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Corn vs Walls: Corny Political Spin on America as a Christian Nation April 14, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in American history, Barak Obama, Christian nation, Congress, Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Jesus Christ, news, politics, Ten Commandments.

In today’s CQ Politics, David Corn complains about conservatives bashing Pres. Obama for his false claim that America is not a Christian nation. The paranoid Left endlessly harangued the Right for its bold religious views about politics, and a lot of people believe it.

Americans are a believing people. That is the essence of consensus politics as defined by the Left. The Left has been using the “rule of law” and the “Constitution” as a front for its version of law or rather lawlessness. David Corn does the same thing in his article.

The context of Corn’s complaint occurs on the Howard Kurtz TV program Reliable Source. Corn and Tara Wall of the Washington Post were guests. The topic of their discussion turned those previous mentioned comments made by Pres. Obama during his visit to Turkey. Wall argues that America is a Christian nation. Its history, founding, laws are rooted in Christian ideals. She points to the statement on the dollar bill “In God We Trust” as evidence.

Corn’s counters Wall with the same points all secularists make. The statement on the dollar bill doesn’t say “In Christianity We Trust.” He went on to say that it’s not in the Constitution either. He also counters Wall’s reference to the founders as founding a Christian nation claiming Thomas Jefferson was not likely a Christian who never called us a Christian nation.

Jefferson called himself a Christian, not a deist. He claimed to follow the teachings of Christ, not necessarily the orthodox theology of the Church. He wrote about Jesus. He faithfully attended church. He prophesied that God would judge America for its maintenance of slavery, which prediction was fulfilled with the Civil War. As President, he signed an executive order giving permission for the ship Hershel to proceed on its journey to the Port of London. The official terminology for the date of this document is “In the twenty fourth day of the year of our Lord Christ 1801″. (Visit Wall Builders website to see for yourself.)

It is true that Jefferson was a paradoxical, unorthodox Unitarian Christian, but not a deist as claimed by secularists. All things considered, I suspect Corn regards Jefferson as a deist seeing he defines America deistic nation.

Besides, Jefferson’s views did not represent all of the founders. His views were not normative of the first or second Continental Congress. Reading the two Declarations of Independence–Jefferson’s and Congress’, makes that plain. Contrary to Jefferson, most of founders did adamantly claim America as a Christian nation.

On the surface, Corn’s claim that the Constitution does not include the statement “America is a Christian nation” is true. Yet, the absence of the phrase in the Constitution does provide any evidence against our nation being Christian at its founding or throughout most its history. The Preamble does mentions the year of our Lord. It does refer to Sunday, the day of the Christian Sabbath. It also mentions the Law of Nations. The Law of Nation is natural law doctrine applied to relations between nations. Both claim the law of God, the 10 Commandments or the moral law, as the basis of all other law. Surely, Corn has to agree with the Courts and the ACLU that the 10 commandments are synonymous with Christianity. Oddly enough, those commandments are found in the Jew’s Hebrew Bible. They are only referenced in the gospels and epistles of Jesus’ apostles.

More important, the Constitution is the positive law part of our national compact. It is the first part of the compact, the Declaration of Independence that defined the nation, its ideals, and religion. Here too, the Declaration doesn’t explicitly mention a Christian United States of America, but it employs all of the terms used by separationists and secularists-the ACLU, People for the American Way, Corn, judges to separate the influence of biblical morality from law, culture, and the state. For it was this moral law propagated by Christianity and the founders that separations and secularist vehemently oppose.

The original criticism of Corn was that Wall’s argument centered on the phrase: “In God We Trust.” It was in 1864 that this phrase was first stamped on American currency. Yet, it was not until the beginning of the American socialist movement that Congress passed legislation making this phrase our nation’s official motto. That was in 1956. The next year the national motto was printed on our paper currency. (see Wikipedia)

A unified nation feels no need to make official what is normative. As Alex de Tocqueville observed in 1830, while religion in America was a given, politics was frequently discussed by everyone. America was unquestionable a Christian nation. However, during the Civil Era, secularists twice attempted to pass a constitutional amendment that would have actually and fully separated Christianity, the state, and its institutions. Christian morality would have been barred from law and the public domain. But, Congress rejected their efforts twice.

Secularist didn’t begin to achieve their agenda until the 1930s. During the late 1950s and 1960s, their redefinition of America gained a wide following. Not unlike the previous Christian definition of America, the belief in the secular dogma that includes evolution, socialism, humanism claimed preeminence because its followers have dominated the institution of the state and culture. Those institutions include government, education, social services, health care, big business, media, entertainment, and many mainline denominations.

As far as accuracy is concerned, it is secularists like Corn who spin a corny politics of inaccuracy. The official definition and doctrines of the American nation has not changed nor the Supreme law that is supposed to promote and protect the faithful.



1. Jon Rowe - May 1, 2009

Both claim the law of God, the 10 Commandments or the moral law, as the basis of all other law.

The law of nations/natural law/moral law is not synonymous with the Bible or the Ten Commands. It’s what man can discover about God’s law through reason unassisted by scripture. Accordingly, reason discovers the second tablet of the Bible to be part of the natural law (i.e., don’t steal, muder, bear false witness) but not the first (i.e., don’t worship false gods or idols). If you study the natural law/natural rights founding philosophy you’ll see this is understanding of the Founding. They weren’t Bible thumpers but men of natural reason and natural theology.

Daniel Downs - May 1, 2009

I have studied it. Although it has been a while since, I have read Locke’s 2 treatise on government, John Witherspoon’s text on moral philosophy, law of nations texts of Pufendorf, Vattel, Burlamaqui, Blackstone’s Commentaries, Wollaston’s Religion of Nature Delineated, etc. All of them made the claim that the basis of all law is God and/or the law of God via 10 commandments or biblical revelation. Locke never claimed humans did discover the law of God by reason. He claimed few, if any, could know it by natural reason because of the still abundant evidence of depravity. The best source was (and still is) the Bible.

You are right about how a number of the more prominent founders understood natural law and that they were not evangelists.

2. Jon Rowe - May 3, 2009

I think you shoot way to far with this claim. All of the above philosophers may have believed in divine law/the ten commands, but distinguished the natural and revealed law. Though, some noted things like “upon reflection” you’ll see they teach the same thing because they both come from the same source the same God. But when you see “natural” being used, it means, by definition, discovered by reason, as opposed to revealed by the Bible. This is what Witherspoon says on the very first page of his lectures on moral philosophy.

The “moral law” is only the second tablet of the Ten Commands.

Daniel Downs - May 4, 2009

On pg 153 of his Lectures of Moral Philosophy, Witherspoon makes an interesting distinction. He writes, “We must distinguish here between the light of nature and the law of nature. By the first is to be understood what we can or do by our own powers without revelation or tradition; by the second, that which, when discovered, can be made appear agreeable to reason and nature.” Apostle Paul’s comments in Romans 2:19-21 is often referred as an example of the light of nature or natural revelation. Witherspoon’s definition of natural law refutes the idea that natural law is simply discovered by human reason. It doesn’t follow that natural law discovered would need to be made to appear agreeable to reason if it was discovered by reason instead of revelation. That he views natural law as nearly synonymous with revealed law is further supported by one of his summary statements: “There is nothing certain or valuable in moral philosophy but that what is perfectly coincident with the scripture, where the glory of God is the first principle of action, arising from the subjection of the Creature–where the good of others is the great object of duty, and our own interest the necessary consequence.” (p. 228)

As Witherspoon words imply, the first tablet is the premise for the second because the law-giver and judge is the beginning and the end of the our obeying or breaking want is inherent in the moral human nature. Even as you define natural and moral law, in their discovery is the realization of the law-giver or Creator. Consequently, the need or requirement of fist tablet.

3. byronjo - May 4, 2010

God and Country? I disbelieve? I come from church/state conflict and I was treated like table scraps. Americans United for Separation of Church and State mentions Justice Stevens. I’m supposed to believe the springboard for violation is there? Possibly so.

A nation of values yes, sure and maybe so…but not delusion and paranoia. Thanks for separation while I speculate. Freedom to speculate is additive to freedom as it prevents a “blanket nation” blind to alternatives.

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