christian thoughts about today's issues
TwitterTwitter FacebookFacebook RSSRSS

The Bible and the US Constitution: The Ultimate Measures of America

America as a nation is moving increasingly to the left politically, and clear examples of this phenomenon – and its impacts – exist in the attitudes of our people toward the two most fundamental underpinnings of our nation: The Bible, and the US Constitution.

US Church and State

No matter what modern progressives / liberals say, the United States of America was founded on the God described in the Bible – Old and New Testament. Anyone who does not admit that is deliberately ignoring the preponderance of written materials and artifacts from the 100 years that encapsulate that period of American history. While it is true that exceptions existed (Thomas Jefferson for example left behind quotes that were all over the map on this topic, and Thomas Paine was almost as bad), the weight of the evidence makes that fact clear to any truly objective student of history. While many point to articles that describe all or most of the Founding Fathers as Deist, they are also forced to admit that Thomas Paine was criticized for his Deist position by most of those who founded our nation. The period of American history just preceding the American Revolution was defined principally by the “Great Awakening”. This evangelistic movement occurred in the 1730’s and 40’s, just prior to the Revolution. “Fire and brimstone” types of preachers, such as George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Increase Mather, and John Witherspoon (a signatory of the Declaration of Independence), shaped the religious attitudes and perspectives of the colonists and the founders.  In an insightful article on this topic may be found at. In this summary, Worthington states: “Witherspoon was a personal teacher and mentor of many of our founders, as President and head professor of Princeton College (later the University). A President, a Vice President, three Supreme Court Justices, thirty-seven judges in all, ten Cabinet officers, twelve members of the Continental Congress, twenty-eight Senators, and forty-nine United States congressmen. Even the Deists believed in the God of the Bible, but were isolating Him only as Almighty God, not agreeing that the Godhead consisted of the Trinity. Besides the three Roman Catholics among the Founding Fathers, the Protestant Convention delegates included 28 Episcopalians, 8 Presbyterians, 7 Congregationalists, 2 Lutherans, 2 Dutch reformed and 2 Methodists. These were more definitively identified as believers in the true God of the Bible, yet were Trinitarians in their belief. Most, who consider themselves Christian today, are Trinitarian.”

The evidence is so abundant that it is overwhelming, and it is a source of morbid fascination to me that liberals have filled the internet with so many articles that malign and revise this central element of American heritage. A couple of my favorite quotes include: John Adams and John Hancock: ”We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!” [April 18, 1775], and John Adams: “The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”  He also wrote that: “[July 4th] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.” in a letter written to his wife Abigail on the day the Declaration was approved by Congress.

Here is a larger but still not nearly comprehensive list. Just to drive a stake through the heart of the liberal attack, though, I will list a somewhat broader set of quotes at the conclusion of the article. It is amazing how vile and vitriolic some of the attacks have been. I have seen some poor souls comparing Christianity to Islamic Sharia law, and saying that Christians are trying to get us all return to the Mosaic laws of the Old Testament, even though Christ clearly supplanted those laws and methods over 2,000 years ago. One guy even goes so far as to say that the Bible never says anything against polygamy. I have news for him; On that one point, I believe he is correct. Only in the case of church leaders does the Bible say that they need to be “the husband of one wife”. I have no idea where current law comes from in the United States prohibiting polygamy, but I dare say it didn’t come from the Bible.

But I digress. The point is that the United States of America was at it’s inception a nation founded on the principles of Christianity. Anyone who is familiar with the Ten Commandments and the writings of the Founding Fathers knows this to be true – our coins, our monuments, and our most fundamental documents don’t say “In a Deity We Trust”. Give me a break. In his book “Wall of Misconception”, Peter Lillback points out: “”Over one-third of the citations of our founders come directly from the Scriptures, more than any other book,” he continued. “They were not biblically ignorant. ” Another third of the founders’ citations came from masters of philosophy and law, who were also Christians that relied heavily on the Bible for guidance. “John Locke, Montesquieu, and Blackstone – all of them were Christian thinkers. And that’s two-thirds of our founders’ writings by explicitly Christian thinkers and the Bible.”, Lillback reminds his readers.

The Bible

Moving on, since I clearly haven’t alienated enough people already, I’d like to talk about the Bible. On 2007-MAY-25, Gallup reported the results of a national poll on Biblical inerrancy. The average of polls taken during MAY of 2005, 2006 and 2007 were:

  • 31% believe that the Bible is the actual word of God, and is to be taken literally.
  • 47% believe that the Bible was inspired by the word of God.
  • 19% believe that the Bible consists of ancient fables, history, legends recorded by man.

This reflects a change on the part of Americans polled. As you can see from the illustration below, over time fewer and fewer people are convinced of the literal inerrancy of the Bible. More and more people believe that the Bible is based on the God’s words, but is not a literal translation of the God’s words.

Of course, the fact the number of people who believe something to be true has never been demonstrated to be correlated with the actual truth of a matter; for example, all of his contemporaries believed Columbus would sail off the edge of the Earth, and the whole idea that the Earth rotated around the sun rather than the other way around didn’t work out very well for Galileo. That didn’t make these guys wrong – it just made them very unpopular. What it does tell us, though, is that the world – including the community of self-proclaimed Christians – is becoming increasingly liberal in their thinking. They are much more prone to “interpret” the Bible and biblical doctrine by applying it in diverse ways, making it fit better with changing societal norms and customs. A growing number – already a majority – of Christians no longer consider the Bible to be an immutable yardstick by which Christians determine what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil. These Christians regard the Bible as merely a guide – as generally correct in principle, but not hard-and-fast truth table for day-to-day Christian living. In many respects, the Bible is essentially reduced from the “inspired word of God” to the level of “Chicken Soup for the Soul”.

This of course enables self-professing Christians to embrace concepts like homosexuality in spite of numerous extremely clear condemnations of homosexuality throughout the Bible, and acceptance of women in the pastorate – also in spite of the New Testament admonitions against that practice. In other words, we simply ignore those elements of biblical direction that don’t support what we want to do. It’s very like a child telling his parents that he won’t obey their rules if he doesn’t want to behave that way. It wouldn’t work for child rearing – if Christians are the children of God, why do we believe that approach is appropriate for us? In our human hubris, we appear to believe that we are better at evaluating what is appropriate and inappropriate, acceptable and unacceptable, than the God that created us.

I think that my position related to hubris as the root cause for Christians moving away from believing in the literal Bible is supported to some degree by the fact that increasing levels of formal education are correlated strongly with a lack of belief in the literal truth of the Bible. Again, looking at the Gallup pole mentioned above this is depicted graphically:

Of course we all do this to some degree. The Bible clearly says that lying is a sin, as is gluttony. Yet who among us has never told a lie, and who among us doesn’t carry a little unnecessary weight around? But some areas are more clearly divergent from the will of God, and more likely to impact a greater number of people in a way that causes them to depart from biblical truths in a meaningful way. One thing that the Gospels are pretty clear about is that God has limited patience with His children who mislead their fellow Christians. I think a pretty good explanation of when the Bible should be taken literally is laid out in an web article by Tim O’Hearn, who says: “The rule I usually try to follow is to take the Bible literally when it is presented as literal (i.e. Genesis 1, the historical books). When it is obviously symbolic (Revelation, certain parts of the prophetic works, some conversational passages) take it as symbolic rather than literal. When it is clearly a figure of speech, accept it as such. Where it is unclear whether it is to be taken literally or not, lean toward the literal interpretation.” I think that’s a pretty reasonable course. With so many translations of the original texts, it is impossible for me to believe that any one version is perfectly translated, though some people that I know and respect are adamant about the total veracity of the King James Version. So in the end, while I personally believe that the original texts are literally divinely inspired (“God breathed”), I have difficulty believing that all subsequent translation work has been flawless. (Note that many of my sentences include the words “I think” and “I believe”. You should make your own informed decisions on matters this weighty – but since this is my blog, you get my perspective.) What has happened to church attendance over time, as Christianity and specifically Christianity has adopted increasingly liberal views of the Bible and of its applicability to contemporary Christian life?

One article that offers some insight here was authored by Linda D. Stanley. In it, Stanley observes: “The Gallop Poll reports that Christian Americans are declining in number. The report shows that in the first year of tracking, 1948, 91% of Americans identified themselves as belonging to some form of Christianity. The Gallop report conducted in 2008 showed this number had declined to 77% of Americans who identify themselves as belonging to some sort of Christianity. It appears that the Catholic denominations have remained steady at about 20-23% since the late 1940’s while the Christian sector has declined from high 60% down to a steady stay at 55-57%. It would appear that it is possible that many Americans are moving to other religions that have been popular in other areas. The truth is that this same Gallop poll reports that in 1948 only 2% of Americans reported no religious affiliation while in 2008, 12% of Americans claimed no religious affiliation. It appears that Americans are in fact losing our faith.” Here is a graphic depiction of church attendance spanning an even longer time frame from the Church Of England.

Seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? It might seem at first glance that the easier we are on ourselves as Christianity becomes increasingly liberal, the easier it would be to attend church without feelings of remorse requiring self-examination and repentance. Could it be that as Christianity veers further and further from its steadfast adherence to the primary source of God’s written Word, Christianity becomes LESS relevant to people? In a word: Yes.

What else might we look to in order to identify the impact of leaving biblical principles such as monogamy, fidelity, and so on behind? Well, what about divorce rates? Surely the newly relaxed approach to biblical interpretation would make it easier to stay married, right? After all, the relationships are more open among many, and much more inclusive of various types of partners and arrangements. Living together without being married, for example, has often been cited as a way to assure in advance that a marriage is going to work out. And many states are now “No-Fault Divorce” states, eschewing all accountability in failed marriage situations. Of course we all know that hasn’t quite worked out either. Divorce rates have closely mirrored the increase in liberalism and religious apathy in America. The University of Maryland produced a pretty good chart depicting what happened between the 60s and the 90s, when America took their hard left turn.

Can there any doubt in the mind of a reasonable person that more liberal views from our nation’s pulpits are not serving the families of our citizenry well?

The US Constitution

Whether the US Constitution should be taken literally or interpreted as general guidance applicable to current circumstances in the United States is an ongoing debate. Americans seem to be just about evenly split on this question, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Sounds very much like the discussion around whether the Bible should be taken literally or interpreted, doesn’t it? When it comes to the US Constitution, I am an “Originalist”. I am also a conservative, but these two are not synonymous, as is often incorrectly believed. According to Wikipedia, “It is not accurate to say that originalism rejects change, or that originalists necessarily oppose the use of “the evolving standards of decency” in determining what the Constitution ought to say; rather, originalism rejects the concept that the courts should consider what the Constitution ought to say, but instead rule solely on what it does say. Originalists argue that the business of determining what the Constitution and the law ought to say is within the purview of the Congress, that changes to the law should come through the legislature, and changes to the constitution should be made per the amendment process outlined in Article V. Sometimes this approach yields results that please conservatives (see, for example, Justice Scalia’s dissents in Roper v. Simmons or Romer), and sometimes it yields results that do not (see, for example, Justice Scalia’s dissents in BMW v. Gore or Hamdi v. Rumsfeld).” In otherwords, the Supreme Court should, in my view, interpret and apply the Constitution as originally written – what it says – rather than applying what they believe it ought to say in light of today’s circumstances, in their opinion.

Why is this important? One reason is that from an Originalist’s perspective, where the constitution is silent on a matter (such as abortion for example), judges should not “read rights into” it. Any assertion that Constitution provides a “right” related to abortion, sexual practices, or capital punishment is dead wrong. The Constitution does not speak to them, and hence these matters should not be recognized by the judiciary. The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution says that “[t]he enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” However, there is no such thing as a “right” to an abortion or a same-sex marriage. Our rights are reflected in the Declaration of Independence, in the United States Constitution, and more specifically in the Bill of Rights (See the last pages of this article for a description of each of these, and a web source where you can go to learn more about each of them.)

So, as we become increasingly liberal in our handling of the US Constitution, is there any evidence of a resulting impact on American society, behavior, or social norms that would indicate we are performing better or worse as a nation? Well, one thing we know to be true is that the rate of abortions climbed dramatically since it was legalized in the United States as a result of Roe vs. Wade in 1973. Even normalizing it for sheer population surges by simply looking at abortions per 100 pregnancies, the result is clear.

(Note that this data was compiled by Right to Life – if you don’t trust their data, you may want to look elsewhere for verification or repudiation. I think you’ll find it’s accurate by any objective measure.)

So here is one case where a liberal interpretation (not speaking to an issue where the Constitution remains silent) took America in a direction that I believe is neither consistent with the Founding Fathers’ vision of “inalienable rights” – especially for the unborn – nor with the bests interests of American citizens. The only argument that seems plausible against that position to me is that the unborn are not officially citizens, since they were never actually born in the United States. A ridiculous stretch to be sure, but no farther to go in my view than claiming there is a constitutional “right” to end the life of an unborn child. As to why the number of abortions has abated by about 25% from its peak around 1983, a number of potential explanations have been offered such as post-1973 state-level pro-life legislation, but no one really knows for sure. While the exact number can never be nailed down, what we do know is that more – almost certainly a lot more – unborn children are now being killed than prior to the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision.

What about homosexuality? Again, there is no defined “right” related to sexual orientation in the Constitution. Gay activists have won selected battles to redefine marriage in various states, and strongly advocate a homosexual life style. Yet statistics bear out that a gay lifestyle usually results in more pain and suffering in many areas than a heterosexual lifestyle.  The incidence of everything from murder to communicable disease among this subpopulation is stunning. From time to time someone will read words like these and mount attacks of bigotry and prejudice against the author. However, these are simple points of fact. It’s not me who condemns homosexuality as sin – that’s the Bible. And quoting statistical facts isn’t bigotry or prejudice any more than pointing out that smoking results in high incidence rates for lung cancer, or overeating is related to high incidences of diabetes; it just is what it is.

What else has happened in terms of broad social trends that may be correlated to a liberalizing trend among our most influential lawmakers and political figures since the late 1960s and early 1970s?

US Violent Crime Rate

US Property Crime Rate

As one may observe from the incidence of violent crime and property related crime, the late 1960s and early 1970s provided an environment where both types of crime flourished. Only in the late 1990s, with the advent of four primary factors: Increased numbers of police, increased prison populations (locking more people up for longer periods), a receding crack cocaine epidemic, and legalized abortion. An excellent piece of research in this area was published by The Journal of Economic Perspectives in 2004, authored by Steven Levitt. While the first three causes are intuitive, the last one – that crime went down in the 1990s because abortion was legalized in the early 1970s, makes perfect sense to me. A large percentage of property crimes and violent crimes are committed by late teen to early 20s people. 17 years after abortion was legalized, the portions of our demographic population most frequently arrested for these crimes (the poor) had basically selected themselves for fewer children, and thereby produced fewer people in the demographic that most frequently turns to crime.

And so, broadly speaking, what we observe here is that crime grew increasingly rampant as the United States became increasingly liberal. It took more police, more incarceration, and the killing of significant numbers of unborn children among our most crime-prone population to arrest that situation and bring it back to current levels. This means that as a nation the United States decided that it preferred to throw disciplined adherence to conservative principles away, and compensate for the results by killing a substantial part of the population before they could be born, and incarcerating a higher number of the remainder. Interesting approach. The cost of taking this path, in dollars and in lives, certainly bears examination.

Summary

In summary, I believe an objective review of broad trends in American society over the last 50 years demonstrates that the United States has moved and continues to move further from its founding principles and underlying philosophy. As it does so, America becomes weaker from a moral perspective, and trades the lives and welfare of its most helpless and disadvantaged population subgroups for a “tolerance” that is unhealthy and debilitating to families and to society overall. Returning to more conservative principles and lifestyles from a place of liberalism and apathy is not an easy process, and frankly, I see no evidence that America as a whole has the stomach for it.

What do you think?

Selected Quotes of the Founding Fathers About Christianity

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.” Thomas Jefferson, 1781.

“We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.” Benjamin Franklin, a statement he made at the Constitutional Convention, on June 28, 1787.

“I have tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty; through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a sinner. I look to Him for mercy; pray for me.” Alexander Hamilton’s last dying words, July 12, 1804.

“This is all the inheritance I give to my dear family. The religion of Christ will give them one which will make them rich indeed.” Patrick Henry in Last Will and Testament, November 20, 1798.

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” James Madison The Father of the U.S. Constitution.

“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge THE Providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and to humbly implore His protection and favor.” George Washington October 3, 1789 Proclaiming a National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving.

“Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only Law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited… What a paradise would this region be!” John Adams, 1756.

“An appeal to arms and the God of hosts is all that is left us. But we shall not fight our battle alone. There is a just God that presides over the destinies of nations. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone. Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death.” Patrick Henry, 1775.

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great Nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religious, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.” Patrick Henry, 1776.

“I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our Creator and, I hope, to the pure doctrine of Jesus also.” Thomas Jefferson, Written on the cover of his personal Bible.

“It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible. Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, our religion and morality are the indispensable supporters. Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that our national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” George Washington, Farewell Speech, Sept. 19, 1796.

“Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb and purge my heart by thy Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of thee and thy son, Jesus Christ.” George Washington, written in his personal prayer book.

“We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and true religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams, 2nd US President.

“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” John Quincy Adams, 6th US President.

“The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.” US Congress, 1782.

The Bill Of Rights

The amendments that became the Bill of Rights were the last ten of the twelve amendments proposed in 1789. The second of the twelve proposed amendments, regarding the compensation of members of Congress, remained unratified until 1992, when the legislatures of enough states finally approved it; as a result, after pending for two centuries, it became the Twenty-seventh Amendment.

The first of the twelve, which is still technically pending before the state legislatures for ratification, pertains to the apportionment of the United States House of Representatives after each decennial census. The most recent state whose lawmakers are known to have ratified this proposal is Kentucky in 1792, during that commonwealth’s first month of statehood.

Subsequent amendments (11 to 27)

Wikisource has original text related to this article:

Additional amendments to the United States Constitution

Amendments to the Constitution after the Bill of Rights cover many subjects. The majority of the seventeen later amendments stem from continued efforts to expand individual civil or political liberties, while a few are concerned with modifying the basic governmental structure drafted in Philadelphia in 1787. Although the United States Constitution has been amended 27 times, only 26 of the amendments are currently in effect because the twenty-first amendment supersedes the eighteenth.

One Response to “The Bible and the US Constitution: The Ultimate Measures of America”

  1. Dear Mr. Duncan,
    I completely agree with you that “the United States of America was founded on the God described in the Bible – Old and New Testament.” I also believe that the US Constitution was written with the sovereignty of Christianity in the political dominant backdrop. The problem is that the traditionally generous and carefree Americans just allow someone to contort the US Constitution without limit. For example, if we read more carefully, the First Amendment uses the term “an establishment of religion”, but not “religion”, or not even “Establishment of religion”. There is a complete difference which term has been used in this particular law. Plotters against America, especially those who are against Christianity, always take “an establishment of religion” as “religion” to serve their conspiracy. If you allow, may I cordially invite you to examine my article “USA, a Country of Christianity?It Is the Law” at the website http://www.huntune.net? I’ll feel tremendously honored if you would like to send me your critique and advice.
    As your article presents, morality in America is in avalanche. We are losing a culture war. Only Christianity can help stop the further debacle, and only after Christianity regains its legal ideological throne entitled by the US Constitution can we reverse the current cultural calamity in this nation.
    Thank you very much
    Truly Yours
    Cameron Rebigsol

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

Powered by WordPress | Designed by Elegant Themes