Thursday, July 29, 2010

Christian Nation by David Barton

There is no country in which the people are so religious as in the United States; to the eyes of a foreigner they even appear to be too much so. The great number of religious societies existing in the United States is truly surprising: there are some of them for everything; for instance, societies to distribute the Bible; to distribute tracts; to encourage religious journals; to convert, civilize, educate the savages; to marry the preachers; to take care of their widows and orphans; to preach, extend, purify, preserve, reform the faith; to build chapels, endow congregations, support seminaries; catechize and convert sailors, Negroes, and loose women; to secure the observance of Sunday and prevent blasphemy by prosecuting the violators; to establish Sunday schools where young ladies teach reading and the catechism to little rogues, male and female; to prevent drunkenness, &c. Despite his dislike for religion, Murat nonetheless concluded that:

While a death-struggle is waging in Europe it is curious to observe the tranquility which prevails in the United States. Harriet Martineau of England traversed America from 1834 to 1836 before publishing her findings in 1837 in Society in America. Like Murat, she, too, was extremely harsh in her views toward Christianity, declaring: There is no evading the conviction that it Christianity is to a vast extent a monstrous superstition that is thus embraced by the tyrant, the profligate immoral, the weakling, the bigot obstinate, unreasonable, the coward, and the slave. Yet despite her own personal hostility toward Christianity, she concluded: 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; and no mistrust of its influences can forever intercept that spirit in its mission of denouncing anomalies, exposing hypocrisy, rebuking faithlessness, raising and communing with the outcast, and driving out sordidness vileness from the circuit of this, the most glorious temple of society that has ever yet been reared.

The selections in this chapter, taken from both government documents and private writings, from both proponents and opponents of Christianity, all proclaim the same truth. Despite the immense quantity of citations presented here, they still represent only a minuscule portion of that which could be invoked. It was due to the massive amount of available documentation that the 1892 Supreme Court did not hesitate to declare: This is a religious people.

This is historically true. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people. These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation. No other conclusion is possible after an honest examination of America’s history. Nonetheless, revisionist historians and many contemporary courts have been effective in portraying a different view of American history. They overtly claim that both our heritage and the religious beliefs of our Founding Fathers mandate a religion-free public arena; that claim is clearly refuted by the facts.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The General Assembly of Vermont by David Barton

For example, when the General Assembly of Vermont asked the Rev. Peter Powers to address them in an “election sermon” a discourse on the application of Biblical principles to civil government, Powers agreed. On March 12, 1778, he addressed the Assembly in a message entitled “Jesus Christ, the True King and Head of Government” based on Matthew 28:18. Powers declared: We have renounced the tyrant of Britain and declaimed loudly against monarchial power and have set up a free people. We own no other prince or sovereign but the Prince of Heaven, the great Sovereign of the Universe.

To Him we swear allegiance and promise, through His abundant grace, to keep His laws. The General Assembly of Vermont ordered that address to be printed and distributed among the people. Throughout the struggle, the clergy played an important role from both sides of the pulpit. From the back side of the pulpit, they exhorted the people and provided Biblical guidance through numerous topical sermons, election sermons, and artillery sermons a discourse on the application of Biblical principles to the military.

In fact, John Adams listed the Rev. Dr. Mayhew and the Rev. Dr. Cooper as two of the “characters most conspicuous, the most ardent, and influential” in “an awakening and a revival of American principles and feelings in 1775.” From the front side of the pulpit, the clergy were often directing the troops as military leaders and officers as, for example, the Rev. John Peter Muhlenberg. On January 21, 1776, Muhlenberg preached to his Virginia congregation concerning the crisis then facing America. He recounted to them how America had been founded in pursuit of religious and civil liberties and how they were now in danger of losing those liberties.

He concluded with these words: In the language of Holy Writ ECCLESIASTES 3, there is a time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray, but those times have passed away. And then in a loud voice, he quoted from verse 8, saying: There is a time to fight and that time has now come! His sermon finished, he offered the benediction, and then deliberately disrobed in front of the congregation, revealing the uniform of a military officer beneath his clerical robes. He descended from the pulpit, marched to the back door of the church, and ordered the drums to beat for recruits. Three hundred men joined him, and they became the Eighth Virginia Regiment. Pastor John Peter Muhlenberg went on to become one of the highest-ranking officers in the American Revolution, attaining the rank of Major-General.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The precious blood of the Son of God by David Barton

It is also expected that all students attend public worship on Sundays. Johnson’s commencement speech to the Columbia graduates further affirmed the religious emphasis of American public education: You this day, gentlemen. Have received a public education, the purpose whereof hath been to qualify you the better to serve your Creator and your country. Your first great duties, you are sensible, are those you owe to Heaven, to your Creator and Redeemer.

Let these be ever present to your minds and exemplified in your lives and conduct. Imprint deep upon your minds the principles of piety towards God and a reverence and fear of His holy name. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Remember, too, that you are the redeemed of the Lord, that you are bought with a price, even the inestimable price of the precious blood of the Son of God. Love, fear, and serve Him as your Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.

Acquaint yourselves with Him in His Word and holy ordinances. Make Him your friend and protector and your felicity is secured both here and hereafter. This philosophy of education remained constant at Columbia. In fact, in 1810, Rufus King signer of the Constitution and President of the Board of Trustees at Columbia issued a report from the Trustees reiterating: It shall be the duty of the president to instruct the students of the junior and senior classes in the necessity, truth, and Excellency of Divine revelation as contained in the Holy Scriptures.

In 1766, Rutgers University was founded through the efforts of the Rev. Theodore Frelinghuysen. Its official motto, “Sun of Righteousness, Shine upon the West Also,” was an extension of the Netherlands’ University of Utrecht motto: “Sun of Righteousness, Shine upon Us.” Examination of other colleges and universities of the day reveals that the examples mentioned above were neither aberrations nor isolated selections they represented the norm: Higher education in the United States before 1870 was provided very largely in the tuition colleges of the different religious denominations, rather than by the State. Of the two hundred and forty-six colleges founded by the close of the year 1860 seventeen were State institutions and but two or three others had any State connections.

Perhaps George Washington, “The Father of the Country,” provided the most succinct description of America’s educational philosophy when Chiefs from the Delaware Indian tribe brought him three Indian youths to be trained in American schools. Washington first assured the Chiefs that “Congress will look upon them as their own children,” and then commended the Chiefs for their decision, telling them that: You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Biblical Standards by David Barton

The constitutions of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada and South Carolina contain a similar declaration. Although the defendant claimed that his actions were not licentious at least in his view the Supreme Court rejected that argument on the basis that his behavior was a crime by “the laws of Christian countries.”

Murphy v. Ramsey, 1885 United States Supreme Court. This case also dealt with polygamy; and, as in the previous case, the Court upheld Biblical standards, declaring: Certainly no legislation can be supposed more wholesome and necessary in the founding of a free, self-governing commonwealth than that which seeks to establish it on the basis of the idea of the family, as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony; the family is the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization; the best guarantee of that reverent morality which is the source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement.

Despite the formerly longstanding legal protection for this traditional teaching, contemporary legal action now directly challenges teachings that a family “consists in and springs from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony.” For example, California recently proposed legislation requiring that whenever sex education was taught: Course material and instruction shall stress that monogamous heterosexual one man and one woman intercourse within marriage is a traditional American value.

The American Civil Liberties Union ACLU challenged this provision, explaining: It is our position that teaching that monogamous, heterosexual intercourse within marriage as a traditional American value is an unconstitutional establishment of a religious doctrine in public schools. There are various religions which hold contrary beliefs with respect to marriage and monogamy. We believe this bill violates the First Amendment. Ironically, those groups which so often advocate a complete toleration for any belief or behavior if done in the name of religion invoke Jefferson and Madison as their authorities.

Such groups probably would be horrified to learn what the Court pointed out in Reynolds v. United States 1878: It is a significant fact that on the 8th of December, 1788, after the passage of the act establishing religious freedom, and after the convention of Virginia had recommended as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States the declaration in a bill of rights that “all men have an equal, natural, and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience,” the legislature of that State substantially enacted the death penalty for polygamy.