When Our Founders Started Using The Phrase United States of America: Its Foundations of Freedom Thursday, a special day of the week where we get to answer questions from you, the listeners! Always answering your questions from constitutional principles! Tune in today as we answer your most pressing questions! 

Air Date: 07/18/2018

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Faith And The Culture


Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we”€™re talking about today”€™s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, always doing that from a Biblical, historical, and Constitutional perspective.

We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Also, Tim Barton, national speaker and President of WallBuilders, and my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state legislator, national speaker, and author.

Foundations Of Freedom Thursday

It”€™s Foundations of Freedom Thursday, a special day of the week where we get to answer questions from you, the listeners! You can send your questions in to [email protected]. Tune in today as we answer some questions such and so much more, right here on WallBuilders Live!

You know, typically we’ll go straight to questions. But, yesterday we had Kelly Shackelford on, and, man, it was so good, almost like a Foundations of Freedom Thursday program because we’re talking about Supreme Court decisions and foundational, constitutional principles. It was just a great, great interview with Kelly.

Exciting things are happening. And, I know our listeners want to know what you guys think about it, Dave and Tim. David, of course, you write about the Lemon Test and original intent.

The Lemon Test

It’s something we’ve talked about for years, how it needed to be overturned. So, this a very good day; we need to celebrate. I’d love to know where you guys think it goes from here.


Yeah, I think it’s great news that the court came down the way it did. And, Rick, you mentioned Lemon Test. You know, what a strange thing that we have the First Amendment of the Constitution that says what the First Amendment says; but, the court came up with a test to figure out what the First Amendment says.


Instead of just following the First Amendment.


And, specifically, What was your motivation when you did what you did, because if your motivation was wrong, then your expression might have been wrong. Instead of going, “€œWait a second; no, Congress can’t make a law to limit your free exercise. But, if it falls under the Lemon Test, then it could be wrong.”€ And, you’re right that the First Amendment is not convoluted or confusing.

Yet, that’s what the Supreme Court made this Lemon Test really do to the First Amendment, was make it a lot more complex than what is supposed to be.

The Bladensburg Ruling


And, what is so cool about the decision that Kelly was involved with in the case they had, Bladensburg, is the court said, “€œUnder the Lemon Test, our presumption was that a religious activity was unconstitutional unless you can prove that it is constitutional. So, we start from the position that 100 percent of all religious expressions are bad unless you can prove they’re not.”€ And, the new Bladensburg ruling says, “€œWe’re now starting with the presumption that all religious activities are constitutional unless you can prove they’re not.”€

So, the default position has radically shifted. Instead of having an immediate hostility toward religion, we’re going to have an immediate friendliness toward it, unless you can prove to us there are some significant reason we should not be friendly toward religious expression in public. I mean, having that shift and default position, I don’t think folks understand how big this is; but, we’re talking about rolling back at least 50 years of bad Supreme Court decisions eventually.

Now, it’s not going to all be rolled down overnight. It’s going to take a while for this to trickle down. And, that’s the other really cool stuff that we’ve seen.

Celebrate a Watershed Moment


David, I’m sorry to interrupt you; but, I would say we can actually celebrate this as a what you could call “€œa watershed moment.”€ I mean, this is the beginning of those things rolling down the hill.


Well, it is the beginning, and they are rolling fairly fast. I have just in the last two to three weeks seen probably half a dozen new policy decisions coming down based on this. For example, yesterday I saw that the V.A. has come out with a new policy saying, “€œHey, it is ok to display Bibles in V.A. hospitals.”€

There are a number of V.A. hospitals that have things about soldiers and they would often put a Bible there; but, they were told, “€œYou can’t do that because that’s really not a secular activity. We presume that to be unconstitutional and really can’t prove it is constitutional.”€ Now, with the other thing, putting out a Bible, you presume that to be constitutional unless you can prove otherwise.

So, the V.A. now has issued a new policy that it’s OK to put out bibles in V.A. hospitals. In the same way, after the court came down with this Bladensburg decision, it came down with another decision about another cross in a different part of the country, called a “€œBayview Cross.”€ And, it says, “€˜Hey, we are now going to say that this cross–“€ and, a court had ordered that cross to be torn down.

Religious Activities Are Constitutional Unless Proven Otherwise

The court says, “€œWe want you to now relook at your decision on the basis of the new standard we just gave you, which is religious activities are constitutional unless you prove otherwise.”€

Then, I’ve got another one here in front of me. This deals with school voucher programs where you had some states said, “€œHey, you can give up to 150 bucks in your program to any school you want, including a religious school.”€ And, that had been struck down.

Now they’re going back and saying, “€œHey, wait a minute. We have to presume this to be constitutional unless we can show otherwise. So, we’re now reversing that; we now have a new basis for arguing this case on vouchers.”€

I’m looking here another case where this Bladensburg decision has been invoked in a school prayer decision involving prayer at football games. They’re now saying, “€œHey, prayer at football games, we’ve had this forever, and we’re now assuming this to be constitutional unless we show otherwise.”€

Time for a New Policy

So, I can’t tell you, just in the last two three weeks, how many cases that we have been losing time after time after time, that we”€™re now seeing this Supreme Court decision invoked as the basis of time for new policy. Time to have a shift. Time to not be hostile to a religion.

That doesn’t mean that it’s instantly going to shift the landscape. Principals, superintendents, and school board attorneys will still do silly stuff. You’re still going to have the other guys suing like crazy.

But, if you think of the folks that are our regular plaintiffs and complain against this: Freedom from Religion Foundation, Mikey Weinstein with the Military Religious Freedom Association, Americans United for Separation Church and State. All these different groups can’t just step in now and say, “€œHey, it’s religious, therefore it’s unconstitutional.”€ They’ve got a really long hill to climb to prove that having a religious activity in public now violates the Constitution because it never violated the First Amendment, unless the federal government was establishing a national denomination.

I mean, that’s the First Amendment, which also said, “€œHey, by the way, the government can’t stop your free exercise of religion.”€ So, whether that”€™s a nativity scene or kids saying “€œGod”€ at graduation or whatever, that’s the First Amendment. But, under the Lemon Test, it was handing all these anti-religious groups a huge sledgehammer and said, “€œGo out and whack all the religious people you can find.”€

The Seismic Shift With this Decision

And, that sledgehammer has now been taken away from them. I just can’t express enough how big I think the seismic shift is with this decision. And, it wasn’t that big of a heralded decision in all the national news. I mean, they haven’t dwelt on it, but just kind of reported on it.

But, you’re going to see this thing trickle down for a while. Then, you take the case that Kelly’s looking at coming up next year.

Antonin Scalia


Well, hey David, before you talk about the second case, I quickly want to read one quote from Antonin Scalia from years ago because this Lemon Tests has been a long time coming to be destroyed. He said, “€œLike some ghoul in a late-night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad after being repeatedly killed and buried, Lemon stalks our Establishment Clause jurisprudence.”€ That’s the way it’s been, literally, for decades; that was former Supreme Court Justice Scalia.

This is a big victory to finally put that thing away. And, like you said, “€œshift the burden.”€ Now we have a pro-religious First Amendment now, rather than looking at it as an anti-religious First Amendment.

I”€™m sorry to interrupt you; but, man, as we move on from the Lemon Test case that Kelly had, let’s just really point out to everybody that it is a big victory. Like you said, they’re not going to feel it and see it yet. There won”€™t be much about it in the media.

But, over the next couple of years, decision after decision after decision from lower courts and working their way back up to the to the Supreme Court, are going to reflect this decision and this shift in mindset concerning what the First Amendment is really all about.

We’ll come right back to what you were about to say; but, I got to take a quick break. Stay with us; you’re listening to WallBuilders Live!

Great victory today! It is Foundations of Freedom Thursday.

Liberties and Freedom Are Worth Defending

Samuel Adams said, “€œThe liberties of our Country and the freedom of our civil Constitution are worth defending against hazards. And, it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.”€

Front Sight Handgun Training Course

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And, you can go with us! We’re headed back out. We’re going to have a great time out there as the WallBuilders family and if you’re a supporter of WallBuilders, we have an amazing deal for you. It”€™s actually going to cost you 1/10th the normal price to attend this two day handgun training because you”€™re going with us. And, you”€™ll also get the Constitution crash course. I”€™ll be teaching on the Constitution, you”€™ll get the intellectual ammunition that you need to defend the Second Amendment and our Constitution. As well as getting the physical training on how to defend yourself and your family.

It’s For Everyone

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Greatest Political Privilege

 President Calvin Coolidge said, “€œThe more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”€


We’re back here on WallBuilders Live! Foundations of Freedom Thursday today. And, David, you were about to jump into Kelly’s other case.

So, we had the Lemon Test case, which was a big one. But, he had a second case, which is big in itself, that somebody had two cases before the Supreme Court in such a short period of time. So, the first case was the Cross case, the Bladensburg case; then, the second one you were about to tell us about.


Yes, Kelly was mentioning how the court actually did the unusual step of saying, “€œHey, take this case back; and, this time when you argue it, argue it on the basis of the Employment Division v. Smith or Oregon v. Smith.”€ And so, they gave instructions. The reason this is significant, is when you look at the First Amendment and the five rights that are guaranteed to be protected by the First Amendment–the First Amendment doesn’t give you those rights; God gives us those rights.

Free Exercise of Religion Involves Free Speech

The government is supposed to protect those rights. It’s interesting that there is free speech; but, in addition to free speech, there is also free exercise of religion which often involves free speech. For me to exercise my faith means I will speak about it, live it out,  activate, and do it.

By the way, I have the right to assembly. So, I can get together with other believers and we can act out our faith. When you look, secular speech is protected by the Constitution; but, religious speech has several protections in the First Amendment.

It’s not the same as somebody has the right to say, “€œI dislike Trump.”€ Okay, your free speech is protected. But, what I have in the First Amendment is, really, my religious speech-slash-expression protected by three clauses.

So, it really gets more attention, or more protection if you will, than just normal, secular speech. But, what the decision did back in 1980, said, “€œNo, religious speech is equal to secular speech, and you get no more protection than anybody else gets.”€ Well, that’s not what the First Amendment gave me.

It gave me more protection because I get my speech but if it’s religious, I get it twice. And, if it is religious with others, I get it three times.


Now, is it religious with others? Because, let’s unfold this little bit. We have the freedom of speech.

You have the freedom of religion or expression, the free exercise thereof. So, we would say that you have speech and free exercise; those are two clauses from the First Amendment. What’s a third one you’re saying we get if we are religious with others, that we’re also protected there; what’s the third one?

The Right to Peaceably Assemble


You have the right peaceably to assemble. That means you can get with others, and you can get with others who believe what you believe express your beliefs as a group.


So, the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and the freedom of assembly. As a Christian, it actually protects you in all three of those aspects.


That”€™s Right.


So, it’s not just you have the freedom of speech, we also have the free expression of religion. And, you have the right assemble with other people who believe what you believe, as you mentioned, as long as it”€™s peaceably. So, there really are multiple protections of religious faith in the First Amendment.


While religious folks have at least three different forms of protection under the First Amendment for their speech, secular folks how their protections as well for speech and assembly. But, they just don’t have the same religious {motivation}.


Arguably, they have the exact same protections that a religious person does, it”€™s just that if they choose not to have a religion or exercise their religion, they don’t have to. But, the same protection is there for everybody. And, this is where, as a Christian, you don’t lose the protection because you’re a Christian.


You actually get added protection because it singles out your religious expression. And, that’s a level of protection the Founding Fathers wanted to make sure that religious folks had. So, they singled that out to give, if you will, added protection if you’re a religious folk.

What happened in that decision in 1980 was the court said, “€œNo, no, no. Religious folks, secular folks, everybody gets the same protection. Well, that’s not what the First Amendment says.

What Does the First Amendment Say?

The First Amendment says, “€œHey, religion is so vitally important that you get added, special protection.”€ And, that’s why when you look at George Washington’s Farewell Address, it says, “€œHey, of everything that makes politics work well, religion and morality are the two things you can’t separate out.”€ So, they went to great lengths to make sure that religion and morality through religion, were protected in the public square.

Well, that decision, Smith in 1980, said, “€œNo, no, your religion is just speech. That’s all it is, nothing more; there’s no added protection.”€ So, since 1980, whenever we have to argue religious expression cases, we don’t argue on the basis of religion, which is what the First Amendment protects.

Religious Freedom Especially Protected

We argued only on the basis of speech, which means we might as well be the New York Times or The L.A. Times, which is fine. You have protection from freedom of press; but, we’re not the same in the sense that the Constitution said, “€œHey, we are particularly especially protecting religious expressions.”€

So, that’s what’s coming back to the court, we think, this next year. If it does and if the court does indeed rule the way that is suggested it might by asking for that decision to be brought back to it, now you’re looking at a rollback of 60 to 70 years of religious hostile decisions. And, I’m not sure that people alive today can visualize what that landscape will look like.

I mean, for you to have enjoyed this, means you’d have to be in your 90s today and you can remember 70 years ago when you were a teenager who got to do certain things. But, unless you’re in your 90s, you really have never experienced the level of religious freedom that may soon be coming to the entire culture around us over the next two to three years. So, in that, I mean, I can’t–

I just don’t know how to say, “€œGuys, your wildest dreams, you can’t visualize because you never experienced it;”€ but, that’s the kind of seismic shift we may see in the next two to three years as a result of the case that Kelly just won.

Restoring Freedom


You know, we used the phrase a lot “€œrestoring freedom;”€ but, this is genuinely, actually doing–it’s not just hypothetical. We’re actually seeing a restoration of freedom, and it is going to be very exciting to watch this happen and let people actually enjoy all those three freedoms you were talking about.

Hey guys, we”€™ve got to take a quick break. We’ll be right back. Folks, you’re listening to Foundations of Freedom Thursday here on WallBuilders Live! 

Be At All Times Armed

Thomas Jefferson said, “€œThe constitutions of most of our states, and of the United States, assert that all power is inherent in the people that they may exercise it by themselves that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed. That they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.”€

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President Thomas Jefferson said, “€œI know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves. And, if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”€


Welcome back to WallBuilders Live! Thanks for staying with us on this Foundations of Freedom Thursday. We’ve got a question from Joe in Bellevue, Nebraska.

United States of America

Joe’s question is, “€œDavid, when did our Founders start using the phrase, “€˜United States of America?”€™ The phrase is in the Declaration of Independence; but, I’m trying to trace the origin to an earlier time. I was in a debate with an individual that stated, “€˜our country was created by foreigners for foreigners.”€™”€

I’m not sure I know what that means but–sorry, that’s my comment, not in his letter. He says, “€œThe statement made no sense to me.”€ Okay, he didn”€™t think so either.

“€œThe statement made no sense to me as our Founders had lived in the colonies for decades and we’re hardly foreigners to the colonies. My counter to the statement was that our country was founded by Americans for Americans, and we established ourselves as a sovereign nation with the passage of the Declaration of Independence. Your thoughts?”€ From Joe.

So, David, I guess two questions there: When do we start using “€œUnited States of America”€ and How would you respond to this thing about founded by Americans or  foreigners?


Well, I would ask you to define both terms. What is a foreigner? And, how long do you have to be in America before you become an American?

Are you a foreigner after you become a legal immigrant?Or, when do you become a member? See, that’s the question.

Founded by foreigners? Well, if you want to make the point, yeah, everybody that’s not a Native Americans a foreigner. So, granted, we’re all foreigners; but, when did we become Americans?

It”€™s an Attitude

Well, that’s an attitude, and that’s one of the things that the immigration books used to make very clear to  immigrants coming in: “€œHey, you become an American when you have the American attitude.”€


Right, and you could define that differently: maybe after you’ve lived here for so many years, or taken the test, or after you own property, or have a business. There are lots of ways to define that. But, this is where, as you’re pointing back to, it used to be we told immigrants coming in, “€œIt”€™s a lot more than just you having land or have lived here so long; it’s about embracing a value system and an ideology that makes America unique and special.”€

So, there really is a lot of convolutions, so to speak, in this question because it’s really undefined. Well, it was “€œforeigners”€ that founded America for foreigners. Well, it was immigrants, many of whom had lived in the States for a long time; some of them were born here.

Many of them were born here, and they certainly wanted other people to come and join them, as long as they embraced the ideology and the value system of what it was. But yeah, that”€™s a really awkward question. And a lot of times–it”€™s worth noting–we feel like we have to defend something somebody asks us.

Let”€™s Others Defend Their Claims

But, if somebody is going to make a claim like Well, it was foreigners doing it for foreigners, I don’t have to prove that is a wrong statement. You have to prove that is a correct statement. So, {you could say}, “€œOkay, explain to me what you mean by “€˜foreigners”€™ and what were you thinking “€˜for foreigners,”€™”€ because once they explained that, we might actually go, “€œYou know, I agree with the weird definition you just came up with.

“€œIt totally makes sense. But, the way you’re saying it right now didn’t make as much sense.”€ And so, this is where I don’t think we even have to defend, all the time, some of these thoughts and accusations, we need to ask questions and let the people who have made the statement defend the position they just held.

In they Year 1776…


So, when it comes to the second part: Where do we get United States of America? Everybody pretty much agrees it’s in the year 1776. Now, whether you want to point to Oliver Elsworth, or Thomas Paine, or Thomas Jefferson, or Ben Franklin, or Steven Moylan, or all these other folks who used the term, we don’t know who had it first.

Probably the first time it appears in writing may be back in January of 1776. Steven Moylan had it, the aide General Washington. He wrote it.

Did he hear from Washington or did he come up with that on his own? Nobody really knows. But, you do know that in the year 1776, a whole bunch of people all over the country from northern colonies, to southern colonies, to middle colonies, they were using the phrase, though nobody can really point to where it came from.

But, you can say, “€œWell, I don’t seem to find it before 1776, but in 1776, you seem to see it everywhere.”€ It’s kind of like the meme that went viral. I mean, can’t really say where it came from, but that’s what we point to.

A Fun Survey


Well, guys, we’re gonna have a little bit of fun with this one by giving people a chance at home to do their own kind of survey.This would probably be a good question. We can try this in future Foundations of Freedom Thursday programs as well.

And, it’s kind of a homework assignment, in a way, for you to go out and ask the people in your circles if they know the answer to one of the questions that we cover in that particular Foundations of Freedom Thursday program. So, today we’ve covered a lot.

Foundations Of Freedom Quiz: The Phrase “United States of America”

Why don”€™t we pick this whole question of When did we start calling ourselves the United States of America? And, all you listeners at home, ask the people around you. On Facebook, make it a polling question: When did America start using the phrase United States of America?

And, just see what people come up with. What they say may be really, really interesting. Then, on our website at WallBuildersLive.com, we will have the information and kind of a few questions there, almost like a little quiz to see how you do on responding to some of those things that we covered today.

We’ll try it out. It ought to be fun. Check it out at WallBuildersLive.com. So, that”€™s your question to ask people back home: When did we start calling ourselves the United States of America?

You’ve been listening to WallBuildersLive. It’s been Foundations of Freedom Thursday all day. And, we’ve got more of those foundational programs on our website at WallBuildersLive.com.

We certainly thank you for listening today and also appreciate you going to the website and making a donation. This is a listener-supported program; so, when you do that, it makes the program possible and allows us to get more people listening, therefore getting them educated, equipped, and inspired to preserve America’s constitutional republic.

You get to be a part of that. Make that contribution today at WallBuildersLive.com. Thanks so much for listening to WallBuilders Live! 

Abraham Lincoln said, “€œWe the People are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overturn the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”€