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.