American Minute with Bill Federer MAR. 28- 'This is a Christian nation'- U.S. Supreme Court, 1892, Justice Brewer
American Minute with Bill Federer
MAR. 28- 'This is a Christian nation'- U.S. Supreme Court, 1892, Justice Brewer
U.S. Supreme Court stated in the 1892 case of Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, written by Justice David Josiah Brewer (143 U.S. 457-458, 465-471, 36 L ed 226):
"This is a religious people.
is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the
present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation.
The commission to Christopher Columbus...(recited) that
'it is hoped that by God's assistance some of the continents and islands in the ocean will be discovered'...
first colonial grant made to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584...and the grant
authorizing him to enact statutes for the government of the proposed
'that they be not against the true Christian faith'...
The first charter of Virginia, granted by King James I in 1606...commenced the grant in these words:
'...in propagating of Christian Religion to such People as yet live in Darkness...'
Language of similar import may be found in the subsequent charters of
that colony...in 1609 and 1611; and the same is true of the various charters granted to the other colonies.
language more or less emphatic is the establishment of the Christian
religion declared to be one of the purposes of the grant.
The celebrated compact made by the Pilgrims in the Mayflower, 1620,
undertaken for the Glory of God, and advancement of the Christian
faith...a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of
fundamental orders of Connecticut, under which a provisional government
was instituted in 1638-1639, commence with this declaration:
well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God
requires that to maintain the peace and union...there should be an
orderly and decent government established according to God...to maintain
and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus
which we now profess...of the said gospel is now practiced amongst us.'
In the charter of privileges granted by William Penn to the province of Pennsylvania, in 1701, it is recited:
people can be truly happy, though under the greatest enjoyment of civil
liberties, if abridged of...their religious profession and worship...'
Coming nearer to the present time, the Declaration of Independence
recognizes the presence of the Divine in human affairs in these words:
hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions...
for the support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the
Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our
Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor'...
Because of a general recognition of this truth, the question has seldom been presented to the courts...
These declarations...reaffirm that this is a religious nation."
Justice Brewer continued in Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States:
"While because of a general recognition of this truth the qestion has seldom been presented to the courts, yet we find that in Updegraph v. The Commonwealth, it was decided that,
general Christianity, is, and always has been, a part of the common
law...not Christianity with an established church...but Christianity
with liberty of conscience to all men.'
And in The People v. Ruggles, Chancellor Kent, the great commentator on American law, speaking as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New York, said:
people of this State, in common with the people of this country,
profess the general doctrines of Christianity, as the rule of their
faith and practice...
We are a Christian people, and the
morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity, and not
upon the doctrines or worship of those impostors.'
And in the famous case of Vidal v. Girard's Executors (1844) this Court...observed:
'It is also said, and truly, that the Christian religion is a part of the common law of Pennsylvania'...
we pass beyond these matters to a view of American life as expressed by
its laws, its business, its customs and its society, we find everywhere
a clear recognition of the same truth.
Among other matters note the following:
The form of oath universally prevailing, concluding with an appeal to the Almighty;
the custom of opening sessions of all deliberative bodies and most conventions with prayer;
the prefatory words of all wills, 'In the name of God, amen';
laws respecting the observance of the Sabbath, with the general
cessation of all secular business, and the closing of courts,
legislatures, and other similar public assemblies on that day;
the churches and church organizations which abound in every city, town and hamlet;
the multitude of charitable organizations existing everywhere under Christian auspices;
gigantic missionary associations, with general support, and aiming to
establish Christian missions in every quarter of the globe.
These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume
of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation...
We find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth."
"Or like that in articles 2 and 3 of part 1 of the constitution of
is the right as well as the duty of all men in society publicly, and at
stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and
Preserver of the universe...
As the happiness of a people and
the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend
upon piety, religion, and morality, and as these cannot be generally
diffused through a community but by the institution of the public
worship of God and of public instructions in piety, religion, and
Therefore, to promote their happiness, and to secure
the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this
authorize...the several towns, parishes,
precincts...to make suitable provision...for the institution of the
public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of public
Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality.'"
"Or, as in sections 5 and 14 of article 7 of the constitution of
person who denies the being of a God, or a future state of rewards and
punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this
Religion morality, and knowledge being necessary to
good government, the preservation of liberty, and the happiness of
mankind, schools, and the means of education, shall forever be
encouraged in this state.'
by article 22 of the constitution of Delaware, (1776,) which required
all officers, besides an oath of allegiance, to make and subscribe the
'I, A. B., do 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.'"