America’s Founding Fathers Deist or Christian? – David Barton 2/6
Over the past several years, President Barack Obama has repeatedly claimed that America is not a Christian nation. He asserted that while a U. S. Senator, 1 repeated it as a presidential candidate, 2 and on a recent presidential trip to Turkey announced to the world that Americans “do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.” 3 (He made that announcement in Turkey because he said it was “a location he said he chose to send a clear message.” 4 ) Then preceding a subsequent trip to Egypt, he declared that America was “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world” 5 (even though the federal government’s own statistics show that less than one-percent of Americans are Muslims. 6
The President’s statements were publicized across the world but received little attention in the American media. Had they been carried here, the President might have been surprised to learn that nearly two-thirds of Americans currently consider America to be a Christian nation 7 and therefore certainly might have taken exception with his remarks. But regardless of what today’s Americans might think, it is unquestionable that four previous centuries of American leaders would definitely take umbrage with the President’s statements.
Modern claims that America is not a Christian nation are rarely noticed or refuted today because of the nation’s widespread lack of knowledge about America’s history and foundation. To help provide the missing historical knowledge necessary to combat today’s post-modern revisionism, presented below will be some statements by previous presidents, legislatures, and courts (as well as by current national Jewish spokesmen) about America being a Christian nation. These declarations from all three branches of government are representative of scores of others and therefore comprise only the proverbial “tip of the iceberg.”
American Presidents Affirm that America is a Christian Nation
With his recent statement, President Barack Obama is the first American president to deny that America is a Christian nation – a repudiation of what made America great and a refutation of the declarations of his presidential predecessors. Notice a few representative statements on this subject by some of the forty-three previous presidents:
The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were. . . . the general principles of Christianity. 13JOHN ADAMS
[T]he teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally….impossible for us to figure to ourselves what that life would be if these teaching were removed. 14 TEDDY ROOSEVELT
America was born a Christian nation – America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture. 15WOODROW WILSON
American life is builded, and can alone survive, upon . . . [the] fundamental philosophy announced by the Savior nineteen centuries ago. 16 HERBERT HOOVER
This is a Christian Nation. 17 HARRY TRUMAN
Let us remember that as a Christian nation . . . we have a charge and a destiny. 18 RICHARD NIXON
There are many additional examples, including even that of Thomas Jefferson.
Significantly, Jefferson was instrumental in establishing weekly Sunday worship services at the U. S. Capitol (a practice that continued through the 19th century) and was himself a regular and faithful attendant at those church services, 19 not even allowing inclement weather to dissuade his weekly horseback travel to the Capitol church. 20
(The fact that the U. S. Capitol building was available for church on Sundays was due to the Art. I, Sec. 7 constitutional requirement that forbade federal lawmaking on Sundays; and this recognition of a Christian Sabbath in the U. S. Constitution was cited by federal courts as proof of the Christian nature of America. 21 While not every Christian observes a Sunday Sabbath, no other religion in the world honors Sunday except Christianity. As one court noted, the various Sabbaths were “the Friday of the Mohammedan, the Saturday of the Israelite, or the Sunday of the Christian.” 22 )
Why was Jefferson a faithful attendant at the Sunday church at the Capitol? He once explained to a friend while they were walking to church together:
No nation has ever existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I, as Chief Magistrate of this nation, am bound to give it the sanction of my example. 23
President Jefferson even closed presidential documents with “In the year of our Lord Christ” (see below).
Even President Jefferson recognized and treated America as a Christian nation. Clearly, President Obama’s declaration is refuted both by history and by his own presidential predecessors.
13. John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1856), Vol. X, pp. 45-46, to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813. (Return)
14. Ferdinand Cowle Iglehart, D.D., Theodore Roosevelt, The Man As I Knew Him (New York: The Christian Herald, 1919), p. 307. (Return)
15. Paul M. Pearson and Philip M. Hicks, Extemporaneous Speaking (New York: Hinds, Noble & Eldredge, 1912), 177, printing Woodrow Wilson, “The Bible and Progress;” The Homiletic Review: An International Monthly Magazine of Current Religious Thought, Sermonic Literature and Discussion of Practical Issues (New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1911), Vol. LXII, p. 238, printing Woodrow Wilson, “The Bible and Progress,” May 7, 1911. (Return)
19. See, for example, Bishop Claggett’s (Episcopal Bishop of Maryland) letter of February 18, 1801, available in the Maryland Diocesan Archives; The First Forty Years of Washington Society, Galliard Hunt, editor (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906), p. 13; William Parker Cutler and Julia Perkins Cutler, Life, Journal, and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler (Cincinnati: Colin Robert Clarke & Co., 1888), Vol. II, p. 119, to Joseph Torrey, January 3, 1803, and p. 113, his entry of December 12, 1802; James Hutson, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic (Washington, D. C.: Library of Congress, 1998), p. 84. (Return)
20. William Parker Cutler and Julia Perkins Cutler, Life, Journal, and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler (Cincinnati: Colin Robert Clarke & Co., 1888), Vol. II, p. 119, in a letter to Dr. Joseph Torrey on January 3, 1803; see also his entry of December 26, 1802 (Vol. II, p. 114). (Return)
21. See, for example, Church of the Holy Trinity v. U. S., 143 U.S. 457, 465, 470-471 (1892); City Council of Charleston v. S.A. Benjamin, 2 Strob. 508, 518-520 (S.C. 1846); State v. Ambs, 20 Mo. 214, 1854 WL 4543 (Mo. 1854); Neal v. Crew, 12 Ga. 93, 1852 WL 1390 (1852); Doremus v. Bd. of Educ., 71 A.2d 732, 7 N.J. Super. 442 (1950); State v. Chicago, B. & Q. R. Co., 143 S.W. 785, 803 (Mo. 1912); and many others. (Return)
22. Ex parte Newman, 9 Cal. 502, 509 (1858). (Return)
23. Hutson, Religion, p. 96, quoting from a handwritten history in possession of the Library of Congress, “Washington Parish, Washington City,” by Rev. Ethan Allen. (Return)