US Supreme Court Justice (1892): ‘This is a Christian Nation’

It does not take a casual observer much effort to realize that many people who have an anti-religion agenda deliberately misinterpret American history. Thus, factual historical facts are simply “erased” to fit an ideology. This is an unfortunate practice of revisionist history as it is not an accurate approach to updating our known history with new facts.

There is a debate between two separate ideologies. The first ideology is the most accepted belief of American history, which believes that Christianity played no role in shaping the U.S. government. The second doctrine, commonly accepted among Christians,  insist on teaching “traditional” history to their children.

The linchpin causing such debate around “traditional” history is that Christianity played a significant role in shaping the U.S. government and morals of the colonies and eventually young nation.

This is not an attempt to say that all the founders were devout followers of the Christian God or if they even believed in Him. It is not our right to judge the “walks” of our founders with God, but it is outright to defend what they did through their lives.

There are anti-religion quotes that revisionist’s find and use to argue that the founders were not Christian. Thus, as a result, the U.S. is not a Christian nation.

The founders surely made statements that were critical of organized religion, but there is overwhelming evidence that almost all the founders believed in the Christian God and were members of established churches. Thus, it is not hard to believe that the founders used the principles of the Bible played help create the U.S. government and moral society

There is always a danger in history being interpreted with a broad brush of political activism today to fit an intellectual idea. Thus, it becomes important to dig deep into topics yourself and believe that history is best told by those that lived it and wrote about it. Considering this is the U.S. a nation under God or a nation not under God?

The Supreme Court was faced with the issue in 1892 with the case  “Church of the Holy Trinity v. U.S.

The Court affirmed the religious nature of the U.S. This could be seen in an opinion delivered by Justice David Josiah Brewer on the behalf of the Court that unanimously agreed. He stated the following:

[t]here is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic [legal, governmental] utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people. … These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.

The decision by the Supreme Court did not merely say that a majority of the American people were Christian, or that there were no Muslims, Hindus or other religious sects in America. Rather, Justice Brewer claimed it was the court’s unanimous opinion that America is a Christian nation in “the domain of official action and recognition, [but not in regards to] individual acceptance.”

The Court’s decision demonstrates that our entire system of government was created with a responsibility to recognize the authority of the Christian God. Also, those who acknowledged the Christian God’s authority and committed to obeying His commandments intended the government they created to recognize and obey God.

This decision is astonishing considering the nation’s rejection of Christianity’s role in its founding and government. As a result, it certainly is intriguing to consider how do we got from Supreme Court opinion to the doctrine of “separation of church and state.”

The “Church of the Holy Trinity v. U.S.” case was overruled in 1931. As a result, the idea that the government was “under God” was replaced with “separate” from God.

The doctrine of “separation of church and state” encompasses more than churches as it infers the Separation of God and Government.

In 1989, the Supreme Court declared in its decision for “Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU “the Constitution mandates that the government remains secular.”

This is certainly a far stretch from any truth.

There is no piece of the Constitution that does or does not establish the U.S. government to ignore God’s authority.

The Case involving the Church of the Holy Trinity shows four points:

  1. Each American colony was considered a Christian Theocracy from its earliest founding in the 1600’s.
  2. The colonies had a universal agreement that the formation of a civil government was a Biblical obligation – all the governments were Theocratic. The colonists formed governments with the belief that God commanded them to assemble them. Thus, the founding of a government was considered a religious act.
  3. The federal government established under the U.S. Constitution were Christian Theocracies.
  4. The ratification of the U.S. Constitution would never have occurred if the federal government had been given authority to prevent the U.S. from being “under God” and officially and legally acknowledging that they – the founders and colonies (States) – to be under His jurisdiction.
There are many statements by the founders in support of Christian principles inclusion in the U.S. founding.
John Adams wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson (June 28, 1813) which stated:
[t]he general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.

He also said in a letter to the officers of the First Brigade, the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts that “[o]ur Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.

In the Notes on the State of Virginia (Query XVIII), Thomas Jefferson wrote:
 
God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event.

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 this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.

I considered leaving concluding remarks to encompass my interpretation of these observations, but I believe the best approach is to allow you to interpret what has been presented for yourself.

I hope you will take the time to dive into the history of this matter and voice what you find here for discussion.

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19 thoughts on “US Supreme Court Justice (1892): ‘This is a Christian Nation’”

  1. I would like the Bear to comment. I had a preponderance of replies to my comment here. [See below]. To answer one, — we have soverign states, each has legislatures, those are our local representatives, with the authority to make state laws, within the scope of authority of the state’s Constitutions. We have Congress, which we elect from our states to MAKE the national laws. We have governors and Presidents, which we authorize with limited powers too, and, checks and balances. If these turn a law back to the law-makers, then it takes a bigger majority, 2/3rds to over-ride the veto. On the other hand, the President or Governor, can simply refuse to sign a Bill, and it becomes law anyways –with the comments of that President or Governor’s objections.
    We, the people, ARE the government, that’s what our Constitution says, clearly. We have freedom of speech and the press (the media), we can and will disagree, we will not be jailed as political enemies. Except for native Americans [Indians], we displaced and replaced, we are all related to aliens here, began as colonists of England, and displaced that rule, first, to become free, just as William Wallace attempted 700 years ago in Scotland, for the same reason. In our lifetime, Northern Ireland tried the same thing. Have we now not learned anything from the past, and therefore are doomed to repeat the same mistakes? We don’t build walls to keep people IN here, in other words, if you don’t like it here, welcome to America, now go home to where your ancestors came from (to paraphrase another who replied to my comment, off the thread). Do we judge our current President because his father was not a US citizen AND deported from our USA, for instance? No. A Christian doctrine is judge not that ye be judged, but also whether its worth the risk. A Christian doctrine is also in its Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do under you… not do them before they do you. We don’t need street expletives to impress a point.
    We give a leader the authority to do its job. A boss is not necessarily a leader. A boss says “I”.
    There is no I, in the word team. Team says “we”, ALL of us, united. After 250 years and many Presidents, we know how to do that. Catholics are not so far apart from Prodistant; Catholics sanctify Jesus’s mother. Islam, Judism, other world religions all have the same God. So what’s the problem? What to do, is so simple, as Ghandi said: if the followers would lead sometimes, then the leaders will follow. According to our Constitution, each and every one of us is already a leader. That hasn’t gone over very well with the displaced. Gee, we have reservations here in the USA for the native americans, and that doesn’t go very well for them. After WW2 the power nations decided to partition Palistine to grant Jews a homeland nation. Moses tried the same thing a long time before then. Jesus was born a Jew, in case that point is forgotten. So, what are we, Christians, purporting, that the USA is a Christian nation, or not? That is the basis of this thread discussion. Therefore, if not, then what do we want, to shred the Constitution? Pretty obvious that venue is getting some help, from anti-Christians. Now go back to civics; that is what voting is for. –We can do nothing in Egypt, once our friend, now an Islamic nation. We can do little about the trouble in Syria, its an independent nation too. We can’t change the minds of the communists, notably in China. And its been a nation for thousands of years. Even Iran and Iraq were our friends in our lifetime, we liked their low cost oil. What do we do NOW, to restore American price?
    Pretty simple, really: we vote in state legislatures and Congress….to limit the blank checkbook and Executive Orders of the office of President, and Governors, which contradict OUR elected representatives, cherish the reason for having representatives. There’s a real ordasity now, as each Governor and each President swears an oath of office to uphold the laws made by Congress and state legislatures, not to make them, simply because there’s a way to get around that. The gridlocks will end. The Christians go back to church, the Islamics to Mosque, the Jews to Temple, the Wiccans to the diary, atheists to the party, and so on. Remember this: the Soviet empire did not crash because communism/socialism crashed, but because it went deep into debt. We are too.

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    1. I don’t believe that all religions lead to the same God. HOWEVER, your underlining point, assuming you are making the same one Janie made as well, I agree with. It’s not about believing in the Christian God or any other for that matter, but the fact that Christian moral principles were used in our nations founding etc. As a result, granting all of us the freedoms we enjoy.

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  2. Mr Rodriguez, Thank you for article and your intelligent, enlightening replies.

    Why people get soooo upset at the mention of God has always amazed me. I am a Christian, not a religious zealot; there is quite a difference. The country is founded on the principles in the bible as you say (in my opinion), not on any one religious doctrine. All this to say when our Father’s name, God, is used in any way, people tend to think religion. Religion is to say one believes in a certain way of practicing your faith, Catholic, Baptist, Hindu; a set of beliefs to follow. Christianity itself, is the practice of having true faith in the fact Jesus came and died for our sins, that we may be saved in God’s sight. The only separation of church and state as I see it, is to allow individuals to practice their “religious beliefs” as they individually choose to. That people as a whole fight about faith is to me silly. No one can force you, me or the guy next door to think, feel or believe in any one way. Our country is founded on the principles and morals found in the bible. God gave us free will so we would love him by choice, not instinct. That the country was founded upon the morals and principles of the bible is a fact whether it bothers some or not. Reality is, the harder people try to remove God and the morals found in the bible from our country, the more people prove the last book of the bible, Revelations, is coming to pass. My belief is it’s in His hands; I simply choose to do my best to walk in His will. This however, in no way is meant as a judgement on anyone else; I can not judge anyone, lest I be judged the same. Morals and principles are necessary to keep our freedoms intact, why do more people not understand this?

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    1. Thanks for the response. I am a christian as well but my purpose was to make the point you did as well. The only reason that I can think of is people who wish to push religion away.

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  3. We are a Constitutional Republic, not a true democracy. The reason is that in a true democracy minorities are not treated equally because the majority, 51% then rules. The Constitution we have establishes rights based on individuals. The design is government from the bottom up, instead of the top, down, vis “we, the people, in order to form a more perfect union…” The writers were specific aspective to rights, regardless of their own personal theocracies, or lack of it. The separation of church and state, clause, was as much to protect all theocracy, as to provide freedom of choices to each and every individual. We pledge allegiance to the Republic (the Constitution), regardless of our choice of theocracy. Keyword choice. No, am not a liberal, and have a very solid ecumenical Christian history, personally. That’s just me, just an individual. I, personally is sad that we even have this discussion, as almost personally invasive, when it should be we, the people in order to form a more perfect union. That we are more divided than when the Constitution was ratified, and the Bill of Rights established, and subsequent Amendments to the Constitution. –We, the people once made an Amendment of Prohibition (alcohol), but, we, the people, later, recinded that Amendment. We should focus on government from the bottom up, rather than allowing it to continue growing from the top, down…. or we risk winding up under a governing of a theocracy we’d severely regret later when its too late, as not what we thought to be.

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  4. Whoever writes the History books for schools, creates the history that they desire.
    All history tales are just that, tales told by the person doing the writing. We can never know all of what happened and why. We just choose which version to personally accept as the one that is true. Some tales can be inspiring, even though the tale might be biased. Others can be just plain lies, written to alter the minds to which they are taught. I really do not have a point here. I am just adding some observations of my own.

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  5. This seems like a lot of revisionist history to me! Many of the founding fathers, including Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were admitted and outspoken atheists. It should not matter what a person chooses to believe in or not, religion and government should not have any connection. The word religion really does mean “Way of Life”, so freedom of Religion is the freedom to choose the way you live your own life, not someone elses.

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    1. Sabrina, thank you for your time and comment.

      Let’s not forget that the goal of writing history is partially being a revisionist historian in terms of updating history with new found facts or under used sources.

      I agree with you that many founders, like the two you mentioned, were either atheists or deists (to a degree), but they also declared that the moral principles within the Bible were vital to the bases of a moral society.

      This articles overarching goal – using historical facts – is not trying to say the nation and it’s people are followers of Christ (Christians) but that that the Christian faith played a role in the process of our nations founding and through its history.

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    2. I think that Sabrina had better go back and study her history, none of the people she mention were atheists, Jefferson mention God in a lot of his quotes also in the Constitition which he wrote, Sabrina is a typical liberal freak.

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      1. Stanley, thank you for the reply. Its appreciated.

        Many of the founders that are brought up to debunk Christianities involvement in our founding were not atheists, but deists at the very worst. So, debunking that linchpin to their argument causes much of their argument to crumble.

        This is why I wrote my article “George Washington: Modern Secular Believer or Authentic Christian.” Because there has always been a debate over his faith since Kyle Boller wrote his book, which is based on arguing Washington being “secular.” And I wanted to find out for myself if he was a secular believer or authentic christian for myself.

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  6. One Nation,One GOD and justice for All !How you believe is the ( FREE ) xercise there of !Thank God for the first Amendment and not Jesus…Our laws are Roman and the Ten Commandments…The Christian church is why we have the First Amendment .! ONE NATION UNDER GOD !

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  7. Very interesting and well researched post. It is extremely evident that America was founded on the moral law, which is upheld and regarded as sacred within a biblical context.

    It also apparent throughout historical documents and government buildings that the Bible was held in high regards early in American history.

    So how have Christians allowed America to devolve into such a state of apostasy and allowed the divorce between moral law and government?

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” -Edmund Burke

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to respond! It is appreciated!

      The Bible certainly played a vital role despite the individual walks every person in the colonies had. Also, I believe it played such an important role in the nations foundation not only because of a belief in God from some BUT the principles in The Bible summarized what their hearts dreamed of – in a way it provided the colonists a bee-kin to look too.

      The Edmund Burke quote certainly shades light on one of the answers to your question. But may I also contend that human desires and need to justify them left many to abandon the religious influence.

      Looking at historical facts, practically everyone attended church and found it a social necessity to normal life. Thus, often found social pressure to either hide or eliminate what was not socially acceptable.

      Therefore to eliminate guilt the establishment of The Bibles influence, the church had to be weakened.

      I can add so much to this point but I believe you will understand the point. However, we can dig deeper into details.

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      1. It is amazing how little Americans know about the country they profes to love and defend. The pilgrims left England in 1609 so that they could practice the religion they chose. An English law, the 1559 Act of Uniformity, demanded that all British citizens attend services and follow the traditions of the Church of England. A group of dissenters known as the Puritains had strong disagreements with some Church practices. Under King James, the practice of executing Puritans for disobeying the Act of Uniformity ended, but the Puritans still found themselves hated by society. T separation of Church and state is so what hapened then and is hapening now would never hapen again. The state telling you when and how to praise God. This nation was founded under and for ONE GOD.

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