President Obama:“do not consider ourselves a Christian nation” (Part 4 of David Barton’s response)

America’s Founding Fathers Deist or Christian? – David Barton 4/6

David Barton provided an excellent response to President Obama’s assertion: “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.” Here it is:

Is President Obama Correct: Is America No Longer a Christian Nation?

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.”

.

The Judicial Branch Affirms that America is a Christian Nation

From the Judicial Branch, consider first some declarations of prominent U. S. Supreme Court Justices regarding America as a Christian nation.

Justice Joseph Story (1779-1845) was appointed to the Court by President James Madison. Story is considered the founder of Harvard Law School and authored the three-volume classic Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833). In his 34 years on the Court, Story authored opinions in 286 cases, of which 269 were reported as the majority opinion or the opinion of the Court 31 and his many contributions to American law have caused him to be called a “Father of American Jurisprudence.” Justice Story openly declared:

One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law. . . . There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundations. . . . I verily believe Christianity necessary to the support of civil society. 32

His conclusion about America and Christianity was straightforward:

In [our] republic, there would seem to be a peculiar propriety in viewing the Christian religion as the great basis on which it must rest for its support and permanence. 33

Justice John McLean (1785-1861) was appointed to the Court by President Andrew Jackson. McLean served in the U. S. Congress, as a judge on the Ohio Supreme Court, and then held cabinet positions under two U. S. Presidents. His view on the importance of Christianity to American government and its institutions was unambiguous:

For many years, my hope for the perpetuity of our institutions has rested upon Bible morality and the general dissemination of Christian principles. This is an element which did not exist in the ancient republics. It is a basis on which free governments may be maintained through all time. . . . Free government is not a self-moving machine. . . . Our mission of freedom is not carried out by brute force, by canon law, or any other law except the moral law and those Christian principles which are found in the Scriptures. 34

Justice David Brewer (1837-1910), appointed to the Court by President Benjamin Harrison, agreed. Brewer held several judgeships in Kansas and served on a federal circuit court before his appointment to the Supreme Court. Justice Brewer declared:

We constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation – in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world. 35

Brewer then chronicled the types of descriptions applied to nations:

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 Gallio, 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. In the case of Holy Trinity Church vs. United States, 143 U.S. 471, that Court, after mentioning various circumstances, added, “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.” 36

Brewer did not believe that calling America a Christian nation was a hollow appellation; in fact, he penned an entire book setting forth the evidence that America was a Christian nation. He concluded:

[I] have said enough to show that Christianity came to this country with the first colonists; has been powerfully identified with its rapid development, colonial and national, and today exists as a mighty factor in the life of the republic. This is a Christian nation. . . . [T]he calling of this republic a Christian nation is not a mere pretence, but a recognition of an historical, legal, and social truth. 37

Justice Earl Warren (1891-1974) agreed with his predecessors. Before being appointed as Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Warren had been the Attorney General of California. Warren declared:

I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it: freedom of belief, of expression, of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice under law, and the reservation of powers to the people. . . . I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country. 38

There are many similar declarations by other Supreme Court Justices, but in addition to the declarations of individual judges, the federal courts have repeatedly affirmed America to be a Christian nation – including the U. S. Supreme Court, which declared that America was “a Christian country,” 39filled with “Christian people,” 40 and was indeed “a Christian nation.” 41Dozens of other courts past and present have repeated these pronouncements 42 but so, too, have American Presidents – as in 1947 when President Harry Truman quoted the Supreme Court, declaring:

This is a Christian Nation. More than a half century ago that declaration was written into the decrees of the highest court in this land [in an 1892 decision]. 43

In addition to its “Christian nation” declarations, the Supreme Court also regularly relied on Christian principles as the basis of its rulings on issues such as marriage, citizenship, foreign affairs, and domestic treaties.

For example, when some federal territories attempted to introduce the practice of bigamy and polygamy, the Supreme Court disallowed those practices because:

Bigamy and polygamy are crimes by the laws of all civilized and Christian countries. 44

In another case, the Court similarly explained:

The organization of a community for the spread and practice of polygamy is . . . . contrary to the spirit of Christianity and of the civilization which Christianity has produced in the Western world. 45

And when the issue arose of whether marriages made in foreign nations would be recognized in the United States, the federal court held that foreign marriages would be recognized only if they were not “contrary to the general view of Christendom.” 46

The Supreme Court also decided military service issues in accord with Christian principles and standards. For example, in 1931, when a Canadian immigrant refused to take the oath of allegiance to the United States, the Supreme Court explained why he was therefore excluded from citizenship:

We are a Christian people (Holy Trinity Church v. United States. 143 U.S. 457, 470 , 471 S., 12 S. Ct. 511), according to one another the equal right of religious freedom and acknowledging with reverence the duty of obedience to the will of God. But also we are a nation with the duty to survive; a nation whose Constitution contemplates war as well as peace; whose government must go forward upon the assumption (and safely can proceed upon no other) that unqualified allegiance to the nation and submission and obedience to the laws of the land, as well those made for war as those made for peace, are not inconsistent with the will of God. 47

The Supreme Court also relied on Christian principles in its rulings on international policies. For example, if an American citizen living in a foreign land was accused of a crime under the laws of a fundamentally different nation (such as in Islamic nations, secular nations, and most recently in Japan following World War II), by means of international treaties, the U. S. citizen would be tried in front of the U. S. Consul in that nation (in what were called Consular Tribunals) rather than before the courts of that country. Of this practice, the Supreme Court explained:

In other than Christian countries, they [the Consuls] were by treaty stipulations usually clothed with authority to hear complaints against their countrymen and to sit in judgment upon them when charged with public offenses. . . . The intense hostility of the people of Moslem faith to all other sects, and particularly to Christians, affected all their intercourse [transactions] and all proceedings had in their tribunals. Even the rules of evidence adopted by them [the Muslims] placed those of different faith on unequal grounds in any controversy with them. For this cause, and by reason of the barbarous and cruel punishments inflicted in those countries and the frequent use of torture to enforce confession from parties accused, it was a matter of deep interest to Christian governments to withdraw the trial of their subjects, when charged with the commission of a public offense, from the arbitrary and despotic action of the local officials. Treaties conferring such jurisdiction upon these consuls were essential to the peaceful residence of Christians within those countries. 48

For example, an Islamic nation might charge an American with the capital-offense crime of blasphemy merely because the American attended Christian worship or used a Bible in that country; or a secular nation might accuse an American of the crime of proselytizing simply for sharing his faith with another (currently a crime in France, 49 across India, 50 Pakistan,51 Saudi Arabia, 52 Malaysia, 53 and many other nations). In such cases, the Consul tried the offense under America’s laws as a Christian nation. However, if another nation accused an American of a crime such as murder, the charge would stand since murder was also a crime in our Christian nation. 54

The Supreme Court commended this position 55 and federal courts observed the policy until deep into the twentieth century, 56 when many foreign nations finally began to adopt what the Supreme Court had earlier called “a system of judicial procedure like that of Christian countries.” 57

Federal domestic treaties were yet another area in which the federal judiciary relied on Christian principles and standards. For example, by 1877 a number of disputes had arisen in which Indian lands were wrongly being taken for timber, minerals, and other resources. When those cases reached the Supreme Court, the Court affirmed the occupancy rights of the tribes to the lands because:

It is to be presumed that in this matter the United States would be governed by such considerations of justice as would control a Christian people . . . 58

The Court repeated this position on numerous subsequent occasions – as in 1903 when it reiterated:

[I]n decisions of this court, the Indian right of occupancy of tribal lands, whether declared in a treaty or otherwise created, has been stated to be sacred. . . . Thus. . . . “It is to be presumed that in this matter the United States would be governed by such considerations of justice as would control a Christian people . . . ” 59

The Court’s position was subsequently enacted into federal statutory law in 1906, 60 and in 1955, the Supreme Court was still praising this position 61 – a position regularly cited by other courts for decades, 62 including in the late 1990s. 63

These are just a few examples of the literally hundreds of similar cases at both federal and state levels affirming that America is indeed a Christian nation.

31. “United States Founding Fathers,” Party of 1776 (at:http://www.partyof1776.net/p1776/fathers/contents.html) (accessed on May 1, 2009). (Return)

32. Joseph Story, Life and Letters of Joseph Story, William W. Story, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851), Vol. II, pp. 8, 92. (Return)

33. Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States(Boston: Hillard, Gray, and Company, 1833), Vol. III, p. 724, § 1867. (Return)

34. B. F. Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Developed in the Official and Historical Annals of the Republic(Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864), p. 639. (Return)

35. David J. Brewer, The United States: A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), p. 12. (Return)

36. David J. Brewer, The United States: A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), p. 11. (Return)

37. David J. Brewer, The United States: A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), pp. 40, 46. (Return)

38. “Breakfast in Washington,” Time, February 15, 1954 (at:http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,936197,00.html).(Return)

39. Vidal v. Girard’s Executors, 43 U. S. 126, 198 (1844). (Return)

40. U.S. v. Macintosh, 283 U.S. 605, 625 (1931). (Return)

41. Church of the Holy Trinity v. U. S., 143 U. S. 457, 465, 470-471 (1892).(Return)

42. See for example, Warren v. U.S., 177 F.2d 596 (10th Cir. 1949); U.S. v. Girouard, 149 F.2d 760 (1st Cir.1945); Steiner v. Darby, Parker v. Los Angeles County, 199 P.2d 429 (Cal. App. 2d Dist 1948); Vogel v. County of Los Angeles, 434 P.2d 961 (1967). (Return)

43. Harry S. Truman, “Exchange of Messages with Pope Pius XII,” American Presidency Project, August 6, 1947 (at:http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=12746).(Return)

44. Davis v. Beason, 133 U. S. 333, 341-344, 348 n. (1890). (Return)

45. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States 136 U.S. 1, 49 (1890). (Return)

46. U.S. ex rel. Modianos v. Tuttle, 12 F.2d 927 (E.D. La. 1925). (Return)

47. U.S. v. Macintosh, 283 U.S. 605, 625 (1931). (Return)

48. Ross v. McIntyre, 140 U.S. 453, 463 (1891). (Return)

49. Patrick Goodenough, “French Anti-Sect Law: Christian Lawyers Prepare for Action,” Center for Studies on New Religions, June 4, 2001 (at:http://www.cesnur.org/2001/fr_june01.htm).(Return)

50. “India ‘Anti-Conversion’ Law Takes Effect in Fifth State,” WorthyNews, May 2, 2008 (at: http://www.worthynews.com/1641-india-anti-conversion-law-takes-effect-in-fifth-state). See also “India ‘Anti-Conversion’ Law Considered in Karnataka,” Compass Direct News, March 2, 2009 (at:http://www.compassdirect.org/en/display.php?page=news〈=en=long&idelement=5829). Seven of India’s 28 states have passed an anti-conversion law (which has been implemented in 5) and one additional state has a law in process that has not yet been passed. (Return)

51. “Congressional Hearings on Anti-Conversion Laws this Friday,” Free Copts, April 6, 2006 (at: http://freecopts.net/english/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=70).(Return)

52. Jerry Dykstra “A Leader in Religious Intolerance: In Saudi Arabia, conversion to Christianity is punishable by death,” Today’s Christian, July 1, 2006 (at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/tc/2006/004/11.53.html).(Return)

53. Jane Perlez “Once Muslim, Now Christian and Caught in the Courts,” New York Times, August 24, 2006 (at:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/24/world/asia/24malaysia.html?ex=1157083200&en=48413500adb50796&ei=5040&partner=MOREOVERNEWS).(Return)

54. Ross v. McIntyre, 140 U.S. 453 (1891). (Return)

55. See, for example, Kinsella v. Krueger, 351 U.S. 470 (1956); Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1 (1957). (Return)

56. See, for example, U.S. v. Best, 76 F. Supp. 857 (D. Mass. 1948); U.S. v. Robertson, Court of Military Appeals (May 27, 1955); U.S. v. Tiede, 86 F.R.D. 227, 1979 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13805 (D. Berlin Mar. 14, 1979); and many others.(Return)

57. Ross v. McIntyre, 140 U.S. 453, 480 (1891). (Return)

58. Beecher v. Wetherby, 95 U.S. 517, 525 (1877). (Return)

59. Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, 187 U.S. 553, 565 (1903). See also the same language in Yankton Sioux Tribe of Indians v. U. S., 272 US 351 (1926); U. S. v. Choctaw Nation, 179 U.S. 494 (1900); Atlantic & P R Co v. Mingus, 165 U.S. 413 (1897); Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Company v. Roberts, 152 U.S. 114 (1894); Buttz v. Northern Pac. R. Co., 119 U.S. 55 (1886). (Return)

60. “Act of April 26, 1906, Public Number 129,” Access Genealogy Indian Tribal Records (at:http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/laws/act_april_26_1906.htm) (accessed May 4, 2009). (Return)

61. Tee-Hit-Ton Indians v. United States, 348 U.S. 272 (1955). (Return)

62. Sioux Tribe of Indians v. U.S., 146 F. Supp. 229 (Ct. Cl. Nov. 7, 1956);Seminole Nation v. White, 224 F.2d 173 (10th Cir. 1955); U.S. v. Drumb, 152 F.2d 821 (10th Cir. 1946); Appeal of Brunt, 5 B.T.A. 134, 1926 WL 47 (October 21, 1926); Parr v. U.S., 153 F. 462 (D. Or. 1907). (Return)

63. Cohen v. Little Six, Inc., 543 N.W.2d 376 (Minn. App. 1996). (Return)

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