Last week, I wrote in this column about the recent research of George Barna, who has concluded that America’s religion is no longer one of orthodox belief but rather a new syncretistic faith that he called moralistic therapeutic deism – a nonjudgmental don’t-worry-be-happy “fake Christianity” where self-actualization and personal affirmation are now our highest goods. The result of my article? My critics came unglued.
“First and foremost, you need to get your facts straight,” said one. “America has no Christian basis whatsoever.”
“Pure drivel,” stated another. “Let’s start with the fact the majority of our founding fathers were deists.”
The crowd then piled on (there are over 400 comments. Go check out the original piece). “What an ignorant op-ed… [There is] a sea of documented evidence that there was no intention of having any religion of primacy in our nation,” they shouted.
Well, I’d like to take my detractors at their word. Let’s “get our facts straight.” Let’s consider the “evidence” as to what our nation’s founders and subsequent leaders actually believed about religion, Christianity, and the Bible.
John McHenry (signer of the Constitution) said, “The holy Scriptures… Can alone secure to society, order, and peace… In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and drop protections around our institutions.”
Or Thomas Paine (one of the least religious of our founding fathers) who scolded, “It is from the error of the schools… [that] evil has… generate[d] in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of the creation to the Creator himself, [we] stop short and employ the knowledge [we] acquire to create doubts of His existence.”
And how about Noah Webster (the lexicographer recruited by Alexander Hamilton to lead Federalist thinking) who admonished, “Our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct Republican principles is the Bible – particularly the New Testament….”
Or Benjamin Rush (who signed the Declaration of Independence) and proclaimed, “We err… only because we do not know the Scriptures and obey their instructions. Immense truths… are concealed in them. The time, I have no doubt, will come when posterity will view and pity our ignorance of these truths….”
Or Fisher Ames (who was responsible for the final wording of the First Amendment), who said, “We have a dangerous trend beginning to take place in our education. We’re spending less time in the classroom in the Bible, which should be the principle text in our schools….”
And we can’t forget,
Samuel Adams – “Just and true liberty… may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the Great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.”
Patrick Henry – “This book [the Bible] is worth all the other books which have ever been printed….”
Daniel Webster – “To the free and universal reading of the Bible… Men are much indebted for our right view of civil liberties….”
James Wilson (who signed the Declaration and was appointed as one of the original justices to the Supreme Court) – “Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the… revelation contained in the Holy Scriptures.”
Benjamin Franklin – “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men… I firmly believe this, and I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.” (Doesn’t sound much like a deist, does it?)
And if this isn’t good enough and you still think the “evidence” is lacking, maybe we could look to our nation’s first public education law enacted in 1647. It warned: “It being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of Scriptures….”
Or if you don’t like that one, consider the Northwest Ordinance that instructed, “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged.”
Then we have John Quincy Adams (sixth President of United States) who said, “I deem myself fortunate… to bear my solemn testimonial of reverence and gratitude to that book of books, the Holy Bible….”
And Calvin Coolidge (our nation’s 30th president) wrote, “The foundation of our society and government rest so much on the teaching of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.”
Or, Justice Earl Warren (the 14th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), who proclaimed, “I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our fathers had of the Bible and their belief in it.”
This list of quotes could literally go on and on and on. One could write endless columns about them. Maybe the smart folks who keep scolding us about “facts” and “evidence” would do well to go back and read a bit before they embarrass themselves further. A little education never hurt anyone.
• Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host. He is the author of “Not a Daycare: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery) and, most recently, “Grow Up: Life Isn’t Safe, But It’s Good.”