Your Opinion: Additional thoughts on Christian nation
Saturday, October 15, 2011
I have some additional comments about the U.S.A. being formed as a Christian nation. It is frequently asserted by those seeking to minimize Christianity’s central role in our nation’s founding and history, that the founders themselves were not practicing Christians, but rather were Deists or Agnostics. In a 1962 speech to Congress, Sen. Robert Byrd noted that of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention, 29 were Anglicans, 16-18 were Calvinists, and among the rest there were two Methodists, two Lutherans, two Roman Catholics, one lapsed Quaker sometimes Anglican, and only one open Deist, Benjamin Franklin who attended all Christian worships and called for public prayer.
Samuel Chase was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and, as chief justice of the state of Maryland, wrote in 1799 (Runkel v Winemiller): “By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion.”
Maryland was one of nine states having established churches supported by taxpayers at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, these churches were gradually disestablished, the last in 1833. The Maryland constitution, typical of many of the states, restricted public office to Christians until, in 1851, it was changed to allow Jews who believed in a future state of rewards and punishments to also serve.
John Jay, the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court said: “Providence has given to our people the choice of their ruler, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” This was said despite the explicit provision in the federal Constitution forbidding any religious test for federal public office.
The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects and to prevent any national ecclesiastical patronage of the national government.
Justice Story wrote for a unanimous Supreme Court in 1844 (Vidal v Girard’s Executors): “It is also said, and truly that the Christian religion is a part of the common law... .”
Make it a great day, Christian nation deniers.