Is the United States a nation founded on Biblical principles?
This is a question bound to raise the ire of Libertarians, Liberals, and Leftists. There are those who will cite Thomas Jefferson’s biblical editing or his famous “wall of separation” letter to the Danbury Baptists, to suggest that it is not. However, there is much more evidence in support of this proposition, than the contrary. Two that come to mind immediately are Washington’s farewell address,
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 men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
and John Adams’ warning,
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
Arguments over religion’s place (or lack thereof) in our government have been going on as long as the United States has been a nation. On Flag Day, June 14, 1954, President Eisenhower signed a Bill to include the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. He said,
In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource, in peace or in war.
Pretty amazing words from the Commander in Chief and the military hero of WWII.
Little known, however, is one of the main reasons for Eisenhower’s support. As it turns out, Eisenhower was among the faithful who listened to a powerful sermon by Presbyterian minister George Docherty, in which he argued for this change to the Pledge.
Docherty made a persuasive argument that the battle being waged in the cold war was a spiritual battle against godless communists.*
He had this to say to those who argued against God’s place in in the pledge,
Some might assert this to be a violation to the first Amendment to the Constitution. It is quite the opposite … If we were to add the phrase “under the Church,” … it would be dangerous. But one of the glories of this land is that it has opened its gates to all men of every religious faith.
What then of the honest atheist?
Philosophically speaking, an atheistic American is a contradiction in terms. Now don’t misunderstand me … These men, and many I have known, are fine in character, and in their obligations as citizens and good neighbors, quite excellent. But they really are “spiritual parasites.” And I mean no term of abuse in this. I’m simply classifying them. A parasite is an organism that lives upon the life force of another organism without contributing to the life of the other. These excellent ethical seculars are living upon the accumulated spiritual capital of a Judeo-Christian civilization, and at the same time, deny the God who revealed the divine principles upon which the ethics of this country grow.
His words resonated with Ike and they resonate today.
*Now to those whose eyebrows raised at the cliche “godless communists,” please read your history to see the results of this political philosophy in stark terms and then compose an honest argument against the nature of evil and its consequences. Where there is no God, there is no absolute. Where there is no absolute, morality is arbitrary, and the value of human life becomes relative, and dependent upon who is doing the valuation.