It is argued that the United States was never Christian in its basic ideals and values because the Constitution does not specifically mention Christianity.
Is that true?
In fact, the Constitution is not devoid of Christian references. For example, the Constitution acknowledges Sunday as a day of rest: “If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law. . .” (Article I, section 7). Moreover, there is a direct reference to the Lord Jesus Christ in the Constitution: “DONE in convention by the unanimous consent of the States present, the seventeenth of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven and of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth. In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our Names.”
From Christopher Columbus’ Book of Prophecies:
“It was the Lord who put into my mind-I could feel His hand upon me . . ..All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me…There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because he comforted me with rays of marvelous illumination from the Holy Scriptures…For the execution of the journey. . . did not make use of intelligence, mathematics, or maps. It is simply the fulfillment of what Isaiah had prophesied.. .No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Savior, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His Holy service. ..the fact that the Gospel must still be preached to so many lands in such a short time-this is what convinces me.”
The Mayflower Compact, from William Bradford’s “History of Plymouth Plantation”:
“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 these presents, solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof do enact, constitute and frame such just and eclual laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the reign of our sovereign lord King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth and of Scotland, the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620.”
Various Colony Declarations
“The synod of the New England churches met at Cambridge, Mass, Sept 30, 1648, and defined the nature of civil government, the functions of the civil magistrate, and the duties of the citizens, as follows:
I. God, the Supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him, over the people, and for his own glory and the public good; and to this end hath armed them with the power of the sword for the defense and encouragement of them that do well, and for the punishment of evil-doers.
II. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of magistrate when called thereunto. In the management whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of the Commonwealth, so for that end they may lawfully now, under the New Testament, wage war upon just and necessary occasions.
III. They who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercises of it, resist the ordinances of God,. . .may be called to account and proceeded against by the censure of the church and by the power of the civil magistrate.
IV. It is the duty of the people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons, to pay them tribute and other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority for conscience’s sake.”
“In the charter granted to Massachusetts, in 1640, by Charles I., the Colonies are enjoined by ‘their good life and orderly conversation to win and invite the natives of the country to a knowledge of the only true God and Savior of mankind, and the Christian faith which, in our royal intention and adventurer’s free possession, is the principal end of this plantation”‘
“In Connecticut the first organization of civil society and government was made, in 1639, at Quinipiack, now the beautiful city of New Haven…A constitution was formed, which was characterized as ‘the first example of a written constitution; as a distinct organic act, constituting a government and defining its powers.”‘ Listed below are some of the articles which made up the constitution of Connecticut:
I. That the Scriptures hold forth a perfect rule for the direction and government of all men in all duties which they are to perform to God and men, as well in families and commonwealths as in matters of the church.
II. That as in matters which concerned the gathering and ordering of a church, so likewise in all public offices which concern civil order,-as the choice of magistrates and officers, making and repealing laws, dividing allotments of inheritance, and all things of like nature,-they would all be governed by those rules which the Scripture held forth to them.
III. That all those who had desired to be received free planters had settled in the plantation with a purpose, resolution, and desire that they might be admitted into church fellowship according to Christ.
IV. That all the free planters held themselves bound to establish such civil order as might best conduce to the securing of the purity and peace of the ordinance to themselves, and their posterity according to God.’
“The governor was then charged by the Rev. Mr. Davenport, in the most solemn manner, as to his duties, from Deut. i. 16, 17:-‘And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment, but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it’. The General Court, established under this constitution, ordered,-‘That God’s word should be the only rule for ordering the affairs of government in this commonwealth”‘.
“In 1679, NEW HAMPSHIRE, was separated from Massachusetts and organized as an independent province. The colonists, having been so long a part of the Christian commonwealth of Massachusetts, constituted their institutions on the same Christian basis. Its legislature was Christian, and the colony greatly prospered and increased in population”.
“The first legislative act, December, 1682, “announced the ends of a true civil government. ‘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…”‘ And it is the purpose of civil government to establish “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, Caesar his due, and the people their due, from tyranny and oppression”.
“. . . . . But religion, as a life, as an inward principle, though specially developed and fostered by the Church, extends its domain beyond the sphere of technical worship, touches all the relations of man, and constitutes the inspiration of every duty. The service of the Commonwealth becomes an act of piety to God. The State realizes its religious character through the religious character of its subjects; and a State is and ought to be Christian, because all its subjects are and ought to be determined by the principles of the Gospel. As every legislator is bound to be a Christian man, he has no right to vote for any laws which are inconsistent with the teachings of Scriptures. He must carry his Christian conscience into the halls of legislation” (The Collected Writings of James Henley Thomwell, Vol. IV, p. 517).
From the “First Charter of Virginia:”
“We, greatly commending and graciously accepting of their desires for the furtherance of so noble a work, which may, by the providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the glory of His Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian religion to such people, as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God, and may in time….”
Various State Constitutions
The Connecticut Constitution (until 1818):
“The People of this State…by the Providence of God. . .hath the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent State. . . and forasmuch as the free fruition of such liberties and privileges as humanity, civility, and Christianity call for, as is due to every man in his place and proportion…hath ever been, and will be the tranquility and stability of Churches and Commonwealth; and the denial thereof, the disturbances, if not the ruin of both.”
The Delaware Constitution (1831):
“…no man ought to be compelled to attend any religious worship…” but it recognized “the duty of all men frequently to assemble together for the public worship of the Author of the Universe.” The following oath of office was in force until 1792: “I. ..do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be given by divine inspiration.”
The Maryland Constitution (until 1851):
“That, as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such a manner as he thinks most acceptable to him; all persons professing the Christian religion, are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore no person ought by any law to be molested…on account of his religious practice; unless, under the color [pretense] of religion any man shall disturb the good order, peace or safety of the State, or shall infringe the laws of morality. . .yet the Legislature may, in their discretion, lay a general and equal tax, for the support of the Christian religion.” The Constitution of 1864 required “a declaration of a belief in the Christian religion” for all State officers.
The Massachusetts Constitution (until 1863):
This state Constitution included the “right” of “the people of this commonwealth to. . . invest their Legislature with power to authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies-politic or religious societies to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntary.”
The North Carolina Constitution (until 1876):
“That no person who shall deny the being of God, or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the civil department within this State.”
Past Presidents of the United States
From George Washington’s “Inaugural Speech to Both Houses of Congress,” April 30, 1789:
“Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes….No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. . . . We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered as deeply, perhaps finally, staked on the experiment….”
In Thomas Jefferson’s Second Inaugural Address of March 4, 1805, he made the following comment:
“In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the General Government. I have therefore undertaken, on no occasion, to prescribe the religious exercise suited to it; but have left them, as the Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of state and church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies”.
From Abraham Lincoln’s “Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day,” March 30, 1863:
“Whereas, the Senate of the United States devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation:
And whereas, it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history: that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord:
And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people; We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined,, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness. [. . . ]
All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. By the President: Abraham Lincoln.
Warren G. Harding
It is my conviction that the fundamental trouble with the people of the United States is that they have gotten too far away from Almighty God.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
The purpose of a devout and united people was set forth in the pages of The Bible … (1) to live in freedom, (2) to work in a prosperous land… and (3) to obey the commandments of God… This Biblical story of the Promised land inspired the founders of America. It continues to inspire us.
All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, but those who believe must be free to speak of and act on their belief, to apply moral teaching to public questions… Tolerant society is open to and encouraging of all religions, and this does not weaken us; it strengthens us… Without God, there is no virtue, because there’s no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we’re mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society and without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure.