Insensitive, politically incorrect, intolerant and all male. Judged by today’s standards, America’s founding fathers are way outside the political and legal “mainstream.” That’s clear from author Jerry Newcombe’s new book, Answers from the Founding Fathers, just out from Truth in Action Ministries (formerly Coral Ridge Ministries).
Newcombe shows that the men who won the Revolution, forged our founding documents and led the nascent nation were often in flagrant violation of the canons of political correctness that rule political discourse today.
The range of offenses include urging Christian voters to “prefer Christians for their rulers,” counseling the states to imitate the example of Jesus Christ, attending regular Sunday Christian worship services in the U.S. Capitol, and proposing prayer to resolve a deadlocked constitutional convention.
Who were the offenders in those few instances? Respectively, they were John Jay, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. Let’s look at them one at a time.
Commentators left and right cried “bigotry” when a Baptist pastor called Mitt Romney’s Mormon religion a cult. But voters who think religious affiliation matters when weighing a candidate’s fitness for public office would have found a friend in John Jay, America’s first chief justice and one of three Federalist Papers authors.
Jay, a man who argued for ratification of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits religious tests for public office, did not apply that standard to individual voters. He encouraged fellow believers to vote the all-Christian ticket, writing that "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."
As commander-in-chief of the victorious Revolutionary army, George Washington urged the nation’s 13 state governors to imitate the example of Jesus Christ. Newcombe quotes from Washington’s circular letter to the states in which Washington describes his “earnest prayer” that God “would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.”
Talk like that could end a career very quickly in today’s all-inclusive army which welcomes open homosexuals and has given the nod to homosexual marriage. Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace said in 2007 that homosexual acts are immoral and was on his way out within three months. Contrast that with General Washington’s support in 1778 for the dismissal of a solder guilty of attempted sodomy. Washington’s General Orders for March 14, 1778, reports, “His Excellency the Commander in Chief approves the sentence and with Abhorrence and Detestation of such Infamous Crimes orders Lieutt. Enslin to be drummed out of Camp tomorrow morning by all the Drummers and Fifers in the Army never to return ...”
In 1789, just after Congress approved the Bill of Rights, Washington fired a cannonball right through what the American Civil Liberties Union wants us to believe was our nation’s newly erected wall separating church and state. He issued a proclamation, stating, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for his benefits and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”
That “theocratic” proclamation was happily received by the new nation in 1789, but would have been cause, if issued today, to send George and Martha back to Mount Vernon after the first term, if not before.
Thomas Jefferson, as Newcombe points out, attended regular Protestant Sunday worship services in the U.S. Capitol building. But that’s not all he did. Drawing on the research of historian Mark Beliles, Newcombe lists the many ways in which Jefferson, as president, was a friend of Christianity. He promoted legislative and military chaplaincies, punished Sabbath breakers and those guilty of marriages contrary to biblical law, required that oaths contain the words “So Help Me God” and be sworn on the Bible, granted land to Christian churches to evangelize Indians and funded missionary salaries.
Jefferson also referred to Jesus Christ as “the holy author of our religion” and cited Christ’s example when making the case for freedom of religion in the 1786 Virginia Bill for Religious Liberty.
Jefferson, by the way, is the man who championed the “wall of separation” between church and state. Or so we’re told.
Benjamin Franklin never professed faith in Jesus Christ as God, but that didn’t stop him from rising to call the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia to look to God in prayer. As he put it, “if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”
Newcombe points out that while Franklin’s proposal to pray was not officially acted upon a compromise was reached in which delegates would gather to hear a sermon on the July 4th anniversary of independence “& thenceforward prayers be used in ye Convention every morning.”
Afterwards, “every unfriendly feeling had been expelled,” as one delegate wrote, and the Convention presented the nation with a new Constitution still in force today.
Our politically incorrect and out-of-the-mainstream founding fathers somehow gave birth to the most free and prosperous nation in history. Maybe they knew better than we. Maybe we should “listen to the founders themselves that we may return to American greatness,” as Newcombe suggests.
John Aman is Director of Communications at Truth in Action Ministries.
Jerry Newcombe’s book, Answers from the Founding Fathers, is available from Truth in Action Ministries.
Publication date: November 14, 2011