Kuebler: The U.S. government was built upon Christian values
This opinion piece/history lesson is in response to the letter written by Isaac published in the July 14th paper on how American history and values are not based on Christian values. I have several points I want to make to prove my point and hopefully give people a better understanding of the subject.
My first issue is the assertion there was an absence of God while drafting the constitution or in daily society. This is utterly false. For example, during the first few decades as a country (1780s-1790s), national leaders typically called the nation to prayer, supported religious institutions, granted federal land to religious schools in the Northwest Territory, sessions in Congress and in federal court began proceedings with a prayer, and even the capitol building was used for church services. Also, during Thanksgiving, Presidents Washington, Adams and Madison made proclamations calling for prayers because it was "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."
The fact of the matter is that God and country are closely tied together, and it was the hope of the Founding Fathers to have that legacy continue throughout the ages. The next point is about how the establishment clause is often brought up to have religion removed from public places. The Constitution states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ...." We first need to understand that the Constitution is for the federal government and its rights as a governing body. The establishment clause forbids the federal government to establish a religion. It does not forbid a state or local government to do so. The actual purpose of the establishment clause was to allow for states and communities to decide on their own choices about the role of religion in society. This premise is based on the idea of federalism, the sharing of power between federal and state governments.
When one looks back at the history of the original Thirteen Colonies, you will find that in almost every state constitution there were mentions of God and even laws based on the Christian denomination that dominated each colony/state.
For example, by 1791 seven states wrote constitutions that supported the churches; five states demanded Protestantism; and Delaware and Maryland made legislators to the state government profess their faith to Christianity.
It wasn't until 1833 that Massachusetts became the last state to end its establishment of religion. These points show how religion was meant to play an important role in society and government. Today, we understand that there is religious diversity throughout the country and that having state-sponsored religions would be unjust and unfair.
After laying out the points I have made, I hope to have shown readers that there is a strong historical presence of religion in our governments and founding. History is very important to learn and I believe we need to study and look at history more to understand our government and our values.
Kuebler lives in Fargo.