Thoughts to Ponder on Founding Fathers
October 7, 2003 Grand Junction Free Press Page 10
(c) Copyright 2003, Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall, All Rights Reserved
Grammy's Axioms, Special to the Free Press
By Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall
I think the letters from readers of this paper are better than those I’ve seen in the hundreds of cities to which I’ve traveled on this continent and others.
One subject seems to come up more often than others. It is our Christian -- or, our non-Christian (depending on where you stand on this issue) -- American heritage.
In an early August article, Richard Puter of Grand Junction presented a good case about how America was founded as a Christian nation, but has long since ceased being one. It was a beautiful letter and I thank Mr. Puter for sharing his thoughts.
In Friday’s paper, Dudley Evans says that Jefferson -- and other of our founding fathers -- were Deists who believed we are governed by natural law. Thus, he says, our history as a nation lacks the Christian heritage about which we hear so much from the “Christian right.”
I keep waiting for someone to refer to the “non-Christian left.” They never do. I wonder why. Nature’s laws of logic tell me that if there is a Christian right, there must be a non-Christian left. In nature, all things find balance from opposing forces of equal strength.
A deist is one who, based solely on reason, believes God created the universe and then abandoned it. The deist God assumes no control over life and exerts no influence on natural phenomena. The deist God gives no supernatural revelation... so much for Moses.
Thomas Jefferson wrote these words in the front of his well-worn Bible: "I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our creator."
Jefferson was also the chairman of the American Bible Society, which he said he considered the highest and the most important role he assumed, including the presidency.
Jefferson does refer to Laws of Nature and Nature’s god, Creator and Divine Providence. I agree with Mr. Evans that natural law is derived from reason. I disagree that because nature’s laws are attained through reason, they must come from man, not God. I have never seen a theological or historic reference that categorizes God as reasonless or unreasoning.
Like Mr. Jefferson, I believe God created the world. Also like him, I believe the laws of nature that govern the world were a gift to humans from God. If we observe the laws of nature, we never have to worry about repeating the mistakes of history about which Mr. Evans expressed concern.
Because of the number of Letters to the Editor on this topic, it is obviously on the minds of a lot of readers. I hope the following research will help you decide whether or not our founding fathers created a nation with a Christian heritage, or a secular state with no god -- or, by founding fathers who were deists (who assume we have been abandoned by God).
My research found that 52 of the 55 signers of The Declaration of Independence were committed Christians. The other three stated their belief in the Bible as divine truth.
I also found that immediately after creating the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress formed the American Bible Society and purchased 20,000 copies of scripture for the people of this new nation.
Doesn’t sound very secular (or deist) so far, does it?
Most of us (who went to school before the 60s) remember Patrick Henry’s famous words, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” Our current textbooks omit his comments. Well, after all, he mentions God (a no-no in classrooms today).
Here is what Patrick Henry said when he established his reputation as a firebrand and motivated a nation to go to war against the most powerful nation in the world at that time.
"An appeal to arms and the God of hosts is all that is left us. But we shall not fight our battle alone. There is a just God that presides over the destinies of nations. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone. Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death."
Was Patrick Henry a Christian? The following year, 1776, he wrote, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great Nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here."
On July 4, 1821, President Adams said, "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."
Our 30th president, Calvin Coolidge, wrote, "The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible...” it would be difficult to maintain our foundation if they “ceased to be practically universal in our country."
In 1782, the United States Congress voted this resolution: "The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools."
The primary author of the Constitution, James Madison, said "We have staked the whole future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments."
George Washington made numerous references to how the government of this nation was dependent for its survival on the Christian ethic.
Could that be the reason so many people want to remove our Christian beliefs?
If it weren’t for the founding fathers, we’d all be wondering what to wear to the next royal wedding. When we stand at football games, we’d be singing God Save the Queen.
The ring of truth can be heard in the actual statements made by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Patrick Henry, George Washington and Calvin Coolidge.
Facts are facts.