Few people would disagree with the notion that the USA is, or at least was, one of the greatest nations on the face of the earth. Within a relatively short amount of time (23 decades or so) we have grown in strength and influence to be the premier power on the earth today, yet there are some significant challenges.
Many times people complain about ‘the way things are going’ in this country. Some people think that it’s because we are too rigid in our thinking and laws. Others think we are far too lenient in what is – and is not – defined as illegal activity. The unfortunate truth, however, is that the great majority of citizens in the United States don’t know what to think about the direction we as a nation are headed in.
The alternative problem is that even if they do know what to think about these things, they lack the drive or determination to get involved. These are dangerous and irresponsible attitudes, and we should make every effort to bring to people’s remembrance the principles and thoughts which directly led to the founding of this country. Only by understanding our past can we gain an appreciation for where we stand now, in relation to the ideals and principles which prompted the formation of America.
The underlying motivation by the Founding Fathers for the formation of our government and the laws of this country was a desire to maintain adherence to Christian thought and influence. Some reject this idea (the mythical ‘separation of church and state’), but that rejection doesn’t make sense when we consider the actual writings and opinions of those who were involved. The overwhelming majority of the men who worked toward the building of this new country (as well as the individual state governments) were predominantly Christians, or at the least deists. This fact is brought out time and again by their specific references to Scripture and Biblical principles. The Bible and Christian thought were so integral in society that governmental leaders often placed Scripture quotations upon various government buildings.
There has been an increasingly strident call for the ‘separation of church and state,’ with people claiming that America was formed as a totally secular nation. Their objections to prayer, the reading of the Word of God and other religious displays causes them to go into a frenzy; so much so that people are often afraid to mention God, Jesus or Christianity in a public setting. That kind of censure – in NO WAY – was what the Founding Fathers intended for how our republic was to operate.
The Founding Fathers made it a point to give credit where credit was due and that credit was given to God and, in many instances, His Son Jesus Christ. To get a better understanding of how they wanted our government to operate we need to look at what they said so we can gain insight into the thoughts, opinions and intentions they had when forming the government of the United States of America.
John Jay was born Dec 12, 1745 in New Your City, and died May 17, 1829. He went to school at King’s College (Columbia University) and continued in his study of law under the tutelage of Benjamin Kissam. He attended the first Continental Congress and was President of the Third Continental Congress, helped in the formation of the New York Constitution and also served as that state’s first Chief Justice. He was involved in international negotiations and treaty formations and was appointed as Secretary of Foreign Affairs. He was also appointed to be Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court by George Washington, and went on to be elected Governor of New York.
During his tenure in that position he worked for the abolition of slavery, strove to increase the economic infrastructure of the state and addressed many political and judicial reforms. As one of the Founding Fathers, and because of his involvement in so many aspects of American law, he should be considered a ‘heavy hitter’ when considering his sentiments regarding the intents and laws of this country.
When it comes to what we do or do not think is appropriate regarding the influence and inclusion of Christianity in the laws of this country, we have a great source of experience and wisdom in the person of John Jay. By examining what he stated about the intentions of American government we can gain a first-person perspective of what should, and should not, be considered acceptable in public displays of service and speech.
“It certainly is very desirable that a pacific disposition should prevail among all nations. The most effectual way of producing it, is by extending the prevalence and influence of the gospel. Real Christians will abstain from violating the rights of others, and therefore will not provoke war. Almost all nations have peace or war at the will and pleasure of rulers whom they do not elect, and who are not always wise or virtuous. Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” Letter to John Murray (12 October 1816) as published in The Life of John Jay (1833) by William Jay, Vol. 2, p. 376
“We perceive that a great breach has been made in the moral and physical systems by the introduction of moral and physical evil; how or why, we know not; so, however, it is, and it certainly seems proper that this breach should be closed and order restored. For this purpose only one adequate plan has ever appeared in the world, and that is the Christian dispensation. In this plan I have full faith. Man, in his present state, appears to be a degraded creature; his best gold is mixed with dross, and his best motives are very far from being pure and free from earth and impurity.” Letter to Lindley Murray (22 August 1774), as published in The Life of John Jay (1833) by William Jay, Vol. 2, p. 345.
“It appears to me that the gospel not only recognizes the whole moral law, and extends and perfects our knowledge of it, but also enjoins on all mankind the observance of it.” The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, Henry Johnston, editor (New York: G. P. Punam’s Sons, 1893), Vol. IV, pp. 391-393.Tags: America American government Christian duties Christianity George Washington John Jay Politics religion in government secular government