The Constitutional Principle: Separation of Church and State
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American Theocrats - Past and Present

This is a ongoing project and will have additions added to it as they are discovered.

Author, etc.


The real cause of America's fratricidal conflict, many religious leaders asserted, was the failure of the founders to enshrine God in the Constitution. The war was nothing more-or less-than the fulfillment of the Reverend John Mason's 1793 prediction that the godless document would one day impel the Divinity to "crush us to atoms in the wreck." The only way to stop the destruction was to amend the Constitution's preamble and finally acknowledge not only God but Jesus Christ as the source of all just governmental power. In 1863, the "nondenominational," albeit entirely Protestant, National Reform Association was founded for the specific purpose of lobbying Congress to put God into the Constitution. Today's Christian conservatives frequently use the slogan "Let's put God back into the Constitution," thereby implying that "secular humanists" have managed to overturn what was originally intended to be a marriage of church and state. Nineteenth-century clerics knew better and were honest about their desire to reverse what they regarded as the founders' erroneous decision to that can work to separate church and state. At an 1864 convention in Pittsburgh, the National Reform delegates were in a dither about how to word the proposed amendment before presenting it to President Lincoln and the Congress, so as not to offend any orthodox Protestant denomination. They were not worried about offending Jews, Catholics, or dissident Protestant sects like Hicksite Quakers, who were appalled by the idea of tampering with the Constitution in order to blur the distinction between church and state. After rejecting acknowledgment of "Almighty God" and "His revealed will" as too imprecise, the ministers finally agreed on a rewording of the preamble that would replace "We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union..." with "Recognizing Almighty God as the source of all authority and power in civil government, and acknowledging the Lord Jesus Christ as the Governor among the nations, His revealed will as the supreme law of the land, in order to constitute a Christian government."

Source:

Freethinkers: A history of American Secularism, Susan Jacoby. Metropolitan Books, Holt and Company, NY (2004) pp 104-105.

cary@deleted (Cary deleted wrote:
>:|I found this to be absolutely fascinating. Thanks for posting it.
>:|They were a bit less abashed about such things in those days, weren't they?
To get a complete context, I recommend the following [see the list under the line below]:
[His comments after looking over the list:
Amazing stuff. Reads much like today -- the accusation of atheists wanting to take God out of the schools, the controversies over government-supported chaplains, the claims that calling this a Christian nation does not discriminate against Jews and other minority religions -- I was stunned at how much of this 150-year old news sounds like just another ho-hum week on `alt.education'.Thanks.
-- cary ]


To get a complete context, I recommend the following:

American Theocrats past and Present

SECTION I

1770-1800

February 4, 1788

Mass. State Ratifying Convention

Major LUSK...passed to the article dispensing with the qualification of a religious test, and concluded by saying, that he shuddered at the idea that Roman Catholics, Papists, and Pagans might be introduced into office, and the popery and the inquisition may be established in America.

Source of Information: Debates of the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, on the adoption of the Federal Constitution--The Debates of the Several State Conventions. By Jonathan Elliot, J B Lippincott Company 1888, pages 148-149.

February 11, 1788

The Virginia State Ratifying Convention

Since the Federal Constitution has had so calm, dispassionate, and rational a discussion, and so happy an issue, in the late worthy Convention of this state, I did not expect any members of that honorable body to be challenged in a newspaper, and especially by name and by anonymous writers, on account of their opinion, or decently expressing their sentiments relative to the great subject then under consideration or any part of it. Nor do I yet see the propriety or happy issue of such a proceeding. However, as a gentleman in your paper feels uneasy that every sentiment contained in his publications (tho in general they are well written) is not received with perfect acquiescence and submission, I will endeavor to satisfy' him, or the candid reader, by the same channel that I am not so reprehensible as he supposes, in the matter referred to.

When the clause in the 6th Article, which provides that "no religious test should ever be required as a qualification to any office Or trust, etc." came under consideration, I observed I should have chose that sentence, and anything relating to a religious test, had been totally omitted rather than stand as it did; but still more wished something of the kind should have been inserted, but with a reverse sense so far as to require an explicit acknowledgment of the being of a God, His perfections, and His providence, and to have been prefixed to, and stand as, the first introductory words of the Constitution in the following or similar terms, viz.: *We the people of the United Slates, in a firm belief of the being and perfections of the one living and true God, the creator and supreme Governor of the world, in His universal providence and the authority of His laws: that He will require of ail moral agents an account of their conduct, that all rightful powers among men are ordained of, and mediately derived from God, therefore in a dependence oil His blessing and acknowledgment of His efficient protection in establishing our Independence, whereby it is become necessary to agree upon and settle a Constitution of federal government for ourselves,* and in order to form a more perfect union, etc., as it is expressed in the present introduction, do ordain, etc. And instead of none, that no other religious testshould ever he required, etc. And that supposing, but not granting, this would be no security at all, that it would make hypocrites etc.;: yet this would not be a sufficient reason against it, as it would be a public declaration against, and disapprobation of, men who did not, even with sincerity, make such a profession, and they must be left to the Searcher of Hearts; that it would, however, be the voice of the great body of the people and an acknowledgment proper and highly becoming them to express on this great and only occasion, and, according to the course of Providence, one means of obtaining blessings from the Most High. But that since it was not, and so difficult and dubious to get it inserted, I would not wish to make it a capital objection; that I had no more idea of a religious test which should restrain offices to any particular sect, class, or denomination of men or Christians, in the long list of diversity, than to regulate their bestowments by tile stature or. dress of the candidate. Nor did I believe one sensible catholic man in the state wished for such a limitation; and that therefore the newspaper observations and reasonings (I named no author) against a test, in favor of any one denomination of Christians, and the sacrilegious injunctions of the test laws of England, etc., combated objections which did not exist and was building up a man of straw and Knocking him down again. These are the same and only ideas and sentiments I endeavored to communicate on that subject, tho perhaps not precisely in the same terms, as I had not written, nor preconceived them, except the proposed test; and whether there is any reason in them or not, I submit to the public.

I freely confess such a test and acknowledgment would have given me great additional satisfaction; and I conceive the arguments against it, on the score of hypocrisy, would apply with equal force against requiring an oath from any officer of the united or individual states, and, with little abatement, to any oath in any case whatever. But divine and human wisdom, with universal experience, have approved and established them as useful and a security to mankind.

I thought it was my duty to make the observations in this behalf, which I did, and to bear my testimony for God. And that it was also my duty to say the Constitution, with this and some other faults of another kind, was yet too wise and too necessary to be rejected.

P.S. 1 could not have suspected the Landholder (if I know him) to be the author of the piece referred to; but if he or any other is pleased to reply, without the signature of his proper name, he will receive no further answer or notice from me.

Source of Information:

Letter written by William Williams to the Printer American Mercury and published in same on February 11, 1788. It was also published in the Connecticut Courant March 3, 1788. The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, Vol. III. Ratification of the Constitution by the States, Pennsylvania, Edited by Merrill Jensen, Madison State Historical Society of Wis, 1978, pp 588-590.

July 30. 1788

North Carolina Ratifying Convention

Mr. WILSON wished that the Constitution had excluded Popish priests from offices. As there was no test required, and nothing to govern them but honor, the latter would fly before the former.

Source of Information:

Wed. July 30, 1788. North Carolina State Constitutional Ratifying Convention Debates--The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution as Recommended by the General Convention at Philadelphia in 1787, Vol IV, by Jonathan Elliot J. B. Lippincott Company 1888. Page 212.


1801-1900

by the Rev. D. M'allister.

[David McAllister (1835-1907) D.D., LL.D., was one of the founding editors of The Christian Statesman and served at one time as general secretary of the National Reform Association. He was vice president of Geneva College, and the pastor of the Pittsburgh Reformed Presbyterian Church.

J.H. Thornwell

The religiously correct version of American history has never given proper credit to the central importance of the Enlightenment concept of natural rights--or to the anticlerical abolitionists who advanced that concept before the public--in building the case against slavery. Throughout the three decades preceding the Civil War, the anticlerical ethos of the radical abolitionists was used against them by religious opponents of emancipation, who frequently trotted out the specter of the French Revolution and even described abolitionism itself as an atheist plot. In 1850, the slavery-exalting Presbyterian J. H. Thornwell, who was about to be named president of the College of South Carolina, declared that

the parties in this conflict are not merely abolitionists and slaveholders-they are atheists, socialists, communists, red republicans, jacobins on the one side, and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is the battleground--Christianity and atheism the combatants; and the progress of humanity the stake. [6 6. Cash, W.J. The Mind of the south. New York: Knopf, (1941) p. 80]

The battle over religious orthodoxy at the College of South Carolina, founded as an Enlightenment stronghold, bears out Cash's observations about the shifting theology of the South in the first half of the nineteenth century. From 1820 to 1832, the institution's president was Thomas Cooper, one of the most distinguished American scientists and a critic, as a result of contemporary discoveries in geology, of any literal interpretation of the biblical creation story. Cooper was expelled from the faculty for heresy, and men of Thornwell's views took charge. While most abolitionists were neither atheists nor Jacobins, the defenders of slavery were right to make the connection between the revolutionary freethought of Paine and the radical wing of the antislavery movement. Religious conservatives today are the ones who are mistaken in their insistence that the antislavery movement had nothing to do with Enlightenment values-values that would, in turn, be adopted and adapted by abolitionist women who wished no less for themselves than they wished for slaves.

Freethinkers A History of American Secularism. Susan Jacob Metropolitan, Book, Holt and Company Ny, (2004) Pp. 70-71

Samuel Chase

Samuel Chase was appointed a Justice on the United States Supreme Court by George Washington. In the case of Runkel v. Winemiller, 1799, Justice Chase gave the court's opinion:

Religion is of general and public concern, and on its support depend, in great measure, the peace and good order of government, the safety and happiness of the people.

By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion; and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing, and are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty.

Runkel v. Winemiller,4 Harris & McHenry, 276, 288 (Su. Ct. Md. 1799)

American Theocrats-Past and Present


Rebuttal to Jefferson's Bill for Religious Freedom

Post-Civil War attempts to incorporate religious language into the Constitution


Section III

The Present

The Rise of the Modern Theocratic States of America


Let me introduce you to a theocrat: Kevin Craig

  • This was his brief that he presented to the U S Supreme Court which the court refused to take his case
  • Christians for a "Test Oath": TABLE OF CONTENTS
  • He tried to defame our website at Tearing Down The "Wall" of Separation of Church and State but gave up after awhile.
  • Craig for Congress: California's 41st District, U.S. House of Representatives

    Congress 2002 Issues

    Morality and Culture: "The Laws of Nature and of Nature's God"


  • Meet another theocrat: Alan L. Keyes


    Theocrats in the open

    The Oklahoma City Separation of Church and State Meetup Group * Separation of Church and State Meetup Group No. 14

    Theocrats in the open Rob Abiera * Posted Jun 30, 2005 at 5:52 PM

    My sincere gratitude to the Oklahoma Gazette for drawing some of Oklahoma's most dictatorial Christian fundamentalists out into the open and getting them to openly proclaim themselves as theocrats. They even get them to acknowledge the influence of Rushdoony!

    If you have not yet seen the article, entitled "Public policy debate", on page 14 of the June 29th issue, run out and grab a copy ASAP!

    And don't let go of it, because as far as I'm concerned, you will have a piece of history in your hands.

    For surely this is a historic moment in the struggle to keep church and state separate in Oklahoma: now we have a definite and visible target. From now on, everyone will be able to look back at this as the time when it became no longer possible to evade the fact that there is a movement to replace the Freedom we have enjoyed for the past 200 years with a religious dictatorship.


    Tuesday, July 05, 2005

    Theocrats Unmasked - Your Freedoms Removed

    Oklahoma Gazette News: Public Policy Debate:

    [Charlie Meadows, the president of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC)] is a proponent of some form of theocracy in American government.

    'I very much support a theocracy, but not an ecclesiastical theocracy,' he said. 'I don't want all Baptists or all Assembly of God.'

    So much for the Constitution. If you aren't frightened, you aren't paying attention.


    Date: Sat Jul 30, 2005 3:03 pm

    Tuesday, July 05, 2005

    Debating Pluralism

    Kudos to Greg Horton, a frequent commenter on this blog and host of The Parish weblog, for writing an outstanding news story that is published in the current issue of the Oklahoma Gazette. An excerpt from that article, "Public Policy Debate" is posted on the Gazette's website (You'll have to scroll down to the third headline).

    Greg interviewed two of Oklahoma's most prominent Christian Reconstructionists for this story. Neither was shy about admitting the influence of R. J. Rushdoony on their thinking.

    Charlie Meadows, a former talk radio host in Norman and current president of the influential Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee, boasted of being a theocrat saying,

    "I very much support a theocracy, but not an ecclesiastical theocracy," he said. "I don't want all Baptists or all Assembly of God. What I would like are men and women of high moral character and integrity seeking to govern according to the principles of God."

    He added, "I don't think the founding fathers meant freedom of religion outside Christianity."

    Bill Graves, a former State Representative who recently had to relinquish his office due to term limits, said: "One thing I got from reading Rushdoony and Russell Kirk is that the state is a religious establishment."

    Oklahoma is one of the few states where theocrats are free to speak openly about their convictions. In other places they would loose support if they spoke so openly.

    posted by Bruce at 1:13 PM

    Dr. Bruce Prescott Location:Norman, Oklahoma, United States Host of "Religious Talk" on KREF radio (1400 am) at 11:00 each Sunday Morning, Executive Director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, President of the Oklahoma Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.