) Note: This plan was passed by a close vote, and was partly in order to prevent price gouging due to the oppression of the British, and was never implemented as recommended due to that problem. Yet rather than a strict separation that forbade such help, as imagined by strict separationists, the government then did consider the Bible so important that it was agreeable to obtaining Bibles for the public.
Congressional Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, November 1, 1777 — Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to him for benefits received, and to implore such farther blessings as they stand in need of;... It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States, to set apart Thursday, the 18th day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise; that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor; and that together with their sincere acknowledgments and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance;...may render them fit instruments, under the providence of Almighty God...to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under his nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. (http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=3847)
Congressional Fast Day Proclamation, March 20, 1779 — WHEREAS, in just Punishment of our manifold Transgressions, it hath pleased the Supreme Disposer of all Events to visit these United States with a calamitous War, through which his Divine Providence hath hitherto in a wonderful Manner conducted us, so that we might acknowledge that the Race is not to the Swift, nor the Battle to the Strong: AND WHEREAS, notwithstanding the Chastisements received and Benefits bestowed, too few have been sufficiently awakened to a Sense of their Guilt, or warmed with Gratitude, or taught to amend their Lives and turn from their Sins, that so he might turn his Wrath: AND WHEREAS, from a Consciousness of what we have merited at his Hands, and an Apprehension that the Malevolence of our disappointed Enemies, like the Incredulity of Pharaoh, may be used as the Scourge of Omnipotence to vindicate his slighted Majesty, there is Reason to fear that he may permit much of our Land to become the Prey of the Spoiler, our Borders to be ravaged, and our Habitations destroyed:
THAT it be recommended to the several States to appoint the First Thursday in May next to be a Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer to Almighty God, that he will be pleased to avert those impending Calamities which we have but too well deserved: That he will grant us his Grace to repent of our Sins, and amend our Lives according to his Holy Word: That he will continue that wonderful Protection which hath led us through the Paths of Danger and Distress:...
That he will diffuse Useful Knowledge, extend the Influence of True Religion, and give us that Peace of Mind which the World cannot give.. (http://www.beliefnet.com/resourcelib/docs/35/Congressional_Prayer_Proclamation_1779_1.html)
Note: In contrast to the above proclamation and those of others in recommending national day of fasting and prayer, Jefferson, a non-Christian and strict separatist (but not as much as many today) dissented, but only as regards the federal level, stating, “I am aware that the practice of my predecessors may be quoted. But I have ever believed that the example of state executives led to the assumption of that authority by the general government, without due examination, which would have discovered that what might be a right in a state government, was a violation of that right when assumed by another. Be this as it may, every one must act according to the dictates of his own reason, & mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the US. and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents. (Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Miller, January 23, 1808; http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mtj:@field%28DOCID+@lit%28tj110010%29%29)
Congressional Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1782 — It being the indispensable duty of all nations, not only to offer up their supplications to Almighty God, the giver of all good, for His gracious assistance in a time of distress, but also in a solemn and public manner, to give Him praise for His goodness in general, and especially for great and signal interpositions of His Providence in their behalf; therefore, the Unites States in Congress assembled, taking into their consideration the many instances of Divine goodness to these States in the course of the important conflict, in which they have been so long engaged, - the present happy and promising state of public affairs, and the events of the war in the course of the year now drawing to a close;..Do hereby recommend it to the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe and request the several states to interpose their authority, in appointing and commanding the observation of THURSDAY the TWENTY-EIGHTH DAY OF NOVEMBER next as a day of SOLEMN THANKSGIVING to GOD for all His mercies; and they do further recommend to all ranks to testify their gratitude to God for His goodness by a cheerful obedience to His laws and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.
• Done in Congress at Philadelphia, the eleventh day of October, in the year of our LORD, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-two, and of our Sovereignty and Independence, the seventh. (http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=17944)
John Adams (1735—July 4, 1826. Second President and one of the Founding Fathers. Assisted Thomas Jefferson in drafting the Declaration of Independence) — "No simply form of government can possible secure men against the violence of power...Democracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few." (An Essay on Man's Lust for Power, August 29, 1763)
• ...we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. (From a letter Adams wrote on 11 October 1798 to the officers of the First Brigade, Third Division, of the Massachusetts Militia).ion of the Militia of Massachusetts,” October 11, 1798)
• 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. They will only exchange Tyrants and Tyrannies." (Letter to Zabdiel Adams, June 21, 1776; http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/hlaw:@field%28DOCID+@lit%28dg004210%29%29
• It is the will of Heaven that the two countries should be sundered forever. It may be the will of Heaven that America shall suffer calamities still more wasting and distressing yet more dreadful. If this is to be the case, it will have this good effect, at least: it will inspire us will many virtues, which we have not, and correct many errors, follies, and vices, which threaten to disturb, dishonor, and destroy us. The furnace of affliction produces refinement, in states as well as individuals. And the new governments we are assuming, in every part, will require a purification from our vices and an augmentation of our virtues or they will be no blessings. The people will have unbounded power. And the people are extremely addicted to corruption and venality, as well as the great. I am not without apprehensions from this quarter, but I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe. (Letter to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776)
• Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. . . . What a Eutopia – what a Paradise would this region be! (Diary Entry, February 22, 1756; http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com/john-adams-quotes-1.html)
• It [July 4th] ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty...And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not. (Letter to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776)
• 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 [Adams' boyhood parish priest and Latin school master]. Without Religion this World would be Something not fit to be mentioned in polite Company, I mean Hell. (Letter to Thomas Jefferson, April 19, 1817)
• They (the Puritans) saw clearly that of all the nonsense and delusion which had ever passed through the mind of man, none had ever been more extravagant than the notions of absolutions, indelible characters, uninterrupted successions, and the rest of those fantastical ideas, derived from the canon law, which had thrown such a glare of mystery, sanctity, reverence, and right reverend eminence and holiness around the idea of a priest as no mortal could deserve, and as always must, from the constitution of human nature, be dangerous to society. For this reason they demolished the whole system of diocesan episcopacy, and, deriding, as all reasonable and impartial men must do, the ridiculous fancies of sanctified effluvia from Episcopal fingers, they established sacerdotal ordination on the foundation of the Bible and common sense. (A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765; http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com/john-adams-quotes-1.html)
John Quincy Adams (1767—1848: Sixth President of the United States and one of the Founding Fathers. Proficient in five languages before he was 18) — In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior. The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity. (John Quincy Adams, An Oration Delivered Before the Inhabitants of the Town of Newburyport at Their Request on the Sixty-First Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1837 (Newburyport: Charles Whipple, 1837), pp. 5-6)
• The hope of a Christian is inseparable from his faith. Whoever believes in the Divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures must hope that the religion of Jesus shall prevail throughout the earth. Never since the foundation of the world have the prospects of mankind been more encouraging to that hope than they appear to be at the present time. And may the associated distribution of the Bible proceed and prosper till the Lord shall have made “bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” [Isaiah 52:10] (Life of John Quincy Adams, W. H. Seward, editor (Auburn, NY: Derby, Miller & Company, 1849), p. 248.)
• I have thrown myself, reeking with sin, on the mercy of God, through Jesus Christ His blessed Son and our (yes, my friend, our) precious Redeemer; and I have assurances as strong as that I now owe nothing to your rank that the debt is paid and now I love God – and with reason. I once hated him – and with reason, too, for I knew not Christ. The only cause why I should love God is His goodness and mercy to me through Christ. (Collected Letters of John Randolph of Roanoke to Dr. John Brockenbrough, Kenneth Shorey, editor (New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1988), p. 17, to John Brockenbrough, August 25, 1818)
• I am at last reconciled to my God and have assurance of His pardon through faith in Christ, against which the very gates of hell cannot prevail. Fear hath been driven out by perfect love. (Hugh A. Garland, The Life of John Randolph of Roanoke (New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1853), Vol. II, p. 99, to Francis Scott Key on September 7, 1818).
Samuel Adams (1722—1803: one of the Founding Fathers; Ratifier of the u. s. Constitution; Signer of the Declaration of Independence; “Father of the American Revolution”) — I conceive we cannot better express ourselves than by humbly supplicating the Supreme Ruler of the world . . . that the confusions that are and have been among the nations may be overruled by the promoting and speedily bringing in the holy and happy period when the kingdoms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be everywhere established, and the people willingly bow to the scepter of Him who is the Prince of Peace. (From a Fast Day Proclamation issued by Governor Samuel Adams, Massachusetts, March 20, 1797; http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=8755#FN12)
• ...may [we] with one heart and voice humbly implore His gracious and free pardon through Jesus Christ, supplicating His Divine aid . . . [and] above all to cause the religion of Jesus Christ, in its true spirit, to spread far and wide till the whole earth shall be filled with His glory. (Proclamation for a Day of Fasting and Prayer, March 10, 1793)
• ..with true contrition of heart to confess their sins to God and implore forgiveness through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior. (Proclamation for a Day of Fasting and Prayer, March 15, 1796)
• A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader. (Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, ed. (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1905), Vol. IV, p. 124; http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=126#fn25)
John Hancock (1737—1793. Prominent philanthropist, patriot and Signer of the Declaration of Independence; President of Congress and twice Governor Massachusetts) — called on the entire state (MA) to pray,
• that universal happiness may be established in the world [and] that all may bow to the scepter of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the whole earth be filled with His glory. ( A Proclamation For a Day of Public Thanksgiving 1791, given as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; http://www.davidbarton.biz/2010/04/23/a-spiritual-heritage-tool-of-the-united-states-capitol-by-david-barton0
• ..that with true contrition of heart we may confess our sins, resolve to forsake them, and implore the Divine forgiveness, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, our Savior. . . . And finally to overrule all the commotions in the world to the spreading the true religion of our Lord Jesus Christ in its purity and power among all the people of the earth. (Proclamation for Day of Public Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, March 4, 1793)
• Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us. (History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229)
Abraham Baldwin (1754—1807. Founding Father, Signer of the Constitution, Patriot, and prominent legislator) — “...a free government...can only be happy when the public principle and opinions are properly directed. This is an influence beyond the reach of laws and punishments, can only be, an can only be claimed by religion and education.” (Charles Colcock Jones, “Biographical sketches of the delegates from Georgia to the Continental Congress,” pp. 6,7)
James Madison (1751—1836. The fourth President. Instrumental in the drafting of the Constitution, and one of the stronger advocates of separation) — "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." (Letter to William Bradford, September 25, 1773)
• ...the simple question to be decided, is whether a support of the best & purest religion, the Christian religion itself ought not, so far at least as pecuniary means are involved, to be provided for by the Government, rather than be left to the voluntary provisions of those who profess it. (Religion and Politics in the Early Republic: Jasper Adams and the Church-State Debate, Daniel L. Dreisbach, ed. (Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 1996), p. 117)
• While we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess, and to observe, the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to them whose minds have not yielded to the evidence which has convinced us. (James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance [Massachusetts: Isaiah Thomas, 1786]; http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=126#fn14)
• Religious bondage [in regards to a state church and required assent, contrary to freedom of religion] shackles and debilitates the mind, and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect. How far this is the case with Virginia will more clearly appear when the ensuing trial is made. (Letter to William Bradford, April 1, 1774)
• No power over the freedom of religion [is] delegated to the United States by the Constitution.
Home-schooled as a child, Madison attended Princeton University under the direction of Reverend John Witherspoon, one of the nation's premier theologians and legal scholars. The University's first president, Jonathan Dickinson, had declared: “Cursed be all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ. (William J. Federer wrote in the Madison section of his America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations, p. 410)]
Elias Boudinot (1740—1821. President of Congress 1782 to 1783) — Let us enter on this important business under the idea that we are Christians on whom the eyes of the world are now turned… [L]et us earnestly call and beseech Him, for Christ’s sake, to preside in our councils. . . . We can only depend on the all powerful influence of the Spirit of God, Whose Divine aid and assistance it becomes us as a Christian people most devoutly to implore. Therefore I move that some minister of the Gospel be requested to attend this Congress every morning . . . in order to open the meeting with prayer.
Patrick Henry (1736—1799. Attorney, twice Governor of Virginia and a Founding Father who is regarded as one of the most influential champions of Republicanism, and an invested promoter of the American Revolution) — Righteousness alone can exalt them [America] as a nation. Whoever thou art, remember this; and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others. (William Wirt, “Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry, “Vol. 2 p. 632)
• The Bible… is a book worth more than all the other books that were ever printed. (^ibid, p. 519)
• Being a Christian… is a character which I prize far above all this world has or can boast. (A. G. Arnold, The Life of Patrick Henry of Virginia; http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=8755)
Justice Joseph Story (1779—1845. Supreme Court Justice from 1811 to 1845 and whose Commentaries on the Constitution is one of the chief cornerstones of early American jurisprudence), — One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law. There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundations. (Joseph Story, Life and Letters of Joseph Story, William W. Story, editor, Vol. II, p. 8, 1851)
• Probably, at the time of the adoption of the constitution and of the amendment to it, now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.
It yet remains a problem to be solved in human affairs, whether any free government can be permanent, where the public worship of God, and the support of religion, constitute no part of the policy or duty of the state in any assignable shape... But the duty of supporting religion, and especially the Christian religion, is very different from the right to force the consciences of other men, or to punish them for worshipping God in the manner, which, they believe, their accountability to him requires. The rights of conscience are, indeed, beyond the just reach of any human power. They are given by God, and cannot be encroached upon by human authority...
The real object of the amendment was, not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, 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 an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government. It thus cut off the means of religious persecution, (the vice and pest of former ages,) and of the subversion of the rights of conscience in matters of religion, which had been trampled upon almost from the days of the Apostles to the present age. (Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States. Cp. XLIV (1833; http://www.constitution.org/js/js_344.htm) More in commentary below.
John Jay (1745—1829. Founding Father, Patriot, author of the Federalist Papers, first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, of statesman, Governor of New York) — Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers. (William Jay, The Life of John Jay (New York: J. & J. Harper, 1833), Vol. II, p. 376, to John Murray Jr. on October 12, 1816)
• By conveying the Bible to people thus circumstanced we [believers] certainly do them a most interesting act of kindness. We thereby enable them to learn, that man was originally created and placed in a state of happiness, but, becoming disobedient, was subjected to the degradation and evils which he and his posterity have since experienced. The Bible will also inform them, that our gracious Creator has provided for us a Redeemer, in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed—that this Redeemer has made atonement “for the sins of the whole world,” and thereby reconciling the Divine justice with the Divine mercy, has opened a way for our redemption and salvation; and that these inestimable benefits are of the free gift and grace of God, not of our deserving, nor in our power to deserve. (John Jay, The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, 1794-1826, Henry P. Johnston, editor (New York: Burt Franklin, 1890), Vol. IV, pp. 494, 498, from his “Address at the Annual Meeting of the American Bible Society,” May 13, 1824)
I have received your letter of the 22d inst., informing me that the corporation of the city of New York had resolved to celebrate, with public demonstrations of respect and joy, the ensuing anniversary of American Independence, and inviting me,..I cannot forbear to embrace the opportunity afforded by the present occasion, to express my earnest hope that the peace, happiness, and prosperity enjoyed by our beloved country, may induce those who direct her national councils to recommend a general and public return of praise and thanksgiving to Him from whose goodness these blessings descend. (William Jay, The Life of John Jay (New York: J. & J. Harper, 1833), Vol. I, pp. 457-458, to the Committee of the Corporation of the City of New York on June 29, 1826)
Benjamin Rush (1746—1813. Founding Father; signer of the Declaration of Independence; Surgeon General of the Continental Army; ratifier of the U. S. Constitution; “Father of American Medicine”; treasurer of the U. S. Mint; “Father of Public Schools under the Constitution”) — By renouncing the Bible, philosophers swing from their moorings upon all moral subjects. It is the only correct map of the human heart that ever has been published. All systems of religion, morals, and government not founded upon it [the Bible] must perish, and how consoling the thought, it will not only survive the wreck of these systems but the world itself. “The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (Benjamin Rush, Letters of Benjamin Rush, L. H. Butterfield, editor (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1951), Vol. II, p. 936, to John Adams, January 23, 1807)
• I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am as satisfied that it is as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament. (^ibid Vol. I, p. 475, to Elias Boudinot on July 9, 1788)
• The great enemy of the salvation of man, in my opinion, never invented a more effective means of limiting Christianity from the world than by persuading mankind that it was improper to read the Bible at schools. ^ibid Vol. I, p. 521, to Jeremy Belknap on July 13, 1789
• We profess to be republicans, yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government, that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible; for this divine book, above all others,favors that equality among all mankind, that respect for just laws, and all those sober and frugal virtues, which constitute the soul of republicanism.(Benjamin Rush, Essays, Literary, Moral & Philosophical (Philadelphia: Thomas & Samuel F. Bradford, 1798), p. 112,113, “A Defence of the Use of the Bible as a School Book; addressed to the Rev. Jeremy Belknap of Boston )
• The Bible, when not read in schools, is seldom read in any subsequent period of life. [T]he Bible… should be read in our schools in preference to all other books because it contains the greatest portion of that kind of knowledge which is calculated to produce private and public happiness. (^ibid pp. pp. 94, 100)
Abraham Lincoln (1809—1865. 16th President from 1861 to 1865; led his country through its greatest constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union while ending slavery, and promoting economic and financial modernization) — It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord...
But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced be some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.
Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.
All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope, authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace. (Proclamation for National Day of Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer; http://peacebyjesus.witnesstoday.org/ProclamationNationalFastDay.html)
• Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulties. (A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897, James D. Richardson, editor [Published by Authority of Congress, 1899), Vol. VI, p. 11, from his First Inaugural, March 4, 1861])
• That every man may receive at least a moderate education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free institutions, appears to be an object of vital importance, even on this account alone, to say nothing of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from all being able to read the Scriptures, and other works both of a religious and moral nature for themselves. (The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Roy P. Basler, editor [New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1953], Vol. I, p. 8, from his "Communication to the People of Sangamo County," March 9, 1832)
• [Attributed] As a ruler I doubt if any president has ever shown such trust in God, or in public documents so frequently referred to Divine aid. Often did he remark to friends and to delegations that his hope for our success rested in his conviction that God would bless our efforts, because we were trying to do right. To the address of a large religious body he replied, "Thanks be unto God, who, in our national trials, giveth us the Churches." To a minister who said he hoped the Lord was on our side, he replied that it gave him no concern whether the Lord was on our side or not "For," he added, "I know the Lord is always on the side of right;" and with deep feeling added, "But God is my witness that it is my constant anxiety and prayer that both myself and this nation should be on the Lord's side." (Rev. Matthew Simpson, D.D, May 4, 1865, Funeral address, Methodist Episcopal Church, Springfield, Illinois; http://beck.library.emory.edu/lincoln/sermon.php?id=simpson.001)
Alexis de Tocqueville (1805—1859. French political thinker and historian; best known for his two volume, “Democracy in America”) — The sects that exist in the United States are innumerable. They all differ in respect to the worship which is due to the Creator; but they all agree in respect to the duties which are due from man to man. Each sect adores the Deity in its own peculiar manner, but all sects preach the same moral law in the name of God...Moreover, all the sects of the United States are comprised within the great unity of Christianity, and Christian morality is everywhere the same...
In the United States the sovereign authority is religious, and consequently hypocrisy must be common; but there is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth...
There is certainly no country in the world where the tie of marriage is more respected than in America or where conjugal happiness is more highly or worthily appreciated, In Europe almost all the disturbances of society arise from the irregularities of domestic life. To despise the natural bonds and legitimate pleasures of home is to contract a taste for excesses, a restlessness of heart, and fluctuating desires. Agitated by the tumultuous passions that frequently disturb his dwelling, the European is galled by the obedience which the legislative powers of the state exact. But when the American retires from the turmoil of public life to the bosom of his family, he finds in it the image of order and of peace...
The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other; and with them this conviction does not spring from that barren traditionary faith which seems to vegetate in the soul rather than to live...
Thus religious zeal is perpetually warmed in the United States by the fires of patriotism. These men do not act exclusively from a consideration of a future life; eternity is only one motive of their devotion to the cause. If you converse with these missionaries of Christian civilization, you will be surprised to hear them speak so often of the goods of this world, and to meet a politician where you expected to find a priest.
They will tell you that "all the American republics are collectively involved with each other; if the republics of the West were to fall into anarchy, or to be mastered by a despot, the republican institutions which now flourish upon the shores of the Atlantic Ocean would be in great peril. It is therefore our interest that the new states should be religious, in order that they may permit us to remain free." (Democracy in America, Volume I Chapter XVII, 1835; http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/religion/ch1_17.htm)
• There are certain populations in Europe whose unbelief is only equaled by their ignorance and their debasement, while in America one of the freest and most enlightened nations in the world fulfills all the outward duties of religion with fervor.
Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more did I perceive the great political consequences resulting from this state of things, to which I was unaccustomed. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses diametrically opposed to each other; but in America I found that they were intimately united, and that they reigned in common over the same country. (Democracy in America, [New York: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1851), pp. 331, 332, 335, 336-7, 337; http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/religion/ch1_17.htm)
A quote often attributed to Tocqueville but which is not documented by any early sources, states,
• Not until I went into the churches of American and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
Benjamin Franklin (1706—1790. One of the Founding Fathers; leading thinker; author; printer; statesman; postmaster; diplomat, and a non-Christian deist) — ...serious religion, under its various denominations, is not only tolerated, but respected and practiced. Atheism is unknown there; Infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great age in that country without having their piety shocked by meeting with either an Atheist or an Infidel. And the Divine Being seems to have manifested His approbation of the mutual forbearance and kindness by which the different sects treat each other, and by the remarkable prosperity with which He has been please to favor the whole country. (Benjamin Franklin, "Information to those who would Remove to America" In Franklin, Benjamin. The Bagatelles from Passy. Ed. Lopez, Claude A. New York: Eakins Press. 1967; http://mith.umd.edu//eada/html/display.php?docs=franklin_bagatelle4.xml. Also, John Gould Curtis, American history told by contemporaries .... Volume 3, p. 26)
Daniel Webster (1782—1852. Leading constitutional scholar/lawyer and statesman, senator from Massachusetts, Secretary of State under three presidents) — If there is anything in my thoughts or style to commend, the credit is due to my parents for instilling in me an early love of the Scriptures. (Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers , p. 33; http://archive.org/stream/dictionaryburni00gilbgoog/dictionaryburni00gilbgoog_djvu.txt)
• And let me say, gentlemen, that if we and our posterity shall be true to the Christian religion, if we and they shall live always in the fear of God, and shall respect His commandments, if we and they shall maintain just moral sentiments and such conscientious convictions of duty as shall control the heart and life, we may have the highest hopes of the future fortunes of our country; and if we maintain those institutions of government and that political union, exceeding all praise as much as it exceeds all former examples of political associations,...It will go on prospering and to prosper.
But if we and our posterity reject religious institutions and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifile with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity. Should that catastrophe happen, let it have no history! (“The Dignity and Importance of History,” address to the Historical Society of New York, February 23, 1852. Source: Shewmaker, 130-137 http://www.dartmouth.edu/~dwebster/speeches/dignity-history.html
The following quote is very similar to the above, and apparently first appeared in the Annual Report of the Massachusetts Bible Society (1870), p. 27, and perhaps was a condensed paraphrase of the above, expressing its thought:
• If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.
The next quote perhaps lacks early attribution, as the earliest source I have found is from a compilation of quotes first published in 1908, and without details of when and where it was said (such details I suspect were not a priority in that era):
• If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be;
If God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy; If the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will;
If the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end." (Tryon Edwards, “A Dictionary of Thoughts: Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors of the World, Both Ancient and Modern ,“1908. p. 49)
• Lastly, our ancestors established their system of government on morality and religious sentiment. Moral habits, they believed, cannot safely be trusted on any other foundation than religious principle, nor any government be secure which is not supported by moral habits.... Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.” (Daniel Webster, “The life, eulogy, and great orations of Daniel Webster,” 1854, p. 49)
• Finally, let us not forget the religious character of our origin. Our fathers were brought hither by their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political, or literary. Let us cherish these sentiments, and extend this influence still more widely; in full conviction that that is the happiest society which partakes in the highest degree of the mild and peaceful spirit of Christianity. (Daniel Webster, “The life, eulogy, and great orations of Daniel Webster,” p. 51)
June 17, 1843, at the Bunker Hill Monument in Charleston, Massachusetts, Webster declared,
• The Bible came with them. And it is not to be doubted, that to free and universal reading of the Bible, in that age, men were much indebted for right views of civil liberty.
The Bible is a book of faith, and a book of doctrine, and a book of morals, and a book of religion, of special revelation from God; but it is also a book which teaches man his own individual responsibility, his own dignity, and his equality with his fellow-man. (Address at the completion of the Bunker Hill Monument ,” June 17, 1843, The Bunker Hill Monument orations: The Bunker Hill Monument. [1825...] p. 47; in “A discourse,
Noah Webster (1758—1843). He is called the "Father of American Scholarship and Education," and was author of several books that were widely used in schools in his day. Note that in 1808 Webster underwent a profound conversion to Christ that is reflected in his statements, which contrast some earlier ones. —
• As soon as the Reformation from popery began to dawn in the sixteenth century, and civil liberty has been advancing and improving as genuine Christianity has prevailed...
• [T]he religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles, which enjoins humility, piety and benevolence…This is genuine Christianity and to this we owe our free constitutions of government. (Noah Webster, History of the United States [New Haven: Durrie and Peck, 1832], p. 300)
The moral principles and precepts found in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws... All the misery and evils which men suffer vice...proceed from their neglecting or despising the precepts contained in the Bible.
As the means of temporal happiness, the Christian religion ought to be received, and maintained with cordial support. It is the real source of genuine republican principles...
The religion of Christ and His apostles, in its simplicity and purity, unencumbered by the trappings of power and the pomp of ceremonies, is the surest basis of a republican government. (^ibid, p. 339)
• [O]ur citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament, or the Christian religion. (^ ibid, p. 6)
• In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed…No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people. (Preface to the 1828 edition of Webster's American Dictionary of the English)
• The Bible is the chief moral cause of all that is good and the best corrector of all that is evil in human society – the best book for regulating the temporal concerns of men, and the only book that can serve as an infallible guide to future felicity. (Noah Webster, The Holy Bible . . . With Amendments of the Language (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1833), p. 5.)
• [T]he Christian religion… is the basis, or rather the source, of all genuine freedom in government… I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of Christianity have not a controlling influence. (K. Alan Snyder, Defining Noah Webster: Mind and Morals in the Early Republic (New York: University Press of America, 1990), p. 253, to James Madison on October 16, 1829)
Illinois Supreme Court (1883) — Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian. (Richmond v. Moore, 107 Ill. 429, 1883 WL 10319 [Ill.], 47 Am.Rep. 445 [Ill. 1883; http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=126#10]
Northwest Ordinance (1787; a act of the Congress considered one of the four foundational or organic laws in America) presented the requirements for statehood. The ordinance declared, “Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/vc006502.jpg)
Horace Mann (1796—1859. Politician and “the father of American public education”) —
• ...it may not be easy theoretically, to draw the line between those views of religious truth and of Christian faith which is common to all, and may, therefore, with propriety be inculcated in schools, and those which, being peculiar to individual sects, are therefore by law excluded; still it is believed that no practical difficulty occurs in the conduct of our schools in this regard. (Stephen V. Monsma, J. Christopher Soper, “The Challenge of Pluralism: Church and State in Five Democracies,” The Unites States, cp. 2, p. 21)
• ..our system earnestly inculcates all Christian morals; it founds its morals on the basis of religion; it welcomes the religion of the Bible; and, in receiving the Bible, it allows it to do what it is allowed to do in no other system,— to speak for itself. But here it stops, not because it claims to have compassed all truth; but because it disclaims to act as an umpire between hostile religious opinions. (Horace Mann in Reports on “Religious Education,” recorded by Joseph Cook, Hazlitt Alva Cuppy, in “Our day: a record and review of current reform” , Vol. 3, p. 376)
Mann also stated that this position resulted in a near universal use of the Bible in the schools of Massachusetts, and that this served as an argument against the assertion by some that Christianity was excluded from his schools, or that they were anti or unchristian. (Mann, Twelfth Annual Report for 1848 of the Secretary of the Board of Education of Massachusetts, pp. 116,177,121,122)
(Mann, although being Unitarian — a sect which denied the Biblical Christ and other doctrines that make them uncomfortable, but yet sought to uphold Christian morality, before it became the overtly liberal organization it is today — supported prohibition of alcohol and intemperance, slavery and lotteries, and dreaded “intellectual eminence when separated from virtue”, that education, if taught without moral responsibilities, would produce more evil than it inherited. See also http://www.conservapedia.com/Moral_decline)
• Roosevelt provided “Nine Reasons Why a Man Should Go to Church,” such as,
General Douglas MacArthur (1880—1964. Famous American general) — History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual re- awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster. (Revitalizing a nation: a statement of beliefs, opinions, and policies embodied in the public pronouncements of Douglas MacArthur,” p. 14)
• The people have it in their hands to restore morality, wisdom and direction to of our foreign and domestic affairs, and regain the religious base which in times past assured general integrity in public and private life. (On Flag Day, Houston Tx. June 14, 1951, quoted in “Revitalizing a nation: a statement of beliefs, opinions, and policies embodied in the public pronouncements of Douglas MacArthur,” p. 20)
• Dwight D Eisenhower — The purpose of a devout and united people was set forth in the pages of The Bible … (1) to live in freedom, (2) to work in a prosperous land… and (3) to obey the commandments of God… This Biblical story of the promised land inspired the founders of America. It continues to inspire us. (“A Letter from the White House honoring the Bible,” American Bible Society, 1960, p. 155)
• Ronald Reagan (1911—2004. 33rd Governor of California— If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under...
Without God, there is no virtue, because there's no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we're mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society and without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. (Memorial Services in the Congress of the United States and Tributes.., p. 114)
Commentary: Many strict separationists imagine that the 1st Amendment forbids any type of official sanction of religion by Federal or State government, and that it is even antagonistic against religion, at least that of historical Christian faith, yet the overwhelming evidence testifies that this is not what the Founders meant, or was originally understood to mean. For while they did reject a formal Federal establishment of one religion or sanction of one church (as in England, and a close alliance in which the State ran the Church of the Church ran the State), yet as moral laws and customs of the State reflect the foundational commonly-held ideology of the Founders, and which, especially in America, reflected the general religious faith of “we the people,” thus the State implicitly sanctioned that general faith in official statements and moral laws and customs.
The interpretation that “the First Amendment has erected a wall between Church and State which must be kept high and impregnable” in prohibiting any official general affirmations of faith is not what is best warranted in the light of history. While not requiring assent of faith to one organized State religion, the government officially sanctioned in a general way the faith of the people. Such sanction has been as American as apple pie. God is acknowledged in every single state constitution, the Bible has historically been used in make pledges, and every president has said "So help me God" in taking the oath of office, and has mentioned God in his inaugural address. 52 of the 55 signers of the Constitution were members of churches (and even the Deists among them overall reverenced the Bible) and none of the Founders were atheists (if anything they were antagonistic against atheism), and upheld Christian morality, sanctioned prayer and invoked the authority do the Bible in government, and favored it's influence over the people. In addition are the many laws (including against polygamy) and customs which find their principal support in Christian religion, often having a basis in English ecclesiastical law and Christian philosophy.
Justice Joseph Story, Supreme Court Justice from 1811 to 1845 stated (emphasis mine), “One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law. There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundations.” (Joseph Story, Life and Letters of Joseph Story, William W. Story, editor, Vol. II, p. 8, 1851)
His “Commentaries on the Constitution” is one of the chief cornerstones of early American jurisprudence, and he stated in that work,
§ 1865. Indeed, the right of a society or government to interfere [be involved] in matters of religion will hardly be contested by any persons, who believe that piety, religion, and morality are intimately connected with the well being of the state, and indispensable to the administration of civil justice. The promulgation of the great doctrines of religion, the being, and attributes, and providence of one Almighty God; the responsibility to him for all our actions, founded upon moral freedom and accountability; a future state of rewards and punishments; the cultivation of all the personal, social, and benevolent virtues;--these never can be a matter of indifference in any well ordered community. It is, indeed, difficult to conceive, how any civilized society can well exist without them... This is a point wholly distinct from that of the right of private judgment in matters of religion, and of the freedom of public worship according to the dictates of one's conscience.
§ 1866. The real difficulty lies in ascertaining the limits, to which government may rightfully go in fostering and encouraging religion...
§ 1867. Now, there will probably be found few persons in this, or any other Christian country, who would deliberately contend, that it was unreasonable, or unjust to foster and encourage the Christian religion generally, as a matter of sound policy, as well as of revealed truth. In fact, every American colony, from its foundation down to the revolution, with the exception of Rhode Island, (if, indeed, that state be an exception,) did openly, by the whole course of its laws and institutions, support and sustain, in some form, the Christian religion; and almost invariably gave a peculiar sanction to some of its fundamental doctrines. And this has continued to be the case in some of the states down to the present period, without the slightest suspicion, that it was against the principles of public law, or republican liberty. Indeed, in a republic, there would seem to be a peculiar propriety in viewing the Christian religion, as the great basis, on which it must rest for its support and permanence, if it be, what it has ever been deemed by its truest friends to be, the religion of liberty...
§ 1868. Probably, at the time of the adoption of the constitution and of the amendment to it, now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.”
And as is abundantly substantiated, the general Christian faith was indeed encouraged while still preserving freedom of worship and rights of conscience (yet which is not the same as freedom from being offended), but which an official religion would violate. Thus Story also wrote (read carefully),
§ 1871. The real object of the amendment was, not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, 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 an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government. It thus cut off the means of religious persecution, (the vice and pest of former ages,) and of the subversion of the rights of conscience in matters of religion, which had been trampled upon almost from the days of the Apostles to the present age....
§ 1873. It was under a solemn consciousness of the dangers from ecclesiastical ambition, the bigotry of spiritual pride, and the intolerance of sects [and which restricted rights based on religion], thus exemplified in our domestic, as well as in foreign annals, that it was deemed advisable to exclude from the national government all power to act upon the subject. The situation, too, of the different states equally proclaimed the policy, as well as the necessity of such an exclusion. In some of the states episcopalians constituted the predominant sect; in other presbyterians; in others, congregationalists; in other, quakers; in others again, there was close numerical rivalry among contending sects. It was impossible, that there should not arise perpetual strife and perpetual jealousy on the subject of ecclesiastical ascendancy, if the national government were left free to create a religious establishment. The only security was in extirpating the power [to create a national religious establishment]. But this alone would have been an imperfect security, if it has not been followed up by a declaration of the right of the free exercise of religion, and a prohibition (as we have seen) of all religious tests. Thus, the whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the state governments, to be acted upon according to their own sense of justice, and the state constitutions; and the Catholic and Protestant, the Calvinist and the Arminian, the Jew and the Infidel, may sit down at the common table of the national councils, without any inquisition into their faith, or mode of worship. (Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States. Cp. XLIV (1833; http://www.constitution.org/js/js_344.htm)
Here “a religious establishment” contextually refers to a state religion such as was seen and still was to be allowed in most states, but which state religion the federal government was excluded from establishing. Thus rather than in states such as Connecticut where Baptists had to support the Congressional church, and or which mandated a religious test for candidates, even an atheist could be elected, and not compelled to give assent to religious creeds, or even faith in God, or support a church.
But which did not mean, as modern courts have ruled, that the federal government could not favor one faith over another in a general way, in practices and laws, reflective of the faith of the Founders and that of the voters, and requires that all must asset to moral laws and respect freedoms even if they are contrary to their religion. And it cannot mean, as has been ruled recently, that practices that offend someone's faith or lack thereof must be rejected, which is an imposition that favors an ideology that can itself be antagonistic against the faith of another. Rather, the faith of the Founders and the voters must be what is reflected in moral laws and practices, but which cannot compel assent of heart to theological beliefs or partaking in customs that affirm them (though there can be some interpretation as to whether dissent would be justified on these grounds).
And also in contrast to today, the 1st Amendment was directed at the federal government (“Congress shall make no...”), not the States, as Story affirms.
Among the evidence that the Founders overall did not see the 1st Amendment as excluding the government from recognizing Christianity as lying at its foundations, and from generally reflecting in basically non-polemical aspects of the faith of the people, a Library of Congress Exhibition states,
Congress appointed chaplains for itself and the armed forces, sponsored the publication of a Bible, imposed Christian morality on the armed forces, and granted public lands to promote Christianity among the Indians. National days of thanksgiving and of "humiliation, fasting, and prayer" were proclaimed by Congress at least twice a year throughout the war. Congress was guided by "covenant theology," a Reformation doctrine especially dear to New England Puritans, which held that God bound himself in an agreement with a nation and its people. This agreement stipulated that they "should be prosperous or afflicted, according as their general Obedience or Disobedience thereto appears." Wars and revolutions were, accordingly, considered afflictions, as divine punishments for sin, from which a nation could rescue itself by repentance and reformation.
The Continental-Confederation Congress, a legislative body that governed the United States from 1774 to 1789, contained an extraordinary number of deeply religious men. The amount of energy that Congress invested in encouraging the practice of religion in the new nation exceeded that expended by any subsequent American national government. Although the Articles of Confederation did not officially authorize Congress to concern itself with religion, the citizenry did not object to such activities. This lack of objection suggests that both the legislators and the public considered it appropriate for the national government to promote a nondenominational, nonpolemical Christianity...
appointing chaplains of different denominations, Congress
expressed a revolutionary egalitarianism in religion and its
desire to prevent any single denomination from monopolizing
government patronage. This policy was followed by the
Congress was apprehensive about the moral condition of the American army and navy and took steps to see that Christian morality prevailed in both organizations. In the Articles of War, seen below, governing the conduct of the Continental Army (seen above) (adopted, June 30, 1775; revised, September 20, 1776), Congress devoted three of the four articles in the first section to the religious nurture of the troops. Article 2 "earnestly recommended to all officers and soldiers to attend divine services." Punishment was prescribed for those who behaved "indecently or irreverently" in churches, including courts-martial, fines and imprisonments. Chaplains who deserted their troops were to be court-martialed. (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel04.html)
Likewise the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville states:
In the United States the sovereign authority is religious, and consequently hypocrisy must be common; but there is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.
The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other; and with them this conviction does not spring from that barren traditionary faith which seems to vegetate in the soul rather than to live. (Democracy in America, [New York: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1851), pp. 331, 332, 335, 336-7, 337; http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/religion/ch1_17.htm)
Such testimony does not mean that all the Founders were orthodox Christians (and see denominational adherences here), nor that a few could not express some skepticism of the Bible, and an understandable aversion towards the institutionalized religion of their history, or that all were Biblical Christians. Nor does it mean that, her merchant ships being being attacked by Muslim pirates who were holding her sailors for ransom, and seeking peace, not a holy war, the government could pragmatically once precisely state that “the Government of the United States” was not actually “founded on the Christian religion in any sense,” as it had no “character of enmity” against Muslims and Islam (Treaty of Tripoli and see here on context). And which in that specified sense (not in “any sense”) was reasonably accurate, and distinguished it from the Muslim conception of a America being like European and Christian theocracies. Yet in essence the Government of the United States was contrary to Islam with its Sharia law and other aspects, and what the Founders did not deny but rather affirmed (as seen above) was that America itself was a “Christian” nation overall, and based on the Christian faith. As even the English writer and later atheist Harriet Martineau stated in 1837, “The institutions of America are, as I have said, planted down deep into Christianity. Its spirit must make an effectual pilgrimage through a society of which it may be called a native.” (Society in America, p. 366)
A theocracy is different than a state that reflects and implicitly generally affirms and upholds a basic Protestant faith of the people, in which separation of Church and State is a part, so that the State does not run the church (which in recent times it is increasingly attempting to interfere in), or require membership or assent to its creeds, but gives citizenship to peoples of various faiths, and in which no church runs the State, even though again, it expresses the faith of its founders and voters as they elect candidates that support religion in general and what they believe. And thus it may require submission to moral laws which may find their principal support in religion.
Allowing religion to influencing politicians, or politicians to influence believers, such as who and what they commend and each vote for, respectively, does not run counter to the mutual independence of the Church and the State, and which was seen as advantageous to both, while the emphasis should be against the State actual interfering in the business of the Church. As James Madison (one of stronger opponents of State religion) expressed, "(I)t may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to usurpation on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interfering in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespasses on its legal rights by others." (James Madison, in a letter to Rev Jasper Adams spring 1832, from James Madison on Religious Liberty, edited by Robert S. Alley, pp. 237-238)
While the Establishment Clause should not apply to the States, that it need not preclude government sanction of the basic faith of the Founders overall, and of the citizens, was illustrated by Horace Mann, often called the “the father of American public education,” and whose work in Massachusetts influenced the direction of other states. Mann was not a Biblical Christian but a Unitarian in the day when it still upheld the morality of the Bible, and while he admitted that “our Public Schools are not Theological Seminaries,” he assured those alarmed at that model that while his system was “debarred by law from inculcating the peculiar and distinctive doctrines of any one religious denomination amongst us,...or all that is essential to religion or to salvation,.. [yet] our system earnestly inculcates all Christian morals; it founds its morals on the basis of religion; it welcomes the religion of the Bible; and, in receiving the Bible, it allows it to do what it is allowed to do in no other system,— to speak for itself. (Mann, Twelfth Annual Report for 1848 of the Secretary of the Board of Education of Massachusetts. pp. 116,177
Thus he supported Bible reading but without comment in order to discourage sectarian bickering. Today that inculcation of Christian morals on the basis of the welcome religion of the Bible is something secularists protest against. Mann also stated, “it may not be easy theoretically, to draw the line between those views of religious truth and of Christian faith which is common to all, and may, therefore, with propriety be inculcated in schools, and those which, being peculiar to individual sects, are therefore by law excluded; still it is believed that no practical difficulty occurs in the conduct of our schools in this regard.” (Massachusetts. Board of Education, “Annual report of the Board of Education,” p. 14; Stephen V. Monsma, J. Christopher Soper, “The Challenge of Pluralism: Church and State in Five Democracies”, The United States, cp. 2, p. 21)
This meant that the State would not support the particular tenets of any sect of Christians, while it yet supported inculcation of Christian morals and aspects of the faith which were common to all, and which reading the Bible, even without comment, passively fostered and implicitly sanctioned. As using the Bible in schools to support a particular Christian sect sometimes resulted in not reading it all, Mann also stated that his position resulted in a near universal use of the Bible in the schools of Massachusetts, and that this served as an argument against the assertion by some that Christianity was excluded from his schools, or that they were anti or unchristian.(ibid, Mann, Twelfth Annual Report, pp. 121,122)
(It should be noted that it was Puritans places a high emphasis on literacy — especially as regards the Bible — and education, including on the university level, and Christian groups started almost all of America's universities in the first 160 years after the Pilgrims. And it was the the increase in Christian faith and religious diversity that paradoxically fostered the secular school system, as again, it assured student would not be subject to indoctrination of one particular sect, while not being anti- or unChristian, but fostering its morals and common faith. Today student are instead “indoctrinated” in a ideology that is essentially increasingly contrary to Christian faith and morals.)
Likewise, practices such as opening up the House of Representatives for regular religious services by a variety of Christian sects, and which even Jefferson as President regularly attended, (Mrs. Samuel Harrison Smith [Margaret Bayard], “The first forty years of Washington society,” pp.13,15; "Religion and the Federal Government: PART 2") certainly has the State aiding, and not simply accommodating, religious faith.
However, even allowing expression of the basic common Christian faith is what is increasingly made difficult today, as antiseptic exclusion of any manner of sanction of religious faith, at least the traditional Christian kind, is demanded by strict separatists. The reason for their degree of success is because the same principle by which the State reflects the beliefs and values of the people, and which once was overwhelming a strong Christian faith, also applies to any beliefs which the voters consciously or unconsciously subscribe to. And in a post Christian democracy this can result in seeing State support of another religion, or that of an anti-religious State-sanctioned ideology which largely functions as religion and requires assent to its ethos. And although that should be prevented in a democratic republic that interprets the Constitution consistent with the revealed historical intent and the common faith behind it, the voters can elect officials which result in interpreting the Constitution as supporting a radically different exegesis of the Constitution. As it was, it took over 150 years for “enlightened” judges to outlaw teacher-led basic prayer and official Bible reading in state-run public schools, which had been widespread in beginning the school day. It is stated that an estimated 75% of the school systems in the South had Bible readings in 1962 when official prayer was banned. (Colliers 1961 Yearbook, p. 224)
I do not mention this to affirm that that the State should require (rather than allow) official prayer and basic Bible readings, but that public schools should be able to choose to do so, especially as per states rights, and that in any case the State will teach something theologically, reflecting historical beliefs and cultural customs. And as shown, historically the separation of church and state accommodated expressions of faith, rather than exclude it as strict seperationists seek to do, and thus effectively supplant it with another “faith,” even that which is behind the latest social experimentation (protection and promotion of homosexuality, etc.) that it now engages in.
It should be understood here that the positive example of of such things as prayer in not the only thing that is didactic, but the negative is as well, as for the State to refuse to officially express gratitude to and dependence upon a creator (unlike so many Founders) is also a form of teaching, conveying that it owes nothing and needs nothing from a creator, thus inculcating atheism in its students, especially as it increasingly engages in moral instruction and intolerance of expressions of faith. In other words, if the State acts practically as an atheist then it influences the students to do so, especially as they are ignorant of the nuances of separation, and the meaning of the 1st Amendment is often conveyed as being antagonistic against religion (not just European-type theocracies) in contrast to the past. See also History of American Education and Cause and Effect.
Moreover, divorcing interpretation of the Constitution from its foundational Christian ethos leaves man as the supreme judge, progressively resulting in ever increasingly immorality, with its various costs, which necessitates a State which increasingly grows in powers and fosters dependance upon itself. However, when it increasingly becomes ungoverned by God (via its voters in a democracy), it increasingly becomes villainous, punishing well doing and rewarding evil, contrary to its Scriptural charter. (Rm. 13:1-7; 1Pt. 2:14) Democracy is only a tool, enabling voters to choose their leaders and policies, but what they choose is a reflection of what they really believe.
As John Adams warned, "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. They will only exchange Tyrants and Tyrannies." - Letter to Zabdiel Adams, June 21, 1776
Militant atheists deny that their objectively baseless moral reasoning, which atheistic men like Mao and Pol Pot operated out of, militates against their arguments that atheism results in a superior morality than that of Christianity, which they loosely define and broad brush with Islam, etc., while many strive to blame the atrocities of Hitler on the Bible and call him (and Stalin) a Christian, while even denying that many of the Founders were.
However, the term "Christian" should be defined by its source, (Acts 17:26), which clearly disallows Hitler and Stalin as being such, along with multitudes more. Paul, for one, was willing to go to Hell if that would save the Jews, (Rm. 9:3) while affirming that the judgment of God upon hard hearted and proud sinners, Jew or Gentile, was just. (Rm. 1:26-2:2; 1Ths. 2:16)
Hitler, much like atheists but unlike most of America’s Founders, scorned not only corruptions of Christian faith but threw out the whole faith as well. Though evidence shows he had some regard for paganism, having loosed himself from the moral authority of the Bible (while misappropriating it's "badge" at times for political purposes), he was much free to be guided by his own reasoning which is ultimately the atheistic basis for determining morality. Sadly however, while an innate sense of right can essentially conflate with the Bible, (Rm. 2) history abundantly attests that this moral compass easily points south, even more so than false religion and corruptions of the Christian faith (which is not to “war after the flesh,” or rule over those without, but by spiritual means “overcome evil with good:” 2Cor. 10:3; 1Cor. 5:12,13; Rm. 12:21; cf. Eph. 6:3; 2Cor. 6:1-10)