Missouri's 7th District, U.S. House of Representatives




Congressional Issues 2010
"The Establishment of Religion"

The Government Should Promote Religion
According to the Founding Fathers

It is vital to distinguish ends and means. There may be bad ways to promote Christianity. It may be that no government action to promote religion can ever be good. But government action which ignores God or promotes anti-Christian thought and/or action is completely contrary to the original intent of America's Founding Fathers. More here.

There can be no doubt that the Founding Fathers endorsed Christianity over atheism. They also believed that good government would promote religion, not atheism.

James Madison is known as the "Father of the Constitution." In one of his most famous works, he laid down a principle which should be followed by every Congressman: don't vote for any bill that is inconsistent with or does not promote the principles of Christianity. Madison said every legislator should vote against any bill if

the policy of the bill is adverse to the diffusion of the light of Christianity. The first wish of those who enjoy this precious gift, ought to be that it may be imparted to the whole race of mankind. Compare the number of those who have as yet received it with the number still remaining under the dominion of false Religions; and how small is the former! Does the policy of the Bill tend to lessen the disproportion? No; it at once discourages those who are strangers to the light of (revelation) from coming into the Region of it; and countenances, by example the nations who continue in darkness, in shutting out those who might convey it to them. Instead of levelling as far as possible, every obstacle to the victorious progress of truth, the Bill with an ignoble and unchristian timidity would circumscribe it, with a wall of defence, against the encroachments of error.
Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785

In contrast, soon after President George W. Bush took office, he held a press conference, and the following exchange took place:

Q Mr. President, why do you refuse to respect the wall between the church and state? And you know that the mixing of religion and government for centuries has led to slaughter. I mean, the very fact that our country has stood in good stead by having the separation -- why do you break it down?

THE PRESIDENT: Helen, I strongly respect the separation of church and state --

Q Well, you wouldn't have a religious office in the White House if you did.

THE PRESIDENT: I didn't get to finish my answer, in all due respect. I believe that so long as there's a secular alternative available, we ought to allow individuals who are helping to be able to choose a program that may be run by a faith-based program -- or will be run by a faith-based program.

I understand full well that some of the most compassionate missions of help and aid come out of faith-based programs. And I strongly support the faith-based initiative that we're proposing, because I don't believe it violates the line between the separation of church and state, and I believe it's going to make America a better place.

Q Well, you are a secular official.

THE PRESIDENT: I agree, I am a secular official.

Q And not a missionary.

The Constitution did not require George Washington to put his hand on a Bible when he swore his oath of office, nor did it require him to add the words, "so help me, God." But he did these things anyway, and every President after him has done the same. In doing so, these Presidents not only endorse Christianity, they become "missionaries" in a sense. They are actively promoting Christianity.

This goes back to the original founding purposes of government in America. Those who settled on these shores believed that God commanded men to form governments to ensure social order. The creation of civil governments was a religious act. It was an article of faith. The human institution of "Government" was "under God," with a duty to promote Christianity. Here are the words of a few Founding Fathers:

John Witherspoon:

[T]o promote true religion is the best and most effectual way of making a virtuous and regular people. Love to God and love to man is the substance of religion; when these prevail, civil laws will have little to do. . . . The magistrate (or ruling party of any society) ought to encourage piety . . . [and] make it an object of public esteem.

Witherspoon, Works, (1815) vol VII, pp. 118-119, "Jurisprudence," Lecture XIV.

Those who are vested with civil authority ought . . . to promote religion and good morals among all under their government.

Op. cit., Vol. IV, p. 265, from his "Sermon Delivered at Public Thanksgiving After Peace."

Oliver Ellsworth:

[T]he primary objects of government, are peace, order, and prosperity of society. . . . To the promotion of these objects, particularly in a republican government, good morals are essential. Institutions for the promotion of good morals are therefore objects of legislative provision and support and among these . . . religious institutions are eminently useful and important.

Oliver Ellsworth, Chief Justice, U.S. Supreme Court
The Connecticut Courant (Hartford), June 7, 1802, p. 3, from
"A Report of the Committee . . . to the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut" by Oliver Ellsworth.

Notice the similarity of his thoughts with those of the Northwest Ordinance:

Art. 3. Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.

John Hancock:

Sensible of the importance of Christian piety and virtue to the order and happiness of a state, I cannot but earnestly commend to you every measure for their support and encouragement. . . . [N]ot only the freedom but the very existence of the republics . . . depend much upon the public institutions of religion.

Independent Chronicle (Boston), November 2, 1780, last page.
See also Abram English Brown, John Hancock, His Book (Boston: Lee & Shepherd, 1898), p. 269.

Abraham Baldwin:

When the minds of the people in general are viciously disposed and unprincipled, and their conduct disorderly, a free government will be attended with greater confusions and evils more horrid than the wild, uncultivated state of nature. It can only be happy when the public principle and opinions are properly directed and their manners regulated. This is an influence beyond the reach of laws and punishments and can be claimed only by religion and education. It should therefore be among the first objects of those who wish well to the national prosperity to encourage and support the principles of religion and morality.

Chas. C. Jones, Biographical Sketches of the Delegates from Georgia to the Continental Congress,
(Boston & NY: Houghton, Miflin and Co., 1891) pp. 6-7

Henry Laurens:

I had the honor of being one among many who framed that Constitution. . . . In order effectually to accomplish these great ends, it is incumbent upon us to begin wisely and to proceed in the fear of God; and it is especially the duty of those who bear rule to promote and encourage piety [religion] and virtue and to discourage every degree of vice and immorality.

Laurens, Papers vol. XI, p. 200, in a letter to Oliver Hart and Elharan Winchester on March 30, 1776

Finally, John Jay:

[It is] the duty of all wise, free, and virtuous governments to countenance and encourage virtue and religion.

Speeches of the . . . Governors . . . of New York, p. 66 Governor Jay on Nov. 4, 1800

Some Secularists have argued that these references to "religion" are vague and can accommodate even secularism. This is nonsense. In the context of the day, these references were to Christianity. Read more here.

Here is some background. We forget that America existed 200 years before the present Constitution. Our current constitution was never intended to create a secular (atheistic) America. Nor was the "Articles of Confederation" a few years earlier. The Constitution of 1787 was simply the latest attempt to fulfill America's purposes. Here are those purposes:

The Government must propagate the Christian religion.

VIRGINIA CHARTER, 1606: [Issued by King James I] "To make Habitation . . . and to deduce a colony of sundry of our People into that part of America commonly called Virginia . . . in propagating of Christian religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness . . . [to] bring . . . a settled and quiet Government."[13]

The only thing more offensive to the ACLU than saying non-Christians "live in Darkness" is for the government to say it. But we all need to say this, to encourage one another to move from lies to the Truth. If we assume a public office, that should not stop us from making Christian exhortations; it should be the more reason to do so.

The Government must foster true Christian worship

VIRGINIA CHARTER, 1609: "Because the principal Effect which we can desire or expect of the Action, is the Conversion . . . of the people in those Parts unto the true Worship of God and Christian Religion."[14]

Governments in the New World were created by evangelists - as instruments for the evangelization of the world.

The Government must act in the Name of God.

MAYFLOWER COMPACT, 1620: "In the name of God, Amen, We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign lord King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, king, defender of the faith, etc., having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith and the honor of our king and country, a Voyage to plant the first colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; do by the presents, solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politick, for our better ordering and preservation and Furtherance of other Ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof do enact, constitute and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most [suitable] and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience."[15]

You will not find these words or this history in any public school textbook. "Recently public schools were barred from showing a film about the settlement of Jamestown, because the film depicted the erection of a cross at the settlement [despite the fact that] according to historical facts, a cross was erected at the Jamestown settlement."[16]

The Government must covenant with Christ.

JOHN WINTHROP, c. 1628: "Wee are a Company professing our selues fellow members of Christ . . . knitt together by this bond of loue . . . Wee are entered into Covenant with him for this worke."

"For wee must consider that wee shall be as a Citty vpon a Hill, the eies of all people are vppon vs; soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our god in this worke [colonization] wee haue vndertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from vs, wee shall be made a story and a by-word through the world."[17]

The Biblical references are Matthew 5:13-16 ("City on a Hill") and Deuteronomy 28:37 ("made a by-word"). The Government has demolished the City of God and is building the city of man. Tragically, America is now "the great Satan," a "by-word through the world."

The goal of Government must be the Christian faith.

MASSACHUSETTS CHARTER, 1629: "Our said People. . . may be soe religiously, peaceablie, and civilly governed, as their good Life and orderlie Conversacon maie wynn and incite the Natives of [that] Country, to the Knowledge and Obedience of the onlie true god and Sauior of Mankinde, and the Christian fayth, which in our Royall Intencon . . . is the principall Ende of this Plantacon."[18]

The purpose of the government was to increase Christian obedience. Today government encourages disobedience. There is no neutrality.

The Government must extend the Christian religion.

MARYLAND CHARTER, 1632: [Issued by King Charles to Lord Baltimore] "Our well beloved and right trusty subject Coecilius Calvert, Baron of Baltimore . . . being animated with a laudable, and pious Zeal for extending the Christian Religion . . . hath humbly besought Leave of Us that he may transport . . . a numerous Colony of the English Nation, to a certain Region . . . having no Knowledge of the Divine Being."[19]

Governments were established to spread the Faith.

NEW ENGLAND CONFEDERATION, 1643: [Composed of Mass., Conn., New Plymouth, and New Haven] "We all came into these parts of America, with one and the same end and aim, namely, to advance the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ."[20]

The Government must advance the Gospel.

WILLIAM BRADFORD, 1647: [Referring to original Pilgrim intents] "[A] great hope & inward zeall they had of laying some good foundation, or at least to make some way therunto, for ye propagating & advancing ye gospell of ye kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of ye world."[21]

There is no job, vocation, or calling in which it is inappropriate to advance the Gospel. Our faith on Sunday should not be separated from our life on Monday-Friday.

Soon after settling, the Puritans began building great universities to educate young men who would propagate the Gospel; universities such as Harvard. University students were required to do the following:

Universities must propagate the Christian religion.

HARVARD STUDENT PAMPHLET,[22] c. 1635: "2. Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, Joh.17.3, and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning.
And seeing the Lord only giveth wisedome, Let every one seriously set himselfe by prayer in secret to seeke it of him. Prov 2,3.
3. Every one shall so exercise himselfe in reading the Scriptures twice a day, that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein."[23]

The Purpose of Government and
the "Separation of Church and State"

The Founders of this nation did not believe in the ACLU doctrine of "Separation of Church and State." Both Church and State were under the obligation to propagate the Christian Faith, using different methods. The Constitution of 1787 was ratified on the assurance that the Federal Government would have no power to destroy the long-established Christian traditions of the various states. It was universally understood that the governments would be subservient to God, and would implement God's Law.

I make this bold declaration: If there is some reason why the State cannot advance the Christian Faith, then it should be abolished entirely. The Founders of this country believed that it could and should.

NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNMENT, 1639: "Considering with ourselves the holy Will of God and our own Necessity that we should not live without wholesome Lawes and Civil Government among us of which we are altogether destitute; do in the name of Christ and in the Sight of God combine ourselves together to erect and set up among us such Government as shall be to our best discerning agreeable to the Will of God."[24]

The Bible (including the Old Testament) Must be the Standard for Civil Government

The example of New England is striking. The Statute Books of the Government were annotated with Biblical references to show that the laws of the State conformed to the Laws of God:[25]

NEW HAVEN COLONY LAW, 1644: "The judicial laws of God as they were delivered by Moses . . . [are to] be a rule to all the courts in this jurisdiction."[26]

Those who established governments in the New World were

NORTH CAROLINA CHARTER, 1662 (QUAKER): "Excited with a laudable and pious zeal for the propagation of the Christian faith . . . in the parts of America not yet cultivated or planted, and only inhabited by . . . people, who have no knowledge of Almighty God."[27]

RHODE ISLAND CHARTER, 1663: [Granted by King Charles II] "That they pursuing with peace and loyal mindes, their sober, serious and religious intentions . . . in the holy Christian faith . . . a most flourishing civil state may stand, and best be maintained grounded upon gospel principles."[28]

The Biblical vision for society is not understood in our day because people in our day are utterly unfamiliar with this passionate desire to establish all human action - including civil governments - on "gospel principles." Today there is a notion - as pervasive as it is heretical - that the "gospel" has nothing to do with Godly, law-abiding behavior.[29]

NEW JERSEY SEAL, 1665: "Righteousness exalteth a nation." - Prov. 14:34

PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNMENT, 1682: " . . . Make and establish such laws as shall best preserve true Christian and civil liberty, in all opposition to all unchristian . . . practices."[30]

PENNSYLVANIA'S FIRST LEGISLATIVE ACT, 1682: "Whereas the glory of Almighty God and the good of Mankind, is the reason and end of government, and therefore, government in itself is a venerable Ordinance of God, therefore, it is the purpose of civil government to establish such laws as shall best preserve true Christian and Civil Liberty, in opposition to all Unchristian, Licentious, and unjust practices, (Whereby God may have his due, and Caesar his due, and the people their due), from tyranny and oppression . . . ."[31]

The power of the civil government is awesome. That power will either be used to cultivate the Christian religion, or it will be used to destroy it and harvest the fruits of violence, theft, and misery. Then, the former; today, the latter.

WILLIAM PENN, 1682: [Civil government] "'seems to me to be a part of religion itself . . . a thing sacred in its institutions and ends.'"[32]

The Founders publicly declared that they were concerned with establishing the Christian religion, because only thereby could a republic be established. Even those who are said to be "deists" or "atheists" were non-Christian only in private. Their public acts (which legally define the character of their legislation) were Christian.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: [while emissary to France] "Bad examples to youth are more rare in America, which must be a comfortable consideration to parents. To this may be truly added, that serious religion, under its various denominations, is not only tolerated, but respected and practised. 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."[33]

The Founders of this nation attempted to carve out a Gospel Garden out of a pagan wilderness. Two hundred years of flourishing charity, education, agriculture, science, and Calvinistic gospel preaching would rise up and totally denounce the view that Civil Government is supposed to be neutral or secular.

CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, 1776: [May 16, anticipating full-scale war with Britain] "The Congress . . . Desirous . . . to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God's superintending providence, and of their duty, devoutly to rely . . . on his aid and direction . . . Do earnestly recommend . . . a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life . . . and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness."[34]

CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, 1777: [Calling for a day of thanksgiving and prayer for the victory at Saratoga] "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 . . . [to offer] humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot [our sins] out of remembrance . . . 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.'"[35]

CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, 1780: [Concerning the discovery of Benedict Arnold as a traitor] "It is therefore recommended to the several states . . . a day of public thanksgiving and prayer . . . to offer our fervent supplications to the God of grace . . . to cause the knowledge of Christianity to spread over all the earth."[36]

JOHN HANCOCK, 1783: [Massachusetts governor, proclaiming a day of thanksgiving for the war's end] "I do by and with the Advice of the Council appoint [11 Dec. 1783] to be religiously observed as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, that all the People may then assemble to celebrate . . . that he hath been pleased to continue to us the Light of the blessed Gospel; . . . That we also offer up fervent Supplications . . . to cause pure Religion and Virtue to flourish . . . and to fill the World with his glory."[37]

GEORGE WASHINGTON, 1783: [End of the war, to all state governors] "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."[38]

U.S. SUPREME COURT, [48] 1892: "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. In this sense and to this extent, our civilizations and our institutions are emphatically Christian."[39]

U.S. SUPREME COURT, 1890: "The term 'religion' has reference to one's view of his relations to his Creator, and to the obligations they impose for reverence for his being and character, and of obedience to his will. It is often confused with the cultus or form of worship of a particular sect, but it is distinguishable from the latter . . . . It was never intended or supposed that the [first] amendment could be invoked as a protection against the legislation for the punishment of acts inimicable to the peace, good order and morals of society . . . . However free the exercise of religion may be, it must be subordinate to the criminal laws of the country passed with reference to actions regarded by general consent as properly the subjects of punitive legislation . . . . Probably never in the history of this country has it been seriously contended that the whole punitive power of the government for acts, recognized by the general consent of the Christian world in modern times as proper matters for prohibitory legislation, must be suspended in order that the tenets of a religious sect encouraging crime may be carried out without hindrance."[40]

But if we don't have the "Separation of Church and State," won't we lose our liberties?

No nation has the liberty to repudiate God's Law. Can we be free if Christianity is separated from public life, and criminals, perverts, and dictators, free from Christian absolutes, keep us locked in our tiny homes? Those who don't like life in a Christian nation are invited to try Islamic Iraq or Atheistic Communist countries.

ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE, FRENCH HISTORIAN: "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 . . . In the United States, if a political character attacks a sect [denomination], this may not prevent even the partisans of that very sect, from supporting him; but if he attacks all the sects together [Christianity], every one abandons him and he remains alone."[41]

NOAH WEBSTER, 1828: "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."[42]

JOHN ADAMS, August 28, 1811: "Religion and virtue are the only foundations, not only of republicanism and of all free government, but of social felicity under all governments and in all the combinations of human society."[43]

JOHN WITHERSPOON: " . . . he is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not [would not hesitate] to call him an enemy to his country."[44]

MARYLAND SUPREME COURT, 1799: "Religion is of general and public concern, and on its support depend, in great measure, the peace and good order of government, the safety and happiness of the people. By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion; and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing, and are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty.[45]

JAMES MADISON: "We have staked the whole future of the American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future . . . upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves, according to the Ten Commandments of God."[46]

The Puritans who founded this land defended Christian Theocracy and established Theocratic (God-honoring) systems of civil government. The idea that civil governments should allow God to rule (Theo-cracy) human society was ubiquitous. If Gary North is right and a Secular Humanist conspiracy attempted to overthrow this Christian consensus through Article VI of the Constitution, the First Amendment of the Constitution attempted to keep that from happening.

SUPREME COURT JUSTICE JOSEPH STORY on the First Amendment: "We are not to attribute this prohibition of a national religious establishment to an indifference to religion in general, and especially to Christianity (which none could hold in more reverence, than the framers of the Constitution) . . . Probably at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the first amendment to it . . . . 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 . . . The real object of the amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance, Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity [secularism], by prostrating Christianity; but exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment which should give to a hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government."[47]

All of these voices are summed up in the Opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Holy Trinity Church v. U.S. (1892) There is no other legitimate purpose for any human action than the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Patriotism (advancing the interests of a political coalition) is wrong; Humanism (advancing your own personal interests) is wrong; Satanism (advancing demonic interests) is wrong. Since all action runs to some purpose, if the purpose is not the building of God's Kingdom, then it is to build a rival Kingdom. There is no neutrality. The State cannot be impartial and non-religious.

Ends and Means

If America's Founders were correct in believing that government should not promote secularism, and should not avoid favoring Christianity over atheism (or any other non-Christian religion), it can still be debated how the State should go about doing this.

Kevin Craig believes taxation is immoral. It is the initiation of force against someone to confiscate their wealth because you were unable to persuade that person to donate the money voluntarily, or trade for something of greater value to the contributor. It is therefore self-contradictory to try to promote religion (the end) using means which are contrary to that end. Encouraging or engaging in theft undercuts true religion. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is unChristian.

America's Founding Fathers were sensitive to this, although they hadn't formulated their moral instincts in a consistent political theory or implemented them in a consistent political program. They frequently opposed the use of taxation to promote religion, and this opposition has been exploited by modern day atheists and supporters of the myth of "separation of church and state" to suggest that the Founding Fathers were against religion and favored secularism. They did not. They opposed "taxation without representation." Taxing Baptists to support Presbyterians is non-representative.

If we think and act consistent with the moral instincts of America's Founding Fathers, we will rely less and less on the machinery of government to promote religion -- indeed to promote anything at all.


13. Historical Collections: Consisting of State Papers and other Authentic Documents: Intended as Materials for an History of the United States of America, Ebenezer Hazard, ed. Philadelphia: T.Dobson, 1792, Vol. 1, p. 50-51; cited in Barton, p. 84.  [Return to text]

14. Historical Collections: Consisting of State Papers and other Authentic Documents: Intended as Materials for an History of the United States of America, Ebenezer Hazard, ed. Philadelphia: T.Dobson, 1792, Vol. 1, pp. 50-51; cited in Barton, p. 85.  [Return to text]

15. God and Government, Gary Demar, Vol. 1; see also Church of the Holy Trinity v. U.S., 143 U.S. 457, 466 (1892); cited in Barton, p. 85.  [Return to text]

16. John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution, p. 406.  [Return to text]

17. Democracy, Liberty, and Property: Readings in the American Political Tradition p. 20 (F. Coker, ed., 1942)(cited in Barton, Myth of Separation, pp. 85-86).  [Return to text]

18. Cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, in Church of the Holy Trinity v. U.S., 143 U.S. 457, 466 (1892), see also Norman L. Geisler, Is Man the Measure: An Evaluation of Contemporary Humanism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1983) p. 119; cited in Barton, p. 85.  [Return to text]

19. Henry S. Commager, ed., Documents of American History, (NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1948), p. 21; cited in Barton, p. 86.  [Return to text]

20. Documentary Source Book of American History, 1606-1889, Wm McDonald, ed. NY: Macmillian, 1909, p. 32; cited in Barton, p. 88.  [Return to text]

21. Wm Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation, Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1856, p. 24; cited in Barton, p. 86.  [Return to text]

22. Rules for the Students, established by the University Administration.  [Return to text]

23. Peter Mode, Sourcebook and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History, Menasha, WI: George Banta Pub. Co., 1921, p. 74-75; cited in Barton, p. 91. In 1796, according to David Barton, any Harvard student who doubted the inspiration of Scripture was to be expelled.  [Return to text]

24. Cited in David Barton, The Myth of Separation, p. 88.  [Return to text]

25. John Cotton, "An Abstract of the Laws of New England, as they are Now Established, Printed in London in 1641, Collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society (1798); reprint of 1835 in 2 The" Journal of Christian Reconstruction 117 (No. 2; Winter, 1975-76, "Symposium on Biblical Law").  [Return to text]

26. Russ Walton, Biblical Principles of Importance to Godly Christians, NH: Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1984, p. 356; Barton, p. 88.  [Return to text]

27. North Carolina History, Hugh Talmage Lefler, ed., Chapel Hill: Univ. of NC Press, 1934, 1956, p. 16; cited in Barton, p. 86.  [Return to text]

28. David Barton, The Myth of Separation, p. 87.  [Return to text]

29. The best antidote to this poisonous notion is Greg Bahnsen's Theonomy in Christian Ethics, Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 2nd ed., 1984. This book is must-reading for Christians who want to stem the tide of government-sponsored paganism and immorality.  [Return to text]

30. Peter Mode, Sourcebook and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History, Menasha, WI: George Banta Pub. Co., 1921, p. 163; cited in Barton, p. 89.  [Return to text]

31. Charter to William Penn, and Duke of Yorke's Book of Laws (Harrisburg, PA: 1879). The Preamble and Chapter I of the Great Law can be found in, Remember William Penn: 1644-1944; (Harrisburg, PA: The William Penn Tercentenary Committee, 1944), pp. 85-86; cited in America's Christian History: The Untold Story, by Gary DeMar (Atlanta, GA. American Vision 1995), p. 77.  [Return to text]

32. (B.F. Morris, The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States (Philadelphia, PA: George W. Childs, 1864), p. 83; cited from America's Christian History: The Untold Story, by Gary DeMar (Atlanta, GA: American Vision 1995), p. 77.  [Return to text]

33. Benjamin Franklin, Works of the Late Doctor Benjamin Franklin Consisting of His Life, Written by Himself, Together with Essays, Humorous, Moral & Literary, Chiefly in the Manner of the Spectator, Richard Price, Ed., Dublin: P. Wogan, P. Byrne, J. Moore, and W. Jones, 1793, p. 289; cited in Barton, p. 100. The evidence seems to indicate that Franklin was an adulterous hypocrite. But a hypocrite is better than an open atheist. In his pride, Franklin felt that he was intelligent enough to doubt the truth of Christianity in private while pragmatic enough to follow its morality in public in order to safeguard the stability of the Republic. Lesser minds would be corrupted by atheism, he believed. See generally Cecil B. Currey, "The Franklin Legend," Journal of Christian Reconstruction - Symposium on Christianity and the American Revolution, III:1:120-151 (Summer, 1976). Compare the remarks of J. Stevens, below, note 85.  [Return to text]

34. Journals of the Continental Congress at Vol 2, 1775, p. 192; cited in Barton, p. 103.  [Return to text]

35. Journals of the Continental Congress at Vol 18, p. 950; cited in Barton, p. 105.  [Return to text]

36. Journals of the Continental Congress at Vol.18, pp. 950-951; cited in Barton, p. 106.  [Return to text]

37. Proclamation of John Hancock from Boston, November 8, 1783, from an original in the Evans collection, #18025, by the American Antiquarian Soc., cited in Barton, p. 107.  [Return to text]

38. George Washington, The Writings of Washington, Jared Sparks, ed. Boston: American Stationers' Co., 1838, Vol 18, p. 452, cited in Barton, p. 99.  [Return to text]

39. [see note 48]  Church of the Holy Trinity v. U.S., 143 U.S. 457 (1892); cited by Barton, America's Godly Heritage, pp. 10-11.  [Return to text]

40. Davis v. Beason, 133 U.S. 333, 341-42 (1890); as quoted in John W. Whitehead, The Second American Revolution, David C. Cook Publishing Co., 1982, pg. 221-3.  [Return to text]

41. The Republic of the United States of America and Its Political Institutions, Reviewed and Examined, Henry Reeves, trans., pp. 334-335, Garden City, NY: AS Barnes & Co., 1851, Vol. I, p.335; cited in Barton, p. 32.  [Return to text]

42. American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.  [Return to text]

43. Charles Francis Adams, ed., The Works of John Adams-Second President of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1854), Vol. IX, p. 636. David Barton, The Myth of Separation (Aledo, TX: WallBuilder Press, 1991), p. 123; America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations by William J. Federer (Coppell, TX: FAME Publishing Co. 1994), p. 12.  [Return to text]

44. John Witherspoon, The Works of the Rev. John Witherspoon (Philadelphia: Wm Woodard, 1802) Vol 3, p. 46; cited in Barton, p. 118. Witherspoon was undoubtedly one of the most influential educators of his day. His students at Princeton University included one President, one Vice President, three Supreme Court Justices, 10 Cabinet members, 12 Governors, 60 Congressmen (21 Senators; 39 Representatives) plus scores of state officials and members of the Constitutional Convention. See Barton, pp. 92-93.  [Return to text]

45. Runkel v. Winemiller, 4 Harris and McHenry 276, 288 (Sup. Ct. Md. 1799); cited in Barton, p. 64.  [Return to text]

46. cited in The Myth of Separation, David Barton, p. 155, Wallbuilders: Aledo, TX 76005. (Although widely quoted in the last 100 years, Barton doubts the authenticity of this quotation. Click here for discussion.)  [Return to text]

47. Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 2:593-95; cited in The Second American Revolution, pg. 96, John W. Whitehead, 1982, David C. Cook Publishing Co. Also cited in The Myth of Separation, David Barton, p.32, Wallbuilders: Aledo, TX 76005 (references overlap).  [Return to text]

48. Misattributed to U.S. Supreme Court in Myth of Separation, corrected a couple of years later in Original Intent. Actual source:

Richmond v. Moore, Illinois Supreme Court, 1883

Barton's explanation: This quotation appeared in many modern works, each attributing the wording to the U. S. Supreme Court's 1892 decision in the Holy Trinity case. After researching and being unable to locate this quote in that case, we concluded that it was probably was a cut-and-paste typographical error, for several of the phrases do appear in that case,10  but not in the exact wording given above; we therefore at that time recommended that this quote not be used. Now, however, after more than a decade of searching, we have located and confirmed the original source for this quote: it appears not in an 1892 U. S. Supreme Court case 11 but rather in an 1883 Illinois Supreme Court ruling in Richmond v. Moore. 12 While we previously recommended against using this quote, it is now authenticated and can be cited, providing that it is attributed to the proper source.

10. For example, "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." Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States; 143 U. S. 457, 471 (1892). (return to text)

11. Justice David J. Brewer, author of the 1892 Holy Trinity opinion, also wrote a book in 1905 called The United States: A Christian Nation. Brewer opened his work with these words: "We classify nations in various ways. As, for instance, by their form of government. One is a kingdom, another an empire, and still another a republic. Also by race. Great Britain is an Anglo-Saxon nation, France a Gallic, Germany a Teutonic, Russia a Slav. And still again by religion. One is a Mohammedan nation, others are heathen, and still others are Christian nations. This republic is classified among the Christian nations of the world. It was so formally declared by the Supreme Court of the United States. But in what sense can it be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that the people are in any manner compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Neither is it Christian in the sense that all its citizens are either in fact or name Christians. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in the public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions. Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation-in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world." David J. Brewer, The United States A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), pp. 11-12. (return to text)

12. Richmond v. Moore, 107 Ill. 429, 1883 WL 10319 (Ill.), 47 Am.Rep. 445 (Ill. 1883). [Return to text]

next: Campaign Finance, Corruption and the Oath of Office