I may have time to revisit this subject in more detail later, but until then I've included below some relevant comments made by folks much wiser than I. Some were present when our nation was formed, while others came after but recognized the indispensability of religion to the life of our nation.
"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.Today, sadly, some are indeed attempting to shake that very foundation. Here are a few other comments worth pondering:
"It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?"
"Our constitution was made only for a moral religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” -- John Adams, Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 1798
"Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of learning shall ever be encouraged.” -- First Continental Congress, Northwest Ordinance, 1787Imagine that! Schools that focus on turning out good citizens by instilling both wisdom and virtue.
|Alexis de Tocqueville|
After his extensive visit to the United States early in the 19th century, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote the classic, Democracy in America, in which he commented on the the religious values of the American people:
“I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion—for who can search the human heart?—but I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or to a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society . . . While the law permits the Americans to do what they please, religion prevents them from conceiving, and forbids them to commit, what is rash or unjust.”
Once religion is suppressed or removed from the public square, on what will our nation base its administration of justice?
|William O. Douglas|
“We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being. We guarantee the freedom to worship as one chooses. We make room for as wide a variety of beliefs and creeds as the spiritual needs of man deem necessary. We sponsor an attitude on the part of government that shows no partiality to any one group and that lets each flourish according to the zeal of its adherents and the appeal of its dogma. When the state [343 U.S. 306, 314] encourages religious instruction or cooperates with religious authorities by adjusting the schedule of public events to sectarian needs, it follows the best of our traditions. For it then respects the religious nature of our people and accommodates the public service to their spiritual needs. To hold that it may not would be to find in the Constitution a requirement that the government show a callous indifference to religious groups. That would be preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe. Government may not finance religious groups nor undertake religious instruction nor blend secular and sectarian education nor use secular institutions to force one or some religion on any person. But we find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against efforts to widen the effective scope of religious influence.”
My, how things have changed. I can't think of a single liberal politician or judge today who would agree with Justice Douglas' comments. By today's standards, he sounds very much like a staunch conservative.
God bless America.
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Location:N. Andover, Massachusets