I’m going to be doing a debate on the question of whether the Constitution is based on Christianity on Nov. 12 and in my research I came across this article from Christian historian John Fea. He points out that, in contrast to the U.S. Constitution, the Confederate Constitution was explicitly Christian in its language.
Southerners were convinced that the Confederate States of America was a Christian nation. They viewed the Confederacy as a refuge for the godly amid the “infidelity” of the Union to which they once belonged. One hundred fifty years ago this month, Southerners prepared to engage in a war that would prove God was on their side. This mentality is clear in the Confederacy’s decision to adopt the Latin phrase Deo Vindice (“With God as our defender”) as its national motto.
Southerners looking for evidence that the Confederacy was a Christian nation needed to look no further than their Constitution. Unlike the U.S. Constitution, which does not mention God, the preamble of the Constitution of the Confederate States of America made a direct appeal to “Almighty God”:
We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent and federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity—invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God—do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Confederate States of America.Southern clergy were absolutely giddy over this insertion of such God-language. Benjamin Morgan Palmer, the minister of the First Presbyterian Church of New Orleans, called it “a truly Christian patriot’s prayer.” He blasted the “perilous atheism” of the U.S. Constitution, adding that its framers had been too tinctured with the kind of “free-thinking” and “infidel spirit” that was often associated with the “horror of the French Revolution.”
Palmer described the ratification of the Constitution in these terms: “The American nation stood up before the world, a helpless orphan and entered upon a career without God.” The Confederacy, however, was charting a godlier path. Its framers had made a conscious effort to avoid the scandalous secularism of the U.S. Constitution. When Palmer read the preamble of the Confederate Constitution, with its “clear, solemn, official recognition of Almighty God,” he claimed that his “heart swelled with unutterable emotions of gratitude and joy . . . At length, the nation has a God: Alleluia! ‘the Lord reigneth let the earth rejoice.'”
Interestingly, the clergy in the 1780s were equally upset by the lack of acknowledgment of our dependence upon God and railed against it for that reason. Attempts were made at several of the ratification conventions and for decades thereafter through the amendment process to add similar language to the Constitution. They all failed.