Words of the United States' Founding Fathers
With others from subsequent statesmen
A patriot without religion . . . is as great a paradox, as an honest man without the fear of God. . . . The Scriptures tell us righteousness exalteth a Nation. . . .
In vain are schools, academies, and universities instituted, if loose principles and licentious habits are impressed upon children in their earliest years. . . . The vices and examples of the parents cannot be concealed from the children. How is it possible that children can have any just sense of the sacred obligations of morality or religion if, from their earliest infancy, they learn that their mothers live in habitual infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in as constant infidelity to their mothers? . . .
[This] form of government . . . is productive of every thing which is great and excellent among men. But its principles are as easily destroyed, as human nature is corrupted. . . . A government is only to be supported by pure religion or austere morals. Private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics. . . .
Statesmen . . . may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue. . . .
We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. . . .
Suppos [sic] a nation in some distant region, should take the Bible for their only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. . . . What a Eutopa, What a Paradise would this region be! . . .
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
John Quincy Adams
The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.
A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.
Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.
Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, of inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity and . . . the love of their country . . . in short, of leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system.
The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty . . .'The Rights of the Colonists as Christians'. . . may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the great Law Giver . . . which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.
Judge Robert Bork
When the ultra-liberals lose elections, they fight all the more desperately for control of our third branch, the courts. Why? Because the courts control the constitution and the constitution is the 'trump card' in politics. That's why this war is crucial. Now, there are only two sides really in this struggle. Either the constitution controls the judges, or the judges rewrite the constitution.
All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
It was the Lord who put it into my mind -- I could feel His hand upon me -- the fact that it would be possible. . . . All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me. . . . There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because He comforted me with rays of illumination from the Holy Scriptures. . . . It was simply the fulfillment of what Isaiah had prophesied . . . the fact that the Gospel must still be preached to so many lands in such a short time -- this is what convinces me. No one should fear to undertake a task in the name of our Savior, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His service.
President Calvin Coolidge
The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. . . .
He who shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world. . . .
Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters. . . .
[to George Washington at the Continental Congress, June 28,1787]:
"The small progress we have made after 4 or 5 weeks close attendance & continual reasonings with each other -- our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ayes, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those Republics which having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all round Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.
"In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understanding? In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. -- Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance?
"I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth -- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that
except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.
I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.
"I therefore beg to move -- that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service."
It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ! For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.
John Jay - First Supreme Court Justice
Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
The Christian religion, when divested of the rags in which they [the clergy] have enveloped it, and brought to the original purity and simplicity of it's benevolent institutor, is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expansion of the human mind.
[We must] carry ourselves back to the time when the constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed. . . .
I have always said, and always will say, that the studious perusal of the sacred volume will make us better citizens. . . .
. . . can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever. . . .
I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
. . . there are . . . certain fences which experience has proved peculiarly efficacious against wrong, and rarely obstructive of right, which yet the governing powers have ever shown a disposition to weaken and remove. Of the first kind, for instance, is freedom of religion; of the second, trial by jury, habeas corpus laws, free presses. . . .
Honesty is the 1st chapter in the book of wisdom. . . .
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
It is the duty of nations . . . to own [admit] their dependence upon the overruling power of God . . . and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord. . . .
The only assurance of our nation's safety is to lay our foundation in morality and religion. . . .
The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.
But for [the Bible] we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man's welfare . . . are to be found portrayed in it. . . .
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
Let my neighbor once persuade himself that there is no God, and he will soon pick my pocket, and break not only my leg but my neck. If there be no God, there is no law, no future account; government then is the ordinance of man only, and we cannot be subject for conscience sake.
- Francois Guizot (French historian):
- "How long will the American Republic endure?"
- James Russell Lowell:
- "As long as the ideas of the men who founded it continue dominant."
I am very much afraid that schools will prove to be great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.
In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. . . .
We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions . . . upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments.
William Holmes McGuffey
. . . In a Christian country, that man is to be pitied, who . . . can honestly object to imbuing the minds of youth with language and spirit of the Word of God.
B F Morris
The state must rest upon the basis of religion, and it must preserve this basis, or itself must fall. But the support which religion gives to the state will obviously cease the moment religion loses its hold upon the popular mind.
Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore education should teach the precepts of religion, and the duties of man towards God.
These duties are, internally, love and adoration; externally, devotion and obedience; therefore provision should be made for maintaining divine worship as well as education.
But each one has a right to entire liberty as to religious opinions, for religion is the relation between God and man; therefore it is not within the reach of human authority.
To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation . . . in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom. . . . All efforts to destroy the foundations of our holy religion, ultimately tend to the subversion also of our political freedom and happiness. Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all the blessings which flow from them, just fall with them.
President Ronald Reagan
Without God there is not virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience . . . without God there is a coarsening of the society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure. . . . If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under.
Dr. Benjamin Rush
"A Deference of the Use of the Bible in Schools"
. . . Christianity is the only true and perfect religion; and that, in proportion as mankind adopt its principles, and obey its precepts, they will be wise and happy.
. . . a better knowledge of this religion is to be acquired by reading the Bible, than in any other way.
. . . the Bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state, than any other book in the world.
. . . knowledge is most durable, and religious instruction most useful, when imparted in early life.
. . . the Bible, when not read in schools, is seldom read in any subsequent period of life.
Chief Justice Joseph Story
We are not to attribute this prohibition of a national religious establishment [in the first amendment] to an indifference to religion in general, and especially to Christianity, which none could hold in more reverence than the framers of the Constitution . . . Probably, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the Amendments to it . . . the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State. . . . An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation. . . . (emphasis added)
It yet remains a problem to be solved in human affairs, whether any free government can be permanent, where the public worship of God, and the support of religion, constitute no part of the policy or duty of the state in any assignable shape.
Alexis de Tocqueville
The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom.
President Harry S. Truman
The basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don't think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don't have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a . . . government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State!
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness. . . . The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert . . . ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds . . . reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. . . .
If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed by the Convention, where I had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical society, certainly I would never have placed my signature on it. . . .
Without an humble imitation of the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion . . . we can never hope to be a happy nation. . . .
It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. . . .
While just government protects all in their religious rights, true religion affords to Government its surest support.
Moral habits . . . cannot safely be trusted on any other foundation than religious principle, nor any government be secure which is not supported by moral habits. . . . Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens. . . .
The cultivation of the religious sentiment represses licentiousness . . . inspires respect for law and order, and gives strength to the whole social fabric.
There are two powers only which are sufficient to control men, and secure the rights of individuals and a peaceable administration; these are the combined force of religion and law, and the force or fear of the bayonet. . . .
Republican government loses half of its value, where the moral and social duties are . . . negligently practiced. To exterminate our popular vices is a work of far more importance to the character and happiness of our citizens, than any other improvements in our system of education. . . .
The religion which has introduced civil liberty, is the religion of Christ and his apostles, which enjoins humility, piety, and benevolence; which acknowledges in every person a brother, or a sister, and a citizen with equal rights. This is genuine Christianity, and to this we owe our free constitutions of government.
The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. . . . All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible. . . .
In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed. . . . No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people. . . .
It is extremely important to our nation, in a political as well as religious view, that all possible authority and influence should be given to the scriptures, for these furnish the best principles of civil liberty, and the most effectual support of republican government. The principles of all genuine liberty, and of wise laws and administrations are to be drawn from the Bible and sustained by its authority. The man therefore who weakens or destroys the divine authority of that book may be accessory to all the public disorders which society is doomed to suffer.
. . . he is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not [would not hesitate] to call him an enemy to his country. . . .
God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable and that the unjust attempts to destroy the one, may in the issue tend to the support and establishment of both. . . .
The education of youth should be watched with the most scrupulous attention. Education . . . forms the moral characters of men, and morals are the basis of government. Education should therefore be the first care of . . . political regulations; for it is much easier to introduce and establish an effectual system for preserving morals, than to correct by penal statutes the ill effects of a bad system. . . . The goodness of a heart is of infinitely more consequence to society than an elegance of manners. . . . The education of youth . . . lays the foundations on which both law and gospel rest for success.
The very reason education for the masses was created in the first place was so that people could read the Bible for themselves.