VOICES FROM THE PAST
Did you ever play the game “telephone”? You know how it goes. Sit around in a circle and one person whispers a phrase in the ear of the person sitting beside him. That person then whispers the phrase to the person sitting next in the circle. The third person does likewise until everyone in the circle has had the phrase repeated to him. Finally, the last person in the circle repeats aloud what it was the original phrase was supposed to have been. It is amazing how twisted the message becomes after it passes through the mouth and ears of those who are carrying the gossip.
That is why “hear-say” evidence is not permissible in a court of law.
Unfortunately, over the past 230 years there has been a lot of “telephone” being played with American history.
Did you know that 52 of the 55 signers of "The Declaration of Independence" were orthodox, deeply committed, Christians? The other three all believed in the Bible as the divine truth, the God of scripture, and His personal intervention. It is the same Congress that formed the American Bible Society, and after creating the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress voted to purchase and import 20,000 copies of Scripture to be used in the schools?
But over the “phone lines” the message has become garbled and confused as their “original” intent has been “interpreted” over the decades.
See, Thomas Jefferson told the Danbury Baptists that the First Amendment erected a wall of “separation between the church and the state.” Like the guys in the circle playing telephone, much of the message has been twisted. We only get a part of what Jefferson really said. The guy who started the conversation, Thomas Jefferson, was passing on a half-truth. Jefferson had no part in the writing of the Constitution. During the time when Madison, the Father of the Constitution, was putting together this remarkable document, Jefferson was in Europe. Although I am sure that Madison had some idea of Jefferson’s beliefs, the fact is, Jefferson had zero influence on what appeared in the Bill of Rights, and certainly no first-hand knowledge of the discussions.
So, in 1947 Hugo Black dialed up Jefferson’s letter and then whispered it to the Supreme Court, the SCOTUS repeated it in the Everson Case. Other judges picked up on the rumor and whispered it to their friends. Soon the law schools were whispering it. Then the text books in our schools. Eventually, the “telephone” message had crept into our churches, and even our pastors were repeating it. Today, it is almost universally believed that “separation of church and state” is found in our Constitution. Nothing could be further from the Truth.
When the Danbury Baptists wrote to Jefferson who was then President, concerning their fear of a government established denomination, the game of “telephone” began. Jefferson responded to the Baptists with what he believed the 1st Amendment said. Hear-say evidence at best, in-admissible in a court of law.
But that didn’t bother Hugo Black. When putting together the Everson decision, why did Hugo Black pick Jefferson as a source? Why did he choose as evidence a private letter from a man who wasn’t even present when the document was created? Why didn’t Justice Black go to the man who had written it and see what he had to say?
If he were actually in a court of law, Black would have to present eyewitnesses who could testify to the veracity of what the intent of the Founders was. Who would be the eyewitnesses? Why those who were actually present when the document was put together.
Because he wasn’t present at the writing of the document, and his signature is not on it, Jefferson’s letter appears to be a tainted, prejudicial, selective testimony, without first-hand knowledge. In a court of law, rebuttal witnesses would be called. Black, who certainly understood legal procedures, sought out no such contradictory opinion.
So, today, I would like to present a few “eyewitnesses” so that we might determine if the Framers of our Constitution were actually creating a government in which God was separated from the state. Did they intend for America to be a secular nation? Were they against Christianity having impact on the government? Did they believe that it was illegal for the laws of the Bible to be taught in our schools? Would they have ruled prayer before graduation unconstitutional?
Well, after 230 years, the game of “telephone” is over. Let’s go back and see what it was the Founders actually whispered in their neighbor’s ear. Here is more information on who signed the Constitution. Funny, Thomas Jefferson is nowhere to be found.
Although not all of those quoted below signed the document, the fact remains that they were all instrumental in the chartering of this Christian nation. Four US Presidents are quoted below and none of them held the same view that Jefferson purportedly promoted. What, in Hugo Black’s mind, made Jefferson’s “opinion” carry such weight? Could he have had an agenda? Bill Federer, who will be speaking at our event in Danbury, can tell you more.
John Adams--- "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
John Quincy Adams-- “The Law given from Sinai [The Ten Commandments] was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code.”
Charles Carroll - signer of the Declaration of Independence -- "Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure...are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments."
In Benjamin Franklin's 1749 plan of education for public schools in Pennsylvania, he insisted that schools teach "the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern."
Patrick Henry-- “It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”
James Madison-- Father of the Constitution, “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
John Jay -- “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
Jedidiah Morse-- "To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. . . . Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all blessings which flow from them, must fall with them."
Benjamin Rush-- “I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains to prevent them…we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government; that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible; for this Divine Book, above all others, constitutes the soul of republicanism.
Let the children who are sent to those schools be taught to read and write and above all, let both sexes be carefully instructed in the principles and obligations of the Christian religion. This is the most essential part of education” The great enemy of the salvation of man, in my opinion, never invented a more effectual means of extirpating [removing] Christianity from the world than by persuading mankind that it was improper to read the Bible at schools."
Joseph Story-- "At the time of the adoption of the constitution, and of the amendment to it, now under consideration [i.e., the First Amendment], the general, if not the universal sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship."
“I verily believe Christianity necessary to the support of civil society. 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 its foundations.”
“The real object of the (First) Amendment was not to countenance, much less advance, Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects (denominations).”
Noah Webster-- "In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed...No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”
"The moral principles and precepts contained in the scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. . . All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible."
Robert Winthrop-- "Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet."
Samuel Adams-- "Let...statesmen and patriots unite their endeavors to renovate the age by...educating their little boys and girls...and leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system."
John Marshall-- "The American population is entirely Christian, and with us Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations with it."
George Washington-- "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible.”
James Wilson-- Signer of the Constitution; U. S. Supreme Court Justice, "Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. . . . Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other."
Hang up the phone. Case Dismissed.
why we are going to Danbury!
© 2006 Dave Daubenmire
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Coach Dave Daubenmire, founder and President of Pass The Salt Ministries www.ptsalt.com and Minutemen United www.minutemenunited.org, is host of the high octane Pass The Salt radio show heard in Columbus, Ohio.
In 1999 Coach Daubenmire was sued by the ACLU for praying with his teams while coaching high school in Ohio. He now spends his energy fighting for Christian principles in the public domain.
"Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet."