Dean: Pastors Loved Godly Constitution

Bradlee Dean’s latest missive from Planet Wingnuttia quotes several Christian pastors praising the Constitution and claiming that it was a Christian document, thus proving Dean’s contention that the Constitution was passed to George Washington by Jesus himself at the foot of Mt. Sinai.

What a contrast to the preachers who thundered from America’s pulpits before, during and after the Revolutionary War, causing the colonists to stand up in the face of tyranny. The British labeled them as the much-feared “Black Robed Regiment.” The British were not the only ones who recognized them as the bulwarks of America’s Independence:

“Mighty men they were, of iron nerve and strong hand and unblanched cheek and heart of flame. God needed not reeds shaken by the wind, not men clothed in soft raiment [Matthew 11:7-8], but heroes of hardihood and lofty courage. … And such were the sons of the mighty who responded to the Divine call.”

– Bishop Charles Galloway, 1898

“The ministers of the Revolution were, like their Puritan predecessors, bold and fearless in the cause of their country. No class of men contributed more to carry forward the Revolution and to achieve our independence than did the ministers. … [B]y their prayers, patriotic sermons, and services [they] rendered the highest assistance to the civil government, the army, and the country.”

– Historian B. F. Morris, 1864

“The Constitutional Convention and the written Constitution were the children of the pulpit.”

– Historian Alice Baldwin, 1918

Well yes, some ministers in the colonies were certainly behind the revolution. But when it came time to write the Constitution, the religious right of that day pretty much freaked out over that document, claiming that it would bring down the wrath of God on us all because it did not contain any language about our fealty to Him. Isaac Kramnick and Laurence Moore cite many such sermons and pamphlets from 1787 and 1788, during the writing and ratification of the Constitution:

In Philadelphia the principles of Virginia and New York were written into the new federal Constitution “without much debate,” reflecting perhaps the towering influence Madison and Hamilton had at the Constitutional Convention. New York’s Hamilton had, in fact, earlier given Virginia’s Madison his draft for a constitution, which included the clause “nor shall any religious test for any office or place, be ever established by law.” As for Madison’s views in 1787 on religion and politics, we have the evidence of his contributions to the Federalist papers, written by him, Hamilton, and John Jay in 1787 and 1788 to persuade New York state delegates to ratify the Constitution at their convention. These essays fail to mention God anywhere. (Newt Gingrich, so convinced that the Federalist papers are the final word on American politics that he urged all the members of the House of Representatives to read them when he became Speaker, must realize that nowhere do they discuss America as a Christian people with a Christian government.) Indeed, the one extended reference in the Federalist papers to religion, written by Madison, totally undercuts its value as a govemmental means to promote civic virtue. In the famous Federalist No. 10 Madison argues that zealous pursuit of religious opinions, far from leading men to “cooperate for their common good,” causes them to hate each other and disposes them “to vex and oppress each other.”

If there was little debate in Philadelphia over the “no religious test” clause, a veritable firestorm broke out in the country at large during the ratification conventions in each of the states. Outraged Protestants attacked what they saw, correctly, as a godless Constitution. The “no religious test” clause was perceived by many to be the gravest defect of the Constitution. Colonel Jones, a Massachusetts delegate, told the state’s ratifying convention that American political leaders had to believe in God and Jesus Christ. Amos Singletary, another delegate to the Massachusetts ratification convention, was upset at the Constitution’s not requiring men in power to be religious “and though he hoped to see Christians [in office], yet by the Constitution, a papist, or an infidel was as eligible as they.” In New Hampshire the fear was of “a papist, a Mohomatan [sic], a deist, yea an atheist at the helm of government.” Henry Abbot, a delegate to the North Carolina convention, wamed that “the exclusion of religious tests” was “dangerous and impolitic” and that “pagans, deists, and Mahometans [sic] might obtain offices among us.” If there is no religious test, he asked, “to whom will they [officeholders] swear support-the ancient pagan gods of jupiter, Juno, Minerva, or Pluto?”

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