But just how important was the religious motivation for the Revolution's participants?
In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson lists 27 specific grievances against Great Britain. And since the DOI can be considered the official "note of divorce" from the Mother Country, it is natural for us to assume that these grievances lie at the very heart of the Revolution. After all, the DOI was accepted by the Continental Congress as THE official document in which facts were "submitted to a candid world."
And which facts exactly were listed by Jefferson and the other delegates? What specific grievances against the King of Great Britain did they lay before "a candid world?"
1.) He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.Where exactly is the religious argument being made? Now, some may attempt to argue that since Jefferson was the primary author, religion would naturally be omitted. But what about the other delegates? You mean to tell me that not a single person in the Convention raised their voice in support of a religious argument to be added to the DOI? If the majority of the founders were so passionate about forming a Christian nation, as many today assume, why didn't anyone succeed in adding such an argument/statement to the DOI? Why is there no mention of a biblical justification for going to war? After all, if 52 of the 56 signers of the DOI were evangelical Christians, as Mr. Barton insists, you would think that they would include AT LEAST one or two biblical arguments.
2.) He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
3.) He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.
4.) He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
5.) He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.
6.) He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining, in the mean time, exposed to all the dangers of invasions from without and convulsions within.
7.) He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
8.) He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
9.) He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
10.) He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
11.) He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures.
12.) He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to, the civil power.
13.) He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
14.) For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us;
15.) For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states;
16.) For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world;
17.) For imposing taxes on us without our consent;
18.) For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury;
19.) For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretended offenses;
20.) For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies;
21.) For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments;
22.) For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
23.) He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.
24.) He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
25.) He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.
26.) He has constrained our fellow-citizens, taken captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
27.) He has excited domestic insurrection among us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.
Or how about bringing up the need to separate from the wicked ways of the Church of England. Where is there a mention of this in the DOI? And what about the whole "Christian nation" argument? You would think that if the overwhelming majority of the founders were devout Christians bent of establishing a Christian haven, they would AT THE VERY LEAST put a sentence or two about this in the nation's first charter. Or how about a singular verse from the Bible? Wouldn't a Christian nation devoted to the ideals of the Bible be able to find a few words from the Good Book? You mean to tell me that nobody could come up with just a couple of lines or verses to insert into the document?
Now, with all of that said, I am not trying to make the argument that religion was irrelevant. Instead, I only want to point out just how ultra-political the DOI really is. Of the 27 arguments made for independence, here is how they break down:
-16 deal with the implementation, removal, and/or alteration of laws and government.
-8 deal with the presence/use of military force in the colonies.
-1 deals with immigration.
-1 deals with trade.
-1 deals with taxes (so much for "taxation without representation" being THE reason for independence. It was listed all the way down at #17).
If the founders really were determined to establish a Christian nation, and if religion was really of such importance in this conflict, why is the DOI so obviously vacant of orthodox Christian justifications for independence? If the founders really did want their posterity to know of their sincere devotion to Christian ideals, why did they chose to describe God in terms like "Nature's God," "Providence," and "the Supreme Judge?" It would seem logical to me that if the founders wanted a Christian nation they would have included something...ANYTHING in their official charter that demonstrated such a belief. And if "Nature's God," "Providence," etc. really are alternate names for the Christian God, why didn't they just come out and say it as plainly as possible? Why the obscurity?
Now, of course there were delegates who argued for a more Christian prose. We can be certain that at least some delegates were in fact devout orthodox Christians. But if their cause was the majority, why didn't they succeed in including at least something that hinted to a Christian motivation? As far as I can tell the politics won out...in a VERY BIG way.