Declaration signers were in contradiction to Christianity
July 09, 2014 12:15 AM | 1944 views | 22 22 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEAR EDITOR,

Nelson Price (“Declaration of Independence was declaration of dependence,” Marietta Daily Journal, 6 July 2014) makes some interesting points, but he exaggerates one of his claims absurdly and ignores a much more important idea.

He is correct that those who identify the religious references in the Declaration of Independence as strictly deistic overstate their case—but then he swings wildly too far in the “Christian nation” direction. Many of the signers were indeed Christian, but all of them were in direct contradiction to biblical Christianity. Most notably a well-known New Testament source, Romans 13:1-3, makes it unmistakably clear that rebelling against an established government, especially against a Christian king, explicitly violates God’s will and will be divinely punished. Whole books have been devoted to this subject — we analyzed it at length in our own book — but Price significantly misrepresents the consensus, which is that the Declaration was imbued with ceremonial deism.

The more important point that he ignores is the fact that the Declaration, while important to Americans and freedom lovers worldwide, is not our governing charter. As he noted, the U.S. Constitution was agreed to a full 13 years after the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution includes not even a ceremonial bow to any god, Christian or deistic. Nor does it incorporate even one idea of any importance that can be traced to Christianity or the Bible. The signers of the Declaration did indeed declare that they depended on each other. With the Constitution, the transformation to a god-free government was complete, with there no longer being any doubt as to the sole source of governmental authority: “We the People.” Religious freedom was quite important to the founders and they understood that to protect liberty, government must stand aside from religion.

And that’s worth celebrating by all Americans, religious or irreligious.

Ed Buckner

Smyrna

Comments
(22)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Tony Maddox
|
July 15, 2014
Wow! Eddie B. is still alive? I thought he'd died and gone to... well, wherever it is that atheists hope to go when they die.
EM Buckner
|
July 16, 2014
All of us--atheists, Christians, et many ceteras, go the same place when we die, Tony. The same place where we were for billions of years before we were born. I'd call that "place" nonexistence--other names used with abandon, I know.
B and K
|
July 10, 2014
Buck and K-Fo, two wannabes with egos so large they cannot possible perceive the Truth before their very eyes. An ego is one of the most dangerous parts of human nature, if it is not tamed.

One can imagine Buck and K-Fo at the Constitutional convention with the Founding Fathers back in the 1700s, their sole contribution would be to continually object to anything and everything presented.

Rave on guys, you make for great entertainment.
Kevin Foley
|
July 10, 2014
B&K - please don't be bashful. Introduce yourself to me sometime instead of hiding like a little girl.

Guess what happened at the Constitutional Convention, fool? Everybody was objecting to everything. Why don't you read a book, whoever you are.
EM Buckner
|
July 11, 2014
I'd guess that most don't really need to have this pointed out, but I will for the few: note that the anonymous critic (why anonymous?) makes not a single coherent or logical point, addresses nothing I actually wrote in the LTE, and doesn't even make any false claims of facts or evidence--just blusters and rants. Then he (or she?) "accuses" us of raving?
Kevin Foley
|
July 11, 2014
And yet, Ed, such faceless, gutless buffoons are able to present themselves at the polls and cast uninformed votes against their own interests. Go figure.
Kevin Foley
|
July 09, 2014
Ed, as you know, the European kings (conservatives of their day) conspired with the church to keep the people in line with the threat of torture, execution and eternal damnation.

When the nobleman died, the king's law said the church could take his eldest son (and with him, all of the nobleman's wealth). When the nobleman's daughter married, the church's law said the king could bed her before her husband.

Such was the corrupt, immoral relationship between church and state, which the Founder's abhorred and why they expressly separated the two.

Rev. Price, keep your Christianity (or any religion) away from America's civil affairs.

Ben Twomey
|
July 10, 2014
Foley, please explain how the Founding Fathers "expressly separated the two." I will tell you, in advance. that quoting the part of the First Amendment which expressly limits what congress can do in relation to relgion falls way short of explaining what you claim the Founding Fathers did.

Try to remember that the purpose in framing the Constitution was to establish the mechanism by which the government would function. not describe its relationship with any other institution.
EM Buckner
|
July 16, 2014
Egg-on-your-face (try wiping it off, maybe? and then apply for an actual identity as an actual human being?), et al., feel free to ignore completely the words of all the founders and framers, of reputable historians by the carload, of thousands of judicial opinions. Everyone gets to believe whatever he wants, and never mind logic, evidence, etc., if faith is the basis for belief. If you think the words of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, et alia, are irrelevant, and aren't even interested in the words of preachers such as Isaac Backus or John Leland, then you're well advised to simply argue with yourself.
eggontheface
|
July 15, 2014
Ben Twomey...and yet K-Fo and the Atheist (should be a rock band) STILL can't address your comment. The one that any normal, rational person can see:

"I applaud the actiosn of the Suprement coutr in upholding that a business shoudl not be forced into doing something that violates the religious beliefs of its principals. I resent the lies and distortions that are being circulated that this action, somehow, denies women health care. Nothing could be further from the truth. It denies them nothing. Hobby Lobby offers its employees, through their insurance plan, a choice of 16 of the most popularforms of birth control. It says, "if you choose to not use any of them, but some other, we will not pay for your choice". Since Hobby Lobby pays its full time employees almost twice the Federal minimum wage, they are in a position to pay for their choices."

SIXTEEN choices of birth control. Just not the abortion pills. Are you kidding me?! I seriously doubt if Hobby Lobby employs Sarah Fluke-like skanks, but covering 16 types of birth control is pretty generous in my book.

K-Fo and Buckner, what say you?!

Ben Twomey
|
July 15, 2014
Mr. Bucknwer, the writings of John Adams, or anyone else, are irrelevant to the issue of the separation of church and state, which clearly does not esixt in the Constitution.

If you truly believ in separation of chruch and state you would be against any laws whcih limit the free exercise of one's religion.

However, if that were true then you would be applauding the Hobby Lobby decision because it limits how much the ogvernment can dictate relgious beliefs and adherence thereto.
Rhett Writer
|
July 15, 2014
Mr. Twomey is correct in his writings, in that the so-called "Separation clause" does not separate the church and the state. It merely prohibits the legislative branch of the goverment from taking two actions in relation to religion. It is interesting to note thay it only limits government's involvement with relgion and not religion's involvement with the government. There is a reason for that. They were trying to protect the "church" from the "state", and not the "state" from the "church". Reading more into it than that is purely speculation. When one begins to speculate, then one opens up to all possibilities. May I also remind you that there are three branches of government. The First Amendment only limited one of them.

while I do not believe that religion should play any part in government, I am equally opposed to government playing any part in relgion.
EM Buckner
|
July 14, 2014
And, Mr. Twomey, just to followup a little more, we quoted Adams at length in our book:

In his 1787–1788 work Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, which was widely circulated in London, John Adams reviewed in detail the history of attributing government and law to divinity and firmly declared that (emphasis added):

It was the general opinion of ancient nations, that the divinity alone was adequate to the important office of giving laws to men. The Greeks entertained this prejudice throughout all their dispersions; the Romans cultivated the same popular delusion; and modern nations, in the consecrations of kings, and in several superstitious chimeras of divine rights in princes and nobles, are nearly unanimous in preserving remnants of it: even the venerable magistrates of Amersfort devoutly believe themselves God’s vicegerents; Is it that obedience to the laws can be obtained

from mankind in no other manner? — Is the jealousy of power, and the envy of superiority, so strong in all men, that no considerations of public or private utility are sufficient to engage their submission to rules for their own happiness? Or is the disposition to imposture so prevalent in men of experience, that their private views of ambition and avarice can be accomplished only by artifice? — It was a tradition in antiquity that the laws of Crete were dictated to Minos by the inspiration of Jupiter. This legislator, and his brother Rhadamanthus, were both his sons: once in nine years they went to converse with their father, to propose questions concerning the wants of the people; and his answers were recorded as laws for their government. The laws of Lacedæmon were communicated by Apollo to Lycurgus; and, lest the meaning of the deity should not have been perfectly comprehended, or correctly expressed, were afterwards confirmed by his oracle at Delphos. Among the Romans, Numa was indebted for those laws which procured the prosperity of his country to his conversations with Egeria. The Greeks imported these mysteries from Egypt and the East, whose despotisms, from the remotest antiquity to this day, have been founded in the same solemn

empiricism; their emperors and nobles being all descended from their gods. Woden and Thor were divinities too; and their posterity ruled a thousand years in the north by the strength of a like credulity. Manco Capac was the child of the sun, the visible deity of the Peruvians; and transmitted his divinity, as well as his earthly dignity and authority, through a line of incas. And the rudest tribes of savages in North America have certain families under the immediate protection of the god war, from which their leaders are always chosen. There is nothing in which mankind have been more unanimous; yet nothing can be inferred from it more than this, that the multitude have always been credulous, and the few artful. The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature: and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an æra in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had any interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the inspiration of heaven, any more than those at work upon ships or houses, or labouring in merchandize or agriculture: it will for ever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

(Adams could also have accurately noted that the belief that kings and governments are divinely established is certainly the biblical view in both Old and New Testaments.) A little farther along in his preface, Adams reiterated his point regarding all the American state governments: “Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.” Adams did not, it must be said, prove to be much of a prophet, since many, many pundits—and not just

recent ones such as Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann—have indeed “pretended” that persons employed in that service (writing the Constitution) were “under the inspiration of heaven.” But we can safely take the testimony of Adams, one of the founders and key players of the day, over that of religious followers or of demagogues or of, as Adams called them, “credulous multitudes” led by “the few artful.”
EM Buckner
|
July 14, 2014
Ben Twomey,

Just on strictly technical--but important--grounds you are incorrect, as Article VI decades that religious tests for office are prohibited. You also ignore the long history of governments and efforts at new governmental approaches: in that long history, the Constitution of the U.S. was the first to avoid invoking any gods or religious authority for the government being organized. Strange idea indeed to believe that the framers did not intend for the government they were organizing to be secular, given the precedents. It was not that the framers saw no role for religion in the lives of citizens (some may have wanted none); but it's clear they wanted no role for religion *in government* or they would have mentioned what they wanted. They believed that religious liberty was too important to deprive citizens of power over it and government too dangerous when entangled with religion. This is especially clear if one reads other writings of the time--especially for example John Adams 1787-1788 Defence of the Constitution.
Say What???
|
July 14, 2014
Ben you're really having a tough time with this. The first amendment DOES separate religion from law when it reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

How is that unclear?

I'm also aware of the free exercise clause - but free exercise doesn't mean free exercise of the majority religion - it means any religion (or none) whatever the case may be.
Ben Twomey
|
July 14, 2014
@ Say What> Had You read what I wrote, you would see that I excluded the two constraints put on the congress by the First Amendment, when I made that statement. There is not, in the entirety of the Constitution, any other mentiosn of the relgion, church or God.

BTW,. the second part of the constraint says, "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,
Say What???
|
July 13, 2014
Ben, when you say that the Constitution "made no mention of what part, if any, religion was to play in government," are you just deliberately refusing to comprehend the phrase "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion?"
Ben Twomey
|
July 12, 2014
Mr. Buckner, I must disagree with your interpretation of what the First Amendment did. It did not, in fact, separate relgion from the legislative branch. It placed strong prohibitions on two actions the legislative branch may not take. It made no mention of what part, if any, religion was to play in government.

Many contend that because there is no mention of God or relgion (other than the First Amendment)in the Constitution that means that the framers did not recognize God's place in the United States.

I would point out that the purpose in the framing of the Constitution was to establish a government and lay down the rules by which that government was to function. It was not intended to determine the realtionship of the government and God.

One has only to read the greatest of all documents created by the founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence, to find references to a Creator.

Belief in a higher power is liberally sprinkled throughout the great writings of the most prestigious of our forefathers.

While I do not advocate the interference of the Chruch in civil matters, I just as vehemently oppose imposition of the government into matters of religion and relgious beliefs.

I applaud the actiosn of the Suprement coutr in upholding that a business shoudl not be forced into doing something that violates the religious beliefs of its principals. I resent the lies and distortions that are being circulated that this action, somehow, denies women health care. Nothing could be further from the truth. It denies them nothing. Hobby Lobby offers its employees, through their insurance plan, a choice of 16 of the most popularforms of birth control. It says, "if you choose to not use any of them, but some other, we will not pay for your choice". Since Hobby Lobby pays its full time employees almost twice the Federal minimum wage, they are in a position to pay for their choices.
Samuel Adams
|
July 11, 2014
As usual, Foley raving about something completely unrelated to anything.
EM Buckner
|
July 11, 2014
Ben Twomey--and thanks for using your name and for temperate comments--the First Amendment, or first words thereof, did expressly separate religion from the central government, or at least the legislative branch. But the framers also expressly provided for amendment and interpretation of the document, and SCOTUS, at least since Marbury v. Madison, has been accepted as the interpreter. And the 14th Amendment (1868) expressly forbids state or local governments from traducing the rights of US citizens.
EM Buckner
|
July 10, 2014
Well said, Mr. Foley--as usual. My wife and I enjoy your columns immensely.
EM Buckner
|
July 16, 2014
And,as to the mistaken SCOTUS decision on Hobby Lobby: you really think employers should control the religious decisions of employees? You really think corporations can have religious beliefs? You really think that Hobby Lobby, which had no objection to providing insurance for all 20 contraceptive methods until Obamacare came along? Then you're naive AND unAmerican.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides