This Fourth of July, I opened up the New York Times, and whammo! I found an extremely misleading ad sponsored by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. “Celebrate Our Godless Constitution,” it read. The ad featured pictures of six founding fathers, and cherry-picked quotes that made it appear that these men were die-hard atheists—or at least, did not approve of Christianity influencing our nascent nation’s government.
Now, it’s quite true our Constitution is secular; the founders were well aware of what can happen when kings and countries force a particular religion on its citizens. Think Iran today.
But there’s a big difference between believing a Constitution should be secular, and believing that religion—in this case, Christianity—should have no influence on one’s country and its laws. Five of the six founders listed in the ad strongly believed that America would not survive if her people were godless.
For instance, John Adams warned in 1798, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
George Washington shared this view. In his Farewell Address, the old general said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” And, he added, “Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”