Every Fourth of July we remember the efforts of our Founding Fathers, both on the battlefield and during the fierce debates over declaring independence, to create a propositional nation which would survive both the tyrannical powers of Europe and the destructive tendencies of past republics.
They feared that different factions would divide the country, that state churches would limit religious freedom, that a majority would trample the rights of others, and that one branch of government would grow at the expense of the others. To guard against these threats, they added numerous checks and balances, warnings against tyranny, and obstacles to majority rule.
However, they also believed that these barriers and the rights of which they protected would not stand forever if a growing number of Americans abandoned the Lockean philosophy that inspired the American Revolution and the religions which called them to be both good neighbors and good citizens.
While the efforts of the Founding Fathers to push back against state churches have led to the historical myth that the majority of them supported a strict separation between religion and the state, PragerU has recently released a video that challenges this falsity:
Religion, specifically Judeo-Christian faith, was and continues to be our greatest safeguard against the erosion of our rights and the centralization of power. John Adams believed that we could not survive as an irreligious people. He stated that our Constitution “was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Thomas Jefferson agreed, asking whether “the liberties of a nation be secured when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God, and they are not to be violated but with his wrath?”
Congregationalists such as John Adams, Catholics such as Charles Carroll, and Anglicans such as George Washington recognized the crucial role of religion and fought to ensure that all faiths were tolerated. This was exemplified when George Washington famously reached out to the Jews of Newport to assure them that they were welcome in this new country.
So, on this 4th of July, remember the importance the Founding Fathers placed upon the religiosity of the American people. The Judeo-Christian values of our country’s founding continue to motivate conservatives today to preserve the Constitution and defend our rights to free speech, to bear arms, and the right to life from conception till natural death. We owe these freedoms to the religious beliefs of our Founding Fathers and we ignore this foundation of liberty at our own peril.