Supreme Court never said It.

1 Of 3 / Faith Of The Founding Fathers / American Heritage Series / David Barton

In the next few weeks I will be looking at this issue of unconfirmed quotes that people think that the Founding Fathers actually said and the historical evidence concerning them. These unconfirmed quotes are used every single day and unfortunately my group of conservatives have been guilty of using them more than the liberals have. This website HALT ( includes the T for the word ‘truth.” I want to always tell it like it is and that includes this fact: Conservative Republicans will be more likely than their liberal counterparts to  stand up today in state legislatures all across the country and use quotes that have not been confirmed with original sources linking them to the Founding Fathers.
This first quote I will look at has been on David Barton’s Unconfirmed List for about 20 years but it was confirmed about 7 years ago but it turned out not to be a Supreme Court Case but a lower court case.

3. Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise. In this sense and to this extent, our civilizations and our institutions are emphatically Christian. — Holy Trinity v. U. S. (Supreme Court) (inaccurate confirmed! — Richmond v. Moore, Illinois Supreme Court, 1883) 

This quotation appeared in many modern works, each attributing the wording to the U. S. Supreme Court’s 1892 decision in the Holy Trinity case. After researching and being unable to locate this quote in that case, we concluded that it was probably was a cut-and-paste typographical error, for several of the phrases do appear in that case, (10. For example, “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.” Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States; 143 U. S. 457, 471 (1892).

)but not in the exact wording given above; we therefore at that time recommended that this quote not be used. Now, however, after more than a decade of searching, we have located and confirmed the original source for this quote: it appears not in an 1892 U. S. Supreme Court case

11. Justice David J. Brewer, author of the 1892 Holy Trinity opinion, also wrote a book in 1905 called The United States: A Christian Nation. Brewer opened his work with these words: “We classify nations in various ways. As, for instance, by their form of government. One is a kingdom, another an empire, and still another a republic. Also by race. Great Britain is an Anglo-Saxon nation, France a Gallic, Germany a Teutonic, Russia a Slav. And still again by religion. One is a Mohammedan nation, others are heathen, and still others are Christian nations. This republic is classified among the Christian nations of the world. It was so formally declared by the Supreme Court of the United States. But in what sense can it be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that the people are in any manner compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Neither is it Christian in the sense that all its citizens are either in fact or name Christians. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in the public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions. Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation-in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world.” David J. Brewer, The United States A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), pp. 11-12. )

but rather in an 1883 Illinois Supreme Court ruling in Richmond v. Moore. ( 12. Richmond v. Moore, 107 Ill. 429, 1883 WL 10319 (Ill.), 47 Am.Rep. 445 (Ill. 1883).) While we previously recommended against using this quote, it is now authenticated and can be cited, providing that it is attributed to the proper source.



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  • COMALite J  On September 6, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    The quote (when honestly attributed) is worthless for your cause because no State Supreme Court has the authority to make any such declarative ruling on behalf of the USA as a whole nation. Also, either 1833 or 1892 would be way too late for a quote to indicate what the Founders and Framers wanted for this nation, since all of them and their children and everyone who had ever met any of them had long since been dead.

    • Everette Hatcher III  On September 8, 2014 at 7:25 am

      You are correct about the lack of power behind a state court versus the Federal Supreme Court. Thanks for the comment. One question I have for you is this: Should people be glad that David Barton has put his time and energy in this UNCONFIRMED QUOTE LIST since it has both started people thinking about the importance of primary sources or should we condemn Barton for his mistakes of using secondary sources earlier in his career, and therefore, he doesn’t deserve credit for this effort of the last two decades on the UNCONFIRMED QUOTE LIST?

      Rob Boston of Americans United for Church and State has even implied that Barton fabricated some of the quotes on this list to begin with!!!! I know a lot about this because I trusted Rob Boston with the information about what the UNCONFIRMED QUOTE LIST and what it was all about back in 1996, but he abused the information that I gave him and tried to imply that Barton was a quote fabricator!!(I had confronted over 30 leaders from my own religious right camp about their use of secondary sources and also confronted a handful of people from the separationist point of view and I wanted Boston’s help with those from his own point of view but he was not interested in that at all!!!) Here is the whole story here at this link:

      The ironic thing is that some of these UNCONFIRMED QUOTES have been since confirmed. Check this post out

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