In a recent speech, Hillary Clinton declared that certain "religious beliefs" are a hindrance to her vision for America.
Obviously referring to evangelical Christians and their views on life and marriage, she made it clear that she wants to aggressively confront and change this "wrong thinking" in American society, telling her liberal audience, "Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed."
What is troublesome is that she would bring this change, not by employing persuasive arguments, but by the brute force of governmental power. In a conversation with activists from the "Black Lives Matter" movement, she said, "I don't believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate."
Like the old secularist Soviet empire, Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) would use the strong arm of government to force a change in the religious beliefs that they deem unacceptable and threatening to their vision. This would explain why they were silent just recently when a federal judge blocked a Mississippi high school band from performing at their school's football game simply because their repertoire included the Christian hymn, "How Great Thou Art." That hymn obviously expresses the sort of "religious beliefs" she and the DNC want to change.
By way of contrast, Benjamin Franklin, one of America's most nonreligious founders, was an advocate of religious liberty and wanted Christian principles and values taught in every public domain. Contrasting Hillary with Franklin highlights how far she and the DNC have strayed from the vision of America's Founders.
Although Franklin questioned certain aspects of Christian doctrine during his life, he believed Christian virtue and morality to be absolute necessities for a stable society and prosperous nation. Franklin would vehemently oppose Clinton and the DNC because of the following three positions he held concerning God, liberty, and government.
Position #1: Franklin Wanted God in the Government
Whereas Clinton wants God out of government, Franklin wanted God to be a vital part of government. This was made obvious early in his career when war between Spain and Great Britain erupted in 1739.
Concerned that a Spanish warship could visit their coast, Franklin led the way in organizing citizen militias and building fortifications with cannons at the edge of the city of Philadelphia. He then proposed that the Assembly and civic leaders issue a call for a day of prayer and fasting, "to implore the blessing of heaven on our undertaking."
The people of Philadelphia had no knowledge of a public day of prayer and fasting, but Franklin was able draw on his Puritan roots in New England where public days of prayer and fasting had been observed since the time the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth in 1620. He wrote:
"They embraced the motion; but as it was the first fast ever thought of in the province, the secretary had no precedent from which to draw the proclamation. My education in New England, where a fast is proclaimed every year, was here of some advantage. I drew it in the accustomed style; it was translated into German, printed in both languages, and divulged through the province" (Hyatt, The Faith & Vision of Benjamin Franklin, 39).
Franklin and all of Pennsylvania, including government officials, thus participated in a day of prayer and fasting, imploring God's blessing and protection on their colony. Even at this early stage of his life he obviously saw no conflict between God, prayer and government.
That Franklin wanted trust in God to be a part of governmental affairs was also made clear when he called the Constitutional Convention to prayer in 1787. He began his address by reminding the delegates that during the war when they were sensible to danger, they had daily prayers in that very room where they were hammering out the American Constitution.
Addressing George Washington, the Convention president, he said, "Our prayers, sir, were heard and they were graciously answered." Then reminding the delegates that they needed God in the building of the nation, he went on to say:
"I have lived, sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?" (Hyatt, The Faith & Vision of Benjamin Franklin, 62-63).
Clinton and the DNC would have opposed these prayer events proposed by Franklin. Based on their twisted understanding of the First Amendment, they support the removal of all Christian expressions and symbols from the institutions of government.
Franklin, by contrast, believed Christian prayers and expressions of faith should not only be allowed, but encouraged in the public square. He obviously wanted government officials to be free to publicly pray for God's blessing on the nation and His assistance in their civic duties.
Position #2: Franklin Believed Religious Liberty Should Extend to the Marketplace
Clinton and the DNC have supported lawsuits filed by homosexual activists against small business owners who politely declined to provide services for same-sex weddings because it violated their consciences and religious convictions.
Instead of doing the polite and civil thing and going down the street to a business owner who had no scruples with their lifestyle, these activists have sought, by governmental force, to coerce these devout Christians to act against their consciences. This is known as "tyranny."
Franklin, by contrast, believed religious liberty extended to every aspect of American life including the marketplace. This was borne out when the well-known Deist, Thomas Paine, sent him a manuscript copy of a book he had written challenging the idea of a providential God and other aspects of orthodox Christianity.
Franklin, who was a printer, refused to print the book and in very strong language urged Paine to not even allow anyone else to see it. He wrote:
"I would advise you, therefore . . . to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person; whereby you will save yourself a great deal of mortification by the enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of regret and repentance. If men are so wicked with religion [Christianity], what would they be if without it" (Hyatt, The Faith & Vision of Benjamin Franklin, 49).
Can you imagine the lawsuits from liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union if Franklin were alive today! It shows to what extent our modern politicians and bureaucrats are out of step with the founders of this nation, even the most nonreligious ones.
Franklin was a strong advocate for religious liberty for personal reasons. His father and his grandfather on his mother's side, who were devout Christians, fled religious tyranny in England and came to America to find the liberty to live out their Christian faith.
Franklin believed that this liberty should extend to every area of American life, including the marketplace. For this reason, he would be detested by Hillary Clinton and the DNC and he would vehemently oppose their liberal, socialist policies.
Position #3: Franklin Wanted Christianity Taught in the Public Schools
Clinton and the DNC agree with the purging of Christian prayers, expressions and symbols from the public schools. They did not protest even when a kindergartener in Florida was confronted by a teacher and told prayer was not allowed when she bowed her head to pray over her lunch. Franklin, on the other hand, believed the teaching of Christian values to be an absolute necessity for a stable society and he wanted Christianity taught in every public venue, including public schools.
In the fall of 1749, Franklin founded the "Public Academy of Philadelphia," which was underwritten with public funds. In a letter to his revivalist friend, George Whitefield, Franklin informed him that that the students would learn "the value of public and private religion" and "the excellency of the Christian religion above all others."
Franklin arranged for the different Christian churches to be equally represented on the board of trustees, choosing one Anglican, one Presbyterian, one Baptist, one Moravian, one Quaker, etc. to serve in this capacity. Showing his desire for a profound Christian influence in the school, he handpicked the first provost from the clergy, a Reverend William Smith.
To house the school, they were able to acquire a large building that had been built some years previous to accommodate the large crowds that had turned out to hear Whitefield preach in Philadelphia. Franklin negotiated the settlement for the building, which included an agreement that the school would "keep forever open in the building a large hall for occasional preachers, according to the original intention."
The Academy flourished and today is the University of Pennsylvania.
Franklin wanted Christianity taught in public schools because he believed Christian virtue and morality to be absolutely necessary for a stable society and prosperous nation.
Franklin would be detested by Clinton and the DNC who are in favor of purging Christianity from the public schools because of their twisted perception of the First Amendment. In this regard, Hillary and the DNC are out of touch with even the most nonreligious of America's Founders.
Franklin would staunchly defend the right of Christians to express their faith in the public arena. He would be appalled to hear that Marine Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling was ordered to remove a Bible verse from her work station and then court-martialed when she declined to do so. He would be shocked at a federal judge ordering a high school band not to perform because one of their songs was a Christian hymn. Franklin would consider the government's use of force against these people of faith a form of tyranny.
He would have no problem with expressions of faith in the public arena because he knew the truth of the First Amendment. He knew it was passed to keep Congress from ever establishing a national, state-supported church, and nothing more. That the First Amendment had nothing to do with keeping God out of government is obvious from the fact that the day after its passage, Franklin and his fellow founders proclaimed a national day of prayer for the nation.
The gulf between Clinton and America's nonreligious founder is indeed wide. She and the DNC have bought the liberal lie that the First Amendment was written to secularize America by excluding expressions of faith from public institutions.
For these reasons Benjamin Franklin, one of America's most nonreligious founders, would be vehemently opposed to Clinton, the DNC and their vision for America.
Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt is an author, historian and Bible teacher. He has written numerous books on spiritual awakening, church and church history. You can check out all his books on Amazon at his Author's Page. To read about his vision for another Great Awakening, check out his website at eddiehyatt.com.
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