|American Minute with Bill FedererMAR. 28- ‘This is a Christian nation’- U.S. Supreme Court, 1892, Justice Brewer
U.S. Supreme Court stated in the 1892 case of Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, written by Justice David Josiah Brewer (143 U.S. 457-458, 465-471, 36 L ed 226):”This is a religious people.
This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation.
The commission to Christopher Columbus…(recited) that
‘it is hoped that by God’s assistance some of the continents and islands in the ocean will be discovered’…
The first colonial grant made to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584…and the grant authorizing him to enact statutes for the government of the proposed colony provided
‘that they be not against the true Christian faith’…
The first charter of Virginia, granted by King James I in 1606…commenced the grant in these words:
‘…in propagating of Christian Religion to such People as yet live in Darkness…’
Language of similar import may be found in the subsequent charters of
In language more or less emphatic is the establishment of the Christian religion declared to be one of the purposes of the grant.
The celebrated compact made by the Pilgrims in the Mayflower, 1620,
‘Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith…a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia’…
The fundamental orders of Connecticut, under which a provisional government was instituted in 1638-1639, commence with this declaration:
‘…And well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union…there should be an orderly and decent government established according to God…to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess…of the said gospel is now practiced amongst us.’
In the charter of privileges granted by William Penn to the province of Pennsylvania, in 1701, it is recited:
‘…no people can be truly happy, though under the greatest enjoyment of civil liberties, if abridged of…their religious profession and worship…’
Coming nearer to the present time, the Declaration of Independence
‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions…
And for the support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor’…
Because of a general recognition of this truth, the question has seldom been presented to the courts…
These declarations…reaffirm that this is a religious nation.”
Justice Brewer continued inChurch of the Holy Trinity v. United States:
“While because of a general recognition of this truth the qestion has seldom been presented to the courts, yet we find that in Updegraph v. The Commonwealth, it was decided that,
‘Christianity, general Christianity, is, and always has been, a part of the common law…not Christianity with an established church…but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.’
And in The People v. Ruggles, Chancellor Kent, the great commentator on American law, speaking as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New York, said:
‘The people of this State, in common with the people of this country, profess the general doctrines of Christianity, as the rule of their faith and practice…
We are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity, and not upon the doctrines or worship of those impostors.’
And in the famous case ofVidal v. Girard’s Executors(1844) this Court…observed:
‘It is also said, and truly, that the Christian religion is a part of the common law of Pennsylvania’…
If we pass beyond these matters to a view of American life as expressed by its laws, its business, its customs and its society, we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth.
Among other matters note the following:
The form of oath universally prevailing, concluding with an appeal to the Almighty;
the custom of opening sessions of all deliberative bodies and most conventions with prayer;
the prefatory words of all wills, ‘In the name of God, amen’;
the laws respecting the observance of the Sabbath, with the general cessation of all secular business, and the closing of courts, legislatures, and other similar public assemblies on that day;
the churches and church organizations which abound in every city, town and hamlet;
the multitude of charitable organizations existing everywhere under Christian auspices;
the gigantic missionary associations, with general support, and aiming to establish Christian missions in every quarter of the globe.
These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume
We find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth.”
“Or like that in articles 2 and 3 of part 1 of the constitution of
‘It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe…
As the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion, and morality, and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community but by the institution of the public worship of God and of public instructions in piety, religion, and morality:
Therefore, to promote their happiness, and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth…
authorize…the several towns, parishes, precincts…to make suitable provision…for the institution of the public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality.'”
“Or, as in sections 5 and 14 of article 7 of the constitution of
‘No person who denies the being of a God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state…
Religion morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government, the preservation of liberty, and the happiness of mankind, schools, and the means of education, shall forever be encouraged in this state.’
Or by article 22 of the constitution of Delaware, (1776,) which required all officers, besides an oath of allegiance, to make and subscribe the following declaration:
‘I, A. B., do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.'”
Justice David Josiah Brewer had served on the Kansas Supreme Court, 1870-1884.
President Chester A. Arthur appointed him a Circuit Court Judge, 1884, then a Supreme Court Justice in 1889.
Justice David Josiah Brewer was nephew of Supreme Court Justice Stephen J. Field, with whom he serve 9 years on the bench.
Justice David Josiah Brewer died on MARCH 28, 1910.
In his work, The United States-A Christian Nation, published in Philadelphia by the John C. Winston Company, 1905, Justice David Josiah Brewer wrote:
“We classify nations in various ways. As, for instance, by their form of government.
One is a kingdom, another an empire, and still another a republic.
Also by race. Great Britain is an Anglo-Saxon nation, France a Gallic, Germany a Teutonic, Russia a Slav.
And still again by religion. One is a Mohammedan nation, others are heathen, and still others are Christian nations.
This republic is classified among the Christian nations of the World.
It was so formally declared by the Supreme Court of the United States…”
Justice David Josiah Brewer continued:
“We constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world.
This popular use of the term certainly has significance…
In no charter or constitution is there anything to even suggest that any other than the Christian is the religion of this country.
In none of them is Mohammed or Confucius or Buddha in any manner noticed.
In none of them is Judaism recognized other than by way of toleration of its special creed…”
Justice Brewer concluded:
“While the separation of church and state is often affirmed, there is nowhere a repudiation of Christianity as one of the institutions as well as benedictions of society.
In short, there is no charter or constitution that is either infidel, agnostic, or anti-Christian.
Wherever there is a declaration in favor of any religion it is of the Christian…
I could show how largely our laws and customs are based upon the laws of Moses and the teachings of Christ;
how constantly the Bible is appealed to as the guide of life and the authority in question of morals.”
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