“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports….And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.” – George Washington
“Here is my Creed: I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we can render to him, is doing Good to his other Children…. I think the System of Morals [devised by Jesus] and his Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity.” Benjamin Franklin
“The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.” -Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814
When the Founding Fathers spoke of religion, they were referring to the foundation of religion, which is God. This is true, because today we live in a Godless country. Only in a Godless country would there be hunger caused by greed. Only in a Godless country would there be people who were unable to obtain adequate healthcare. If God were in the hearts of Americans, and of its governing leaders, there would be no healthcare crisis, or no foreclosure crisis. We would be more concerned about the survival of families than corporations profit margins. We would be more concerned over paying teachers, firefighters, police, and soldiers, who give their hearts and lives to us, than we would care about the pay of corporate executives.
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams
If God were in the hearts of Americans and their leaders, charity, kindness, compassion and self-less service would be in the living of their daily lives. The first questions that Benjamin Franklin asked himself every single day was, “What good can I do today?”, and the last question that he asked himself before he went to bed was, “What good have I done today?” He understood as they all did that God could only be worshipped through good works. And where we are today, is where they knew that we would be, if we turned our back on God.
The Founding Fathers were deeply spiritual and devout believers in One God, the Natural God. They studied Cicero and his teachings on God’s Laws and in reading the writings of Cicero, it is clear to see the influence that he had on our Founding Fathers, and it is obvious how closely tied, the framers of the Constitution believed their laws and the Laws of God were connected. We can also see where the firm belief in unalienable rights also connects directly to their belief in God, Cicero stated:
“True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions…It is a sin to try to alter this law, nor is it allowable to attempt to repeal any part of it, and it is impossible to abolish it entirely. We cannot be freed from its obligations by senate or people, and we need not look outside ourselves for an expounder or interpreter of it. And there will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will one master and ruler, that is, God, over us all, for he is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge. Whoever is disobedient is fleeing from himself and denying his human nature, and by reason of this very fact he will suffer the worst punishment.” (Marcus Tullius Cicero, Great Political Thinkers, p. 133.)
As I continue to read the beliefs and intentions of the Founding Fathers it becomes impossible to me that any interpretation if the Constitution can be made, as a viable interpretation without reference to the intent of the framers. What is Constitutional and unconstitutional cannot be based on a prior decision it seems that somehow we must base it upon the beliefs and intentions of the Framers within the historical environment of the time. Only then, can we interpret or extend to our own time, the meaning of the Constitution
Now, again it makes no sense for us to be concerned with the Constitution if we are not able to preserve the Republic itself. The Founding Fathers had very clear, historically based, and well thought out principles, or pillars upon which this Republic could stand and without which, it would inevitably fall.
During the year that the Constitution was written, Congress also passed the Northwest Ordinance, one of the four main documents on which the Nation was formed. Together they were, The Declaration of Independence, The Articles of Confederation, The Constitution, and The Northwest Ordinance
The Founding Fathers did not believe that it was easy to change a grown person into a moral and virtuous one. They believed that it was necessary to raise Republicans or Americans from childhood, from elementary school in the qualities necessary to preserve this Republic. So, in the Northwest Ordinance stated:
“Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged and established in the Northwest Territory.”
In the minds of the Founding Fathers, these three things were necessary to the preservation of the Republic – the success of the experiment in self-government that they believed they were divinely inspired to create. What did they mean by religion? Since, in this ordinance Jefferson wrote,
“No religious reading, instruction or exercise, shall be prescribed or practiced [in the elementary schools] inconsistent with the tenets of any religious sect or denomination.” –Thomas Jefferson: Elementary School Act, 1817. ME 17:425 ,
It would be obvious that religion as the Founding Fathers saw it, was the Natural Religion, the essence or seed from which all religions arise. And to the Founding Fathers, the Christian Religions, aside from Christ himself, were a very poor example of virtue, morals, and brotherhood to teach or to guide a country by:
“If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. These found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here [England]and in New England”
[Benjamin Franklin, “Toleration”, in _Works, Vol.ii._,p. 112]
It is understood, that Job, the main character of the oldest book of the Bible, is not Jewish. The God who speaks to Job, is the Natural God so often referred to by the Founding Fathers and referred to in the Declaration of Independence. In reading the Book of Job, God spends the majority of His narration telling Job of the other creatures great and small that He created and is the God of. Here in this book, it is One God, the God of all living creatures, talking to Job. The basic teachings of all religions, before any judgments or exclusions, or punishments are claimed by different individual religious sects, are accessible through the words of Jesus Christ. As I quoted Mahatma Gandhi before saying it, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
The moral and virtuous teachings of Jesus Christ are the same as The Tao, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Sufism, and almost all religions. They considered the “supernatural” quality of each religion suspect. However, they believed that faith and reason together would hold that there was one God. They believed that a great intelligence had to exist to create man and the universe. They believed that it is through us, the most divinely gifted of all creatures on earth, that God moves.
The kind of religion that they felt was necessary was that of good works. Ben Franklin put it this way,
“The faith you mention has doubtless its use in the world. I do not desire to see it diminished, nor would I desire to lessen it in any way; but I wish it were more productive of good works than I have generally seen it. I mean real good works, works of kindness, charity, mercy, and public spirit, not holy-day keeping, sermon-hearing, and reading, performing church ceremonies, or making long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments, despised even by wise men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity”[Benjamin Franklin, 1753, letter to Rev. George Whitefield. Works, Vol. VII, p. 75]
Despite the hundreds of thousands of houses of worship that exist in this country, there is very little of what our Founding Fathers considered religion. If it existed, outside of very small isolated communities, we would not be in the condition that we are in today. Every step that led us to this place, wherever we choose to place the blame, was taken with selfishness, greed, bigotry, and no concern whatsoever for God or for our fellow human beings.
The kind of religion that our forefathers refer to is something that connects all of God’s creatures to each other through our connection with God, not with a religion, but with God – the God of Nature. It is something that they did not believe the world would be a fit place to live without, and according to their definition, and what we are now experiencing around us it is not. Jefferson to John Adams,
“If by religion we are to understand sectarian dogmas, in which no two of them agree, then your exclamation on that hypothesis is just, “that this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.” But if the moral precepts, innate in man, and made a part of his physical constitution, as necessary for a social being, if the sublime doctrines of philanthropism and deism taught us by Jesus of Nazareth, in which all agree, constitute true religion, then, without it, this would be, as you again say, “something not fit to be named” even, indeed, a hell.”
The Natural God, the God of Nature would have certain ‘natural’ qualities that all of Its creations would be instilled with. These qualities are the ones most required of man. These qualities are natural, yet because man has qualities other animals do not have, which are reason and imagination, allows him to choose to act in accordance with these natural qualities or to override. Many religions attempt to claim that it is ok to kill, abuse, and experiment on animals because they do not have souls. However, under a Natural God, the God of Job, all creation comes from God therefore – all creation contains a soul, God’s Soul. Love, compassion and empathy are natural to all creatures, not just man.
How does one teach the origins of this country, the foundation of this country and its Constitution and the beliefs that united the country in an almost impossible battle for freedom, for liberty without teaching about the God that they fought to honor? How can a child grow up to be an American without understanding the importance of God to America? The more that I study the Republic, the Constitution, and the Founding Fathers, the more I realize that it doesn’t matter what this person or that person feels about God, but the fact that every single unalienable right that we have is rooted, and secure, only in the belief in God the Creator. The religion of America, the religion that this entire Republic rests on is the belief that:
1. There is a God, a creator of all things in nature.
2. Through the Creator, we have been endowed with reason and reflection, gifts not given to any other creature,
3. Because God has given us the rights and the means to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – these rights are unalienable, they cannot be taken away from us by any government, individual or group.
4. We have a moral responsibility to our fellow human beings and all creatures that is inherent in each of our rights.
5. We all live beyond our time on earth.
6. Wherever we go after this life, we will be held accountable for our actions and our treatment of our fellow man.
Our Founding Fathers knew that religion as described above, right moral conduct, and the knowledge necessary to fulfill one’s life and to safeguard one’s liberty.
Perhaps it was the growing fear of saying the name God in school that forced our citizenry to grow, through increasing ignorance, further and further away from the meaning, values and virtue that this country represents. The Constitution prevents the government from making any laws with respect to any religion. It says nothing about God; to the contrary, God is all over the documents that created this country.
There was a real difference between God and religion to our Founding Fathers. There is nothing in the Constitution against teaching about the God who is the foundation of this country, limiting the teaching to God, is not choosing any specific religion. Brotherhood, kindness, and compassion are accepted at a much deeper level when they are connected to God. In this respect, our form of government, self-government, cannot exist without the sense of connection, that comes from a love of God and embracing of the morals and virtue that flows easily through us when that love exists. Imagine where we would be today, if we lived in accordance with the principles upon which this nation was founded. We would be, in every sense, the greatest nation under God.
Originally posted 2010-05-09 22:41:27. Republished by Blog Post Promoter