David Barton: America’s Religious Heritage as demonstrated in Presidential Inaugurations (part 2)

David Barton on Glenn Beck – Part 2 of 5

Uploaded by  on Apr 9, 2010

Wallbuilders’ Founder and President David Barton joins Glenn Beck on the Fox News Channel for the full hour to discuss our Godly heritage and how faith was the foundational principle upon which America was built.

There have been many articles written by evangelicals like me who fear that our founding fathers would not recognize our country today because secular humanism has rid our nation of spiritual roots. Read these comments by Ken Ham below!!!!

Lillian Kwon noted in her article, “Christianity losing out to Secular Humanism?” :

America once stood on the foundation of God’s Word. But that foundation is crumbling – even in the church – and being replaced by man’s word, observed one Christian apologist.

“Whatever we (America) once were, we are no longer. We have changed,” said Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, in his second State of the Nation address on Tuesday.

The Young Earth creationist was citing President Obama’s well-known mantra that America is no longer just a Christian nation as he delivered an hour-long speech outlining where America and Christianity stand today – just weeks after Obama’s State of the Union address.

He sees Christianity being thrown out of the public sector and mocked and generations of Americans building their worldview on secular humanism.

“Most of the founding fathers of this nation … built the worldview of this nation on the authority of the Word of God,” he said. “Because of that, there have been reminders in this culture concerning God’s Word, the God of creation.”

David Barton did a great job with this article America’s Religious Heritage As Demonstrated in Presidential Inaugurations :

David Barton – 01/2009
America’s Religious Heritage
As Demonstrated in Presidential Inaugurations

Religious activities at presidential inaugurations have become the target of criticism in recent years, 1 with legal challenges being filed to halt activities as simple as inaugural prayers and the use of “so help me God” in the presidential oath. 2 These critics – evidently based on a deficient education – wrongly believe that the official governmental arena is to be aggressively secular and religion-free. The history of inaugurations provides some of the most authoritative proof of the fallacy of these modern arguments.

Signer of the Constitution Rufus King similarly affirmed:

[B]y the oath which they [the laws] prescribe, we appeal to the Supreme Being so to deal with us hereafter as we observe the obligation of our oaths. The Pagan world were and are without the mighty influence of this principle which is proclaimed in the Christian system – their morals were destitute of its powerful sanction while their oaths neither awakened the hopes nor fears which a belief in Christianity inspires. 8

James Iredell, a ratifier of the Constitution and a U. S. Supreme Court justice appointed by George Washington, also confirmed:

According to the modern definition [1788] of an oath, it is considered a “solemn appeal to the Supreme Being for the truth of what is said by a person who believes in the existence of a Supreme Being and in a future state of rewards and punishments according to that form which would bind his conscience most.” 9

The great Daniel Webster – considered the foremost lawyer of his time 10 – also declared:

“What is an oath?” . . . [I]t is founded on a degree of consciousness that there is a Power above us that will reward our virtues or punish our vices. . . . [O]ur system of oaths in all our courts, by which we hold liberty and property and all our rights, are founded on or rest on Christianity and a religious belief. 11

Clearly, at the time the Constitution was written, an oath was a religious obligation. George Washington understood this, and at the beginning of his presidency had prayed “So help me God” with his oath; at the end of his presidency eight years later in 1796 in his “Farewell Address,” he reaffirmed that an oath was religious when he pointedly queried:

[W]here is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths . . . ? 12

Numerous other authoritative sources affirm that oaths were inherently religious. 13

The evidence is clear: from a constitutional viewpoint, the administering of a presidential oath was the administering of a religious obligation – something that was often acknowledged during presidential inaugurations following Washington’s. For example, during his 1825 inauguration, John Quincy Adams declared:

I appear, my fellow-citizens, in your presence and in that of Heaven to bind myself by the solemnities of religious obligation to the faithful performance of the duties allotted to me in the station to which I have been called. 14  

8. Reports of the Proceedings and Debates of the Convention of 1821, Assembled for the Purpose of Amending The Constitution of the State of New York (Albany: E. and E. Hosford, 1821), p. 575, Rufus King, October 30, 1821.(Return)

9. Jonathan Elliot, The Debates in the Several State Conventions, on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution (Washington: 1836), Vol. IV, p. 196, James Iredell, July 30, 1788. (Return)

10. Dictionary of American Biography, s. v. “Webster, Daniel.” (Return)

11. Daniel Webster, Mr. Webster’s Speech in Defense of the Christian Ministry and in Favor of the Religious Instruction of the Young, Delivered in the Supreme Court of the United States, February 10, 1844, in the Case of Stephen Girard’s Will (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1844), pp. 43, 51. (Return)

12. George Washington, Address of George Washington, President of the United States . . . Preparatory to His Declination (Baltimore: George and Henry S. Keatinge, 1796), p. 23. (Return)

13. See, for example, James Coffield Mitchell, The Tennessee Justice’s Manual and Civil Officer’s Guide (Nashville: Mitchell and C. C. Norvell, 1834), pp. 457-458; see also City Council of Charleston v. S.A. Benjamin, 2 Strob. 508, 522-524 (Sup. Ct. S.C. 1846); and many other legal sources. (Return)

14. John Quincy Adams, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, James D. Richardson, editor (Washington, D.C.: 1900), Vol. 2, p. 860, March 4th 1825.(Return)

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