The essence of our now weakened Christianity is self-discipline, as preached and practiced by Christ Jesus. Those who can thus govern themselves have little need of managerial government. So, when Americans gloried in being a Christian people, it was possible to replace the dominion of the British monarchy by a system in which the greater part of all government activities were localized. The "determination", in Madison's memorable words, was "to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government". That capacity, among the early Americans, the independent churches had done more then any other single agency to develop.

So important were these churches, in the conduct of education and in behalf of the general welfare, that the Bill of Rights specifically prohibits Congress from passing any law "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". No one church was to be preferred to another and government should keep its hands off all of them. Yet, by supremely ironic interpretation, the provision protecting the churches against the State has come to be used to subordinate them to the State. The separation is today outrageously interpreted to mean that Christianity shall not be taught in the public schools of a Christian nation.

With such complete corruption of original purpose it would be strange indeed if there were not widespread confusion as to what America stands for in the world today. Clearly the best way to confront that confusion is to recall what our collective purpose used to be, in the thought of those leaders in many lines who made it a beacon for the oppressed of all mankind. And that thought, of course, should be read as it was composed. To have it summarized, and often consciously distorted, by teachers with a Marxist axe to grind, is worse than useless.

 

 

from pages ix- x, Christian History of the Constitution of the United States