The Founders of our nation, as individuals, were not alone in their understanding of the intimate relationship between religion, morality and freedom. Congress itself understood this. Not many today know that the original Capitol Building was a church and one of the first acts of Congress was to hold a religious service. The Capitol Building continued to serve as a church until after the Civil War.(*) The belief, in religion and morality, by the members of Congress is well documented (emphasis added):
"Whereas true religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and
Continental Congress October 12, 1778(*)
"Laws will not have permanence or power without the sanction of religious sentiment without a firm
belief that there is a Power above us that will reward our virtues and punish our vices."
House Judiciary Committee March 27, 1854(*)
"Whereas, the people of these United States, from their earliest history to the present time, have been
led by the hand of a kind Providence and are indebted for the countless blessings of the past and
present, and dependent for continued prosperity in the future upon Almighty God; and whereas
the great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure
doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it eminently becomes the representatives
of a people so highly favored to acknowledge IN THE MOST PUBLIC MANOR their reverence
for God: therefore, Resolved, That the daily sessions of this body be opened with prayer and
that the ministers of the Gospel in this city are hereby requested to attend and alternately
perform this solemn duty."
United States House of Representatives 1854(*)
Congress was not the only governmental body that recognized the roots of our legal system in the Christian religion. Many early judicial opinions also expressly address this:
"Religion and morality were pleasingly inculated and enforced, as being necessary to good government, good order, and good laws, for 'when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.'"
William Paterson Signer of the U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court Justice 1793-1806(*) (*) (*)
"Religion is of general and public concern, and on its support depend, in great measure, the peace
and good order of government, the safety and happiness of the people."
Runkel v. Winemiller, 1799(*)
"Human law must rest its authority, ultimately, upon the authority of that law, which is divine......Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other."
James Wilson, signer of both the Declaration and the Constitution, Supreme Court Justice(*)
"[W]hatever strikes at the root of Christianity, tends manifestly to the dissolution of civil government....because it tends to corrupt the morals of the people, and to destroy good order. Such offences have always been considered independent of any religious establishment or the rights of the church. They are treated as affecting the essential interests of civil society."
People v. Ruggles, 1811(*)
I know these must sound odd, in light of court decisions in the past century, but, prior to that period, there were many Justices who actually reviewed the law based on the Original Intent of the Founders and held opinions such as the above. We will examine how the Court became what Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy describes as "a national theology board"(*), later, in The Perpetrators.
In the beginning of the section on the Religious Foundations of American Law, we set out to examine four stipulations:
1. The Founders were a religious people
2. The dominant religion of the Founders was the Christian Religion
3. The ideas, ideals, beliefs and principles, of the Founders, were derived, in part, from what is
commonly called the Judeo-Christian Ethos.
4. The basic principles of the Judeo-Christian Ethos are an inherent part of our Constitution, laws
and system of government.
In examining these four stipulations we did not set out to prove that belief, or lack of belief, in the Judeo-Christian religion was necessary to prove these points. Our examination was based on the presence of, or lack of, evidence to support them - as they were stated. In our evidence we not only looked at the evidence supporting these points, we also looked at a representative example of the most common "argument" against them.
The historical evidence supports the first two points beyond any reasonable doubt. The key to the proof, of the last two points, lies in understanding the definition of the term Ethos - "The disposition, character, or fundamental values peculiar to a specific person, people, culture, or movement.". With this understanding, an examination of the factual evidence supports, beyond a reasonable doubt, that - in a major part - the ideas, ideals, beliefs and principles of our founders - and - our Constitution, laws and system of government are, in fact, based on the principles - not the theology or dogma, but the basic principles - of the Judeo-Christian Ethos.
NEVER FORGET !
RELIGIOUS FOUNDATIONS OF AMERICAN LAW