“Congress felt no need to check the accuracy of Aitken’s publication with a Catholic priest or a rabbi; the judgment of Congress’s Protestant chaplains was sufficient. After receiving the chaplains’ report, Congress decided to permit Aitken to publicize his Bible as having been officially recommended by Congress.”
Sunday services were held weekly in the U.S. Capitol, attended regularly by presidents Jefferson and Madison. So, it is absurd to argue that America’s founders were antagonistic to Christianity.
In a 1787 speech to the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin declared: “God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we
shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.”
At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Franklin, disturbed by the bitter debates among the delegates, said in a speech to the convention: “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… We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.’ I therefore beg leave to move – that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.”
Prayer has opened both houses of Congress ever since.
John Adams, the first vice president of the United States and America’s second president wrote in his diary on July 26, 1796, blasting atheist Thomas Paine: “The Christian religion is above all the Religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of Wisdom, Virtue, Equity, and Humanity. Let the Blackguard Paine say what he will; it is Resignation to God, it is Goodness itself to Man.”
In America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations, edited by newspaper columnist William J. Federer is in the 1781, Query XVIII of Thomas Jefferson’s “Notes on that State of Virginia”:
“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
On April 21, 1803 in a letter Jefferson wrote: “My views…are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from the anti-christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others. The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend to all the happiness of man. Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus….I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.
Alexis de Tocqueville, the French historian, traveled throughout America in the early 1830s and wrote his observations, including:
“In the United States the sovereign authority is religious. There is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.
“The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom.
“The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.
“America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”