America’s Godly Heritage
by David Barton
Revised & Condensed by Annette Nay, Ph.D.
The Founding Fathers and Christianity
Our founding fathers were brought up in schools in which their primers taught bible scriptures, morals and its teachings. They were taught the Ten Commandments and were thoroughly versed on each one and their meaning.
As adults, the founding fathers continued to read and learn from the bible. Many of them were evangelical preachers. Many of them started the American Tract Society and wrote many of their tracts. They started the American Bible Society, The Philadelphia Bible Society, and the Christian Constitutional Society, all of which still exist today. It was no wonder then that they used the bible to frame the Constitution.
Patrick Henry – “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!”
From 1690 to 1900, American’s youth learned their ABC’s with a bible scripture associated with each letter. First graders talked about the Ten Commandments, in class, and learned what they meant.
The founding fathers wanted government and Christianity to be in an insoluble bond.
John Quincy Adams stated, “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this… it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”
John Jay the Chief Justice and the most influential writer of the constitution stated, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers. ” We need to elect Christians to office if we want to have righteous men making good laws to rule our country.
In summation from George Washington’s farewell speech, speaking to the citizens of The United States, he touched on these points: Do not let anyone claim to be a true American if they attempt to remove religion from American politics. If they do they are not true Americans.
Our American government has lasted over 200 years. Having a government, in any form, lasting this long is unheard of. For example, in the last 200 years France has had seven forms of government and Italy has had forty-eight.
Our Constitution and Its Basis
Where did the founding fathers get their ideas for our constitution that has caused it to last so long? Some would have you believe that it was because of the Age of Enlightenment in Britain which brought to light ideas such as:
- Government should be formed to protect people’s natural rights.
- Government should have limited power.
- The type of government should be accepted by all citizens.
- Government has an obligation to those it governs.
- Man is born free.
- Controls by a freely formed government are good.
- When government is by the consent of the governed the people, they retain their rights.
- People have the right to challenged old ways of thinking.
- They questioned divine-right of rule.
They taught that people should be able to gain material well-being, social justice, and happiness in this life - not just the next (Ellis, Esler, Beers, & Hart, 1999).
These ideas spread to American and found place in Thomas Paine’s pamphlet called Common Sense. Some would have you think that it was Paine’s pamphlet which swayed the founding father’s minds to their incorporation in the Constitution (Ellis, Esler, Beers, & Hart, 1999). The fact is that there were many heated debates on the constitutional legislature’s floor over these ideas. Such ideas were not espoused by the founding fathers until they could find a precedence in the bible for them. Then, it was only by unanimously consent spurred on by spiritual confirmation, that they accept these ideas into the constitution (Barton, 1999).
The Bible was important to our founding fathers. Out of fifteen thousand samples of their writings that University of Houston professors collected, they found 3154 of those had a significant impact on our constitution. Of those writings, they found that the bible was quoted sixteen times more than any other source. 94% of the quotes were based on the bible, 34% came directly out of the bible, and 60% used the bible to arrive at their conclusion.
The House and the Senate would discuss what the bible said and use its ideas to make law. The idea of three branches of government originated with John Locke in his article called Two Treaties of Government. The founding fathers substantiated the idea for separation of powers from Jeremiah 17:32. They found mention of the three branches of government in Isaiah 33:22. They found the idea of tax exemption for churches in Ezra 7:24. These men were students of the Bible and brought their expertise into the legislature to help them to know that to do.
Court Rulings that lead to Religion Leaving Government
The Way It Used to Be
1892 - Trinity vs. the US: The Supreme Court stated, ”Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It’s impossible that it should be otherwise; and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.” This case gave 87 historical precedences to prove this statement. It further stated that there were more, but 78 should suffice to prove the government must be based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.
1844 – Vidal vs. Girard’s: “The purest principles of morality are to be taught. Where are they found? Whosoever searches for them must go to the source for which the Christian man derives his faith… the bible.” A Philadelphia school’s premise was that they could teach morality with out teaching the bible. The court ruled that they couldn’t have a school that didn’t teach the bible’s morality, as it was the source of morality.
1811 – People vs. Ruggles: “Whatever strikes at the root of Christianity tends manifestly to the dissolution of civil government.” In this case a man became profane about Jesus Christ and the bible both written and spoken. The courts said it was blasphemy and the man was fined $500.00 and jailed for 3 months. The court said if you’ve attacked Jesus Christ you have attacked Christianity. If you attack Christianity, you have attacked the foundation of the US. Therefore, it is an attack on the US.
How Amoral Laws Came to Being
The founding fathers never wanted separation of church and state, yet 67% of US citizens today believe that that very idea is contained in the constitution, even though those words never appear in the constitution.
The Constitution of the United States’ first amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Pre-drafts of this statement clarifies the founding fathers constitutional statement. There were twelve variations, they all mirrored the sentiments found in this one, “Congress will pass no laws making one denomination of Christians higher than another denomination.”
Their intent was that they did not want in America what they had in Great Britain where one denomination was running the nation. They wanted God’s principles, but did not want one designated church running the nation.
1796 – Funckle vs Winemiller - The Danbury Baptists who wanted a state church designated. The courts stated: “In 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.”
1802 – Thomas Jefferson addressed those Danbury Baptist. He said that the first amendment has erected a wall between church and state, but that wall is a one directional wall. It keeps the government from running the church and Christian principles will always stay in government. The First National Church never happened and Jefferson’s writing was put away until 1853. Today, we only hear half of this statement, that is: the separation of church and state.
A small number of people petitioned to separate Christian principles from government. Studies were done to see if it could be done. The findings of the House Judiciary committee were announced March 27, 1854. They said that if the people, during the Revolution, or had they any 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 the amendments the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, not any one sect.
The Founders of the Constitution were Christians and they expected it would be so for their descendents. They stated, ”The great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrine and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
1947 - Everson vs. the Board of Education – Only nineteen words of Jefferson’s speech were used, those being, “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state.” That wall must be kept high and impregnable.” It was because these words were taken out of context that the Founding father’s intent was reversed. Jefferson meant, not state from church, but church from state.
Dr. William James –the Father of Modern Psychology influenced the court. He wanted church out of state. Dr. James stated, “There is nothing so absurd but if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it.” The courts began used this tactic through the years.
1958 - Bear vs. Colmore – One of the judges got tired of hearing the statement, “separation of church and state.” He said, “If this court doesn’t stop talking about separation of church and state, someone will think it is part of the constitution.” The court continued to talk about it.
June 25, 1962 - Engle vs. Vitale – This was the first time there was a separation of religious principles from public education. The courts rules that there should not be prayers in school. It was the first time we had a separation of church and state. It was the first time that
no precedence (where previous legal cases were cited) or historical incidents were quoted.
1962-65 - The courts removed church from state through rulings on these cases:
- Engle vs. Vital - Removal of prayer from school. The prayer before the court only mentioned God once. The Constitution mentions God four times. Does this make it unconstitutional?
- Murray vs. Curlett – Removal of bible reading in school. Bible study used to be required to graduate from High School.
- June 17, 1965 -Abington vs. Schempp – Removal of religious instruction from school. The courts stated, “If portions of the New Testament were read without explanation, they could be, and have been psychologically harmful to the child.”
In this case the courts said that only 3% of the nation professed no belief in religion or God. That prayer was consistent with 97% of the nation, but the courts ruled for the minority. Now, the philosophy of the 3% rules the 97%.
Our courts used to use biblical guidelines to rule on the areas of the citizens, families, schools, and the nation. Not anymore! Before 1962, the courts said, “We only allow divorce for six reasons. They are the six reasons God allows as written in the bible. God made the family (Adam’s and Noah’s) and so we have to use God’s precepts/rules to govern the family.” After 1965 the courts said we were not to do so any more, because it causes psychological damage to children. George Washington stated, “Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religions principle.”
1965 - Reid vs. Vanhovan – It is unconstitutional for a student to pray aloud in school.
1967 - Decab vs. Dispain – The courts took a four-line nursery rhyme used in pre-kindergarten and ruled it unconstitutional. The courts said, “The rhyme is unconstitutional since it might cause someone to think of God.”
1980 - Stone vs. Graham – The Ten Commandments were posted in a school’s hall bulletin board. The court ruled: “If the posted copies of the Ten commandments are to have any effect at all it will be induce the school children to read, meditate upon them, and perhaps to venerate and obey the commandment; this is not a permissible objective.”
When the courts say something is unconstitutional, what they are saying is that this thing is something our founding fathers would have been opposed to and would not have allowed it! The court’s findings do not reflect this.
James Madison, the Chief Architect of the Constitution, said, “We have stated the whole future of American civilization not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
Our Country’s Downfall
Since 1963, when prayer was taken out of school, unwed birth rates of 15-19 year-olds doubled. Pregnancies for girls 10-14 went up 553% since prayer was disallowed in school. (The separation of church and state.)
Divorce rates from 1963 to 1983 were up 117%. For fifteen years prior 1963, divorce had been declining.
Since 1963, single families were up 140%, single families with children with children were up 160%, and unmarried couples living together went up 353%.
From 1965, there was a sharp incline of gonorrhea in students in ages 15-19. It incline became since the removal of religious principles from school. Student STD’s went up 228%.
When a people throw away their values, they reap the consequences Some of those consequences are crime, divorce, STD’s, unwed mothers, and unmarried couples living together. There are more!
SAT scores approximate average was 970 points from 1952 to 1963. From 1963 to 1980 scores declined for eighteen consecutive years to drop to a low average of 890 points in 1980.
In 1974-75 the sharp decline in SAT scores slowed with the advent of private religious schools, which allowed religion in the curriculum. During this time, there were 32 thousand U.S. schools, which accounted for 8.5 million students.
Some say that the better scores of these students were because private schools had more money available for a better education for these students. This statement was investigated. It was found that private schools had, on average, $110.00 per student, whereas public schools had $370.52 per student.
SAT scores showed that students from the Christian private schools, on average, got 100 points higher, than the Non-Christian schooled students. That put the Christian schooled students back on the par where students were prior to 1963 and the separation of church and state. It was as if no change had occurred. Whereas public schooled student scores continued to declined!
In 1988 – the number of Academic High Achievers were as follows:
- 60.8 were from public schools
- 39.2 were from private schools – This group was 3 times larger than those from the public schools. Remember too, that private religious schools had 1/3 less money per person and used the same curriculum as the public schools, except the private schools added religion.
Violent crimes went up 544% since religious principles were removed from schools in 1963. Thomas Jefferson said that religion is the friend to government because it teaches morals of the heart. This means we are not dealing with murder, instead we deal with the religious morals which say do not hate. When we eliminate hate there is no murder. The commandment to not lust, stops adultery or rape.
Our Citizen’s need Internal Values
John Adams stated that there was no government big enough, to make you do what’s right. If you don’t do what’s right out of your heart, the gun has already been fired; the damage has already been done. He further stated, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is whole inadequate to the government of any other.”
Our people need internal constraints governed by God to keep our constitution working well. The greater number of our people are not and as a result, the constitution is not working!
Our country is now number one in:
- Violent crime
- Teen pregnancy
- Illegal drug use
- Illiteracy (in all the industrial world) - In 1997, seven hundred thousand students graduated from high school, who couldn’t read their diplomas.
Jeremiah 6:16 says to go back to the old paths if you want things to be back the way it should be. Many state constitutions require people, who hold office, to believe in God, the scriptures, and understand them.
Nations are accountable to God. The founding fathers said, “As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be punished in this. By an inevitable chain of cause and effect, providence punishes national sins by national calamities.” When a nation leaves God, God deals with them immediately. Hence, moral decay brings violent crimes, teen pregnancies, divorce, abortions, and etc. When wicked men rule, the nation suffers.
Ben Franklin and the Constitutional Convention stated, “We need God to be our friend not our enemy. We need Him to be our allay not our adversary. We need to make sure we keep God’s concurring aid. If a sparrow cannot fall without God’s notice, how can our nation rise without His aid?” He further called for regular daily prayer to keep Him close to us.
Thomas Jefferson, upon leaving the office of president, said, “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot not sleep forever.”
We Need Good People in High Places
1774 - Ben Franklin stated, “Introduce into public affairs the principles of Christianity and it will change the face of the world.”
Charles Finnay said, “ The church must take right ground in regard to politics. Politics are part of religion in a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part of their duty to God. He will bless or curse this nation according to the course Christians take in politics.”
If God’s people do not make it into office God’s principles do not make it into office. That is why Christians must be in office. Our government has been taken over by ungodly men. God-fearing Christians must take it back. We must get involved! Do something where you can affect people’s principles.
Proverbs 18:1 “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desires; he rages against all wise judgment.”
The separation of church and state allows Christians to be a light to the world, but only in the confines of the church. We know that the Lord wants us to be a light unto the government too.
We have lost our heritage. We must get Christianity back into government, our schools, and in our society!
Barton, David (1993). Video: America's Godly Heritage. WallBuilder Press, Aledo, Texas.
Ellis, Elisabeth; Esler, Anthony; Beers, Burton; & Hart, Diane (1999), World History –
Connections to Today – The Modern Era, Prentice Hall: New Jersey.