Secularists are very quick to point out that the word “God” does not appear in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. They claim that this is highly significant. It proves that the United States should not be ‘under God’ in their opinion. Of course, they are correct in one point: The word “God” does not appear in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution or anywhere else. It is doubtful, however, that this fact has the kind of significance they claim it has. Generally, the word “God” will appear in two places in most constitutions: in the preamble and the religion clauses in the bill of rights. For example, the word “God” appears in the preamble in eight state constitutions. In four states, the “Supreme Ruler of the Universe” is used instead. By far, the most popular divine reference in a preamble is “Almighty God.” This appears in the preamble of 30 state constitutions. In some states, there is no preamble. In these cases, a divine reference can be found in the religion clauses in the bill of rights. There is only one state constitution which has a preamble that does not have a divine reference of any kind. This is the Constitution of Oregon. But here the words “Almighty God” appear in the state religion clauses.

The most likely reason why the word “God” does not appear in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution is textual. The Preamble is modeled after the Preamble in the Articles of Confederation. Since the Articles of Confederation did not use the word “God” in the Preamble, this is the most likely reason it does not appear in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. The Preamble in the Articles of Confederation began by listing all 13 states. It began as follows: “Articles of Confederation and perpetual union between New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, etc. . . . and Georgia.” When the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution was first drafted, this was the model that was used. Later, as the constitutional convention was coming to a close, a short form was agreed to. The 13 states were dropped in favor of We the People. Thus, rather than trying to establish a radical godless state, the most likely reason the word “God” does not appear in the Preamble was because the Articles of Confederation did not have it. It is doubtful that anyone in 1787 could have foreseen the development of radical secularist groups like the ACLU and their ‘spin’ on the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

The most likely reason why the word “God” does not appear in the First Amendment is textual as well. Here the textual reason is due to the subject. The religion clauses in the First Amendment are very different from the religion clauses in most state constitutions. The subject of the religion clause is the government or “Congress.” This is not the case with most state constitutions. In most state constitutions the subject is the individual. This difference is the reason the word “God” does not appear in the First Amendment’s religion clauses. Let’s compare the religion clauses in the First Amendment with the most popular religion clause used in the United States. Most states copy from the religion clauses found in the Pennsylvania Constitution. In particular, the first sentence appears in many state constitutions which says: “All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences . . .” The subject of the clause is clear. It is “All men.” The New Hampshire Constitution which copied from Pennsylvania uses' better wording. It says “Every individual . . .” In either case, the individual is the subject of the clause. Thus, a major difference between the religion clauses in the First Amendment and most state constitutions are their points of view. The First Amendment was written from the point of view of the government. Most state constitutions were written from the point of view of the individual.

In addition, the religion clause in the Pennsylvania Constitution protects a “natural right” of an individual to worship “Almighty God” according to conscience. Since the focus of the religion clause is on the “right” of an individual, the word “God” naturally appears. This is not the case with the First Amendment. Here the focus is on the role of the government. There are two religion clauses in the First Amendment. They consist of 16 words as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . " The first clause is known as the Establishment Clause. The second clause is known as the Free Exercise Clause. The subject of the First Amendment is clearly the “Congress.” The purpose of the First Amendment is to bar the Federal Government from interfering with the freedom of religion among the states. Congress may not establish a religion or prohibit the free exercise of religion as it relates to the states. Since the purpose of the First Amendment is to stop any abuse by the Federal Government against religion, this explains why the words “God,” “natural right,” “worship,” or “conscience” do not appear. Rather than trying to promote a radical secularist philosophy, the most likely reason the framers did not use the word “God” in the First Amendment is because the subject is what Congress can do in relation to the states which are explicitly religious.

The mistake modern secularists make is obvious. They take a twentieth-century concept like “secularism” and read it back into the Constitution. They take a concept that didn’t even exist in the eighteenth century and attribute it to the framers of the Constitution. Unfortunately, this is a very common error. The fact that the word “God” does not appear in the Constitution means little. It is actually a rather shallow observation. The reality is “God” is in every word of the Constitution, including the punctuation. Below the surface of the words in the Constitution, there is a mountain of ideas that made its formation possible. The belief that God exists and that all nations of the world are subject to Him sits on the summit of that mountain.

The Supreme Court of Florida concluded in 1950 that “Different species of democracy have existed for more than 2,000 years, but democracy as we know it has never existed among the unchurched. A people unschooled about the sovereignty of God, the Ten Commandments and the ethics of Jesus, could never have evolved the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. There is not one solitary fundamental principle of our democratic policy that did not stem directly from the basic moral concepts as embodied in the Decalogue and the ethics of Jesus . . . No one knew this better than the Founding Fathers."[3]

Even if the word “God” was in the Constitution, it probably would not make any difference. Secularist groups like the ACLU would probably dismiss it as a mere formality. There are 50 reasons to believe that this is true. Since secularists dismiss all references to God in the state constitutions, there is no reason to believe that they would behave any differently with the federal Constitution. Their commitment to secularism will not allow for the possibility that they might be wrong.

For a more in-depth discussion of how monotheism and the Ten Commandments influenced the U.S. Constitution, read my new booklet: “The Ten Commandments for Beginners.” Visit: www.mytencommandments.us for ordering information.

Endnote:

[3] State v. City of Tampa, 48 So. 2d 78 (1950). See www.chesco.org/pdf/chesco_CCAP_Amicus.pdf for the citation.