Constitution Founded on the Bible? Nope, & Not Even the Declaration

I recently covered the utterly laughable claim that American jurisprudence is founded in the Ten Commandments. A series of must read posts from Ed Brayton at Dispatches and Jonathan Rowe over at Positive Liberty today takes on the equally silly claim that the Bible was a core inspiration for the Constitution and other American political/philosophical innovations.

In an age where many “Christian Nation” advocates and even Republican Presidential candidates like Mike Huckabee are claiming that the nation needs to be “taken back for Christ,” it’s really quite worth it to highlight the deep misconceptions many have about whether it ever belonged to Christ in the first place.


All too often, such people seem to treat things like the Constitution as if it simply appeared in history full formed and we must intuit out it’s authors’ thinking from looking at the document alone. But, in fact, most of the chief architects of America’s founding put down their day to day deliberations on paper for all to read. And while Christian Nation advocates are quick to point to those founders that were Christians (though many of a sort they themselves would never accept as “true”) they are often quite unwilling to look at what these Christians were actually thinking about and debating: what ideas were actually cited as influential to their specific work as political architects.

Dr. Gregg Frazer, himself a Christian historian at a Christian university, lays this record bare (emphasis mine):

In the hundreds of pages comprising Madison’s notes on the constitutional convention (and those of the others who kept notes), there is no mention of biblical passages/verses in the debates/discussions on the various parts and principles of the Constitution. They mention Rome, Sparta, German confederacies, Montesquieu, and a number of other sources — but no Scripture verses.

In The Federalist Papers, there is no mention of biblical sources for any of the Constitution’s principles, either — one would think they could squeeze them in among the 85 essays if they were, indeed, the sources; especially since the audience was common men who were familiar with, and had respect for, the Bible. The word “God” is used twice — and one of those is a reference to the pagan gods of ancient Greece. “Almighty” is used twice and “providence” three times — but neither is ever used in connection with any constitutional principle or influence. The Bible is not mentioned.

A common response from theocrats at this point is that the Declaration of Independence does cite a Creator as the ultimate source of man’s rights. This was always a fairly silly and evasive argument to begin with: for all its historical significance, the Declaration is simply not the binding legal framework of our nation, and the “self-evident” statement is in any case far more important than the fact that Jefferson at the time assumed as an afterthought that a Creator was responsible (“self-evident” is a codeword for the use of reason to discern truths, and precisely the opposite of revealed religion).

Dr. Frazer cripples this “Declaration gambit” even further by noting that Jefferson was not exactly silent on the inspiration of his thinking: he mentions many ideas from classical antiquity and pagan cultures, but doesn’t mention the Bible at all:

In a May 8, 1825 letter to Henry Lee, Jefferson identifies his sources for the Declaration’s principles. He names as sources: Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, and (Algernon) Sidney — he does not mention the Bible. Then again, the terminology in the Declaration is not specifically Christian — or even biblical, with the exception of “Creator.” The term “providence” is never used of God in the Bible, nor are “nature’s God” or “Supreme Judge of the world” ever used in the Bible.

The fact is, at the time of its founding, the political culture of the United States was primarily notable for its lack of religious citation, not for the few instances in which it occurred. And the documents, discussions, and thinking recorded by the founders are flat out conspicuous in the paucity of their references to the Bible of Christianity. Christian Nation advocates like to cite this or that quote or snippet here and there mentioning Christianity, but this is shockingly insufficient to prove their case.

If the founding was a fundamentally and distinctively Christian process, then the record should be saturated with Biblical citations and debates and claimed insights at every turn. It’s not. If the Bible was really the or even a major source of inspiration, then the different strains of Christian thought, interpretation, and moral theology held by the many and diverse founders should have clashed openly as the founders worked out these theological differences. There is no record of this, but not for lack of heated debate. Simply for lack of anyone thinking that the Bible was relevant to those debates.

This isn’t to say that Christianity played no part in the culture, or even in the formation of many people’s particular spin on value and morality. The vast majority of early Americans were religious, the deism of some of the founders has been overplayed by some atheists. But the reality is still that none of the core philosophical/legal innovations of our nation have roots in the Bible, and few if any of the founding fathers thought that they did. Worse, many of these principles, such as religious liberty itself, are arguably but obviously anti-Biblical. Our nation was, and was seen as by the founders, as a worldly framework for the nation’s worldly business. The matter of religion was seen as something that private citizens were more than capable enough of figuring out on their own.

This view of things, of religious freedom without insisting that the process of government have any religious nature, is both brilliant and still today the best framework for religious pluralism. Enemies of religious pluralism are welcome to try and keep corrupting this ideal, but they need to stop pretending that the founders, even the Christian founders, were on their side.

Addendum: Also check out this post discussing a set of letters back and forth between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. As David Ignatius of the Washington Post notes: “Their letters are a reminder that the Founders were men of the Enlightenment — supreme rationalists who would have found the religiosity of much of our modern political life quite abhorrent.” Ramesh Ponnuru respondsor does he?!?! That reminds me: I still owe readers an promised comprehensive essay on stem cells. It would be easier if I could find another copy of Ramesh’s book, but it doesn’t seem to be popular stock compared to such conservative treasties as “Ann Coulter’s new book for people that find paragraphs and arguments too confusing and prefer to just read lists of short quotes calling Obama stupid.”

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43 Responses to Constitution Founded on the Bible? Nope, & Not Even the Declaration

  1. blueollie says:

    Yeah, I have to admit that I missed the parts of the Constitution that called for witches or those who worked on the Sabbath to be executed. :)

  2. oceallaigh says:

    Doris Goodwin, in her Team of Rivals, opined that the Deistic intentions of the Founding Fathers were hijacked early in the 19th century by evangelistic Christian politicians, a product of the Second Great Awakening – and of whom Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury and a perennial Presidential candidate, was a lineal descendant. Goodwin makes few bones of her dislike for Chase, and her fears of what the USA might have been like under a Chase presidency.

    The wheel turns, and the same spoke …

    • Sapient says:

      Re: “Doris Goodwin, in her Team of Rivals, opined that the Deistic intentions of the Founding Fathers were hijacked early in the 19th century by evangelistic Christian politicians, a product of the Second Great Awakening…”

      Here are two statements by John Adams, a Founder that you might consider:

      “The glory of the American revolution was this; that it combined in one indissoluble bond, the principles of Civil Liberty, with the principles of Christianity.”

      Not Deism…but Christianity.

      And I really like this one:

      “The Revolution was effected BEFORE the War commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.”

      What happened right before the Revolutionary War that caused the radical change he described here? The FIRST Great Awakening.

      God bless

  3. When it comes to the Declaration, I am fond of pointing out that it is primarily a rhetorical document rather than a legal document and that the invocation of the deity is a strategy used to legitimize a controversial cause that many colonists quite frankly rejected (behold Canada, for instance).

    Excellent post.

    HJ

    • Sapient says:

      Bing

      For those who consider the Declaration largely “rhetorical”…which wasn’t asserted in the US until Wilson, I am fond of point out this…from Thomas Jefferson:

      “…as to the general principles of liberty and the rights of man in nature and in society, the doctrines of Locke, in his ‘Essay concerning the true original extent and end of civil government’, and of Sidney in his ‘Discourses on government’, may be considered as those generally approved by our fellow-citizens of this, and the US. And that on the distinctive principles of the government of our state, and of that of the United States, the best guides are to be found in 1. the Declaration of Independence, as the fundamental act of union of these states. 2. the book known by the title of ‘The Federalist’, being an authority to which appeal is habitually made by all, and rarely declined or denied by any evidence of the general opinion of those who framed, and of those who accepted the Constitution of the US. On questions as to its genuine meaning. 3. the Resolutions of the General assembly of Virginia in 1799 on the subject of the Alien and Sedition laws, which appeared to accord with the predominant sense of the people of the United States. 4. the Valedictory address of President Washington, as conveying political lessons of peculiar value.” Thomas Jefferson Report as Commissioners for the University of Virginia.

      Behind the Distinctive Principles of the United States of America and where they are found.

      Might want to take a look at these.

  4. Ashley Davis says:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    “the Declaration of Independence reads ..”endowed by their Creator..” Notice “Creator” holds a capital beginning, as in a specific Creator, the Creator, God; and so His word plays into the act of the lives of freedom.”

    THe first quote is straight from the preamble, the second is my US Government paper, 12th grade. Agrue my point

    • Sapient says:

      Ashley Davis

      You are exactly right…and don’t forget “the laws of nature and nature’s God.”

      That, BTW, had nothing to do with nature as we use it today, ie trees and frogs, but the nature of something…a pig has a nature, human beings have a nature, etc.

      They were saying that the nature of human beings, being created in God’s image, had certain inalienable rights….life, etc.

      of course, there is reason to question that these days….a lot of folks really wonder if liberals actually have the nature and reasoning of humans…so, its kinda up for grabs on that point…the monkey thing and all.

      God bless your efforts

    • Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. We know from Jefferson’s own written words, that he (Jefferson) believed that “the god of the Jews” to be “a being of terrific character, cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust”, and that “his attributes were degrading and injurious”, and that his “ethics were not only imperfect, but often irreconcilable with the sound dictates of reason and morality, as they respect intercourse with those around us; and repulsive and anti-social, as respecting other nations.” And that, “they needed reformation, therefore, in an eminent degree”. We also know that Jefferson wrote that the gospel writers “[fathered upon Jesus] follies, the falsehoods and the charlatanisms”, and that he must “admit the misconstructions, interpolations and theorizations of the fathers of the early, and fanatics of the latter ages, the conclusion would be irresistible by every sound mind, that he was an impostor”. Likewise we know that Jefferson wrote that the Apostle Paul was “first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus”. Again, we have Jefferson’s own written words, and thus know without a doubt, that Jefferson did not believe in the virgin birth, turning water into wine, walking on water, or the resurrection. and Lastly, we have his letter to John Adams (a Unitarian himself), where Jefferson wrote “I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.”

      Yet there are those who will say that this man, the author of the Declaration of Independence, was referring to this very god, that he himself considered to be cruel, vindictive, unjust, imperfect, immoral……. and all the other adjectives that he used to describe that god.

      Never under-estimate the stupidity of people.

      P.S. Don’t take my word for it. Fact check the phrases that are in quotes. Read the entire letters. Educate yourself. Knowledge is power.

    • I forgot to mention the pamphlet put out in 1799 called “serious considerations on the election of a president”. Google it. Knowledge is power.

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  6. Sapient says:

    Hmmm…interesting thesis…

    As a matter of curiosity then, reckon what these guys were talking about?:

    Noah Webster –“To Christianity we owe our free Constitutions of Government.”

    Noah Webster – “The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil Constitutions and laws … All the miseries which men suffer from – vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”

    Noah Webster – “When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, just men who will rule in the fear of God. The preservation of our republican government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office – the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good, so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect their divine commands and elect bad men to make and administer laws.”

    Noah Webster, “Our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament.”

    Jedediah Moore, “Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government and all the blessings which flow from them, must fall with them.”

    John Adams – “The glory of the American revolution was this; that it combined in one indissoluble bond, the principles of Civil Liberty, with the principles of Christianity.”

    Samuel Adams, the Father of the Revolution – as the Declaration of Independence was being signed Adams declared; “We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun – let His Kingdom come.”

    Samuel Chase, member Continental Congress and Associate Supreme Court Justice – “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.”

    John Jay, First Chief Justice U.S. Supreme Court – “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.”

    Chancellor Kent, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New York – “The people of this State, in common with the people of this country, profess the general doctrines of Christianity, as the rule of their faith and practice … We are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon
    Christianity, and not upon the doctrines or worship of those imposters [other religions] … It is also said, and truly, that the Christian religion is a part of the common law … proven by the
    volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of utterances that this is a Christian nation. We find everywhere a clear recognition of this same truth.”

    Benjamin Morris, Historian 1818-1867; “The fundamental objects of the Constitution are in perfect harmony with the revealed objects of the Christian religion. Union, justice, peace, the general welfare, and the blessings of civil and religious liberty, are the objects of Christianity, and always secured under its beneficent reign. The State must rest upon the basis of religion, and it must preserve the basis, or itself must fall … this is a Christian Nation, first in name … The chief security and glory of the United States of America has been, is now, and will be forever, the prevalence and domination of the Christian faith.”

    Jedediah Morse, Founding educator, called the Father of American Geography – “To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social
    happiness which mankind now enjoys. … Whenever the pillars of Christianity hall be overthrown, our present Republican forms of government, and all the blessings which flow from them, must fall with them.”

    Fisher Ames, “The Bible [is] always to remain the principle textbook in America’s classrooms.”

    U.S. Supreme Court 1892 – “No purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation (State or National) because this is a religious people … this is a Christian nation.”

    My question is, are at least a few of these not considered Founders or are they grossly misquoted or what?

    As I understand it, of the 15,000 references, the three main reference sources cited were in the: the King James
    Bible – Spirit Of The Laws, by Baron Charles Montesquieu and – Commentaries On The Laws Of England, by Sir William Blackstone. Those three sources accounted for over fifty percent of the quotes used from all 15,000 sources. The Holy Bible was the most quoted reference of all – accounting for thirty six percent of all usage.

    All three of these sources identify the ‘rule of law’ as “Principles that do not change”. The rule of law was based on ‘natural law’, which is the law God gave His people through the Bible and the Ten Commandments.

    Taking from Isaiah 33:22, “God is our King, God is our lawgiver, God is our Judge”- the founders gave us the very formation of our government, thus the Executive, the Legislative and Judicial branches.

    God bless

    • SapientLikesBoys says:

      God, Bible, Jesus. All words NOT mentioned in the Constitution. George Washington never ever said that. You are a liar. You broke the ten commandments and are going to hell. Have fun liar.

      • Sapient says:

        SLB

        I appreciate your struggle…truly.

        Maybe this will help.

        Take a look at this statement by John Adams:

        “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. –John Adams, An Essay on Man’s Lust for Power, August 29, 1763

        Look carefully.

        Does Adams reference the Bible here? Not allude to It in a vague way, about morals or something, but specifically?

        From what you have said, that should be easy for you.

    • Against Theocrats says:

      As long as we are throwing quotes around.

      . “If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”
      ~Founding Father George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789

      “Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.”
      ~Founding Father George Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, October 20, 1792

      “We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition… In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.”
      ~Founding Father George Washington, letter to the members of the New Church in Baltimore, January 27, 1793

      “The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
      ~John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” 1787-1788

      “The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
      ~1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by Founding Father John Adams

      “Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretense of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.”
      ~Founding Father John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787-88)

      “We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for honors and power we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society.”
      ~Founding Father John Adams, letter to Dr. Price, April 8, 1785

      . “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”
      ~Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802

      “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”
      ~Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Horatio Spofford, 1814

      “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear.”
      ~Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

      “I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.”
      ~Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799

      “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.”
      ~Founding Father Thomas Jefferson: in letter to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813

      “Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual.

      State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society. We have solved … the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.”
      ~Founding Father Thomas Jefferson: in a speech to the Virginia Baptists, 1808

      “Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”
      ~Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814,

      “The civil government functions with complete success by the total separation of the Church from the State.”
      ~Founding Father James Madison, 1819, Writings, 8:432, quoted from Gene Garman, “Essays In Addition to America’s Real Religion”

      . “And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”
      ~Founding Father James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822

      “Every new and successful example of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of importance.”
      ~Founding Father James Madison, letter, 1822

      “Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.”
      ~Founding Father James Madison; Monopolies, Perpetuities, Corporations, Ecclesiastical
      Endowments

      “It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin. Let us, then, look to the great cause, and endeavor to preserve it in full force. Let us by all wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties.”
      ~Founding Father James Monroe, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1817

      “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obligated to call for help of the civil power, it’s a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”
      ~Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780

      A general toleration of Religion appears to me the best means of peopling our country… The free exercise of religion hath stocked the Northern part of the continent with inhabitants; and altho’ Europe hath in great measure adopted a more moderate policy, yet the profession of Protestantism is extremely inconvenient in many places there. A Calvinist, a Lutheran, or Quaker, who hath felt these inconveniences in Europe, sails not to Virginia, where they are felt perhaps in a (greater degree).”
      ~Patrick Henry, observing that immigrants flock to places where there is no established religion, Religious Tolerance, 1766

      “No religious doctrine shall be established by law.”
      ~Founding Father Elbridge Gerry, Annals of Congress 1:729-731

      “Knowledge and liberty are so prevalent in this country, that I do not believe that the United States would ever be disposed to establish one religious sect, and lay all others under legal disabilities. But as we know not what may take place hereafter, and any such test would be exceedingly injurious to the rights of free citizens, I cannot think it altogether superfluous to have added a clause, which secures us from the possibility of such oppression.”
      ~Founding Father Oliver Wolcott, Connecticut Ratifying Convention, 9 January 1788

      “Some very worthy persons, who have not had great advantages for information, have objected against that clause in the constitution which provides, that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. They have been afraid that this clause is unfavorable to religion. But my countrymen, the sole purpose and effect of it is to exclude persecution, and to secure to you the important right of religious
      liberty. We are almost the only people in the world, who have a full enjoyment of this important right of human nature. In our country every man has a right to worship God in that way which is most agreeable to his conscience. If he be a good and peaceable person he is liable to no penalties or incapacities on account of his religious sentiments; or in other words, he is not subject to persecution. But in other parts of the world, it has been, and still is, far different. Systems of religious error have been adopted, in times of ignorance. It has been the interest of tyrannical kings, popes, and prelates, to maintain these errors. When the clouds of ignorance began to vanish, and the people grew more enlightened, there was no other way to keep them in error, but to prohibit their altering their religious opinions by severe persecuting laws. In this way persecution became general throughout Europe.”
      ~Founding Father Oliver Ellsworth, Philip B Kurland and Ralph Lerner (eds.), The Founder’s Constitution, University of Chicago Press, 1987, Vol. 4, p.638

      “Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.”
      ~Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1791

      “Congress has no power to make any religious establishments.”
      ~Founding Father Roger Sherman, Congress, August 19, 1789

      “The legislature of the United States shall pass no law on the subject of religion.”
      ~Founding Father Charles Pinckney, Constitutional Convention, 1787

      • Sapient says:

        Good morning

        Thanks.I will certainly add these to my quote collection—after perusing them.

        Now, all that said, lets talk OK.

        If our nation was not founded on the Biblical worldview, then what its founding principles and what is the source for those principles?

        We can begin, if you are up for the discussion, with the statements right out of the Declaration of Independence….which I am sure you know well enough.

        “and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

        We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, ‘

        Just what is that “Law of Nature and natures God” that Jefferson is talking about (hint: natural rights and natural law) as well as a Creator endowing unalienable rights, and perhaps even instituting Government among men for the protection of those rights.

        If not Christianity and the Bible, where are you saying those concepts come from?

        I look forward to your answer and hope you had a great weekend.

        God bless
        S

    • In reality, you should find out if these quotes are authentic. I many cases, they are not. Find the primary source, I know for a fact that John Adams did not say what you posted above, because I fact checked that earlier. It’s made up. As I suspect a number of these quotes are.

      • Sapient says:

        Hi Jeff

        Let me suggest there are at least 2 issues….and FWIW I hate spurious quotations too. You can rest assured that if one is found spurious,, I will gladly remove it from consideration for there are MANY that can easily be validated to take its place.

        One problem we face in our day is that our society has long been so Biblically based that we simply do not recognize as Biblical the principles that underlie what we do, how we reason,etc.The other is that the reader is simply not well read.

        I am more than willing to discuss these with you if you are of a mind to pursue it.

        For your review, here is a brief letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, dated June 28, 1813. You can find it here on the National Humanities website:

        http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/livingrev/religion/text3/adamsjeffersoncor.pdf

        The letter reads:

        “The general Principles on which the Fathers Achieved Independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite . . . . And what were these general Principles?

        “I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all those Sects were United: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young Men United, and
        which had United all Parties in America, in Majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence.

        Now I will avow, that I then believed, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System. I could therefore safely say, :consistently with all my then and present Information, that I believed they would never make Discoveries in contradiction to these general Principles.
        In favour of these general Principles in Phylosophy, Religion and Government, I could fill Sheets of quotations from Frederick of Prussia, from Hume, Gibbon, Bolingbroke, Reausseau and Voltaire, as well as Neuton and Locke: not to mention thousands of
        Divines and Philosophers of inferiour Fame. ”

        Now, that is from a guy that was there.

        Here is another quote, again from John Adams:

        “and 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.”

        This is an excerpt from his article titled “An Essay on Man’s Lust for Power: and it can be found here:

        http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/06-01-02-0045-0008

        My question to you is this: do you see the Biblical principle in that quotation? Well, its there “every man will do what is right in his own eyes” which is found 2x in the Bible book of Judges (17:6 and 21:5), a book that deals with the problem of Anarchy.

        So, there are two…let me know what you think.
        God bless
        S

  7. […] Constitution Founded on the Bible? Nope, & Not Even the …Jan 1, 2008 … Constitution Founded on the Bible? Nope, & Not Even the Declaration. I recently covered the utterly laughable claim that American … […]

    • Sapient says:

      So, are you saying every one of those quotations above are false…that they did not say those things?

      if that is what you are saying…then prove it…you have the list…and that is just a few…more available if you need them.

      BTW: while you are at it…you might take a look at the Topic of Natural Law…Locke, Blackstone, even Tom Paine’s Common Sense would be a good place to start.

      God bless
      George Washington – “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

      • SapientLikesBoys says:

        Sapient you are a fucking liar. GW never said that. All of you quotes are bullshit.

      • Sapient says:

        Cute…
        .
        I did noticed you couldn’t come up with a civil appellation, so my hopes of an exchange with you are not high.

        That said, I noticed you only disputed Washington and then said all were not to be noticed (sic). Interesting thinking process…seems there is a logical fallacy about that…might see if you can find it.

        Now, if you will clean up your language a bit, and be specific, I will be delighted to have an exchange with you.

        “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness -these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.” –George Washington, Farewell Address.

        … 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.” –George Washington, Farewell Address.

        God bless

        BTW what is “Natural Law” as used in the Declaration? Where do our rights come from, as stated in the declaration? What is the purpose of Government, as stated in the Declaration?

        Do you reckon they carried any of that into the Constitution, or through ti all to the wind?

      • George Washington never said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” That’s a false, made up quote. If you disagree, then find me a primary source. You can’t. It’s a well known misquote. I suspect many of them are. If you disagree, the burden of proof is on you to prove that they are not. You can’t expect someone else to prove something doesn’t exist. Proof comes from showing. Can you show a primary source document of Washington’s which contains those words? No you can’t. Because none exists.

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  9. true spirit says:

    Founding Father and educator Noah Webster (1758-1843) had this to say: “The moral principles and precepts contained in the scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”

    So it was natural for the early Americans to turn to the Bible for guidance as to how to make civil law. This was the standard for law beginning with the Mayflower Compact all the way through the constitutions of all 50 states. By the way, what was the stated purpose of the Pilgrims as expressed in the Mayflower Compact? Contrary to revisionist history, their purpose was not to find reigious freedom—they already had found religious freedom in Holland. Their purpose is clearly stated as being for the “Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith.” The Pilgrims were missionaries.

    • Sapient says:

      True Spirit
      Ditto…and its said, over, and over, and over.

      Anyone is free to say they disagree with the idea of doing it…saying the Founders did not do it is ludicrous…

      God bless

    • I would like to say that I am 8th generation American. My Great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather arrived in America in 1630, on the Mayflower, as part of Winthrop’s Fleet. We have documents, and even a wooden chest from that relative. They arrived in Massachusetts with very little. They were escaping persecution in England. We know the very neighborhood and city to which our ancestors came from. To say that they were not escaping persecution is simply ignorant. They were Puritans. Anglicans hated Puritans. You do my ancestors and the founders a grave disservice by your ignorance, and especially by spreading it as if it were fact.

      Additionally, many of the more prominent framers of America’s founding documents, such as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, were not Christians in any orthodox sense of the word. Adams, was a Unitarian. Jefferson, like Adams, didn’t believe in the virgin birth, divinity of Jesus, miracles of Jesus, the trinity, or the resurrection. Neither believed the bible to be the inerrant word of god, both believed the bible to be deeply flawed. Both believed the writers of the gospels to be ignorant men, who got the Jesus story only half right. Jefferson even wrote his own version of the Christian bible (New Testament), correcting what he considered “jibberish”.

      Don’t take my word for any of this. Look it up yourself by reading their own words.

      CAUTION: If you read the words of history revisionists like David Barton, you will be led astray. The truth can be found only in reading the founders own letters and notes.

      Here’s a great start:
      http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/presidents/thomas-jefferson/letters-of-thomas-jefferson/jefl261.php

  10. Jason says:

    I noticed all this arguing but I see that neither the declaration or constitution EVER mention Christ. They did this because no one religion or sect is to be placed above others. It doesn’t matter what their quotes were…..it’s what the documents say…..and the documents don’t mention a specific god. That’s what makes this a religiously FREE nation. believe what you want.

    • Sapient says:

      Hi Jason

      You are right…the Constitution establishes a government not a religion. That is easily understood. The question here is about what principles was it based upon and presupposes.

      Looking at the words of the Constitution is only the first step in interpreting and apply it–which is our responsibility to do honestly. How have to know what it means, the principles that we are to apply. How do we know that?

      Well, they told us how to do that, if the Constitution is to be a legitimate one:

      “On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” ~Thomas Jefferson

      “I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security for a consistent and stable, more than for a faithful exercise of its powers. If the meaning of the text be sought in the changeable meaning of the words composing it, it is evident that the shape and attributes of the Government must partake of the changes to which the words and phrases of all living languages are constantly subject. What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in its modern sense. And that the language of our Constitution is already undergoing interpretations unknown to its founder, will I believe appear to all unbiassed Enquirers into the history of its origin and adoption.” ~James Madison, letter to Henry Lee, 1824

      THAT is why its important to know WHY the Constitution is written as it is and on what principles it was founded on.

      And, they told us what those principles were:

      “To Christianity we owe our free Constitutions of Government.” ~ Noah Webster

      “The fundamental objects of the Constitution are in perfect harmony with the revealed objects of the Christian religion. Union, justice, peace, the general welfare, and the blessings of civil and religious liberty, are the objects of Christianity, and always secured under its beneficent reign. The State must rest upon the basis of religion, and it must preserve the basis, or itself must fall … this is a Christian Nation, first in name, and secondly because of the many and mighty elements of a pure Christianity which have given it character and shaped its destiny from the beginning. It is preeminently the land of the Bible, of the Christian Church, and of the Christian Sabbath …The chief security and glory of the United States of America has been, is now, and will be forever, the prevalence and domination of the Christian faith. The chief security and glory of the United States of America has been, is now, and will be forever, the prevalence and domination of the Christian faith.” ~Benjamin Morris, Historian 1818-1867, “The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States.”

      While one is free to debate whether that is a good thing or not, its not debatable as to its fact.

      It remains true what Adams said:

      “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” ~John Adams

      Hope that helps.
      God bless…and Merry Christmas
      S

      • If you insist that the Constitution is based on biblical principles, then you’ll have to show where the constitution requires me to keep the 4th commandment, the sabbath…….. and/or where it shows the punishment for not keeping the 4th commandment (or any commandment for that matter). What I have noticed about you Sapient, is that you copy and paste alleged quotes. My recommendation is that you first research whether the quote is even accurate. Second, find it in it’s primary source document. Third, read the entire document. And fourth, keep all things in context when reading the primary source document. What you will find is that, 99% of the time, your quote doesn’t even exist. And the other 1% it’s taken out of context.

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  17. Ron says:

    http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=7&article=2556

    How can people have different interpretations of the same papers?

    • Sapient says:

      Hi Ron

      Re: “How can people have different interpretations of the same papers?”

      Sir, let me commend you for asking the proverbial $64,000 question. How do people look at precisely the same information and derive conclusions that are precise, logical contradictions?

      Why, it is as if both were using deductive reasoning with antithetical primary premises and the same minor premise.

      Funny thing…that is just how Paul put it in Romans 1.
      God bless
      S

      “A liar is a man who willfully misplaces his ontological predicates.” ~Josiah Royce

  18. SB says:

    Maybe read the ten commandments and compare them to the constitution. Though the bible is not explicitly referenced, it’s principles hold true. In fact if everyone applied the ten commandments, there would be no need for law enforcement. So I’m saying imagine a world without the Godless atheists. It’s easy if you try.

    • Sapient says:

      Hi SB
      Indeed….the simple fact is that without the Biblical worldview, there would be no constitution or laws at all…we do tend toward anarchy and self-reference.

      One put it this way…to paraphrase—the best proof of Christianity is the impossibility of the contrary.

      Without fail the non-Christian worldviews reduce to self refuting propositions:

      “No false premise can be consistently elaborated; this is the last laugh which the truth enjoys at the expense of all misconceptions of it.” –Edmond La B. Cherbonnier

      There is true danger to any nation that will not be corrected.

      God bless
      S

  19. Hughey says:

    Having read all of the foregoing with an expectation of some resolution to be definitively declared, I am disappointed.

    Sadly, I am compelled to twice quote myself by extension.

    “Any process that applies meaning to a perception is a form of art, therefore it follows that the application of meaning is subject to the limitations of the artist, the medium of expression, and the ‘one who perceives’. ”

    “Any and every point has contained within its own definition an elemental and conditional volume displaying with or without definable dimensions.”

    The natural human process of reasoning entrains both rationality and sensibility, the three operating in a condition of cooperative and therefore closed containment. Such is the nature of conditional volume. Nothing may exist without its authority and existence as a sustaining environment. This relationship can be described in this form; ( c R e ). This I declare to be a Universal Truth fundamental to, and within the context and limitations of human understanding.

    My resolution is that the intention of the framers of the United States Constitution was to produce a document that avoided the dangers of a theocracy, while honoring principals inherit in all numerous and diverse religious viewpoints.

    lex luma

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