|The First Amendment|
| The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .” This is the first and greatest right: the freedom of religion.
The humanists read it to mean that the Congress must not acknowledge God. They assume that for the civil government to be neutral in religious disputes, it must be neutral toward God himself.
Before I go further, I must make it clear that the founding fathers are not the final authority here. If they had held this attitude toward God, they would be guilty of the same hypocrisy. If the First Amendment truly prohibited the federal government from acknowledging a higher authority, it would be a call to reject God.
One mistake that the American Civil Liberties Union makes is to confine God to religion as if he were merely a religious concept. The founders would have treated God this way if they were atheists, but they were not,
so they did not confine God to “religion.” This would explain how the founders could make reference to God in legal documents without establishing “religion.”
When our founders spoke of God, they did not speak of something conjured up by religious people. They spoke of someone who stands above everyone and everything. Just to confirm, let’s compare two sections
of Tennessee’s Constitution (1796).
Article VIII Section II
“No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments shall hold any office in the civil department of this State.”
Article IX Section IV
“That no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this State.”
This wouldn’t make sense if God were merely part of religion. It does make sense if he is God.
A key to understanding the First Amendment is in the word, “religion.” By “religion,” the writers had in mind the different practices and views of Christian denominations. They did not want the Congress to establish an official church or otherwise interfere in matters of religion. They wanted churches and individuals to handle such disagreements on their own.
If the term “religion” pertained to all religious thought, the writers would still be guilty of hypocrisy, because religious knowledge relates to all of life. Even identifying the proper roles of church and state depends on one’s beliefs. Even tolerance is a belief. The founders made it clear in numerous writings that they wanted to keep the state out of church doctrinal disputes.
The Constitution does not restrict religion; civil government in America depends on religion. John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
The founding fathers acknowledged the United States as a Christian nation. John Adams put it this way; “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were. . . . the general principles of Christianity. . . . I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature.”*
Every government is based on a set of beliefs. If the United States had not been based on Christian principles, it would have been based on some other set of beliefs.
We cannot have one God for the sacred realm and another god for the secular. Whoever is Lord of the secular is Lord of the sacred, and vise versa. The U. S. Constitution only acknowledges one Lord.
|* John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1856), Vol. X, pp. 45-46, to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813.|