Jedidiah Morse on the Importance of Christianity to America

“To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness, which mankind now enjoys.  …Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown , our present republican forms of government – and all blessings which flow from them – must fall with them.”
–  Jedidiah Morse (1761-1826), the figurative “father of American geography” and literal father of Samuel Morse (inventor of Morse code)

This is the way America’s leaders used to speak.  Why don’t the leaders we have now speak the same way?  Why do our leaders seem to speak in a way entirely contrary to this?

Though Jedidiah Morse didn’t claim to be a prophet, he was indeed prophesying.  The proof is in the fulfillment of his words that we are today observing and experiencing.  It’s sad to see “the pillars of Christianity being overthrown” not by invaders, but by those we have elected.  Alas, the leaders are merely reflecting our spirit as a people.  Let us therefore call upon our God to grant us repentance that we might be saved from the perfidy that has come to govern our lives.  He has given us a promise in this regard:

“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
–  2 Chronicles 7:13-14

What will it be for us?

Source of Jedidiah Morse quote: Hobby Lobby full-page newspaper advertisement July 4, 2016

Jim Hamilton Quote on Reading the Bible

I hope that you will adopt the perspective of the biblical authors and that you will read the world from the Bible’s perspective, rather than reading the Bible from the world’s perspective.
–  James M. Hamilton

These two perspective are vastly different from each other.  The consequences of your choice between therefore will be most profound.

Where is the best place to apply the cure?

If all the people who are trying to get the nation right through politics were to go home and get their own family right, we’d make a lot more progress toward getting the nation right.

As the health of a tree proceeds from the health of its roots, so the health of a nation proceeds from the health of its families.

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.
–  Henry David Thoreau
Source:  BrainyQuote.com

Get the family right.  Your family.  And keep it right.  If enough of us do this, the nation will take care of itself.

Antonin Scalia Alludes to 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools…and He has not been disappointed. Devout Christians are destined to be regarded as fools in modern society. We are fools for Christ’s sake. We must pray for courage to endure the scorn of the sophisticated world. If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.

Antonin Scalia (1936-2016), justice of the United States Supreme Court

Source:  Douglas Wilson blog

Selected Quotes from Antonin Scalia

Antonin Scalia (1936-2016) was appointed to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan in 1986 and served until his death yesterday.

Scalia was considered excessively conservative by most of his contemporaries but America’s founding fathers would have considered his views reasonable and consistent with their own.

Antonin Scalia was a clear thinker.  Note in the quotes below how he shines the light of reason on modern society’s trite aphorisms.  People today are encouraged to “follow conscience,” or “never compromise principle,” or “follow one’s star,” yet Scalia wisely adds:

More important than your obligation to follow your conscience, or at least prior to it, is your obligation to form your conscience correctly.

Never compromise your principles, unless of course your principles are Adolf Hitler’s, in which case you would be well advised to compromise them as much as you can.

Indeed, follow your star if you want to head north and it’s the North Star. But if you want to head north and it’s Mars, you had better follow somebody else’s star.

Scalia also rightly challenged the expansion of judicial power in our time:

Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.

Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.

You think there ought to be a right to abortion? No problem. The Constitution says nothing about it. Create it the way most rights are created in a democratic society. Pass a law.

Every time the Supreme Court defines another right in the Constitution it reduces the scope of democratic debate.

Lastly, here’s a quote from Scalia that stirred a completely-unwarranted controversy in the last year:

One of the reasons God has been good to us is that we have done him honor.

Antonin Scalia was a great man, but these views of his are not the sole property of great men.  Rather, this should be the way that every single Supreme Court justice thinks – otherwise, such a person should not be appointed to such an important position.

Scalia believed that America is a nation under God.  Alas, most of America in his time came to believe that America is a nation out from under God.  Scalia’s view did not prevail in his lifetime; it will prevail in the long run.  By that, I mean that there is no such thing as a nation out from under God.  There are only those nations that prosper because they recognize that they are under God and those that decline because they won’t recognize that they are under God.

We can thank God for what this good man has done for our country.

Sources:

Chief Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren on the Bible

I believe no one can read the history of our country … without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Saviour have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses. … Whether we look to the first Charter of Virginia … or to the Charter of New England … or to the Charter of Massachusetts Bay … or to the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut … the same objective is present: a Christian land governed by Christian principles. …
I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it: freedom of belief, of expression, of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice under the law, and the reservation of powers to the people. …
I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country.  (Time magazine, February 14, 1954)
Earl Warren (1891-1974), 30th Governor of California and  14th Chief Justice of the United States

Warren was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  His term on the high court was from October 5, 1953 until his retirement on June 23, 1969.  Thus these words of his were published while he was sitting Supreme Court Chief Justice.

Could anyone who wrote this sort of thing be confirmed by the United States Senate today – not even 70 years later?

Alexis de Tocqueville on the Need for Religion in Self-Governing Societies

Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot.  Religion is…more needed in democratic republics than in any others.  How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie be not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed?   –  Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835)

Related post:  John Adams on the Potential Inadequacy of the U.S. Constitution

Barack Obama’s Quote About Whether America Is a Christian Nation

Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.  –  Barack Obama, June 28, 2006 (prepared remarks)

Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation – at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.  –  Barack Obama, June 28, 2006 (as delivered)

Before Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, he made a statement about America and its historical reputation as being a “Christian nation.”  I give the quote in the two forms you see above because, apparently, there’s been some controversy about the quote.  This controversy is described in “Obama and the ‘Christian Nation’ Quote” at FactCheck.org.  To me, the difference in the two versions is inconsequential.  Both of them are quite troubling.  I’ll use the “prepared remarks” version because that seems to be the one that Obama’s defenders think is the one more easily defended.

First of all, as a statement of fact – which it pretends to be – it is incoherent because it is self-contradictory.  I think I understand what he’s trying to say, but he says it very poorly.

Second, because the statement is self-contradictory, it cannot make the point Obama wants to make – which, giving him the benefit of every doubt, is that America is a nation defined as free enough to accept all faiths and even those of no faith.  This is because the statement uses various faiths and even no faith as an identity.  A nation is an aggregation of individuals, and its identity comes from the identities of the individuals who comprise it.  A nation can no more be all these kinds of nations than an individual can be all these kinds of individuals.

To show you what I mean, let’s work through this with a specific man in mind.  Applying Mr. Obama’s logic to a man named Sam Smithers who has historically been known to be a Christian, the statement would look like this:

Whatever Sam Smithers once was, he is no longer just a Christian; he is also a Jew, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu, and a nonbeliever.

If you were to make such a statement people would think you had either lost your mind or you were intentionally engaging in double talk.  And this is just what I think about Mr. Obama when I read his statement.

Someone might object and say, “But, Mike, a nation is made up of many individuals and those individuals can be of many different religious persuasions or no religious persuasions at all.”  Quite right.  But you would then have to understand which of those views were most representative of the nation before you could define the nation.  You might end up saying, “We are primarily a Christian nation, ” or “We are a religiously diverse nation,” or “We are a secular nation,” or something else.  But what you would certainly not say is what Mr. Obama said – that we are all those things simultaneously.  Being an unbeliever is mutually exclusive with being a religious person; being a Muslim is incompatible with being a Christian; and so on – otherwise words have no meaning.

Mr. Obama’s quote, therefore, is rhetorical mush.  As best I can tell, he wants to make the point that it is no longer reasonable nor desirable to refer to America as a Christian nation…but he says it with words that equivocate.  In political fashion, he’s speaking out of both sides of his mouth – saying that America is still a Christian nation while saying that America is no longer a Christian nation.

I wish he’d just come out and say what he believes: that America is no longer a Christian nation.  If he did, I’d agree with him.  Our difference would be that he thinks this is a good thing and so he’s happy about it while I think it’s a bad thing and therefore am sad about it.

Related post:  Alexis de Tocqueville on Religion in 18th-Century America