We’ve come a long way since the founding era. In his book “Back Fired: A nation founded for religious tolerance no longer tolerates the religion of its founders,” William Federer includes this quote from President George Washington written just ten days after his swearing in:
If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed by the Convention, where I had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical Society, certainly I would never have placed my signature to it.
If I could now conceive that the general Government might ever be so administered as to render liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution…
(To the General Committee of the United Baptist Churches of Virginia, May 10, 1789.)
To get the full impact of William Federer’s terrific book you’ll have to buy it and read it. Here are just a few more quick excerpts.
On July 6, 1775, in the Continental Congress, Jefferson composed The Declaration of the Causes and Necessity for taking up Arms, in which he stated:
“With a humble confidence in the mercies of the Supreme and impartial God and Ruler of the Universe, we most devoutly implore His Divine goodness to protect us.”
On July 4, 1776, Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, which referenced God 4 times:
“Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God….Endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights….Appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of our intenions….With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.”
On April 30, 1802, President Jefferson signed the Enabling Act for Ohio, extending the Northwest Ordinance, which stated in Article III:
“Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, school and the means of education shall be forever encouraged.”
With all the debate over the intended meaning of the First Amendment, it only makes sense that one should look at the person who introduced it. On June 7, 1789, James Madison introduced the First Amendment in the first session of Congress with the wording:
“The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship.”
The intentions of the other delegates who helped write the First Amendment, which was primarily a limit on the Federal Government’s power, can be easily understood by reading the Journals of Congress the three months it was debated. The initial draft of the First Amendment was made by James Madison, of Virginia, on June 8, 1789. His wording was:
“The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed.”
Make no mistake: there is an abundance of such “pretexts” these days. An entire segment would have us believe that someone’s sex life should trump the First Amendment. Those of us who understand the true nature of homosexuality (see links here) are on the side of our Founding Fathers.