This year marked the 239th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Not insignificantly, Barack Obama intentionally ignored God in his July 4th “video tribute to America.”
However, the signers of the Declaration of Independence—and the majority of America’s 200 Founders—were quite clear: they believed in the God of the Bible. They consistently and publicly acknowledged and thanked God; their speeches, statements, and letters total many tens of thousands of volumes of books.
George Mason, one founder known as the “Father of the Bill of Rights,” affirmed: “My soul I resign into the hands of my Almighty Creator, Whose tender mercies are all over His works… humbly hoping from His unbounded mercy and benevolence, through the merits of my blessed Savior, a remission of my sins.”
Founder James Madison wrote, “I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and are rising in reputation and wealth publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ.”
Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court of the last century, the Constitution communicates the Founder’s intentions by acknowledging both Christianity and Jesus Christ.
When the delegates deliberated over each word when writing the First Amendment, they did so within a specific religious and historical context— influenced by Christianity. In fact, George Mason proposed that the First Amendment include the following terminology:
“[A]LL MEN HAVE AN EQUAL, NATURAL AND UNALIENABLE RIGHT TO THE FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION, ACCORDING TO THE DICTATES OF CONSCIENCE; AND THAT NO PARTICULAR SECT OR SOCIETY OF CHRISTIANS OUGHT TO BE FAVORED OR ESTABLISHED BY LAW IN PREFERENCE TO OTHERS.” (ROWLAND, 1892, 1:244).
The Annals of Congress, records of their deliberations, evidence the Framers’ discussions about “religion” pertained to Christianity—not Islam, not Hinduism, not Buddhism, and not Judaism (Annals of Congress, 1789, pp. 440ff; Story, 1833, 3.1873:730-731).
Furthermore, Section 7 of Article I, refers to Christianity, not any other religion: “If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it….”
If this exception were made for Jews, Congress would have stated, “Saturdays excepted;” if for Muslims, “Fridays excepted.” If for people practicing no faith, delegates would have specified that the government be closed on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Yet the Founders specified: “Sundays excepted,” recognized the importance of the Christian faith to America’s founding.
Their Christian worldview primarily explains the Founders’ reasoning to intentionally insert two Religion Clauses to prohibit federal government interference.
This was well understood by John Jay, the original Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He testified: “Unto Him Who is the author and giver of all good, I render sincere and humble thanks for His manifold and unmerited blessings, and especially for our redemption and salvation by His beloved Son… Blessed be His holy name.”
Significantly, the U.S. Constitution closes with the following words after Article VII: “Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth …”
The Framers intentionally used the “Year of our Lord” (English for the Latin “Anno Domini,”A.D.). Granted, all western Christian socio-political cultures have recorded time—dates and calendars of events—based on the person of Jesus Christ. Dates prior to Christ were recorded as B.C. (“Before Christ”).
The Framers could have used a nominal pluralistic, multi-cultural, or politically correct designation like C.E. (“Common Era”) and B.C.E. (“Before the Common Era”). If they wanted to historically date the Constitution according to the Islamic calendar they would have used “A.H.” (“Anno Hegirae,” “in the Year of the Hijrah”), referring to Muhammad’s escape from Mecca in A.D. 622, officially marking Islam’s beginning.
The adjective, “Our Lord,” didn’t refer to a generic deity or to God as father or creator. It explicitly referred to Jesus Christ, who Christians (not anyone else) worship as the Son of God.
To be clear: the Constitution of the United States explicitly refers to Jesus Christ—not Allah, Buddha, Muhammad, or any Hindu or Native American god known to the Founders, to validate its historical date and importance.
The Founder’s commitment to the Bible is noteworthy. Prior to the Revolutionary War, King George prohibited American colonists from printing the Bible in English. However this changed after the Battle of Yorktown when colonists first became free of British policies. In 1782 Congress, in its entirety, approved printing the Bible in English. On the first page of each newly printed Bible read: “Resolved, that the United States in Congress assembled … recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States.”
John Adams, one of the most influential Founders, wrote in his diary and to his beloved friend Thomas Jefferson,
“SUPPOSE A NATION IN SOME DISTANT REGION SHOULD TAKE THE BIBLE FOR THEIR ONLY LAW BOOK AND EVERY MEMBER SHOULD REGULATE HIS CONDUCT BY THE PRECEPTS THAT THERE EXHIBITED… WHAT A UTOPIA—WHAT A PARADISE WOULD THIS REGION BE! THE BIBLE IS THE BEST BOOK IN THE WORLD.”
It was no accident that “In God We Trust” and “Annuit Coeptis” (Latin, “God has favored our undertaking”) were first printed on American currency—to be used as the basis for all financial transactions.
Indeed, Alexander Hamilton, the founder of America’s financial system and first Secretary of the Treasury said, “I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Declaration of Independence un-mistakenly alludes four times to the God of the Bible. The U.S. Constitution ensures that Christians must be able to practice their faith freely, unimpeded by the government, that the day of Sunday is to be respected and that Jesus Christ is significant to history, time, date, and law.
Without question the U.S. Constitution remarkably acknowledges uniquely Christian concepts and was framed by men who openly valued the God of the Bible.
This column was originally published by Constitution.com.