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.