Here’s a historical factoid about what our nation considered valuable at one time. How times have changed:
After the attack on Pearl harbor, Secret Service Agent Harry Neal was tasked with transferring “priceless historical documents” to a secure facility away from Washington, D.C. After meeting with librarian Archibald MacLeish at the Library of Congress, Neal orchestrated the logistics of how they would discreetly transport the documents out of DC to Fort Knox, which is near Louisville, Kentucky. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, the Gutenberg Bible, and the Articles of Confederation were also being stored in some of the cases at Fort Knox. The Declaration was returned to Washington, D.C., in 1944.
Today, the secularists running our government would most likely have left the copy of the Declaration of Independence and Gutenberg Bible behind and hope they would go up in flames if our nation’s capital is ever bombed.
Christian Life and Character
Organizations like the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State have done their best to ignore the content of the massive compilation of original source material found in this book. If Americans ever become aware of the facts assembled by the author in this historic encyclopedia of knowledge, arguments for a secular founding of America will turn to dust. Reprinted by American Vision for the first time in over 140 years in 2007, we can't keep this book in stock!Buy Now
In 1831 the French social philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville landed in America to observe the new nation and her institutions. Tocqueville’s work was published in two parts at the mid-point of the nineteenth century as Democracy in America. It has been described as “the most comprehensive and penetrating analysis of the relationship between character and society in America that has ever been written.” His observations on America’s moral ideals are revealing and worthy of study.
The sects that exist in the United States are innumerable. They all differ in respect to the worship which is due to the Creator; but they all agree in respect to the duties which are due from man to man. Each sect adores the Deity in its own peculiar manner, but all sects preach the same moral law in the name of God…. Moreover, all the sects of the United States are comprised within the great unity of Christianity, and Christian morality is everywhere the same…. [T]here is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America.
Two‑hundred years after John Winthrop’s sermon aboard the Arabella, Tocqueville continued to find in America “an ostensible respect for Christian morality and virtue.” This is the substance of a working definition of “Christian America” — the sharing of common moral values that have been shaped with reference to the Bible. “The biblical model of a ‘city on a hill,’” to use Winthrop’s phrase, “was the relevant goal for political action. Puritan divines called for the establishment of a ‘Holy Community,’ governed according to standards derived from Christian principles of morality and justice.”
The Supreme Court Has Spoken
For many Americans, official recognition of anything is found in the Supreme Court. So, what did the highest court in the United States determine? In 1892, the Supreme Court declared in the case of The Church of the Holy Trinity vs. United States, that America was a Christian nation from its earliest days. After examining a full range of historical documents, Associate Justice David J. Brewer concluded that Americans are “a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation.” Beginning with Ferdinand and Isabella’s commission to Christopher Columbus through a survey of then current state constitutions, the court concluded:
There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people.
If we pass beyond these matters to a view of American life as expressed by its laws, its business, its customs and its society, we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth. Among other matters note the following: The form of oath universally prevailing, concluding with an appeal to the Almighty; the custom of opening sessions of all deliberative bodies and most conventions with prayer; the prefatory words of all wills, “In the name of God, amen”; the laws respecting the observance of the Sabbath, with the general cessation of all secular business, and the closing of courts, legislatures, and other similar public assemblies on that day [and atoday]; the churches and church organizations which abound in every city, town and hamlet; the multitude of charitable organizations existing everywhere under Christian auspices; the gigantic missionary associations, with general support, and aiming to establish Christian missions in every quarter of the globe. These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.
In 1931, Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland reviewed the 1892 decision and reaffirmed that Americans are a “Christian people.” As late as 1952, even the liberal Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas declared that “we are a religious people and our institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.”
In addition to writing the opinion in the Holy Trinity case, Justice Brewer wrote The United States: A Christian Nation, a series of lectures that were published in book form in 1905 while he was still a member of our nation’s highest court? In it, Brewer reiterates the history behind the 1892 Trinity case and states clearly that America was founded as a Christian nation, as the following citations from his book indicate:
• “This republic is classified among the Christian nations of the world.”
• “In the case of Holy Trinity Church vs. United States, 143 U.S. 471, that court, after mentioning various circumstances, add, ‘these and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.’”
• “[W]e constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation — in fact, as the leading Christian nation in the world. This popular use of the term certainly has significance. It is not a mere creation of the imagination. It is not a term of derision but has a substantial basis — one which justifies its use.”
• “In no charter or constitution is there anything to even suggest that any other than the Christian is the religion of this country. In none of them is Mohammed or Confucius or Buddha in any manner noticed. In none of them is Judaism recognized other than by way of toleration of its special creed. While the separation of church and state is often affirmed, there is nowhere a repudiation of Christianity as one of the institutions as well as benedictions of society. In short, there is no charter or constitution that is either infidel, agnostic, or anti-Christian. Wherever there is a declaration in favor of any religion it is of the Christian.”
• “You will have noticed that I have presented no doubtful facts. Nothing has been stated which is debatable. The quotations from charters are in the archives of the several States; the laws are on the statute books; judicial opinions are taken from the official reports; statistics from the census publications. In short, no evidence has been presented which is open to question.”
• “I could show how largely our laws and customs are based upon the laws of Moses and the teachings of Christ; how constantly the Bible is appealed to as the guide of life and the authority in questions of morals.”
David Brewer’s conclusion? “This is a Christian nation.” Tragically, it must be modified to state, we were a Christian nation (as defined above).
The United States: A Christian Nation
Drawing from a wealth of original sources, such as the colonial charters, state constitutions, and legal statutes of early American history, Justice Brewer makes the undeniable case for the Christian character of this nation, and encourages his listeners to preserve and contribute to America’s Christianity in the face of adversity.Buy Now
Robert N. Bellah, et al., Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1985), viii.
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 2 vols. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), 1:303. Emphasis added.
Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1:305.
A. James Reichley, Religion in American Public Life (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 1985), 55.
Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States. Argued and submitted January 7, 1892. Decided February 29, 1892. Justice Brewer delivered the opinion of the court.
David J. Brewer, The United States: A Christian Nation (Philadelphia, PA: The John C. Winston Company, 1905). The book has been reprinted under the same title by American Vision.