Saturday, February 27, 2016

Anthony J. Minna: "Why God is in the Declaration but not the Constitution"

From the Journal of the American Revolution here. A taste:
The Declaration contains several other references to a higher power. The introduction states that the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” entitle the American people to a separate and equal station among the powers of the earth. In the conclusion, Congress appeals to “the Supreme Judge of the world” for the rectitude of its intentions and professes its “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.” In each case, reference to a deity serves to validate the assertion of independence.
The genius of the Declaration is the inclusive way the divine is given expression. The appellations of God are generic. Adherents of traditional theistic sects can read the words “Nature’s God,” “Creator,” and “Supreme Judge,” and understand them to mean the god they worship. The claims made on numerous Christian websites attest to this. Yet opponents of dogma read those same words and see an embracive, non-sectarian concept of divinity. This is no small testimony to the wisdom and foresight of the Founding Fathers. All Americans could support the Revolution and independence. All can regard their rights as unalienable, their liberty as inviolable.
Unlike the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution contains no reference to God. ...


Tom Van Dyke said...

Religion was left to the states. God is in every state constitution.

These godless constitution memes skip over that. The point is that there's still a higher law than man's, than the government's or Supreme Court's construal of the Constitution. Read "Letter from Birmingham Jail."

JMS said...

Tom - Your “God is in every state constitution” is another “meme that skips” over the state-by-state disestablishment trend against the Congregational church in New England, and the Anglican church in New York and from Maryland southward, from 1776 until 1833. Each of the nine colonies that had established churches in 1775 (Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware did not have established churches) and then became states after 1776, disestablished.

In alphabetical order, and I’ll abbreviate for concision: CT (1818); GA (1777); MD (1777); MA (1833); NH (1819); NY (1777); NC (1776); SC 1778) and VA (1786)