American Theocrats-Past and Present

Skip to first unread message

Dec 22, 2004, 12:30:29 PM12/22/04




THE arguments in favor of the Religious Amendment movement are many
and weighty. These are seldom touched by opponents. It is difficult to deny
that a nation has a moral character and accountability, and ought,
therefore, to acknowledge the Supreme Moral Governor of the universe and
his moral laws. The very nature and. functions of a nation are such as to
bring it into direct relationship with God and his government, and thus
with Christ, to whom all power in heaven and earth is committed. If so, is
it not reasonable that God, and Christ, and the Bible should be
acknowledged in the nation's fundamental law? This, and numerous
arguments like it, have rarely been controverted.
But there are objections urged by many who will not attempt to meet
the solid arguments advanced. It is easy to offer objections or
difficulties against any good cause, and it is well to have them presented.
If the cause is just, they can be met, and should be. For, though
objections against any measure can be of no great moment when the arguments
for it are unanswered and unanswerable; yet for the sake of every honest
objector, they should be candidly considered. It is proposed to state fully
and fairly the various objections offered against the Religious Amendment,
and present a brief and comprehensive answer to each. It may be all the
more important to do this, as even atrifling objection affords an
opportunity to present an important argument in pointed form.

Two essentially different classes of objections are offered. One
class is urged against the movement in its principles-its ideas of the
nature and functions of government, or at least, of a Constitution. The
other class concedes the correctness of the principles on which the
movement is based, but takes issue on grounds of prudence or expediency.
Any one who considers all the various objections will observe how
completely many of them neutralize and annihilate each other. This itself
is a sufficient answer to them. Mutually conflicting and self-destructive
objections cannot all be well taken. But let us examine all, even somewhat
trivial ones, taking up, first


Objection 1. The Constitution already acknowledges God.

The objector says, substantially: " The proposed amendment is just
and proper, but it is unnecessary. God and Christianity are now
acknowledged in the fundamental law of the nation." And what is the proof
of such acknowledgment? The word oath, a passing reference to the Christian
Sabbath in the clause, "Sundays -excepted," making the Sabbath a dies non
in the reckoning of days during which the President may retain a bill for
approval, the mention of the common law, and the formula of date. These are
all. They hardly require notice. It may be said in brief, however, that the
mention of the Sabbath is simply an incidental allusion, an evidence,
indeed, that there was a Sabbath known; but it is no acknowledgment of the
obligation of the Sabbath. The dating again is no part of the instrument.
It merely marks the time. And more than all else, the name of God was
excluded from the form of the President's oath, incorporated in the
Constitution. Can these features of the Constitution, with a mention of the
common law, be regarded as an adequate acknowledgment of the nation's
subjection to God and his government ? It is now almost universally
admitted that they are not religious acknowledgments at all. So completely
devoid is our Constitution of any religious character that multitudes of
both infidels and Christians agree in stating that it is no more Christian
than Mohammedan. As Ex-President Woolsey declared in his paper read before
the Evangelical Alliance, it needs no change to adapt it to a Mohammedan
nation. Admiring, as we do, the many excellencies of our Constitution, we
are constrained to admit this sad defect. If it is still claimed that an
acknowledgment of God and Chris
tianity is in the Constitution, it must also be admitted that such an
acknowledgment, now dimly there at best, should be made so clear and
explicit that no room may be left for doubt. What is there rightfully ought
to be there indisputably.*
Many of the very men who urge this objection, manifestly not well
satisfied with the result, immediately turn round and object to the
proposed amendment as oppressive, and an infringement of the rights of
conscience. When urged so inconsistently, this latter objection scarcely
deserves attention. It will be considered, however, further on.

Objection 2. The Amendment Movement strengthens the Hands of

Infidels boast of the Constitution as devoid of any acknowledgment
of God, and as thus the"great bulwark of- infidelity. They plant themselves
on the Constitution as a document " untainted with superstition," and
demand that the Bible shall be expelled from the common schools, Sabbath
laws and the oath abolished, and thus the administration of the Government
be conformed to the Constitution. Now, it is said, ,admit that the
Constitution is without as acknowledgment of God and Christianity, and you
strengthen their hands. But the admission is already made. Not only such
men as Dr. Woolsey, but our officers of government, and our courts, admit
the same fact. To point out the religious defect of the Constitution is not
to strengthen the hands of infidelity. But to let the admitted defect
remain, is to do so. Opponents of Christianity justly maintain, that the
Constitution and the government should be in harmony. They are striving to
separate the government, in. its actual administration, as far from
Christianity as the written Constitution. The only class of citizens
who meet squarely, fully and logically, the demands of anti-Christian
secularism, are the friends of the Religious Amendment, who would Have an
avowedly Christian Constitution for a Christian government. The true way to
weaken the hands of the infidel enemies of our Christian institutions of
government, is to place these institutions on an .undeniable legal basis in
the fundamental law of the nation.

Objection 3. The Proposed Acknowledgment in the Written
is a very unimportant matter.

"Why waste powder?" it is asked. "Strive to make the people
Christian. Will it make the nation any more Christian to insert so many
words in a paper document?" But what is put into the
* For another remark in this connection, see last page.

Constitution, or what is left out of it, is not, and cannot be an
unimportant matter. Is the fundamental law of the nation unimportant? Is
not the question of the constitutionality of a measure a most important
question? Is it a matter of no moment that the determined and powerful
enemies of the Bible in the schools, of public fasts and thanksgivings, of
prayers in Congress and State Legislatures, of Sabbath laws, of the oath,
are persistently and too often successfully, assaulting these institutions
on the ground of their inconsistency with the Constitution? A written
Constitution should correspond to the unwritten Constitution of a nation,
that is, to its. laws and customs, its established usages and institutions.
If these have no basis in the Constitution, the power of its silence will
be used against them. This is a republican government. Is it not important
to have republican principles acknowledged in the Constitution? . All our
citizens are free. Is it unimportant to have universal freedom recognized
in the Constitution? Our government is, and always has been administered in
connection with Christianity. Is it any less important to have an
acknowledgment of God and the Christian religion in our fundamental law? We
must be consistent. We must soon determine our choice. We must either make
the unwritten Constitution of the nation, that is, the nation itself, like
the Constitution, non-Christian, or rather, as that necessarily means,
unchristian, or we must make our Constitution an explicitly Christian
Constitution for a Christian nation. Is it a matter of no moment which we

Objection 4. There is Danger, if the Issue is pressed, of an
Adverse Decision

But the trouble is, the issue is being pressed. Multitudes of men
are organized all over the country to expel the Bible from the schools, and
break down every other Christian institution in the nation. The
Constitution is their weapon of offense. They violate our Sabbath laws, and
the Christian law of marriage and divorce, and again the Constitution is
their armor of defense. Mormonism, the communism of the Internationals,
every foe of our Christian laws, wields the Constitution as shield and
spear. Will it avert the danger to let these enemies go on unchallenged and
unresisted? Will the adverse decision be prevented by sitting still?
Already, Superintendents of Instruction and Courts have decided in their
favor. The friends of the Religious Amendment are meeting a hostile and
aggressive movement, and are attempting the only thorough and sufficient
resistance to the threatening assaults of -anti-Christian

secularism. Do what we will, the issue will be pressed to its logical and
inevitable conclusion. It is the imperative duty of all Christian and
patriotic citizens to do their utmost that the decision which must soon be
made, may be worthy of a Christian nation.

Objection 5. At best, there is but little Prospect of

This is an insuperable objection with too many. It is easy to talk
of devotion to truth and principles .Dr. McCosh has an eloquent passage, in
his lectures on Positivism, concerning fidelity to the cause of truth and
right when it is unpopular. But it is difficult to face public odium.
Thousands wait only to see the assurance of popularity and quick success,
and then they swell the ranks with loud acclaim. But will any man of true
earnestness and conscientiousness, will any genuine Christian, wait for
truth to become popular before he will advocate it? When there is bright
prospect of success, there will be little need of recruits. The true
soldier would blush to come rallying under the battle-marked flag, beside
the veterans of the-hard-fought conflict, just as the enemy are driven back
and the victory won.

Objection 6. The Movement puts the Cart before the

"Make the people all Christian, and the Constitution will take care
of itself." This pithy objection entirely misapprehends the aims of the
movement. Its friends would not have the Amendment until the people call
for it. They hold up the proposed Amendment as a flag under which all the
friends of the Christian institutions of the nation may rally.The question
of the true relation of civil government to religion will thus be discussed
throughout the whole country. There need be no fear of the cart's getting
before the horse. The people must awake to the dangers that threaten their
Christian institutions of government, and all that is best in the nation,
and determining that these shall be maintained, they will stop the boastful
mouth of infidelity by declaring this to be a Christian nation, and
registering in its Constitution the nation's purpose to govern itself
But it is not necessary to wait to make every citizen a Christian
before doing this. We did not wait to make every citizen a friend of
universal freedom before inserting the acknowledgment of that truth in the
Constitution. The people who accept Christianity are the controlling mass
of the nation to-day. Let them be aroused to the nation's need and duty,
and they have the pswer as well as the right to make the Constitution
clearly Christian in the natural and legitimate way.

Dec 22, 2004, 12:30:37 PM12/22/04

Objection 7. The Movement is Confined to one or tub

Connected with the preceding objection is this one. Granting, for a
moment, that it is well founded, is it valid? If one Christian
denomination, or one body of people, no matter who they may be, hold an
important truth, is that a reason why others who may be led to perceive it,
should ignore it? Truth is to be maintained and promoted for its own sake,
not out of consideration to those who may hold it, nor for the sake of
popularity. But the objection is not true, in point of fact. The former
President of the National Association to secure the Religious Amendment,
the Hon. Wm. Strong, Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, is
a Presbyterian. The present President, the Hon. Felix R. Brunot, President
also of the Board of Indian Commissioners, is an Episcopalian. The
Vice-Presidents; Secretaries, and Treasurer are men of all the different
Christian denominations, Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists, (Dutch)
Reformed, Lutheran, (German) Reformed, Presbyterians of all kinds, and
other bodies. Even Universalists and Unitarians, separated from so many of
the Christian movements of the day, stand upon the platform of the
Religious Amendment Association, and seek to have our nation as a Christian
nation, base itself on a distinctively Christian Constitution.

Objection 8. The Friends of the Movement are not

No doubt they have made mistakes in some things. They are fallible
beings,., like the rest of-mankind: But, it must be admitted" that they
have had remarkable success. They ascribe this to the divine blessing.
Erring they know they are.But they have always sought the guidance and
blessing of the Hearer of prayer. They believe in the efficacy of prayer,
and they have reason to believe their prayers have been answered. No
similar movement has ever progressed in our country with equal rapidity. In
a few brief years, it has sprung up and spread into a mighty. national
movement. But admit that it has not been managed as wisely as it should
have been. What then? Whose fault is it? The men who have labored in the
cause have done the best they could. If others who have stood aloof had
joined with them in counsels and efforts, no doubt greater wisdom and
larger success would have been the result. If matters are not judiciously
directed, then, friends, do not retire from the stage of action, but show
us " a more excellent way."

Objection 9. It Kindles Excitement, and will Lead to

One of the most prominent of our civil rulers said ".o me
concerning the movement : "Drop it, drop it, I entreat you, drop it. There
is nothing but mischief in it. It will kill any man that touches it. It
will lead to blood." If he meant political "killing," in one remark, as
he no doubt did, there may be truth in what he said. But, thank God there
are some men not afraid of losing political place and popularity.
They put truth and right above political position. In the end, too, they
will gain even the latter. If he meant civil war in another remark, as he
did, doubtless, then it is to be asked, who will be held responsible, if
his foreboding of evil comes true? Anti-slavery men (and this same ruler
was one of them), were met with the same cry And the war carne,. too ,But
were they the cause of it? Their determined agitation of the subject led to
the war, as the occasion of the attack upon the country. But they did
nothing but exercise the right of peaceable discussion. The friends of the
Religious Amendment appeal to no other weapons than reason and logic and
argument. They will peaceably discuss the nation's duty. They expect to
triumph by sound argument under the blessing of the God of truth. If an
attack is made to prevent the nation from avowing itself to be a Christian
nation, it will defend its life and vindicate its civil and religious
liberties against any and every force. The spirit of the Pilgrim and
Revolutionary fathers, who bequeathed to us our Christian institutions of
government, still lives. Besides, it will not avert the disasters of war to
yield unresistingly to the demands of secularism. Revolutionary France has
shown us, for our warning, the legitimate effects of national rejection of

The most of these objections remind one of a remarkable scene in
the Convention that framed the Constitution. For nearly five weeks the
Convention sat without even any proposition for prayer. They were not
progressing well with their important work. Franklin then proposed that
prayers should be offered every morning before proceeding to business.
There had been no acknowledgment of God, and now Franklin and Sherman and
others urged an amendment in the form of a devout acknowledgment by prayer
for divine guidance. But there were objections. Many members of the
Convention urged that however proper a resolution for prayers might have
been at the beginning of the Convention, it was inexpedient at that late
day. t might also "lead the public to believe that the embarrassments and
dissensions within the Convention had suggested this measure." So

the motion was laid on the table, and never afterward called up. (Elliot's
Debates, Vol. V, p. 254).How history repeats itself ! We seem to hear the
same voices to-day. The acknowledgment would have been right at first.
Multitudes say now that they would rejoice had it been incorporated at
first in the Constitution, but now they fear that the public will believe
our national troubles, our political corruptions, our financial
embarrassment, have suggested this measure. And why should they not? If we
do not heed the warning of these judgments, heavier .calamities will surely
come. Besides it may be said in the words of Franklin and Sherman, " The
past omission of a duty cannot justify a further omission."
Such are the objections of many who believe that the nation is and
ought to be a Christian nation. In all sincerity, we ask, are they
sufficient to prevent you, candid reader, from joining the thousands of
every Christian denomination, and even of no denomination who see that the
cause of Christian government' demands an effort to maintain the best
features of our nation's life by their authentication in our organic law?
Are they not all admissions, rather, that such an authentication there
ought to be?
Let us now consider the second class of objections.


Objection 1. " The State has nothing to do with

If this current saying is true, it is a valid objection. But is, it
true ?. Has the state- nothing to do with religion but'" let it alone? ` Is
the",flippant cry, "hands off," echoed even from the judicial bench; the
utterance of sound political philosophy? Let us see. To test a principle it
is well to try its application in a number of instances. The state has
nothing to do with religion, it is said. Has it anything to do with courts
of justice ? Can it examine witnesses and qualify jurors for their solemn
duties without an oath? But is not the oath, an appeal to God as witness
and judge, a matter of religion? Accepting the principle that the state has
nothing to do with religion, the oath must be abolished. So say the logical
and consistent "Liberals" in their demands. Are you ready for that, my
Christian friend ? You must be, if this objection now being considered is
well grounded.
But again. Has the state or nation anything to do with armies? When
it sends soldiers to fight our battles, has it any right to employ
Christian ministers as chaplains to pray with and for our soldiers, and
preach to them the truths of the Gospel? In the day when we were in the
agony of our struggle for national life, no man utter a

word against this connection between the state and religion. If not wrong
then, is it wrong now? So, in those dark and disastrous days, the call to
the nation, by our lamented martyred President, to humble itself in prayer
and fasting before the God of nations, and the resolution of the Senate to
the same effect, were approved as right without a murmur of dissent. Are
such things wrong in times of peace? They must be wrong at all times if the
state has nothing to do with religion.
Once more. Is the inscription on the two-cent and five-cent pieces,
'"n God we trust," a seemly and worthy inscription for our national coinage
? The stamping of the same devout legend on the new trade dollar and the
twenty-five cent piece, just issued from our mint, attest the popular
verdict. But if the state has nothing to do with religion, this religious
declaration is out of place. So say the " Liberals." Are they right? They
are, or the objection is worthless.
In _a word, if this objection is to-have any weight, the Bible must
be expelled from the public school. Sabbath laws must be abrogated, and
every single Christian feature of our national and state governments must
be obliterated. Will you not pause, reader, before you accept
platform ?
In point of fact, the government has always had and from the nature
of things, must have to do with religion. If it has no Sabbath laws, is it
simply neutral in religion?If it knows no Sabbath, and carries on its
affairs on the first day of the week just as on other days, does it not
exclude every Sabbath-keeping Christian from its service ? If it expels the
Bible and all Christian instruction from its schools, must it not
introduce some other moral standard ? It must choose between Christian'
philosophy and anti-Christian philosophy. It must teach history according
to the standard of Christianity, as it passes judgment on the events and
men of the past, or according to some opposing standard. It must decide
between the astronomy of the Bible, and the astronomy of Herbert Spencer or
Prof. Youmans. It must tell its pupils of suns and systems which God
created and upholds, or come to them with Ludwig Buechner's philosophy of
matter and force, from which all mention of a Creator is excluded as
superstition. It must define words of moral and ethical meaning by the
moral standard of the Bible, or it must take the standard of a hostile
system. Neutrality is impossible. The state must have to do with religion,
as every state that ever existed has had to do with it. And if it is right
for the state to educate according to the received religion of the great
mass of its people, and employ the ministers of religion as chaplains for
prisons. the army and navy, state legislature and Congress why, it may well
be asked, should, it riot acknowledge that religion in its fundamental law.

Objection 2. Tie National Constitution is not the place for

There are those who, while not holding that civil government has
nothing to do with religion, still maintain that the United States
Constitution, as a federal arrangement, should leave the subject of
religion entirely to the States. If the Constitution were simply a league
of independent sovereign nationalities, this view would be correct. But the
Constitution is itself the fundamental law of one sovereign nation,
composed of many states. The general government is a true government. The
whole nation, as a unit, is a nation in the true sense. This great moral
being has courts of justice, employs armies And navies, with their
chaplains; and though education is largely left to the individual States,
it has its schools, and its bureau and commissioner of education. In a
word, the nation, as such, as distinguished from the individual States,
exercises functions from which religion cannot be separated; and therefore
the fundamental law of its action should be distinctly stamped with a
religious character.
Moreover, the molding influence of the national Constitution will
surely drive all religious acknowledgments from the State Constitutions if
the defect be not remedied. If a` great and mighty being like the whole
nation needs no acknowledgment of relationship to God and his laws, why
should the comparatively insignificant States trouble themselves on that
score? If the States need to acknowledge God, a forliori, the nation, in
its more momentous interests, requires the same divine guidance and

Objection 3. Why not acknowledge the Holy Ghost, etc. ?

Many a good and honest man has said to me, " I believe all that it
is proposed to insert in the Constitution.Personally, I would like to see
it all there. But why put it there? Personally, I would be satisfied
with the Apostle's Creed, or the Thirty-nine Articles, or the Westminster
Confession. Why not as well put them in . the Constitution ?" It is
singular that intelligent men will talk in this way. The difference is
manifest. The amendment proposes simply an acknowledgment of the nation's
relation to God and his law. The Apostle's Creed and the other symbols
referred to are church creeds. Let churches place them in their organic
law. They find appropriate place in ecclesiastical life and standards.The
Holy Spirit is not revealed as the Ruler of nations. Jesus Christ is King
of kings, and Lord of lords. The proposed amendment takes the four well
settled princples of a nation's relations to God-principles practically

admitted in the history and administration of our government, and aims to
lay them at the very basis of the nation's code of conduct. These
principles are as follows: i. God is the author of the nation's existence.
2. He is the source of its authority. 3. Jesus Christ, King of nations as
well as saints, gives law to nations. 4. The Bible is this law, and the
supreme standard of national conduct. These principles are the sum of
national religion. No truth, however important in itself, if irrelevant to.
a nation, as such, is to be admitted. We propose the acknowledgment by the
nation of its own relations to Almighty God, and Christ, and the Bible. Let
individuals, families, and churches acknowledge what appertains to them in
their respective spheres of action.Much has been said in regard to the
substance of the proposed amendment being good enough in itself; but it is
added, the Constitution is not the place for such ',a religious
declaration. But if, as we have seen, a nation must have to do with
religion if it governs, or acts as a nation at all, and if the Constitution
is the fundamental rule of its action, why should it not declare, in that
instrument, the religious principles of its action? Isn't it frank and
manly for a Christian man to avow the principles of his conduct? Should a
Christian nation do less?

Objection 4- Courts are thus made Expounders of the

Have not our courts always been expounders of the morality of the
Bible ? Is it not their business to determine what is right or wrong
according to the Christian standard ? So far as they have failed in this,
they have brought harm upon the nation. If our legislators and judges and
magistrates would -search the Scriptures," to know what-ought to be done in
every emergency, we would he blessed with better laws than we have, and
they would be more faithfully executed. The morality of the Bible, the text
book of Christianity, is no ambiguous thing. This moral standard is simpler
as well as higher than any other. We would not have standard legal and
judicial authorities studied less, but the rules of national conduct given
in the Bible made the supreme standard, and studied more. To the writers of
the Scriptures our statesmen must go for instruction and guidance. We
cannot afford to do without the lessons of wisdom recorded by those ancient
"As men divinely taught, and better
The solid rules of civil government,
In their majestic, unaffected style,
Than all the oratory of Greece and Rome.
In them is plainest taught and easiest
What makes a nation happy and keeps it so;
What ruins kingdom, and lays cities flat."-
(Paradise Regained, B. IV, 354.)

This would not make our civil rulers church officers. It would make
them students of the Word of God, as they ought to. be. Just as our church
rulers who study their Bibles well are best prepared, other things being
equal, to bear rule in the church, and in so doing are not led to interfere
with the civil ruler's functions, so the civil ruler, studying and
following the Divine Word, would best discharge his political obligations,
and in this would not intermeddle with the affairs of the church. Our
courts have to decide moral questions. The precedents to which they appeal,
scattered through multitudes of law books, so far as they are sound, rest
ultimately on the Bible. Is it out of place for our judges to go to the
fountain of law for themselves ?

Objection .5. It is an Attempt to make Men Religious by

"You can never teach men to acknowledge God by the power of
legislation. It is folly to attempt it." The changes are perpetually rung
on this objection. But what do the objectors say concerning the thirty
State Constitutions which contain, in the preamble, an acknowledgment of
God? Are these thirty instruments, to say nothing of others which
acknowledge God and Christianity in other places than the preamble, so many
attempts at the folly of making men religious by law? The principle of the
objection, consistently carried out, would denude our State Constitutions
of all their religious features. Instead of inserting devout
acknowledgments of God, as is now done in nearly every revision of a State
Constitution, all such existing acknowledgments would have to be
Besides, if the objection has any force, it applies with special
emphasis, to Sabbath laws, laws against profanity and blasphemy, and all
similar enactments. Are not these more direct attempts to make men
religious by law than a religious acknowledgment in the preamble of a
Constitution? So far as a State or nation has to do with religion, its
enactments must be for or against religion, and their influence must tell
upon the religious character of the citizens. The State has no right to
enact laws compelling any one to be a church member or to partake of the
sacraments. But it has a right to say that their conduct as. citizens shall
be conformed to the moral standard of the Christian religion. All good laws
concerning matters of public morals are designed to make men religious in
this sense.
The State cannot force the actions of the soul, in any case, by its
legislation. It looks to the outward conduct. But from this- religion
cannot be dissevered. Our Sabbath laws and laws against cursing and
blasphemy enforce a certain kind of moral or religious conduct. The

proposed amendment is not legislation. It forces nothing. It is designed
as' a legal basis for such Christian laws as already exist. It is a firm
anchorage for the nation, now in danger of drifting with the tide of
irreligion and infidelity from the moorings of her Christian institutions.
It does not propose to force any man to perform any act of devotion or
worship. It is simply an avowal of the nation's right to its Christian laws
and customs, and a denial of the right of certain individuals, who may
choose to be irreligious, to force the nation to be as irreligious as
Objection 6. It is a Premium on Hypocrisy.

If conformity of conduct to righteous law is "hypocrisy," the
nation will not suffer by having the number of "hypocrites" indefinitely
multiplied. The man who may have a strong inclination to work at his
ordinary calling on the Sabbath, but is restrained by a wholesome fear of
the law, is a kind of "hypocrite" that society needs. Such hypocrisy is
encouraged by all our criminal laws. When the Mormons who are among us
become hypocritical enough to curb their more than patriarchal ambition for
a plurality of wives, and submit to the law of monogamy, we shall credit
them with at least one virtue more than they now possess. And the sooner
our nation puts a premium on such Mormon "hypocrisy,". as the States have
by their laws against bigamy, the better. Besides, if there is no hypocrisy
in the acknowledgment, by a Christian man, of his relations to God and his
law, can there be any in a Christian nation's acknowledgment of its
dependence on God and its subjection to his authority.

Dec 22, 2004, 12:30:45 PM12/22/04

Objection 7. It would unite Church and State, or lead to such a

Not infrequently the very persons who have contended that the
proposed acknowledgment in the written Constitution would be a matter of
very little moment, take a new departure, and urge that the religious
amendment would effect a union of Church and State. We might leave these
objections- to an internecine struggle like that of the Kilkenny cats. They
devour each other completely. But having considered one of these already,
it may be well to attend briefly to the other.
Unless the honesty and candor of the friends of the amendment
movement be questioned, it must be admitted that they have no design nor
desire to unite Church and State. They maintain the entire independence of
each of these institutions, and favor the existing safeguards in the
National and State Constitutions against any ecclesiastical establishment.

But to look at the objection itself. Is a religious acknowledgment
in a Constitution of civil government a union of Church and State? This is
the force of the objection. Then nearly every one of all our individual
states is at present in union with the Church. But more. Is it the actual
connection of civil government, as administered, with religion, or the
expression of this connection in the written Constitution, that is most
open to this objection? The State employs the Bible in its schools and
courts of justice; in its prisons and asylums. Is that union of. Church and
State? If so, let every one who urges this objection join the 11 Liberal"
Leagues in their crusade. That is where he consistently belongs. If there
is no union of Church and State in the existing connection of civil
government and Christianity in our country, then the formulating of that
connection in our fundamental law cannot possibly effect the objectionable
"As Prof. Francis Lieber says in his work on "Civil Liberty and
Self-government," '° The great mission which this country has to perform
with reference to Europe requires the total divorce of State and Church-not
religion." (Page 264.) The State and the Church have been divorced in our
country.But Christianity is still linked with the institutions of our
government. This connection, now threatened and imperilled, it is proposed
to maintain and cherish.

Objection 8. It would put into the hands of the Roman Catholics,
should they become a Majority, a Fatal Weapon.

Should Roman Catholics increase in our land so as to be 'a majority
of our people, it would matter little what might be or might not be in the
Constitution. Holding the power, they would exercise it for their own
purposes. Our danger from Roman Catholicism lies in our not having a legal
sanction for the open Bible-the foe of every intolerant and persecuting
system, and the bulwark of all true liberty. Let the Bible be driven from
our schools and courts of justice, and let the terrors of irreligion and
infidelity overwhelm us as they overwhelmed France, and like France we may
be ready to fall into the embrace of Romanism to escape from the anarchy of
atheism. It would be a choice between Scylla and Charybdis. In mediis
tudssimusibis-the only, safe course lies between atheism on the one hand,
and superstition on the other. In this course the free and open Bible is
our national guide, and the acknowledgment of its authority in our
fundamental law, with increasing practical conformity to it, more than
anything else, will ward off the threatening dangers of Jesuitical
influence in our land.

Objection 9. It would be an Infringement of the Rights of

Of all the objections urged against the Religious Amendment, this,
perhaps, has most weight with the people. And if it can be shown that
rights would be infringed upon by the proposed amendment, the objection
would be valid. In a truly free country, all rights, even of the lowliest
and most insignificant of the people, must be held sacred and inviolate.
But the question arises, What are rights of conscience ? Is
anything that any man may call a right of Conscience to be regarded as -ch
by the state, and nothing done contrary to it?Amidst all the multitude of
conflicting religious beliefs among our people, how can the State act at
all without coming into collision with what some citizens will call their
rights of conscience? If every man is to be clothed with a veto power,
and arrest the action of government in everything not in accordance with
his conscientious convictions, we shall have anarchy instead of government.
As a matter of fact, our nation in its government has all along come into
collision with what many are pleased to call their rights of conscience.
Is it a right of conscience of the atheist to prevent the
constitution of government under which he lives from containing an
acknowledgment of God ? Then nearly all our State constitutions infringe
upon this right. Is the acknowledgment, by the state, of Christianity an
infringement of the right of the Jew ? So says the objector. Then our State
governments, by their laws for the observance of the Christian Sabbath,
infringe upon this-right. Would the acknowledgement of God or Christianity
in a constitution which they would have to swear to support, disfranchise
the atheist and the Jew? Then they are already disfranchised by the
governments of many of our States? Thus the infringement of rights of
conscience, on the score of which objection is made to the proposed
amendment, is found already existing in the long-established facts of the
nation's life. And to press the objection is to demand the abrogation of
every theistic as well as every Christian feature of our government.
Suppose this demand were conceded. Would the difficulty be ended?
Expel the Bible from our public schools, and strip all our school-books and
instructions of every shred of Christian character. Let the States know no
difference between the Christian Sabbath and other days of the week. Let
every Christian institution of our government be swept away. Would there
then be no rights of conscience infringed upon? Would there not be an
overwhelming multitude of Christian people who would awake to the fact that

their most sacred and precious rights were violated by a government
administered in connection with the religion, or rather the irreligion, of
anti-Christian secularism?
Thus the question reduces itself simply to this issue: Is the
conscience of the nation, as a unit, or the conscience of dissenting
individuals, to be regarded? In everything where there has been a
collision, the nation has asserted its rights against the so-called rights
of the individual. For example, Wm. Lloyd Garrison regards the exercise and
acknowledgment of the war-power a violation of his rights of conscience..
But the nation exercises and authenticates in its written Constitution this
power, notwithstanding the antagonism of such action to the consciences of
a very large, wealthy, and most respectable portion of American
citizens-the Society of Friends. In like manner it approves and
authenticates, in the Constitution, capital punishment, in opposition to
the consciences of many thousands of individual citizens. Is this an
infringement of right?
On the same principle we maintain that neither the actual
connection of the government with Christianity, nor the expression of that
connection in the organic law, is an infringement of any citizen's right.
God has given to no man the right not to acknowledge him. Much less has he
given to any man or class of men a right to dictate to this great nation
that it shall not acknowledge him. The nation as a republic, has the right
to its chosen of government, and to the authentication of its republican
institutions in its Constitution. The monarchist dwells here, protected in
everything which is not inimical to the Republic's welfare, and is in no
way wronged by the republicanism of the government and the Constitution.
The nation, as a Christian nation, has the right to its connection with
Christianity, and the expression of that in the Constitution. An infidel,
or atheist, or the devotee of any false religion, may dwell here and be
protected in all that is not hostile to our institutions of government. But
he may plead no right of conscience, nor any other right, against the
Christianity of the government, or its constitutional authentication. If
aggrieved by this, he is not compelled to remain under our government. He
may seek a " freer" land elsewhere.
What is the religion of liberty? Is it not, has it not always been,
Christianity? Who is the man most regardful of the rights of others, and
least tyrannical and oppressive? Is it the infidel or the atheist? Let the
blood-drenched streets of Paris answer. Is it not the true Christian? And
what nations, except Christian nations, ever gave liberty to their
citizens? This whole question of rights and liberty

of conscience hinges just here. Is true Christianity, the Christianity of
the Bible, oppressive? The opponents of Christianity answer, "Yes." And as
opponents of Christianity they oppose its connection with our government.
Will any friend of Christianity join them in their consistent infidel cry
of invaded rights of conscience under Christian institutions? If
Christianity is the true religion, and makes no man oppressive, but most
considerate of others, its acknowledgment by the nation, as the rule of
national conduct, cannot certainly be an infringement of the rights of any
citizen or subject. National Christianity is the only true balance of
liberty and law.

Dec 22, 2004, 12:30:53 PM12/22/04

Objection 10. The same Supremacy must be conceded to Jews,
Atheists or others, whenever or wherever they are a

The written Constitution of a Jewish nation, with its Jewish laws
and institutions, should and would undoubtedly be Jewish. So with a Roman
Catholic or Mohammedan nation. A Christian written Constitution for a
nation infidel or atheistic in its laws and customs, if such a nation were
possible, would be a mockery. Better have the written instrument
correspond to the fact. Intelligent Christians in a Mohammedan or pagan
country will not object to having the written Constitution, if there be
one, express the facts of the nation's life. But a majority of Jews or
Mohammedans in some locality in a Christian nation, js a very different
thing from a Jewish or Mohammedan nation. The nation is a unit. Its
interests are the same everywhere. Its laws are supreme within all its
borders.. When the national form of government is republican, no local
majority of monarchists have a right to a local monarchy. The Constitution
ought, as ours does, to guarantee a republican form of government to every
part of the nation. When the nation's policy is protection, no local
majority of free-traders have a right to disregard the tariff laws. Is it
said that these are national interests? Very true. But the vital connection
of a nation's government with the religion of the people is a national
interest of the highest moment. To say that a local majority who may object
to this connection. shall have the right to withdraw and set up their own
moral and religious standard in national affairs, is to assert the
political heresy of secession the mischievous theory of state rights or
sectional rights, which would inevitably destroy the unity, and ultimately
the life, of any nation.
Thus the Religious Amendment movement holds the true theory of
republican government, while at the same time it holds that nations, as
sovereign powers under no human authority above their own, are

amenable to the Supreme Governor, the Ruler of nations, and his moral laws.
This is the only solution of the difficult problem, the balance of liberty
and law-the nation as an organic moral unit, sovereign in all its domain,
under the law of Christianity, the only, perfect law of liberty.

Objection 11. Christ and his Apostles did not seek to have
acknowledged by the Civil Power.

" Did not Christ," it is asked, "distinguish between the things due
to Caesar and the things due to God? Did he not declare, ` My kingdom is
not of this world?'" Most assuredly. But does the fact that certain things
are to be rendered to the civil power rule out Christianity from the
relations between that power and its subjects, and from the relations
between both these and God? Or does the truth that Christ's kingdom takes
its origin not out of this world, and the passage quoted literally reads,
but from a higher source, and that it employs no such power as the sword,
conflict with the equally important truth that Christianity is the most
potent of social forces, ever at work molding and controlling social and
national institutions, and that under its mighty influence the kingdoms or
governments of the world, the political organisms as such, "shall become
the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ ?" It is true, Christ and his
apostles did not ask civil governments to acknowledge Christianity in
written Constitutions. There were no written Constitutions of government in
those days. But they did assert the claims of Christianity as the true
moral standard for all moral agents-all beings under the obligations of
moral law. The standard of Christian morality was with them the standard of
man's conduct in every relation of life, public or private, individual or
national. Through their teachings Christianity has woven itself into close
and rightful connection with our civil government, and the constitutional
authentication of a connection proper in itself is not only just and right,
but it has become, in our present circumstances, as a nation, an imperative

Objection 12. Religion is Dishonored and Degraded.

This savors of the utterances of the Pharisees who blamed Christ for
associating with publicans and sinners. Politics are corrupt, beyond ail
controversy. But is not Christianity the salt of the earth? Our National
Constitution, destitute of the salt of Christianity in a most vital
respect, has fostered the idea among our rulers and people chat moral and
religious qualifications for office are utterly unnecessary. Hence, in no
small measure, the immoralities of our
public men. Not a few who were honest and virtuous to private life, have
soon become infected, in official positions, with the virus of political
infidelity and immorality. Christianity will never fulfill her mission
until her followers cease to fear dishonor and degradation, and set
themselves to their appropriate work of purging political life of its rank
pollutions. Nothing short of Christianity will truly reform and save an
individual; and nothing but Christianity, that holy religion which never
shrinks from contact with Social or private moral diseases which it seeks
to cure, will ever reform or save a nation. This leads to the last

Objection 13. Christianity needs no Support from the

But does not the state need the aid of Christianity? That is the
point in question. No doubt a truly Christian nation will secure such a
state of society as will be greatly helpful to the work of the church. But
there is no concern about the church here. " No weapon that is formed
against her shall prosper." It is not as church members we labor in this
cause. It is as citizens. We are specially concerned for the nation's
welfare. Christianity can and will triumph whether our nation survive or
perish. But the nation cannot prosper and realize the aspiration of her
citizens except by and in connection with the Christian religion. For the
nation's sake, then or the sake of our national institutions; for our civil
and governmental interests; for the welfare of the rising generation of
American citizens, `and for the happiness of generations yet unborn, we
seek to plant the nation on the firm foundation of the divine law for the
rulers and governments of the earth. As patriots, animated by the purest of
motives, and guided by the soundest principles of political philosophy, we
aim to secure for our beloved country the blessedness of that nation whose
acknowledged God is the Lord. (Ps. 144. 15.) Combining genuine patriotism
with fealty to our Lord and Master, who has " on his vesture and on his
thigh a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords," we labor and pray
to have our nation say to Him,
" Come, then, and added to thy many crowns
Receive yet one, * * * *
Thou who alone art worthy."

We have thus gone over briefly, as was necessary in a tract, as
complete a summary as we could make of objections urged against the
Religious Amendment. It is hoped that the substance of no objection has
been overlooked, though other forms of statement, or different aspects of
objections may be met with, notice of which would have
required greater space. It will be seen that the principal objections are
all against the connection of Christianity and civil government. This vital
connection is what is of essential importance. In maintaining this we have
the help of thousands who do not yet see the necessity for the amendment.
When, with the help of these co-laborers, the objections to the connection
of our government with Christianity are overcome, all remaining objections
will speedily fall, and the vindicated connection will be expressed and
stamped with the fiat of the nation's approval ill its fundamental law.
Since the foregoing pages were stereotyped the First Objection has
been brought
to our notice in another form by an eminent citizen of New England. He says
"The Declaration of Independence is really the full Preamble of the
Constitution. It sets forth sentiments and principles ; the Constitution
follows it with rules and regulations.That document, at the outset,
declares it to be a self-evident truth that all men are created equal and
endowed by their Creator with all their rights; and closes with an appeal °
to the Supreme Judge of the World.'"
We are fully sensible of the value of these expressions in the
Declaration. They prove that the nation then owned her allegiance to God.
They vindicate her right, now strenuously denied, to acknowledge God in
public documents. They show that what we propose is consistent with the
spirit and example of our fathers, in the noblest passages of our history.
But we must clearly distinguish between these two documents. The
Declaration is not part of the written Constitution. Its value is
historical rather than legal. It is a deed of the nation which has passed
into history ; the Constitution, as. a law, is an ever-present act of the
nation's will. The argument which is drawn from the silence of the
Constitution concerning God and Religious against all Christian features of
our government as contrary to °` our political covenant," not covered by
the bond, cannot be adequately met by an appeal to the Declaration of 1776.
The Christian Statesman,
Established to discuss the principles of government and passing
political events in the
light of Christianity, to resist the encroachments of secularism, to
maintain Our Sabbath Laws, the Bible in the Common Schools, the Christian
Law of Marriage and Other Christian Features of the American Government,
and to advocate the Religious Amendment of the Constitution of the United
The CHRISTIAN STATSMAN appeals for the support of all thoughtful American
1. Because it gives special attention to the arguments which prove
the historical con-
nection of the American Government with the Christian Religion
2 Because it watches carefully and records faithfully the attempts
which are constant.
ly made t: overthrow the Christian features of our Government.
3. Because it contains full reports of cases in our k- ourts which
involve the relation of
the Government to Christianity. and of the judicial decisions upon them
4. Because it contains the fullest notices of similar discussions
in other lands
5 Because it is a steadfast advocate of Christian union, and has no
sectarian character
Price, $2.00 a Pear; To Ministers, $1.50; To new ~Subscribers for the first
year, $1.00. Address,
The Christian Statesman Tracts No. 6, Answers to Objections to the
Religious Amendment of the United States Constitution. By the Rev. D.
M'allister. (1874)

Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages