“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”– Treaty of Tripoli, ratified by the United States Senate unanimously without debate on June 7, 1797, taking effect June 10, 1797, with the signature of President John Adams.
The misunderstanding about the purpose behind the American Revolutionary War is disturbing. What follows here is not a diatribe against religion. I have given that up many years ago. It is, however, a response to those who are insistent that the United States of America was founded as a Christian nation and on biblical principles. What you are about to read is a matter of historical record. It has no bias or opinion and does not insult, denigrate, or otherwise bring insult to anyone. It just is.
The reason why we endured those bloody battles was because our forefathers could no longer be part of the Monarchy of United Kingdom. Thus, they felt it mandatory to dissolve our connection with Britain’s history of repeated violations to the basic human rights of those under its rule at the time.
A Little History…
The Royal subjects of the colonial-era British Empire were the constant targets of tyranny. The Monarchy was hostile to what was wholesome and necessary for the public good and it is no secret that the residents of the original thirteen colonies were denied protection unless they agreed to relinquish the right of representation.
In fact, it was not uncommon for entire legislative bodies to be relieved of their duties because they were not in agreement with the Crown. As well, the members of the Royal Armed Forces were held immune to prosecution, no matter how heinous the crimes against the Subjects of the Crown.
Contrary to what many believe, the American Revolution was not about taxes alone and it had nothing at all to do with establishing a nation based on any religious beliefs or doctrines. As the Declaration so aptly states, it was about being deprived of such things as the benefits of trial by jury, for taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and fundamentally altering the forms government without any input from the people.
It was about the Crown suspending its own legislatures and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate in all cases. It was about the ability of the Monarchy to wage war on its own citizens and, without reservation, to plunder their seas, ravage their coasts, burn their towns, and destroy the lives of our ancestors without any judicial or legislative regulation.
The list of charges levied toward the Monarchy, and specifically King George III, in the body of the Declaration are numerous and largely unknown by our own citizenry. The crimes against humanity that were committed by the Crown were egregious and many.
The Declaration of Independence outlines the insistence to individual freedom and a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Its sole purpose was to “dissolve the political bands.” Its authority is based on the idea that “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The common belief that the founding fathers intended to establish the United States on “biblical principles” is not supported by history. Many of the men who signed the Declaration were not Christians. It should also be noted that the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, was a Deist and opposed to religious belief as well as anything remotely supernatural.
This purposeful lack of spirituality is carried forth in the eventual adoption and ratification of the actual governing document, the United States Constitution, which is a secular document that very purposely begins with “We the people” and does not contain any mention of religious beliefs or tenets.
“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State”– Thomas Jefferson
The famous “wall of separation” quote that Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802 also includes the statement that, “the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions.” Our government has no right to promulgate religion.
One Nation Under God
There are continued efforts by various groups to remove the phrase “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. This has and continues to be a very controversial issue. Although I don’t believe this should be a hill worth fighting over, the fact is that those few words were added to the pledge in 1954, under McCarthyism, for reasons I will not address here. Suffice to say, those were not our finest hours. Likewise, “In God We Trust” was absent from paper currency before 1956. Our original motto, chosen by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson was “E Pluribus Unum” (Of Many, One) and was meant to celebrate the plurality of a new free nation.
To be accurate, the United States of America is “One Nation Under a Constitution.” On constitutional matters, there is no “majority rule.” There are laws in place dictating that the majority has no right to tyrannize the minority on matters such as race, creed, color, sexual orientation, gender, or religious belief. The wisest policy is the Constitutional one of neutrality.
The “due process” clause in the Fourteenth Amendment assures no public official may violate the human rights embodied in our Constitution. At every level, the government must respect the separation of church and state.
Nobody is deprived of worship in the United States of America. Tax-exempt religious organizations are everywhere, and the State has almost no say about private religious beliefs and practices.
Our laws are based on the principle of “justice for all.”
Final Thoughts and a Transcription
Please allow me to expand on the one talking point that I am most frequently questioned on. The line in the Declaration of Independence that refers to a Creator. The line actually reads, “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, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This is epic because it does NOT say “The Creator,” but “Their Creator.”
This is important because at the time of the drafting of the document, there were those who believed that the God of the Bible was their creator, but also those from varying religions and spirituality that had strongly held beliefs in the Creators depicted in their holy books and scriptures. There were also those individuals who believed that they were created via non-supernatural ways. This rendered the Declaration of Independence a document for all people, from every walk of life, every spiritual belief, and even those who chose no religious or spiritual beliefs, who wanted and needed the freedoms they were denied by the Crown.
The Declaration of Independence:
In Congress, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose, obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions, We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.