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The Founding Fathers

October 28, 2018

“Signing of the Constitution of the United States” by Howard Chandler Christy (1940), US Capitol (PD-Art, Old-100)

It has become popular to blame religion for the ills of the world, and deny that this nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles.

But the concept of “separation of church and state” was devised to protect religion from subservience to the state – not eliminate all reference to religion and morality from public discourse.

With this in mind, we would be wise to recall what our Founding Fathers had to say about morality and government.  Here are just a few examples.

“[I]t is impossible that any people of government should ever prosper, where men render not unto God, that which is God’s, as well as to Caesar, that which is Caesar’s.”

-William Penn, Founder of the Colony of Pennsylvania (1682)

“To grant that there is a Supreme Intelligence who rules the world and has established laws to regulate the actions of His creatures, and still to assert that man, in a state of nature, may be considered as perfectly free from all restraints of law and government, appears, to a common understanding, altogether irreconcilable.

Good and wise men, in all ages, have embraced a very dissimilar theory.  They have supposed that the Deity, from the relations we stand in to Himself and to each other, has constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is indispensably obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution whatever.”

-Alexander Hamilton, principal author of the Federalist Papers advocating ratification of the Constitution, and first Secretary of the Treasury (1775)

“[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.  The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.”

-John Adams, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Second President of the United States (1776)

“I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men.  And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? …I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business…”

-Benjamin Franklin, Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution (1787)

“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 man and citizens.”

-George Washington, “Father of Our Country” (1796)

“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 shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all blessings which flow from them, must fall with them.”

-Jedidiah Morse, Patriot and “Father of American Geography” (1799)

“Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime & pure, [and] which denounces the wicked eternal misery, and [which] insured to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.”

-Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Signer of the Declaration of Independence (1800)

“Our liberty depends on our education, our laws, and habits…it is founded on morals and religion, whose authority reigns in the heart, and on the influence all these produce on public opinion before that opinion governs rulers.”

Fisher Ames, Framer of the First Amendment (1800)

“[T]he legislature, charged with the great interests of the community, may, and ought to countenance, aid, and protect religious institutions – institutions wisely calculated to direct men to the performance of all the duties arising from their connection with each other, and to prevent or repress those evils which flow from unrestrained passion.”

-Oliver Ellsworth, Third Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1802)

“Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants.  Indeed, these two sciences run into each other.  The divine law, as discovered by reason and the moral sense, forms an essential part of both.”

-James Wilson, Signer of the Constitution (1804)

“The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion.  Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.”

-Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence (1806)

“There are three points of doctrine the belief of which forms the foundation of all morality.  The first is the existence of God; the second is the immortality of the human soul; and the third is a future state of rewards and punishments.  Suppose it possible for a man to disbelieve either of these three articles of faith and that man will have no conscience, he will have no other law than that of the tiger or the shark.  The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.”

-John Quincy Adams, Sixth President of the United States (1811)

Our heartfelt sympathies go out to all those who lost loved ones in yesterday’s synagogue shooting, as well as to the injured and their families



From → Christian, Religion

  1. Yes, sadly religions such as Christianity and Judaism are more and more in the firing line as secular people want to extend their freedoms to do whatever they like…

  2. Great quotes Anna!

  3. It’s interesting when modern writers hark back to the truths that these men knew, and codified. You might want to read Jonah Goldberg’s piece on the need for virtue in order to be free:
    I’m looking forward to reading his latest book about just such a problem, The Suicide of the West.

  4. on è tanto il credo religioso, stile di vita, a provocare questa credenza, quanto il sistema di potere che gravita attorno, saluti dall’Italia

  5. Only those never enslaved, beat and hung believe that… the principles was never practiced even by the government that placed their hands on the bible and swore to a God that is not represented here. The early Christians didn’t want Alcohol legalized… America has been climbed down the hole… tulsa, oklahoma the black wall street… or just maybe white american can’t see that

    • You make a very valid point. America has not always lived by the principles on which it was founded. Had it done so, slavery would not have been allowed to continue after the Revolution and the Civil War would have been unnecessary. That — fallible and corrupt as we are — we failed to live up to those principles does not, however, invalidate them.

      • Amen!!! The principles are valid and so is the word of God from which they derived. I’m glad God has the last say so… this world and the lust thereof shall pass away… Anna you have done some worthwhile work and helped with the healing of so many… I acknowledge that.

      • Thank you for your kindness, Tony.

      • truly you are welcome… keep fighting the good fight of faith

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