Summary notes from a portion of the video
Our Godly Heritage
with David Barton, as seen on FamilyNet TV channel.
Our Founding Fathers expected Christian principles to be important
in public life and politics. John Quincy Adams believed that
Christian principles and civil government must be linked together
in an "indissoluable" bond. In 1837, at a Fourth of
July celebration, he said:
"Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday
of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the
Saviour? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the
gospel dispensation. Is it not that the Declaration of Independence
first organized the social compact on the foundation of the
Redeemer's mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone
of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?"
John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and
one of the three men most responsible for our having the Constitution,
agreed when he stated that we should elect Christians as our
"Providence [God] 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."
George Washington's Farewell Address was, at one time, thought
to be the most significant political speech ever given in the
nation. It was published as a textbook for students. It was
used as an example for over 150 years - but not today. The speech
contained a dozen warnings to the nation, four of which are
overtly religious. (Since 1990, his speech is showing up again
in college textbooks, but it is missing those four
religious points.) In his speech Washington states that religion
and morality are necessary in politics for anyone who would
call himself a patriot:
"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."
The United States is a great nation because it was a Christian
nation. The United States is the world's longest on-going constitutional
republic. It has remained for 200 years under one document and
one form of government. During the same 200 years, France has
had seven forms of government; Italy has had 51 forms. Why has
our Constitution been so successful? A ten-year study by the
University of Houston hoped to answer that question by studying
15,000 writings from the time of the Founders. The study found
that 34% of the Founder's quotes came directly from the Bible,
followed by a distant 8.3% from Montesquieu and 7.9% from Blackstone.
Charles Finney, while studying to become a lawyer, read the
law textbooks of Blackstone. Blackstone included so much of
the Bible in his textbooks that Finney was introduced to his
Savior, became a Christian, and went on to become the well-known
revivalist preacher. In 1892, the Supreme Court ruled in the
case Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States:
"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."
The Court provided 87 historical precedents to support its decision.
In 1844, the US Supreme Court case Vidal v. Girard answered
a public school that wanted to teach morality without teaching
"Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament…be
read and taught as a divine revelation in the [school] - its
general precepts expounded…and its glorious principles
of morality inculcated?…
Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly
or so perfectly as from the New Testament?"
The Supreme Court ruled that public schools would teach the
Bible. The Supreme Court case People v. Ruggles (1811) convicted
a man of attacking the country because he wrote and distributed
a profane attack against Jesus and the Bible. Separation of
Church and State? The separation of church and state is thought
by many to be found in the First Amendment:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment
of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
Nearly a dozen iterations of the First Amendment were made before
the final wording. Also, several discussions of the Amendment
are found in the US Congressional Records (June 7 - Sept 25,
1789). These clearly show the intent of the Founders in the
First Amendment: They did not want one denomination running
the nation. This was the understanding of the Amendment for
150 years. For example, in a 1799 case of Runkel v. Winemiller,
the court reported:
"By our form of government, the Christian religion is the
established religion; and all sects and denominations of Christians
are placed on the same equal footing."
In 1853 a group petitioned Congress to separate Christian principles
from government. It was referred to House and Senate Judiciary
Committees. The House Report stated:
"Had the people [the Founding Fathers], during the Revolution
a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that
Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle…At
the time of the adoption of the Constitution and its amendments,
the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged,
but not any one sect [denomination]."
Two months later the House Judiciary Committee also stated:
"The great vital and conservative element in our system
is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and the divine
truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
The Committees would not separate Christian principles from
Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists assured
them that government would not interfere with religious activities.
Jefferson used the phrase "wall of separation between church
and State" in that letter. In 1878 the Supreme Court used
that letter as evidence that Christian principles could be used
in government policies. It wasn't until 1947, in Everson v.
Board of Education where the Supreme Court took 8
words out of context from Jefferson's letter and stated:
"The First Amendment has erected 'a wall of separation
between church and state.' That wall must be kept high and impregnable."
From that time on, the Court began to assert a "separation
of church and state" as if it was a fact. In 1962 the Supreme
Court removed prayer from schools. It redefined the word "church"
(federally-established denomination) to mean any religious activity
performed in public. The Court continued in 1963 and 1967 to
remove the Bible, religious instruction, and the Ten Commandments
from public schools.