But the long-standing American tradition of prayer at official ceremonies displays with unmistakable clarity that the Establishment Clause does not forbid the government to accommodate it. The narrow context of the present case involves a community’s celebration of one of the milestones in its young citizen’s lives, and it is a bold step for this Court to seek to banish from that occasion, and from thousands of similar celebrations throughout this land, the expression of gratitude to God that a majority of the community wishes to make. The Weisman case fully illustrates the anti-religious bias which now dominates much of the Court’s current jurisprudence. In fact, public expressions of prayer have been such a consistent loser over the past three decades that the district judge who issued the original ruling in the Weisman case had concluded:
The Constitution as the Supreme Court views it does not permit it prayer. Unfortunately, in this instance there is no satisfactory middle ground. Those who are anti-prayer have thus been deemed the victors.
These eight representative cases, selected from scores of similar cases, confirm that the current First Amendment is unlike the one originally delivered by the Founders. In its remaking of the First Amendment over the past three decades, the Court has created four different standards: the “Establishment Test” 1947, the “Lemon Test” 1971 discussed in the following chapter, the “Endorsement Test” 1985, and the psychological “Coercion Test” 1992 now called the “Outsider Test”. Observing these changes, one is reminded of Thomas Jefferson’s warning: The Constitution is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please.
Under the influence of the judiciary, the Constitution has indeed taken on a new “form,” and even if an individual had absolutely no knowledge of our heritage or constitutional history, one must wonder at the logic behind the current interpretation. The First Amendment’s wording is explicit: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
David Barton - Believers and nonbelievers are asking these questions, "Who am I? What is the meaning of life? Where am I going? How can I get help in this relationship? How can I forgive this person?
Clearly, prominent Founders saw the Ten Commandments and religious codes in general – as the foundation of American civil law. In fact, the belief was clear that public adherence to religious principles was the greatest source of security for civil government:
The Holy Scriptures can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability, and usefulness. In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments protections around our institutions. James McHenry, Signer of the Constitution
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. Robert Winthrop, Speaker of the U.S. House
Human legislators can undertake only to prescribe the actions of men; they acknowledge their inability to govern and direct the sentiments of the heart. It is one of the greatest marks of Divine favor bestowed upon the children of Israel that the legislator God gave those rules not only of action, but for the government of the heart. John Quincy Adams
We seek to prevent in some measure the extension of the penal code by inspiring a salutary and conservative principle of virtue and of knowledge in an early age. By general instruction we seek, as far as possible, to purify the whole moral atmosphere and to turn the strong current of feeling and opinion, as well as the censures of the law and the denunciations of religion, against immorality and crime. Daniel Webster
Had I a voice that could be heard from New Hampshire to Georgia, it should be exerted in urging the necessity of disseminating virtue and knowledge among our citizens. On this subject, the policy of the eastern States is well worth of imitation. The wise people of that extremity of the union never form a new township without making arrangements that secure to its inhabitants the instruction of youth and the public preaching of the gospel. Hence their children are early taught to know their rights and to respect themselves. They grow up good members of society and staunch defenders of their country’s cause. David Ramsay, Revolutionary Surgeon; Member of the Continental Congress
David Barton - How can I have my deepest and most profound needs met?" There is some overlap there. There are also some unique things that are different for the believer and the nonbeliever but there are many things that bleed together.
The sanctions of religion compose the foundations of good government. Dewitt Clinton, introduced the Twelfth Amendment; Governor of New York City; U.S. Senator
I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am as perfectly satisfied that the Union of the States in its form and adoption is as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament. Benjamin Rush, Signer of the declaration
God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable and that the unjust attempts to destroy the one may in the issue tend to the support and establishment of both. John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration
However, the Court was not particularly interested in the Founders’ views on this subject; in fact, it openly acknowledged its contempt for America’s heritage when it remarked: That New York prayer seems relatively insignificant when compared to the governmental encroachments upon religion which were commonplace 200 years ago.
The Court also claimed that to approve any specific wording made the prayer constitutionally infirm an argument effectively dismantled by Justice Potter Stewart in his dissent:
The Court today says that the State and federal governments are without constitutional power to prescribe any particular form of words to be recited by any group of the American people on any subject touching religion. One of the stanzas of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” made our National Anthem by Act of Congress in 1931, contains these verses:
“Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, and this be our motto ‘In God is our Trust.’ ” In 1954, Congress added a phrase to the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag so that it now contains the words “one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. Since 1865 the words “In God We Trust” have been impressed on our coins. Countless similar examples could be listed, but there is no need to belabor the obvious. I do not believe that this Court, or the Congress, or the President has by the actions and practices I have mentioned established an “official religion” in violation of the Constitution. And I do not believe the State of New York has done so in this case.
David Barton - I want to ask you a question here folks. How many of you like to cook? Do you enjoy cooking? Come on, guys, gals, OK. Now those of you who like to cook, I am sure, if you are like our family, you have had people into your home as guests.
I desire to bless and praise the name of God most high for appointing me my birth in a land of Gospel Light where the glorious tidings of a Savior and of pardon and salvation through Him have been continually sounding in mine ears. Robert Treat Paine, Signer of Declaration
Pardon, we beseech Thee, all our offences of omission and commission; and grant that in all our thoughts, words, and actions, we may conform to Thy known will manifested in our consciences, and in the revelations of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Timothy Pickering, Revolutionary General; Secretary of State
I am at last reconciled to my God and have assurance of His pardon through faith in Christ, against which the very gates of hell cannot prevail. Fear hath been driven out by perfect love. John Randolph of Roanoke, U. S. Congressman; U. S. Diplomat
My only hope of salvation is in the infinite transcendent love of God manifested to the world by the death of His Son upon the Cross. Nothing but His blood will wash away my sins. I rely exclusively upon it. Come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly! Benjamin Rush, Signer of Declaration
I believe that there is one only living and true God, existing in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the same in substance equal in power and glory that the scriptures of the old and new testaments are a revelation from God and a complete rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him. I believe that the souls of believers are at their death made perfectly holy and immediately taken to glory: that at the end of this world there will be a resurrection of the dead and a final judgment of all mankind when the righteous shall be publicly acquitted by Christ the Judge and admitted to everlasting life and glory, and the wicked be sentenced to everlasting punishment. Roger Sherman, Signer of the Declaration; Signer of the Constitution
David Barton - Right? When you cook food for your guests, usually you are more thoughtful and creative in the way you serve the food. Maybe you use a table decoration and place mats.
Therefore, allowing for overlap and the inclusion of leaders like Henry and Webster, approximately two hundred- and-fifty individuals are considered here as “Founding Fathers.”
To determine whether these “Founding Fathers” were generally atheists, agnostics, and deists, one must first define those terms. An “atheist” is one who professes to believe that there is no God; an “agnostic” is one who professes that nothing can be known beyond what is visible and tangible; 4 and a “deist” is one who believes in an impersonal God who is no longer involved with mankind. In other words, a “deist” embraces the “clockmaker theory” hat there was a God who made the universe and wound it up like a clock; however, it now runs of its own volition; the clockmaker is gone and therefore does not respond to man.
Today the terms “atheist,” “agnostic,” and “deist” have been used together so often that their meanings have almost become synonymous. In fact, many dictionaries list these words as synonyms. Those who advance the notion that this was the belief system of the Founders often publish information attempting to prove that the Founders were irreligious. Some of the quotes they set forth include: This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it. John Adams
The government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion. George Washington
I disbelieve all holy men and holy books. Thomas Paine
Are these statements accurate? Did these prominent Founders truly repudiate religion? An answer will be found by an examination of the sources of the above statements.
David Barton - In our home the burping level is kept at a minimum, food throwing discouraged. We change. The conversation is altered. Are we being hypocritical? No.
The evidence is clear that for years the Founders pursued peaceful reconciliation and entreaty and that it was Great Britain which terminated the discussions. In fact, separation from Great Britain was not selected as the American course of action until two years after King George III had drawn the sword and sent armed troops against his own citizens in America. As signer of the Declaration John Witherspoon made clear: On the part of America, there was not the most distant thought of subverting the government or of hurting the interest of the people of Great Britain; but of defending their own privileges from unjust encroachment; there was not the least desire of withdrawing their allegiance from the common sovereign King George III till it became absolutely necessary and indeed, was his own choice. When the decision for a separation was made, the Founders still maintained their strong entreaty to God for the justness of their actions. For example, in a letter to British officials, Samuel Adams, the Father of the American Revolution, declared: There is One above us who will take exemplary vengeance for every insult upon His majesty. You know that the cause of America is just.
You know that she contends for that freedom to which all men are entitled that she contends against oppression, rapine, and more than savage barbarity. The blood of the innocent is upon your hands, and all the waters of the ocean will not wash it away. We again make our solemn appeal to the God of heaven to decide between you and us. And we pray that, in the doubtful scale of battle, we may be successful as we have justice on our side, and that the merciful Saviour of the world may forgive our oppressors. Adams also authored a manifesto for the Continental Congress which reflected a similar tone: We, therefore, the Congress of the United States of America, do solemnly declare and proclaim that. We appeal to the God who searcheth the hearts of men for the rectitude of our intentions; and in His holy presence declare that, as we are not moved by any light or hasty suggestions of anger or revenge, so through every possible change of fortune we will adhere to this our determination.
After the separation occurred, despite the years of peaceful entreaties, some British leaders specifically accused the Americans of anarchy and rebellion. To this charge, John Quincy Adams forcefully responded: There was no anarchy. The people of the North American union, and of its constituent States, were associated bodies of civilized men and Christians in a state of nature, but not of anarchy.
David Barton - We are being sensitive to the needs of our guests, the seeker, the nonbeliever, as well as the saint. Worship must be sensitive.
Southern Democratic governors, fearing that Truman might eventually succeed in his civil rights goals, denounced his agenda and proposed a meeting in Florida of what they called a “southern conference of true Democrats” to plan their strategy to halt civil rights progress. That summer at the Democratic National Convention when Truman placed strong pro-civil rights language in the national Democratic platform, the result was a walkout of southern delegates. Southern Democrats then formed the Dixiecrat Party and ran South Carolina Democratic Governor Strom Thurmond as their candidate for President. Thurmond’s bid was unsuccessful. Truman was the first democratic president to make bold civil rights proposals democratic Gov. Strom Thurmond Truman’s civil rights efforts were significant; and the website for the Democratic National Committee properly acknowledges Truman’s important contributions. In fact, in their section called “A Brief History of the Democratic Party,” Democrats declare: “With the election of Harry Truman, Democrats began the fight to bring down the barriers of race and gender.” Notice the word “began.” That is an accurate description; starting with Harry Truman, Democrats began – that is, they made their first serious efforts – to fight against the barriers of race; yet, as already noted, Truman’s efforts were largely unsuccessful because of his own Democratic Party.
“Strom Thurmond and Tom Moss”
Strom Thurmond Collection, Clemson University republican senator Strom Thurmond hired tom moss, the first African American to serve in the office of a southern senator the DNC website acknowledges that for democrats, it was Truman who began the change.
Look a little more closely at the Democrats’ own history of their Party. On their official website, after noting that, “Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic Party in 1792,” they list a number of years highlighting significant Democratic achievements: 1798, 1800, 1808, 1812, 1816, 1824, 1828, 1832, 1844, and 1848 – a long flurry of Democratic activity. Yet after 1848, what is the next date mentioned? It skips from 1848 to the beginning of the next century. Why would Democrats skip over their own history from 1848 to 1900? Perhaps because it’s not the kind of civil rights history they want to talk about – perhaps because it is not the kind of civil rights history they want to have on their website. The Democrat’s website is accurate when it says that the Democratic efforts for civil rights “began” with Truman in 1946, for there certainly is much about civil rights that they would rather not talk about before that time.
The Democratic Party website conveniently omits nearly half-a-century of its history The President following Democrat Harry Truman was World War II hero Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, elected in 1952. Eisenhower was well aware of the southern Democratic congressional commitment to racial segregation. Understanding that it would be difficult to make substantial changes in law, and that the progress would be slow at best, Eisenhower determined to eliminate racial discrimination in all areas under his authority. He therefore issued executive orders halting segregation in the District of Columbia and federal agencies. Furthermore, he was the first President to appoint a black American – Frederic Morrow – to an executive position on the White House staff; and although he also proposed a vigorous civil rights legislative protection plan for blacks in the southern Democratic States, Democrats in Congress were able to prevent any legislative progress. Given his pro-civil rights record, it is not surprising that in his 1956 reelection, Eisenhower – like Republican Presidents before him – received significant support from black voters.
Democratic leaders long stood in the doorways of schoolhouses and told black school children that we don’t want you in here to get the good education that our children are getting. Today, as many black students have become mired in urban schools that are often failing or deteriorating, Democrats are once again standing in the doorway, this time to keep black students from getting out.
Consider the situation in Washington, D. C., where 84 percent of the city’s students are black: despite the fact that nearly $13,500 is spent each year on every student in the District, D. C. schools currently rank among the worst of all schools in the nation. Congress therefore moved to help by providing a $7,500 voucher for low-income students trapped in failing schools – a voucher they could redeem to attend a better school – a school chosen by that student and his or her parents. When that congressional proposal came to a vote, ninety-nine percent of Democrats voted against that bill allowing students in failing schools to choose a better school – only one percent of Democrats in Congress supported vouchers and parental school choice in education, 289 even though nationally nearly 70 percent of African Americans with children support educational choice – a level of support well above that of the general population.
While Democrats once stood in the doorways of public schools and told black students, “We don’t want you in here,” they are again standing in the doorways of public schools, this time telling black students that they don’t want them out – that they want them to remain in failing schools. It appears that for a century-and-a-half, Democrats have often taken wrong positions on educational opportunity for black Americans.
Returning to the 19th century, in 1883, the U. S. Supreme Court – using the same abominable logic it displayed in the deplorable Dred Scott decision – struck down the 1875 civil rights laws that prohibited segregation and racial discrimination. Regrettably, it would be almost seventy years after this before the Supreme Court would relent and partially undo some of the painful effects of its pro-segregation decision by reinstating part of the intent of the Republican civil rights law of 1875.
Rep. John Roy Lynch, a Congressman from Mississippi mentioned earlier, had grown up as a slave until freed by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Within a decade, he had become Speaker of the House in Mississippi and later received presidential appointments from Republican Presidents Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley. Lynch was appointed an army officer during the Spanish-American War, earned a law degree, and was the Chairman of the Republican Party in Mississippi. He was a leader who served his State and nation well. Despite the serious racial problems of his day, Lynch’s love for his country was still very evident and reflected the patriotism still present among African Americans today:
I love the land that gave me birth; I love the Stars and Stripes. This country is where I intend to live – where I expect to die. To preserve the honor of the national flag and to maintain perpetually the Union of the States, hundreds – and I may say thousands – of noble, brave, and true-hearted colored men have fought, bled, and died. The Supreme Court prolonged segregation for a century by striking down early civil rights laws republican U. S. rep. john r. lynch.
Georgia Democratic Governor Marvin Griffin also attacked Eisenhower’s actions, and praised Arkansas Governor Faubus for his attempt to prevent blacks from entering Central High School. Governor Griffin promised that as long as he held office, he would “maintain segregation in the schools; and the races will not be mixed, come hell or high water.” To prepare for the possibility that Eisenhower might do in Georgia what he had done in Arkansas, legislation was introduced in the Democrat-controlled Georgia legislature so that if desegregation were attempted, the public schools of the State would be dissolved and replaced with State-run private schools so that Arkansas democrat governor Orval Faubus fought for segregation; republican president Dwight d. Eisenhower fought for integration blacks could be excluded. These types of schools became known as “segregation academies.” Meanwhile in Arkansas, Democratic Governor Faubus, unable to prevent black students from attending school because of the federal protection they received, simply shut down the schools for the next year to prevent further attendance. And Virginia Democratic Governor James Almond – like other southern Democratic Governors – shut down public schools rather than permit black students to attend.
In 1960 in Louisiana, where Democratic Governor Jimmie Davis supported segregation, 277 four federal marshals were required to accompany little Ruby Bridges so that she could attend a public elementary school in New Orleans. When Ruby entered that class, every other parent withdrew their children and for the entire year, little Ruby was the only student in that classroom – just Ruby and her schoolteacher from Boston.
So deep-seated was the racism among southern Democratic leaders that when the 1964 civil rights bill became law, Lester Maddox, who became Democratic Governor of Georgia, sold the fast-food business he owned rather than serve blacks in his restaurant. And in 1960, Mississippi Democratic Governor Hugh White had even requested democrat governor George Timmerman closed state facilities to evangelist Billy graham because graham included African Americans in his rallies that evangelist Billy Graham segregate his crusades 280 – something Graham refused to do. And when South Carolina Democratic Governor George Timmerman learned that Billy Graham had invited African Americans to a Reformation Rally at the State Capitol, he promptly denied use of the facilities to the evangelist.
This type of Democratic response against black Americans – and against the whites who supported them – was common across much of the South; and the reasons given by Democratic leaders to justify this disgusting behavior was simply, “States’ Rights” – the same rhetoric they had used a century earlier, first to justify slavery and the creation of a slave-holding nation and then to enact laws enforcing segregation and withholding voting rights from black Americans for the next eighty years after the Civil War. During the era of desegregation, in an effort to remake the image of racism so long and so properly associated with the southern cry of “States Rights,” southern leaders began to claim that the southern Confederate battle flag – the quintessential symbol of a perverted States’ Rights philosophy – was actually a symbol of heritage rather than hate. Consequently, many today wrongly – but innocently – believe that the battle flag of the South is about heritage and not about hate – something easily refuted by historical facts and documents.
Returning to the school desegregation situation, some southern Democratic Governors did work for integration – including Tennessee Governor Frank Clement, Florida Governor LeRoy Collins, and Kentucky Governor Happy Chandler – but the confederate flag IS about heritage, but it is the wrong kind of heritage democrat governors clement and chandler worked for integration these tended to be the exceptions among southern Democratic Governors rather than the rule, and their admirable behavior was clearly overshadowed by the negative behavior of the others.
David Barton tells us that according to the records for late November of 1800, Congress spent the first few weeks organizing the rooms, the committees, their loca john adams the records of congress commence in 1774 . Then, on December 4, 1800, Congress made an interesting decision: Congress decided that the Capitol building would also serve as a church building! 76
The use of this building as a church building is confirmed not only by the records of Congress but also by the diaries of those who served in Congress at the time. For example, while John Quincy Adams was a U. S. Senator, he recorded in his diary for October 30, 1803: Attended public service at the Capitol where Mr. Ratoon, an Episcopalian clergyman from Baltimore, preached a sermon. 77
The week before, he had written: [R]eligious service is usually performed on Sundays at the Treasury office and at the Capitol. I went both forenoon and afternoon to the Treasury. 78 Very few citizens realize that the Capitol building – as well as other government buildings – served as church buildings, but such was the case!
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