Life Is Worth Living- Founding Fathers and The Classical Lie
No, we are not talking about Washington Irving’s concept of George Washington about not telling a lie when confronted about who chopped down the cherry tree. We are talking about what has happened to our nation since 1947. In that year Justice Hugo Black, in his opinion for the majority in the Everson Case, completely rewrote history. Now, if you were from the Baby Boom generation or a later generation, you grew up learning that the Founding Fathers were very careful about putting a strict line or wall between the Church and State. Now through the magic of writings of Bishop Sheen and some background on his writings we will see that was not so.
On page 141 of his 1943 Book entitled, Philosophies At War, Bishop Sheen wrote, “ The United States Supreme Court, on February 29, 1892, after an elaborate review of legal decisions, laws, and constitutional history declared: "The reasons presented affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious . nation. . . .**
On that date the Supreme Court of the United States made their decision on Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States. The case was about regarding an employment contract between The Church of the Holy Trinity, New York and an Anglican Priest from England. An 1885 law forbade (Alien Contract Law) and prohibited the importation and migration of foreigners and aliens under contract to perform labor or service of any kind in the United States, its territories or Washington D.C.
Justice David Brewer wrote in the decision he based his decision on turning to the Constitution where he offered the First Amendment and the “Sundays excepted” provision in Article 1 as evidence of the importance of religion in the United States. He also found throughout American life — from its laws to its businesses, customs, and multitudes of churches, charitable organizations, and missionary associations — further evidence that “this is a Christian nation.”
In 1892, Associate Supreme Court Justice David Josiah Brewer wrote a unanimous court opinion declaring ... “This is a Christian nation.” “I insist that Christianity has been so wrought into the history of this Republic, so identified with its growth and prosperity, has been and is so dear to the hearts of the great body of our citizens, that it ought not be spoken of contemptuously or treated with ridicule,” he wrote. Justice Brewer served on the U.S. Supreme Court for 20 years and became known for his relentless exhortation of Christians to perform their moral, religious and citizenship duties to the nation. Yet today, Justice Brewer's words are lost on a secularized society whose citizens recoil from the notion that America's laws should come from a religious conscience. When is the last time anyone in America heard of a legislator offering a law because of his or her Christian beliefs? We are a Christian nation because the people in America are decidedly Christian. Still, our laws, institutions and policies are quickly becoming unchristian, mainly because Christians have been committing political suicide for nearly a century. Blame it on Supreme Court rulings, media bashings, secular education or weak churches; Christians in America routinely censor themselves out of fear of violating some fictitious “separation of Church and State” standard. As Christians we should neither be embarrassed nor cowardly in projecting our faith into the laws of the nation. Christian laws and principles are the foundational concrete upon which the American justice system and guiding doctrines were founded. Whether the United States is a Christian nation matters only if Christians have dominance in America—over its government, social institutions, media, education, social networks, businesses, entertainment, policies, goals and justice system. If Christians are merely spectators, their overwhelming numbers do not matter. They will be merely spectators at a football game, outnumbering the players but unable to make the rules or determine an outcome that will affect not only the teams, but the spectators as well. Christians must ask themselves: Why should we allow the unbelieving, the Jesus-haters, those who mock Christianity, to rule over our lives? They cannot, unless we allow them to. We still have the ball. We have the numbers. But we need to rise up from our seats and perform our Christian duty to America.
This was an opinion of a US Supreme Court Justice, where has our faith in government gone? Why has it changed? I thought that it was always that way, or maybe that is what they would like you to believe. Let us go back to words of Bishop Sheen in his 1943 book.
Page 141, Bishop Sheen wrote: As George Washington said: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness. . . . We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which heaven itself has ordained." And Abraham Lincoln once said: "It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with the assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that these nations alone are blessed."
The First Amendment was created to make sure government would never get big enough to control the Churches like they did in Europe. The concept of government control of the Church or, better yet, throwing the Church out of government, was a modern invention of Hugo Black. The Wall of Separation that Thomas Jefferson was referring to in his letter to the Danbury Baptist Association was not intended to be the law of the land, rather it was an assurance that government of Jefferson was not interested in getting involved in the matters of the Church. This is a far cry from how it got twisted into a total separation of Church and State. Non-involvement is not non-existence for the Church in the public square.
The First Amendment also said that Congress shall make no laws that prohibit the free exercise of the freedom of religion in our country. When a majority of Justices wrote the decision in Everson, the impact was very large. One edict completely changed how we view the United States and religion. From that one decision, we have changed the course of our country. We have changed the course of our history and we have changed our eternal destiny. Before the change, over 65% of the people attended Church regularly weekly. A vast majority of them did so more than twice a week. Confession numbers were high, and religious education was training over 85% of the youth to have all of their Sacraments. Now everything is much different.
Who would have guessed at all of these problems, maybe we need to look back at the prophetic words of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen and see that downfall of America began almost at the same time as the high point of society, and it evolved around our understanding and relationship with God.
Stand up and be Ready. We will need you in the times to come.