Thursday, February 10, 2011

Timothy Dwight on the U.S. Constitution

I just received an e-mail asking me for a statement for a press release about a debate in which I am a participant. The debate is over whether the constitution says that the United States is a Christian nation.

Here's my statement:

"When the constitution was written ministers denounced it for being a "godless constitution." Today, ministers are determined to read between the lines to find God. I appreciate this opportunity to discuss what the constitution actually says."

One of the prominent ministers who labelled the constitution "godless" was Timothy Dwight, grandson of the famous Joanathan Edwards and President of Yale University. In a chapel service at Yale as the war of 1812 broke out, Dwight said:

"The nation has offended Providence. We formed our Constitution without any acknowledgement of God; without any recognition of His mercies to us, as a people, of His government, or even of His existence. The [Constitutional] Convention by which it was formed, never asked even once, His direction, or His blessings, upon their labors. Thus we commenced our national existence under the present system, without God."
For a more complete discussion of this issue, it is hard to beat Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore's, The Godless Constitution: The Case Against Religious Correctness. An updated version is entitled The Godless Constitution: A Moral Defense of the Secular State.

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