Minden Press-Herald

Wednesday
Oct 01st

Once a Christian Nation

Baswell"Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation."

Those were the words of President Barack Obama on June 28, 2006. Is he right? What were we as a nation long ago? Were we a Christian nation? Were we founded on Judeo-Christian principles? Is there a good way to determine what we were in the beginning?

The United States Constitution went into effect June 21, 1788, when two-thirds of the states ratified it. What was in those original 13 state constitutions concerning religion at the time those states ratified the U.S. Constitution? That's the best way to determine "whatever we once were." I have added capitalization for emphasis.
Delaware was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Its 1776 state constitution stated, "Every person...appointed to any office...shall...subscribe... 'I...profess faith in GOD THE FATHER, and in JESUS CHRIST His only Son, and in the HOLY GHOST, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration.'"

Pennsylvania was the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Its 1776 state constitution, signed by Ben Franklin, stated, "Each member, before he takes his seat, shall...subscribe... 'I do believe in one GOD, the CREATOR and GOVERNOR of the Universe, the Rewarded of the good and the Punisher of the wicked. And

I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration.'"

New Jersey was the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Its 1776 state constitution stated, "All persons, professing belief in the faith of any PROTESTANT sect, who shall demean themselves peaceably under the government...shall be capable of being elected."

George was the fourth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Its 1777 state constitution stated, "Representatives shall be chosen out of the residents in each county...and they shall be of the PROTESTANT religion."

Connecticut was the fifth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. It retained its 1662 Colonial Constitution, which was established PROTESTANT CONGREGATIONAL, until 1818. It stated, "By the Providence of GOD...having from their ancestors derived a free and excellent Constitution...whereby the legislature depends on the free and annual election...The free fruition of such liberties and privileges as humanity, civility and CHRISTIANITY call for."

Massachusetts was the sixth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Its 1780 state constitution, written by John Adams, stated, "Any person...before he...execute the duties of his...office {shall} subscribe... 'I...declare, that I believe the CHRISTIAN religion, and have a firm persuasion of its truth.'...The legislature shall...authorize the support and maintenance of public PROTESTANT teachers of piety, religion and morality."

Maryland was the seventh state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Its 1776 state constitution stated, "No other test...ought to be required, on admission to any office...than such oath of support and fidelity to this State...and a declaration of a belief in the CHRISTIAN religion."

South Carolina was the eighth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Its 1778 state constitution stated, "No personal shall be eligible to a seat...unless he be of the PROTESTANT religion...The CHRISTIAN PROTESTANT religion shall be deemed...the established religion of this State."

New Hampshire was the ninth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Its 1784 state constitution stated, "No person shall be capable of being elected...who is not of the PROTESTANT religion."

Virginia was the tenth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Its 1776 state constitution and bill of rights, written by James Madison and George Mason, stated, "It is the mutual duty of all to practice CHRISTIAN forbearance, love, and charity towards each other."

New York was the eleventh state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Its 1777 state constitution stated, "The United American States...declare... 'Laws of nature and of NATURE'S GOD...All men are created equal; that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable rights...Appealing to the SUPREME JUDGE of the world...A firm reliance on the protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE'..."

North Carolina was the twelfth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Its 1776 state constitution stated, "No personal, who shall deny the being of GOD or the truth of the PROTESTANT religion, or the DIVINE authority either of the Old or New Testament, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding...office."

Rhode Island was the thirteenth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. It retained its 1663 Colonial Constitution until 1843 and it stated, "By the blessing of God...a full liberty in religious concernements (sic)...rightly grounded on GOSPEL principles, will give the best and greatest security...in the true CHRISTIAN faith and worship of GOD...They may...defend themselves, in their just rights and liberties against all the enemies of the CHRISTIAN faith."

Although many Americans have abandoned and/or deny this country's ties to the past, the documents don't lie. We were once a Christian nation. But, in what is a testimony to the ongoing tolerance of this country's Christians, compared to other countries and other religions, the aforementioned states extended religious freedom to everyone, including atheists.

On March 27, 1854, the 33rd Congress voted unanimously to print a report by Representative James Meacham, and it stated, "At the adoption of the Constitution, we believe every State—certainly 10 of the 13—provided regularly for the support of the Church as for the support of the Government...Down to the Revolution, every colony did sustain religion in some form. It was deemed peculiarly proper that the religion of liberty should be upheld by a free people...Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle."

When the Founding Fathers look at post-Christendom America, they must turn over in their graves. We know what we once were, but the relevant question these days is, "What are we now?" The answer? We are not anywhere close to what we used to be. We are a secular nation, adrift on a sea of immorality and moral relativity. We are spiritually bankrupt.

The next question is, "Where are we going?" The answer? If another "Great Awakening" does not come, we are headed for disaster.

Ed Baswell pastors The Clarion Church and is the host of Crossfire Radio, Monday through Friday, 7-9 am. The show is aired on the KTBS-TV 24-hour news channel and on The Promise, 90.7 FM. It is streamed live worldwide at ktbs.com and promisetalkradio.org. His column runs on Tuesday in the Minden Press-Herald.

 

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