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The fact that at one time atheists were not allowed to take an oath and testify in court should tell us that we live in a very different world than existed at the time the Constitution was ratified. Wholesale changes in our nation's moral character and our nation's legal system have been made, and these changes are the result either of wholesale ignorance or wholesale deceit on the part of our nation's leaders. Probably both.
The Big Question being posed in this Internet Monograph is, If we were to repudiate the current direction of our legal system and return to the Puritan paradigm (to resume progress along that path), where would that take us? What should be our ultimate destination?
We cannot even begin to answer The Big Question until we are back at square one and have a Puritan mindset. And that requires an admission that our nation must be a Christian nation. The doctrine of "Separation of Church and State" as we know it today keeps us from getting back to square one.
Here are three lengthy quotations from legal authorities of the past. They show that this nation was not founded on "neutrality," much less atheism. Your high school civics teacher never let you read them, because they would have alerted you to the fact that we're not in Kansas anymore, and you might start looking out for the wicked witch of Washington D.C.:
"Language of similar import may be found in the subsequent charters of that colony . . . in 1609 and 1611; and the same is true of the various charters granted to the other colonies. In language more or less emphatic is the establishment of the Christian religion declared to be one of the purposes of the grant. The celebrated compact made by the Pilgrims in the Mayflower, 1620, recites: 'Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith . . . a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia . . . .'
"The fundamental orders of Connecticut, under which a provisional government was instituted in 1638-39, commence with this declaration: ' . . . And well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union . . . there should be an orderly and decent government established according to God . . . to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess . . . of the said gospel [which] is now practiced amongst us.'
[Decision][Citing Sir Wm. Blackstone] "Blasphemy against the Almighty is denying His being or providence, or uttering contumelious reproaches on our Savior Christ. It is punished, at common law by fine and imprisonment, for Christianity is part of the laws of the land."
[Responding to defense's claim that freedom of speech nullifies the charge of blasphemy against Christianity] "It was the out-pouring of an invective, so vulgarly shocking and insulting, that the lowest grade of civil authority ought not to be subject to it, but when spoken in a Christian land, and to a Christian audience, the highest offence ' contra bonos mores '; and even if Christianity was not part of the law of the land, it is the popular religion of the country, and insult on which would be indictable."
[Responding to defense's claim that Christianity was not made part of American common law, and that if it was, it was repealed by the US Constitution and the constitution of Pennsylvania] "The assertion is once more made, that Christianity never was received as part of the common law of this Christian land; and it is added, that if it was, it was virtually repealed by the constitution of the United States, and of this state . . . If the argument be worth anything, all the laws which have Christianity for their object - all would be carried away at one fell swoop - the act against cursing and swearing, and breach of the Lord's day; the act forbidding incestuous marriages, perjury by taking a false oath upon the book, fornication and adultery . . . - for all these are founded on Christianity - for all these are restraints upon civil liberty . . . .
We will first dispose of what is considered the grand objection - the constitutionality of Christianity - for, in effect, that is the question. Christianity, general Christianity, is and always has been a part of the common law . . . not Christianity founded on any particular religious tenets; not Christianity with an established church . . . but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.
Thus this wise legislature framed this great body of laws, for a Christian country and Christian people. This is the Christianity of the common law . . . and thus, it is irrefragably proved, that the laws and institutions of this state are built on the foundation of reverence for Christianity . . . In this the constitution of the United States has made no alteration, nor in the great body of the laws which was an incorporation of the common-law doctrine of Christianity . . . without which no free government can long exist.
To prohibit the open, public and explicit denial of the popular religion of a country is a necessary measure to preserve the tranquillity of a government. Of this, no person in a Christian country can complain . . . In the Supreme Court of New York it was solemnly determined, that Christianity was part of the law of the land, and that to revile the Holy Scriptures was an indictable offence. The case assumes, says Chief Justice Kent, that we are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted on Christianity. The People v. Ruggles.
No society can tolerate a wilful and despiteful attempt to subvert its religion, no more than it would to break down its laws - a general, malicious and deliberate intent to overthrow Christianity, general Christianity.
Without these restraints no free government could long exist. It is liberty run mad to declaim against the punishment of these offences, or to assert that the punishment is hostile to the spirit and genius of our government. They are far from being true friends to liberty who support this doctrine, and the promulgation of such opinions, and general receipt of them among the people, would be the sure forerunners of anarchy, and finally, of despotism.
No free government now exists in the world unless where Christianity is acknowledged, and is the religion of the country . . . Its foundations are broad and strong, and deep . . . it is the purest system of morality, the firmest auxiliary, and only stable support of all human laws . . . .
Christianity is part of the common law; the act against blasphemy is neither obsolete nor virtually repealed; nor is Christianity inconsistent with our free governments or the genius of the people. While our own free constitution secures liberty of conscience and freedom of religious worship to all, it is not necessary to maintain that any man should have the right publicly to vilify the religion of his neighbors and of the country; these two privileges are directly opposed."
Let me illustrate this vital concept with a scenario so silly you will never forget it.
Suppose the inspired Prophet Isaiah rises before the court and says to his honor, "This prophet speaks in the Name of God, Who has full authority - full, plenary, absolute, unconditional legal, constitutional, ethical, moral, religious, metaphysical, and ontological authority - to issue direct orders to this court and expect them immediately to be obeyed, and this God hereby orders this court to rub its tummy and pat its head at the same time."
Now suppose the court replies that it will remain " neutral " with regard to the Prophet's claimed authority over the court. It will not deny the prophet's claim, but neither will it affirm the prophet's claim (and thereby risk an "establishment" of religion). The Court will not render a decision on the issue of whether or not the prophet's words do indeed have full, plenary, absolute, unconditional authority over the court, but the court does not begin rubbing its tummy and patting its head at the same time. It is, most assuredly, denying the prophet's claimed authority. (If the court accepted the authority claimed by the Prophet, then it would surely act obediently in terms of that revelation.) There is no neutrality. The State must not attempt to be "neutral." It must be faithful. The only other alternative is disbelief and rebellion.
The God of the Hebrew-Christian Bible claims this kind of authority. Everything we do has to be done Theocratically, says this God. If the court claims religious "neutrality" but does not obey the precepts of this religion, it is in fact denying the authority and legitimacy of this religion.
In America, courts have been denying the authority of Christianity, while simultaneously claiming "neutrality." And with 4,000 babies being murdered each day in America, you can see that this issue is not mere academic tummy-rubbing.
A government can be formed which says, "We deny the authority of God, and affirm the authority of Satan." A Christian cannot "support" such a government. A government can also be formed that says "We deny the authority of Satan, and affirm the absolute authority of God." This would be remarkable, and deserving of the Christian's support. But what are we to say about our own government, which claims to be "neutral" with respect to the all-encompassing and radical claims of Christ? Our nation is actually affirming its own authority and the right of Man to decide for himself what is good and what is evil. Can a system based on the philosophy of autonomy and "neutrality" expect the support of a Christian?
Clearly not. A non-Theocratic government is evil and leads to evil:
Let me say something that may sound fanatical, but I think you'll be persuaded by the evidence in the next section: This decision ( Torcaso v. Watkins ) is a hideously anti-Christian decision. It is part of a chain of Court decisions that have worked deliberately and systematically to kill Christian influence in America. The antiChristian bias of the courts is both astonishing and admittedly based on ignorance. Let me give you just a sample of this willfully ignorant anti-Christian bias.
2. Church of the Holy Trinity v. US , 143 US 457 (1892); cited in Barton, p. 48-49. [Return to text]
3. Updegraph v. The Commonwealth, 11 Serg. & R. 399, 402-403, 404- 407 (1824); cited in Barton, p. 52-55. [Return to text]
4. Now the court may explicitly deny the plaintiff's authority and begin, sua sponte , to rub the court's tummy and pat the court's head. But this is not obedience . It is nothing less than rebellion. (Which explains why even "good works" can be "filthy rags.") The State must give glory to God ( 1 Corinthians 10:31). [Return to text]
5. It is also the case that they have been obeying the precepts of a rival religion, that of Secular Humanism. [Return to text]
6. Joshua 24:14-15. [Return to text]
7. As a Calvinist, I am not overly enthused with the Scottish rationalism and crypto-Deism of 18th- and 19th-century American theology. See generally C. Singer, A Theological Interpretation of American History 34-35 (1964):
The result of the growth of Deism and the breakdown of Calvinism was quite a different intellectual temper from that which had characterized Puritanism and colonial thought in general during the seventeenth century. . . . Mosier has well observed that this revolutionary age demanded that both the absolute God and the absolute king must 'henceforth rule by the consent of the governed. The God of Puritanism, stripped of His antique powers, had no recourse but to enter as a weakened prince into the temple of individualism and there to seek refuge.' [note omitted] This sovereignty which He once claimed, and was accorded by the Puritans, was now claimed by man himself. . . . Most of the Revolutionary leaders desired to retain the Christian ethic, but to separate it from the biblical revelation and to find a new basis for it in natural law."
8. Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 81 S.Ct. 1680, 6 L.Ed.2d 982 (1961). By 1961, only a dozen or so states still prohibited atheists from assuming public office, and some of those statutes were still on the books more than a decade after Torcaso . L. Manning, The Law of Church-State Relations in a Nutshell 3 (1981). [Return to text]
9. Torcaso v. Watkins , 367 U.S. 488 at 495 n.11, 81 S.Ct. 1680 at 1684 n.11 (1961). [Return to text]