The Constitution Was Built With Strong Biblical Influences: It is 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, right here on WallBuilders Live!
Air Date: 03/14/2019
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith And The Culture
President Thomas Jefferson said, “I 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 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. We always do that from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
But, what’s a little bit different today is that you get to pick the topics; so, you get to drive the conversation, and then we’ll take a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective on your question. Send those questions in to [email protected]; that’s [email protected]. And, on our Foundations of Freedom Thursday programs, we get to as many of those questions as we possibly can.
Good News Friday Programs
WallBuildersLive.com is our radio site; and of course, that’s where you can get listings of the stations across the country where you WallBuilders Live can be heard. You can also get archives of our program from the last few weeks; so, you can go back to some other Foundations of Freedom Thursday programs or maybe Good News Friday programs.
Good news Friday programs, you definitely do not want to miss. Those are great pick-me-ups; I mean, it’ll encourage you. It’s David and Tim going rapid fire through a lot of the good news that’s happened over the last few weeks. Anyway, those are available on the site at WallBuildersLive.com, as are the other programs throughout the week which include interviews with a lot of great guests.
Guests have included folks that are arguing before the Supreme Court or local officials and others that are engaged in the culture and making a difference out there. So, all of that’s available at WallBuildersLive.com. And then, at WallBuilders.com is where you can get a wealth of information to equip and inspire your family. So, check that out today.
And, be sure and take a moment to pause over that donate button and think and pray about coming alongside us as a team member and supporting WallBuilders and allowing us to continue this great mission and educate and equip people all over the nation on this Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
Did Our Founding Fathers’ Faith Influence the Design of Our Government?
Allright, so this is that point where I’m normally reading you guys questions that get sent in from our audience. In this case, though, if I could, I want to try to encapsulate a series of questions that I’ve been getting out on the road at our table. You all have probably gotten the same type of questions. And, typically it revolves around this.
We talk about this on the radio program and in our presentations when we share the Founding Fathers, were sharing quotes from them or their writings and works, the things they did. And, there’s clearly a faith element there. Their personal faith was obvious when you look at their quotes and the things they said. The question I’m getting from people is Even if they were men of faith, did they actually insert that into the way they designed the government?
Is it in the Constitution or the Declaration? Can it be found in the way our government works? Or, was that just something personal for them?
And so, if we could try to address. I don’t know if we can encapsulate and get that in one segment or even this whole program today; but, I just want to toss out that question I’ve been getting and see what you guys had to say.
Rick, that was that something that certainly we have talked about between the three of us many times. We have presentations where we try to outline some of these thoughts. And, part of the argument against the notion of our Constitution being religious or having religious underpinnings or religious values, Biblical principles, throughout the Constitution, some of the attacks go back to Wait a second, the Founding Fathers really weren’t even religious, right?
And so, if we kind of go in sequence and recognize, first of all, the idea they weren’t religious is a very unjustified claim. Some today say, “Well, they were largely atheists or agnostics,” or, “actually, the majority of them were deists.”
There was a Christian professor, and a student was in his class. It was a Christian university, so the professor at the Christian University, the student texted me and said, “My professor just said that the majority of the Founding Fathers were deists, but they weren’t anti-religious; they just didn’t really believe in God.”
The Person Making the Claim Has to Defend Their Position.
And so, we kind of go through this exchange. I text the student back and say, “Well, you need to ask him which of the Founding Fathers were deists, and how do we know they were deists. Ask him in a non-confrontational way; you’re just trying to learn more. But, find out why he thinks that and what proof he has to sustain that claim.”
And, you [should] start going through this position or concept that the person making the claim has to defend their position. The professor, columnist for one of the mainstream-media outlets, or blog author online needs to defend what they’re claiming. When someone makes these claims, they have to defend their claim.
And generally, they can’t defend where they claim the Founding Fathers were atheists, agnostics, or deists. The reason they can’t defend that is because, by and large, they weren’t.
A Couple Out of 250
Between the three of us, we have talked many times before, and there is only a couple of Founding Fathers we can point to that would fall in the category of deist or even anti-religious. And, there are a couple that were anti-Christianity; but, that’s a couple out of 250. It certainly wasn’t the majority.
The vast majority were people who were Christians and attended Christian denominations. Many of them were even deacons or members involved in the Church and leadership of the Church or pastors.; or, they were trained for the Gospel ministry. They preached at various times or were ministers.
The First Step: Understand Who They Were
They certainly were not an anti-religious group. And so, if we get the context of knowing who they were, that’s the first step in understanding why they did what they did. Because, if you just read the Constitution, you don’t come away with the obvious idea that these guys were definitely Christians and included God in the document they did.
Bible Verses in the Constitution
You don’t get that at a simple read; but, when you understand who they were–and, when I say that you don’t get it at simple read, I’m really speaking in context to the modern American people. Because, Dad, many times we’ve read old documents and stopped together and said, “Okay, that sounds familiar; I’m pretty sure that’s a Bible verse.” We look it up, and sure enough, it is a Bible verse.
There are some specific things in the Constitution that do tend to correlate with specific Bible verses. And, actually some of them read almost verbatim Bible verse. And so, if you know the Bible really well, you might recognize some phrases in the Constitution as being from the Bible.
Tim, one of the things that we have found, even that you have with the students during the summer with leadership training, is you will take speeches of the Founding Fathers and have them read those speeches to see if they can find Bible verses in them. Because as you initially read the speech of the Founding Father, it sounds like a good speech; but, nobody recognizes the Bible verses until you go back and look for them.
Right. When you start looking for Where did they get this idea? Where does that phrase come from? Where does that specific sentence come from.?Is that an original thought and idea, or is that something you find in the Bible?
Sometimes you find specific Bible verses, and sometimes you find a very distinct idea and concept that comes from the Bible. For example, when Benjamin Franklin at one point argued that “God governs in the affairs of men.” Well, we know it’s true that God does intervene and get involved in the affairs of men.
Biblical Concepts Are in the Constitution
That’s not a specific Bible verse; but, there’s no doubt that is a Biblical concept that you find all throughout Scripture. And so, sometime–
And, by the way, in that same speech Franklin says, “A sparrow can’t fall to the ground without His notice;” that is a specific Bible verse. So, sometimes it’s concepts; sometimes it’s specific verses.
You are right; sometimes he’s referencing a specific verse. Other times it’s a reference to a verse or a literal quotation.
But, that goes to your point that it is there.
And sometimes it’s the idea. But, you’re right that all of these do, by and large, show that these guys were influenced by the Bible. And so, if you read the Constitution, you will even find places where you can see an idea or concept seems just like what the Bible says.
The Constitution is Not Godless or Secular
And, there are several places where, in fact, the Bible does outline some of that. So, this really is a good conversation for us to have. How can we make the argument that the Constitution is not secular or godless?
How do we make that argument? You really have to dig in and get to know the individuals involved in this. Maybe look through some of the records as they are discussing why they made certain clauses proposed specific amendments.
Why did they suggest those things should be incorporated or added? And, when you start going through their writings, you really get a much better idea for where they got their ideas and why they thought that idea was important. And, that’s where you start to find some these Biblical connections.
The Faith of the Founders
Guys, we’re gonna take a quick break. But, the first answer to the question is: Start with the men that gave you the document.
Get inside their heads and hearts. What was their faith? How did they live that out? And, did they believe it in the first place; because, like like you said, most of the attacks today are that they were atheists, agnostics, and deists.
So, before we can answer the question that people have been asking at the table, in terms of if their faith made it into the documents, we got to first ask, “Did they even have that faith?” And, that’s what you’re talking about there too.
Let’s take a quick break. We’ll come back and jump back on that one and probably stay with this one. This may be our whole program today, folks. We’re for talking about the faith of the Founders and whether or not that made it into our into our nation’s founding.
So, not just as individuals did they have faith, but did it make it into the founding and the founding documents? Stay with us. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live!
Abraham Lincoln said, “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts. Not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”
This Precarious Moment Book
This is David Barton. I want to let about a brand new book we have called This Precarious Moment: Six Urgent Steps That Will Save You, Your family, and Our Country. Jim Garlow and I have co-authored this book and we take six issues that are hot in the culture right now.
Issues that we’re dealing with, issues such as immigration, race relations, our relationship with Israel, the rising generation Millennials, and the absence of the church in the culture wars, and where American heritage is, our godly heritage. We look at all six of those issues right now that are under attack and we give you both Biblical and historical perspective on those issues that provide solutions on what each of us can do right now to make a difference.
These are all problems that are solvable if we’ll get involved. So you can grab the book This Precarious Moment and find out what you can do to make a difference. This Precarious Moment is available at WallBuilders.com.
Be At All Times Armed
Thomas Jefferson said, “The 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.”
We’re back here on WallBuilders Live! Thanks for staying with us on this Foundations of Freedom Thursday. This is our hour foundational program each week where we dive into the founding principles and study the Founding Fathers; and, your questions typically drive that conversation.
And, they are today; it’s just your live questions from our live events summarized into this idea of Were the Founders men of faith, and did that faith make it into the founding of the country; not just a personal faith, but what became a publican and a systematic belief in God that influenced the founding documents? So, Tim, you started with answering the first part of that. The men themselves, were they atheist, agnostics, and deists? Or, were they men of faith?
And you pointed out couple of guys you could point to that might have been–not what we would call “religious” today. Well, actually some of the things they did–I mean, even Franklin, like you pointed out, David, quoting Bible verses in his speeches. I mean, even strong people of faith today rarely do that.
Well and, Rick, Franklin was a guy who early in his life, did call himself a “deist.” But, when you look at his midlife, he becomes friends with George Whitfield, who was the famous evangelist from the First Great Awakening. And, really Franklin’s life–where people often point to Franklin as being this immoral guy and then hooking up with women and all the things he did early in life, you can’t really point to that later in life. There’s one letter where people try to say that he was accused of inappropriate relations with women. But, the only thing that is on record he did was flirt with girls who were much younger than him.
And, by the way, that letter is from John Adams. If you’re a Puritan from Massachusetts, flirting with girls at all is way the heck over the line. So, when John Adams gives this tone of how immoral that is, that’s a matter of degrees. I mean, it’s not like there was an intimate relationship; it’s flirting.
Customs and Degrees
Well, and to that end, recently we were in Israel where are many different Orthodox Jewish denominations. And, recently we were in a situation where there were Orthodox Jews, and there was one moment when we were on a bus, and there were these Orthodox Jews coming off the bus, including an elderly lady. So, I put out my hand to help us elderly lady down off the bus.
And, this Jewish man came over and said, “Do not touch her.” And, I just thought, Oh my gosh; I don’t know what I did. I’m so sorry. In Texas we have manners, and we try to be polite and help elderly people.
But, he said, “It is it not appropriate for you to touch a woman who is not your wife.” And, I was making no forward aggression, right? This was not me coming on to her; this was me helping an old woman off the bus; but, that was their view of it.
Let me add that on that same trip–I didn’t know that happened to you. On the same trip, one of our friends who is a country pastor, a gentleman, he saw a woman getting off the bus and grabbed her by the elbow to just help her step down. She looked at him like she had been molested because it’s the same thing.
With an Orthodox Jewish woman, you do not touch. And, he was just trying to be nice just like you were.
Franklin Very Much Supported God
Well, right; and, the point is if John Adams sees this and says, “Franklin is so wrong;” that’s the only accusation made about Franklin later in his life. And, Franklin is one of those considered very irreligious or the deist of the Founding Fathers.
Well, even Franklin was not anti-religious in the sense that it’s portrayed today by atheist groups or secularist today. No, Franklin very much supported God; he wasn’t sure about Jesus. That’s a totally different conversation we’d have about Franklin.
The Godless Constitution: No Supporting Evidence
The point is–back up to the Founding Fathers. These were not guys who were anti-God, even though one of the books that we often will talk about in our presentations with people that portray the wrong view, is a book called The Godless Constitution. It was written by two professors at Cornell Kramnick and Moore.
Both of these guys made the claim the Founding Fathers intentionally tried to secularize the constitution. Some of them are religious. Most of them really weren’t; but, they didn’t want God in the Constitution.
And, to this end, we talk about how in their book, when you go to the back of the book, they have no footnotes. They have no supporting evidence to to verify their claim. Ultimately they just want you to believe what they wrote because they’re professors.
And this is where we say, “Hey, look; I don’t care what year PhD is in. I want to see the original source; show me the documentation.” And, this is where, when people make the accusation that it was godless or they didn’t want God to be a part of it, I ask the question Well, how do we know they didn’t want God to be part of it?
How do we know these were godless people? Name all the people you know who didn’t believe in God; and, how do you know they didn’t believe in God? And, this is where the list becomes very, very short.
Founding Fathers Argued in Favor of Christianity and Religion
And, the reason I point it out is because the Founding Fathers argued in favor of Christianity and religion. In fact, we can point to numerous writings where they talk about the only way freedom works is if you have a moral and religious people. They argued the Bible should be the thing that all kids learn to read from because they would learn the moral structures of the Book.
And again, I would contend that there is no greater moral teacher than Jesus. So, let’s say that I’m Benjamin Franklin, not a Christian and I don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God. I still can say, “You know what? I want every kid to learn the Ten Commandments and the moral teachings of Jesus, ‘You should love your neighbor as yourself.’
“’Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ That would help our society be better.” This is where the Founding Fathers largely came. So, even when they do the Constitution, they write the it from a foundation of faith and morality.
And, that’s why when you read the Constitution, that this was not a document written with the intent of secularizing America; it was written with the intent for America to operate with freedom. But, the freedom they wanted was rooted and based in Christianity because they themselves were largely Christians and supporters of the Christian system.
So, that and that really covers–I mean, as much as we can on a short program–the men themselves with their faith. When we come back from the break, take it to the founding of the country itself. Did they allow their personal faith to enter into our Constitution, for instance. So, was it only a personal thing, did it become part of how they designed the country?
Stay with us folks. We’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live!
Greatest Political Privilege
President Calvin Coolidge said, “The 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.”
Red, White, Blue, and Green
Hey friends, a special event is coming to you. It’s called Red, White, Blue, and Green; a stage show that is our opportunity to bring history and the Constitution to life as well as to equip and inspire you and your family and the people at your church and in your community, to get involved and do more. To be given true action steps on what you can do right there in your backyard to preserve freedom for future generations. It’s going to be a fun evening. We’re going to laugh and learn together and get educated. There’s gonna’ be lots of great music, and presentations, and inspirational stories. It’s called Red, White, Blue, and Green. You can make it happen right there in your hometown. We’re gonna be filming live in Thousand Oaks, California, on the evening of March 23rd, and streaming it all across the nation.
You can be the one to bring it into your community by streaming it to your church, or in your home, or even just watch it individually if you like. Go to ConstitutionCoach.com today and you’ll find out more. ConstitutionCoach.com. The event is on March 23rd. We’re hoping you’ll participate with us and help us restore America’s Constitution.
Questions of Power
Thomas Jefferson said, “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
Thanks for staying with us on this Foundations of Freedom Thursday here on WallBuilders Live! We’re tackling the question of the faith of the Founders and whether or not, based on if they had personal faith, did it make it into the Constitution and the founding of the country? So, David, Tim, what about the question Even if they are men of faith, how did they actually put that into the Constitution or into our design?
God in the Constitution
We have a teaching on available on the WallBuilders website. We have we have an MP3; it’s a CD called God in the Constitution. And, Dad, when you did this, I think you go through seven different–what you identify as–proofs that they intended to keep faith, religion, God–however we define this–in the Constitution.
But, I would say a lot of people today would would argue against that. If you said, “No, they definitely wanted to have gotten the Constitution; they they never viewed this as a secular, godless document, as some people today might claim.” So so let me ask this: if you would contend that the Founding Fathers intended to put God in the Constitution,
I’ve read the Constitution, and I’ve never come away thinking that this is a great theological treatise or a doctoral statement.
They don’t really put God in there; so, why would you say they put God in the Constitution?
The same reason that you opened up talking about Franklin and the Bible verses and Bible concepts he had throughout his speech. Most people who read Franklin’s speech will not say, “Wow; that was a good Bible speech.” When you go back and say, “Look at this clause that he spoke that’s a direct quote from the Bible verse,” or go through and point out how that there may be and the matter of ten sentences, ten or twelve Bible verses, and suddenly it’s not the secular speech you thought it was.
Okay, so help me out. Let’s say that you’ve given a speech, and I am someone who doesn’t believe this position you have taken; so, you have to substantiate it. Where is God in the Constitution?
The first thing I’d ask is, “What does Article Seven say?”
Article Seven is how the Constitution ends. And so, presumably, if I’m in the audience, I’ve just heard you giving a speech and I’m asking you this. I say, “I don’t know.”
You might say, “Look it up.” So, let’s say I look it up. What am I going to find if I look it up? What would you point out?
Well, the easy thing I’d point out is how they ended it. What day did they say; what year did they say they did this Constitution?
Except, in the Constitution, it says: “We’ve done this in the year of our Lord, 1787.” Now, you might say, “Well, everybody said ‘in the year of our Lord.’” I’d say, “Okay, I want you to go to South Carolina documents and show me where that’s a phrase in government documents in South Carolina or North Carolina or Virginia or Delaware.”
Let me pause for a second too; because, even if you make the argument that that appeared in all their old documents, doesn’t that then indicate that they believed in God if it’s in all their documents?
Because they have the ability to remove it if they don’t believe in that. Somebody might argue, “Well, maybe the people believed in it, but they didn’t.” Well then I would argue, “Why would the people–” I would question at least, “Why would the people choose leaders to represent them that didn’t reflect their values and beliefs?”
“In the year of our Lord, 1787”
Well, I would I would say that’s all accurate and right. I would go one step further. I’d say, “I did find in Massachusetts that in their documents they often said, ‘This was done in the year of the Lord 1787,’or whatever.
“The Founding Fathers in the Constitution said, ‘In the year of our Lord, 1787;’ and, that’s a clause I have found virtually nowhere else in early documents. The fact that they customized it and made it personal. It’s not in the year of the Lord it’s ‘In the year of our Lord.’” I would say that’s a pretty good starting place for saying it’s not a secular document.
Okay, so is that the primary reason you would argue that the Constitution is something they included God in, or there other?
I think it’s worth pointing out that when you go individually into the delegates–and most folks can’t name but three or four of the 39 signers. But, if I say, “Well, here you’ve got Roger Sherman and Hugh Williamson and Gunning Bedford Jr. You’ve got John Langdon and Charles Pinckney and Abraham Baldwin. Nobody knows the faith of these guys or how strong it was or how many those guys actually were ministers.
Yes, or leaders of Bible Colleges and Bible societies, ministers themselves, all these guys you’ve mentioned.
Then I would go into other clauses. For example, I’d go into Article 1 and say, “What does the ‘Sundays excepted’ clause mean? Why would they put a ‘Sundays excepted’ clause in the Constitution.
Right. So, the “Sundays excepted” clause: you can do work on any day, government work, on any day. The exception is Sundays; it’s “Sundays excepted;” we will not do government work on Sunday. So, why would they choose Sunday as the exception?
And, that’s the question: Why would you choose it? Now, I can point out that other courts said, “Well, when you look at Sunday, the only religion in the world that has a Sunday sabbath is Christianity.” As they pointed out, Muslims have a Friday Sabbath; Jews have a Saturday Sabbath.
Christians have a Sunday sabbath, although not every Christian has a Sunday sabbath, Seventh-Day Adventist. But, they said, “The only religion with a Sunday sabbath is Christians, and that’s what the Constitution recognizes.”
Specific Quotations of the Bible
Then I would point to a number of specific quotations of the Bible throughout the Constitution, whether it be with capital punishment or the requirement that a president be a natural-born citizen, whether it be with the bill of attainder or the atainting clause. I could point to specific clauses in the Constitution, some of which specifically cite Bible language, others of which take a very unique Bible idea that you don’t find in other governing documents, and they put it in the Constitution. So, the fact that we have a number of clauses that either specifically cite the Bible or reference a unique Bible thought, that’s significant stuff.
Sure. So, if you back up in time when the Pilgrims come to America, they did the Mayflower Compact. One of the things in the Mayflower Compact toward the beginning is: “For the glory of God, the advancement of the Christian faith.” It’s hard to argue against that when it’s right there.
The Declaration, again, it’s not quite as bold as the Mayflower Compact; but, they do talk about a Creator and how there is some sort of supernatural, divine being. There are the laws of nature and nature’s God, which the Founding Fathers wrote a lot about that. And, what that means, it was actually the revealed character or nature of God.
And, actually, additionally, it was that the laws of nature’s God was the Bible. So, you have the laws of creation, the laws of the Bible; in the Declaration you definitely see that. In the Constitution you don’t see as much, until you start getting the context.
“There is No Such Thing as a Secular Oath.”
You get the context, and a part of it is because we’re Biblically illiterate today, in the sense that we don’t recognize Bible when we see it. Here’s a great example. There are five oath clauses in the Constitution.
We say, “So what? Everybody takes an oath.” Yes, but the Founding Fathers said, “There is no such thing as a secular oath.” George Washington said, “Don’t ever let oaths become secular.”
You have Rufus King, who helped design the oaths, who said, “This is part of the Christian system.” I mean the Founding Fathers themselves said, “This is Biblical stuff.” Now today, we’re so used to that culturally, we no longer see a religious foundation for the five oath clauses; but, the guys who constructed it did and pointed that out.
Discover More of the Biblical Influence in our Constitution and Founding
Allright, guys, we’re out of time for this Foundations of Freedom Thursday. Folks that are listening, I encourage you to hit our website and go to the archives section on WallBuildersLive.com. And, in those previous Foundations of Freedom Thursday programs, we cover topics very similar to this.
But, if you want to dive deeper into this question, we got a couple of great resources we’re going to give you links to today. First of all, the CD that Tim mentioned that’s called God in the Constitution, is going to be available today at our website. And, then a really fantastic–in fact, David if you don’t mind me saying, I think it’s the most important thing you ever put out–is the Founders’ Bible.
It is so chock-full of fantastic articles that tie Biblical scripture to what the Founders did. And, I am talking seriously, as you go through the Bible and read that Scripture, then all of sudden there’s an article that’s quoting the Founding Fathers and how they applied that particular scripture to the design of our country and to the issues of the day. It is incredible. So, get the Founders’ Bible and dive further into that.
Thanks for listening today, folks, you’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live!
Liberties and Freedom Are Worth Defending
Samuel Adams said, “The 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.”