American Minute with Bill Federer
U.S. Supreme Court stated in the 1892 case of Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, written by Justice David Josiah Brewer (143 U.S. 457-458, 465-471, 36 L ed 226):
“This is 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 …”
The Supreme Court continued:
“The commission to Christopher Columbus … (recited) that
‘it is hoped that by God’s assistance some of the continents and islands in the ocean will be discovered’ …
The first colonial grant made to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584 … and the grant authorizing him to enact statutes for the government of the proposed colony provided
‘that they be not against the true Christian faith’ …
The first charter of Virginia, granted by King James I in 1606 … commenced the grant in these words:
‘… in propagating of Christian Religion to such People as yet live in Darkness …’
Language of similar import may be found in the subsequent charters of that colony … in 1609 and 1611; and the same is true of the various charters granted to the other colonies.
In language more or less emphatic is the establishment of the Christian religion declared to be one of the purposes of the grant.
The celebrated compact made by the Pilgrims in the Mayflower, 1620, recites:
‘Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith … a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia’ …
The fundamental orders of Connecticut, under which a provisional government was instituted in 1638-1639, commence with this declaration:
‘… And well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union … there should be an orderly and decent government established according to God … to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess … of the said gospel is now practiced amongst us.’
In the charter of privileges granted by William Penn to the province of Pennsylvania, in 1701, it is recited:
‘… no people can be truly happy, though under the greatest enjoyment of civil liberties, if abridged of … their religious profession and worship …’
Coming nearer to the present time, the Declaration of Independence recognizes the presence of the Divine in human affairs in these words:
‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights …
appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions …
And for the support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor’ …
These declarations … reaffirm that this is a religious nation.”
Justice Brewer continued in Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States:
“While because of a general recognition of this truth the question has seldom been presented to the courts, yet we find that in Updegraph v. The Commonwealth, it was decided that,
‘Christianity, general Christianity, is, and always has been, a part of the common law … not Christianity with an established church … but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.’
And in The People v. Ruggles, Chancellor Kent, the great commentator on American law, speaking as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New York, said:
‘The people of this State, in common with the people of this country, profess the general doctrines of Christianity, as the rule of their faith and practice …
We are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity, and not upon the doctrines or worship of those impostors.’
And in the famous case of Vidal v. Girard’s Executors (1844) this Court … observed:
‘It is also said, and truly, that the Christian religion is a part of the common law of Pennsylvania’ …
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;
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 …”
Justice Brewer continued:
“Or like that in articles 2 and 3 of part 1 of the constitution of Massachusetts, (1780)
… ‘It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe …
As the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion, and morality, and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community but by the institution of the public worship of God and of public instructions in piety, religion, and morality:
Therefore, to promote their happiness, and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth …
authorize … the several towns, parishes, precincts … to make suitable provision … for the institution of the public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality …'”
Justice Brewer added:
“Or, as in sections 5 and 14 of article 7 of the Constitution of Mississippi, (1832:)
‘No person who denies the being of a God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state …
Religion morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government, the preservation of liberty, and the happiness of mankind, schools, and the means of education, shall forever be encouraged in this state.’
Or by article 22 of the Constitution of Delaware, (1776) which required all officers, besides an oath of allegiance, to make and subscribe the following declaration:
‘I, A.B., do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.'”
Justice David Josiah Brewer had served on the Kansas Supreme Court, 1870-1884.
President Chester A. Arthur appointed him a Circuit Court Judge in 1884, then a Supreme Court Justice in 1889.
Justice David Josiah Brewer was a nephew of Supreme Court Justice Stephen J. Field, with whom he serve 9 years on the bench.
Justice David Josiah Brewer died on MARCH 28, 1910.
In his work, The United States-A Christian Nation, published in Philadelphia by the John C. Winston Company, 1905, Justice David Josiah Brewer wrote:
“We classify nations in various ways. As, for instance, by their form of government.
One is a kingdom, another an empire, and still another a republic.
Also by race. Great Britain is an Anglo-Saxon nation, France a Gallic, Germany a Teutonic, Russia a Slav.
And still again by religion. One is a Mohammedan nation, others are heathen, and still others are Christian nations.
This republic is classified among the Christian nations of the World. It was so formally declared by the Supreme Court of the United States …”
“We constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world.
This popular use of the term certainly has significance …
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 …”
Justice Brewer concluded:
“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 …
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 question of morals.”
On August 28, 1947, President Harry S Truman wrote of America to Pope Pius XII:
“Your Holiness, this is a Christian Nation. More than a half century ago that declaration was written into the decrees of the highest court in this land.
It is not without significance that the valiant pioneers who left Europe to establish settlements here, at the very beginning of their colonial enterprises, declared their faith in the Christian religion and made ample provision for its practice and for its support.
The story of the Christian missionaries who in earliest days endured perils, hardship — even death itself in carrying the message of Jesus Christ to untutored savages is one that still moves the hearts of men …”
“As a Christian Nation our earnest desire is to work with men of good will everywhere to banish war and the causes of war from the world whose Creator desired that men of every race and in every clime (region) should live together in peace, good will and mutual trust …
that mankind shall live in freedom, not in the chains of untruth nor in the chains of a collectivist organization.”
Chief Justice John Jay wrote to John Murray, a Pennsylvania State Representative, October 12, 1816:
“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
When President William Henry Harrison died in office, the next President, John Tyler declared a National Day of Fasting, stating April 13, 1841:
“When a Christian people feel themselves to be overtaken by a great public calamity, it becomes them to humble themselves under the dispensation of Divine Providence.”
In 1838, the New York State Legislature wrote:
“With us it is wisely ordered that no one religion shall be established by law, but that all persons shall be left free in their choice and in their mode of worship.
Still, this is a Christian nation. Ninety-nine hundredths, if not a larger proportion, of our whole population, believe in the general doctrines of the Christian religion.
Our Government depends for its being on the virtue of the people, – on that virtue that has its foundation in the morality of the Christian religion.”
During a cholera epidemic in which 150,000 Americans died, President Zachary Taylor declared a National Day of Fasting.
New Jersey Governor Daniel Haines issued supportive proclamation, published in the Paterson Intelligencer, August 1, 1849:
“Whereas the President … inconsideration of the prevailing pestilence, has set … a Day of Fasting … and whereas I believe that the people of this State recognize the obligations of a Christian nation publicly to acknowledge their dependence upon Almighty God …
… that … they assemble … with humble confession of sin … and … implore the Almighty Ruler of the Universe, to remove us from the scourge … and … restore to us the inestimable blessing of health.”
Francis Scott Key addressed the Washington Society of Alexandria, March 22, 1814:
“The patriot who feels himself in the service of God … will therefore seek to establish for his country in the eyes of the world, such a character as shall make her not unworthy of the name of a Christian nation.”
Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, who Lincoln later appointed Chief Justice, assigned Director of the U.S. Mint James Pollock, former Governor of Pennsylvania, with the task of adding “In God We Trust” to the two cent coin.
James Pollock’s Report was printed by U.S. Department of the Treasury, 1863, page 190-191:
“We claim to be a Christian nation — why should we not vindicate our character by honoring the God of Nations …
Our national coinage should do this. Its legends and devices should declare our trust in God – in Him who is ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’ …
The motto suggested, ‘God our Trust,’ is taken from our National Hymn, the ‘Star-Spangled Banner.'”
President William Taft stated December 6, 1912:
“We are a world power …
Our responsibilities in the Pacific and the Atlantic … require us … to clothe ourselves with sufficient naval power … to give weight to our influence in those directions of progress that a powerful Christian nation should advocate.”
Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who did not support President Truman dropping the atomic bomb, had stated August 10, 1945:
“If we, as a professedly Christian nation, feel morally free to use atomic energy in that way, men elsewhere will accept that verdict.
Atomic weapons will be looked upon as a normal part of the arsenal of war and the stage will be set for the sudden and final destruction of mankind.”
In a backward sense, President Obama inadvertently acknowledged that America had been a Christian nation in his 2007 contested comment “Whatever we once were, we’re no longer a Christian nation.”
Award-winning actor Pat Boone replied in the article “The President Without a Country” (June 6, 2009, WND.com):
“You surely can’t be referring to the United States of America, can you? America is emphatically a Christian nation, and has been from its inception! Seventy percent of her citizens identify themselves as Christian.”
In 2014, Pew Forum reported that 70.4 percent of Americans identified themselves as Christian.
President John F. Kennedy was inaugurated in 1961.
The same year, he sent a greeting to President Quadros of Brazil, January 31, 1961:
“Once in every twenty years presidential inaugurations in your country and mine occur within days of each other …
To each of us is entrusted the heavy responsibility of guiding the affairs of a democratic nation founded on Christian ideals.”
Self-Educated American Contributing Editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.