"Americans United for the Separation of Church and State," a liberal group that opposes Christian symbols and speech on public property, wrote a letter to Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, telling her that the chalk cross her children drew on the driveway of the governor's mansion was a "problem."
They claimed that the "religious display" violates the "Establishment Clause" of the U.S. Constitution and should be removed.
Governor Sanders politely, but strongly, rejected their argument, saying:
"Our founding documents are riddled with religious language—stating plainly that the very rights you claim to defend are 'endowed by our Creator.' You are asking me to ignore that truth and hide a crucial part of my identity, and the identity of my kids. That, I will not do."
She was absolutely right to refuse their request and here are five historical facts that vindicate her decision.
1. The day after ratifying the First Amendment those same Founders proclaimed a Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving throughout the nation. They obviously did not see their words, "Congress shall make no law concerning the establishment of religion, or hindering the free exercise thereof," to be restrictive of Christian expression.
2. George Washington took the first presidential oath of office with his hand on a Bible. No one complained or accused him of violating the First Amendment for everyone understood the purpose of the First Amendment (articulated below in #5). By this act, he forever connected the presidential oath of office with the Bible and Christianity.
3. John Adams declared that the U.S. Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. America's second president made this statement in a 1798 speech to the officers of the Massachusetts Militia. He declared, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." When the Founders use the word "religion" they are referring to Christianity. Christianity was their religion. Adams obviously saw a profound harmony between the Constitution and Christianity.
4. George Washington exhorted the new nation to cling to "religion and morality," which he said are "indispensable" for political prosperity. He made this statement in his Farewell Address after serving two terms as America's first president. He also called morality and religion "these great pillars of human happiness." Note that Washington does not say religion should be "tolerated," but that it is "indispensable" for the success of the nation.
5. The so-called "Establishment Clause" of the First Amendment merely forbade Congress from establishing an official state church. Such state churches had been the norm in Europe since the time of Constantine. These churches, backed by the power of the state, used force to compel conformity to their doctrines and practice. The parents and grandparents of America's founders had fled such oppressive state churches.
It is obvious that the Founders had no intention of restricting free speech, especially Christian speech, in the First Amendment. This was confirmed by Joseph Story (1779-1845) who served as a Supreme Court Justice for thirty-four years from 1811-1845. Commenting on the First Amendment, Story said:
We are not to attribute this prohibition of a national religious establishment to an indifference in religion, and especially to Christianity, which none could hold in more reverence than the framers of the Constitution (Hyatt, "1726:The Year that Defined America," 152).
"Americans United for the Separation of Church and State" clearly do not understand the U. S. Constitution and are out of sync with the vision of America's founding generation. Governor Sanders is, therefore, right to stand her ground.
Dr. Eddie Hyatt is an author, historian, and Bible teacher with a vision to reconnect America with her roots of faith and freedom and her birth out of the First Great Awakening, This article was derived from his book, 1726: The Year that Defined America, available from Amazon and his website at http://eddiehyatt.com.
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