"The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible."--Noah Webster
RELIGIOUS FOUNDERS? READ THEIR WRITINGS!
(Footnotes are in brackets [ ].)
Among the liberties protected by our Constitution is the First Amendment's "free exercise of religion." Yet, over the past half-century, that once inalienable liberty has been greatly subjugated to the arbitrary whims of the Justices by a series of hostile and absurd Court decisions. In fact, the current Court's micromanagement of religious expressions prompted Justice Anthony Kennedy to characterize it as a "national theology board." 
Recent attempts to limit public religious expression and to vilify people of faith have met widespread public opposition. The results of this backlash have manifested in numerous areas, including: (1) the landslide elections of evangelical Congressmen in 1994; (2) public support for a constitutional amendment to protect religious liberties reaching an all-time high of seventy-three percent;  and (3) the recent Congressional introduction of a widely-supported constitutional amendment which would safeguard religious expressions.
However, there are groups and individuals whose goal of a secular society is clearly threatened by these changes. But what can they do to diminish the improving public climate toward religion? They can do what they have always done: misportray, distort, and/or ignore the truth. Those who become particularly skillful at this are termed "revisionists."
The Ploys of Revisionists
When revisionists attempt to concoct support for their usually unpopular viewpoint, they often vilify figures past or present who embrace the position they reject. This tactic was evident in 1995's onslaught of media articles claiming that America's success was due to its long-standing tradition of secularism.
For example, Steven Morris's Los Angeles Times article, "America's Unchristian Beginnings" 3 (picked up by wire services and reprinted in scores of newspapers across the nation), was loaded with deliberate falsehoods to "prove" America's Founders were purely secular. For instance, concerning John Adams, Morris claimed:
Late in life, he wrote, "Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been upon the point of breaking out, 'This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it!!!' "
The Rest of the Story
This statement appears in Adams's letter to Thomas Jefferson on April 19, 1817, in which Adams recounted a conversation between Joseph Cleverly and Lemuel Bryant 計; a schoolmaster and a minister he had known. Disgusted by the petty religious bickering displayed by those two, Adams declared to Jefferson:
Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!" But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not ft to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell. 
In reality, revisionists like Steven Morris (and especially those from the Society of Separationists or the American Atheist Society) deliberately reverse Adams's position. Not only did Adams declare that it would be "fanatical" to desire a world without religion (and that such a world would be "hell"), but on May 5, 1817, Jefferson wrote back to Adams and said that he agreed!
What makes revisionism so effective is that few citizens actually take time to confrm revisionists' claims or to proclaim to the public the real facts.
Speaking for Themselves
Since the goal of Morris and others like him is to "prove" that people of faith have no precedent for being involved in politics, he characterizes the Founders' general religious beliefs with the same false summary that most revisionists 計; both in academia and media 計; often proclaim:
The early presidents and patriots were generally deists or Unitarians, believing in some form of impersonal Providence but rejecting the divinity of Jesus and the relevance of the Bible.
Yet, the Founders' own declarations in their last wills and testaments 5 disprove those assertions and speak loud and clear that the great majority of our Founders were indeed believers in Jesus Christ. For example:
These wills represent only a few examples from many with the identical tone. Furthermore, the personal writings of numerous other Founders contain equally strong declarations. Notice:
There are many other examples.
The evidence is clear; the revisionists are wrong. Although there was some anti-organized-religion sentiment among the Founders (e.g., Thomas Paine, Ethan Allen, Charles Lee, Henry Dearborn), those with such views were a small minority and, in fact, often were strongly criticized by others for those beliefs.
It is time that Christians retake the academic high ground. When historically false editorials or letters-to-the-editor are written, or when call-in programs make reckless charges, we need to stand up and confront those errors. This will provide an opportunity for those who are undecided on the issue of public religious expressions to formulate their opinions from accurate information rather than from revisionist trash. The most effective defense against revisionism is aggressive truth 計; and lots of it! If we will faithfully present the truth, the Scriptures assure us that it will eventually prevail.
If the quotes you have seen in this newsletter are inspiring or new to you, or if you are looking for more information like this, then you will be excited to learn of our newest book: Original Intent. This 500+ page book provides literally hundreds of the Founders' quotes (and over thirteen hundred footnotes) documenting the Founders' beliefs on the important role of religion in public, on the proper role of the Courts, on the intended limited scope of federal powers, on States' rights, and on numerous other current issues. This book 計; a veritable encyclopedia of quotes and information 計; is an excellent tool for self-education and also for general public education in arenas where credibility, accuracy, and source documentation is a must. To order Original Intent, call (800) 873-2845.
1. County of Allegheny v. ACLU; 106 L. Ed. 2d 472 at 543, Kennedy, J. (concurring in part and dissenting in part).
2. CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll, November 28-29, 1994.
3. Steven Morris, "America's Unchristian Beginnings," Los Angeles Times, August 3, 1995, p. B-9.
4. John Adams, Works of John Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1856), Vol. X, p. 254.
5. Copies of these wills are in our files and may be obtained from State archives and from historical societies.
6. The Select Writings of John and John Quincy Adams, Adrian Koch and William Peden, editors (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1946), p. 292, to John Adams on January 3, 1817.
7. Gunning Bedford, Funeral Oration Upon the Death of General Washington (Wilmington: James Wilson, 1800), p. 18.
8. Elias Boudinot, The Life, Public Services, Addresses, and Letters of Elias Boudinot, President of Continental Congress (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin, and Co., 1896), Vol. I, pp. 260-262.
9. George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, John C. Fitzpatrick, editor (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Offce, 1932), Vol. XV, p. 55, to the Delaware Indian Chiefs on May 12, 1779.
10. From an autographed letter in our possession written by Jacob Broom to his son, James, on February 24, 1794, from Wilmington, Delaware.
11. From an autographed letter in our possession written by Charles Carroll to Charles W. Wharton, Esq., on September 27, 1825, from Doughoragen, Maryland.
12. Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Ellery Bergh, editor (Washington, D.C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. XIV, p. 385, to Charles Thomson on January 9, 1816.
13. James Iredell, The Papers of James Iredell, Don Higginbotham, editor (Raleigh: North Carolina Historical Commission, 1976), Vol. I, p. 11.
14. Benjamin Rush, The Autobiography of Benjamin Rush, George W. Corner, editor (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1948), p. 166.
15. Lewis Henry Boutell, The Life of Roger Sherman (Chicago: A. C. McClurg and Co., 1896), pp. 272-273. 16. John Witherspoon, The Works of the Rev. John Witherspoon (Edinburgh: J. Ogle, 1815), Vol. V, pp. 276, 278, from "The Absolute Necessity of Salvation Through Christ," on January 2, 1758.