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Five Pillars on which the American Republic was Founded

It was this emphasis on the morality of Jesus and the New Testament that eventually brought about the end of slavery in America. Walter Williams, the brilliant black professor of economics at George Mason University, points out how slavery had been practiced by many civilizations throughout human history before it was brought to America. He then says that the unique thing about slavery in America was “the moral outrage against it.”

This moral outrage was rooted in the Christian worldview that was promulgated throughout the land. Writing about the existence of slavery in his home state of Virginia in 1781, Jefferson expressed hope that it would soon be abolished and then warned,

God who gave us life, gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just and that His justice cannot sleep forever (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 160-61).

The Founders did not believe that there could be liberty apart from virtue, or freedom apart from morality. Only Christianity offered the moral and intellectual underpinnings that would preserve the nation they had brought into existence. This is why Novak says, “The founders did not believe the constitutional government they were erecting could survive without Hebrew-Christian faith.”

 

Pillar #5

Government’s Role is to Protect Faith and Freedom.

No part of the Constitution has been so mangled and misapplied as that part of the First Amendment that reads, “Congress shall make no law concerning the establishment of religion or hindering the free exercise thereof.” Secularists have wrenched this statement from its historical context and original intent and made it to mean, not freedom of religion, but freedom from religion.
In this new and novel approach to the First Amendment, atheists and agnostics are protected from being offended by anything religious. Based on this distortion, prayer and Bible reading have been banned from public schools, crosses and Ten Commandment displays have been removed from public buildings, and students have been told they cannot talk about their faith in God at graduation ceremonies.

The fact is, however, that the day after voting to ratify the First Amendment, those same Founders issued a proclamation for a day of prayer and thanksgiving. Congress continued to be opened with prayer and Bible reading and prayer continued to be a daily part of the normal school day in America. Presidents also continued to issue proclamations for special days of prayer and thanksgiving.

The First Amendment had nothing to do with secularizing America or banning faith in the public square. By implementing the First Amendment, the Founders were simply saying that America would never have a national, state church as had been the case in Europe since the time of Constantine. Indeed, it was from these oppressive state churches that their parents and grandparents had fled.

When Jefferson used the phrase “wall of separation” in a letter to a Baptist association, he was assuring them that the First Amendment guaranteed them protection from persecution by the state such as they had known in the Old World and even in Jefferson’s home state of Virginia. Jefferson saw the First Amendment as a unilateral wall erected to keep the government out of the church, not to keep the influence of the church out of government.

It is obvious to anyone who knows history that the First Amendment was not put in place to stifle Christianity or to be indifferent towards it. The words and actions of the Founders make this clear. This was also made clear by Joseph Story (1779-1845) who served as a Supreme Court justice for thirty-four years from 1811-1845. Commenting on the First Amendment, he said,

We are not to attribute this prohibition of a national religious establishment to an indifference in religion, and especially to Christianity, which none could hold in more reverence than the framers of the Constitution (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 153).

That America’s Founders did not separate God from government was obvious to the young French sociologist, Alexis de Tocqueville, who came to America in 1831 to study her institutions. As a result of his research, he concluded that Americans had combined Christianity and civil liberty so intimately in their minds that it was impossible to make them conceive of one without the other. He said, “From the beginning, politics and religion contracted an alliance which has never been dissolved” (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 168).

The Founders would be astonished to see how the First Amendment has been distorted by modern secularists into a weapon against religious liberty, the very thing they meant to protect. Their simple purpose was to make sure that Christianity would be protected from government intrusion and that no denomination would ever be singled out for special favors.

 

America as a Secular Nation is a New and Novel Idea

Yes, America was founded as a Christian nation. This is not to be equated with a theocracy where individuals claim a direct mandate from God to rule and govern a people. The Founders had rejected that sort of thinking, but they had not rejected Christianity itself, for they considered Christianity to be necessary for the nation’s success and survival.

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Category: Living the Faith, Summer 2018

About the Author: Eddie L. Hyatt, D.Min. (Regent University), M.Div. and M.A. (Oral Roberts University), serves the body of Christ around the world by teaching with academic excellence and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He has authored several books, including 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity. His passion is to see authentic spiritual awakening transform the Church and impact the world in the Twenty-first century. www.eddiehyatt.com

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